2018 British Arrow Awards

It’s becoming a tradition now for me and my family to go to the Walker Art Museum to watch the 2018 British Awards. It’s really pretty great to sit for an hour and watch the best commercials of the year.

This year it was noticeable about how many of them were about female empowerment (including the winner of Best Ad of the Year), which makes sense as it’s a topic capturing everyone’s mind share, everywhere.

My favorites of the year were these 5. They are pretty hilarious, cool, strong and, to use the British term, brilliant.

My favorite of the year was strange, ackward and just so funny. I have no idea what the ad is for but it’s still fantastic:

This next one is probably one of the funniest of the bunch, and I never even knew what Marmite was or that it could be so divisive:

This next one is really cute and captured our entire group. Even though it was the first ad we say, we all remembered it at the end

This one is just really cute and in the world we different it’s a great message of how kids don’t see color, race, etc.. Really well done

This one is just so epic. A move (the “tornado”) in a FIFA video game goes viral such that Ronaldo actually does it himself in a game and then goes even more viral to get other athletes to do it also. Really cool idea.

This final one is about the women’s Euro cup. The girl in the video just does a great job and is shows some great skill. Really liked this one

Cutting the Cord

This is the quarter that I finally got rid of my cable subscription. I figured I’m paying an extra 40 bucks a month for something that i really only use once or at most twice a week. That’s roughly 5 to 10 bucks a show.

So, I called and cancelled. We still want to watch SNL, The Good Place and Diane likes to watch HGTV shows sometimes so we subscribed to Hulu for $10 a month for all of the basic stuff.
I’m now four months in ($160 richer!) and with the exception of CNN streaming, I don’t miss it at all.
With Netflix and NBA League Pass getting better and better, I don’t see where the traditional cable bundle fits in anymore. And, according to all of the charts, i’m not the only one.
On a related note, I finally dove in and got Plex.tv up and running on a Mac Mini. It’s a pretty sweet setup where I can stream all of my videos I’ve collected over the years to my browser or iPhone anywhere at any time. I’m loving it so far.

Netflix vs. HBO

What’s the future of tv network or service?  It’s probably a subscription service that:

  1. Has exclusive content
  2. Is available on all the devices you own (TV set, mobile devices, iPad, etc.)
  3. Has a library of great content – both old television shows and movies
  4. Offers on-demand viewing of all it

Who’s leading the effort here? It seems to be HBO and Netflix.  Netflix is great for #2, #3, #4 whereas HBO is great for #1 and #3.  It seems to be a race for HBO to get on more devices and for Netflix to get more exclusive shows. 


Diane and I just watched the entire season of House of Cards and loved it.  We plowed through all 13 episodes in two weeks.  That’s how we watch most shows (on-demand) and not in HBO’s weekly format.  It’s only a matter of time before they all go that way. 

For me, I’m putting my money on Netflix.  First off, because it’s not part of Time Warner which seems to be stuck in the ways of the past.  Second, because Netflix has been pretty aggressive on all fronts and their winning here seems more likely than HBO figuring out the web and devices. 


Everything is a Remix

I just saw a great video that breaks down Led Zepplin and how many of their tracks were stolen from other tracks.  While interesting, it makes the larger point which i completely agree with that “everything is a remix” today and it always has been.  Taking previously created content and altering it to make something similar but also original and unique is what art’s all about.

Over the past few years, i’ve grown to love the music mashup which is when a DJ takes two or more (sometime a dozen) songs and mixes them all together to create a new song.  Some of my favorites have U2+a rap song, an instrumental with Star Wars soundtrack, and 80’s classic with Jay-Z (links to all songs are below).  I’ve noticed a few things: (a) that listening to these tracks is totally different than listening to the original, even though they sound extremely similar; (b) the best music mashups have a classic rock backbone and then from another tune faster lyrics on top of it.

Mashups and remixes of all kind are all over.  I’m seeing it in TV shows, for instance in The O.C. where they did an episode just like the Spider Man movie or when Avatar recycles the plot from Dances With Wolves.  Everyone has biases and influences so it’s rare to find something truly original.  Even when copying though, you are creating something new.  When Twitter launched, people thought it was just a copy of the News Feed application that was just one part of Facebook ,but it’s grown into something completely different than Facebook.  I always thought a cool movie idea would be an entire movie and narrative but every lined used is from another film.  Some lines are famous, and others wouldn’t be as recognizable. I think it’s a cool thought.

