Saturday, May 13, 2006
Friday, May 12, 2006
I have a number of friends who scowl about Lost and ER and Law & Order: SVU and other favorite shows always being in repeats. It's also something you see quite a bit online. As if the network is pacing back and forth, like customers outside a Krispy Kreme, waiting for the new episode to be delivered and the "Hot Now" sign to light up.
Folks, you're blaming the wrong people. Blame the network and the calendar.
The producers of Lost, for example, aren't lazy. In fact, they work really hard. Insanely hard, I'll bet, judging by what's on the screen.
They make as many episodes as the producers of 24. (24, to be specific.) The difference is, 24 runs without repeats because it starts running in January. Lost starts airing in September... but both end in May.
Same number of episodes, four month difference in when they start. Result: repeats.
So pick your poison: Wait until January and get no repeats, or start in September and get big gaps between episodes.
And if you're wondering why the network can't space them out more evenly, it's because they have to have bunches of new episodes during sweeps periods... so that leaves those big gaps in between.
Few departed web services are as fondly remembered as Kozmo. I used to love this service. You could call them and have a friendly delivery person bring over a rental movie along with some snacks, drinks, an MP3 player, and even a wrapped hostess gift for the dinner you were going to that night. It was awesome.
Now the man behind Kozmo is trying a similar-but-more-ingenious idea again, according to TechCrunch. Place an order with LicketyShip from more than 20,000 items, and they'll dispatch local couriers to local retailers to buy the stuff for you, all for about $20. I don't know about you, but there are a lot of days I'd pay twenty bucks not to have to go to the mall.
LicketyShip is about to start a beta in the Silicon Valley area. You can sign up at their website. I hope it succeeds, because I'd love for this to spread nationwide.
"… let's review the rules. Here's how it works: The president makes the decisions; he's the decider. The press secretary announces those decisions, and you people, the press, type those decisions down. Make, announce, check. Just put 'em through a spell check and go home. Get to know your family again. Make love to your wife. Write that novel you got kickin' around in your head. You know, the one about the intrepid Washington reporter with the courage to stand up to the administration? You know: fiction!"
-- Stephen Colbert, WHCA Dinner, 4/29/06
Don Hazen of AlterNet sums up brilliantly the courage of what Stephen Colbert did and the cowardice of the media's reaction.
(10:44pm - Arianna Huffington has written a lovely piece as well.)
Apple's Airport Express is simple, elegant, and nearly flawless, as I recently discovered on a trip when I tried to set up a competing travel router. But its only drawback has been that it's audio-streaming feature only works with iTunes.
One of my favorite Mac applications is Rogue Amoeba's Airfoil, which allows you to stream audio from any application to the AE. It's incredibly useful in countless ways. But it's always been Mac-only, until now. Airfoil software is now available for Windows. If you have an AE and a PC, get Airfoil. (via Engadget)
Thursday, May 11, 2006
Hey, Chris has no bigger fan than me, but since America is determined to keep Taylor in the competition, last night was the right time for him to go, IMHO. Elliott was the best performer Tuesday night, and Chris was easily the worst. He's become dull, almost a parody of himself. And the sunglasses didn't help.
But now is the time, folks. Taylor's gotta go. Yeah, he's goofy and lovable, but no one is ever going to buy an album by this guy. Elliott for runner-up, Katharine for Idol. Anything else is rdiculous.
The Sony PS3 will be five hundred bucks, the price being so jacked because of the inclusion of Blu-Ray, a technology I don't want. But the PS3 will not have HDMI, which means high-def DVD's will not display in high-def after the DRM cripples the signal on Blu-Ray DVD's, including Sony's. And Blu-Ray could go the way of Betamax anyway.
I'm SO glad the next GTA game is coming out for the Xbox.
In the interest of full disclosure, Dave Damiani is a friend of mine. But also in the interest of full disclosure, I usually don't have much use for jazz. To me, most of it sounds like the musicians are still tuning up and cleaning their spit valves, and no one told them the show started. I like Count Basie.... Jazz with less than thirty musicians doesn't interest me.
But this is different! Dave's new CD is the good kind of jazz. The Frank's-Place-and-martinis kind of jazz, as Dave reinterprets four songs from the Great American Songbook. (Why do we call it the "American" Songbook, when one of the songs here was written by two Englishmen? Why do we steal credit for songs, but let the world think the Chinese came up with our greatest invention, the fortune cookie? But I digress...)
Anyway, Dave does these songs beautifully, and you can stream or buy his 4-song CD at his MySpace site or at www.davedamiani.com. Check it out. This is music for candlelight and romance... even if you're all alone. Giggity giggity!
