Archive for September, 2009

Media – Fixing Print is Easy…Just Painful

September 30, 2009

Hi there. Do you own a newspaper? I’ve got some completely unqualified advice for you about how to save your no-doubt bleeding and dying horribly print enterprise. Of course, following this advice will make you hated beyond all belief, but that, for me, is the fun part of the exercise. I don’t have to do this shit. You probably do.

The short answer is “Change yourself from being something for everyone to something for everyone that lives in the area you serve.” Newspapers are the best tool for one thing: local news that locals care about. That’s your product.

1) Take a hard look at your newspaper and ask whether each section is actually necessary. If they can be consistently beaten to the punch by a blog and are not hard news, the answer is no. But that’s OK, you never should have hired a style reporter in the first place, and “celebrity news” journalists can just go feed on the bottom of the Internet with Perez Hilton.

2) Ditch in-depth national news. National news can be gotten from about eight sources before your reader gets up to take his morning leak at this point. By the time he picks up your paper, he’s seen everything you have to say on CNN. Include important blurbs, of course, those redirect people to your site. But if you’re just reprinting the AP, don’t bother. Blogs can’t cover local news in depth the way you can.

3) Start firing editors. While I love editing and editors, if you look at the masthead of your average newspaper, it’s kind of shocking what the editor to journalist ratio is. Editors should really go first.

4) Turn your journalists, all of them, into brands. In addition to their articles, they should have a blog they update once a day on weekdays. Not everybody’s going to get huge traffic, but bandwidth is cheap and it’ll drive traffic to your site.

5) Accept, once and for all, that Craigslist is not going anywhere, and dump the classifieds. Your ad revenue from now on is going to come almost exclusively from businesses buying ad space.

6) Run a free website, for Christ’s sake. The fuss and whining over how the Internet steals your news is annoying to anybody with a working brain, because it’s vastly more expensive to print thousands of copies of your paper than it is to put it up, and you make that money back with ads on the sites. Blogs linking to you are your friends: they redirect people to articles, thus driving up your traffic.

7) Accept that the industry has permanently changed. The “good old days” are not coming back, no matter how much you strain to try and make them return. Either get busy making a product of genuine use, or get busy winding down your paper so someone else can take over.

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Movies – The Oscar Flush

September 29, 2009

It’s almost October, and you know what that means! Endless speculation about movies you don’t care about for an awards show that’s becoming increasingly culturally irrelevant dominating the news for six…fucking…months. And this year it’s going to be worse, because there’s essentially nothing to talk about.

There’s no point in pretending the Oscars matter anymore. Last year was an epic disaster area for one reason, and one reason only: somebody in the Academy went in there and fiddled with the awards to make sure that damn movie about that guy who dresses like a flying rat and fights a clown didn’t get a damn award other than the one they couldn’t avoid acknowledging.

Normally I wouldn’t be annoyed about “The Dark Knight” not being nominated for Oscars: even if it had been nominated, it wasn’t going to win. But it’s pretty telling that if you go through the DGA, WGA, Producer’s Guild, etc. awards for last year, there’s five movies that consistently turn up: four Best Picture nominees and “The Dark Knight”. But mysteriously, “The Dark Knight” was replaced by “The Reader”, a movie nobody liked and didn’t do well, and had zero Oscar chances until, magically, it did.

This isn’t Harvey Weinstein. Weinstein’s a brilliant marketer, but he’s not so good that he can boot a movie like “Knight” out of the Oscars. No, I quite bluntly think somebody stepped in and made damn sure “The Dark Knight” didn’t get any major nominations beyond Heath Ledger, and that was only because he was dead.

And, really, what does that say about the Oscars? “The Dark Knight” wasn’t just a summer movie: it was the kind of thing that even true artists chase for years and never catch, a movie that was a genuine event. It didn’t make $500 million in the US because everybody loves Batman; it made $500 million because it spoke to people, and it also happens to be a pretty damn good movie. It had something on its mind and didn’t belabor its points, the kind of filmmaking we generally want to encourage.

