Category: Pulp Media

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AMC and I argue the Semantics of A-List Membership

Earlier this week, movie theater chain AMC dumped coal in my Christmas stocking when I attempted to cancel the $19.95-a-month, watch-three-movies-a-week Stubs A-List subscription. One, and then another, customer representative informed me that at signup, the terms of service explicitly states that commitment is for three months. He, then she, warned that cancellation would trigger immediate charge for the remaining two months. But the ToS restriction shouldn’t apply to me, being a returning customer.

Everything comes down to the meaning of one word: Initial. When A-List launched, on June 26, 2018, my wife and I joined. We ended our membership about 90 days later. The ToS states: “A-List has an initial non-cancelable term of three (3) monthly membership periods (the ‘Initial Commitment’)”. We were good with accepting that requirement, which we met. But on November 18, with a few holiday movies of interest, I resubscribed, presuming that by making a second commitment I could cancel whenever. However, AMC service reps claim that my 3-month obligation reset and initial is the applicable word. Oh, did I futilely argue the semantics of that. C`mon? Doesn’t initial mean first time

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There’s Philo Coal in My Christmas Stocking

I didn’t last long with streaming startup Philo. At 3:37 p.m. PST today, I purchased a gift subscription for six-months of discounted service. By 4:43 p.m., Philo acknowledged my cancellation (without refund, incidentally). I deserve some blame for not choosing the 7-day trial first. But the features are so modern and channel selection so perfect, I didn’t want to miss out the Holiday sale available since at least Black Friday. Besides, I had pondered Philo for nearly two weeks, all while brain-vacuuming professional reviews that offered little less than praise. Nowhere did I read, and perhaps carelessly missed, the dealbreaker: Cough. Cough. Streaming caps at 720p. Say what?

We live in the early era of 4K, which video quality I didn’t expect from Philo. But I fully anticipated watching 1080p on my Pixelbook or days-old Roku Ultra. As expressed, with flaming antagonism, in a requested cancellation reason emailed back to Philo: “I never imagined that streaming quality would be limited to 720p, which is jarring on my 43-inch TV…I hugely regret spending $99 for six months. Ho. Ho. Ho. Bah Humbug. There’s Philo coal in my Christmas stocking”. 

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AT&T sinks FilmStruck

For two years, I have been an annual subscriber to FilmStruck. Tonight the relationship ends, as AT&T shutters the service. Go back a few months, when making promises about consumer benefits, AT&T merged with Time Warner. Since, services like Direct TV Now cost more, while others are going or have gone. There is, or was, nothing like FilmStruck on the Internet—well, for content obtainable legally. Not that AT&T brass care.

The service was a cinephile’s dream. Where else do you see movies cataloged by director, or are there fascinating extras available almost nowhere else? I chose “Night to Remember” as Featured Image because it is one of my favorite classic films and for the accompanying interview with the last living Titanic survivor (before she died). Her recollection is rare footage that punctuates the movie’s storytelling. 

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It’s About Time

To celebrate my fifty-ninth birthday earlier this week, I acquired on this fine Friday the 13th the same (but slightly newer) model watch worn by both Cassie and Cole on 12 Monkeys, which wrapped its final season one week ago. Coherency and consistency makes for compelling character-driven, superb storytelling. The actors were well-chosen for their roles; the dynamic among them is believable and compelling.

Too many series shift suddenly to reboot the narrative, between seasons. Common tactic: Jumping months or years ahead, and in process changing characters’ circumstances while leaving viewers feeling like they missed something—as previous plots are tossed aside. Not 12 Monkeys, which fourth season was in almost all ways the most entertaining of all. Jennifer Goines performing P!NK for Der Furher is sure to achieve cult-meme status, when the program reaches the right threshold of fans.

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SDCC 2018 Returning Registration Failure!

Until San Diego Comic-Con 2017, I took attendance for granted. From 2009-14, I obtained a (deserved) press pass, and when later it wasn’t reverified, I luckily bought full-event passes for 2015 and 2016. But this year my luck ran out during early and open registrations—as it did this morning for next summer’s Con. One other opportunity will come next Spring.

