Blog Archives

Are We Watching the World Flatten Out?

If you would have told me 10 years ago that Facebook would be providing footage of a UEFA Champions League quarterfinal match free of charge…

I would have thought you were crazy.

Earlier today, because a certain cable provider that has chosen to invest in rebranding, marketing and just about everything else except for quality, I was left with the option of following virtual text updates for the first leg of the UEFA Champions League game between Sevilla and Bayern Munich. Then, I had an idea. After the TV and ESPN app options provided a nil-nil result, I logged into Facebook. And there, before my eyes, one click away was the Fox Soccer Channel’s video and commentary feed of the aforementioned game via Facebook Live.

Simply incredible in more ways than one.

One: Social media has effectively entered some of the biggest sports broadcasting stadiums and games around the world in real-time, albeit at a seemingly small-scale at the moment.

Two: The Facebook Live video (with quality commentary) was/is free.

For a social networking platform that is rightfully being criticized for privacy issues, this is one positive story for Mark Zuckerberg’s company this week. While Facebook Live isn’t new, the Sevilla vs. Bayern Munich game earlier today highlights that–much like the communications industry–broadcasting sports games has entered a new phase that could prove to have good and bad consequences by flattening out through technological innovation.

Is the Pay-Per-View model slowly nearing the antiquated tech graveyard? How does cable TV respond concerning its sports packages if this isolated game, presumably available to fans (and Facebook users) around the country and the world, evolves into the rule and not the exception? Is this a good thing? A bad thing? Should there be some exclusive reward for purchasing/investing in premium cable channels and packages? How will (or does) privacy issues play into using Facebook Live, YouTube Live or similar streaming services while logged in as a user? How should we consume a variety of live television programs?

One thing I know for certain at this point is that I watched Bayern Munich score two critical away goals in a 2-1 win at Sevilla with an enjoyable post-game recap by a Fox Soccer Channel host and two analysts.

Lots of questions to ponder. So, round-and-round we’ll go.


Rolling Out (and Up) Innovation

The innovative process is, in many cases, exciting. At the same time, it can be dull, exhaustive and a seeming waste of time and energy.

Welcome to the happy former at the CES 2018 (Consumer Electronics Show) hosted in Las Vegas from Jan. 9-12.

Exhibit Awesome:

While still in the testing phase, the fact that a high-definition TV that rolls up like a newspaper (inside the console, of course) exists and is evolving in the right direction (up) is a thrilling reality to witness. The first real dream, beyond what’s seen and described in the tutorial above, consists of a mobile, high-definition flat screen TV that can be placed on virtually any reasonable flat surface for viewing and a myriad of digital applications. The second part of this technological roll-up dream is for newspapers, magazines and, well, any current paper-like product, to have the same flexible and multimedia functionality. Imagine a day when a buying a newspaper at a stand looks like this, in some form.

(Video borrowed from a Jan. 5, 2016 Jimmy’s Daily Planet blog post titled “Time to Fold on TV” about this very company and this very roll-up TV prototype)

Perhaps the second part of the dream can be best described as a flexible iPad in 2018. Wouldn’t surprise me if design guru Jony Ive and his Apple team are working on that very prototype for release within the next decade.

As has been stated many, many times on this blog, the day will come when entire walls in homes and buildings will be high-definition screens that will be able to serve as a television monitor for shows and gaming, as a computer, art/rotating photographs from our personal photo collections as well as downloadable world-class pieces and most anything else your mind can digitally imagine. For now, a roll-up TV that has the strong potential to become a practical reality in our family rooms within the next several years is exciting. Couple flexible tech with VR’s inevitable rise (plus various smart home applications) and we’re genuinely one small step closer to “the future” in 2015 from Back to the Future Part II.

The future — maybe not “the future” — will arrive in some form.

Whether all this evolving tech in the big picture (had to) is good for us as individuals and as a society is and should remain an ongoing, conscious (and conscience) conversation. As my headline from a couple years back suggests, the time will come to fold on TV so we can open it up in ways we haven’t yet seen or even imagined.

And that reality will not be virtual.

“The Goldbergs” is Television Heaven

“So it does involve treasure.”

Spoiler Alert: This is a recap of The Goldbergs from January 14, 2014. 

We all remember being in high school and taking part in college fairs and enjoying the wild circus known as class elections. The latter consisted of our fellow classmates who would state their positions on various issues and makes sensible, reasoned promises like building a two-story winding water slide that splashes into the cafeteria where there would be a free towel and soda waiting for us to quench our thirst before biology.

Then, the kids finally told their parents to stop helping them with their campaigns.

Beverly and Betsy, this means you.

And there may be no better example of maternal love and support of all things motherly on television than the incomparable Beverly Goldberg. Whether this involves scaring her son away from his interest in the University of Hawaii by saying the school is surrounded by sharks or by hanging blown-up, embarrassing pictures of her son in every hallway of his school for everyone (including his blonde crush) to see with an image that’s downright unforgettable.

Beverly Goldberg is “a shoulder-padded, crunchy-haired mother warrior.”