And what’s the Academy’s reaction to a major studio making a blockbuster that genuinely had something on its mind and that people genuinely loved and wanted to see? It ran right in the opposite direction. What was especially insulting is “The Reader” catered to just about every stereotype about how the Academy has become stodgy and clueless. They’ve been bitched at for letting movies like “The Reader” so much as a nomination in the past: what the hell were they doing giving it nods?

And this Oscar season promises to be particularly painful. You’ve got your biopic, “Amelia”. You’ve got Rob Marshall phoning in another damn musical, “Nine”. “Me And Orson Welles” is finally getting released, a year after it played festivals, which isn’t a good sign, and it’s being run by Freestyle Releasing, also not a good sign.

To be fair, there are movies to look forward to. John Hillcoat’s “The Road” is a must-see. Peter Jackson returns to literary territory with “The Lovely Bones”. The Coens are striking again with “A Serious Man”, which has the best trailer in ages. “Up In The Air” looks pretty funny. And “Precious” is getting buzz, but I’m not sure audiences will go for it: although I’m certain Sapphire isn’t making a bit of that novel up, at least in terms of Precious’ misfortunes, the movie could easily turn into an over-the-top melodrama. To be honest, I’m interested to see how some of the country’s more prominent black film critics take “Precious”, because I have a sneaking suspicion that if it’s a misstep, they’re not going to pull any punches.

But I think it says something that I’m frankly more excited about “Zombieland”, “The Fantastic Mr. Fox”, “Where the Wild Things Are”, “The Box” and “Ninja Assassin” than I am for any of the Deep Serious Movies. Maybe that’s a reflection of a profound character flaw. But somehow, I doubt it.

Politics – Time To Evolve

September 28, 2009

Let’s talk for a moment about what evolution REALLY threatens, in the public sphere.

Despite the rantings of self-righteous asshats like Richard Dawkins and morons who equate religion with a disease (might want to crack a copy of “The True Believer”, kids) it’s worth remembering that there are legions of Christians, Muslims, Jews, etc. who have absolutely no problem whatsoever fitting the idea of evolution into their religious worldview. There’s religious beliefs and then there’s facts. It’s only a very specific kind of “Christian” who has a problem with evolution being taught in the schools, and that’s the Biblical literalist. Let’s be clear about something: religion and science don’t really have a fight over evolution. It’s a very specific type of religious fundamentalist that has problems with evolution.

Biblical literalism is, of course, a belief that the Bible is the absolute no-bullshit word of God, something fundamentalists cling to like a drowning man clings to driftwood. There are even people who insist that God communicated to the world in the English of King James’ day, which means said riddled-with-ridiculous-errors translation is actually the Word of God. That’s really how far down the rabbit hole goes here.

Now, religion for me is neither here nor there, but Biblical literalism is retarded. The history of how the Bible was assembled and translated is full of errors, flawed sources and bad math. There are editing decisions we’ll never know about; why’d Thomas’ gospel get left out? The dates in some Bibles come from a monk who sat down, tried to work out the dates, and then annoyed the shit out of everybody until they accepted it. And even leaving that out, the Bible contradicts itself a lot, which is to be expected since about half of the back of the book consists of refuting half of the beginning of the book.

To make things worse, Biblical literalists willfully ignore the dozens of contradictions, especially between their lifestyle and behavior and what the Bible says is good and moral behavior. Just as an example, the Bible is pretty blunt about what happens to people who make moral judgments on others. The Old Testament in particular bears down rather hard on this particular point, and the New Testament goes out of its way to include the parable about the adultress, you know, “he who is without sin may cast the first stone”? Yeah, Andrew Schafly, in probably the biggest act of hubris known to man, is taking it upon himself to retranslate the Bible. And he just so happened to leave that story out, because apparently his Jesus is a judgmental coward, just like Schafly (makes you wonder if Jesus is a closet case, as well).

And let’s not even get started on that whole “Jesus wants us to be rich” thing fundamentalists have. No. He doesn’t. Remember that whole thing about ‘easier a camel through an eye of a needle?’ Or the part where he beats the ever-loving shit out of the moneychangers? Jesus’ opinions on wealth and its connections to morals are pretty damn explicit in the text.

