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.


Heroes is Pretty Good

The writing is bad, the characters are more and more unrealistic, but i still love to watch every week. Last night’s episode was decent but not great.

This weekend i read that the creator Tim Kring thought the show is going downhill at the beginning of the season. But, like a Man, he’s able to fess up and admit his mistakes in this article in Entertainment Weekly where he lists out what he sees as the problems. They are:

THE PACE IS TOO SLOW ”We assumed the audience wanted season 1 — a buildup of intrigue about these characters and the discovery of their powers. We taught [them] to expect a certain kind of storytelling. They wanted adrenaline. We made a mistake.”

THE WORLD-SAVING STAKES SHOULD HAVE BEEN ESTABLISHED SOONER The premonition of nuclear apocalypse created a larger context that unified every story line last season. Kring now sees that Volume 2 (the first 11 episodes of season 2) would have been better served if Peter’s vision of viral Armageddon had appeared in the season premiere rather than episode 7. ”We took too long to get to the big-picture story,” he says.

THE ROOKIES DIDN’T GREET THEMSELVES PROPERLY New Heroes Monica (Dana Davis), Maya (Dania Ramirez), and Alejandro (Shalim Ortiz) ”shouldn’t have been introduced in separate story lines that felt unattached to the show. The way we introduced Elle (Kristen Bell) — by weaving her in via Peter’s story line — is a more logical way to bring new characters into the show.” (That said, Kring says a few newbies won’t make it beyond this second volume, which wraps Dec. 3.)

HIRO WAS IN JAPAN WAY TOO LONG Hiro’s (Masi Oka) time-bending adventure in 17th-century Japan — where he mentored samurai hero Takezo Kensei (David Anders) — finally came to an end on Nov. 5. But Kring says it ”should have [lasted] three episodes. We didn’t give the audience enough story to justify the time we allotted it.”

YOUNG LOVE STINKS Kring regrets sticking Claire (Hayden Panettiere) with a super-dud boyfriend and forcing Hiro to moon over a cutesy princess. ”I’ve seen more convincing romances on TV,” he admits. ”In retrospect, I don’t think romance is a natural fit for us.”

All sounds good and dandy, but i’d also add: less Sylar and MORE Kristen Bell.  Also, who’s with me that it was Noah who did the shooting of Nathan last night?

Plasma TV: 1080p and HDMI

I’m about to purchase a new Plasma TV and thought i’d post about the new acroynms that have become my obsession.

Let’s start with 1080p. There are 3 types of HDTV’s available today: 720p, 1080i, and 1080p. What do these mean. The numbers refer to the number of lines across the screen, the ‘i’ stands for “interlaced” and the ‘p’ stands for “progressive”. Interlaced means that only every other line is refreshed whereas Progressive means every line is refreshed (both happens 24 times a second). To date, only 720p and 1080i have been available. Because ‘p’ refreshes every time, it’s better than ‘i’. But 1080 is better than 720 because it is more lines. So it’s a toss up between the two.

BUT, then came along 1080p, the best of both worlds. These TV’s are just hitting the market now and should be everywhere by this summer and definitely by Christmas. So, the question i ask myself is: do i wait for one of these or shell out for one of the others?

Doing this research (thank you Dr. Raduchel) i found out the following items:

There is NO detectable differnce between 1080p and 720p unless you have a screen larger than 50 inches

There are no HD-DVD’s, Blu-Ray DVD’s, TV shows, or anything available at 1080p. There will be eventually, but it is also true that most movies weren’t shot in high enough resolution to matter. Basically, most movies were shot in worse quality than 1080p so having a super nice picture showing lower quality doesn’t make sense.

The HDMI cord matters. This is the cord that carries the picture and sound to your TV. HDMI 1.3 was just released and you should get this version with your TV. It’s different than 1.2. Speicifically the transfer rate is much higher so if there is a high-resolution standard in the future, your TV can handle it. And, most importantly, it supports something called “Deep Color” which basically extends the number of colors from millions to billions. In the future, you’ll probably want your TV to be using HDMI 1.3. The PlayStation 3 was one of the first to have it and most TV’s will have it soon. (Go here if want to know more)

So all this being said, i’m probably going to go with a 720p Plasma from Samsung.  Anyone else have any thoughts or experiences that they’d like to share?

TV Shows Online

Like the genius i am, I recently unplugged my Tivo to use the plug for my cell phone charger. Well, to spare you the boring story, i ended up missing a few of my shows. I was pretty bummed. That was until i realized that now the major networks are putting many of their shows online. While The Office isn’t there, i just cruised through this week’s How I Met Your Mother and it was great.The shows and stations you can get are:

The shows and stations you can get are:

CBS ( You can get 3 Lbs, How I Met Your Mother, Jericho, CSI and more (13 shows in all).

ABC ( You can get 8 series in total inclusing Brothers & Sisters, Desperate Housewives, Grey’s Anatomy, Ugly Betty, Lost.

FOX ( 8 series are available including American Dad, Bones, Prison Break, Standoff, Talkshow with Spike Feresten.

NBC ( 6 series total are available including 30 Rock, Friday Night Lights, Heroes, Identity, Las Vegas.

