Friday, October 30, 2009

Hey Peter! The Breast Exam Girl is On Channel 7 Again!

She kind of reminds me of Beth.

The Fightin' Phils Polka

It's fun for the whole family!

The Book David Stern Doesn't Want You to Read

Deadspin has excerpts of the spiked Tim Donaghy book up, and it's damning stuff. Doubly so because (true or not) it fits the narrative of the single most damaging critique made of the NBA. Like "see Russia from my house," this will stay with the league for a long time, even if only 2 percent of it is true

What's going to happen to this league? It's on a downward trajectory to begin with. My guess is that the Donaghy allegations are going to hurt most with marginal fans (like me), who catch the occasional regular season game and then try to tune in for the playoffs and Finals.

Galley Brother B.J. notes that the NBA might be able to save themselves by rebranding as "sports entertainment" . . .

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Letterman Update

From the beginning I thought it was possible (though certainly not likely) that Letterman's serial-sex-with-younger-employees could cause him real trouble. If his alleged blackmailer actually goes to trial and gets discovery, and more former employees like this woman come forward, those odds are going to start to tilt.

CBS has a big potential downside here. As things stand now, they get a lot more from Letterman than they stand to lose. But that could change. Also, it's entirely possible that some other experienced late-night host might be available in the medium-term future to pick up as a replacement.

All of that, however, is just wind-up for this: When are we going to get a NY Post Letterman-Steve Phillips crossover? It has to happen . . .

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Josh Friedman on Loss

His description of what it's like to have your show cancelled:

Everyone says having your show cancelled is like a death but I've been dead before and at least when you're dead you don't get thrown off the Warner Bros. lot for haunting your old parking space. They probably mean it's like the death of a friend or a family member but that shit only hurts when it's YOUR friend or family member and even then it's mitigated by age, lifestyle and whether that person was a Hollywood friend or a real one and whether that family member left you money.

Losing your show is more like a surprise divorce where you get served papers in the morning and your (ex)wife is fucking Human Target by three in the afternoon using the same time slot your child was conceived in and also where she did that one thing that one time on your birthday.

Right in the fella's.


Hugh Hewitt on David Frum: "[I]t is the worst kind of drive-by punditry that I have seen in a long time from you."

Courtesy Slack

Galley Friend R.M. sends along a link to this old Mark Jenkins piece about a life well-lived:

Mike and I gravitated to each other as teenagers. We both lived on the edge of Laramie, the boundless prairie our backyard. We were predetermined to be wild and became perfectly matched partners in misadventure. Climbing came naturally to us, and we scaled everything in sight. University buildings, boulders, smokestacks, mountain walls—our adolescent enthusiasm and daring far exceeding our ability. Soon enough even wide-open Wyoming started feeling small. We lied about our ages, got jobs on the railroad, lived in a tent behind the Virginian Hotel in Medicine Bow, banked the cash, then left high school to spend half a year hitchhiking through Europe, Africa, and Russia, climbing and chasing girls. We got arrested in Tunisia, Luxembourg, and Leningrad. We got robbed. We slept in the dirt.

Adventure sounds so innocent to our ears today. It's good to remember that it isn't.

Terrific, heart-breaking stuff. Treat yourself.

Herc Has Details on The Plan!

Don't miss it.

Streaming News

The big news yesterday was that Netflix is coming to the Playstation 3. But Joystiq noted that the manner in which Netflix is arriving (a Blu-ray disc, not a firmware update), may be the result of Netflix making an end-run around its exclusivity agreement with Microsoft:

Michael Pachter of Wedbush Securities noted that the Blu-ray disc required for Netflix playback on the PS3 may circumvent exclusivity clauses instituted by Microsoft. "We believe that the exclusive arrangement limits Netflix's ability to appear on the 'dashboard' for the PS3 or the Wii."


The other interesting news comes from this release: You can now purchase HD streams of London theater productions for your PC. It's a little pricey ($15), and it's a pain to get onto your real TV screen. But it is kind of nifty.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Paging Christine Rosen

Extolling the virtues of the internet, Tyler Cowen writes:

The arrival of virtually every new cultural medium has been greeted with the charge that it truncates attention spans and represents the beginning of cultural collapse—the novel (in the 18th century), the comic book, rock ‘n’ roll, television, and now the Web.

It's unclear to me how this disproves the base charge. Imagine, for instance, putting forth this argument:

The arrival of virtually every social development since the 1960s--the rise of no-fault divorce, the birth-control pill, the spread of legalized abortion, the delay of first marriage--has been greeted with the charge that it depresses fertility rates.

Every one of those developments in fact was greeted with the argument that they would depress fertility. And sure enough, the American fertility rate has fallen steadily. Just because people keep lamenting new factors contributing to a phenomenon, doesn't mean the phenomenon doesn't exist. Pace Cowen, is there anyone who thinks television hasn't corrupted intellectual life?

If Cowen wants to argue that the internet is a net good for cultural life, that's fine. People on the internet love to hear that! And best of all, it's a non-falsifiable proposition.

