Thursday, April 30, 2009

Rome is pretty damn good

My new addiction, along with Sam Seder's Pilot Season sequel running on MyDamnChannel, is the late, great HBO series Rome. While met with general critical approval, it was chided a bit for being bigger and glossier than the BBC's I, Cladius, but less substantial.
I disagree. While Robert Graves' novels -- I, Claudius and Claudius, the God -- will always be my personal favorites, the BBC series gave no context of the world the Julians and Claudians lorded over. I think Rome makes a good showing of the soldiers and plebes who enabled the ruling class. It was not some gleaming marble utopia; it was decadent, primal, pagan; sexuality and avarice were not just accepted, they were central to daily life. When Caesar triumphed after his victory over Pompey, he rode a chariot mounted with a giant phallus that signified his virility.
Having said all this, the video I've embedded below is the depiction of Octavian and Anthony's victory at Phillippi over Brutus and Cassius. It was the best YouTube video I could find. All the others were fan generated montages and music videos.

Thus ever so

The true dean of Western journalism, Al Giordano, live blogged Obama's press conference last night. He explains why you think the national media sucks so much.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The stench of death

That post rigor fragrance coming off the Republican Party is getting stronger and stronger.
Arlen Specter becomes a Democrat, which is not that big, in and of itself, because he's a reliable vote for them on most of the big stuff when he doesn't have a Republican president standing over him.
So why is it bad for the GOP? Well, they didn't see it coming. Look at Republican responses to Specter's announcement. They were scrambling around like chickens with their heads cut off. There was no message discipline at all.
Another reason for GOP doom? Specter's move strips leverage away from assclowns like Bayh, Lieberman and Nelson who like to flirt with the Republicans on close votes. The votes will be a little wider now, which means less currency for the aforementioned assclowns because the GOP will need to dip further into the Democratic caucus to find votes.
These idiots still insist checkers is the game, but Obama is playing chess and rather well at that.

Here it comes

A note of caution, friends: Yes, the swine flu contagion should be taken seriously, but take a deep breath (with your mouth covered if you must) and don't panic.
I know CNN and Fox and MSNBC are all telling you that the end of days is drawing nigh but it's really not. Wash your hands, stay home if you feel sick and call the doctor if you don't feel better in a few days.
As we speak, our socialistic government is working on getting a few hundred million doses of swine flu vaccine made and out to the people. We're going to be okay....probably.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

He puts the A in Asshole

This is all a big put on, right? You're doing some sort of homage to Stephen Colbert, aren't you, Glen?

Saturday, April 25, 2009


I've added noted commentator and self abuser Jim Earl to the blogroll. Earl was one of the creative forces behind Morning Sedition, the best thing by far to come out of Air America. I won't recount all of the terrific work he did for that show, or the stellar and all-too-brief Marc Maron Show, because I know I would forget something. The guy is tits.
Also, be sure to visit my new sponsors. The lapsednewsguy gets a (very) little something everytime you click a sponsor link on the display ads that have popped up on the page.
And, for God's sake, come here more often. How else will you know what to think about the important issues of the day?

Friday, April 24, 2009

He's good

I messed up. I was all set for bed when I stupidly took one last look at the TV guide.
I'm not a Scorcese maven, per se, but I can't think of a better filmmaker who is still with us (Welles will always be the best, rest in peace). There's almost never a false note or wasted motion in any of his films. Performances, sound, editing, camera's always engaging and absolutely spot on.
Everytime I watch one of his films, I take away something new. Tonight I'm particularly impressed with the production design of Goodfellas. He takes a character from the 50s through the mid-70s and never once is there so much as one item in any frame that's out of place. The clothes are easy enough to get right, but the cars, building facades, interiors, even the cigarette packs, are always dead solid perfect.
I don't want to get too film grad student about's too late for that and I have to work tomorrow, but savor that craftmanship the next time you watch one of Scorcese's films.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A slice of lapsednewsguy's life

Here's a comment posted at the day job from the website. Not only do I edit the paper, I also babysit the website. The context is unimportant, but the thoughtful commentary is typical of what I deal with:


And you wonder why I seem so blue sometimes?

