Old Blog 5

Wednesday, September 29, 2004


So Norman Mailer is going to be on Gilmore Girls. I like this trend:

David Foster Wallace on Crank Yankers, as a guy who calls someone up and just talks and talks and talks and talks and talks…

John Updike as a cadaver on CSI.

Tom Wolfe having sex with that cute chick on Everwood.

posted @ 4:12 pm


Well, hello there! You read my letter
and assumed I didn't keep a blog. No, I do. But from '96 to '03 I kept
more of an online journal, and didn't go to blog format (hey, look,
time stamps!) until last year.

Anyway, as I said, hello. Feel free to poke around the site.

posted @ 4:01 pm

Tuesday, September 21, 2004


A short little thing
(scroll down to the end of the page) at The Black Table today, where I
reveal something about me that I probably shouldn't have revealed.

posted @ 12:31 pm

Friday, September 17, 2004


So, if you're going to remake a great movie like King Kong, who better to do it than Lord Of The Rings
director Peter Jackson? Well, maybe I'm wrong and there are lots of
directors who could tackle it, but Jackson seems to be doing the right
things: he's keeping the setting in the 1930s, and he has Jack Black in
it. Jack Black! And Andy Serkis, who played Gollum, is "playing" Kong.

They've launched a really great site where you can keep track of the production and read diaries from the set.

posted @ 2:36 pm

Wednesday, September 15, 2004


The thing that strikes me most about Martha Stewart in
these press conferences she holds is how very very MARTHA STEWART she
is. You can see that she wants to be in control. You can see how her
statements aren't just boiler plate but peppered with explanations and
marketing. It's almost as if she surfs the web late at night and
understands how the public thinks and wants to answer the questions
about why she makes the decisions she makes concerning her case.

And how she stays so very Martha! My favorite part of
her announcment that she's ready to go to the slammer: the part where
she said she hopes to be out of jail around March, "in time to plant
the new spring garden."

posted @ 1:46 pm

Tuesday, September 14, 2004


In case you missed her show yesterday, Oprah gave
everyone in the studio audience their own Caribbean island and a
Shetland pony.

Yesterday was a weird day for crazy billionaires giving
away stuff. After Oprah's big surprise, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark
Cuban kicked three people off of his new show The Benefactor. I
like Cuban, even more so after he kicked off the first guy only an hour
into the game for calling it "stupid" (the guy did know it was being
filmed, right?), but he decides who next gets kicked out by having them
play…Jenga? What, was this some sort of promotional deal with Hasbro?

Coming next week: two contestants play Tiddly Winks for a Chrysler LeBaron.

posted @ 11:08 am

Monday, September 13, 2004


For those of you wondering when Pop Culture Guy will be updated, go there now!
Please note that in keeping with my world domination plans, it can now
be reached at the ever-so-easy-to-remember popcultureguy.com.

This week, an oldie but a goodie: my letter to Kellogg's
from a few years back, asking them a very deep question about, well,

posted @ 1:31 pm

Friday, September 10, 2004


It's just a matter of time before we hear the local and national newscasts refer to the latest hurricane as "Ivan The Terrible."

posted @ 3:07 pm

Thursday, September 9, 2004


Never mind the cats vs. dogs debate. Never mind
chocolate vs. vanilla, Superman vs. Batman, paper vs. plastic, hot dogs
vs. hamburgers, or New York vs. LA. The way you answer the question
"Letterman or Leno?" tells everything that anyone needs to know about

Which is why James Wolcott's view
comes as such a shock. His Vanity Fair articles are always interesting,
even when I don't agree with him, but how the hell can he choose Leno
over Letterman? It's not only "wrong," it's insane.

Let's look at his reasons, and dissect them, shall we?

"Leno has a work ethic so phenomenal it's almost
perverse. He almost never takes hiatus weeks, hates doing them when he
does (he's probably do fifty two weeks a year of new shows if it
weren't for the burnout it do to his writers and production staff), and
when he's not doing the Tonight show he's doing standup in Vegas and
other laugh palaces. In fact, the show last night was a new show; he
didn't take Labor Day off."

