Saturday, January 16, 2010

John Travolta is Officially Horrible

Vincent Vega is dead to me. It's hard to believe that a single role among over 40 has managed to demand me to respect John Travolta over the years as he's progressively taken on worse roles. Those days are long gone though. I was able to turn my cheek as John dressed as a large woman for Hairspray, but this latest addition to his repertoire is the final straw. Here's a line graph to demonstrate my point...

Now, for "this music video"...I should warn you; what you are about to see is disturbing.

If you're finished vomiting yet, I'll proceed. I don't mean to knock a sentimental production between a father and daughter but...well, actually, yes, that's exactly what I mean to do. I didn't think anything produced today would send people begging for Bobby Brown, but congratulations did it. The least you could have done was made it humorous, busted out a jacket with big shoulder pads, a sweet spandex/suspender get-up, a couple back-up dancers, a new hair-cut and some of the original dance moves. In an attempt to erase that video from your mind, I bring you Bobby Brown in his prime:

Saturday, January 9, 2010

NBC Tonight Show Debacle

By now, you've probably heard about the situation with Jay Leno's time slot. If not, you probably know that last year, there were speculations of Jay Leno retiring since his contract with NBC was up and Conan O'Brien would take over his spot. As it turned out, Jay Leno did not retire and NBC took a bold step to create a 10:00 time slot for him, saving money from what used to air at the time, drama shows such as Law & Order. Conan took over the 11:35 slot and Jimmy Fallon started a show in Conan's old spot, at 12:35. Before all of these moves, Leno was the #1 late night talk show host in ratings.

Since the move, however, Conan's ratings are almost half as high as Leno's used to be. And Leno's ratings in his new time slot are about the same, not nearly as high as previous 10:00 shows. This caused complaints from NBC-affiliated programs, particularly 11:00 news programs who saw a drop in viewers apparently due to a weak lead-in by Leno.

So news dropped this past week that Leno may move back to his old 11:35 slot and speculations are that it would be cut to a half-hour, moving Conan to 12:05 and Jimmy Fallon to 1:05. Naturally, and rightly so, stories are empathizing for Conan. He has a contract with NBC but rumors are circulating that he could change networks, possibly to Fox. Amidst all of this, I haven't heard anything about the effect this has on Jimmy Fallon.

Which brings me to my opinion on this matter...

Jay Leno is not funny. I can't understand America's obsession with him. Sure, I've watched him occasionally, more times than not for the guests on his show. Ironically, I've probably watched more of him at the 10:00 slot because I hardly ever watched him at 11:35. However, his writing is weak, most of his segments are lame and Kevin Eubanks is probably the worst of all tonight show/late night accompanying musicians (and Craig Ferguson doesn't even have one). I've heard his group play the same stuff over and over, including a horrible rendition of Kings of Leon's "Use Somebody."

Conan, on the other hand, is funny. However, he was much funnier in his previous time and place. I'm glad that Andy Richter returned, but Conan's writers are also often weak and some of his new segments are just annoying. That said, he doesn't deserve to be jerked around like this because ultimately, he's funnier than Leno and ratings don't disprove that.

Which brings me to Jimmy Fallon. I was a little skeptical when he was announced as Conan's replacement and watching his nerves get the best of him his first week on air worried me a little bit. However, he's quickly become my favorite of all of the talk shows. His writing is actually good and even when it's subpar, he finds a way to deliver it well. He interacts really well with all of his guests and you can tell that he's just a genuinely nice guy. He's developed some great segments such as "Lick it for 10," "The Real Housewives of Late Night," and "Wheel of Carpet Samples." He plays beer pong and board games with his guests such as charades and taboo. He interacts with the crowd, getting them involved in games and other segments. Plus, he books quality musical acts, a lot of whom are indie groups and celebrities that you don't see on the other shows. And oh yea...his band is the freakin' Roots!

Point being...Jimmy Fallon needs to get a little more respect amidst all of this time shift controversy. He's already topped Conan's average viewers at that time slot multiple times and I'd watch him over Leno every day of the week. Our country needs to improve its average taste for entertainment.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Esquire Augmented Reality

Print publications are dying. Most of us know it. A lot of us have already rid it from our lives. More of us are taking that process a bit more slowly.

I can't see printed books ever going away, even with the recent technology of Amazon's Kindle and the subsequent competitors.

Newspapers are probably the low man on the totem pole. Many of us get our news online now.

Magazines probably lie somewhere between. Personally, I may be in the minority these days but I enjoy the feel of reading magazines occasionally so I still have a handful of magazine subscriptions, one of which is Esquire.

I'm fascinated and in admiration of an idea that was launched in Esquire's December 2009 issue which links their print publication to people's computers. This idea is what is called "Augmented Reality." With a quick (free) download of software from their website, this "Augmented Reality" uses your web cam to detect markers throughout the print publication to show you additional content. David Granger, editor-in-chief of Esquire explains this concept further in the following video:

There are 5 content icons in the December 2009 issue: the cover with Robert Downey Jr., the Funny joke from a Beautiful Woman segment and the Style segment with Jeremy Renner as David Granger exemplified. There is also an icon for a blurb on jazz musician Robert Glasper, which gives you a listen to one of his new tracks, and there is an icon for a rather creative photographer which gives you a slideshow of some of his work. Also, there is a 6th icon for Lexus, which demonstrates some of the capabilities of one of their new models. This demonstrates that Esquire can make money off of using this technology while advertisers can present a very unique concept to potential customers.

Altogether, it only took me about 20 minutes to go through all of this in my issue but I found it very interesting and think this is just about the best idea that a print magazine could come up with to compete with online content. Augmented reality is not a new concept; it exists in such things as the yellow first down marker in football games. However, Esquire took it to a different level making it fun, engaging, interactive and obviously (or hopefully, for their sakes) encouraging for people to pick up the magazine to see it for themselves.

Not surprisingly, there was no AR in the January issue of Esquire. I wouldn't expect them to use something involving complex algorithms that inevitably take a lot of time to create for every single monthly issue. Yet, I definitely think (and hope) that Esquire will be using this again in the future.