I'd just ask this: We're almost two decades into the internet now. What towering works has it produced that will be read in 20 years? What intellects has it pushed forward that were hitherto ignored? Where is the web's Irving Kristol or Isaiah Berlin or Richard Neuhaus? Or even William Buckley?

The answer, of course, is that there isn't one. The web gives us Glenn Reynolds and Matt Yglesias and Kathryn Jean Lopez and Andrew Sullivan. I suspect that this is not an accident.

Update: Damon Linker takes another shot at the kind of intellectual rigor which the internet fosters.

Your Lucky Day

Ever wanted to see an anvil shot 200 feet into the air? Stupid question. Who hasn't?

Link courtesy Galley Friend B.W.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Babe Watch

Hey Matus, I'll see your Betty Draper and raise you a Cylon.

Whedon To Direct Glee

Young writers take note: That's how you write self-promotion without sounding like an ass. That probably took him, what, an hour? And it's so self-hating and funny! If you're going to pimp your work, you ought to be entertaining when you do it.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

But does it get you a Betty Draper?

We all knew this was inevitable. But does it signify a Jump the Shark? Brooks Brothers is now selling the Don Draper suit, and for only $998. The question is, will they be selling the outfit Betty Draper wore on her night out in Rome anytime soon? (I know, I know, she looks good in anything she wears. Or nothing for that matter.)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Brief Political Aside

Garrison Keilor, who may be the most over-rated commodity in American public life, criticizes conservative critics of President Obama by writing "Petulant fury isn't a winning hand in politics. Get over it."

That is, unless it's 2006, right?

Three Parts Cronenberg, Two Parts Lynch, One Part Björk . . .

So evidently, this is the denouement of Lars Von Trier's Anti-Christ. It's a spoiler!

Demography, Destiny, cont.

Gunnar Heinsohn has an excellent piece from a few days ago on Afghanistan's disposable sons.

If some academic press wanted to do a real public service, they'd publish a translation of Heinsohn's stuff, particularly his Sons and World Power.

Goodnight, Sweet Captain

Captain Lou Albano, dead at 76. Football player, professional wrestler, pop icon--all in all, a life well lived.

It's striking looking at the contrast between some wrestlers, such as Albano or Andre the Giant or Ted Dibiase--who really do use the sport to live big, wonderful, only-in-America kind of lives--and others, like Jake Roberts or the Von Erichs, who just get used up by it. What's sad is how much the latter category outnumbers the former.

The New Republic Is Against Transparency!

Can you imagine TNR running this cover in, say, 2001? Or 2003? Or 2006? If nothing else, it probably would have cut their subscriber base in half. But today it's just pleasantly counter-intuitive. Almost Kinsley-esque!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Redskins Make History!

I've been taking immense pleasure in the travails of the Skins this season. It seemed to me that they have had about the weakest schedule I've ever seen.

Actually, they have the weakest schedule ever. They're the first franchise to ever face six consecutive winless teams. During this run, they're 2-3.

Related NFL note: Ever wonder which parts of the country see which games? This guy puts together maps showing you. Can't even imagine the amount of work. He deserves a medal.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Death of Clover?

Starbucks has now removed Clover machines from several Boston-area stores. This on the heels not expanding the Clover project as promised pre-recession. Now they say they'll add more Clover in 2010 when, in theory, Americans will want $4 coffee.

Is Clover actually worth $4 a cup? My own sense is no. But it might be worth about $3.25. It makes awfully good coffee, particularly with premium beans.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Final Obama-Nobel Post(?)

Some on the right took pleasure from the left's (mostly) stuttering unbelief last week concerning the president's Nobel Prize. Many seemed to believe that the left's lament--"this is crazy, he hasn't earned it yet"--could be the first rumblings of a breakdown of the Obama myth. I don't know that I entirely agree.

Jay Cost and Steve Sailer hit on the truly unmentionable lens through which the prize could well be viewed: That the award was entirely in keeping with Obama's entire career history and that, in any case, he is not "less qualified" to have a Nobel today than he was "less qualified" to be president in 2008.

In a sense, cleaving to "he hasn't earned it yet" is actually a defense of Obama, in that it's a stance that allows his erstwhile defenders to avoid a more critical position. Also, I might well agree with Galley Reader C.L. who wrote in to suggest that at the end of the day, the Nobel stands on its own, becoming not a bug, but a feature. Instead of reminding voters of how unqualified Obama is, it becomes a listed qualification.

Friday, October 09, 2009

The Shark and Chrissy America Split

Czabe captures the farce, particularly this insufferable SI piece which made excuses for their very bad behavior:

Strict moralists will look at the circumstances of their initial attraction—the messy entanglement of a wealthy sportsman with the wife of a good friend, Andy Mill; the Madison County--style longings of a hausfrau with three school-age children—and deliver a swift verdict of no. To bolster their case, the scolds need only point to the postseparation remarks of Laura Andrassy, who told an Australian newspaper that Evert had been "aggressive" in pursuit of her husband of 25 years ("In front of me, like I didn't exist") and that Norman's quest for superstardom in both golf and business had left her feeling "like a single mom."

