Monthly Archives: August 2009

Armageddon sick of these fires.

No blog today. Sorry, guys. I’m running errands, bashing out a script for the radio, and taking a stand on climate change. All time-consuming pursuits, especially the climate change one – because, quite honestly, it’s hot as hell here. Someone needs to do something about this.

fireRight now in L.A. we’re witnessing what Armageddon will look, feel, and smell like.

Apocalyptic fires are roaring through the county forests – sparked by some religious nut, no doubt. The temperature reached 105 degrees in our driveway yesterday (111 in our friends’ driveway), the air stinks of smoke, and I have grit in my eye. That’s not good, right?

This is what I imagine it’s going to be like in the End Times that Christians are constantly praying for.  In fact, right now Christians must be delighted with progress on the End Times front. Things are going well, even though the premise is completely made up. Any more summers like this one and I might be tempted to join them in believing that God has plans to finish us all off.

www.cashpeters.com

Leave a comment

Filed under Television commentary

He’s baaaaaaa-ack.

Michael MooreEvery time Michael Moore releases a new film, something inside of me lurches convulsively, and a crushed-out little voice cries, “Why aren’t you doing stuff like that?”

And I have no answer.

I’d certainly love to. Perhaps I fear that if I start shooting bare-knuckle exposes of my adopted country, then my adopted country might just get pissed off and throw me out. In the meantime, while I’m still working on the immigration small print, we have Moore and his team doing another outstanding job with Capitalism: A Love Story

www.cashpeters.com.

Leave a comment

Filed under Television commentary

Genius finally gets its due.

Not often I’m excited and baying to see an animated movie, but this one promises to be stunning. It’s called 9, it’s produced by Tim Burton, and started off as a mesmerizing little short film that did the rounds on YouTube. Burton saw it, invited Shane Acker the director to turn it into a piece of big screen magnificence. And lo, here it is.

I’ve waited a long time for 9. I hope it lives up to its promise.

First, here’s the link to the HD trailer. Click on it and it’ll take you to YouTube. 

Next is the new (visceral, gripping, atmospheric, BRILLIANTLY awesome) website trailer, which you can view HERE

And finally, if you’re as gripped as I was by these little sewn-up people in their torn-up world, here’s the original movie. Sometimes genius does get its day in the sun. Enjoy.

www.cashpeters.com

1 Comment

Filed under Television commentary

Writing a few wrongs.

I have a gift, did I ever mention this? It wouldn’t surprise me if I didn’t. It’s just something I can do; a natural talent so effortless that it frequently slips my mind. Yet it’s an amazing asset nonetheless and I should do more with it.

What am I talking about? Why, handwriting analysis, of course.

You didn’t know?

writing 1It’s not exactly a secret. I’ve written three books on the subject, though none of them happens to be very good. In each case – especially the last one – the editor, for some reason, thought he or she knew a lot more about this than I did and totally rewrote or reworked the material, making it either inaccessible to readers or in certain instances just plain inaccurate. I’ve never understood that.

The really amazing thing is that, okay, I’m able to do this – interpret handwriting – yet I have never studied the subject. EVER. Never trained, never opened a book, never taken a course, nothing. I can just do it naturally. It’s the goshdarned wierdest thing.

Made wierder because I’m not even interested in handwriting. 

I’m serious. 

Normally, graphologists – the technical name for analysts – spend years, decades, half their life, making a microscopic study of the subject. It’s their passion. Then, at the end of all that effort, they declare proudly that they are “75% accurate” in their interpretation.

75%? That’s all??? My lord, I’d be so embarrassed.

Me, I’m around 99% accurate, and, frankly, ashamed that I can’t make it the full 100%. 

Don’t ask me why or how all this came to pass, by the way. It’s a mystery. It just crept up on me one day when I was around 32 years old, and since then – bingo! I’ve been able to deduce people’s innermost workings from the energy they invest in their scribble. Blackboards, menus, Post-It notes, cards, letters, originals or copies, doesn’t matter – it’s all good.  

In fact, when I first came to America, I used to do parties in my spare time and dazzle people with my skills. 

Then the Smithsonian Institution called. Wanted me to analyze the writing of an obscure 19th Century painter. It took me forty minutes. What I sent them back was not only dead-on, they said, but yielded more information than their best, most consistent research had turned up in fifteen years!  

vieiraI was on TV a lot too, doing Entertainment Tonight a few times, and The View (off-camera, I told the wonderful Meredith Vieira that she was frustrated with being on there and that she should leave and spread her wings, and she said, “I know! You are so right. That’s exactly how I feel.” Now she’s hosting The Today Show.) And a bunch of others. Folks loved it.

Then I quit.

Couple of reasons. A: I didn’t want to be known as a handwriting analyst. And B: I was scaring people, and that’s never good.

At a party at the Beverly Hills Hotel once, I told a woman about her life and how bleak it was at the time. The evidence was right there on the page, in every stroke of the pen, and I absolutely nailed it. But then, a few days later, her angry husband cornered my partner with a message to pass on to me. First he denied that what I’d told his wife was true. Then he added, “Tell him that if he keeps on doing this to people, someone’s going to sue him.”   

