Tuesday, August 23, 2011

"Would you come after me?"

Watching Bladerunner on SyFy. Even the moronic "bug" in the lower right corner of the screen promoting the new season of Ghost Hunters (don't get me started) cannot detract from this movie. Holy shit. I've gotta watch this thing without all the moronic commercials.

Monday, July 18, 2011


This is it. Wow. It's amazing to think that the company held no value for anyone aside from liquidators.

The Bluths make HuffPo

When I first came across this, I did the Internet surfing equivalent of a double-take. And then I looked for a "partner post" or some other indication that this was a paid advertisement. Nope, it's the real deal:

The Huffington Post has an Arrested Development page. Seriously.

Perhaps this isn't much of a stretch, though: when you consider that other HuffPo pages are devoted to such topics as the U.K. phone hacking scandal and U.S. politics, the Bluth clan seems to fit right in.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Counting down

In my worst estimation of the Borders mess, I didn't imagine this. I have a location just down the road here -- as I've written before, the staff can be (and has been, on numerous occasions) a pain in the you-know-where, but it's nice to know I'm so close to so much great literature. At the rate this thing is going, though, that store is going to be replaced by an auto dealership in no time.

Sunday, February 20, 2011


I must have "bookstores on the brain." The following from indie bookstore employee (and blogger) Emily Pullen in southern California, about the closing of Borders locations there:

" ... there ain't no joy in a bookstore closing. Ever."

Yeah, that about sums it up.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Borders and bankruptcy

I've been pretty clear in my remarks in the past about Borders: bad Internet strategy, arriving late to the e-reader game, poor customer service ... there's no way to ride out such bad decisions (and, yes, poor customer service is a decision). But I couldn't help but read the news about the company's filing for bankruptcy and think about those dedicated employees who not only loved their jobs and cared about the customers, but also loved books and cared about promoting them, selling them, getting people excited about them. I think there are fewer of those than you might suspect -- I've put in many, many hours in bookstores (including a 27-hour shift once; don't ask) and was surprised that so few of my co-workers shared my passion for the printed page -- but if there are only a few hundred among the thousands of folks who will lose their jobs, that's still sad.

People liked to rail against the big box bookstores back in the day, and I myself heard a lot of that. But without places like Barnes & Noble, where I worked, and Borders, where friends of mine worked over the years, many book lovers might not have been able to get jobs in the book retail industry. At the few independent bookstores in the area, there weren't many available jobs and turnover was rare. Meaning: far fewer jobs for folks like myself. When the big stores came into town, they brought jobs with them. Jobs that meant the other folks who loved books had a chance to play "kid in a candy store."

Hopefully, the real book lovers out there will find another job selling books in their area. And the others -- those who were working at Borders, but just because it was a job -- hopefully there's an opening at the Chico's down the road.

In the meantime, let's keep our fingers crossed that The Powers That Be at Borders have a turnaround plan that will keep the remaining stores open ... or at least many of them. I'll freely admit that I buy a lot of my books at Amazon.com nowadays, but a community without a bookstore is a sad, sad thought.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Gervais asked to host Globes again

Of course he was. Irrelevance is far worse than a catty host.

[Update] Or perhaps not. My prediction: no Gervais next year, and the broadcast dips 10 percent.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Exclusive Thor poster

I guess I'm in a poster phase (if talking about the Japanese Black Swan poster and the following can be considered a "phase"). Here's another I like:

Printed exclusively for folks who worked on the film. Get the full story here.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Old guys lash out at 3D

I knew I wasn't the only person who didn't like 3D movies, but I didn't realize I was in such esteemed company. It isn't that I feel it's simply an attempt by the studios to get more money; no one is being forced to buy a ticket, after all. I don't like the dimming effect of the glasses, that I need glasses at all, and the accompanying headache. And now they're making 3D TVs. Enough already. You know what didn't need 3D? Casablanca. And Star Wars. Oh, and everything in between and 99.999999 percent of everything since. I have never sat through a movie and thought to myself, "Great movie. 3D would've made it better."

I dodge the Razzie bullet

Wow: aside from Clash of the Titans (now playing on HBO), I haven't seen a single one of the movies nominated for a Razzie Award for 2010.

Way to go, me.

(If the Razzies gave awards to crappy Web sites, they'd have to start with their own. That's why the above link goes to a Yahoo! news story.)

Japanese poster for Black Swan

Love this Japanese poster for Black Swan. Love it.

The colors, the staging: it's very minimalistic. Yet the pose, the feathers and even the Japanese script* lend just the right level of complication to the composition.

Want an even larger version? Here you go.

