This is CNN

We were in Washington on Friday and an old friend who works as a producer at CNN's D.C. bureau, Adam Levine, gave us a tour. Photos and some thoughts are at my Flickr.


Obama's Movies, piracy, etc.

Our Pres gave the British PM a gift of 25 Hollywood movies on DVD. (/film has a list and it's pretty canonical stuff.) Unfortch, the discs are region-coded so Gordon Brown can't watch them. IP's a bitch.

Related: John August on the movie studios' strategies for preventing privacy: one is to delay release in territories where cam versions often originate.

Another is releasing more 3D movies, about which many details can be found in this USA Today article. (via)

if:book on e-books and e-readers: "Bookshops are crammed with full-length books whose contents could just as well be communicated in a short essay, or even in the title alone...And yet to make economic sense they have to be padded out for publication in 'proper' book size. But to conclude from this (as many unwittingly do) that long-form books are necessarily the best, rather than just the most familiar, way of communicating ideas is mistaken; and to assume that this practice will transplant to e-readers, imagined as a kind of iPod for these long-form essays, is just wrong."

Some compare the SciFi-->Syfy rebranding to Tropicana's FAIL. But after an initial negative gut reaction, I am liking "Syfy." The image of those four curvy letters protruding from their background works for me; it pleases me to look at it. And this is what cable channels do all the time: start with one identity, then move onto another when the original concept is seen as too constraining. Thus we have numerous channels named by letters that no longer stand for what they once did (entertainment and sports programming network, music television, American movie classics, the learning channel, etc.). "Imagine Greater" is a still a loser of a tagline, though. (Perhaps I should disclose that I'm not much of a Science Fiction fan.)


Britney, etc.

SFJ on Britney's Circus tour. The gender ratio in the audience is 100 to 1 and the subtext is, Britney is ok. (I would love to see Britney if she came to my town and the tickets weren't crazy expensive.)

Ars anticipates The Beatles: Rock Band, which will cost $250 when it is released next fall.

Hilton Als on Milk in the NYRB. Compares the life of Milk with the movie of the life, picks on some stereotypes, and argues that the film communicates its message better by avoiding the first forty years of the subject's life. (via I Hate The NYer)

Harper’s Island is a CBS murder mystery show to begin in April. Harper's Globe is "an online show and a social network where you can watch and participate in an exciting story and fully immerse yourself in the mystery event, Harper’s Island." From the folks who brought you lonelygirl15 (Wikipedia). If you're confused you can go to the HG page and follow the instructions. Nowadays our pop culture is so complicated we need a manual to instruct us out how to enjoy it. (via @d_kompare)

Last nite's Idol: Adam's "Ring of Fire" was my favorite song of the season so far. This year Leo (age 5) is watching, and he likes Adam too.


Sitcom map, etc.

NYC Sitcom Map by Dan Meth. (via)

Christoph Niemann's "My Life With Cables" in the NYT diagnoses a pervasive info-age problem in vivid pictures.

A review of Objectified, the new film about design from Gary Hustwit, who previously made Helvetica (previously), from the SXSW fest: "...throughout the film it's tough not to keep a running inventory of the featured products: Got it, want it, want it, want it, got it...ooooh, want it!"

Rockville, CA, the new web show from Josh Schwartz, can now be seen at The WB. The first episode has a lot of Seth Cohen banter and a decent meet cute.


Stringer, etc.

Idris Elba, Stringer Bell from The Wire, interviewed on Fresh Air. (To appear on The Office.)

The Watcher on the much-anticipated sixth episode of Dollhouse, which is supposed to introduce a different, more Whedonesque, tone compared to 1-5. Seems unfortunate to start with more than a month of not-so-hot episodes (actually I have liked most of them), but we all must Trust Joss.

Analysis of the Kindle as it could affect the book biz. (sez MR: best piece on the topic so far)

Suzanne Vega on the significance of melody. Includes link to the delightful video for the catchy number, "You Cant Spell Smart Without Art," performed as testimony at a New York State Senate hearing in Albany, for real.

