Archive for January, 2010

Best reaction I read to Conan/Leno: Shut up Jerry Seinfeld

January 12, 2010

Two things are standing out in this Conan/Leno mess-up. The first is the way Conan is handling this. No one else since Carson could have written the type of heartfelt-but-funny resignation memo Conan wrote, and I believe Carson himself would have done something similar had this happened to him. The show has been in its time slot since time began, and part of taking over on the Tonight Show is preserving it for future generations. Conan seems to be the only one at NBC who understands this.

The second is the disparity in the comments people are leaving on different news sources and blogs. I expect the comments to have a different flavor on each site, but this topic is surprisingly polarizing. New York Times blog readers favoure Conan with great vigoure, belabouring the fact of Conan’s top-shelf personality and bandying about  “classy,” “brilliant,” “class-act” “bravo.” Readers of Business Insider, a funny right-leaning finance blog, are generally in support of Leno doing whatever the hell he wants. Huffington Post readers would gladly feast on the spleen of any who dare touch a red hair on Conan’s head. Fox News reader opinion is a mixed bag, and many seem to think Leno should have retired rather than force this situation in the first pace. CNN readers’ comments are similar to comments on viral Youtube videos—many off-subject, off-color comments in ALL CAPS, and as with Fox News sentiment is a mixed bag. Breitbart, which happens to be the source Drudge Report links to, focuses on politcal insults, Harry Reid, Bush, and Beck, with many of them saying “who cares” about Conan/Leno (Conan the “Elitist Liberal” made me laugh… not sure where that’s coming from). My favorite commentary was the videogum blog:

First of all, shut up, Jerry Seinfeld. You should stop weighing in on things that literally have NOTHING to do with you, and spend some of your copious amounts of wealthy free time trying to figure out a way to explain what your new TV show is, since apparently that’s the next great mystery facing mankind. Everyone is on the edge of their seat wondering if it will ever be possible for a human being to explain a shitty reality show-game show hybrid about marriage. But also, you should shut up for a more important reason, and not just because who asked you.

You should shut up because:

your own historically successful TV show didn’t gain actual popularity until its fourth season and was almost canceled numerous times, but held on long enough because a) NBC decided to give it a chance to develop an audience and b) you had fucking CHEERS as a lead-in.

I know that Wikipedia is not the coolest source for FACTS, but this is just the most concise description of what was going on back then:

[Seinfeld] premiered as The Seinfeld Chronicles on July 5, 1989. After it aired, a pickup by NBC did not seem likely and the show was actually offered to Fox, which declined to pick it up. However, Rick Ludwin, head of late night and special events for NBC, diverted money from his budget, and the next four episodes were filmed. These episodes were highly-rated as they followed Cheers on Thursdays at 9:30 p.m., and the series was finally picked up.

The show was actually offered to FOX, which declined to pick it up. I’m just saying that the argument that it is entirely up to the entertainer to make people want to watch them is almost entirely false, especially when you are dealing with audiences on this scale. It is up to the network to give the entertainer the space and time for audiences to actually find them, and one of the ways in which they can do that is by offering the entertainer a successful and appropriate lead-in that carries momentum to their show rather than draining it by being a half-hearted bullshit rip-off of the same thing. It would be like saying Seinfeld had nothing to complain about during those troubled early years if his lead-in had been…well, The Jay Leno Show.

Ugh, Seinfeld. Go make Bee Movie 2, you jerk. Just kidding. Please don’t make Bee Movie 2.


Guy tried to kill pope, wants book deal

January 12, 2010

Attention publishers: Do NOT be the last to know this classy character. About to get out of jail after a 10-year sentence for a different murder in 1979, Mehmet Ali Agca is apparently ready to collaborate with you on books, films, and interviews  about his 1981 assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II. All he’s asking for is millions of dollars. And he’d like to meet Pope Benedict. Not joking, and I hope he doesn’t make a penny off what he did.