It’s nice that they’re online and it’s clearly done because of the presence of YouTube, iTunes, and Bit Torrent. I wish there were more shows and i wish they could be downloaded so the buffering was better. But nevertheless, it’s pretty cool that you can catch up on past episodes online.

Knight Rider is Coming Back

They’re finishing up the script and getting ready to remake the original pilot episode “Knight of the Phoenix” into a feature film.  One thing that has been confirmed: Hasslehoff will not be in the film.  Below is one of the proposed cars for K.I.T.T. (which is a Koenigsegg CCS) although the rumors are that it’ll be more like a 2006 Camero.  All details are fleshed out in this article.  Whatever the car is, i loved the show and am pretty excited to see it come to the big screen. KITT

Get Your Ari Gold Fix


This post is really only so i can repost the video below, which is gold baby, Gold!

Along with the rest of the world, i get pure satisfaction from watching HBO’s Entourage. It like a TV-show pixie stick – pure sugar. Some call it the Sex In The City for men, as it’s 4 guys walking around talking and doing what men want to do. However, Sex In The City did not have an Ari Gold. He makes the show. Thankfully, HBO has done more this season to round out his character
Here’s a video in case you missed any of his lines on the show:


And here’s a little bio i put together of the real Ari Gold in LA which of course includes Mark Walhburg – who Vincent Chase’s is based on. One interesting thing to note is that Jeremy Piven actually used to be Ari’s client.

  • Real Name: Ari Emmanuel
  • Agency: Endeavor
  • Legendary Story
    • There was a trainee taking a piss in the bathroom. The trainee had a full bladder and did a little walk-back from the urinal to get a little distance. Ari walks in and sees the kid and fires him on teh spot. One minute you’re taking a satisfying pee in a good job, the next minute you’re on the street. Rough.
  • Clients – these are just the people i’ve heard of.  Apparently he has many more clients but these are ones you might know.
    • Jason Alexander “George Costanza”, Peter Berg (Collateral, Friday Night Lights, The Rundown), Larry Charles, Sacha Cohen “Ali G”, Bob Costas, Mike Binder (Actor, Writer – I liked Mind of the Married Man), Larry David, Michael Douglas, Conan O’Brien, Shaquille O’Neal, Ozzy Osbourne (and Jack and Sharon and Kelly), Paris Hilton, Bonnie Hunt (Actor, Writer), Adam McKay, David Russell, Chris Kattan, Vince McMahon, Michael Moore, Garry Shandling, Joel Silver (Producer), Aaron Sorkin, Ben Stein, Martin Scorsese, Mark Wahlberg – of course

    Tivo3 is Coming!

    It was announced last week in Tivo’s latest FCC tivohdfront.jpgreport that the long awaited Series3 is coming “soon”  Mostly it’ll be an upgrade for users who want to use Tivo with the cable HD signal.  I love my tivo and have been hesitant to upgrade to HD, a) because i’m waiting for flat screen prices to fall and b) i don’t want to get the sucky comcast pvr box.  With the S3 arrival, i may have to upgrade all around.

    The picture of how it’s going to look is on the left.

    It was revealed here.

    Ideas, Observations & Questions

    I hate streetlightsPointed ShoesLocke's Cave - on at 11!Where are you Axl
    Just some things i’ve noticed over the past few months:

    1. Why is NY the only city that’s implemented the cascading street lights? One light turns green, then when you get to the next – guess what? It turns green. Genius. I can’t stand waiting at a stoplight for 5 minutes, only to go 20 years to the next light which has just turned red. Mass Ave is killing me!
    2. What is the deal with women’s pointed shoes. People’s feet aren’t shaped that way, why do they make shoes that way. Is it supposed to be sexier? I always find myself looking at them and thinking – “man, shoe designers are dumb.”
    3. On ABC’s show Lost, John Locke is clearly the most interesting and coolest character. Wouldn’t a spin-off called “Locke’s Cave” be the best spin-off show you can think of. Each week, they could have an episode run parrallel to the regular episode but just follow what John’s doing the entire time. Sometimes i’m watching that show and thinking, “I would rather just watch John have awckward conversations with Charlie or Echo.”  I mean they did a Joey spin-off, it couldn’t be worse than that.
    4. A Reality TV Show idea that P-Walk talked about a few months ago goes like this….You gather some very attractive women from very poor areas of the country. Each episode you offer them large amounts of money to disfigure themselves. For instance, first episode you offer $30 grand for them to get a horrible nose job. Maybe for the season finale you offer $10 million for a full sex change. The winner gets something like $200k a year for as long as she remains a man.  It’d be a battle to see if the women are willing to live a completely new life, filled with riches and luxury, but they have to live a lie, live as a man.  It’s such a horrible idea, a total trainwreck. I just might watch it.
    5. Often, when i’m driving around town -maybe stuck in traffic- think to myself, “I wonder what is Axl Rose doing right now?” I’m just curious. What could he be doing? He is one of the biggest rock stars in the past 20 years – came out with 4 amazing albums – and now i wonder, is he now just playing pool and boozing it up with his buddies in LA? Seriously, i couldn’t see him doing anything but partying. It’d be kind of cool if he, Vince Neil (Montly Crue), Bret Michaels (Poison) and Sebastian Bach (Skid Row) formed a bowling team and just bowled like 4 days a week.  I did hear that he just turned 44 this past Monday.