Wednesday, May 10, 2006
YouTube now has Mobile YouTube, allowing you to upload video directly from your cell phone or PDA. This should significantly increase the weirdness/fun quotient... but should also allow for some incredible footage of breaking news events as they happen. Just another great example of citizens bypassing the media filter.
And if any of you can get a cell phone near Katharine McPhee's dressing room, you know what to do.
The Chicago Tribune's Phil Rosenthal has a column today sneering at the influence of people like Conan O'Brien (2.4 million viewers) or Stephen Colbert (1.5 million viewers). After all, Rosenthal wonders, how does a guy like Colbert get to speak to the White House Correspondents Dinner when he has only 1.5 million viewers?
Maybe because it makes him one of the highest-rated people in the room?
As I've pointed out before, I love when people who write for newspapers (which have circulations generally of between 250,000 and 1,000,000) sneer at TV shows for "only" attracting a couple of million people. Never mind that Rosenthal, who's a smart guy, should know better than to compare cable ratings (or late night ratings, for that matter) with prime-time numbers.
So let's compare cable with cable.
The media elevates people with half Colbert's ratings, like Bill O'Reilly or Anderson Cooper. Colbert generally has a bigger audience than Paula Zahn and Greta Van Sustren combined. And his audience is in the "money demo" instead of the "Depends demo."
That's why he's one of Time magazine's 100 most influential people. That's why he gets seven-figure book deals. Because 1.5 million people ain't nothing. Especially when you have balls.
Monday, May 08, 2006
This last, superlative, rejuvenated season only proves that there is a lot more life in this show. The rejiggered format, the new cast members, the renewed focus...
Can't NBC find room for this show for another year?
More than ever, this country needs to see what The West Wing now depicts: heroic bipartisanship. I can't be the only one who wants to see Santos and Vinick for one more season.
And I can't be the only one who wants to see Matt Santos crusade for lobbying reform. That truly is the one legislation from which all other legislation can grow. And as Bill Maher pointed out, why does it take a fictional candidate to say it?
At any rate, barring a last-minute reprieve, congratulations and thank you to everyone involved in the show, past and present. I have worked with TV writers and producers who truly assume the audience is stupid, and I have always cited The West Wing as proof that not everybody does.
At least I'll give him the benefit of the doubt, and assume he's saying something stupid, rather than assuming we're all idiots.
Mediacom CEO Rocco Commisso decried "net neutrality" rules today, according to B&C.
"The government is coming and telling us how we can rent our infrastructure..." Citing networks that sell episodes of hit TV shows online, Rocco says "they're making money through our pipe" but then "turn around and `say don't let Rocco charge anybody for this usage.'"
Well... Rocco (since we're all calling you Rocco)... You did "charge anybody" for the usage.
In fact, you charged everybody for the usage.
Every computer pays for internet access. Every computer hooked up to the pipe pays the piper, doesn't it? Each video sent through the Net, therefore, is paid for going in, and going out. Isn't that right, Rocco?
The gas company sells gas through its pipe. We all pay for it. I use it to heat soup. Mrs. Fields uses it to make millions of dollars baking cookies. The gas company isn't entitled to shake down Mrs. Fields for a percentage of her cookie profits. It's not her fault she put the gas to better use than I did.
Should the phone company be entitled to a percentage of all deals made on phone calls? I use the phone for business all the time... As long as I pay my bill, if anyone from Sprint shows up here looking for a cut of my income, they will get a panini di knuckles.
As for the government "telling you" how to rent your infrastructure, that's no different than the government "telling you" you have to let black people use your restrooms. Or you have to fairly consider renting your guest house to gay people. Or you have to put a wheelchair ramp in front of your office building. Or you have to put safety rails around equipment to protect workers.
Welcome to America, Rocco.
In this country, the government "tells us" to do a lot of things, because some people aren't as enlightened as you. Left to their own devices, they would try to find a way to cheat every citizen and squeeze every situation to their own benefit in order to wheedle every last dollar they could out of it, no matter how unfair or how unscrupulous it made them seem.
You chose to get into the utility business. That means we pay for it whether we use it or not. When I go on vacation for a week, I still pay for my Internet access, even though I didn't use it at all. If I come home from vacation with an idea to make a million dollars with the bandwidth, none of that money is yours.
Deal with it, Rocco.
To buy a keychain which counts down the seconds until the Bush administration is over, go to www.backwardsbush.com. Of course, given that he's never won a fair election, and his total disregard for the Constitution, there's always the possibility that Bush will be reelected in 2008.
Glarkware has the unofficial Dr. Acula shirt available for pre-order.
TiVo's new service, letting you search for ads for products you're interested in, rolls out today. According to Zatz Not Funny, most of the ads will be value-added or long-form, like Kraft offering cooking videos or Penn & Teller doing magic for Ford.
