Sunday, May 15, 2011


Jim: It's roundtable time. We're relying on e-mails for this one. Our e-mail address is Participating in this roundtable are The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava, and me, Jim; Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude; Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man; C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review; Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills); Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix; Mike of Mikey Likes It!; Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz); Ruth of Ruth's Report; Trina of Trina's Kitchen; Wally of The Daily Jot; Marcia of SICKOFITRDLZ; Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends; Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts and Ann of Ann's Mega Dub. Betty's kids did the illustration. You are reading a rush transcript.


Jim (Con't): Dona, Llyvonne e-mails to state that you haven't told readers what we were listening to during the writing "in some time."

Dona: Okay. Well right now we're listening to the cast recording of The Book of Mormom. In addition,we've been listening to Stevie Nicks' new album In Your Dreams, Fleet Foxes' Helplessness Blues, Radiohead's The King of Limbs, PJ Harvey's Let England Shake, India Arie's Testimony Vol. 2 Love & Politics, James Blake's self-titled album, Wild Beasts' Smother, Mary J. Blige's The Breakthrough, Carly Simon's Never Been Gone, the Naked and Famous' Passive Me, Aggressive You and we've got more on deck.

Jim: And are we more album or track people?

Dona: Album. We're for the art. Anyone can craft a good single. We're not interested in fads. As for a mix? Can you imagine that? Jess wanting his iPod tracks played and someone else wanting their mix and on and on. It's easier just to toss out a few ideas for albums and whomever wants boom box duty gets the final say in what's played, actually. It's like being the banker in Monopoly. You've got all the discs by you and you pretty much choose which ones get played and which ones don't.

Ty: Okay, Jim's nodding to me. E-mail from Jane wonders if Mike is the only sushi lover? She writes, "Mike is obsessed with sushi. I'm wondering about the rest of you?"

Marcia: Sushi, for any unfamiliar, is Japanese and it's fish, raw fish. I jumped in because I used to watch Mike eat it -- and he loves it -- and think, "Oh, no." What changed that for me was when Jess got me to try a vegetarian sushi roll. I loved it and I have tried others since. I think my favorite is either salmon or spicy tuna.

Wally: I think we all like it but I think Mike's the biggie. Marcia and I would haunt Taco Bell, by contrast.

Marcia: The baja gordito.

Wally: And seven layer burritos. And Marcia will shock you because you'll think, "She's going to eat all of that?" She buys what seems like a big amount for lunch. But half of it goes into the sack and she eats it later for dinner.

Marcia: Wally's being nice and not telling the story there. I will. I had an off again, on again relationship with this woman for about four years. We always ate Taco Bell. It was her favorite. After the break up, I stopped going. I hadn't sworn it off, it just was never my first thing in the head when I was hungry. Then when Wally and I were campaigning in Indiana and West Virginia and that area for Hillary, he'd say, "How about Taco Bell?" And that was fine. But I'm used to ordering for my ex. So I order 2 seven layer burritos, 2 baja gorditos and 2 soft tacos -- both chicken. It's just my way of hanging on to a bad relationship, I guess.

Rebecca: I'll pounce because you said "bad relationship" and someone's going to e-mail to ask for details. So any detail you'll share?

Marcia: We were headed to her parents for Labor Day and everything exploded leading to the angriest words we ever exchanged and the decision to break up. While stuck on an interstate in non-moving traffic. For two hours. That's really not how you want to break up, trust me. After you've let loose with everything you've been holding back, you're really not going to want to be in the car for two hours with the person.

Jim: And I'll note that Marcia's laughing as she winds up that story. Okay, let me do a housekeeping note. A few e-mails came in Thursday and Friday about something being missing. Jonas e-mailed to say he "cannot believe Ava and C.I. took the weekend off and didn't write a TV piece. Has this ever happened before?" Jonas didn't read my note to the readers last week, obviously. 15 others e-mailed to ask if we'd taken down Ava and C.I.'s "TV: The show that keeps getting worse"? That's the piece Jonas was missing. It was published Sunday. Ava and C.I. added a correction to it at the end -- it wasn't the season finale -- on Wednesday. And then Blogger went crazy. Rebecca wrote about that in "e-mails" and it's why no one wrote Thursday night. Now Blogger did a note that they knocked all posts that were done after 7:00 pm, I think that was the time, Wednesday. They did that as part of their effort to get back online.

