Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Goodbye Mork.....

It's been more than a week since Robin Williams died and the tributes and tears continue to flow from family, friends, and fans.  It seems that while Williams may have suffered from depression and other issues, that he may have had no idea what sort of impact his death would have on everyone.  I say that he may have had no idea, meaning that he may not have considered the impact he would have because if he had known the effect, pain, and sorrow his death would have caused, Robin Williams would not have committed suicide.  

Williams would have put off suicide because he cared about people.  If he was thinking correctly, he would not have wanted to hurt his family and friends.  He would also not have wanted to hurt his lifelong fans such as myself.  Williams gave so much of his time, money and efforts to others.  Only now are many of the stories about his generosity rising out of the ashes of his death.  Some were known, and some were kept silent at his request for years.  

I watched Williams on Happy Days first and was amazed at the way Mork jumped all over the place and challenged Mr. Cool.  The next time I saw this spastic comedian, he had his own show called 'Mork and Mindy'.  I never missed an episode.  I later watched his comedic stage presence, his movies and even recently his television series in awe.  Whether he was serious or in comedian mode, he had a lasting impact on those watching him.

William had the energy of ten comedians.  He seemed to be everywhere at the same time and to know what was going on with everyone.  I still remember one stand up show, years ago, when he took a camera from a member of the audience.  He used it first to take a picture of himself for the fan while making comments to the audience about the camera.  He then pulled out the front of his pants and pointed the camera into his pants to supposedly take a picture.  His comment was simple, "I hope this is a wide angle lens," and the crowd erupted.  He could make anything a prop.  At one point he saw a member of the audience get up to leave the show.  He immediately began to ask that person if they disliked the show and if they were leaving.  The audience member said something back that we could not hear because she did not have a mic, but Robin heard her.  She was only going to the bathroom.  Williams, flatly said, "That's okay.  We'll wait until you get back to continue the show."  Again, the audience laughed.  He then proceeded to tell a few minor jokes and upon the woman's return, he said, "Oh good, you're back.  We can get started again!"  Once again the audience laughed.  

For years, I have often wondered how Robin would have handled the lady going to the bathroom if she had never returned.  I imagine that he would have simply kept telling jokes and maybe at one point said something like, "Well, she's not coming back.  We'd better just keep going."  Again, I could imagine that the audience would have laughed.  Well, Robin Williams has stepped out of the show now....he's not going to the bathroom and he won't be coming back.  I guess the best we can do for now is tell a few jokes, laugh and finally accept that we'd better just keep going because Mork is not coming back. 

Monday, August 18, 2014

Blu-Ray, The Fast Death

The fact is the Digital age is here and it's here to stay with us and eventually kill other media including the Blu-Ray.  We have reached an age in our society where some people have no concept of Eight Track tapes or records.  Although the records can still be found in nostalgia shops and there are various players for sale, some to convert and some to play, the fact is the record is dead.  The record in the form of vinyl had a good long run.  From the late 1800s it could be found in crank up machines, through the 1950's juke boxes and into the early 1980's it was the dominant way music and sound was transmitted.  Records survived eight tracks and almost survived the onset of cassette tapes.

With the start of CDs, a new media was found that was finally able to kill off the cassette tape and the record.  It close to the same way the Beta video system, by many account superior to the the VHS system, died off to the VHS.  VHS ran from the late 1980's strong into the the turn of the century, but with CD's not only taking music, it did not take long for the DVD to arrive on the scene and take out VHS.

From around 2000 forward media has seen the advance of the DVD into the realm of Blu-Rays.  Like any technology, it created hi end players and movies out of the price rage of the casual buyer.  But now we have found that Blu-Rays are usually only a few dollars more than the DVD.  Often the Blu-Ray offers features and extras not found on the DVD making it an attractive alternative.  But the Blu-Ray dominance, only now starting to take hold with the comparison of the prices and cost of players, will be short lived.

The Blu-Ray will not have the lifespan of the record, eight tracks, cassettes, CDs or even the VHS.  While Blu-Ray is quickly killing off the DVD, it is no match for the digital age.  Much like the short life of the Beta movies, the Blu-Ray will likely fade out of existence within the next five or ten years.  There will be, just as there always have been for previous media formats, many holdouts who cling to their DVD and Blu Ray collections, but in the end these will gather dust on the shelf as society moves forward.  Eventually the Blu-Ray will sit in the nostalgia section of the used stores along side the records, cassettes, eight tracks, and CD of the media eras of the past.

Digital will be king as I mentioned within a few years for two simple reasons.  The first reason digital will become king is ease of access.  Most digital is downloaded over the Internet.  Even if a consumer does not have Internet access, it's not unlikely that he can find it in a coffee shop, store, public area or library.  Some cities even offer it almost everywhere now.  The convenience of being able to purchase, download, and instantly watch will be king in the digital world. 

The second reason that digital will kill the Blu-Ray is cost.  To give an example, I was recently searching for a Dr. Who special for the family to watch.  I went to four different stores and two Red Box locations and could not find it to purchase or rent.  Finally, at the last store I went to, I found it for an overpriced amount of $22.95.  I simply was not prepared to pay that for a 77 minute episode of the good Doctor.  After arriving at home, I pulled up the PlayStation account through the game system and found that the episode was available for sale in the digital form.  I had three options.  I could by the standard definition (sd) for $7.99, the high definition (hd) for $9.99, or both the sd and hd for $9.99.  The sd could be moved to other media devices and the had could be viewed through the PlayStation.  Since I wanted to be able to watch it in other locations as well, I went for the sd and hd at $9.99.  It seemed like a no brainer since I received both for what would have cost $17.98 separately.  At that cost, I saved $12.96 over the Blu-Ray version I finally found in the store, and I could have saved the cost of driving around looking for the Blu-Ray by simply purchasing it at home.  

Needless to say, I quickly scanned the cost of other movies and found a similar trend.  When someone considers the options such as Netflix, PlayStation, Amazon, and dozens of others offering the digital version of movies to watch or own at a cheaper cost, it doesn't take long to figure out that the days of the Blu Ray are limited.  I predict that the CD, DVD, and Blu-Ray do not have much longer in this digital world before they are regulated to Ebay and the used stores where they will have a long life of reuse and a new venue of special machines designed to help convert them to digital along with their vinyl cousins.