I think this is great. I've always said advertising should be something you can seek out, not something sprayed indiscriminately, like a firehose on a crowd of bystanders.
In case you were wondering why Donald Rumsfeld paused after he said that the other day, it wasn't because he realized he'd unintentionally punned. It's because he realized he'd told another whopper of a lie. And there was no backing out of it.
This should have been dramatically driven home this morning as you watched the news of General Hayden's nomination as CIA Director. One White House spokesperson after another assures us that this four-star general has twenty years of intelligence experience. How is that possible if the Secretary of Defense is not in the intelligence business?
Easy: Rumsfeld lied. Again. Hell, anyone who watches The West Wing knows it.
And no one in the press is calling him on it.
It took me exactly eighteen seconds using Google to find proof that has somehow evaded our national media.
Surf on over to the government's own website: "United States Intelligence Community: Who We Are" and read the following (italics mine):
"The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has all-source analytical capabilities that cover the whole world outside US borders. ...
"Three major intelligence agencies in the Department of Defense (DoD) - the National Security Agency (NSA), the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) - absorb the larger part of the national intelligence budget....
"Although the Intelligence Reform Act provides extensive budgetary and management authorities over these agencies to the Director of National Intelligence, it does not revoke the responsibilities of the Secretary of Defense for these agencies."
Hear that? Does not revoke. The very satellites we use to spy on other countries are Mr. Rumsfeld's business. He is supposed to be very much in the intelligence business, and if he doesn't know it, it is yet another reason why we're in the mess we're in, and why he must go. Now.
Sunday, May 07, 2006
He appears to be doing the least telegenic thing I've ever seen, yet he is getting oodles of TV coverage, because he is doing it in New York. It's not a trick, and it's not interesting. But it's in Manhattan. So it's news. And next week, I guess it'll be a TV special.
It's the dullest thing I've seen since someone hung orange curtains in Central Park and the media went apeshit. Because it was in New York. Orange curtains in Moab, Utah? Not so newsy.
Los Angeles could burn to the ground, and it would barely get mentioned if Cindy Adams were to simultaneously say something... and I don't even know who that is! I only know she had a feud with Emeril and she has a dog. Why do I know this about a woman I have never heard of? Because she's from New York!
Anyway, back to David Blaine and the City That Never Sleeps... because there's always something tedious to gape at and point cameras at. Like an idiot in a ball of water.
Once, when I was at the Magic Castle, a close-up magician sat at a table with me and produced coins, cards, and birds out of his empty hands with his sleeves rolled up. He was sitting next to me. My eyes were on his hands, three feet away, the entire time. THAT guy should get a TV special.
And recently, David Copperfield was mugged on the street. He showed the guy his pockets were empty... and the mugger went away! In fact, Coppy's pockets were loaded with money, jewelry, cell phones, silks knotted together, and god knows what else. This is the greatest trick that rabbit-puller has done since he convinced Claudia Schiffer he was spongeworthy. I say give him a TV special! Another Statue of Liberty thing. Maybe magic crimestopping tips. Or magic supermodel-nailing tips.
But this yutz? In a snow globe? With scuba gear? Nah.
Look, I understand that a lot of the science of TV procedurals requires explanation, for the sake of the viewer. That's why seemingly half of each CSI consists of trained technicians who've worked countless crime scenes together saying things like, "Once I spray this chemical, the blood and semen will glow under ultraviolet light."
To which the other person should, rightfully, say, "No shit, Sherlock. I work here, too, remember?"
Honestly, imagine you worked in a cubicle with a guy who picked up every piece of paper in your inbox and, after each one, wryly said, "Hmmm.... OM-5 form... Once we fill this out, the goldenrod copy goes to human resources and the rest goes to finance." You'd be stapling his tongue to his forehead in about a week.
But hey, sometimes bad exposition (or "pipe") is necessary.
But for the sake of saving time for all us procedural viewers, can we finally agree the characters no longer need to tell us that disposable cell phones can't be traced? We get it.
According to a press release, "The first company to convert whole lobster into powder has launched its product onto the world market."
"Natural Seafoods, Inc. has a Salvadorean partner who fishes for these creatures and harvests them straight into a powerful turbine that converts them into lobster powder completely ready to add to soups, sauces and other gourmet dishes. It is natural red in color and has the taste and odor of pure lobster."
"They are in fact producing it in 500 mg capsules for consumers to add as a nutritional supplement. The company has combined the powder with traditional dishes such as lobster newburg, lobster fried rice, lobster curry powder and even spicy lobster rolls for sushi lovers."
Nightmarish? Sure, but horribly, nutritiously convenient, too! Just the thing for when you're watching your TV Lobster.