Archive for the ‘music’ Tag

My Letter to Sony   Leave a comment

I don’t really follow music news, and I admit that I don’t keep up to date with modern music trends, but the news about Kesha’s trial to be allowed to not work with someone who’s sexually abused her upsets me.

And while I might not listen to Sony’s music, I do watch Sony’s TV shows, buy Sony’s movies, occasionally play Sony’s video games, use Sony electronics… there’s a lot of Sony on the market.  And none of it’s worth this kind of travesty.  So… I penned this letter and emailed it to Mack Araki, the Vice President of Corporate Communications at Sony.

Dear Mr. Araki,

I just heard that Sony is refusing to allow Kesha to create music without forcing her to work with a person that she claims sexually attacked her.  While a judge might have ruled that there wasn’t enough evidence, I’m upset that you’re not finding some way to accommodate her.

Until Sony releases Kesha from her contract and allows her to work in a way that makes it possible for her to avoid any contact with Lukasz Gottwald, I intend to avoid purchasing Sony electronics, playing Sony video games, listening to Sony music, watching Sony movies, or otherwise participating in Sony’s marketplace.  I will similarly research companies owned by or affiliated with Sony and avoid using any of their products either.

Sony should be BETTER than this as a corporation.  I don’t know what your personal opinion is on this issue, but I do hope that you agree, and that you will make my concerns known to the relevant parties so that in the future no one working for your company ever has to face this kind of situation again.

Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,

John Little
#FreeKesha

PS – Thank you to anyone who may read your mail on your behalf as well, as I’m sure you get a huge number of emails daily.

Now… I don’t know if this’ll even get read by Mr. Araki, and I know that even Vice Presidents of corporations can have difficulty enacting quick change (which is a problem all its own) but I needed to say something.

For those unfamiliar with the scenario, a judge recently ruled that there just wasn’t enough evidence to support Kesha’s claims, and that therefore she still had to fulfill her contract, meaning she has to work with her rapist.  That there’s no legal way out for her is one of the many travesties at work here, but Sony’s action as a company is where I’m actually focused right now, for right or wrong.  Just because they have a legal standing doesn’t mean they need to follow through.  It’s still well within their power to terminate the contract and allow Kesha to make music elsewhere.  Theoretically they could allow her to keep working for Sony and never have her have to deal with Lukasz Gottwald (I don’t want to use his stage name; he doesn’t deserve one, I think) but honestly Kesha shouldn’t have to work with a company that’s put her through all of this either, even if such a concession is made.

So… yeah.  I don’t know what else to say, really.  I don’t know if this is Sony being evil and spiteful because they can, if this is corporate cog-turning running on some kind of horrible automation, or if this is just good old fashioned apathy at work, but ultimately this is wrong.

As a society we need to remember that just because we have a legal right to do something doesn’t make it the right thing to do.  I hope the public response to Sony will get them to revisit their opinions, change them, and #FreeKesha.

Posted February 20, 2016 by John Little in blogging, Uncategorized

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James Corden Promises Late Late Show Fun   Leave a comment

Late Late Show James Corden

When Craig Ferguson announced his departure from The Late Late Show, I was shocked. It wouldn’t be too far off base to say that I went through a grieving process, something that seems more likely now that I’ve learned that people don’t go through *every* stage, instead going through at least two (in this case, for instance, I think that I didn’t experience Denial or Bargaining. I also don’t remember Anger. Is Anger one of the grief stages? I think Anger’s a grief stage.) Anyway, Craig worked to make his show the sort of talk show for people who don’t like talk shows. I don’t want to spend time here going into all the reasons that I enjoyed him as the host of the show, but it’s worth saying that Craig left some pretty big shoes to fill. I heard about the next guy, James Corden (who?) and instantly felt sorry for the guy. You’ve gotta follow Craig? You seem like a nice guy, yeah, but I don’t see how that transition’s gonna go smoothly.

Craig Ferguson’s final episode came and went (and it was an amazing episode, it even had Oom-Ra!), and there was much grieving. Craig moved on to other things in his career, and I came to love him on Celebrity Name Game. It’s a great show, and he’s still doing his stand-up comedy, so I’m no longer worried that my future will be Craig deprived. And then, The Late Late Show had a long, long time with guest hosts who I… I’m sad to say… didn’t really watch. Like I said, Craig was the host for people who didn’t like late night talk shows, so why would I want to watch a long series of people running general late night talk shows? I watched one of Drew Carrey’s nights, and it was fun, but apart from that I pretty much stayed away from it. I didn’t notice that this length of time provided an important service for James Corden; if James had followed Craig’s last episode after just a week or two, he’d have been “the guy taking over for Craig.” Instead, James wound up being “the guy who brought back the Late Late Show.” In my mind, at least. No one advertised it like that, or said it, but it’s important for me. He’s not The Rebound Host. So yesterday I saw a commercial reminding me that his first episode was mere hours away and I figured that I should give it a shot.