And therein lies the real threat of evolution. Evolution questions the idea that the Bible is the literal word of God, which happens to be the justification of an awful lot of political attitudes. You’ll never see a gay marriage opponent just come right out and say “I hate and fear gay people for no really good reason, so I don’t want them to get married.” They’ll hide behind some pretty questionable parts of the Bible, including the book of Leviticus, which proves none of them bother to actually read the Bible, because if they did they’d realize Leviticus also tells them to stop gardening vegetables, raising bunnies, and spends far, far too much time explaining that, under any circumstances whatsoever, it is not okay to show your relatives to each other naked.

There is a lot, and I mean a LOT, of Bible-thumping by politicians and politically active evangelists, especially in rural areas. The Bible is a great way for a politician or an evangelist to exploit the fear of the “Other”. Listen to one of these guys going off sometime and it’s all about how you, the listener, are a Good Person because you believe in Jesus. Not because you do good works, or love your fellow men unconditionally, but because you listen to the evangelist, contribute to his cause, and he reads the Bible very closely. Trust him, he’s a religious authority.

In other words, you can challenge evolution on religious grounds, but if that’s your excuse, odds are pretty good you’re not much of a Christian in the first place.

Ask the HR Guy – Facebook Follies

September 25, 2009

“Dear Internet Comedy Writer,

I am worried people will look at my Facebook and not hire me? What can I do to prevent this?

Sincerely, made-up person used to set up a blog entry”

For those who don’t know, sadly, Internet comedy does not pay enough to make a living wage unless you want to bust your ass constantly. Which I don’t, at the moment, so I work an office job. Since I have a theatre degree, this of course means I have spent the last five years working in Human Resources, so I know what recruiters look for.

To answer the most obvious question; cleaning up your Facebook (or locking your profile) can’t hurt, but nothing will save you from Google. If your old shame made the news or a bunch of blogs, forget about it, they ARE going to find it. I’ve gone through and removed tags from certain pictures of me. I’ve got nothing truly embarrassing, and if my running around Harvard Square in a gorilla suit comes up in an interview, hey, it makes a great icebreaker. But why risk it?

For me, the larger issue is why recruiters are even doing this, or allowing hiring managers (the people looking for somebody) to do it, in the first place. Facebook is, from an HR perspective, a fucking nightmare to be avoided at all costs.

The entire idea of the first-round interview is that the hiring manager and the employee sit down and try to see whether they would be a good fit for each other. It’s a “getting-to-know-you” type thing. Research has generally shown the first interview is the most important, so candidates and managers both work their asses off to make a good impression. And just like any getting-to-know-you session there are certain no-no questions. Like “What’s your religion?” Or “Tell me about your sex life!” Or “So, what are your politics?” Go ahead, ask any recruiter what he thinks of a hiring manager asking those questions. You might want to wear a helmet.

This is why any smart recruiter cheers gleefully when the IT department blocks Facebook, because a Facebook profile is rife with all the shit a hiring manager literally does not need to know. Hell, it’s stuff the hiring manager doesn’t WANT to know. Most of what’s on Facebook is absolutely immaterial to how a reasonably professional and intelligent human being does their job. Anything that IS relevant will turn up on other tools an HR department already uses, like a credit or background check. The only thing you can learn from Facebook is things that shouldn’t be a hiring consideration. I’m betting it’s only a matter of time before somebody sues a company for looking at their Facebook profile and says that they were unfairly discriminated against.

And that’s really the problem: if a hiring manager is hitting Facebook, what they’re looking for is ultimately an excuse not to hire. And that’s just not fair.

If you’re really worried about it, you’ve got two options: go through and untag yourself from pictures and remove any embarrassing notes, or just simply lock your profile.

If you’re confronted with the scenario where a hiring manager actually demands that you log into your Facebook so they can poke around, challenge them. Ask them what specifically they’re looking for, tell them you’ll be happy to answer it directly. If they just say they want to look around, tell them sorry, but it’s private for a reason.