Here, for example, we find Greg resting his bare feet on Chrissie's knees while he reads the Financial Times. "We both have foot fetishes," she explains, gently tugging on one little piggy while coyly eyeing another. "We rub each other's feet all the time." She tilts her head as she runs her thumbs up his calloused soles. "Boy, feet. I think all athletes know the importance of feet."

"Chrissie likes to do things with me," Norman says, kicking off his shoes as N1GN breaks through the clouds over Santo Domingo. "One of the greatest compliments a spouse can give you is to simply say, 'Hey, can I come with you? Hey, let's go for a hike in the Tibetan mountains.' My ex-wife never gave me that."

Listen to Norman: "She makes me feel alive again." Listen to Evert: "We're better people together."

What will those scolding, strict moralists say now? The prigs!

Annals of Gambling

Last November I asked a group of friends what they thought the over-under was on when Obama would get his Nobel Peace Prize. The general consensus was 2011--the theory being that the Nobel Committee would think they were handing him a boost for his reelection campaign.

In retrospect, it's clear that the over on that line was a huge sucker's bet.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

More on Spock and Fringe

Galley Friend P.G. keeps digging:

I just went back and checked the episode recaps for the episode where they discussed Trek. Sure enough, not only do they discuss Trek, but the guy who basically broke the case open for Fringe Division ALSO CLAIMS TO BE SPOCK! And he's the one who connected the dots between The Pattern and Bell. So a man who claims to be Spock also seems to know more about Bell than anyone else. Surely he must notice the similarities between William Bell and the man he claims to be?

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Bye-Bye YouTube?

Or maybe Google will just spin it off. How much do you think someone would pay today for a massive website with millions of users that burns through money with no path to profitability?

[Ed: Probably about $10 billion. Oh, never mind.]

Bonus: Where did CNET get those great sources!

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

George F'in Will

Has just noticed something peculiar about Barack Obama.

McCain-Feingold! Booooo!

Literary Tradition and The Atlantic

Good to the last drop!

Oh come on, you know you want to click the link.

The Big He

It'll be interesting to see what happens to Letterman going forward. One the one hand, consenting adults and all that. On the other hand it's really creepy to have serial affairs with women who are both (a) your employees and (b) much younger than you. But it's the former half of that equations that's the most troublesome. Unless Worldwide Pants is really insulated from Viacom, I suspect Letterman ran afoul of a book-load of corporate policies regarding the workplace.

Of course, those things are never apply to grand personages.

Update: I have no idea whether or not this Viacom Global Business Practices handbook is either current or applicable to Letterman (he might well be an independent contractor (or "supplier") through his production company. But just as a glimpse into the type of apparatus giant, multinational corporations erect to govern the conduct of employees, click on the link and scroll to page 24:

"Viacom recognizes that consenting romantic or sexual relationships may develop between a manager and a subordinate. these relationships frequently lead to complications for the parties involved as well as for others in the workplace. that is why, if a consenting romantic or sexual relationship develops between a subordinate and someone senior to him or her, Viacom requires the more senior person to promptly disclose this information to his or her company’s Human Resources Department."

My guess is that Viacom has some similar verbiage attached to dealings with their outside contractors.

Obama, Olympics, cont.

Did conservatives take pleasure in Chicago being snubbed for the Olympics?

Probably. But at least they weren't rooting for their country to lose a war.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Brief Political Aside

A number of friends chided me this week for wondering aloud how the Olympics decision might undermine the entire central premise of the Obama theory of foreign policy. My friends assured me that Obama would never put the prestige of his office (not merely the presidency but his personage) on the line unless he had a prior guarantee that the decision had already been made to move forward with Chicago.

In any event, I await Jimmy Carter's indictment of the IOC for their opposition to President Obama's plan.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

How Many Takes?

From FilmDrunk: Kind of annoying, but awfully impressive for the pure show-off mastery of choreography on the camera work. That's a single five-minute tracking shot with really interesting transitions. As a sign of how effing hard this is, note that there are only three hand-offs where the new subject shows that they're waiting for a cue. Everything else is butter-smooth.

Hate them if you want; but that's serious work.

Instant Classic?

Lorenzo Lamas . . . Debbie Gibson . . . Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus!

The trailer kind of gives it away.

Look, you can make fun of Michael Bay all you want, but you would have lined up to see this if he'd directed it with a $150M budget.

Fringe Watch

Galley Friend P.G. suggested to me last season that Fringe could be evolving from a mildly-interesting-X-Files-spawn to a seriously interesting and original sci-fi story. The inflection point P.G. was intrigued by was the moment when Fringe opened up the the multiverse and introduced the idea of a war brewing between the (so far) two universes. Since then, the series has only gotten more engaging.

Two minor questions:

(1) Leonard Nimoy plays William Bell in the show. But in the Fringe world, we've seen that Star Trek exists. Spock-Nimoy-Bell . . . who is real? Who is pretend? Head hurts now.

(2) What do we call the other earth? Hercules refers to it as Earth 2. I've been calling it Earth Prime. Maybe we need to consult Marv Wolfman.

Bonus nerd question: Is the Observer something like the Monitor? Only time will tell!