Monday, October 26, 2015

New Season. New Spoilers.

There was a time when what was on TV didn't really mean a whole lot to me.  Those days seem pretty far away now.  Then the Internet happened.  I used to be one of those people who hated scheduling my life around TV programs so I generally didn't really partake.  Then I got Netflix and I got to see all the stuff I've missed.  After Netflix, I tried to jump back into TV land and found my old problem still existed.  That's when I learned about watching shows on their respective websites.  That worked for a little while.  Then the sites started getting wise to people preferring to watch their shows online rather than live on TV (something I'm sure advertisers reminded them off constantly).  They started limiting available content and linking their sites to Cable subscriptions.  That's when I found Hulu Plus.  Currently I have subscriptions to Netflix, Hulu Plus and HBO Now in my effort to unplug.

Unplugging though is still a work in progress.  Some networks guard the rights to view their content as jealously as Lucky guards his Lucky Charms.
That magically delicious tease!
One such network is AMC and their show, The Walking Dead, is perhaps the biggest hit on TV. It's also probably the most spoiled show on social media. I watch it, but since I work on Sunday nights I can never catch it on TV.  For Season 4 I counted on some of the shadier TV watching sites.  For Season 5, I watched the first episode online only to face the harsh reality that if I wanted to see anything beyond that I needed Cable credentials.  Season 6 has already started and the spoilers are already flying.

I've come to realize that if you hang around on social media, spoilers will find their way to you.  It doesn't even matter if you don't log on while the show is on.  Your only real options are keep up or miss out.  I don't think a year goes by where somebody doesn't try to explain there's kind of an unwritten rule to spoilers but who reads anymore right.  People get excited about their favorite shows and social media provides a bit of instant gratification.  It's kind of like all your friends are right there in the living room watching along with you.  Unfortunately, the ones who aren't watching get carried along for the ride.

Solutions?  I have none.  If you want to avoid spoilers for your show all you can do is not use social media AT ALL until you've seen it.  It's gotten so bad that you might have to boycott the web altogether as news sites tend to give away details even if they aren't full spoilers.  You know it's gotten bad when there are actually apps out there dedicated to making your online experience spoiler free.  So just tune out, stay off the web and hope to whatever deity you worship that there aren't any chatterboxes at work.  Watch on, soldier.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Oh Netflix, What Hath Thou Wrought?!

This Summer marks 4 years since I've been a Netflix subscriber and I gotta tell you it's been a wild ride.  Even though they've been around for 15 years it was only their streaming service in 2008 and wasn't available in the Virgin Islands until 2011 when they split their streaming and DVD delivery services.  In just these 4 short years though, the streaming video company has taken on a whole new life while inspiring other streaming services like Hulu, Amazon and even HBO.

It's 2013 when things REALLY started to change at Netflix when they started producing original content.  The list of stuff they've put out is nothing short of amazing.  If you've got a free minute, there's a ton of cool facts about them online.

Was there a point to this post?  Not really.  I haven't posted a blog entry in a while and I was just talking to a friend about Netflix so I thought I'd post up a little appreciation for it.  Maybe someday I'll get around to updating the list of stuff I've watched on Netflix...but I doubt it.

I'll have to end on a sad note though.  So last season was brutal for network TV.  Lots of great shows (at least I liked them) got the axe.  Surprisingly most of them were romcoms.  Well there was one that stung the most when it was canceled: Selfie.  The series made it through 7 episodes before it was canceled.  Thanks to fans of the show though, Hulu stepped in and aired the remaining 6 episodes.  Then the plug got pulled on the whole thing.  For a while only the last few episodes were available on Hulu and then finally all the episodes were pulled.  ABC isn't showing the old episodes either despite still having a page up for it.  I hooked up with a Facebook campaign to save the show but in the end we were left unsatisfied.  Now none of this is Netflix's fault (even though we did petition them to take up the series as an original and save it) but I'm really hoping that in the near future they get the episodes.  It seems like shows that don't make it past a whole season get buried and I'd really hate to see that happen to this show.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Bizarre Habits of People Who Sing Karaoke

This was always my favorite scene in The Cable Guy.  The movie was meh, but this scene was EVERYTHING.  Who would have thought that 10 years after this movie came out I'd be a karaoke host?  I remember this scene because it was so over the top.  To this day I've never seen anyone try to recreate it.  I have however seen some pretty off the wall stuff at karaoke and usually it's perpetrated by drunk people.  This post I want to focus on some of the weird habits I've noticed in people who come to karaoke.

"Give me Titanic!"

I have a ton of people who have no idea what the real name is of the songs they want to sing.  Celine Dion's "My Heart Will Go On" is almost always submitted to me as "Titanic", "Folsom Prison Blues" by Johnny Cash occasionally gets submitted as "I Hear The Train A'Comin'", every Christmas people ask me for "Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire" when the song is actually called "The Christmas Song", and the list goes on.  Someone even took the liberty of comprising a list of songs people eternally get wrong.