Well, Letterman didn't take Labor Day off either, but
whatever. The key word isn't "work ethic," it's "perverse." Leno
doesn't work all this time because he's hardworking, he works this much
because he's insecure and paranoid. That's why he spied on the heads of
NBC during the whole "will it be Letterman or Leno taking over for
Carson" period in '93. That's why he doesn't spend one cent of the
millions he makes from The Jay Leno Show (I refuse to call it The Tonight Show)
and instead keeps it in the bank and works nightclub gigs around the
country. That's why he works on his monologue all night long after the
show airs.

Besides, when it quantity more important than quality?

"The Tonight Show is a superior broadcast to The Late
Show. It's better-written, more imaginatively produced, faster paced,
more energetic in every aspect."

Has Wolcott ever watched either of these shows? The only reason why Leno's monologue is better is because he actually does one. Letterman does 4 or 5 jokes then gets to the real meat of the opening, the desk chat and regular bits.

How is Leno's show more imaginatively produced? Is it
the on-the-street segments Leno got from Letterman? Is it the hiring of
the mundane Stuttering John as the announcer (a desperate, odd move it
seems to me)? And why is a faster pace better? Sure, the camera moves
around more, the show is louder, and Leno mumbles his way quickly
through the end of the interviews…wait a second, aren't those negatives?

The best part of Leno's show is the "Headlines" segment
on Monday nights, and that's because he has nothing to do with it.
Except the unbearable mugging he does to drive home some lame witticism
that he has just uttered about the headline. Leno doesn't know when to
shut up.

"Letterman is edgy and moody; Leno is yappy and
ingratiating. Letterman disdains showbiz phoniness; Leno seems to
epitomize it. Letterman came through like a champ after 9/11; Leno was
a happy hustler for Arnold Schwarzenneger. It seems unfair that a
slugger like Letterman should run a perennial second behind this
shovel-chinned square."

Well, um, thanks for making part of my argument for me.

"Letterman is forever buttoning and unbuttoning his
jacket, taking that underhand golf stroke after the punchline or making
a "pow" fist. At the desk he's even worse, fussing like an old man with
his glasses and fidgeting with those damned blue cards before twirling
them into the miniature Manhattan backdrop to the recorded sound of
shattering glass. The recurring segments–"Will This Float?"–are an
amateurish embarrassment and give off the stale air of why-bother."

First of all, the segment is called "Will It Float." Good research there Jimmy.

Second, this paragraph says so much, because it's
exactly the reason why Letterman has been a success all these years.
It's called having a personality, not the showbiz lameness that Leno
oozes. Letterman's more real, he's a bit of a grump, he's been doing
the show for over 20 years. But those aren't bad things. That's who he
is. It's not a matter of "if he's so grumpy why doesn't he give it up,"
it's what makes his show HIS show. Seriously, put any other Hollywood
suck-up who wants ratings into Leno's spot and he'd please the same
audience. Give me Letterman's refreshing vibe any day of the week.

And those comedy bits like "Will It Float" and "CBS
Mailbag" and "Stump The Band" (a bit that Carson lets Dave use –
Johnny's disdain for Leno is well-known) and regulars like Rupert and
Stephanie and Les Moonves talking with Dave, or Biff Henderson going to
the political conventions? On what planet aren't those segments
engaging and fun and unpredictable? Leno has "Jaywalking." Ugh.

"I may not like Leno as a comic, but he's King of Late Night for a reason–he's earned the crown."

I don't believe he doesn't like Leno as a comic – I mean, you'd have to like him to sit through his show. But he's earned
the crown? Hardly. The reason Letterman left NBC and went to CBS is
because he put in over 10 years on his NBC show in the 12:30 am slot
and thought (rightly so) that NBC would give him The Tonight Show
after Carson left. Instead, they gave it to fill-in Leno, who (besides
hiding in a closet and listening in on private NBC exec meetings to get
an edge on Letterman, as noted above) has perfected the art of getting
on his knees. And I'm not talking about begging.

Letterman earned the spot. It was NBC who screwed him over.

"He's made enough money…"

Yeah, that's a reason to give up the show.

"…there are better things in life than throwing
pencils at the cue-card guy for the 10,000th time and exchanging empty
repartee with Paul Shaffer."

Does he mean like making a joke about Kevin Eubanks
during the monologue? Or how about that Oscar Wilde-like banter he has
with Stuttering John?

Eh. There are Letterman people in the world and there
are Leno people. You can't be both. And who you are tells a lot about

Now let's talk about how Macs are better than PCs…

posted @ 7:49 pm


Check out the third picture down.

posted @ 5:27 pm

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