Or ask them if you can log into theirs, first.

Gadgets – Nerds Vs. Everybody Else: Nerds Lose OR the OS war explained

September 24, 2009

“Here’s a nickel, kid, go out and buy a real computer.” — Linux user to Dilbert

Here’s something I wear proudly: I’m a PC user AND a Mac user.

I think this makes me something like an Islamic Jew or a Catholic Protestant, depending on where you go on the Internet. But my computer use explains what the real Mac vs. PC war was between, namely nerds and everybody else, and why the nerds ultimately lost.

Here’s the painful truth most people choosing an OS as a religion either don’t realize or are trying desperate not to admit: 99% of users don’t give a shit what OS their computer runs, because as far as they’re concerned, it doesn’t matter.

It’s worth saying that it used to matter. The fight between Apple and Microsoft wasn’t about which OS was better: it was about design philosophy. Apple has a closed architecture: there’s not a lot you can do to customize an Apple computer to this day. Hell, good luck opening the back of an iMac. Microsoft, of course, has open architecture: you can dump whatever useless crap you want onto a PC and provided your hardware can run it and you have the drivers, it’ll run the program. Microsoft won this war, though, by pushing cheap-ass computers to every corner of the freakin’ world. Microsoft itself might eventually lose market share, it may even die, but open architecture won the day. Why Linux nerds are still fighting for it is something best chalked up the nerd’s lack of awareness of his surroundings and decided lack of awareness over how non-nerds use computers.

This is why for day-to-day stuff I use an Asus Eee PC. I didn’t even bother checking what OS it ran (XP, of course) before I bought it, because the tasks I was going to use it for were so incredibly basic. Sure, I could upload Ubuntu onto my netbook…but why bother? Why does it matter? I have no emotional investment in the open source movement except an overwhelming desire to kick anybody who insists “information wants to be free” applies to artistic work in the nuts (why these people are ignorant assholes we’ll get into next week). As for my needs, I use the computer for tasks that literally any computer can do: word-processing, Peggle, porn-browsing, email, stuff like that. The OS I’m running on is fundamentally irrelevant to those tasks, so why not use the stock XP the thing came with?

Computer nerds care, and they care a lot. But the end user doesn’t. The end user NEVER WILL. This is why all that speculation that Microsoft and Apple will eventually fall victim to a world where people build their own computers and download free software programmed by magical unicorns and other fictional entities like the Swedish is hilarious: people don’t want to build their own computers, and they don’t want to download software. They want to buy the computer, plug it in, and have it work. I love books like “In The Beginning Was the Command Line”, but in the end, they assume most computer users give far more of a shit about computers and software than they do, and that what OS is dominant is really, really important, which to most end users it really, really isn’t.

Unless the computer and software has to absolutely work, and work well, the first time, in which case they care a lot. But the nerds lose here, too. Most industries that are computer-reliant have specifications. There’s a certain software you’re using. Sure, it could be cross-platform, but a company is going to go with whatever computer is most reliable and cheapest, which inevitably, and amusingly, turns out to be Windows.

Take the reason I run a Mac. I’m a filmmaker when I’m not working and/or amusing you at various comedy websites, and I need an editing machine that is reliable, stable, and will work consistently every time. This does not describe a PC, running any editing software worth a damn, that costs less than $2500. A friend of mine in grad school just bought a stock Sony computer and Adobe Premiere, and she can’t do a goddamn thing with it because of her video card; odds are pretty good she’ll have to get at the very least a driver upgrade or possibly have to go in, pull the damn video card, and swap in a new one.

Video editing actually has its own little Mac Vs. PC war: Final Cut Pro vs. Avid, with a few competitors like Premiere in the mix. Of course, since all of these do the exact same thing in more or less the exact same way, it really boils down to personal preference. Some people insist Avid is more “professional”, but this is entirely because a full-featured Avid workstation is more expensive. And I can’t afford it anyway, so I run Final Cut Pro. This means I buy and use a Mac. I can’t use anything else, not if I want to run FCS.