One element of the new show that I appreciated was a similarity to the previous one: Craig’s show had always suggested that it was a casual, laid-back thing. Craig invited you to just relax while he relaxed, and the two of you would relax together while a show happened. There was a personal touch, and James Corden’s show had a familiar personal touch from the start. The theme song invited us to just stick around and promised us that we’d have some fun. It felt inviting in a way similar to Craig Ferguson’s show, but also felt like it’s own thing. While this definitely didn’t have the “one-man show on a shoestring budget” element that Craig used, it still felt like a fun, almost homey, kind of thing.

The show opened with Corden giving a few lines of monologue, and a quick tour of the set and show before a video ran showing a Willy Wonka-esque scenario in which he became the host due to finding a golden ticket in a candy bar (that someone else bought and dropped, no less.) A number of other good host options tried finding their own candy bars (due to my recent Community kick, I especially enjoyed Joel McHale opening them in the Greendale cafeteria), but only he found the winner. This led to him going through a late night talk show boot camp of sorts, where a number of other celebrities helped to train him for doing monologues, listening to stories from the actors he interviews, and (for some reason) weight training. It was a delightful video, and instantly made me feel better about Corden’s chances. The one interesting thing that it managed, though, was that it meant he didn’t really need a monologue for his first episode. I mean, if this is a sign of things to come… if we’re in for a lot of video sketch comedies instead of monologues… great, I think I’d prefer it. But I also think they took advantage of the occasion for a chance at a certain idea. That’s not a criticism, incidentally, it’s a good idea; it’s just noteworthy that we’ll have to wait until tonight to see a “full monologue” from him (again, unless we’re just in for regular pre-filmed video skits.)

Like most talk shows of this sort, he had two guests, Tom Hanks and Mila Kunis. Unlike most shows like this that I’ve seen, he brought both guests out at the same time, so that they could speak to one another even when one segment is definitely more about one host than another (incidentally, I ran out of the room for a bit and missed most of the second interview segment, which was focused on Tom Hanks and seemed to be talking about something called “man spreading,” a way that some people sit to take up extra room on subway trains? I guess Tom Hanks was accused of that recently? Sounds like it’s not a big deal, though, given that the train was mostly empty.) Nothing amazing to comment on here, as one guest interview is pretty much like another (me thinking that is probably why I don’t watch many late night talk shows.) Ultimately, though, they were fun conversations about what Kunis and Hanks had been up to lately. After the Tom Hanks section was over, Corden’s band leader had a special question for them, an unusual hypothetical philosophical question about how people of the 1800s (might’ve been 1860s?) would have reacted to modern day life. Hanks gave the “correct” answer, that they lacked Velcro and, as such, effectively lived completely different lives.  (Also, it was awesome that Kunis referenced a Star Trek episode I watched ages ago.  I’ve not seen many Star Trek Enterprise episodes, but apparently one of the few I’ve seen is also one that Mila Kunis is aware of. It involved Velcro.)

Between the two interview segments, Corden ran something called “the show”, in which he and Tom Hanks quickly ran through most of the noteworthy films of Tom Hanks career. It was a fun idea, but I think the idea would’ve worked better if Hanks hadn’t been in so many movies. Still, some individual moments were good (especially Corden admitting that he still hadn’t seen Cloud Atlas, or didn’t understand it, and Hanks saying that it was fine, and it was a movie that really needed multiple viewings to get.) They ended with the Toy Story trilogy and concluded the segment with a rendition of You’ve Got A Friend In Me, which is a good way to end just about everything.

After the interview segments, the last real “thing” of the night was a musical sequence. Instead of a musical guest, it had Corden pretending to play the piano, and singing about everything they did on the show that night, saying that his dreams had come true by being given this chance, and promising to make the show good from there on out. I don’t know if I’d like to see that every night, but… I’d like to see him do more piano-songs. Maybe once or twice a week, singing about everything they’d done. While I sit here writing this, I’m realizing that the sequence was almost a stand in for the “What Did We Learn On The Show Tonight, Craig?” thing that Ferguson did for the majority of his run on the show, but it felt more classy. I don’t think that was intentional, but it’s an interesting comparison.

