Friday, December 14, 2018

TCM Remembers 2018

Turner Classic Movies released their TCM Remembers for 2018 this afternoon. Of all the TCM Remembers (and I have seen all of them), this one was the most painful to watch. I always cry during TCM Remembers, but this time I totally broke down and I am still sobbing a half hour later. Quite simply, Turner Classic Movies included my dearest Vanessa Marquez in this year's TCM Remembers. Vanessa loved TCM so much, to the point that I am convinced that she was the biggest TCM fan I ever knew. Being included in TCM Remembers alongside classic movie stars she loved, not to mention Gary Kurtz (who produced Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back), is the highest possible honour she could have ever received.  I have to point out that Vanessa is the very first TCMParty member to ever be featured on TCM Remembers. I want to thank Turner Classic Movies for including the woman I love more than any other in my life.

Also included in this year's TCM Remembers are such luminaries as Dorothy Malone, Nanette Fabray, Rose Marie, Harlan Ellison, Stan Lee, and Burt Reynolds. As far as I can tell, they only missed two stars this year: Mary Carlisle (the last surviving WAMPAS Baby Star) and the great Fenella Fielding.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Facebook Needs to Fix Its "Your Year on Facebook" Review for Users

Every year in December Facebook rolls out its "Year in Review" feature (this year called "Your Year on Facebook") to its users. For those unfamiliar with the feature, it allows users to choose timeline posts, photos, and other things from the user's past year on Facebook, creating what could be described as a "highlights video" of the year. Now for many people this will means photos of a child's graduation, the birth of a grandchild, the first photos from a new job, or other happy events. Unfortunately, 2018 was not a particularly happy year for many people. In my case, 2018 will always be the year that my beloved Vanessa Marquez died. Given my post announcing her death got more reaction than any other post I made all year, one would think Facebook would let me choose it to be featured in my "Year on Facebook" video. After all, it not only addresses the defining moment of 2018 for me, but it addresses one of the most important events in my entire life. Sadly, Facebook does not include it among the posts I could choose to be featured in my "Your Year on Facebook" video. In fact, from all appearances, Facebook excluded any posts that received "sad" reactions from other users.

To say I am very angry with Facebook would be an understatement. To me it is as if they are saying that Vanessa's death was not the most important thing to happen during my year and that Vanessa did not matter. To me excluding any and all posts in which I addressed her death is an act of callousness and cruelty, however unintentional it was. I complained to Facebook several times and demanded that they fix it so that I could include one of the posts in which I addressed her death. I finally gave up, made a screenshot of one of the posts in which I address Vanessa's death, and uploaded it to my video as a photo. I really should not have had to have gone to all that trouble just to insure my "Your Year on Facebook" video was an accurate representation of what 2018 was for me.

Now in some ways I can understand why Facebook chose to exclude any posts about sad events in people's lives. Some of you might remember the controversy in 2014 when Facebook's "Year in Review" included a photo of an individual's recently deceased daughter, a photo of an individual's dog who had died that year, and a photo of a person's apartment that had burned, among others. Many of these people were upset that Facebook's algorithm chose to feature these events in their "Year in Review" videos, reminding them of tragedies that had occurred in their past year. I can certainly understand that. Everyone grieves in their own way. That having been said, the key words are "Facebook's algorithm chose to feature these events". It seems to me that Facebook could set their algorithm up so that it would not automatically feature sad posts in the initial editing stage of the video, but make it so that those posts would still be available for those of us who do want to feature them in our "Your Year on Facebook" videos.

Now, as I said, I can understand why some people might not want to be reminded of the tragedies that have happened in their past year, but I am not one of those people. I wanted to acknowledge in my "Your Year in Facebook" video that I lost the dearest person in my life. To me, failing to acknowledge Vanessa's death in my "Your Year on Facebook" video would be inherently dishonest. It would be a misrepresentation of what 2018 has been for me. While I managed to include one of the posts in which I reference Vanessa's death in my "Your Year on Facebook" video by taking a screenshot of it, I should not have had to. I should have been able to choose one of the posts in which I acknowledged her death as the post featured in the video. I am hoping that Facebook will yet fix my "Your Year on Facebook" video so that I can include the relevant post. I have always faced my grief head on and I am not going to stop because Facebook wants to pretend 2018 was all sunshine and lollipops for me.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Godspeed John D. F. Black

John D. F. Black, the screenwriter who wrote episodes of such shows as Lawman, Star Trek, and Hawaii Five-O as well as co-writing the screenplay for the movie Shaft, died November 29 2018. He was 85 years old.

John D. F. Black was born on December 30 1932. His first screenplay was for the film The Unearthly (1957), using the pen name Geoffrey Dennis. His first teleplay was for an episode of Surfside 6 in 1961. During the Sixties he wrote one of the most notable episodes of Star Trek, "The Naked Time", for which he was nominated for a Hugo Award. He also served as an associate producer on the show in its first season. He wrote several episodes of the shows Lawman, Mr. Novak, Laredo, Hawaii Five-O, and Room 222. He also wrote episodes of the shows Have Gun--Will Travel, The Untouchables, Combat!, The Fugitive, Run for Your Life, Cimarron Strip, Insight, The High Chaparral, The F.B.I., The Virginian, and The Mary Tyler Moore Show. He wrote the screenplays for the movies Gunfight in Abilene (1967), Nobody's Perfect (1968), and Three Guns for Texas.

In the Seventies he co-wrote the screenplay for Shaft (1971) with John Shaft's creator Ernest Tidyman. He also wrote the movies The Carey Treatment (1972), Trouble Man (1972) and Survival (1976). He wrote several episodes of Room 222, Hawaii Five-O, and Charlie's Angels. He also wrote episodes of The Bill Cosby Show, Getting Together, Jigsaw John, The Streets of San Francisco, Delvecchio, and The Man From Atlantis. He wrote the TV movies Thief; Do Not Fold, Spindle or Mutilate; The Fuzz Brothers; Wonder Woman; and The Clone Master.

In the Eighties he wrote episodes of Hell Town; Star Trek: The Next Generation; and Murder, She Wrote.

A good argument can be made that John D. F. Black was one of the best television writers of the Sixties and Seventies. He had a talent for grasping the characters of a TV show with only a single episode. "The Naked Time" is a perfect example of this talent, containing as it does a character-defining scene for Mr. Spock. Over the years he wrote some of the best episodes of several classic TV shows, from science fiction shows to dramas to sitcoms. If John D. F. Black was very much in demand as a television writer, it was because he was just so good at it.