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April 20, 2008:

OF LATE I DREAM OF WEB TV

Bruce Kimmel Photograph bk's notes

Well, dear readers, of late I dream of Web TV. Yes, you heard it here, dear readers, of late I dream of Web TV, to wax Rod Serling-like. I was at a lovelier than lovely dinner last night with a very nice fellow named Vincent and his lovely wife. I met Vincent when he called Varese Sarabande back in the late 90s. He had a website (a very new thing back then) where he listed a lot of CD releases by labels like VS, DRG, etc. We spoke on the phone, and then I ran into him a few times at the Cinegrill, and we’ve kept in contact over the years. In any case, we were reminiscing about the old days when the Internet was first blooming and I told my usual stories about having come to the computer so very late, after a bad experience in 1990 when I had to do a rewrite on a film script on a computer with something called DOS, and it was just excruciating. And I began fondly remembering that before I ever had my first laptop (I had a Compaq Presario at Varese, but hated it), I was given Web TV for Christmas back in, I believe 1998, or whatever the first year of its release was – it had only been out for a couple of months. I wasn’t much interested in it, but we hooked it up and I got the hang of it, watching Web TV do its thing on my television set. I set up an e-mail account (I hadn’t ever had one, except an e-mail thing at Varese) – it was called fynsworth@webtv.net. Fynsworth, for those who don’t know, was a name I’d made up, an alter ego if you will, of a rude Brit, full name Rollo Fynsworth. Rollo would frequently do rude voice-overs on singer tracks I was mixing and we’d send them to the singers as a surprise, and it was really funny. So, it seemed like a good name for my Web TV and Internet persona. And for years no one knew who it was. Those were the heady days of Usenet newsgroups – there weren’t many discussion boards like this back then. Well, I got on the Internet that night. The little booklet that came with the machine had some website suggestions and I visited a few, found Usenet, and somehow even found eBay, which was pretty new back then. Well, for something I didn’t think I’d be that interested in, I stayed up for the next eight hours unable to pry myself away from the TV. Then I slept for a couple of hours, then I got up and went right back to it and never got off that entire day and evening. If you have my book How To Write A Dirty Book And Other Stories, you can read about Web TV in the story Your Worst Nightmare. People always derided people who used Web TV, but I loved it. The way it interfaced with Usenet was great, with all the posts in order of date. Oh, it was slow as molasses, but I got e-mails and had my favorite websites, and even when I got my first Toshiba laptop I still did most Internet stuff on Web TV. I wrote all of the old The Real A columns on Web TV, over at sondheim.com. In fact, I had it right up until I moved from my other house. By that time, we’d used the name to create a label that was my baby and brainchild – when that all went to hell, I never wanted to see that name again. But, Web TV was my introduction to the online world and I’ll always remember it fondly. I gather it’s still in existence but on its last legs, I’d have to imagine. I still have the box and the keyboard somewhere in the garage.

My goodness, I was waxing nostalgic, wasn’t I? Did anyone here ever have Web TV? Speaking of Web TV, yesterday was a rather infuriating day in certain ways. For example, I got up. That was infuriating. She of the Evil Eye had actually arrived a half hour early, and I’d overslept so I was awakened by a knock-knocking at my door-door. Then I had to hurry and scurry, gas up the car, and get out to the dry tech. I arrived right on time and then sat there for about two hours while everything was made ready. We then did the dry tech for act one, after which I headed home. They stayed and did act two, and I’d given them a few notes on special stuff to watch out for. We’ll adjust anything that doesn’t feel right after I see the run tomorrow. I’d heard early on that we were having a problem getting new postage funds into the Pitney Bowes machine, which was most annoying. We couldn’t get a dial tone and therefore the machine couldn’t connect to get said funds. And so, only seventy packages or so got postage. There’s no one at Pitney Bowes on the weekends, so I was quite upset that we were going to have to do all this starting early Monday morning. When I got home I tried everything, but I just figured their system was down or something was wrong that I couldn’t figure out. Then it was off to dinner, then home. I watched a motion picture on DVD, and then read a post from our very own Jose that had a couple of suggestions about the Pitney Bowes conundrum. I tried them, to no avail. Then der Brucer made a post about turning off call waiting, and I told him that I hadn’t turned it off the day before when everything had worked perfectly. But that connected with something in my cranium, and I realized I hadn’t retrieved my voice mail messages all day. When there are new voice mails, the dial tone is broken up into a series of dial tones so that you know you have new messages. I listened to them, made sure the dial tone was back to normal, and guess what? It all worked perfectly – the funds went right into the machine. So, tomorrow when I get home from our first tech, I’ll try to catch up and get at least half the packages done, and then do the other half Monday morning and get all these packages over to the postal office. So, all was well that ended well.

Well, why don’t we all click on the Unseemly Button below whilst I think of the glory days of Web TV.

Last night, I watched a motion picture entitled Sole Survivor, a low-budget effort from 1982, written and directed by Thom Eberhardt. Although I haven’t seen any of the films, I gather the Final Destination series owes much to this little chiller. It’s a low-budget film from when that really meant something, and independent films meant something. Hence, it is not slick, doesn’t have special effects, has a no-name cast, and has to use talent and rooting interest to achieve its aims. And this it does – no, it’s not a brilliant film, but it does what it sets out to do and it does it reasonably well. It’s chills aren’t of the “boo” kind or the gory kind – they’re subtle. There’s actual dialogue in the film. There’s no silly over-directed hyperactive scenes – it just moseys along for its crisp eighty-five minute running time, has one of the shortest end credit rolls ever, and I must say I rather enjoyed it for what it was. I really liked its leading lady, Anita Skinner, who only seems to have two credits to her show business career – this film and something called Girlfriends, for which she was nominated for a Golden Globe. The male lead was played by Kurt Johnson. I recognized him immediately – I knew him as Bobby Johnson. He went to LACC and he played one of the leads in my very first musical, Start At The Top. He was very talented and went on to appear on Broadway in A Chorus Line as Zach at some point. He died in the mid-80s. The transfer looks exactly like what it should – a low-budget early-80s affair, and I happen to love that look.

Today, we’ll be doing a cue-to-cue in the morning, then having a run-through, even though we’ll be without one of our leads (his stand-by will be doing it). Depending on how that goes, we’ll either attempt a second run, or, more likely, work on stuff that was problematic. We’ll also have our sound cues, too – I recorded the Brain Tap stuff yesterday. After that, I’ll come right home and begin doing postage.

Well, dear readers, I must take the day, I must do the things I do, I must, for example, arise early, have a tech rehearsal, do postage, and maybe, just maybe, watch a motion picture on DVD. Today’s topic of discussion: It’s free-for-all day, the day in which you dear readers get to make with the topics and we all get to post about them. So, let’s have loads of lovely topics and loads of lovely postings, shall we, whilst I continue to dream of Web TV.

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