Review: Memphis Heat
Back in June, I had the fortune to talk with the director of Memphis Heat, Chad Schaffler, as the film was taking a tour of theaters around the title’s region. Just the bit that I had to talk with Chad about the phenomenon of Memphis “Rasslin'” gave me a sense of the energy and excitement of those memories.
Well, I shared some of that enthusiasm when a copy of Memphis Heat showed up in my mailbox the other day, and I’d been scraping for a moment to watch the movie. This is what you would hope. A complete retrospective with the names you know from the area, Jerry Lawler, Jerry Jarrett, Rocky Johnson, Jimmy Hart, Jimmy Valient (who is easily mistaken for Tommy Chong). But the laundry list of other stars of the area that I’d never really gotten to know.
As a longtime fan, this disc delved into just where guys like Jimmy Hart and Jerry Lawler came from. It was the perfect companion to reading Lawler’s book all those years ago (and might lead to me re-reading it with this context). Stories from the road, about the crazy crowds, and wars between promotions, and even a departure to WWF. When the movie was done, I sat through all of the outtakes from the interviews.
In an era when WWE is releasing revisionist history DVDs of WCW, World Class Championship Wrestling, ECW, and AWA, it’s nice to see something straight from the source, and from what I understand, one of the few libraries not currently owned by the big WWE. If you’re big into reading everything you can get your hands on about life in wrestling, this is a great flick.
You can find the trailer, and a shop for the DVD and book it was based on, at www.memphis-heat.com
The War for Late Night
I’ve always saw the Tonight Show as one of those staple shows growing up. Carson raised my sense of humor, and I felt his leaving as one of those now rare moments in television. Since, it seems that show has been an oft battled for throne.
War for Late Night is another recommendation from TWIT’s long sustained Audible ads (affiliate link), which have fueled my wish list in that service fir some time now. I normally wouldn’t have delved into a book like this without a recommendation. What I found was a look at how truly screwed up the waning network television business really is. We discuss at great length at how much the content providers don’t “get it” when it comes to the battle of cable vs the Internet. It’s likely worse than thought if the history of this book holds true.
The book bounces back and forth in the timeline of late night in the last twenty years. First at thus up fronts featuring Jay Leno bombing at stand up heading into his 10 pm show. We get the story of elements of this plan being laid out five years earlier when NBC feared losing Conan and attempted to design a plan to keep both in the fold. Surprisingly, this book actually steps back and profiles anyone who’s mattered in the late night space in the last decade. Letterman, Ferguson, and Kimmel are all there, but so were Stewart and Colbert. Though with the final result of Conan ending up on cable, I shouldn’t be surprised.
In the midst of all of the motivations and conversations between execs, talent, and their representatives, there are also rumblings of the resistance of the “old ways and tradition” of something like the Tonight show as cable honchos and the pending Comcast merger are on the horizon. Conan is portrayed as the loyal employee, and a tiny bit neurotic, as most talents are. Jay is portrayed as all business, which is why he’s successful, and partially betrayed by NBC to begin with. We get incite into reactions and history of Letterman, Kimmel (including his Leno impression and shanghai’ing Leno on his own show), and more late night history than I ever wanted to know. The audiobook from Audible was very well read, and kept me into it for all 14+ hours of the book.
If your Team Conan, you’ll enjoy this one, for sure. I grew up on Carson and waned on Leno, and this was a great backstory for the last 20 years of that space!
It’s a week later, and I’ve managed to listen to is 1.5 times, and this was quite a different animal than Crush It. Rework starts by deconstructing business as we all know it, and suggests the way we should really go about things, or at least the ways in which 37Signals did it, and did it well. We find how the philosophy behind large business practices like meetings and prolonged decision making that fail to actually get things done. We took apart the entrepreneurial misconceptions that I’ve picked up from “Startup” talk around the internet about finding someone to fund your project, and what it costs to be beholden to a process like that.
Rework tends to go for some shock statements. For instance “Emulate drug dealers” sounds ridiculous for a business book at first, but upon reflection, you find that we’re discussing a shareware or trial model or some variation of either. The focus is on light products that are easily mobile and have more focus. Items like “ASAP is Poison” talks about how our communication can be broken at work.
As someone looking to build something for himself, this book came in handy. I had been looking at things from the entrepreneurial side, which became intimidating, and maybe it didn’t fit what I really wanted to do. On a recent net@night interview, the writers mentioned that this was an intentionally short book to be reread easily. I can certainly see doing that to mull over when I would actually have to consider looking at resumes and if to hire more people. Like Crush It last week, there is an undercurrent of an idea that you’re doing something important to you, and to step up and just run with your inspiration. You don’t sit on it.
For those looking to break out on their own, I have to recommend Rework and Crush It as a sort of one two punch to get yourself motivated. This as the nuts and bolts of thinking about your venture, and Gary V’s book as a cheerleader to destroy what you need to do.