New-to-me blog: Sociological Images, intended for classroom use. Much media-related content. (via MeFi)

Kuitman Mixes YouTube is a link I have seen in a dozen places now. It's as good as all that. Click already!

And no link here, but a quick Idol update: totally over Kara, who slows things down without bringing anything the others don't offer; sad about Jorge; rooting for local boy Danny and Adam; and loved Simon Cowell's line, "It's fine to be artistic, just not on this show."


Google, etc.

Google's Marissa Mayer on Charlie Rose about where Google's ideas come from and what to expect in the future.

Maybe not news to you, but you can learn incredibly random crap from checking in now and then with Google's Hot Trends.

Why Facebook fears Twitter.

Online Fandom predicts the future of the music biz.

The Atlantic on music games and the future of rock and roll.

Reason to go to NYC: Lauren Graham on B'way in Guys and Dolls.

And I have switched to Google Reader, which means I now have Shared Items and you can share yours with me, too. My most recent ones are on the right sidebar if you're reading this at zigzigger.blogspot.com rather than in a reader.



One of my favorite shows right now is Damages, on FX. It's funny that I like it because I find the plot really hard to follow. Sometimes at the end of an episode I have no idea what happened. The characters' motivations are often obscure. Characters seem totally central to the season's narrative, like the one played by William Hurt earlier on this year, only to completely disappear for weeks at a time, suggesting that the story has gone in some other direction and making us wonder what their purpose was to the larger narrative. There are frequent flashforwards to tantalizing moments two or three months away in story time, but no clues about how present and future will connect up. This pistol will fire at some point, but that's about all we can be sure of right now.

The writers like to feint and tease. For instance, we were led to believe that these FBI agents might not really be cops at all, but then they revealed that really they are FBI after all. And yet something still seems not quite right.

I love the actors, especially the ones playing lawyers and corporate types with their restrained performances and classy, professional attire. Like I said, I have trouble keeping straight what all these folks are up to, but they're still fascinating to watch. This gives the show a surrealistic appeal, like a cut-up, a bunch of scenes from a show that does make sense with some of the meaningful parts redacted. I enjoy the dramatic moments as dramatic moments without having a clear sense of what exactly makes them dramatic. For instance, Ted Danson as a white-haired scoundrel trying to mend his ways, adopting an Eastern spiritual path but still having trouble managing his anger. That's just awesome.

Tate Donovan, Jimmy Cooper from The O.C., plays a lawyer who dresses really sharp. He almost makes me want to go to law school so that one day I might wear suits like his.

The main character, Ellen, played by Rose Byrne, is a sort of empty vessel. She has suffered a lot, and harbors deep grudges, but she has few scenes where she expresses strong feelings because her subordinate and investigative roles require that she keep things inside. The actress is good at giving meaningfully neutral looks that express depths of emotion.

Two actors from The Wire, Clark Peters and John Doman, play energy company no-goodniks. It's very strange that these two are in cahoots on this show. Knowing them so well from that other show makes me invest less of my emotion in the narrative. But I appreciate them so much as actors.

Glenn Close is a powerhouse. She looks out over those glasses an awful lot, always oozing intelligence and calculating judgment. Patty Hewes scares the pants off of me.

Every once in awhile Close shows us an intense, almost horrified face. You can sense her eyes starting to water up as she is seized with despair. Which we fear might drive her to God knows what acts of rank inhumanity.

The most fearsome villain is this dirty cop with ginormous glasses played by David Costabile, another veteran of The Wire (also a goofy T-Mobile commercial). The specs and beard make the performance. In this scene he tells Wes, who under false pretenses has wormed his way into our heroine Ellen's life, earning her trust and going to bed with her, that his next task is to take her out. He's not talking about a date.

More: Ken Tucker in the NYT on the appeal of the show's acting ensemble.