Magic Jewball

all signs point to no


Hold me closer, Tony Danza

Filed under : News,The Internets,TV
On October 18, 2010
At 9:30 am
Comments : 3

I see a lot of TV, my TV is on all the time… and yet I watch almost nothing. I have no idea what’s on any of the big networks or what reality show everyone is buzzing about right now. Names go by in blog posts like Snooki and Taylor Momsen and it’s hard for me to know what makes them famous. But it wasn’t always this way. When I was a kid, I watched all the big primetime shows and the reruns of ones which had been on before I was born. Even now I can tell you the plots of almost every episode of The Brady Bunch, Gilligan’s Island, The Flintstones, Charlie’s Angels, Dynasty, Fantasy Island, Seinfeld, The Simpsons, Friends, Law & Order, and lots more. But somehow, by the time I got my first DVR in 2002, I wasn’t really watching episodic TV. I know this because I never once used the function (you who have TiVos may know it as Season Pass but there’s no particular name for it on the ReplayTV) which records an entire season of something. I suppose the closest I ever came was Lost, which I started watching because I have a thing about plane crashes. Anyone who has watched Lost knows it had about as much to do with aviation as Gilligan’s Island had to do with boating, but I felt good having something to talk about in the office kitchenette and on the Internet. Frankly, as I’ve said many times, I never had any idea what was going on at any time in that show.

I actually watched the very first reality show of the new generation, Survivor. In fact, on the ultimate show where the winner was decided, I had a guest visiting from Israel where Survivor was unknown and he could not believe that I wouldn’t go out until the show was over. “Don’t you have a VCR?” he asked (this was in, I think, 2000, remember). But I was too afraid of hearing it somewhere else. By the second season, it was devoid of any interest for me because everyone in it had seen the first season and knew how to play it. Of course, there were other reality shows and I have tried to like them. I liked Trading Spaces and Queer Eye For the Straight Guy but after a couple of seasons (or sooner) you realize it’s always the same show. I watched some of Flavor of Love, because I happened to flip past it one day and was stunned by its over-the-topness. I tried Biggest Loser and Wife Swap because they seemed like interesting concepts but in the end I just cringed and felt embarrassed for everyone on them. When I watch most reality TV, I feel like a voyeur, and maybe a little dirty. So I stopped watching most of them except sometimes Cake Boss, because, well, I like cake, and it’s often the only thing on in the middle of the night.

Nowadays, I mainly watch these things: local news (Pat Kiernan on NY1 specifically), magazine shows like 60 Minutes, sports, movies I have already seen, and reruns of shows I watched in the 80’s and 90’s. Again, I am not sure how this happened, even as I just traced the history of my waning interest in the last two paragraphs. And somehow, I, who was the person at the school lunch table who could skillfully dissect the plot of the previous evening’s Mork & Mindy, have become some sort of freak. And I am aware of this. It happened twice just this weekend. First, I had a Twitter conversation with Noshowmo were I felt like I was from Mars because I did not realize a comment about housewives in Beverly Hills was about a TV show. If you could tweet, “I am a moron, explain your tweet like I am a moron,” and not humiliate yourself, I probably would have done so.

Later, I had this conversation with my sister.
She: Have you watched Teach? I bet you’d love it.
Me: Oh, I saw a billboard at the US Open for that. Oh hey, does Tony Danza have the name Tony on the show?
(I then proceed to laugh uproriously at my own joke while my sister looks utterly blank)
She: Uh… yes… his name is Tony Danza
Me: But on the show! Is his name Tony?
She: Yes, it’s Tony Danza.
Me: Really? They just gave up and gave him his full real name?
She: It’s a reality show! He’s himself.
Me: Oh. Yes. Right.

I may actually find this show on the Internet. But this is part of the problem. You have to know what’s going to be good or big if you want to join in the global conversation. Somehow, by the time you find out it’s 30 Rock or The Office, it’s too late. I don’t have Netflix or the time to watch DVDs of five years of a show. And let’s face it, half the fun is being able to discuss the show with other people. When I had HBO, it was easy. A show would come on, it would be made clear to you that This Is A Big Show! Watch This Show! And there would be a manageable season of eight or ten episodes that you could handle. This is why, aside from Lost, the last series (serieses?) with which I kept up were Big Love, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and Six Feet Under. So now I am that freak. That freak who understands no cultural reference and doesn’t even get the joke because she doesn’t know the name of a hugely popular (apparently) TV show.

