Wednesday, January 31, 2018


I don't think I'll ever be 10 inches and a top.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Tuesday, January 16, 2018


Warner Bros. has give Jon Berg and Geoff Johns the old heave-ho and replaced them with Walter Hamada as President of DC Films.

"So what?" "Who cares?"

Okay, let's back up a bit...

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In 1999, Barry Meyer was named Chairman and CEO of Warner Bros. Pictures. Alan F. Horn was named President and COO.

In 2002, former agent Jeff Robinov was appointed President of Film Production at Warner Bros. Pictures. He replaced Lorenzo di Bonaventura, who moved up into an executive vice president slot below Meyer and Horn.

In 2007, Warner Bros. Entertainment was created to bring all Warner productions, digital products, consumer products, home entertainment distribution, and other production-related divisions under a single management structure. At the time, everything was its own division; even when it came to theatrical film production, film marketing and film distribution were their own distinct division. A new Warner Bros. Pictures Group was formed under Warner Bros. Entertainment to bring all film production units (including Warner Bros., Warner Independent, Lorimar, and New Line Cinema), marketing, and distribution under one roof. Jeff Robinov was promoted to President of the new Group. Replacing him as President of Production was producer Greg Silverman. Still in separate divisions, not integrated in any way with the film division, were things like Warner Television Production, The WB, and DC Comics.

Meyer and Horn retired in 2013. Kevin Tsujihara (the President of Warner Home Media) replaced Meyer as Chairman and CEO of Warner Bros. Entertainment. Horn's position as President and COO were abolished. Tsujihara forced out Jeff Robinov as President of the Pictures Group, and decided to set up a triumvirate of executives to run it rather than a single head. The triumvirate consisted of President of Film Production Greg Silverman, President of New Line Cinema Toby Emmerich, and post of President of Worldwide Marketing Sue Kroll.

In December 2017, Tsujihara forced Silverman and Kroll out, and appoionted Toby Emmerich to the new position of Chairman of Warner Bros. Pictures Group (abolishing the old position of President).

* * * * * * * * * *

Meanwhile, over at DC Comics... Jenette Kahn had been Publisher since 1976, adding the role of President in 1981. Kahn stepped down in 2002, and was replaced as both publisher and president by veteran DC Comics writer Paul Levitz.

In 2007, DC Comics became part of Warner Bros. Entertainment when that unit was created. The goal was to more closely integrate DC Comics into the theatrical film business, where DC had fallen far behind Marvel Comics in output and quality.

In 2009, a new division, DC Entertainment, was created. DC Comics was placed beneath it. The goal of the new division was to act as a "voice" within Warner Bros. Entertainment for DC Comics. That gave DC Comics access not just to film production but also television, consumer products, digital content, online games, and other entertainment media. Diane Nelson, Executive Vice President of Domestic Theatrical Film Marketing, was named President of DC Entertainment. Paul Levitz retired as President and Publisher of DC Comics. He was replaced as Publisher by the team of veteran writers Dan DiDio and Jim Lee. Geoff Johns, a DC Comics writer (since 2005) who'd briefly been involved in the film industry, was named President and Chief Creative Officer. Johns' meteoric rise was due to his film experience.

In May 2016, Warner Bros. Entertainment created a new division, DC Films. It was placed under the joint operation of DC Entertainment and Warner Bros. Pictures Group. The expensive failure of Batman v. Superman led to the division's created. Two co-presidents of production were named. One was Geoff Johns. The other was Jon Berg, a former producer who had been appointed executive vice-president of production under Greg Silverman in 2008.

Under the Berg/Johns set-up, Berg reported to Warner Bros.' President of Production. Until December 2016, this was Greg Silverman; after May 2017, it was Courtenay Valenti. Johns, however, continued to report to Diane Nelson.

* * * * * * * * * *

Then Justice League failed. Big time.

The new President of Production at DC Films will be Walter Hamada. Hamada spent the last 10 years as a producer and executive producer at New Line Cinema. He was executive producer on Friday the 13th (2009), A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010), The Conjuring (2013), 47 Ronin (2013), Annabelle (2014), and The Conjuring 2 (2016). He is a close frined a director James Wan, who is directing Aquaman.

Hamada will also oversee production on non-DC Comics films which Warner Bros. decides to make.

