Mark Lewisohn Profile

Lennon once called The Beatles ‘the biggest bastards on Earth’. Times have changed, but they still run a tight ship, where ‘the minority rules’: McCartney, Starr, Yoko Ono and Olivia Harrison must all agree before any decision is sanctioned. ‘If someone doesn’t want to do something then it won’t happen,’ says Lewisohn. ‘It only takes one person and someone – I don’t know who – doesn’t want to get involved. I have to accept that. Paul recently asked me to do some work for him, so I imagine that he’s not against me, but I don’t know.’

via Daily Mail Online

Hollywood Doesn’t Make Movies Like ‘The Fugitive’ Anymore

Not even the actors themselves were convinced The Fugitive was going to be good. Harrison Ford thought it would be his Hudson Hawk, Bruce Willis’s $51 million flop from 1991. Tommy Lee Jones, who plays the lead marshal, thought The Fugitive marked the end of his career. But then this action thriller, the one that was written off as quickly by its stars as its hero is by the law, became the third-highest-grossing film of 1993. And then it was nominated for seven (seven!) Oscars—including Best Picture. And then it actually won one of those Oscars (well, Jones did). Perhaps even more surprising is that this piece of $70 million popcorn amusement from the ’90s is still a cultural touchstone 25 years later, largely because action movies like it are so rare now.

via The Atlantic – Pocket

‘Smooth’: The Oral History

20 years ago, it was definitively a hot one. Very amusing stories.

Palmese: In May, I sent out white-labels [copies of the single to radio stations]. That’s the way we did it back then, old school. You didn’t have streaming or Shazam. But the CDs just had the name of the song, not the artist. They were marked “Smooth” and “Mystery Artist.” I wanted to avoid a knee-jerk reaction from program directors who would say, “Santana? Are you kidding? He’s not in our demo any longer.” Carlos’ guitar is very identifiable so there were a few who guessed it, but the purpose was not to get that objection.

Davis: Honestly, I’m hearing this for the first time.

Serletic: Everybody was scared of a 50-year-old guitar player.

via Rolling Stone.

The Great Race to Rule Streaming TV

Great investigation. Interesting bit about the origin of Stranger Things.

Echoing what I heard at Hulu, Holland told me that when it came to data, Netflix uses it mainly for “sizing investments.” She said, “We have projection models to help us understand what the minimum audience threshold for a given project might be.” For example, Netflix knew from DVD-rental histories and other consumer habits that Kevin Spacey vehicles and David Fincher films performed well on the service, which bolstered their decision to spend hundreds of millions of dollars making “House of Cards.” More recently, “Stranger Things” came to life not long after Netflix gleaned from its data that there was an unmet audience desire for what Holland called “higher-budget young-adult programming.”

Via NYT

It might get loud

Holy shit. 175 dB!!!

The most recent open-air hypersonic-weapon test was completed by the Army and the Navy in October 2017, using a 36,000-pound missile to launch a glider from a rocky beach on the western shores of Kauai, Hawaii, toward Kwajalein Atoll, 2,300 miles to the southwest. The 9 p.m. flight created a trailing sonic boom over the Pacific, which topped out at an estimated 175 decibels, well above the threshold of causing physical pain. The effort cost $160 million, or 6 percent of the total hypersonics budget proposed for 2020

Via The NYT.

Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370: Where Is It?

Fantastic reporting.

Gibson was an only child. His mother liked to travel internationally, and she took him with her. At the age of 7 he decided that his life’s goal would be to visit every country in the world at least once. Ultimately this challenged the definitions of visit and country, but he stuck with the mission, forgoing any chance of a sustained career and subsisting on a modest inheritance. By his own account, along the way he dabbled in some famous mysteries—the end of the Mayan civilization in the jungles of Guatemala and Belize, the Tunguska meteor explosion in eastern Siberia, and the location of the Ark of the Covenant in the mountains of Ethiopia. He printed up cards identifying himself: adventurer. explorer. truth seeker. He wore a fedora, like Indiana Jones. When news arrived of MH370’s disappearance, he was predisposed to pay attention.

via Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370: Where Is It? – The Atlantic

A quick opinion on “Stranger Things 3”

(Probably spoiler free)

It is great, basically. Eight not too long episodes, terrifically entertaining. The first couple of them are a bit slow, but soon after the pace picks up and things move along quite well. (Perhaps the last episode meanders a bit, but it feels earned somehow).

Much improved over ST2, which was such a disappointment in terms of expectations and  potential.

The cast is terrific and the characters are so endearing. Even Billy was not-awful this time.

I have one complain: the whole idea of the Upside Down remains very vague and unexplored. There is a Lovecraftian scale to it which could be explored far beyond than its well know capacity to produce creepy monsters.

I am curious to see what will be of Season 4, whenever it shows up.

Mourning Greatest Hits Albums and Reissues

Stephen Thomas Erlewine, writing in 2016:

A released album—whether it arrives via vinyl, cassette, CD, or MP3—is something that can be passed along or excerpted, but it will always exist as a common point of reference. Playlists, as wonderful as they often are, are not a substitute for an official compilation. They exist in their own walled gardens and, even if they’re shared, they’re subject to the whims of users and licenses; there’s no guarantee that the playlist heard in January will be the same one heard in July. When we lose this commonality, we start to lose the vernacular that makes pop music, in all its forms, a shared experience.

Via Pitchfork.

Lessons from the Last Swiss Finishing School

Great read.

In the early years, the school’s students were mostly from West Germany and the Netherlands. “The French did not come to Switzerland,” Neri said. “They would maybe go to England, because it’s a kingdom, but not to a peasant country.” Every so often, the school received what Neri referred to as “an exotic student”—once, she said, the school hosted a cousin of the Emperor of Japan. “My mother wanted her students to be knowledgeable about other countries and other cultures, which was rather revolutionary at that time. She felt we were too ethnocentric in Europe.” Neri continued, “Everyone looked up to France and Britain, but there are other cultures that are far older, and they also have refinement and beautiful art, and we should not look down on them.”

Alice Gregory writes so well. This 2016 story was great too, I recall.

Via New Yorker

Nolan Interview

“My entire adult life they have released straight-to-video films,” he says. “As a filmmaker, when I was starting out in the ’90s, your nightmare was the straight-to-video release. There’s nothing new about it — what’s different and new about it is selling it to Wall Street as innovation or disruption.”

Nolan likes seeing movies in the theater, hailing the communal experience of watching a story unfold with an audience. He also believes that there are economic reasons not to muck with a distribution model that’s lasted for generations. He noted that book publishers still release hardcover copies before debuting paperback versions as a way of maximizing revenue. That same kind of windowed approach — one that differentiates between a theatrical release, a home entertainment launch and television licensing — ultimately grows the pie, he reasoned.

via Christopher Nolan Gets Candid on the State of Movies, Rise of TV and Spielberg’s Influence – Variety