Well, that was it. He was right, I realized. And I didn’t want to be justifying this stupid talent in court. Without training or diplomas, what was I going to say? That it just magically appeared overnight, giving me the power to change people’s lives?

Pah, no way. So I stopped. Easy come, easy go. From that day onwards, I never did another handwriting analysis. Except maybe privately. Christmas cards and thank-you notes are always fun. I can tell exactly where friends are in their lives, which is frequently the opposite to where they say they are.

After that, nothing happened for years. I did radio and a TV show, wrote travel books instead. Eventually, the topic didn’t even come up in conversation any more. As far as I was concerned, I was done with handwriting for good.

Then, recently, two odd things happened.

A few weeks ago, the woman I’d analyzed at the Beverly Hills Hotel, the one whose husband issued veiled threats, approached my partner and told him privately, “Everything Cash said about me that day was true.” (Something we both knew anyway.)

Soon after that, over breakfast one Sunday, my partner – damn him – happened to let slip to a couple of new friends about my gift. That I used to analyze handwriting and was astonishingly accurate.

“Oh, you should do mine,” one of them chimed up immediately, as people always do.

“Actually,” I told her, “it’s been years. I don’t do it any more. I’ve forgotten most of it and am very rusty.”

But she persisted, sent me a written note, and came over one evening to hear the result. It was like getting a hepatitis test.

handwriting 2Astonishingly – to me, not her – without any preparation I told her all about herself. Her fears, her background, her insecurities, the reasons she behaved the way she did in relationships, the influence of her father  – it was staggering. (Again, to me, not her!) An hour later, she went home happy, pensive, and, I guess impressed, because she immediately recommended me to a friend of hers. 

Next thing I know, I’m sitting at a table yesterday morning with a family of Swedish people, total strangers. They’ve brought photocopies of the handwritings of dead parents and grandparents with them, and I’m studying them with a huge magnifying glass the size of a dinner plate, fluidly rattling off secrets – things about their behavior, attitudes, beliefs etc that nobody ever understood when they were alive.

It was a struggle, I’ll be honest. Seven writings in 90 minutes, with skills that  are blunted through lack of practice. Yet apparently everything I said rang true and made perfect sense. And the writing wasn’t even in English!    

Better still, I got paid for doing it. Oh my God, I made money at handwriting analysis!

So there we are. I’m a bit clueless as to what to do next with this. It’ll probably be nothing. Although I must say, this recent turn of events gives me a certain amount of pleasure, as well as vindication. I may be nowhere near as good as I used to be, but dang! Even at this subpar level, without trying too hard, I’m clearly better than most.

When my first handwriting book was published in Britain years ago, there was outrage from graphologists. Uproar, consternation. “We’ve researched this subject for decades, earned diplomas, and practiced until we’re 75% accurate,” they said angrily. “And you just breeze in without any qualifications and claim to be better than us? Is that what you’re saying?”

Yup. Pretty much.

As a result, my book was banned from graphology conventions, there were articles written in magazines decrying my method, and many people tried to stir up trouble.

There were similar stirrings when the American books came out as well, though nowhere near as much. And now I realize why. Handwriting is dead. People don’t write any more. Bit by bit, graphologists are losing ground to computers, until very soon there’ll be nothing left for them to work on. All their precious studies – of loops and strokes and margins and slants and other minutiae, leading to a 25% error rate – will be flushed away down history’s toilet. And good riddance, I say. Miserable, narrow-minded bunch.

Whereas myself, I didn’t ask for this gift – that’s why it’s called a gift – so if I don’t analyze another piece of writing ever again after yesterday, what do I care? 

At least I did something fun with it. I wrote books. I made a lot of people think differently about themselves. Plus, my work is filed away at the Smithsonian. And, best of all, I was instrumental in persuading Meredith Vieira to leave The View. That’s got to count for something, right?

www.cashpeters.com

NOTE: There’ll be no Swami column tomorrow. Out of town. Have a lovely weekend, people.

Leave a comment

Filed under Television commentary

Ways to baffle Americans, part 1: Acorn Antiques.

Acorn AntiquesIt remains one of the funniest things ever broadcast on British TV. Unfortunately, it doesn’t travel, either historically or geographically.

Acorn Antiques was a fake soap loosely modeled on a real soap running at the time called Crossroads, about life in a motel, whose bad acting, flimsy sets, and abominable clunky plot-twists became a British institution for all the wrong reasons. 

Watching it now, twenty-four years later, it still makes me laugh out loud. I doubt Americans will get it, which is a shame, but it cheers me up incedibly whenever I catch a rerun.

 www.cashpeters.wordpress.com

Comments Off on Ways to baffle Americans, part 1: Acorn Antiques.

Filed under Television commentary

The Pitts. But in a good way.

Brad PittThere’s a lot of talk in the news about Brad Pitt’s appearance on Real Time with Bill Maher, chatting about how ridiculous the anti-gay marriage lobby is and also about smoking pot.

