CASTING THE ‘NET

A few weeks ago, a tragedy took place within the space where I work and operate. It was an event that stopped me cold. It was an activity that would not allow me to conduct my said activity for whatever reasons I could even imagine. It was the be-all-to-end-all, and I was at the mercy of the source that provides the methods to where I work, play, and even breathe it. This source was in the virtual oxygen business, although that might come close on these days if one isn’t too careful.

So what was this happening where nothing would happen? What is the bull in the room that had to be noticed, compared to an elephant in the room as I am not referring to that animal because some may mistake it as a political endorsement? What was the case of near doom that might even be an inspiration for yet another TV/video series to be available where folks stream their media?

My internet failed to operate!!

That’s right, gang! My good ol’ internet service provider (“ISP”) has their internet connection to go out. It occurred without any prior warning. It was working quite nicely one minute, and the next minute, nothing would ever appear on screens across the area where the ISP held its franchise. If anyone attempted to log in to a website using their browser of choice, one would see a white screen with a message that states “That website cannot be accessed” or some other message that warns the user that you ain’t connected to the ‘net. And since you aren’t connected, you ain’t gonna get anything no matter what you attempt to log on to no matter how hard you try.

In other words, dear madam or kind sir. You are off the grid!

That is what happened, and it occurred during the damnedest time for me. At around 5:30 PM (PST), I was logging on to a number of websites to check upon some facts and figures for various reasons and for various sources to add within a future article for this news service. I also had a virtual meeting through Zoom set for 7:00 PM later that evening. And once that meeting was over, I had to get back to checking in to another online portal. It was just another day at the “office”.

Well sure enough, it appeared that my internet signal crapped out from me. I did the usual routines when a signal isn’t doing what it’s supposed to do, such as logging off, rebooting the computer machine, unplugging and plugging in the internet modem that was supplied by the ISP, and so on. I thought that would correct the problem and then I could get back to my work.

After going through that ritual, I experienced the same thing. I was getting nothing, and plenty of it, too!

So I tried it again as before. No connection. I tried it a third time, Still nothing, So I gave it the ol’ college try in its fourth attempt. You guessed it! Nothing. So much for college!

So I did what I do often when I am having a riff with my ISP. I called their toll free number that’s printed on their monthly statements. Once I connected to their robot phone answers, I was told by Ms. Robot as it was a female sounding voice. This, the proper title. And since robot tend not to be human, I don’t believe there is any gender neutrally involved in this encounter.

Anyway, Ms. Robot told me to follow prompts by asking your zip code, your reason for your all, etc. After punching a number of “buttons” appearing on my smartphone’s keypad, I was told that there was an outage in my area. The robot asked me if I gave them permission to call me to report that service was restored. I allowed the ISP’s robot to give me the good news.

In the meantime, I had to finish what I was doing that don’t require an online presence, and to wait for that phone call from an online service once more.

Then again, what about that virtual meeting I had to join at 7:00 PM? Would I be able to join the group in order to have others talk about what they had to talk about? Well, I learned I was able. Unlike my set up in my office space where I have a mini camera that can churn out a high def 1080p picture placed upon a tripod connected to a laptop, I was limited to using my smartphone.

Now keep in mind, many, if not most, people use their smartphones to capture any form of media their devices can do for whatever reason they could conger up. They take their pictures from formal portraits to “selfies” that appear where online presence is consumed. They can capture moving imagery i.e. “videos” for the same reasons behind the pictures. They can stream their video imagery live for the world to see (or not!) It is the only device they have that really matters.

However, I am more of a professional when it comes to creating media. I have a dedicated digital camera to take pictures for both business and personal reasons. I also have a number of dedicated video cameras that do the same. And I have my smartphone. However, I use the former more than the latter. But since that same phone device is all I have that can connect to the ‘net using my phone’s signal strength, I was able to join the meeting, although I was very awkward in getting the picture properly aligned. For all of the video imagery I’ve seen from long forgotten Zoom meetings to what exist through the social media portals, it seems that their cinematography skills could use work, and lot of it. Then again, these captures are only done for the moment of interest, and not meant to be seen by anyone else. But I guess I want to prove to the “world” that I know how to stage a shot, assuming that anyone would even give a damn to know that I can do this.

So after the meeting ended about running 45 minutes too long, I thought I would have my internet service restored. So after I signed off from the meeting, I went back to my desktop to see if we were indeed “on the air”.

Nope! No dice. I was experiencing technical difficulties, and not even a test pattern to look at during the duration.

So it was back to the phone to call the ISP robots for the latest scoop. But before I called the team of robots (assuming that there was more than one on duty, I received a text message about a half hour before from the ISP stating that their service was taking longer than expected and should be up and running by 8:30 that evening.