Jess: Blogger/Blogspot is the program we use here.

Jim: Thanks. Yes, it is. And due to the addition Ava and C.I. did, apparently that Sunday article became a Wednesday one. In reply to Jonas' question, thus far, Ava and C.I. have never not done a commentary, they haven't missed a week.

Ty: And, related topic, Roger e-mailed asking about what was going on but in terms of what happens if Blogger/Blogspot goes out during an edition? "There's no backup site so what would happen?"

Jess: That happened somehow one time. I don't remember the particulars. But I believe what we did was post Ava and C.I.'s TV commentary and our editorial either at The Common Ills or at the backup site for The Common Ills. Then, later that Sunday, it was back up and we posted everything here.

Cedric: On the backup site, I need to jump in. The Common Ills has a backup site at WordPress which Rebecca and I use. Once upon a time, Rebecca, C.I. and I had backup sites at Blogdrive. Rebecca and I no longer do. C.I. still does. What happened was discussed before but I was targeted and deleted from Blogdrive. They restored my site so I'll let everything go and wish them well but I don't blog there. Rebecca and C.I. both walked away from Blogdrive when what happened happened. But after it was restored, my site was back up at Blogdrive, I cross-posted the snapshot at C.I.'s blogdrive. And people were happy because that's site's the original backup site and it has it's own audience and following. I asked C.I. to continue posting there after I'd been crossposting the snapshot there. She eventually agreed. But though this has been touched on -- especially at Rebecca's site -- there are still people e-mailing me about how "C.I.'s stabbed you in the back!" No, she didn't. She walked away from Blogdrive in solidarity with me. When the cross-posting resumed at Blogdrive, the first three days were me doing the cross-posting, not her. And I'm the one who convinced her to continue it, noting that I'd do it myself if she didn't.

Jess: I know the answer but someone else might not. Rebecca, explain why Cedric was cross-posting.

Rebecca: When we had our Blogdrive sites, we all cross-posted for one another. If it was Thursday night, for example, since C.I. usually does "I Hate The War" Thursday night, we'd ask C.I. to cross post our entries. And we'd cross post for her. It just depended on who had time. Also Blogdrive has its own outages and there were some times when one of us couldn't get it but another would hours later and would immediatley cross-post. The same is true now on Wordpress, in that we'll all cross-post one another. It's one site and it's also true that anyone in the community can cross-post there if they want.

Ty: On TV, a number of e-mails. One person notes Betty is lucky because her show is still on -- Desperate Housewives. Others note Marcia's The Event got the axe and that Stan's No Ordinary Family did as well as did Rebecca's Brothers & Sisters.

Rebecca: When I blogged Friday, I didn't know. Marcia told me about it after I finished blogging. For Brothers & Sisters, I wish it had another season but at least the last episode that aired, as I pointed out Monday in "brothers & sisters," did work as a series finale as well.

Marcia: I was like the hangman or something. I was on the phone with a friend Saturday and she'd read "" and was saying, "Don't tell me, don't tell me!" What? She was afraid her show got the axe and that I'd tell her. Her show was General Hospital by the way.

Betty: They wouldn't announce it right now. To cancel One Life To Live, All My Children and General Hospital at the same time would mean a massive protest outside ABC leading to stockholders questioning the decision. What they've done instead is cut two shows -- with plans to cut General Hospital but not do it right now so that people will think, "Oh, we've got that one at least!!!" My opinion. I'm sorry for anyone who lost a favorite show. At my site, as I explained Friday in "Desperate Housewives," Desperate Housewives had a two-year pick up that was announced earlier, I think during the winter, but it might have been the fall.

Stan: Rebecca and I are the ones who lost shows. There's a chance The Event may continue in some manner. The Cape and No Ordinary Family both bit it. Those were the two I blogged about at my site. And both of Mike's two are coming back: Fringe and Chuck.

Jim: How much do cancellations have an effect? Beyond taking a show you like off the air?

Ruth: Well, this time last year, they got rid of The New Adventures of Old Christine and I have no watched CBS since. That was a decision I made. The show got solid ratings, led the night, and got the axe for proving itself. Well for being a show with a female lead, that is why they killed it. And I have had no interest in watch CBS since.