I get the feeling that this is not what he wanted the promotion for his new movie to be about. And it wasn’t helped by Quentin Tarantino turning up on Howard Stern’s show yesterday, claiming Pitt gave him a slice from a brick of hash at his and Angelina’s house in France.(Listen HERE) But hey, it is what it is.

I always think, listening to this guy, that he’s the sane, rational face of America. While thousands of nutcases get in a froth over healthcare, decrying the onset of socialism in America, spurred on by the right-Fox Newswing fundamentalists on Fox News who, I believe, have the unstated intention of fanning the flames of unrest – and for what? For a measure that, if the screaming, placard-waving hordes stopped for a second to think about it, was actually going to help most of them enjoy a better standard of living – whilst all of that is going on, someone like Brad Pitt restores one’s faith in the country, making intelligent points, delivering them with care and compassion, and giving us hope that America is not entirely in the grip of lunatics, lobbyists, and big corporations protecting their profits at the expense of ordinary people.

Here’s the interview. Enjoy.

www.cashpeters.com

Leave a comment

Filed under Television commentary

At last, the faceless yes-monkeys get what’s coming to them.

networksI confess, nothing in this world brings a sparkle to my jaded eye on an overcast Monday morning in Los Angeles quite like hearing that the television industry is in trouble, with ratings in the toilet, executives being canned, and advertisers fleeing like kids from a burning orphanage.

It feels so right somehow. Like justice, or something.

The Wrap website today features the first part of a series of articles about the decline and predicted extinction of  TV as we know it. It’s worth reading.

TV executive

Out of work TV executive

Speaking as someone who’s worked in TV on both sides of the Atlantic and been forced to deal with ghastly weasels who call themselves producers, as well as slimey, two-faced network executives with zero scruples or backbone, it gives me the greatest pleasure to witness karma at work as these rats are slowly, year upon year, flushed from the plush, carpeted, five-star drains they’ve been cowering in for so long and out into the open job market.

Television is changing for good. Having destroyed their industry by flooding the schedules increasingly with cheap, annoying, sensationalist and ultimately no-quality product, the suits are now finding – surprise surprise – that viewers are drifting away, searching for something more productive to do with their time, taking advertisers, and therefore budgets, with them.  

Howard Stern this morning declared the end of TV as we know it, blaming a string of lousy and misguided executive decisions that focused on pandering to the mindless youth demographic of this country rather than producing quality shows. And he’s right.  HBO and a couple of other cable networks are the lone wolves in the quality TV department. Everyone else has thrown in the towel. (Need an example? See Kourtney and Khloe Take Miami.)    

My next door neighbor is on the board of HBO. He’s an incredibly smart man. If the rest of his colleagues are like him, it’s no wonder the network is thriving.

Sadly, he’s an isolated case. Most executives are not that astute. Usually, when we see these people sitting in their fancy corner offices making multi-million dollar deals, we assume they got where they are because they’re brilliant at what they do, when in fact, all too often, the exact opposite is true.

Kath and Kim

Kath and Kim

Look at the way Ben Silverman brought NBC to its creative knees with a string of appalling shows that were cancelled either during or, if they made it that far, at the end of the first season, never to reappear: Kath and Kim, My Own Worst Enemy, Knight Rider, Crusoe, Kings, Life, Lipstick Jungle….

Ghastly, every last one of them. Who on earth would ever think we’d want to sit and watch this trash? Oh, wait – Ben Silverman did. This is the trail of devastation he left behind him when he left.

My own experience of working with TV people confirms that they’re anything but the geniuses we have them down for. Most are faceless yes-monkeys, slaves to focus group findings and marketing surveys, whose main aptitude seems to be for manipulation, deceit and lying; everything else – judgment, creative ability, decisive action, vision, etc; stuff that really matters – is either secondary or non-existent.

A TV executive has one main priority: to keep his job as a TV executive and not get fired for making bad decisions. That’s it. If a show’s a hit, claim it as your own; if it flops, keep your head down and move on to the next thing. To hell with what’s actually good and worthwhile or what raises the bar and advances the medium.

So I applaud the dire prospects of the TV industry. And I absolutely love that the fall-out is taking many of the yes-monkeys with it.

Now, having said that, I will hand the baton jubilantly over to Josef Adalian at The Wrap for his analysis of the devastation that is taking place.   

“Network TV may be a cyclical business — but for bruised and battered broadcasters battling the worst economy in a generation, there’s little evidence to suggest a bounce back is in the cards any time soon.

If anything, things could get a lot worse before they get better. Some observers are even beginning to question whether there will ever be a turnaround, predicting that business model which has sustained broadcasters for close to 60 years has begun an irreversible decline.

The latest blow: A disastrous upfront advertising market that saw revenues plunge an estimated 15 percent from last year, dropping from $9.2 billion in 2008 to around $7.8 billion, according to estimates by several publications….”

Read the FULL article HERE.

TV Swami – he say YES to the demise of television, even though he’ll have nothing left to review on the BBC if it crashes.

www.cashpeters.com   

2 Comments

Filed under Television commentary