Speaking of TV news, last week I watched a lot of Chilean miner coverage, but I watched it on the Internet. In fact, I got into a tussle with a technology writer I very much admire, Farhad Manjoo, who writes for Slate. I’ll have to put words in his mouth because it was on Twitter and all statements were 140 characters or less, but he seemed to be saying that I was only getting meaning out of what I was seeing because it had been so hyped. Even when I explained that I was seeing an unedited raw feed from the mine with no voiceover, he claimed that my emotional response was manipulated because I had already seen “a month of commentary.” I didn’t know how to say in 140 characters, “are you kidding? Did you notice that no one watches the news or reads the newspaper anymore? I read technology blogs and Gawker. And it wasn’t big on NY1 this month either; they’re more concerned with bedbugs.” It’s claimed that most people get their news from Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert but I don’t even watch them unless someone posts an interesting clip online.

But, you see, it wasn’t until I had this conversation on Twitter that I realized I no longer watch CNN or MSNBC or even Fox, which is comforting to watch when something’s happening in Israel. I only get the weekend NY Times and I skim it. While I am cooking or baking, I listen to 1010 WINS in the kitchen, but that’s mostly local news, as well. So wow, I am that person. I get my news from blogs. And Twitter. I’m following a trial, the one for the murder of the Petit family in Cheshire, Connecticut, almost exclusively on Twitter. I have a list of all the reporters I could find who are tweeting from the courtroom (it is here) and I have that page open all day. Every now and then I will check back and see what is happening and if it’s a big moment, I stay for a bit. Back in the day, I watched the OJ trial on TV, just like everyone else. I was working at my first label and my boss had a TV. When she was out, which was often, my co-worker and I would eat lunch in her office and watch the trial. But somehow, this is better, because frankly, it’s a gruesome trial and I don’t need to hear every detail, I am just curious about the case and the way it is built and tried (you may remember I like Law & Order as well). But it’s like instantaneous reporting from ten different people and it’s an amazing thing. So much so, that the NY Times covered it. Sometimes I look at the Times app on my iPod, so I get some news there, too. In this case, I saw on my iPod that the NY Times had recognized that people are getting their news from Twitter.

Yesterday, I laughed at someone on Twitter for not getting a visual joke that’s been going around about the Gap logo redesign. And that’s when it hit me: I know every Internet meme and I can tell you what happened at the Windows Smartphone press conference, but I didn’t really know much about the Chilean miners until I happened upon a discussion of it on a forum, whereupon, I flipped to and watched a streaming video. I have replaced almost every form of media in my home with something viewable on a device with software and memory.

I haven’t yet decided if this is a good thing, but as soon as I do, I’ll be sure to let you know here, on Twitter, or on Facebook.

Elton John – (Hold me Closer) Tiny Dancer


They wouldn’t print it if it wasn’t true

Filed under : News
On February 2, 2009
At 12:15 am
Comments : 7

Here’s the scenario. Imagine that your grocery store has two floors. If you live in New York City this will be easier for you, but work with me here. And that the elevator is kind of old and creaky and slow and the button is hidden behind a display but it doesn’t really matter because the unit is in constant usage and thus you can rely on people inside pressing the buttons and ensuring its arrival. Once inside, people fit themselves in like a Tetris game for the 20 second ride. Usually, I just take the stairs (I can’t imagine maneuvering a cart around this narrow-aisled, super-crowded place) but either way, it’s no big deal.

Can you imagine a less interesting blog post that what I’ve just described in the last paragraph? And yet The New York Times, the newspaper of record, the staid Gray Lady, put that on the front page on Saturday. I have a weird relationship with the print media industry. That is, I see it the way the rest of you see the music industry. I subscribed to the daily NYT from my first year of college (my family were subscribers so I suppose you could say I’ve read it since I could read) through 2007. That’s when I realized I read so many news blogs and online papers that all I ended up doing with the physical paper was throwing it in the recycling bin. I still get the weekend Times (I’m thinking of stopping, though), thus me seeing this on the front page. Like your relationship with my own dying industry, I not only feel like I can get what they sell for free on the Interweb but now I’m beginning to feel it’s mostly crap anyway.