* I want to say "kanji," but Wikipedia tells me there's more going on in the Japanese writing system than that and I am nowhere near intelligent enough to figure it out on my own.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Late Night Leaderboard:
The War for Late Night

Just finished Bill Carter's The War for Late Night, his follow-up to The Late Shift. Both books, you'll recall, cover the behind-the-scenes machinations of late night television during its two biggest seismic shifts of the last few decades: Leno's succession of Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show and ... well, Leno's succession of Conan O'Brien on The Tonight Show.

Unlike that first book, though, the events covered in War were reported exhaustively on Web sites, blogs, forums and the shows themselves. It was public, and remarkably so. That left Carter with a difficult task: present the story in a fresh way with insight and perspective not already offered up in real time.

I was disappointed to discover that he didn't really succeed.

There was little in War that I wasn't already aware of -- so little, in fact, that I cannot even toss off an example or two of something new I learned ... and I just finished the book yesterday. Here's why that matters: anyone inclined to read this book was probably inclined to keep up with the drama as it unfolded. They'll be looking for something new (and a biography of Jimmy Kimmel doesn't count).

Still, it was interesting to see what perspective(s) the book would adopt: O'Brien as victim of Leno, Leno as victim of O'Brien, both as victims of NBC, NBC as the victim of circumstance, etc. The answer is: all of the above. That's just a little lazy, I think, because those are the same storylines that unfolded during the daily drama: hasn't our perspective changed just a little since then, since O'Brien's team stopped heavily populating blogs with pro-Conan, anti-Jay storylines? Since O'Brien bumped another guy from his time slot (George Lopez)? Since Fox decided they didn't need a late night talk show that bad? Since the best O'Brien has been able to come up with is TBS ... this from the new king of late night?

Yes, I admit -- the "O'Brien as victim" storyline tired me out back then and I found I had little patience for it in the reading of War. During the initial play of the drama, I think far too many people overlooked the fact that O'Brien wasn't reliably winning his time slot on Late Night (thanks to Craig Ferguson), relied on a left-of-center style of humor that anyone paying attention knew wouldn't fit Tonight (yeah, let's see him roll out the Masturbating Bear at 11:35 pm) and forced out the guy currently in the number one position (meaning that anything he did other than improve those numbers could've been spun as a let-down).

That sounds really anti-Conan, and I'm honestly not. It's just that I never saw him as a mainstream comedian capable as playing as today's Bob Hope, which is how some view Leno.

But because O'Brien had a team of lawyers and PR reps behind him, and Leno had ... well, Leno, the story people are still telling is the O'Brien-as-victim one. I wanted more from Carter and didn't get it.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Globe trotted out

Far too much has been made of Ricky Gervais' performance at the Golden Globes this year. This Warming Glow post presents every Gervais joke from the evening, and it's relatively tame stuff. Frankly, I think he took the easy way out on a couple of those: gay jokes about Tom Cruise & John Travolta and drug jokes about Robert Downey, Jr. are about as fresh as my socks after a five-mile run.

Gervais has already said he won't be back. That's too bad: I generally like his material and his presence alone compelled me to watch.

Two things:

The shots back at him from guys like Downey, Hanks and Allen were pre-planned. Had to be. No one "wings it" that cleverly and succinctly at these award shows.

I thought the bit about the titles of Robert Downey, Jr. movies sounding like porn films was hilarious. He missed The Pick-Up Artist, One Night Stand and Good Night, and Good Luck. And there are a couple more, if we're really going to stretch.

Herey barllskdjf

I've done enough layout work in my time to simultaneously laugh and wince at this newspaper "headline:"

From Shutdown Corner.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A genuine publishing mystery

Simon & Schuster is distributing an e-mail to journalists asking them to refrain from commenting on an anonymously written novel about President Obama. Michael Calderone, writing for Yahoo! blog "Cutline," actually writes, "It's not clear what prompted the publisher to ask journalists not to comment on a book they have nothing to do with."

Really? It's not clear at all, Michael? Is this the one blogger in the world -- screw it, the universe --whose dictionary lacks the word "publicity?"

I love reading and pay a fair amount of attention to the publishing world, and I had no idea this book existed until Calderone started straining his brain cells over why a publishing company would want to draw attention to one of its titles. So, score one for Simon & Schuster's marketing department. As for Calderone: might I suggest enlisting the aid of one Sherlock Holmes? He's at 221B Baker Street.

Jay Leno: Sketchy character

Howard Stern alleges that Leno steals material from him. All I can say is, if Leno's been showcasing lesbian porn stars wrestling little people, I seriously have to start watching the Tonight Show again.

Business sucks -- blame the lighting!

This one's a misfire. While layout and lighting are important to any retail business, I bet there's a lot more wrong with the Borders location being discussed than just that.

