I doubt this is really the television of the future, but it is fun to look at.

"Black picture. A crystal asymmetrical black picture put on a glass base...16943 is a technological sculpture in levitation. It fits two screen sizes: 4/3 for TV and 16/9 for cinema..."

This seems to have the potential to make you aware at every moment of the inadequacy of your television set and the arbitrariness of its shape. It denaturalizes.

From Studio FRST, a French design firm. (via Kottke)


Kindle, etc.

A new, improved Kindle. At $359 this still seems still to be aimed at early adopters and rich folks. I want one that sells for $79 and lets me save books as text files that I can export to my computer so that I can Apple-F to find what I want from them efficiently while writing. Maybe they would sell more content with a more affordable and usable device, but without DRM of course some users would share rather than buy. (Update: TechCrunch's 10 reasons to buy and 10 reasons not to buy a kindle includes "7. Flight attendants will tell you to turn it off on take off and landing. You can’t explain that it’s epaper and uses no current. You just can’t. It’s like explaining heaven to bears.")

Wired on the music biz's struggles with Guitar Hero and Rock Band, over money of course.

NYT: Are the humanities a luxury?

Related: a literature scholar asks Is There Intelligent Life on Television? The intended reader is not you and I, but it's interesting to see how a rationale for studying TV might be presented by someone outside of what I think of as film and TV studies. (thx DB)

Grammar Nazis, literally. Really good, LOL.

99 Things You Should Have Already Experienced On The Internet Unless You're a Loser or Old or Something. (via)

Asked to name his guilty pleasure on the Oscar red carpet, James Franco instead recommends Carl Wilson's book Let's Talk About Love (previously).

And this link is getting stale, but if you haven't already you might like to check out Mickey Rourke's Spirit Awards acceptance speech. Better than anything on the Oscars, though the Oscars won me over. The musical numbers were tight and the way they grouped awards together worked well. Putting the audience right up against the stage looked like a good idea if for no other reason than to spare us the spectacle of ladies in heels climbing a lot of stairs.



Fox hopes the lad mag demo will put down the PS3 and pick up the TV remote Friday nights for Dollhouse starring Eliza Dushku armed and/or naked.

Of the TV shows that have begun since the season's debut in September, I am most excited about Dollhouse. I haven't read that many reviews for fear of excessive spoilage, but I'm puzzled by the general lack of buzz. (The one positive one I read was Troy Patterson's in Slate.)

I've only seen the first two episodes (pro critics got access to three or more), but they have established a fascinating narrative premise with lots of promising opportunities for development and payoff, not to mention eye candy of the usual televisual varieties; a number of vivid characters, with slowly unfolding backstories and plenty of mystery; and a distinctive visual style, contrasting the stylized interiors of the dollhouse with its saturated colors with a more naturalistic and conventional approach for exteriors where Echo's missions are set. Eliza Dushku doesn't have great range as an actress (that I have seen). She does sexy, ass-kicking, and vulnerable. She can do smart, though it's not her biggest strength. But like Sarah Michelle Gellar in Buffy, she combines power and femininity in a way that invites admiration and even awe.

One thing Dollhouse lacks is Joss Whedon's characteristic comic sensibility. No one will write about book about Dollhouse's use of language (see Slayer Slang, which I highly recommend) or come out with a volume of quotations from the show (like The Quotable Slayer). Joss is risking a lot adopting this different, more straightforwardly dramatic tone. It's a bit audacious. Maybe part of this shift is a function of commercial constraint: to have a show like this make it on Fox, it might have to appeal more widely than any show did on on a 1990s netlet. Good for him if he can make it work.

All of these images are from episode 2, "The Target."

This groovy tilt-shift shot from the title sequence offers a view of human beings as miniatures. There's no context for this shot, so it seems to be going for symbolism. All of these strangers off in the distance are leading their ordinary lives not knowing that some of us are like Echo, a slate wiped clean and then imprinted, by a geeky Frankenstein, with customized personality.

Where the dolls sleep. Grand overhead angle, with its geometric abstraction, to emphasize the interchangeability of persons and the machine-like efficiency with which human beings are routinely transformed. Busby Berkeley gone sci-fi and post-human.

Yoga keeps dolls in shape. The second story offers a view for the staff to keep an eye on their charges. Lots of bright, warm colors in here. It looks a bit unreal, and uncomfortably comfortable.

Lots of flesh on display, especially compared with Buffy. It's 2009 now, it's a different kind of story, and it's a Fox show with a target audience of young adult males, not a WB show with a target audience of teenage girls.

Soon this weapon will be turned on her but for now she's in charge.

That's our heroine in the crosshairs. The most interesting thing about the show thematically is that it presents a woman as object in many senses, and then starts to complicate things. We know enough about Joss to trust that there will be a feminist undercurrent. But unlike Buffy, Echo has no special powers, so presumably we will fear for her more, and it will be more of a challenge to have her assert her agency.

A girl and a gun. You knew the long sleeves would have to come off.

Joss does better act-outs than anyone. This one at the close of Act I is a jaw-dropper, as we realize along with Echo what's at stake in this episode: she is to be hunted.

You see Echo's shoulders as often as possible in Dollhouse. This frighteningly thin physique is your basic hot chick look in American pop culture today. In Echo it might work to convey her vulnerability, but mostly it just makes me think the actress needs a sandwich.

Reed Diamond will forever be Kellerman from Homicide to me. He plays good nasty. His close-set eyes are always up to something.

An airborne arrow is a nice bit of over-the-top action. Dollhouse is Genre to the core.

Wallpaper courtesy of the Dollhouse on Fox site (which might just as well be called Fox on Dollhouse).