This makes perfect sense

Did it ever strike you as odd that Congressional Democrats and the corporate media acted like whipped puppies every time Bush and GOP barked? Hmmm....maybe they were being blackmailed?

Monday, April 20, 2009


It's been two hours since I checked my Facebook page. I'm hurting, but I'm gonna kick this.


I've never been one to succumb gladly to anything. I instinctively fight bandwagon jumpers; I've always been that way, for reasons I can't really explain. It's just how I am.
Having said that, I have just reluctantly jumped onto the Facebook bandwagon. It's nice to hear from old friends, see pictures of their kids (even Pierce's) and all of that. Please do me a favor: if you catch me posting too much over there, stage some kind of intervention.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

A look around

It's funny, but sometimes you can cheer yourself up merely by taking a look around.
The day job has been a real grind lately. We're remaking our Friday edition and moving Monday's publication to Saturday and turning that into more of Sunday-type of paper. That work, on top of the all of the other shit I do, really piled up on me. Typos have flared up, largely because I don't have the time to really go over pages featuring copy I rewrote. Proofreading your own work is tough; on deadline it's impossible.
To top all of that off, I really miss my wife. We've been separated for over a year, but when I was home we still saw each other three or four times per week. I've seen her once since moving to the North Pole. The kids have been a handful (to be polite about it) and I'm no help 500 miles away. Keeping two households going sucks up every dime I make, so there's not even gas money to drive home.
Combine that stuff with the rheumatiz and a knee that is all but shot and things can get grim.
I was at work feeling sorry for myself Friday when I looked at a copy of the paper from last summer, before I arrived. I then looked at Friday's paper. There was no comparison. The paper is infinitely better today, and I deserve some of the credit for that. The editing is better, the mix and number of local stories is better and the layout is much better. The boss and composing manager deserve credit, too.
I've never been one to define myself by my work, but I will take some pride from it.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

The dark in the middle of the tunnel

You'd never guess from the title that I'm a bit gloomy today, would you?
Gloomy is probably the wrong word -- pessimistic might be more appropriate. Money is tight and I'm ground down from the day job. Today was supposed to be my first full day off in two weeks and I still had to run into the office this morning. The problem got solved, but I didn't want to step foot inside the building again until Monday.
Corporate is squeezing again and it's starting to soak in that they aren't going to stop. Like some of you, I work for an allegedly autonomous unit within a big corporate family. My unit is short staffed and saddled with outdated equipment and software, but we're profitable and everyone gets along. Corporate is trying to pay down debt and keeping underperforming properties going by squeezing us. Sound familiar? Yeah, I'm sure it does.
This is how newspapers and broadcast outlets run today, and I came here to the North Pole resigned to that. I knew I would never be more than a number to the home office and was okay with that. Then I got to know the people I work with. They all give a good day's work for a mediocre day's pay and it goes without any notice. The vice just keeps getting tighter.
I've succumbed to a subversive notion: no matter how well any of us do our jobs or how much money we make, we're going to get screwed in the end. Now, my dad has told me that since I was a wee lad, but I always thought it was possible to do good work and be rewarded (however meagerly).
Some of you may have read about the Detroit Free Press and Detroit News scrapping home delivery four days a week. The move will free up a little cash, but they will fall short of their real goal of moving to an online only product. They'll never generate enough revenue online to finance a profitable and decent news product. The money isn't there in a good economy, let alone a depressed one. Now that they've taken the plunge, however, the rest of the corporate dickheads in this business are rushing in behind them with similar plans. The board room desperately wants to ditch the press room and make believe that online will make the world perfect again.
It won't.
I know print is supposedly to be dead. Ask any marketing asshole who's never actually done newspaper work. I will acknowledge that the newspaper's best days are behind it, but these companies are stuck with it until they are ready to throw in the towel on the news business altogether. Old people still read the newspaper and local advertisers know that. The cretins in the home office don't deal with local businesses; they deal with ad agencies and corporate marketing departments. The national guys love online because it's cheaper and supposedly reaches the younger demographic they all want. Corporate's bills are paid, however, by little dailies like mine that deliver news to the older readers who actually patronize local businesses because of print advertising.
What Gannett and CNHI and Journal Register and all of these others companies can't admit is they are not immortal. They have milked all of the money they will ever get from the union busting, consolidations and layoffs that artificially inflated their profits in the 90s. The days of 25-30 percent margins are long, long gone and the big corporations can't live without them. They will go away in another generation or two.
The local and regional publishers with lower overhead and salespeople on Main Street will endure a while longer, settling for the five to 10 percent margins that were the industry standard up until the late 80s.
What's in store for the lapsednewsguy? I plan on going back to work Monday, but beyond that I really couldn't tell you.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009