I glanced at the ol’ clock on the clubhouse wall and it read it was 8:45. This means that their estimated arrival time (or “ETA” in airline speak), was fifteen minutes off. And calling the ISP’s robot department confirmed that their ‘net was still down and if I still wanted for them to call me once service was restored.

From this point, I started the big “hurry up and wait” session to await when my ISP would properly wind the rubber bands tighter, or when somebody will feed the squirrel to run on the treadmill. I thought they would be back up and running by 10:00 PM at the latest.

10:00 PM came and it went. Nothing!!

So I gave them another hour to get their s#it together. Nothing!

I didn’t get a call from these folks as requested, so I tried to call ‘em again. The robot said the same line as programmed.

Well, to make a very long story much shorter, I wanted for the ISP to get back on the air. I tried as late as 3:00 PM. It was now some nine plus hours since the ‘net connection crapped out on my and to its massive subscriber count that services the neighborhood where I hang my hat.

The next morning, I tried to log on as before. Apparently, the ISP finally got the bugs out of the system, and internet access was restored. This was an event that wasn’t worth popping champagne corks over, but it came pretty close. Besides, this was at 9:00 AM, and happy hour wasn’t scheduled for a number of hours. And then, I would be working once more and didn’t even have a gang to hang around for a quality happy house. So much for the joys of working at home!

So what is the moral to this sad yet true tale? It appears that many people are dependent on their internet connected devices. It seems that once somebody or something takes those devices and its paraphernalia that go along with it, a havoc will take place. Some may tolerate the (temporary) loss and go on their merry way. Others felt rather strange and awkward not being able to log in somewhere with something. And there are a few folks that will go into an out-and-out panic. Their worlds that they know will come crashing toward its end with enough epic presence what would be an idea for the next video series available where video streaming is available for viewing or bingeing, whatever comes first.

However, all’s well that ends well as Willie S. once wrote some 500 years before. So now my ISP is providing the service that folks are paying for, and it’s back to work for all.

And if any of the ideas that were expressed within this column is used for another video streaming service, I expect to get a percentage of the profits as have the title of “Executive Producer” as placed on the end credits that nobody tends to read. However, I still live in an industry town. So the fools in “the industry” will actually read these credits to find out who’s working and for what position. Just another day of a life living in good ol’ Hollywood, USA.

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The Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum of Topanga kicks off their 2022 repertory season with the classic play by William Shakespeare, The Merry Wives of Windsor, a comic piece where John Falstaff arrives in a small town to court not one, but two wealthy married women in order for him to tap into into their wealth, ramping up toward a humorous jumble of situations set within the named (and merry) hamlet.

Instead of taking place in Windsor England at the turn of the 17th century, the scene is now set in Windsor, Connecticut in the 1950’s. Jeff Wiesen plays John Falstaff who attempts to seduce Mistress Page (Willow Geer) and Mistress Ford (Emily Bridges) whose husbands are connected to a lot of money that Falstaff desires to get. But the pair of wives have their own plans of this prime example of a comedy of errors.

And the way this version of The Merry Wives… is presented, it’s a load of fun. It features frantic slapstick humor throughout. It’s even a musical of sorts where songs of the era (1950’s that is) is interjected at times that show off much of the humor that’s been around for some 400 years, even if one wouldn’t even know of it! A robust cast of additional players don the Theatricum Botanicum stage set within the canyons of Topanga. Along with the above noted players, Cavin (CR) Mohrhardt appears as Dr. Caius, Alistair McKenzie portrays Parson Hugh Evans (who speaks in Irish tones), Tim Halligan appears as Shallow, and Earnestine Phillips is featured as the gutsy Hostess of the Garter.

Ellen Geer directs this production with plenty of comic flair and timing added to boot. Tracy Wahl designs the costuming that do hark the 1950’s in splendor, while Marshall McDaniel provides the musical direction that labels this show as a musical. (This writer likes that idea of a musical where that fact is noted twice within this review!!)

The rest of the cast in this program also features as listed in their alphabetical order, Joseph Darby, Miller Friedman, Christopher Glenn Gilstrap, Julius Geer-Polin, Ethan Haslam, Corrin King, Alexandra Kunin, Charles Lin, Ashley Maimes, Michaela Molden, Kenneth Montley, Aleksander Ristic, Gerald C. Rivers, Taylor Jackson Ross, A.M. Sannazzaro, Andy Stokan, Sky Wahl, Seth Weaver and Elliott Grey Wilson.

If one hasn’t brushed up with their Shakespeare, don’t worry. It’s a show that is as timeless as ever. Some of the dialogue was accommodated for post-modern audiences, but it’s still a tale from The Bard. Even Willie himself would approve of this show since it makes his name and his plays live onward. A few playwrights can come close, but good ol’ WS tops them all!