"I don't know how to sing this."

I have a guy who comes to my Tuesday show.  He's always ready to ask me for a song, but ask me how many of them he actually sings.  I think he actually attempted one last night but 95% of the time somebody else will end up singing a song he chose while he manages a "yeah" or an "ooh" every once in a while.  Thing is I really REALLY hate to cut off a song because the singer decides to bow out.  It's like slamming the brakes in a car. 

"Can I sing with you?"

I have a rule: You don't get the second microphone unless you ask the person on stage singing if you can sing with them.  Normally it works out but everyone once in a while I get someone who wants to sing with EVERYBODY.  It can be a little intimidating to the on-stage singers.  What's worse is it puts me in a spot when I actually have to bump this person because in my rotation rules duets count as a turn for both singers.  People circumvent this rule by not submitting the name of their partner but after a while I get wise and adjust accordingly.

"Next up we have...where'd they go?"

There are people who tend to disappear on me.  And when I say disappear I mean left the building.  My rotation rules dictate they move to the bottom...(in my best Xerxes voice) but I am kind.

"Can't you bump me up?  I really have to go soon."

It's weird to me that people act like they don't understand the concept of a line or even a rotation.  In simple terms, the more people in the house who want to sing, the longer your turn takes to come back up.  The rotation rules I use (they're actually printed in the song books; nobody reads them) prioritize people who have not sung at all.  On busy nights, I try to stagger new people in with people already in the rotation but I will always lose people and in some instances entire groups because they feel like they aren't getting enough turns at bat. You'd be surprised how often though I get the excuse that someone needs to leave as a reasoning for getting bumped up.  Do you know any other line this excuse would fly?  Didn't think so.

"Why can't I hear him/her?"

This truly baffles me.  So I get someone on stage and have them do a mic check.  Great they sound good. Then I turn on their music and all of a sudden they turn into a dog whisperer!  I end up maxing the volume on their mic to the point of near squealing just to make them audible.  When the song's over, the mic is now way too loud.  This drives me freakin' nuts because I have to endure an entire song where everyone's giving me the "why don't you turn them up" look and I'm responding with my "It's not my fault!" eyes.  Speaking of squeal, you'd think a squeal would be a self correcting error (You're too close to the speaker!) but it's not.  Oh and on another note, why do people think holding a mic at chest level actually works?  You sing INTO the mic, not OVER it.

"Hey, remember me?  I was here last week/last month/last year!"

Full disclosure guys: If I don't see you regularly and we don't have some personal connection I WILL forget your name.  Sorry, I'm bad with names. I'm great with faces though so I can usually at least acknowledge that I know someone and occasionally I can finagle a name simply by asking them what name they want to use.  But still, I'll always get someone who makes it their mission to jump start my brain.  This has been successful exactly 0 times.  Consider on a busy night I take roughly 50-60 song requests and run through about 20-30 names.  It's a miracle I remember half the people I do now!


Good news: some songs trigger spontaneous stripping.  Bad news: it's usually by dudes.  At least the female members of the audience get to have fun.

"But that's not fair."

It still surprises me to this day when someone complains of not receiving fair treatment.  Here's a recent example.  This one lady came in with a bunch of her friends and proceeded to enter in requests for a bunch of songs.  I usually allow it with the caveat that we may not have time to get to every song.  She sings her songs, she sings backup on her friends songs, and she's even sung with people she just met at the bar.  When we get to the final song she has one song left in the rotation.  Meanwhile someone who has not sung at all came in and wanted a song.  Initially I told him I couldn't but given that I had a couple minutes to spare and I knew his song was short I allowed it.  The lady accused me of being unfair.  *sigh*  Sometimes you just can't win.

"I want to put in a song for..."

Most of my scheduling AND on-stage disasters start with these words.  I'm not sure of the proper term for it, but in gaming we call it a ninja invite.  The problem with this sentence is that it indicates that whatever name they are about to give me, that name either a) Doesn't want to sing, b) Won't get up to sing, c) On the off chance they do get up will 1) not know what song was submitted for them or 2) too drunk to care, and d) results in my wasting valuable time that other people could be singing in.  If you come to me and start your request like that expect me to ask you some pointed questions about the singer you intend to get on stage.

That's all I have for now.  I might revisit this topic and add more stuff later.  Until then, see you on stage!

Friday, March 20, 2015

The Avengers: Age of Ultron

I have to give Marvel credit for this.  I have never seen more trailers for a single movie than I have for The Avengers: Age of Ultron.  Their biggest trailer, surprisingly, is their shortest thus far.  Take a peek:

Hot right?  This is the trailer that has everyone all hot for the movie now.  Not that all the previous ones weren't good.  This one just has that snap that got everyone into the first Avengers movie.  I do want to pick out a few points that this trailer has that the others didn't.

I'm going to be talking about plot points from Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Marvel's Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. and possibly Marvel's Agent Carter.  If you haven't seen any of these or aren't current on them.  You might want to stop riiiiiiiight HERE.  Last chance.  Really.  Ok, still heree?  Let's go!