Johns will remain President and Chief Creative Officer at DC Comics. He will act as a consultant and have creative input into any DC Films movies or any Warner Bros. Entertainment TV shows based on DC Comics characters. He'll continue to report to Diane Nelson

Berg has left Warner Bros. Entertainment and will join his production partner, Roy Lee, at Lee's production company, Vertigo Entertainment.

It's not clear what management changes Hamada will made to DC Films. As far as one can tell, the subdivision had almost no management structure apart from Berg and Johns, relying heavily on the "director-driven vision" model that served it so well with Christopher Nolan's "Dark Knight" trilogy. Under this model, DC Films essentially contracted out production to production companies owned by each producer (such as Zack Snyder's Cruel and Unusual Films, Charles Roven's Atlas Entertainment, or Brett Ratner's RatPac Entertainment).

Unnamed Warner Bros. executives have been accused of micromanaging the production and creative process. Those executives include the President and the triumvirate in control of Warner Bros. Pictures Group, the President of Production at Warner Bros. Pictures Group, and the various presidents of the animation, consumer products, licensing, marketing, planning, strategy, television network, and television production divisions.

Just how this micromanaging and meddling will be dealt with (assuming it is happening) is unclear.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Over at Marvel, Kevin Feige has been in charge since 2007. He'd cut his teeth on 2000's X-Men, working for producer Lauren Shuler Donner. That same year, impressed with his knowledge of Marvel Comics, Avi Arad hired him to be an associate producer on future Marvel films. (As is legendary now, Marvel Comics went bankrupt in 1996 and was taken over by Toy Biz. Arad as an executive there. Arad cut his production teeth on Marvel animated TV shows in the 1990s.) Disappointed with the lack of production by the major studios, Arad formed Marvel Studios in 1996. Over the next decade, 16 Marvel films came out: Blade (1998), X-Men (2000), Blade II (2002), Spider-Man (2002), Daredevil (2003), X2 (2003), Hulk (2003), The Punisher (2004), Spider-Man 2 (2004), Blade: Trinity (2004), Elektra (2005), Fantastic Four (2005), X-Men: The Last Stand (2006), Ghost Rider (2007), Spider-Man 3 (2007), and Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007). Only the low-budget Blade and the big-budget X-Men and Spider-Man films were any success.

Pissed off at the inconsistent treatment of Marvel's characters and upset that Marvel would not be able to have these characters interact on film (they'd been licensed to studios as diverse as New Line Cinema, Sony Pictures, 20th Century Fox, and Universal), Arad decided that Marvel should self-finance its films from then on out. He and Kevin Feige co-produced the first of these efforts, pouring everything had into it. They lucked out: The studio's first film, in 2008, was Iron Man. The studio's torrid pace continued, with 17 films over the next 11 years. Nearly every single one was a blockbuster (except Punisher: War Zone, The Incredible Hulk, and the two Ghost Rider films.) Although Arad left Marvel Studios in 2007 to form his own production company (which still co-produces with Marvel), Feige has been President of Production on all Marvel Studios films ever since -- even through the Disney years (which began in 2009).

Feige imposes a common look, style, feel, and vision on each film. Every script is funny, every script is light-hearted, every script is loaded with action. Feige has complete autonomy within the Disney film production structure, and there is no "Disneyfication" or "Pixarification" of Marvel films.

Monday, January 15, 2018

I refuse to post these to the front page of Wikipedia any more. But I will post them here. The article I wrote or assisted with is in bold.
Did You Know ... During his tenure as Executive Chef at the White House, Henry Haller oversaw the planning, preparation, and cooking for three First Family weddings: The marriage of Luci Baines Johnson to Patrick Nugent in August 1966, the marriage of Lynda Bird Johnson to Chuck Robb in December 1967, and the marriage of Tricia Nixon to Edward F. Cox in June 1971?
Why, yes. Yes, I would fall in love with you.

Just tackle me.  Dog-pile on me. Violate me.

From an article in The New Yorker this month:
Diversity is increasingly the scapegoat when something old and reliable begins to falter. This year, the supposed overemphasis on diversity was invoked to explain everything from ESPN's falling ratings to the middling quality of U.S. soccer, from flagging enthusiasm for the Star Wars universe to a dip in comic-book sales. (A recent MarketWatch piece wondered if the increasingly diverse world of Marvel superheroes -- which included "Afro-Latino Spider-Man, a Muslim Ms. Marvel, a female Thor, a gay Iceman, a Korean Hulk, an African-American female lead in Iron Man, and a lesbian Latina America Chavez" -- had alienated "traditional" fans.)

