Not Much To Say

Almost Famous
Cameron Crowe – director

A based-on-fact fictional tale of writer/director’s Crowe’s teen years as a Rolling Stone journalist. This is not a classic, but a sweet and bittersweet look back at rock and roll, coming of age, journalism and love.

It is!

Always a compelling watch – this was from my own DVD collection – in a very lighthearted, completely enjoyable way.

Kate Hudson steals the movie as Penny Lane, the consumate Band-Aid, and Frances McDormand (as always) brings a neurotic brilliance to her role as the mother of the young Crowe . (Don’t take drugs!)

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I really haven’t written much for the last couple of weeks for two very simple reasons:

  • I haven’t had much time, and
  • I haven’t had much to say

And – while this doesn’t always seem to hold in the blogosphere – I think it’s good to be quiet when there isn’t anything to say.

Call me old fashioned.

Or old.

Or out of fashion.

All may apply; whom am I to say?

That said, I do have some stuff brewing in my brain that requires the need of writing to help (me) clarify; so you may not be done with me yet.

Why Newspapers Die

The Weatherman

I like Nicolas Cage; I like enigmatic movies. This has/is both.

I still didn’t like it; didn’t quite get it.

It was fine to watch; had some funny moments, but I will never watch this movie again.

I guess I was expecting something different – the trailers show Cage roaming the city with a bow and arrow. And in this movie, he is very much a man on the edge – I kept waiting for him to go postal and start firing those arrows. Never happened.

Shot (exteriors) in the Chicago area, where I’m from, so that’s fun, but – overall – unimpressive.

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We all know the line about how the internet is gutting newspapers’ profitablity/relevance. And, to a large degree, this is true.

But there is one other compelling reason that today’s newspapers are not so compelling: Business.

Newspapers are increasingly profit-driven, especially as consolidation takes away the hometown-news focus and moves that focus to the corporation’s bottom line.

This was driven home in a very really way in an article by Knight Ridder’s Mike Cassidy:

So, Monday morning I left my office on Ridder Park Drive and drove to the Fairmont hotel next to the Knight Ridder building in San Jose. There, chief executive Tony Ridder announced that Knight Ridder newspapers was dead.

Listening to Ridder and the video, it seemed all the more tragic that Knight Ridder’s 32-year run is over. There were the 85 Pulitzer Prizes. The tradition of philanthropy. The history of hiring diversity.

It left me wondering why. Almost like a child, I kept thinking this didn’t really have to happen. This company didn’t have to go away.

To which, in his speech, Ridder answered that the end was inevitable.

Shareholders — big institutional investors — wanted more for their investment. Top-flight journalism wasn’t their concern.

If they hadn’t prevailed this time, they would have eventually.

Cassidy: Sad requiem for esteemed KR standards, Mike Cassidy, Mercury News, June 27, 2006

Agree or not whether or not big institutional investors should care about solid journalism (or solid [whatever your investment is in]), the general truth is the one Ridder stated.

So, not only are newspapers under siege from the internet and 24-hour TV news, but the corporate chiefs are turning a blind eye to the quality of the product. Yes, that’s a way to just about guarantee your product will continue to deteriorate.

This is understandable, but still sad. There’s a reason the press – most notably the print press – is regarded as the Fourth Estate. We have the three branches of government – legislative, executive and judicial – with an elaborate (sometimes arcane…) set of checks and balances. But it’s often up to the outsiders, this Fourth Estate, to make a fuss when those check and balances are not exercised (or exercised improperly and so on).

To a large degree, the online community is doing an excellent job of examining the checks and balances, but you often need a depth of reporting (full staff) and an institution behind you to break the big stories.

If Dana Priest had just been a blogger, do you really think she – the same person as the Washington Post reporter – would have been able to crack the CIA secret prisons story, for which she won a Pulitzer?


So there is a need for newspapers, even if they end up online only. The New York Times, LA Times, Washington Post – they’re all doing some excellent work, and it would seem a true loss to have them replaced by a bunch of independent blogs.

So remember, it’s not just the internet killing newspapers – it’s also short-sighted, bottom-line focused business decisions that have nothing to do with content that’s crippling the print media.