I’m pro-remix.  I think more people should try it.  Personally, I have a goal for myself over the next 12 months to actually create a music mashup of my own where i can actually use the tracks i enjoy the most to make something original.   I’ll let you know how it goes.

Here are my favorite music mashups that i’ve posted on my music blog where i post one good song every weekday:

The Wire in Schools

There’s a good article in Slate about how the TV show The Wire is becoming a common item for professors to assign to college students.  Some schools have a whole course dedicated to it.  As many of you know, i’m a huge fan of the show and can understand why profs would use it.

One of the professors teaching a course on the show is the sociologist William Julius Wilson—his class, at Harvard, will be offered this fall.  He says,

Although The Wire is fiction, not a documentary, its depiction of [the] systemic urban inequality that constrains the lives of the urban poor is more poignant and compelling [than] that of any published study, including my own

That’s how badass the show is.  Anyone who hasn’t checked it out, should get into it.

Real Thugs and The Wire

Many of you know of my love of The Wire.  You can imagine my excitement when i heard from BroncosRule about the NY Times running a series where a reporter sat down and watched Season 5 of The Wire with real-life gangsgters.  Columbia University sociologist, Sudhir Venkatesh, who has a new book “Gang Leader for a Day,” sits down and watches “The Wire” with a group of New York-area gang personnel.

  1. Part one: betting on who’s going to get it
  2. Part two: Being “a fly” meaning co-oping a cop and they all do it
  3. Part three: Butchie is very authentic and real thugs do cry
  4. Part four: The old days make you stupid. Prop Joe took his eye off the ball and paid for it.  Very real and very raw.  And the importance of The Greeks.
  5. Part five: Being “a coin” and politics.
  6. Part six: nobody keeps their word
  7. Part seven:
  8. Part eight:
  9. Part nine:

I couldn’t read 7-9 as i’m not yet done with Season 5.  I love these articles.

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A power, pop-culture, family

i just realized this:

Obama’s chief of staff is a guy named Rahm Emanuel.  Two interesting facts about him i learned from his Wikipedia entry:

  1. He was the inspiration for the character Josh Lyman on Aaron Sorkin‘s The West Wing.  My sister would know better but i believe he was pretty cool
  2. Rahm’s brother, Ari Emanuel, is the inspiration for the character Ari on HBO’s Entourage (Jeremy Piven).

Is that not an amazing made-for-tv family?!  I wonder if they sit around the dinner table over Thanksgiving and talk about which fictional character is cooler?   While Lyman is probably a better person, i’d give the edge to Ari as he’s much more entertaining and popular.   What do you think?

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Mad Men and Literature

I just finished the first season of Mad Men and thought it was great. One thing i wasn’t expecting is how culturally literate it is (NY Times article).

During the season premier this year (just watched it) the main character, Don Draper, is reading a book by Frank O’Hara (Meditations in an Emergency).  At the end of the episode there’ s voice over of one of O’Hara’s poems.  The episode is about the coming of Fall (mid-year), the need to hire younger writers at the office, being middle-aged in the middle of the century.  It’s a great episode but I think the poem at the end more than encapsulates it. It reads:

Now I am quietly waiting for
the catastrophe of my personality
to seem beautiful again,
and interesting, and modern.

The country is grey and
brown and white in trees,
snows and skies of laughter
always diminishing, less funny
not just darker, not just grey.

It may be the coldest day of
the year, what does he think of
that? I mean, what do I? And if I do,
perhaps I am myself again.

"Reading at lunch. Makes you feel like you're getting something done." "Yeah, it's all about getting things done"

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American Idol's Top 10

My thoughts on the Top 10. It turns out i don’t need to post my thoughts, but Television Without Pity summed it up perfectly for me:

…when Amanda sings, I feel like I’m in a bar; when David Cook sings, I feel like I’m in a club; when Brooke sings, I feel like I’m in an amphitheater; when Jason sings, I feel like I’m in my dealer’s living room; but when David Archuleta sings, I feel like I’m watching a high school talent show. Every time. And it’s a performing arts high school for gifted kids, absolutely. And he’s clearly the best in the talent show, and he’ll totally win and deservedly so. But if you’re asking me to list the places I’d pay to be, I’d rather see Amanda at the bar, David Cook at the club, Brooke at the concert hall, and Jason at my dealer’s house than go to David A.’s talent show.