I doubt it's diversity syndrome. Rather, it's "A very special episode" syndrome. Brad on Home Improvement might get addicted to pot this week, but next week it's as if nothing happened. Emmett on Queer as Folk might have a religious conversion and become heterosexual one week, but it's as if nothing happened once the story arc is over. (As they say on The Simpsons when some particularly outrageous story is over: "And let's never talk about this ever again.")

They made Alan Scott/Green Lantern gay... and then immediately neutered the story line by killing off his boyfriend.

Gay characters in comics is a good example of how institutional heteronomativity functions. If you're Hal Jordan, "everyone knows" how the romance goes: He dates Carol Ferris indefinitely. She unconditionally supports his heroics, even if it means he's constantly abandoning her during dates, birthday parties, snuggle time, or whatnot to go fight crime. She's often the target of his enemies, but is resolute in her faith that he will come save her. (I guess that is how she avoids PTSD.) On rare occasions, she has the foresight to help him fight crime -- by covering for him at work during a crucial moment, by bonking a victorious supervillain on the head with a fire extinguisher ("proving" that she's not just a "damsel in distress" or that unpowered humans lack agency), or preparing a home-cooked meal for him to come to after a particuarly wearisome week of defeating intergalactic menaces.

Only rarely will a female love interest show that she's got a life of her own. Recall the "Superman's Girl Friend, Lois Lane" backup feature in Superman Family from 1977 to 1979. Written by Tom DeFalco and drawn by Win Mortimer, Lois Lane was shown investigating crime, occasionally partnering with the inept superhero The Human Cannonball, engaging in hand-to-hand combat, and lobbing grenades out windows. Those stories actually poked fun at comic book tropes: In one scene, lifted straight out of a 1950s romance comic, a young nurse gets a handsome young doctor alone and kisses him. "His kisses make my world explode!" her thought ballon says. In the background, the hospital is exploding and collapsing as Lois fights off an energy-powered supervillain. (Joss Wheedon did the same thing in the Buffy episode "The Zeppo".)

In a lot of ways, comic books are sitcoms. It's not about character, it's about situation.

To transfer that heteronormative story line to a gay relationship would make the egregious error of turning the unpowered lover into "the wife" in the relationship. It would be an act of homophobia.

The thing is, there are no templates for a gay relationship. Social norms extremely limit the sexual, dating, and partnering relationship between a man and a woman. There are no social norms governing gay men or lesbians or bisexuals in their sexual, dating, and partnering relationships.

For example: Imagine a story line in which a single Hal Jordan meets Carol Ferris while she's hanging around her general-father's office. They hook up, and have sex. Hal likes her, and they go out clubbing, and have sex again. They continue to have sex, go out, and eventually their relationship deepens so that they start dating. There would be an UPROAR among fans. Hal would come off like a womanizer who "learns his lesson" and finally "comes to terms with his emotions" and falls in love.

Yet, this same story line is a fairly common way in which gay men meet. There are almost no social norms against gay men having sex on the first date; indeed, for many young gay men, it's the norm. Casual sex among gay men is seen as not unusual; there's no moral condemnation against it; it's seen as natural and not psychopathic.

But could such a story line occur in an Alan Scott/Green Lantern comic? It could do so only if the story were given room to showcase character. That's because gay story lines require space to be explained. Straight romance, which is ultra-limited by social norms, requires NO SPACE to be explained. Indeed, the norms themselves create expectations and assumptions which readers use to fill in the lines, and thus make the writer's job even easier.

Giving room to character development is not something comics do well. Or at all.

Thus, the lack of true diversity.
He cleans up real well...

Sunday, January 14, 2018

I refuse to post these to the front page of Wikipedia any more. But I will post them here. The article I wrote or assisted with is in bold.
Did You Know ... that the District of Columbia Department of Transportation was created in 2002 after the District of Columbia Department of Public Works' road construction and repair division essentially collapsed due to widespread mismanagement and political patronage?


I swear. Millennials.

Lost Horizon (1937, Columbia Pictures) is a fantasy film directed by Frank Capra nominated for Outstanding Production (e.g. Best Picture) at the Oscars. Stephen Goosson also won for Best Art Direction. Gene Havlick and Gene Milford won for Best Film Editing.