Betty: Same here. I don't watch CBS anymore. I will not forget that decision. Christine was a great show. And I wouldn't be surprised if animosity like that is built over and over by various networks.

Ty: On animosity, a lot of e-mail came in on Ava and C.I.'s "TV: The show that keeps getting worse" -- besides the people who thought we'd disappeared it when Blogger screwed up -- and the feeling of 331 who wrote in about the problems with SNL was that Seth Meyers is the problem. Dennis e-mailed to say, "Seth is about as funny on Weekend Update as Kevin Nealon was. Like Nealon, he's too old for the job, too out of touch and the skits he writes for the show just aren't funny. It's time for new blood."

Mike: I agree with that. When you watch the reruns on Comedy Central or Netflix, if you've got a Nealon update, he's always a bit off in his timing and has a deer caught in the headlights thing going on and both of those are Meyers. But Kevin Nealon was actually likeable while Seth Meyers comes across as prissy. It puts a wall up between him and the audience. He doesn't care because he's just playing for NYC. But in Boston and elsewhere, we don't find him funny.

Kat: Jimmy Fallon and Tina Fey worked as Weekend Update hosts. Tina and Amy worked as well and that was the exception because, outside of the first five years, there's never been a good hand off. Jane Curtain and Dan Ayckroyd passed off to Jane and Bill Murray. That's really the only other time it's been handled so well. So it's not really a surprise that Seth sucks so bad on Weekend Update. He sucked on the show with Amy as co-anchor but she managed to make it seem like he sucked less so. The Meyers are an untalented family. Mike's talking about how prissy Seth is and his brother comes across the same way. We're on campuses -- Wally, Ava, C.I. and myself -- every week basicallly and you never hear a nice word about Saturday Night Live anymore. Either the students don't watch it or they hate it. And these are people who can't stop talking about Jimmy Fallon or Jimmy Kimmel or anything funny on TV. But Saturday Night Live just isn't winning over an audience these days.

Isaiah: Can I point out something? Seth Meyers has one standard joke: "Racists!" It's not funny but it's what he goes to everytime. 'Republicans did this because they're racists,' 'Fox News is racist,' 'People who don't agree with Barack are racists,' etc. It's not funny -- and he appears to think that it's funny and that it's true -- and it really doesn't play well outside of White people. I mean, I watch and I'm not thinking, "Yeah, Seth Meyers, you stick it to those racists!" I watch it and I'm thinking, "Look at the White man scream 'racist' at his enemies. At the same time that Jay Pharoah can't get a reoccuring character and can't leave the ghetto of celebrity impressions. Fred's bi- or multi-racial, I know but the cast is way too White and when they repeatedly cry 'racist,' it's like someone needs to inform the White boy that we're not all on board with his little party.

Ann: Great point. I was going to say something similar. And I don't think Jay's funny in those celebrity skits. I think he's a mimic, a fabulous one, but the skits aren't funny. Whether he's Denzel or Will Smith, they're just not funny. And I think Jay writes those -- I guess they're monologues and not skits since they always involve him sitting down and speaking to the camera. But if he has any talent -- and I didn't think he did until I saw him play a role in that pregancy reality show skit two weeks ago -- it's not being used. And if he doesn't have any talent, that goes to what they expect or don't from their token Black performer.

Betty: Exactly.

Jim: Okay, we need to hear still from Trina and Elaine as well as Ava and C.I. "Maybe" because they'll probably say they're fine without talking.

Elaine: Okay, well let me go first. Saturday Night Live could do political satire. It was never as strong at political satire as Fridays was. But it was never, until Meyers became head writer, as week as Mad TV. Mad TV could not do political satire. I don't know if they didn't want to or they didn't think their audience could process it, but they couldn't do it and when forced to do a 'political' sketch, they would take political figures and then write them into bits that had nothing to do with anything they'd do, they'd put them in celebrity scandal or a reality show or something like that. Under Seth Meyers, repeatedly, Saturday Night Live has demonstrated it can no longer do political. The skill eludes him.

Trina: Good point. If the Republicans do a debate and you're unable to find humor in that, you're not much of a comedy writer. As Ava and C.I. rightly noted in their piece last week, the debate that took place was not spoofed. Instead Seth had to bring on people not present for the debate. He had to create things that never happened instead of spoofing what did take place. He's a very minor talent.

Jim: Agreed and on that note, we'll wrap it up.
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