And the idea that an independent bookstore could fill the space left by a (potentially) closing Borders? One presumably closing, in part, because it isn't generating enough traffic? Way to double down on a failing enterprise.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Giamatti wins

I just hope no one offered him any Merlot at the after-party.

I really like Paul Giamatti: Sideways is a personal favorite. I'm sure you would want someone like Brad Pitt or Michelle Williams (depending on your gender) to portray you in the film of your life. Me? Giamatti all the way, baby.

Borders patrol

More news about Borders Books' financial trouble.

Quick anecdote:

I was at a local Borders just before the holidays to take advantage of a half-off coupon they sent me. (I make most of my book-related purchases on Amazon.com, but for 50 percent off, I'll make the drive.) Apparently, many others received the same coupon and the store was packed -- the checkout line stretched from the front of the store to the back ... and it's a big store.

I was having difficulty locating the book I'd gone there for and asked a Borders sales associate for help. Her response?

She sighed, rolled her eyes, and said "You know we're about to close, right?" Then, she looked up the title I sought and informed me, no, they didn't have it.

Now, here's the thing:

Did she act like a person working for a company desperately trying to hold onto whatever customer walks through their doors? No. Would a customer in my situation be inclined to repeat this very negative -- albeit brief -- interaction with a Borders sales associate? Yes. (Right now, in fact.)

The very point of distributing what I can only assume were hundreds, if not thousands, of half-off coupons before Christmas was to get people in the store, to break their online shopping habits. Wouldn't management gather the employees around and tell them, "Hey, listen, you might work long and hard today, but let's all do the best we can until the last customer is out of the store. Okay? We can do it!" We! Are! Marshall!

Apparently not. However, I should have expected just such an experience.


Because this particular store is famous for it.

This Borders location has a reputation among the locals for shoddy service and pretentious salespeople. My interaction wasn't the exception: it was pretty much the rule. If this was a problematic little bookstore in a far-off land, that would be one thing. But this Borders is one of the most prominent -- and heavily trafficked -- locations in the country. And it has a reputation for bad service and lousy employees.

The story I link to above talks about bad Web strategies, poor management decisions, the rise of the e-book reader. How about, um, not treating your customers as if they're a nuisance? You know which prominent bookseller doesn't do that? I'll give you a hint. No, better yet, I'll just leave the link right here.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

South Korean industry's exploitation

Terrifying stuff out of the South Korean entertainment industry, as covered by the LA Times.

Part of me appreciates how some bloggers can take stuff like this and toss in a joke or two. Not out of disrespect, more just out of a need to keep things light. Not me. This is simply another depressing example of how poorly humans can treat one another when there is a disparity of power between them.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

I love James Franco

Seriously. More often than not -- well, okay ... the vast majority of the time -- actors doing anything other than acting bothers me. See: "But what I really want to do is direct!" and/or "Check out my new clothing line!" They have every right in the world to do this stuff, but it still bothers me. Irrational, I know, but there it is.

James Franco is a different story. Franco is everywhere ... in an almost literal sense. If the guy started performing a song and dance routine at the restaurant down the street from me, I'd only be mildly surprised.

But does it bother me that the guy is acting, hosting, writing, directing, etc.? Not one bit.

There are a couple problems when celebrities branch out:

  • They might not be very good at the new thing. Eddie Murphy's music career comes to mind.
  • They might not be doing work they're credited with. Show of hands: how many people really think Jessica Simpson is a fashion designer?
  • They might become horrifically overexposed. Even if you kinda sorta like the person, there's only so much you can take.

For me, Franco is avoiding all of these pitfalls.

  1. He's no Raymond Carver (although neither was Carver), but he's lots better than Snooki's ghostwriter.
  2. There's no question that that's Franco in 127 Hours, Saturday Night Live and General Hospital. And that'll be him hosting the Oscars and directing a movie or two down the line. No doubt: he's actually doing the work. (Hey, an MFA isn't the most difficult degree in the world to get, but it isn't easy by any stretch of the imagination.) 
  3. His presence -- on screen, in interviews -- has just the right amount of, "I'm just having a good time." Too much of that attitude and no one takes you seriously. Not enough and everyone thinks you take yourself too seriously.
Plus, there's Pineapple Express. Come on: how can you not love that guy?

I'm looking forward to his Oscar gig with Anne Hathaway. (A brilliant move on the part of the producers, by the way.) More James Franco is all right with me.

After all, I'm in love.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

"Golden" doesn't begin to describe this guy's voice.

I know I'm a little late to this party -- this thing exploded online yesterday -- but I had to get a link up here.

Oh, and the good news? The guy got a job.