1. Maria Hill

This is the first trailer that indicates Agent...*ahem* excuse Ms. Maria Hill will be in the movie under the employ of Tony Stark.  Why is Hill no longer with S.H.I.E.L.D.?  If you remember from Captain America: The Winter Soldier that S.H.I.E.L.D. was actually being manipulated by a shadow organization called HYDRA and was infiltrated to the highest levels.  The film ended with a kind of where-do-we-go-now feel as Cap and Nick Fury parted ways with Fury heading to Eastern Europe to use the cover of his death to get the drop on the remaining HYDRA cells.  I'll get back to Fury.  The Black Wi...*ahem* Natasha Romanov gives testimony to Congress regarding the the S.H.I.E.L.D. disband indicating that most former agents went into civilian jobs.  Enter Maria Hill.  But....

2. Nick Fury

Nick Fury also shows up in this trailer (Was he in the other trailers?  This is the only one I seem to remember him in.).  Technically, the world still thinks he's dead but he's been quite busy after parting company with Cap.  Fans of MoAS know that he reunited with Agent Phil Coulson (saving two stranded members of his team along the way) to help put to bed the HYDRA threat (they got some of it; cut off one head and two know the mantra).  This episode was important because after what happened at S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters anyone running around as agents were being hunted down by the US military.  Nick Fury entrusted Phil Coulson to be the new director of S.H.I.E.L.D.  He left him with the line "I'll be everywhere".  Wanna guess what new plot has arisen just after the midseason finale?  The fact that Mockingbird and Mack are working for "The REAL S.H.I.E.L.D.".  Did Nick have anything to do with this?  Maybe.  Guess we'll have to keep watching to find out. ;)

3.  The Black Widow

Ok so despite that speech in front of Congress (See the end of Captain America: Winter Soldier), The Black Widow is still active among the ranks of The Avengers.  If you're familiar with the comic book lore of The Avengers, you know that Tony Stark foots the bill for the whole shebang.  In the previous movie, The Avengers was a S.H.I.E.L.D. initiative.  It looks like in this movie Tony will go all in (Avengers Tower!  A Quinjet!).  Will it be before or after the Ultron threat?  Either way, the Avengers are claiming Black Widow among their ranks (as well as former agent Hawkeye).  I only mention her specifically because there was a tie-in with the Marvel's Agent Carter series.  Check out this extended scene.

Did you catch the part where she hesitates a bit when the children's ward was mentioned?  That's directly related to her "origin".  In Agent Carter there was direct conflict with an organization that trained young girls in the art of espionage and assassination.  It seems that Black Widow program lasted well into the current day.  Wait a second.  Didn't we see the captured Leviathan operative getting all chummy with Arnim Zola in S.S.R. prison?  Wonder if that could have affected the Black Widow program?  Hmmm...

I also picked her out because we weren't really sure where she was going after Winter Soldier.  The previous trailers did feature her indication her new home is with The Avengers.  Which saddens me a bit because that means a Black Widow solo movie is off the table.

4.  Quicksilver and The Scarlet Witch

*sigh* This is the part that annoyed me the most with this trailer.  For all the previous trailers, their role wasn't quite defined yet.  We were lead to believe that they would fight on the side of Ultron (with the twist for people not at all familiar with the comics that they would eventually end up on the side of The Avengers).  They kinda killed that notion with this trailer.

5.  Captain America

It's about time we gave the mantle of team leader to Cap!  Stark, the biggest personality in the room  ALL THE TIME, sort of involuntarily fell into the role but during the New York Invasion it was Cap who stepped up not only leading his own team but also the law enforcement and recovery efforts on the ground.  Tony in the trailer referred to Cap as "The Boss".  I'm looking forward to Cap stepping into the leadership role since we haven't really seen him in charge since WWII.

6.  S.H.I.E.L.D.

Here's what I'm hoping for in this movie (that I'm almost certain will not happen).  I would like the team to be reintroduced to Coulson aka their inspiration for banding together and kicking the crap out of Loki and the Chitauri.  Cameos from the rest of Team S.H.I.E.L.D. would be awesome but I'd settle for just Coulson.  We're already seeing MAoS paving the way for The Inhumans movie but I don't want the series to forget they're still part of all this action going on with The Avengers.  I do know though there WILL BE A TIE-IN.  We're just not sure what it will be yet.

I admit it.  I'm about as excited as you are about this movie!  However, I think it's a huge mistake not to keep an eye on the Marvel TV projects.  I've stated this before, but it's important to remember that the TV shows take place as a direct part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  Elements from the movies appear in the shows and elements from the shows have and will continue to appear in the movies. 

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Best of the VI is back for 2015!

And you know what that means.  I'll be needing your votes for Best Karaoke.  Follow the direct link right here to log in and VOTE!  You know my spots: Caribbean Saloon and Fatty's.  You pick the one you like best. ;)