An article about my grocery store’s elevator? Really?

A Slow New York Passage, Up to Organic Food

Title comes from:
Joe Jackson – Sunday Papers


Even the heatwaves are more fun in Australia

Filed under : News
On January 28, 2009
At 11:00 pm
Comments :Comments Off on Even the heatwaves are more fun in Australia


click to enlarge

Maybe the man collapsed when he saw these hot chicks living in an icehouse while he was sweating it out in 108 degree weather.

From the London Telegraph.

Icehouse – No Promises (youtube)


London Daily Telegraph: publishing from the future

Filed under : International,News,Sports
On September 21, 2008
At 6:00 pm
Comments : 4

Start spreading the news, indeed; it’s more awesome journalism from the Telegraph. Imagine my surprise, taking a break from rugelach baking to watch the farewell-palooza to Yankee Stadium on ESPN and check my feeds, to come across the news that the game had already happened. Yes, the final game at Yankee Stadium has already been played, dontcha know. Would the Telegraph lie?

Yankee stadium sees its last game
An illustrious chapter in American sporting history came to an end last night as the Yankee Stadium in New York hosted its last baseball game.

By Tom Leonard in New York
Last Updated: 10:27PM BST 21 Sep 2008

The 57,545-seat stadium, America’s most famous sporting venue and the home for the past 85 years of the New York Yankees, is to be demolished and replaced with a $1.6 billion (£870 million) new ballpark close to its location in the Bronx.

An extra 2,000 security staff were drafted in for the final game to prevent chaos as fans were expected to attempt to rip up the stadium and make off with souvenirs. Fans had previously been found trying to bring spanners into the ground.

The enthusiasm of souvenir hunters is understandable given the unique place the stadium holds in American sports history, not to mention the fact that Nelson Mandela, Muhammad Ali and three popes have spoken there.

The stadium was nicknamed “The House That Ruth Built” in homage to Babe Ruth, the baseball superstar who inaugurated the stadium in 1923.

The so-called “cathedral of baseball”, with its famous 12ft high letters spelling out its name, went on to become home to 26 World Series-winning teams.

However, there was no spectacular finale yesterday as the Yankees, currently languishing in the baseball league, played the even less successful Baltimore Orioles.

I wonder if I should watch now. I mean, they say right there that it wasn’t spectacular. What to do, what to do.

By the way, I wonder where “Tom Leonard in New York” really is. Maybe he’s in a bar, picking up a chick right now. Perhaps he’s on the beach in Spain. Perhaps there really is no Tom Leonard. Whichever it is, I’m sad to see that baseball fans in the UK are being swindled in this fashion. Both of them.

Yankee stadium sees its last game

Thompson Twins – Lies


Earth-shattering news from the UK

Filed under : International,News
On September 16, 2008
At 2:45 pm
Comments : 3

A lot going on in House of Becca, but in the meantime, in case you’re having a slow news day, here’s an exciting article from the London Daily Telegraph.

Duke of York and his travelling ironing board

When the Queen’s second son goes on long trips as trade ambassador his trusty ironing board always accompanies him,

Not that the duke, who tries to squeeze in a round of golf on most trips, is overly familiar with the art of pressing shirts and trousers. The ironing board, which has been in royal service for at least five years, is always in the care of the valet who accompanies the Duke to ensure that his clothes are neatly turned out.

The ironing board with the HRH label was spotted by baggage handlers in the hold of the plane taking the Duke to Vietnam from Heathrow’s Terminal 5 on Friday.

There’s more, but you get the idea. Yes, this entire article can be summarized by saying, “Prince Andrew’s staff carry an ironing board with them when he travels. To iron his clothes on. Because he wears a lot of suits and needs to look neat.”

My God, who knew? Tomorrow in the Telegraph, Prince William travels with comb.