I’m on Team Conan–might count more if I had a TV

January 11, 2010

Conan worked all of his life to get where he is and it’s not his fault Jay Leno made a bad decision. But now his show is being dismantled after five months. Leno had his run… he was alright, but no Carson. Back  in the day when he was first showing up as a substitute host once in a while, I thought he was pretty funny. But my judgement may have been off a little since I was probably ten. I always liked Carson, Conan, Letterman, and now Craig Ferguson more than Leno. I can stand Jimmy Fallon less than Leno, but I would watch that show every night for the Roots alone. In fact, I finally saw the Roots two weeks ago in Portland! And Questlove recently put out an EP of the best of their 1000+ sandwiches (music they play for commercial breaks), includes them and Corea playing Spain. Anyways.

Instead of Fox I’d rather see Conan on Comedy Central sometime in the Stewart/Colbert power hour. But I don’t have a TV so I guess my opinion counts beans.

Booyah: computer scientist cold disses Tom Wolfe

January 11, 2010

For some reason, I think a back-hand slap from a computer scientist to Tom Wolfe is funny. Just humor me.

W. Daniel Hillis wrote:

It seems that most people, even intelligent and well-informed people, are confused about the difference between the Internet and the Web. No one has expressed this misunderstanding more clearly than Tom Wolfe in Hooking Up:

I hate to be the one who brings this news to the tribe, to the magic Digikingdom, but the simple truth is that the Web, the Internet, does one thing. It speeds up the retrieval and dissemination of information, partially eliminating such chores as going outdoors to the mailbox or the adult bookstore, or having to pick up the phone to get hold of your stock broker or some buddies to shoot the breeze with. That one thing the Internet does and only that. The rest is Digibabble.

This confusion between the network and the services that it first enabled is a natural mistake. Most early customers of electricity believed that they were buying electric lighting. That first application was so compelling that it blinded them to the bigger picture of what was possible. A few dreamers speculated that electricity would change the world, but one can imagine a nineteenth-century curmudgeon attempting to dampen their enthusiasm: “Electricity is a convenient means to light a room. That one thing the electricity does and only that. The rest is Electrobabble.”

NYT on the news/politics industry’s paranoid leader

January 10, 2010

“I built this business to throw off a billion dollars in profit,” Mr. Ailes said. “That was the goal from Day 1. In my own mind.”

Greedy, partisan, brutal, afraid. Roger Ailes is a summation of the news media’s current sad state. He lays claim to the territory of journalism outsider while pulling the strings of news control. David Carr and Tim Arrango of the New York Times do a pretty good job with this subject.

110 authors write book for University Book Store’s 110th B’day

January 10, 2010

The University Book Store at UW opened 110 years ago, on 1/10. I hear they’re having sheet cake and sparking cider this afternoon… charming but I think I’ll pass. The more interesting part is the limited edition short story volume they published: 110 authors, poets and graphic novelists, the likes of Tom Robbins, Greg Bear, Rebecca Brown, Dan Savage and Stephanie Kallos, write 110-word shorts. Buy one of the artists’ books and you get 110/110 free!

Publisher and Lowes recalling home repair books

January 10, 2010

You can’t even do it yourself without fear of recall. Apparently, the six books, at least one of which has been in publication since 1975, give unsafe wiring instructions. No actual injuries reported, so I think this is pretty funny.

Book news

January 7, 2010

Good morning. But I digress.

LA Time’s book blog reports on a popular online book club’s plans for a reading of the ~900-page 2666 by Roberto Bolaño, to begin Jan. 25. I still haven’t read that one, and at 50 pages a week the pace should be easy for anyone to keep up with. Could be a good time. The site is

Yoko Ono has started rumors that she will write a book laying out (her version of) why the Beatles broke up.

George Klein has started rumors that he has  written a book laying out (his version of) why Elvis broke up. Klein was Elvis’ friend, and the book is actually about Elvis ‘the person’, as opposed to Elvis ‘the singer.’ More importantly, Klein resolved for me an important issue. Perhaps the greatest thing Elvis did was inspire this homage:

This head-sized object is called a Memphis Mafia, and is a banana-chocolate-peanut butter-chocolate chip-peanut fritter the size of your head. I ate one last week at Voodoo Doughnut Shop (though the photo’s from Yelp). At the time, I didn’t get the name, beyond the Memphis part, but turns out Elvis’ posse was called the Memphis Mafia.

The NYTimes reviews  John Lanchester’s I.O.U., a non-finance novelist’s point of view on the financial crisis.