So, this is what the computer world has become: a vast sea of users treating most of their computers like a higher-functioning toy, and the rest using their computers for insanely specific uses, neither of which caring about the higher philosophy behind their choices.

Oh well. So, anyway, Kirk or Picard?

Movies – “Ong Bak 2” Kicks Every Ass There Is

September 23, 2009

1. What did you think of “Ong Bak”?

That plotwise it’s almost a musical (think about it, hick makes good) and that the wire-free stunts and fistfights were among the most amazing things I’d seen in martial arts movies recently.

2. What did you think of “Ong Bak 2”?

Well, aside from the fact that it has nothing to do with the original “Ong Bak”, I think it’s the most gleefully insane and therefore awesome martial arts movie ever made.

3. What’s the story?

Tien is a lost prince who is found by a bunch of bandits.  Being bandits, they teach him kung fu, lai-do, and, of course, Muay Thai, so he can be the bestest bandit there is.  Then he goes to get revenge on the king of Thailand for killing his dad.  This last part doesn’t end well.  All of this is as overwrought and over-the-top as humanly possible.

4. Details!

That IS the plot.

5. So this movie is two hours of what, exactly?

Three words: Epic.  Fucking.  Beatdowns.

6. Give me some examples of the beatdowns Tony Jaa hands out.

OK.  There’s one where he’s drunk at a slave market that starts with him punching through a clay vessel into somebody’s throat.  Then he falls over, and proceeds to kick the living shit out of twenty guys without standing up.  This is less than an hour into the movie.  This is the least impressive fight IN the movie.

7. So how’s Tony Jaa as a director?

Actually?  Pretty damn good.  This isn’t just good martial arts choreography: it’s well-shot martial arts choreography.  It’s nothing terriby fancy, but the geography and who’s kicking the shit out of who and how is always clear.  There are no terribly showy bits in terms of shooting, which actually works to the movie’s advantage.

8. Overall?

One of the best action movies I’ve seen this year, and a welcome return to form after the watered-down “Protector”.  Catch this the minute it plays.

PSA – Oddee.com are thieving bastards

September 23, 2009

I thought I’d break this blog’s usual schedule to call out a bunch of scumbags, Oddee.com.

If you’re reading this, you were probably redirected here from Cracked.  Cracked has a fairly unique structure: the articles for Cracked are pitched in a semi-public forum that any user can request access to, and shuttled by the editor between three different boards.  This is great because the other writers on the board can offer feedback.  It’s terrible because it means Oddee.com writers can log in, look at other people’s research, and steal it.  Which they do, on a regular basis.

For example, Ian Fortey, one of Cracked’s most prolific freelancers and a writer for sites like Asylum.com and FunnyCrave.com, rewrote a rejected Cracked pitch as this article:

http://www.asylum.com/2009/09/11/weirdest-prisons-why-settle-for-boring-incarceration/

Funny thing, an Oddee article popped up with the exact same idea, using Ian’s research here:

http://oddee.com/item_96825.aspx

I know what you’re saying (and what the trolls who run Oddee.com will say); just a coincidence.  And sure, that happens occasionally.  And anybody who wants to say it’s not plagiarism would be right, as they don’t (usually) steal the text.  That they usually steal from Wikipedia.

But with Oddee.com, this happens every month, sometimes every couple of weeks.  And while it’s not plagiarism, if the pitch is accepted at Cracked or elsewhere, it makes the writer look like they just rewrote an Oddee article when they’re the one who came up with the idea.

So do comedy writers on the Internet everywhere a favor: whenever somebody tells you there’s a funny article on Oddee.com, tell them it’s probably stolen.  Because odds are: it is.

Movies – The Fall and Redemption of Tucker Max

September 22, 2009

My only question about Tucker Max is: How long before he finds Jesus?

Max is following a classic American/religious arc: the sinner who experiences a fall and is saved by faith.  In ten years’ time, he’s probably running a church.