One thing I’ll definitely say about the show is that it has higher production values than Craig used and (more importantly) it’s more musical. I’d love it if James Corden dedicated his new show to being music-heavy. It’d be challenging, but ultimately I think that if the show does as much with music in the future as it did this time, I’d be thrilled, and even happy to watch it.

At the end of the day (literally), I enjoyed this show. It was fun. Corden came out strong, and avoided a lot of the mistakes that Seth Meyers made on his first night. I’ve heard that Meyers has improved and that he no longer just sounds like he’s doing nothing but the Weekend Update without a desk, and I’m glad for Meyers, but ultimately I didn’t wind up watching Meyers after he started running his show. But Corden? Corden, I think I’ll keep watching. For a bit at least. I don’t know if he’ll keep the production values up to this, but I can hope.  Good luck out there, Corden.

Frozen   Leave a comment

Following my long tradition of only being able to see movies when they’re no longer the fresh, exciting new releases that everyone loves, I was finally able to see the movie Frozen.  I was pleasantly surprised by the movie, and am already trying to figure out when I’ll have my next opportunity to watch it.  It’s hard to go into exactly why I enjoyed the movie without entering spoiler territory, but I’ll do my best.

Frozen has two “main characters”, sisters who are princesses in a kingdom in Europe’s far-north named Elsa and Anna.  Elsa isn’t the story’s chief protagonist, though the fans seem to have been drawn more to her than her sister.  A childhood accident forces them to lead mostly seperate lives in their family’s confined castle, and another accident takes their parents away leading to the fatefully inevitable day that Elsa becomes queen.  (As a side note, I appreciate a movie with a princess who actually gets to move on to being a queen, even if the circumstances are tragic ones.  Most movies with princesses just sort of keep them at that stage of royalty, sometimes even after they start ruling the land.)

The movie is a straightforward fairy-tale musical, but it manages to treat its characters realistically.  Case in point, the love-at-first-sight problem of many movies is toyed with, suggesting that most people in the world of the movie don’t accept the fact that someone might want to marry a person after just a few hours of getting to know them.  Other similar tropes of this kind of Disney film are explored, and ultimately represent some of the deeper choices that the characters make.  What constitutes an act of true love?  Teenage romance is a fine thing, yes, but isn’t life more complicated than that at times?

This movie is definitely different from the source material, and people who demand that Disney movies follow the original story will likely be upset.  I wasn’t, though.  For instance, I went into the movie expecting to firmly dislike the Snowman character shown in the trailers for the last year, but I didn’t.  In fact, I went beyond merely Not Disliking him, and moved into enjoying him as a character who didn’t overstay his welcome.

The musical numbers were handled a lot better than Tangled, which had songs that were fun but not the movie’s selling points.  I have a natural dislike for what I think of as “Radio Disney songs,” generally characterized as light-rock numbers with innofensive beats and a cheerful electric guitar.  Tangled used one of these as the introductory song for Rapunzel, and I made myself tolerate it at the time, even though the song wasn’t really bad so much as my personal preferences don’t generally include music of that sort.  Frozen had a song like this, and I rolled my eyes when it started, but… well, I thought it wasn’t bad ultimately, and it helped to underscore the nature of the budding romance between Anna and one of the tertiary characters, a prince from the Southern Isles.

One potential problem that people might have with the movie is that it asks people to accept the world’s form of magic pretty much right off the bat.  Most other Disney movies of this sort that features a heroine who wants more out of her life takes a while to build up to how, exaclty, the world’s magic will take part in the story.  Ariel takes a while to meet Ursula the Sea Witch, Belle doesn’t encounter magic outside of her books until she goes to rescue her father, and Snow White isn’t first attacked by magic so much as she’s chased/warned by a hunter to run away.  There are exceptions to this, of course; Princess Aurora from Sleeping Beauty has magic involved in her life pretty much right from the start, but she isn’t allowed to know about it.  In some ways, Frozen follows this pattern; the primary source of conflict in the story comes from knowledge of magic, who has it, and what can be done to protect someone from this knowledge.

Which leads to a secondary issue; we’re never really told what the consequences will be if knowledge of magic comes to light.  It’s implied to be dire, but the momentum of the story whisks by it, and opportunities to reference the issue again later aren’t taken.  Either the issue was brought up in a deleted scene, or resolving this question wasn’t doable without slowing down the movie’s spritely pace.  Ultimately, this is a minor problem while viewing the movie, but it does give me pause.

Ultimately, these problems didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the movie.  I’d give it a solid 8 out of 10, and that’s because I’m forcing myself to acknowledge its problems and not give it a 9.  If you can still find it in a movie theater, I do recommend giving it a shot.  If not, it’ll be hitting DVD shelves before too long.