Unexpectedly, Saturday of SDCC 2017, I was able to obtain a legit pass for Day Four—not to explain how. I knew one benefit could be opportunity to participate in 2018 advance registration, as I did this morning. Last year, the session ended with my disappointment. Today, I feel grateful to have participated at all. 

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U-verse, You Suck

Yesterday, as part of third quarterly earnings,  AT&T reported losing 385,000 traditional TV service subscribers—134,000 of them from U-verse. When the company later announces Q4 results, I will be among the next group of losses; for unexpected reason.

One week ago, I lamented giving up U-verse, after being an early adopter (February 2008) and long-time subscriber. Now my mood is “good riddance” and “please let the door swat you in the ass on the way out”. I have rarely seen such horrendous customer service, and if it’s typical, AT&T’s attrition-rate may be more about corporate culture than competition or cord-cutting. 

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Celebrating My AT&T U-verse Death with MTV Live

As I write, Glastonbury 2017 airs on MTV Live—the channel once called Paladia. It’s like AT&T U-verse is sending a goodbye gift ahead of my impending service cancellation. Yeah, I will miss you, too.

The Wilcox household subscribed to the IPTV and Internet service soon as it was available, in February 2008. Despite a couple interruptions along the way, as I tried Cox and cord-cutting, we have enjoyed U-verse—why we returned after foolishly cancelling. Was that twice? Or three times? We get too much value and that despite relatively modest Net throughput, 50Mbps, compared to competitors. But we’re moving households, about five blocks away, and U-verse isn’t available. WTF? It’s the same neighborhood! 

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Radio Remembrances

Before the Internet, I listened to shortwave broadcasts for news and cultural information. There was something thrilling about catching radio programs from Australia, Austria, Canada, Cuba, Ecuador, Germany, Russia, or United Kingdom, among many other countries—hearing local perspectives about all things current or past.

Among the big broadcasters, whose programs I could regularly listen to, BBC and Radio Canada International were favorites. I also found Radio Cuba and HCJB to be engaging, and they were easily received from any of our Washington, DC suburban residences, including the last one of nearly a decade.

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Gaslamp Lights San Diego Comic-Con

I won’t explain how, but today I snagged a legit San Diego Comic-Con 2017 badge for tomorrow. Better one than none. From 2009 through 2016, I had passes to attend all four days but failed to get in the buying queue during Early and Open registrations—in March and April, respectively—nor later get consideration as working journalist. I picked up my last-day badge at the Convention Center around 4:30 p.m. PDT, then moseyed around the Gaslamp Quarter, which is livelier with off-site activities and vendors than I recall from other years. 

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Regarding ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’

Before my wife started watching the new series streaming from Hulu, I warned her: “I can’t imagine how I would feel if a woman”. I had already finished first hour “Offred” from the production based on 1985 tome The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. Three episodes are online now—and their tone and timeliness are visceral and all too familiar, like was the Battlestar Galactica miniseries that followed the 9-11 terrorist attacks by two years. There is something that is too real, too possible—and, unlike the so-called Trump “Resistance”, I don’t refer to the current government in Washington, D.C. No imminent right-wing coup is on the horizon, as so many Liberals want to believe. That’s as fictional as The Handmaid’s Tale.

What’s disturbing is another kind of currency, which is largely lost in the torrent of “it could happen here” commentary: The plight of women portrayed in the series isn’t far removed from what many of them experience elsewhere in 2017. Not in some alternate-reality United States, but across swaths of Africa, Asia, and the Middle East—if not both American continents and Europe. Severity may vary by degrees, but where on this planet isn’t there, at the least, some vestige of the subservient, objectified woman? Liberals, who as a class supposedly champion for the human rights of all people, shouldn’t ignore what is while obsessing about what might be for fear it could happen to them. 

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SDCC 2017 Open Registration Failure!

I would like to congratulate all the future San Diego Comic-Con attendees scoring passes today. You are worthyMy luck ran out during Preregistration last month and continued this morning. I had attended the geekfest every year since 2009, and with passes for the full four days and Preview Night.

Feeble chance remains. The deadline for press verification is April 28th, and I will apply. But for reasons unknown to me, without explanation, SDCC stopped validating my media credentials in 2015. Luckily—and gladly—I paid that year and the next. While I now hope to attend in 2017, legitimately, as working press professional, my optimism is faint.