I was perusing my blogroll and saw that James Wolcott was not listed. May God forgive me for such a transgression.
Wolcott is a true critic: funny, unimpressed with himself, smart and ridiculously deft with prose. And he's not afraid to call an asshole an asshole.
I hope to be Wolcott when I grow up.

Monday, April 6, 2009

A freakin' genius

I've said it a few times before, and I am sure I will say it a few times more, but Al Giordano is the blogger/pundit/journalist you all should be reading.
The proprietor of Narco News has been the shrewdest observer of the Obama Administration since Inauguration Day, as evidenced by this post.
Giordano seems to be the only commenter in the Blogosphere who understands Obama's style, which is heavy on conciliation (when possible), steadfastness (rather than stubbornness) in the face of opposition, patience and, above all, a great view of the chessboard and his opponents favorite moves.
Please go read the post I've linked. You'll see all of the above mentioned traits. You could probably close your eyes and imagine the horrified looks on the bankers' faces when they realize that Obama doesn't work for them; in fact, he has all of their balls in his hip pocket.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

It's worth your time to read this

Uh, yeah, I doubt anyone on the fucking planet is surprised by this.
The story I'm trying to send you to is a bit complicated, but take your time and read it carefully. The motherfuckers who blackmailed the federal government last fall into saving them knew what they were doing was criminally irresponsible...and did it anyway.

I might go for a walk...Heaven forfend!

I think spring has finally come to the North Pole. It's bright and almost mild today.
Green is starting to creep in and trees are just days away from budding. All of the little woodland creatures are making their first rounds of the year. My chiropractor is eagerly awaiting the first visit of his neighbor/bear. All of the deer and elk are getting ready for rutting season.
The seagulls are out in force, crapping on everything in sight. Pine siskins, the ubiquitous little finches that wintered here this year, are emptying feeders all along the Straits of Mackinac.
After four decades of dealing with the pluses and minuses of big town living, this is all a nice change for the lapsednewsguy. It sounds idyllic, I know, but even nice small towns such as my new home have problems, too. There are no jobs here; a job fair drew nearly 600 applicants for seasonal jobs that are likely to be filled by temporary workers shipped in from the Carribbean and Central Europe. The job fair was the local chamber's attempt to convince the motel and restaurant owners to hire locals. We'll see if it did any good.
I don't want to pooh-pooh the good stuff, however. I have some day job stuff to do today, so I might walk to work and get some fresh air. If I stop for lunch at one of the diners, at least a few people will recognize my head shot and tell me everything they do and don't like about the paper. I might stop at the drug store to buy a Detroit newspaper; the gal at the pharmacy counter will ask how my rheumatiz feels today. When I'm done at work, I could go to the bar next door and talk to the manager about that business feature I've been putting off for two months. Even the U-M fans will wear Spartan green today.
All in all, it should be a good day.