Category Archives: Unhappy Media

Multimedia malaise: TV, movies, music, print.

Techy Wordplay Suggests Corporate Ass Play

Headlines like this one on make me wonder if web editors are too pressed for time to see the big picture, or if web writers are quiet geniuses exploiting the 24-hour news cycle to publish subversively hilarious copy:

Possibly related posts:
RIM’s Balsillie Tears Jobs a New One;
Unimpressed, Jobs Turns Other Cheek
RIM Market Share Comes up on Apple from Behind
BlackBerry Claims It’s Not the Size of the Chip, but the Research in the Motion

BlackBerry Makes Reach for Jobs’ 10-Incher, Apple Could Take a Licking in the End

Comic-Con NYC, Highlights in Hindsight

My bad for going to Comic-Con last Friday and not reporting directly back. Among the books, the toys, the frenzy of cos-play, the unease of Japanese girlfriend-painted body pillows, what probably impressed me the most was seeing the XBOX 360 Kinect in action. The video above isn’t exactly riveting, but gives you the idea: No controller, no peripherals, no nothin’. Didn’t try it myself, but it looked pretty far out. Oddly, perhaps, I particularly enjoyed watching players go through the menus at the beginning, waving their hands up and down and snatching at the air like conjurers with wallet chains.

My guess is that at least for now it’s as much about the cool factor as it is about effective, precision game-play. But give it time.

After the break, my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE shot from Comic-Con NYC 2K10. Continue reading

How ’bout another game?

Well, kind of a game, anyway. You remember Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, right? If you dig into IMDb’s advanced search functions you can enjoy a sort of solitaire version.

On the homepage of, select the pulldown menu next to the search box and choose Advanced Search. From there you can search by Collaborations and Overlaps by entering the names of two actors. How else would I have known that Rob Lowe and Tracy Morgan both appeared on the 2004 ESPYs? (Works for crew as well as cast.)

For more fun — or research, or time killing — the Advanced Name Search lets you search actors by place of birth (or death), height and star sign. Jennifer Grey and I are both 5-foot-3 Aries from New York. (I think we went to the same high school, too, actually. Bonus: when I sort by ascending height, the title of the page becomes “Shortest Aries Females….”) With the Name Text Search you “select a section to search within (mini biography, trivia, quotes) and enter a word to search for (e.g. “arrested”).”

That one, by the by, turns up 483 names if you search within bios and 526 if you pick trivia. Have at it.

Rick Sanchez Fired, My Days Just Got Better

Rick Sanchez is an idiot.

He was an idiot before he went on XM/Sirius show Stand Up with Pete Dominick. He was an idiot when we said that Jon Stewart is a bigot, when we pulled back to not bigot but just prejudiced, when he sarcastically ranted that the networks are run by entitled, villainous Jews who he hopes worry about another Holocaust (what?!), and when he got his stupid ass fired by CNN as a result of it all.

Salon summed it up elegantly on Friday:

That was fast. CNN just waited until 6 pm eastern to fire Rick “CNN’s Second-Dumbest Anchor” Sanchez. CNN will pay morons to read Tweets on-air, but they won’t employ morons who semi-coherently express resentful antisemitic comments on satellite radio.

Here is CNN’s brief statement:

“Rick Sanchez is no longer with the company. We thank Rick for his years of service and we wish him well.“

This summary pulls out the good parts, with audio. What kills me most isn’t that Sanchez tries to play the race card while employing Speedy Gonzalez-like sound effects on his show every goddam day and acts as though he’s the only famous person whose dad worked hard, it’s that he thinks it’s prejudicial to make fun of him for mispronouncing things:

[Speaking as Stewart] Oh, I know… wait, hold on, let me find, oh that Rick Sanchez, that little Puerto Rican guy. I’ll make fun of him. Do you have anything.” “Uh, yeah, last week, he mispronounced the word indutably or whatever.” “Yeah, that’s it, find me that and we’ll do a whole 4-minute segment on how he mispronounced the word arithmetic.”

You think that shit’s funny because your family is Puerto Rican? No, ya moron, it’s funny because news anchors are supposed to be smart. Jesu Christo, ese. The whole point of The News is to enable people who don’t know the word “indubitably” to turn on the TV and learn things from people who do. And the fact that you have — ahem, I mean had — a job reading the news when you don’t know “the word indutably or whatever” is as hilarious as it is disappointing, terrifying and stupefying.

Speaking of reading, by the way, Ricky  boy goes on to say that if he just read the teleprompter every day without going off-script Jon Stewart would have nothing to say about him. Dude! Exactly. That’s the whole freaking point. As soon as you start running your stupid mouth you give Stewart and the like more fodder to feed on.

Case in point: Where was your teleprompter when you got yourself fired? Aye dios mio, indeed.

Headline Limns Limits of Popular Comprehension

I saw a short article on that caught my eye the other day. Yeah, I hang out on a dictionary website, what of it? Anyways, it said there was a spike in lookings-up of the word “limn” earlier this month after it was used in the headline of a Baltimore Sun article: Opposing votes limn differences in race. The unusual, even esoteric word choice got people’s attention, for better or worse.