Rocketboom goes … kerPlunk

For whatever reason – and I don’t care the reasonRocketboom is no longer with Amanda.

What does this mean?

This means the web is shifting. No one was hurt here; Amanda (etc) will do well.


It leaves the Web a little poorer, understand. Not good for average surfer.

(Though look at the upside-down map – subtext there. What does this mean? My whole world has been turned upside down, perhaps?)

Slate Redesigns

Slate – one of the pioneering online magazines (whatever the hell that means) has undergone a pretty extensive redesign as it enters its second decade.

Some AJAX-goodness, bigger pics, more screen real estate. Overall, looks pretty good.

One nit to pick: The hover color for text or background (as appropriate) is yellow – your basic hex ffff00).


Back to Work

Walk the Line
James Mangold, director

The story of the early life of Johnny Cash, up to the time when he finally married June Carter.

I don’t know much about Cash’s life, and nada about Carter’s, but this was an extremely well-done movie, with outstanding performances by Joaquin Phoenix (Cash) and Reese Witherspoon (Carter). The amazing part is that the actors did the singing for the movie, and – at least for Cash – Phoenix nailed it.

Begins – and ends – in Folsom prison.

One quibble – the sound was a little muddy, at least to me.

All movies

Officially off work today, but starting back in. What fun. Spend a good part of the day cleaning up the basement, as well – hell, I’d rather be working…I was a soaking mess. It’s hot and muggy out there/in here.

You know, after watching the movie “Walk the Line” (see my accompanying review), you’d think I’d be listening to a lot of Cash today.

You’d be correct.

I am a late comer to Cash, I don’t mind admitting that – a friend gave me American IV – The Man Comes Around to listen to and I was hooked. Shortly after that, I got – as a gift – a copy of The Essential Johnny Cash I was sold.

However, I’ve got to say that I’m more of a fan of Dylan – Dylan is an artist I’m beginning to listen to after a break from listening to him for a couple decades.

I’m especially loving his live cuts, such as on Live at the Gaslight and the No Direction Home soundtrack. Raw, and – especially on the former – embryonic.

A Day in the Country…

Well, not really in the country – but it almost feels that way.

Just off Eden’s Expressway (I-94) at Lake Cook Road in Glencoe is one the best gardens I’ve ever been to, the Chicago Botanical Gardens. I’ve be going to the bot gardens for decades, but yesterday was the first time I’ve been there in two years – and are they doing some impressive work there.

I’m finally getting around to creating a gallery for this precious piece of real estate; the first pictures will be (a handful) of digital pics I took there; I’ll slowly add other scans – 35mm color; 4×5 B&W; images; 35mm infrared (I have to do some more infrared shooting there!). This gallery will quickly grow.

If you’ve never been there, I highly recommend it. It’s a flat entry price – $12 per car – but be prepared to walk. And it’s not a place most kids will enjoy. Sure, they can run around in the woods and along paths, but wouldn’t they rather have a picnic in some forest preserve?

The Bot Gardens are very strange: It is bordered by a major expressway of a major city, and it’s in the suburbs, where you’re more likely to find a strip mall than a garden.

To paraphrase Shakespeare, the Bot Garden is an emerald island in a concrete sea…

Too Much Truthiness

Click image for larger view

I’m a big fan of Stephen Colbert, but I really don’t think he ranks spots 1-5 of 5 on the MSN “It List”. Especially when he’s also earmarked for the “out” category.

(Captured around 10:20pm CDT; still the same at 10:50pm. Ouch! Someone’s getting a spanking next week!)

Yes, it’s a glitch – page those Flash programmers! – but still funny. And it’s the same in Firefox and IE (Windoze), so it’s not a brower issue per se.

I dunno, just struck me as funny.

Dick Cheney, the Right-Wing conspiracy, aliens or perhaps the students of Scientology are behind this hijink.

Or maybe the NSA is testing us…


In the spirit of “truthiness,” I am here to tell you that we are officially retiring the “It” List. We’ve decided to end with Stephen Colbert in honor of a reader who thought our “It” List should feature no one but him. Your wish. Our command.

The It List comment for the first Colbert pic, which I was too stoopid to read

I’m surprised to see this feature go away (I presaged People magazine, mind you…), but…what do I know?