Pop/art, etc.

Peter Schjeldahl in The New Yorker on Shepard Fairey, who apparently "embraces a trend in what the critic Dave Hickey has called 'pop masquerading as art, as opposed to art masquerading as pop'" (i.e., pop art). I have to think about that one.

The pleasures of Academic Earth, the web video site of university lectures. No film, TV, etc., there yet. It feels voyeuristic to me, watching someone else give a lecture to that unseen audience of undergrads.

Tyler Cowen on Spin magazine's switch from 5 to 10 stars: "This signals that they wish to start exaggerating the quality of the product." I didn't realize that Spin still exists.

My favorite celebrity blogger is David Byrne. Here is his report from Hong Kong, the world's worst cycling city.

Salon on sexting. If the people are going to make their own media, some of it will be filthy. Clearly the new media moral panic of early '09. (Cyberbullying is out; oversharing is 5 minutes ago.)

Project Runway Season 6 Fashion Week threads. We might never get to see them on TV. (More deets in the WaPo.)


Hulu, etc.

Let's see if I understand the Hulu/Boxee story: the TV networks don't want you to watch TV on the internet on your TV? I don't know how that's going to work out for them long-term.

Design Observer Part I and Part II of a conversation about cinema. The conversation part doesn't interest me all that much, but the scans of covers of old movie magazines, journals, and books are fantastic. They even have one of The Velvet Light Trap, which many friends of the blog and I used to edit.

More on Pirate Bay: the pirates come off as fools, maybe on purpose.

Way more on Facebook's ToS.

Obit of Ben Blank, innovator in TV news graphics. I found the obit to be richly informative about the history of television graphics.

Defamer's 'In Memoriam' Oscar Montage Pool. I pick Paul Newman to end the montage.

Finally, for your Oscar Nite celebrations, may I recommend Champagne cocktails: a cube of sugar in the bottom of a flute glass, a few drops of Angostura bitters, and fill with Champagne (or an affordable substitute like Cava). You'll want to have a few of those in your belly so that you won't care so much when Slumdog wins its 10th award.



Pirates drive this bus around Sweden

More on the Pirate Bay trial in Sweden, which the American mainstream news media are not covering (perhaps fearful of giving the pirates too much publicity? esp given that they are in the IP business themselves?):

Last week, Gizmodo predicted doom and gloom for BitTorrent sharing if the Pirate Bay is shut down.

On the second day of the trial, half the charges were dropped. Now PB stands accused only of making copyrighted works available rather than also of producing such works.

TorrentFreak has details of goings-on inside and outside the courthouse. They seemed especially delighted in reporting the prosecuting attorney's inability to get his PowerPoint to work in the courtroom. PP failure is always a sign of something.

Wired sez the trial has a rock-star quality, whatever that means. The writer had to pay a scalper $60 to get inside the courthouse. My fave part of the report: "Your correspondent was served homemade 'Creative Commons' cookies by teenage girls in fantasy genre garb. They said they wanted to support the good forces of the world and convert bad ones to their cause." Don't we all.

The Twitter search term #spectrial is the place for many Twittered links and responses. (The PB site trial.piratebay.com has been down for days.)

Wikipedia has many details missing in other places.

This LAT article from 2007 gives the MSM two-sides take on PB and piracy as a threat to the major media companies. But it's not just pushing the MPAA's propaganda, which I guess is nice.

A Trial Edition of Steal This Film is available for download. (The first two installments, Steal This Film Part 1 and 2, are streaming on Google Video.) Short version: Information wants to be free.


Oscar predix, etc.

Nate Silver's Oscar predictions. I would like to know how his computations would have predicted earlier years' awards. (Btw, I predicted Milk would win best pic when I saw it a month ago. Today I'm not predicting.)

Jill Krementz's photos of John Updike. I love him jumping rope and standing over his PC.

Law & Order art from Brandon Bird.

The basics on the Pirate Bay trial in Sweden, the so-called internet piracy trial of the decade.

Facebook owns you. Ok, information about you. Forever. (Compare FB's terms with other social networks, via my delicious friends.)


30 Rock, etc.

Videogum textual analysis of 30 Rock with hidden secret meanings.

Jezebel: TatianaTheAnonymousModel explains the SI swimsuit issue from the perspective of a flat-chested but knowledgeable fashion model. (Side note for pedants: anonymous and pseudonymous are often synonymous).

NYT article skimmer
, a good idea.

American TV history according to Wikipedia: Friday night death slot. (via)

The people of Wisconsin financed a Hollywood gangster picture
(Michael Mann's July 2009 release Public Enemies) to the tune of $4.6 million, reports my hometown daily. Just to have a studio movie made here, it seems.

Cavett on Cheever and Updike on Cavett
, with video.

New Simpsons title sequence in HD

Planned Obsolescence sez "media texts aren’t just the frosting on the literary cake."


Long may you illumine space

On the occasion of my birthday today, which I proudly share with Abe Lincoln, Charles Darwin, and Judy Blume, some of my nearest and dearest gave me a copy of Frank O'Hara's Meditations in an Emergency, which I have wanted to read ever since it appeared as a motif in the second season of Mad Men. I had no idea what to expect, as I have rarely read poetry since my English lit days in the early 90s (unless you count Rosie O'Donnell's blog). Basically all I knew about O'Hara was that Don Draper sent a copy of his poems to someone at the end of s2e1. I have been delighted to find that a number of the poems in this volume, published in 1957, are about the arts (O'Hara was a curator), and my favorite is "To the Film Industry in Crisis," which I can't believe I lived 37 years without reading.