One reader described the usage as “unbelievably arrogant and patronizing.” Others thanked the paper for expanding their vocabularies.Responding to the controversy, the paper’s eminent blogger about language, John McIntyre, pointed out that it “may not have been the shrewdest choice for the front page.” However, he added, “Speaking as a language maven, I applaud when people consult dictionaries to add another little brick to the wall of their vocabularies. Now that you know what it means, it is yours forever.”

Limn, says MW, means “to outline in sharp detail” or “to describe,” by the way.

I’m torn here. Being a word nerd and constant mourner of the English language (like the Washington Post’s Gene Weingarten), I praise a paper for introducing some nutrition into what junk food writing people usually devour. But I don’t think a headline is where you ought to do it. A headline — of a news story, anyway — is supposed to be the bit that tells you, in as few words as possible, what you’ll get from the article to follow. Throw in a $10 word and you’re defeating the purpose for a large majority of potential readers. You may even alienate some of those readers and lose valuable eyeballs.

You got to sneak it in there, like a pill in a dog treat. Trick folks into wisenin’ up. Insinuate a new word or usage into an easily apprehendable context and maybe you’ll manage to surreptitiously augment a vocabulary or two.

Lookups on Merriam-Webster spiked on September 8, 2010.


On September 7, The Baltimore Sun ran the headline, “Opposing votes limn difference in race.”

That unusual word choice ended up making headlines of its own.

One reader described the usage as “unbelievably arrogant and patronizing.” Others thanked the paper for expanding their vocabularies.

Responding to the controversy, the paper’s eminent blogger about language, John McIntyre, pointed out that it “may not have been the shrewdest choice for the front page.” However, he added, “Speaking as a language maven, I applaud when people consult dictionaries to add another little brick to the wall of their vocabularies. Now that you know what it means, it is yours forever.”

Limn means “to outline in sharp detail” or “to describe.” It’s a close relative of illuminate.

New Blog Post Shows Most Blog Posts are the Same Shit

This rather brilliant post from Martin Robbins’ The Lay Scientist blog on the Guardian website basically sums up what I (try to) do for a living. Those who can’t do teach and those who can’t hack it in the lab write… formulaically.

This is a news website article about a scientific paper

In the standfirst I will make a fairly obvious pun about the subject matter before posing an inane question I have no intention of really answering: is this an important scientific finding?

In this paragraph I will state the main claim that the research makes, making appropriate use of “scare quotes” to ensure that it’s clear that I have no opinion about this research whatsoever.

In this paragraph I will briefly (because no paragraph should be more than one line) state which existing scientific ideas this new research “challenges”.

Continue reading

Cries of a Digital Degeneration

Take in this rather brilliant modernday reinterpretation of Allen Ginsberg’s seminal work by filmmakers Tiffany Shlain and Geralyn Dreyfous.

I look forward to their upcoming project, Connected, from which the images in that video were drawn. The film, say Shlain and Dreyfous

explores the visible and invisible connections between the major issues of our time — the environment, population growth, technology, human rights, and the global economy – demonstrating how they are all interdependent. … It reveals how the interdependence of people and forces lies at the core of our existence, and imagines what the world would look like if we lived in a way that acknowledged this reality. The film suggests that for centuries we have been declaring independence and perhaps it’s time to declare our interdependence.

In the meantime, click here, here and here to listen to Ginsberg reading Howl (in three parts). Read the whole poem here.

[Thanks, BJ]

If He Were President, He’d Start Running on Friday, Get Banned from Running on Saturday

Yesterday (!) broke the story (!) that Wyclef Jean, already banned from running for president in Haiti, finally officially withdrew from the race.  (!) And last night, Comedy Central ran the season two pre-2004-election Chappelle’s Show featuring Wyclef’s “If I Was President.” It was a simpler time then, wasn’t it? Audio above, without video from the broadcast. We’ll get into was vs. were another time.

In separate but related news, I was asked a great question this morning:

Is disingenuity a word yet?

Not yet, Virginia. Not yet.

It’s Always Sunny Sells Out in Season Six

When your favorite band — that one you knew since they pressed their first seven inch back in high school — sells out it’s easy to get a little outraged. And it feels entirely justifiable, in a music-snob, self-righteous kind of way. If you’re talking about a TV show, however, one on a mid-tier network that’s already in its sixth season, it’s harder to dignify indignation.

While I can appreciate Coors Light signing on to sponsor FX’s It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, the product placement in last night’s season six premier was jarring. Between the Coors bottles, napkins and napkin holders, images of tapped Rockies were present in every shot from the bar.

Distracting for sure, but at least germane. When Dennis and Dee arrange a meeting with their high school crushes at a Subway, though, it’s just silly. The signage is absurd. And they’re there for breakfast. Breakfast? Even if there was some compelling reason within the show’s script to explain why they’d go to Subway, why the fuck would anyone — let alone two drunks without day jobs — go at breakfast?

Oh, that’s right: 


Well, I guess It’s Always Sunny has never been about subtlety. Nor has the advertising world. So maybe it’s a perfect union. I’m sure the characters, our degenerate friends Dee, Dennis, Mac, Charlie and Frank, would sell out in a flash if given the chance.

(Mini review of the season opener: Good. Not amazing, but good. Frank asking the tranny if she had to sell her dick to China? Awesome.)

Look at E.T. Just look at him.

I have no reason to tell you to look at pictures of E.T. except that I think it’d be a really good idea to look at pictures of E.T. right now.

Right now!

Awesome, right? Yeah, E.T. is awesome.