This program runs in repertory with three other programs, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, also by Willie Shakespeare opening opening on June 12th, and two contemporary plays: Ernest Thompson’s The West Side Waltz on June 25th, and Trouble The Water by Rebecca Dwight Bruff and adapted for the stage by Ellen Geer. Trouble The Water opens on July 9th.

Further details for all programs can be found on the Theatricum Botanicum’s website. (Website link listed below)

The Merry Wives of Windsor, presented by and performs at Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum, 1419 N. Topanga Canyon Blvd. Topanga, until October 2nd. Showtimes are June 18th, 26th, July 15th. 30th, August 7th, 13th, 19th, 28th, September 4th, 9th, 17th, and 25th at 7:30 PM, and July 9th, 24th, and October 2nd at 3:30 PM.

For tickets and further information, call (310) 455-3723 or online at http://www.theatricum.com

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JURASSIC WORLD: DOMINATION (Universal) picks up some four years after the wreckage of Isla Nublar where the dinosaurs are becoming part of the natural landscape, almost to a point where they will dominate if allowed. Already, some of the species are through the natural process of balance with the distraction of food crops and other forms of vegetation. Adding to this crisis, there are rough teams of poachers out there attempting to snag some of the more desirable creatures for their own gain. Along with this, there are the teams that are working in tandem to curtail these prehistoric beings to how they should be within the world, from the efforts of Jurassic experts Owen Grady and Claire Dearing (Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard) to the large and perhaps evil corporation wanting to find Maisie Lockwood (Isabella Sermon) to Ellie Sattler and Alan Grant (Laura Dern and Sam Neill) who are active to preserve these creatures for further study. (Allan is still digging for fossils of the original tribe of dinos with the new generation in existence.) From here, it’s the battle of “Man vs. Beast” as “.. whether human beings are to remain the apex predators on a planet they now share with history’s most fearsome creatures in a new era…”

This fifth entry to Universal’s Jurassic Park franchise plays within the same dominance to the previous four entries. It’s loaded with some drama, but there are more hang-on-tight action sequences and a lot of special effects that were created by perhaps the hardest working production team as witnessed by this reviewer, along with those in their theater seats.

The screenplay by Emily Carmichael & Colin Trevorrow from a story by Derek Connolly & Trevorrow and based upon characters extracted from Michael Crichton’s novel seems to play in the same method to a Summertime action film released in the 1990’s and 2000’s, long before the super heroes took over this genre. Then again, the super heroes came from comic book origins, and so does this film. (It plays like a comic book in case one didn’t notice!) There are a few dramatic spots set within this movie, but those dramatic scenes only exist to bridge the action and excitement between human beings (real ones) and those creatures from the “B.C” era. (Those “B.C”s are really “CGI”s to use a massive amount of initials to describe them all!)

This is also a movie that doesn’t have a lot of well known names to carry this title through. Most of the players in this feature are not known to play leads, but can stand alone on their own screen merits. (Bryce Dallas Howard and Laura Dern are the daughters of Ron Howard and Bruce Dern.) Scientist Dr. Henry Wu as played by B.D. Wong is a bigger name appearing on stage and on TV screens than in movies. And Jeff Goldbloom returns as Ian Malcom who graced the original Jurassic Park feature nearly thirty years before, showing that there are strong links to its original.

And speaking of links, Michael Giacchio provides the music score that made the first entry memorable in its own right. Within the score, one can still hear musical links connected to JP’s theme song (so to speak), letting the viewers know where this entry has first come from.

There are other players in this flick that are worth noting, such as Mamoudou Athie as Ramsay Cole, DeWanda Wise as Kayla Watts, Isabella Sermon as Maisie Lockwood, etc. But the real stars here are the dinos and related beasts from another time. Thanks to the team of special effects creators (too many of them to list here), they are the ones that stand front and center, doing their thing under Colin Trevorrow’s film direction.

Will this movie be another hit as seen in real theaters compared to home versions of a movie house? Perhaps. It’s a fun movie for what it is as long as it’s not taken too seriously. It’s also a strong point for Universal as their intellectual properties (IPs for short) are based upon those that they created (“Fast and the Furious”) rather than from sources taken from comic books, toys, and even practical products found on within retail commerce. It will sell a lot of popcorn in addition to soda pop, nachos and cheese, and in the case of a local AMC Theater located in this writer’s neck of the woods, full plate dinners and alcohol. But even without the snacks and beverages, this movie is worth one’s time and price of admission. And expect another entry to the JP/JW franchise as soon as it comes to a theater and video screen soon!

Jurassic World Dominion is rated Rated PG-13 for “intense sequences of action, some violence and language” as dictated by the MPA. Now playing in real theaters nationwide.

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