What makes me think he’s headed for a fall?  A number of things.  Apparently his next book, “Assholes Finish First”, is delayed indefinitely.  Ever hear of any of the blogs Rudius Media runs?  No?  Another problem.  And this brings us to the final nail in the coffin: “I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell”, the film adaptation of one of his stories.

It’s hard to say just how screwed  “Hell” actually is, filmically, but screwed it decidedly is.  Freestyle Releasing, the distributor, has mastered snatching defeat from the jaws of victory: even their buzziest movies, like “The Collector” and “Sex Drive”, choked at the box office, and “Beer” has been getting terrible reviews.  The fact that I wasn’t aware the movie was coming out this week until a Max fan I knew told me is a bad sign too; this isn’t “The Hangover” and needs all the marketing it can get.  The trailer, which you can see here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FXTmNApNrxM , is pretty bad as well, indicating it’s leaning entirely on the fans to see it and no one else.

Of course, it was also probably dirt-cheap, but the most Freestyle’s made off of a theatrical release was $16 million.  So the movie will come out, probably gross third after “Pandorum” and whatever else is strong on the charts this week…which, after all the hype, is seriously going to let the air out of  a few tires.
Add to this the fact that Max is in his mid-thirties and still drinks himself stupid every night.  Forget American arcs, we’ve all had a FRIEND who loves himself the booze just a little too much, and it catches up with him.

So this is what’ll happen: the movie gets bad reviews and tanks, killing any prospect for a sequel.  Max finally releases his next book, and it doesn’t sell as well as the first one.  Max freaks out when faced with the idea every woman he’s had sex with wasn’t a virgin before he met them;  how’s he going to handle people not loving him anymore?  By doing what he’s doing, but more and more desperately.  And eventually he’ll discover that he didn’t invent Tucker Max Drunk, he just hasn’t experienced alcohol poisoning before.  Max’ll hit bottom, and as Garth Ennis so eloquently put it, when you hit bottom you either turn to Jesus or put a gun in your mouth.

Honestly, since I find his stories boring, I’m greatly looking forward to Tucker Max, Preacher.  It’s going to be a lot more fun.

Politics – That’s Racist!

September 21, 2009

Part of the fun of the Obama administration has been watching the GOP, clowned in two successive elections, struggle to come to a philosophy that will connect with voters further to the left than, say, McCarthy, and watching in horror as all the parts of the party they’d rather not talk about erupt into the mainstream and ruin their efforts.

Just look at the current mess the “tea-baggers” are in.  Leaving aside for the moment that by now somebody should have either explained to them what the Boston Tea Party is about, or what tea-bagging actually IS, racist idiots have been showing up to their rallies with signs portraying the President as a witch doctor or waving around Confederate flags, something liberal bloggers have been rather pointedly asking about and something to which the tea-baggers just don’t have a good answer.

This isn’t to imply that all Republicans are racist, but rather that racists, if they want to be “mainstream” instead of living in a compound in Idaho selling meth, tend to identify themselves with the GOP, whether the GOP wants them or not.   Anybody remember Trent Lott’s problems with the Concerned Conservative Citizens (yes, the CCC)?  Or notice that who was going to run the party in 2008 boiled down to, literally, the winner Michael Steele or a man who advocated segregation?  When your party has to choose between a public racist and a black guy, that’s a pretty dramatic illustration of your problems as a party.

One of the millstones around the GOP’s neck has been their loons are more damaging and less socially acceptable than the Democratic loons.  Sure, Greenpeace can be annoying, but who would you rather have marching through town, them or neo-Nazis?  And now that the party’s identity is up for grabs, the loons are out in force.  But this doesn’t have to be, for them anyway, a bad thing.

The GOP has a moment here.  They’ve been sticking to the same tune for the thirty years or so, but around 1994, it stopped paying off.  After the “Republican Revolution”, they lost House seats in 1996, 1998, and 2000.  Clinton cruised to an easy win in 1996, despite the party basically focusing all their efforts on destroying him; he pretty smoothly turned that around on them, effectively ending a lot of political careers.  By 2000, the Senate was evenly split, and Jim Jeffords stopped Bush in his tracks by quitting the party (and losing a powerful moderate like that was a bad sign).  Also in 2000, Bush only won a heavily contested election because the Supreme Court called it for him.  If 9/11 hadn’t happened, the Democratic sweep in 2006 would have happened in 2002.  As it stands, 2004 featured Bush once again winning by less than one hundred thousand votes, and 2006 was a beating the GOP thought couldn’t happen to them.  Until 2008.

