Criticwire's Daily Reads brings today's essential news stories and critical pieces to you.
1. Netflix Ends Saturday Disc Delivery. Notice that your Netflix discs aren't coming quite as often anymore? The company officially stopped shipping on Saturdays in June, going back to the original five-day system that it had until 2009.
These days, most of us are streaming so with all those options there's less pressure to get an item in the mail, but of course not everyone is happy. When weekend mail delivery came close to ending last year (various government committees have opted to keep it going), an AP article noted that it could actually save Netflix money by reducing the number of deliveries for heavy users -- because of its flat rate, they're actually less profitable. Read more.
2. How Do the "The Strain's" Vampire Worms Work? Guillermo Del Toro takes monsters seriously (listen to his "Hellboy" commentary track, which practically doubles as a TED talk on pulp horror), and he wants to make sure his monsters are as plausible within their own world as possible. Vox's Culture Editor Todd VanDerWerff and science writer Susannah Locke sat down to discuss what inspired those creepy vampire worms from Del Toro's new show "The Strain," complete with videos of the things. Needless to say, it's fascinatingly gross.
This episode specifically mentioned the horsehair worm, which definitely seems to be the visual reference for the skinny little worms in the show. Horsehair worms are a group of hundreds of species that mostly target insects, and they are some of the most disgusting things on earth. After somehow managing to get eaten, the worm can grow up to several feet long inside the host's body, and then they burst out. Read more.
3. Explaining TCA. VanDerWerff also wrote a thorough explanation of what exactly the Television Critics Association press tour is all about. The yearly tour sees nearly every TV reporter talking to stars and producers about their upcoming projects. Plenty of those questions are prepped, but Van Der Werff says that something unexpected happens nearly every year. An example:
A few years ago, when "Homeland" was first debuting, amid the usual questions about where the show would go after its pilot came a completely out-of-nowhere question about whether there was any truth to the rumors that ABC had canceled "My So-Called Life" at the request of Claire Danes, the star of both that teen drama and "Homeland." Danes, who's typically poised and sure-footed at these sorts of things, stammered briefly, before finally giving an answer that landed somewhere in between the story as reported and completely exonerating herself, before admitting that, look, the network wasn't going to let the ultimate decision on whether to cancel one of its programs rest with a teenage girl. Read more.
4. No more "Twitter reacts" articles — ever. Jeb Lund of The Guardian writes that a large part of what journalists do on Twitter constitutes as intellectual theft, arguing that writers that take another person's Tweet and manually retweets it on their own account do so with the knowledge that it'll improve their own retweet and favorite count, and their brand. He's particularly critical about "Twitter reacts" articles, which provide "a reliable source of ad revenue with almost zero work."
Huffington Post perfected the formula years ago: screenshot a bunch of tweets on a popular event, add a sticky headline and as many as three sentences of explanation, then watch the pageloads roll in. Take 20 pictures and put them into a slideshow – Bleacher Report's version of longform journalism – and each click magically transforms into 20 pageviews, all without compensating the people creating 95% of your "article's" content. Read more.
5. The greatness of Gene Hackman. As a part of their ongoing series "The Greats," which pays tribute to still living legends of the screen, Tim Grierson singled out Gene Hackman, who retired from acting 10 years ago after the release of his little-loved final film "Welcome to Mooseport" (let's just pretend it was "The Royal Tenenbaums" instead). Grierson writes about how Hackman avoided being typecast in stock tough guy roles after he won his Oscar for "The French Connection."
He’s splendid as Harry Caul in "The Conversation," playing an emotionally cut-off man who discovers how much more cut-off he could become, and Harry Moseby in "Night Moves," playing a detective who ends up investigating himself. Two of Hollywood’s key post-Watergate thrillers, these movies maximized Hackman’s rough-around-the-edges quality, that sense that he was an ordinary guy who could fall through the cracks if he wasn’t careful. Read more.
6. Tweet of the Day.
Is “Boyhood” going to be like “Breaking Bad” where you can’t talk to white people unless you’ve seen it?
— daveweigel (@daveweigel) July 15, 2014