While Barry was enduring the high-stakes game of high school politics (with and without berry bombs), Erica and Adam each had their own crisis to confront.

Erica, a former model student in the classroom (just not in Senegal), was confiding in her unwilling Pops with a pastrami sandwich about how she had been successfully scamming her Mom about all the extracurricular activities she was boasting on her college application. This reveal caused an uncomfortable, but therapeutic, flashback of her days in the Model U.N.

She was studious. She did lots of work. She was a mini-Beverly driven by an unrelenting Type A personality. This ultimately led to a battle between Libya and Senegal that could not be resolved peacefully.

This inner conflict led to Erica resigning from the U.N. (but not on her application, of course) for a much cooler, laid back approach to academics and life in general.

She had checked out, which brings us to Adam and his Dad at the Video Heaven movie store.

Yes, there was a glorious time in the history of Mankind when men, women and children would dare to leave the comfort of their own homes and venture off to a video store where they would walk through a maze of movies (new and old) in search of “the one.” But, the catch was there needed to be a VHS or DVD behind the empty cover box on the shelf. If not, Friday night was a bust. Game over.

All was lost, including one’s very soul…at least until the next day when the shelves were hopefully restocked.

There was always the return bin, but that was the last resort. Most importantly, or at least on the same level as “Be Kind, Rewind,” was the existence of the late fees. Murray Goldberg realized the horrible ramifications for not returning a movie on-time: a bullet through his wallet!

A dejected Adam, who had discovered an Indiana Jones in the return bin, was denied by the clerk because of an outrageous fine to his Dad’s forgetfulness to return the Paul Newman-led movie masterpiece Slap Shot, unleashed a fury on Murray that seemed impossible to resolve.

Incredibly, with the odds against each of the Goldbergs (except for the preoccupied, sandwich eating Pops), each found his and her inspiration and strength in doing the uncomfortable.

Barry decided to start caring about his campaign for Treasurer by publicly denouncing his Mother’s insanity and all mothers’ insanity to great applause, fanfare and an impossible victory, Erica chose peace and reconciliation with the Model U.N. and with her personal struggle with Senegal and what that country represented to her, Beverly took her foot off the pedal of a high school class treasurer’s race along with her battle for parental supremacy with arch rival Betsy, Murray paid his outrageous fine (though the math did add up) and Adam forgave his Dad for a lost night of action, adventure and all-around Harrison Ford greatness.

For Murray, swallowing his pride, admitting he was wrong to someone outside his immediate family and doing something unforgettably nice for his son Adam (for two months anyways) was one heck of a long shot. Some may even argue it symbolized a last second, seemingly impossible slap shot to win the game…

Adam had in his hands an official card to Video Heaven with 50 prepaid rentals. For those of us who remember such cards, it was a moment of pure bliss and awesomeness.

Maybe listening to Toto will bring us to the yellow brick road where it will, in a surreal sense, lead us back to our own Video Heaven.

As a former patron and employee at Blockbuster, this episode rang especially true. The movie store scenes rewound cherished memories of restocking new releases and classics and of manning the computer/register in the front to eager movie watchers of all ages, day and night (plus an Olympian).

It was a great job making people’s cinematic dreams come true!

There’s no place like Blockbuster, there’s no place like Hollywood Video, there’s no place like a video rental store!

Uncle Phil’s Final Curtain Call

Sadly, actor James Avery did not get to ring in 2014.

For those who may not be familiar with the name James Avery, he may be known not only as the former voice of Shredder and Splinter in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles television series from the late 1980s and early 1990s, but more famously remembered as Uncle Phil from the 1990s sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.

According to the Washington Post article, “James Avery, television and movie actor, dies,” Avery passed away at the age of 68 on Tuesday, December 31st. The cause seems to be related to complications from a major surgical procedure.

Millions of fans from around the world watched (and watch in reruns) Avery entertainingly portray Uncle Phil in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air for 6 seasons. His character was the moral center of the show. He provided plenty of laughs and moments of sincerity and heart, as well as important life lessons for the show’s viewers.

For 30 minutes a week, he was everybody’s uncle.

Below is a clip featuring some favorite moments from the popular sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. There is one portion that starts at 3:26 that embodies so much of what so many loved and will miss about everybody’s Uncle Phil (however, it is recommended to watch the entire video).

The background to the scene is that Will went against his uncle’s stern warnings to not go to the pool hall. Will disobeyed and thought he could beat an older gentleman who turned out to be one of the pool hall regulars. Deep in debt, Will was forced to use his uncle’s Mercedes/his ride as collateral until his debt could be paid. Panicked, Will managed to convince his furious uncle to go back to the pool hall to discuss with the hustler a way to get the car back alongside his trusty butler Geoffrey/”G.”

Uncle Phil has lost a couple games to Will’s nemesis…and badly. However, Uncle Phil is able to negotiate one more game at the steep price of $100 a ball…

Smart. Loving. Funny. Role Model. A Hustler for Good.

Now, the “Big Guy” is with The Big Guy.

Rest in peace James Avery/Uncle Phil.