In short, anybody taking the long view could have told the GOP, point blank, that America was changing and it was becoming increasingly clear the voting public didn’t like their policies, as the Democrats, who are, let’s face it, not exactly masters of organization or presenting a united front, kept chipping away at them.  This isn’t to say America isn’t conservative.  Are you kidding?  America’s the most conservative country on the planet that’s still a democracy.

The basic problem is the party leadership is VERY far to the right, and Americans are fairly moderate.  Obama is not actually all that liberal, and neither was Clinton.  Steele’s first act, which was perfectly sensible, was to fire the shit out of every idiot in the RNC who’d guaranteed the party lost two elections in a row.  And the first thing half his party did was hire these people into different positions of power, and start working to sabotage Michael Steele.

But the truth is: the American people didn’t like this shit ten years ago, they’ve indicated recently that age has not made this shit smell any better, and there’s frankly no indication, Glenn Beck whining or not, that they like this shit anymore now. 

Add to this that the GOP is NOT in a position of strength.  For them to get anything resembling true power, they’d have to win a pretty large chunk of seats in the House, and cut down the Democrats in the Senate.  As they have no less than five Senators retiring (in a couple of cases in what amounts to disgust), it’s hard to see how they’re actually going to make any gains.

So how can the loons help them?  Simple: reject them.

Seriously.  Denounce them long, loud, and publicly.  Tell them explicitly “this isn’t what we stand for.”  Tell the American people.

Of course, that’ll leave open the question of what, exactly, the GOP stands for these days.  But, hell, you have to start somewhere.

Gadgets: It’s So Cute You Think You’re A Filmmaker

September 17, 2009

Let’s talk, for a moment, about Microsoft’s “Laptop Hunter” ads.  Edited on Macs, they’re chock-full of “I hate the client” moments (“I’m not cool enough to own a Mac”, anyone?), but none is more hilarious than the inside-baseball of the “filmmaker” spot.

If you’re not familiar, the spot follows “Sheila”, a paid actress pretending to be a filmmaker.  We know she’s a paid actress (or a shitty filmmaker) because unlike any other filmmaker, she hasn’t looked at Final Cut Pro and/or Avid and made a snap judgement about which is better because of button placement.  Her main decision seems to be based on how much RAM the laptop has, which is stupid for a set of boring technical reasons that I won’t get into here because I want to talk about other boring technical reasons (if you care, the Wintel laptop has more RAM because otherwise, the computer wouldn’t run; Vista needs 4GB.  Well, really, 16GB, but anyway).

Namely, she probably walked out the door with a laptop that won’t run professional editing software. 

Now, granted, it’s a Hewlett Packard running Vista.  This is a computer that when I went to try and build a $2000 one like “Sheila”, they tried to sell me a netbook running XP as a “companion” (read: backup for when this shitpile we’re selling you breaks).  That’s a real show of faith, guys.

Anyway, she left with the HP HDX 16T.  Now, I know this won’t run professional editing software because it’s a PC laptop from Best Buy.  But if you go on HP’s site and look this computer up, three out of the six processor options just won’t run Avid.  Avid Media Composer requires a 2.33 processor, and literally half of the processor options are below that.  She might have just been given a very expensive porn browsing device.

By the way, for $2k, you could get a MacBook Pro that would run either Final Cut Suite or Avid Media Composer just fine.

In a way, I hope Sheila is a paid actress and not a wannabe filmmaker.  Partially because female filmmakers have enough problems without some ditz being slapped across national TV screens, but also because a group of professional filmmakers leading her into a Best Buy and giving her what she thinks is an amazing deal but is really worthless to her just seems kind of cruel.

Also hilarious.