So true. After hearing Achuleta sing “Imagine” i never thought i’d turn on him. But i now realize that he doesn’t have the personality to bring it home. Personally, i hope Cook takes the prize as his songs are the only ones i could possibly imagine in my iPod.

I’d also like to just hang out with Syesha – maybe go to the mall with her and go shopping. Maybe ask her to do that baby crying trick one more time. She seems like she’d be pretty fun to just chill with. I’m just saying.

Newspapers, The Wire, Star Tribune, and the T-Wolves

Newspapers are on the way out. My friend Jules has been telling me this for years. I saw two more big pieces of evidence this week.

First, i read the fantastic article in Esquire called “A Newspaper Can’t Love You Back” by David Simon, the creator of The Wire. The article is a tribute to the paper he once loved and worked at and an inside look at how it came to suck so bad. In a piece of the article, he explains how he came to understand that the newspaper was dead. It reads…

Admittedly, I can’t even grasp all of the true and subtle costs of impact journalism and prize hunger. I don’t yet see it as a zero-sum game in which a serious newspaper would cover less and less of its city — eliminating such fundamental responsibilities as a poverty beat, a labor beat, a courthouse beat in a city where rust-belt unemployment and crime devour whole neighborhoods — and favor instead a handful of special select projects designed to catch the admiring gaze of a prize committee.

I have no way of knowing that for all of its claims to renewed greatness, The Sun will glean three Pulitzers in twelve years, as compared to, uh, three Pulitzers awarded to The Sun and its yet-to-be-shut-down evening edition during the twelve years prior — a scorecard that matters only to a handful of résumés and means nothing to the thousands of readers soon asked to decide whether they need a newspaper that covers less of their world.

I can’t yet see that what ails The Baltimore Sun afflicts all newspapers, that few, if any, of the gray ladies are going to be better at what they do, that most will soon be staring at a lingering slide into mediocrity.

I only know, as I hang up the editing-suite phone, that I’ve lost my religion, that too much of what I genuinely loved is gone. I turn to David Mills, my co-producer on the HBO project. He’d worked with me on the college paper, then at The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Times, The Washington Post. But we wrote that first television script together, and when I returned to the metro desk, he went to Hollywood, never looking back.

“Brother,” I say, “we got out just in time.”

This article is good and i’m a HUGE fan of The Wire and i’m plowing through season 4 right now. If you’re not familiar with the show, check out a season. I recently read a good article in Atlantic Monthly about Simon and how he’s sticking it to the Baltimore Sun. They had a good description of the show, saying..

The show hasn’t been a big commercial success. It’s never attracted a viewership to rival that of an HBO tent-pole series, like The Sopranos or even the short-lived Deadwood. It isn’t seen as a template for future TV dramas, primarily because its form more or less demands that each season be watched from the beginning. Whereas each episode of The Sopranos advanced certain overarching plot points but was essentially self-contained, anyone who tries to plumb the complexities of The Wire by tuning in at mid-season is likely to be lost. If the standard Hollywood feature is the film equivalent of a short story, each season of Simon’s show is a 12- or 13-chapter novel.

Some years ago, Tom Wolfe called on novelists to abandon the cul-de-sac of modern “literary” fiction, which he saw as self-absorbed, thumb-sucking gamesmanship, and instead to revive social realism, to take up as a subject the colossal, astonishing, and terrible pageant of contemporary America. I doubt he imagined that one of the best responses to this call would be a TV program, but the boxed sets blend nicely on a bookshelf with the great novels of American history.

But speaking of newspapers, the second piece of information i was sent this week was that my local Minnesota paper, The Star Tribune, is laying off 60 people (article here). I definitely rely on the paper for Timberwolves/Twins/Vikings scores and news. It’s my lifeline for inside and biased information. Luckily, i have recently discovered a few T-wolves blogs that are going to now be my go-to for sports news. If you’re looking for one, canishoopus is pretty good.