The screenplay was by Robert Riskin, based on the 1933 novel by James Hilton. The film starred Ronald Colman, Jane Wyatt, H.B. Warner, Sam Jaffe, John Howard, Edward Everett Horton, Thomas Mitchell, and Margo Albert (billed as "Margo") as Maria.

H.B. Warner got an Oscar nomination as Best Supporting Actor. Dimitri Tiomkin wrote the score, which received a nomination as Best Score. John Livadary was nominated for Best Sound Recording. C. C. Coleman, Jr. was nominated for Best Assistant Director.

Here's the vast model of Shangri-la.

Here's the Columbia Pictures back lot in 1936, showing the extensive Shangri-la sets.

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Saturday, January 13, 2018

My garden lights in the new snow.

Library table by Clément Rousseau (1872-1950).

The use of tanned shark, ray, or dogfish skin as a veneer originated in Japan in the 8th century. Items began to reach France in the 1700s, where the material was considered to be as precious as ivory or porcelain. One of the first French artisans to master the technique of making tanned sharkskin was Jean-Claude Galluchat (d. 1774), and tanned sharkskin became known in France as "galuchat". In English, it was called "shagreen".

The tanning techniques fell out of use, however, and by the late 1800s had been completely forgetten in Europe.

About 1912, the French designer Paul lribe (1883-1935) acquired a galuchat item and became intrigued by it. He later found a collection of old sharkskins, and decided to use them on a low table he was designing for the French fashion designer Jacques Doucet. Unfamiliar with cabinetry, Iribe asked Rousseau (a sculptor who had begun sculpting wood for use in furniture) for help.

Rousseau swiftly mastered the technique of creating galuchat (which involved stripping and cleaning the sharkskin, tanning it, sanding and staining it, cutting it, gluing it to the item, and then varnishing it). Although galuchat was usually dyed green, Rousseau experimented with vegetable dyes to create a wide range of new colors (such as blue, grey, and pink). He used exotic materials from French overseas colonies -- copper, ebony, ivory, mother-of-pearl, palmwood, and rosewood -- to offset the galuchat.

Rousseau's first galuchat exhibit was at the Salon des Artistes Francais in 1920. He became highly sought after for his galuchat-covered home furnishings. He contributed a number of works to the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes held in Paris in 1925, and had a solo show at the Galerie Charpentier in Paris in 1926. Rousseau worked on commission, and produced a large number of objects -- almost none of which have survived.

This library table of rosewood, shagreen, and ebony was made about 1920. Shelves are held in place between the legs, but the inner core turns to allow access to even more books on shelves in the core.

library table 02 - Clément Rousseau
I'm wet, too. Now.

Not a fear, per se. Although I do find myself roaming the house restlessly some nights before bed, looking for something I've not finished or have not re-read in a long time.

Canapé gondole (gondola sofa) by Marcel Coard (1889-1974).

French fashion designer and art collector Jacques Doucet (1853–1929) asked Coard in 1924 to design a sofa for Doucet's studio on the rue Saint-James, where Doucet showcased primitive art and modern Cubist works.

This is not the sofa Coard designed for Doucet; Doucet's sofa had ivory inlays along edges, and seats of leather. Despite extensive research, it is still unclear who commissioned this version of the Doucet sofa. It had to be done with Doucet's permission, since Doucet (not Coard) owned the rights to the sofa through his commission.

This couch is made of wood covered in an Indian rosewood veneer carved to resemble basketwork. The veneer is bordered by silvered bronze. Coard's stamp appears in two places on the canapé, in the same locations they appear on the Doucet sofa.

The Doucet canapé gondola is owned by the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

The exact provenance of this sofa is unclear, but it was discovered about 2015. This near-duplicate is owned by a Midwestern art collector, and sold in 2016 for £974,500 ($1.4 million). Upholstered in white fabric when it sold, it was since been reupholstered in a more historicist pink-orange linen velvet.

Canapé Gondole - Marcel Coard

Studio on the rue Saint-James in Paris of French fashion designer and art collector Jacques Doucet (1853–1929) This colorized image was taken in 1930.

Doucet used his home on the avenue du Bois to display French Empire and Neoclassical art and furniture. His studio was set aside for Primitive and Cubist art.

Note the Canapé Gondole (sofa) by Marcel Coard to the left.