Sunday, November 06, 2011


Jim: It's roundtable time. This is the this-and-that roundtable based on your e-mails. 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): Gem e-mailed to note Kat had changed her website and wonder why Elaine and Trina can't or won't change their sites? Gem's referring to the templates. Elaine and Trina are both using the same templates that they were using when they started their websites. Kat's recently flipped. Before we get to that, Mike, you are using a newer template and were a few months back but had to switch to a different one. Talk about that.

Mike: I updated to the new Blogger templates. And I loved mine. It was a black background. But I started getting all these e-mails from people saying they couldn't read what was up there because it was like blue type on a black background. I don't go back and read my posts so I wasn't aware it caused a problem. The first e-mails, I really blew off. Then I heard from regular readers and knew it was a problem. I needed to flip immediately and needed a template that I knew would be okay on the eyes. I liked the one Stan was using and called him to check and be sure he was fine with me using the same one. He said he was and that's the one I went with. Once upon a time, I thought I'd look for a new template later but who has the time? I don't.

Jim: Kat actually ended up flipping by accident. Kat?

Kat: I took C.I. away from the writing edition when I flipped my template and don't think I didn't feel the wrath of Jim. I had an old template, I'd grabbed it in 2005. I was fine with it except for the mornings and for Wally and Cedric. What does that mean? C.I. and Wally and Cedric try to link to all the community posts. If blogger doesn't read the feed -- and it rarely does for my site -- then you have to go to my site to pick up the post and my titles -- like Elaine's currently -- weren't linkable. You had to copy and paste -- or type in the title -- and then add the link. That was too much time, to me, for people trying to promote my work. So I was playing around during a break early Sunday morning, three or four Sundays ago. And I say something like, "Oh, I like this template." And Dona says -- Dona?

Dona: I say, "Don't click on it!" Because she was going to get that template. And the switch destroys all of your links. And I yelled it too late because she had clicked and then you can't go back. You can go back to your old template, but your links are gone. By links, what I was worried about for Kat was that all of her reviews at The Common Ills had links at her own site. Let's put in those links so everyone can see how many I am talking about:

Dona (Con't): And those links are a lot.

Kat: And they were all gone and it was the start of 2009, I think, that C.I. did that for me as a surprise. I'd had her go in and look at my HTML because I was having a problem pop up on the links to some of the musical acts I like. So while she was in there, she went and grabbed all of my reviews from 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008 -- this was January 1, 2009 -- and put them up. All I had to do after was just add as I posted a new one. And all of those were gone. And it's not easy to get them because I'd have to hunt them all again. Over the phone, Elaine said she'd noted them in February 2009 at her site, reposted the list, and that she'd see if she could find that post. Then C.I.and Ava came back in the room and C.I. said my site should still be on her laptop because we were going to do a roundtable that week -- we didn't end up doing one -- and she was planning on quoting me in it. So she logged in on her laptop, logged into my account, and was able to put in all those links that will be posted into this roundtable. It took over 40 minutes. I felt so awful because it was a headache. For her! For C.I. And also because that's 40 minutes we lost in the writing edition.

Jim: So Kat was playing around looking for a new template and ended up with that horror story. Trina?

Trina: I have the same problem on my links list that Kat was having. I've had it since I started the site years ago. I've known about it all that time. I'm really not that worried about it. I log on to write and that's it. Mike was saying he doesn't read his posts. Maybe it's a mother and son thing but I don't read mine either. The only time is when I get an e-mail about something like someone asking, "Did you forget a step in the recipe for ___" and I'll go back and look. Now I read Jess' guest post that he did Friday for me -- thank you, Jess. And I always read Ava's guests posts, thank you Ava.

Jim: Elaine?

Elaine: Like Trina, I don't read my own posts. A part of me feels like maybe I should 'repaint' my site but another part of me really likes that it looks the way it does. It's out of style or it's classic, depending upon your view. I have things I need to add to my links and that would be my concern before I ever got worried about switching templates. I understand what Kat was saying by the way but Trina and my posts are links on the side meaning you can run a mouse over them and copy and paste them and not have to type in the title and then add the link. That's probably too technical for someone who doesn't copy and paste regularly to understand. But the point is if either Trina or I felt, as Kat did, that we were making extra work for Cedric, Wally or C.I., we would do as Kat did and start looking at new templates. That's, in fact, why Betty switched.

Jim: Let me go there. Betty, you joke your blog is a nightmare. Talk about that.

Betty: My archives are screwed up and the 'search' feature really doesn't work for my site. Prior to 2008, you have a chapter in each post -- nearly each post -- and it's of the comic novel I was doing. But it's impossible to pull up the posts if you go to my own archives. I thought switching to weekly would help. But that's not the case. When people e-mail about the story of Betinna, my online novel, and they've read it and are looking for a chapter they read years ago or they're new to it, what I do is say, "Go to Wally's site." Because Wally started linking to all of our posts in 2005. So every one of his posts would note that. Cedric joins him in 2007 with joint-posts. But to go back as far as possible, you need Wally's. I also tell them they can refer to "Highlights" here at Third because the chapters were usually no more than two a week and Highlights would generally note both of them. But there's no way to search my site using the search -- not use it and get accurate results -- or to bring up the archives by the week and get all the posts from that week. It's a nightmare.

Jim: One more appearance question. Dorothy e-mailed to ask Isaiah why he no longer does expandable posts?

Isaiah: The same reason Third doesn't. People may not realize this but for like the first nine months of this site, the posts were expandable. You had the first two paragraphs or so and then you'd click "READ MORE." And at my site I was doing that with the "READ MORE" being right under the comic. But? It stopped working. I had a problem, technical. I brought it up after a few months and C.I. went into my template and added some new code and it worked for about two or three months and then it stopped again. And Jim was explaining that kept happening with them here and that's why Third dropped it. I would love to have expandable posts. But it's not as easy as you'd hope -- at least not in Blogger.

Ty: Noting Trina's good-bye to Occupy Wall Street post on Wednesday and quoting C.I.'s critique of the DC OWS on Thursday, Tiffany99 e-mailed to say you can't judge Occupy DC by one Adam Kokesh report.

Trina: I didn't. I knew there were problems before Adam's report. I had made phone calls before posting it. In fact, I posted about Adam's report a day before I posted about the problems with the DC crowd. I waited because I made calls. C.I. went even further.

C.I.: I had heard complaints from a lot of people and I had shared those with Trina. This didn't just happen last week. However, after seeing Adam's report, I did make a point to go to the Occupy DC Wednesday night. Wally went with me. We went around and encountered just what Adam did, a lot of empty tents, a lot of homeless people being used to give the impression of overnight camping by protesters. Trina was disturbed by Adam's report and I provided her with some numbers to call and told her I would check it out in DC Wednesday night. She called me before she posted to ask if I was seeing anything that would change her mind. We were still there and would be there for 30 more minutes but I hadn't seen anything and I told her I didn't think I would that would justify ignoring the valid complaints about Occupy DC. And, to be clear, the issue of the homeless being used is not just an Occupy DC thing. It's happening at other OWS around the country. Not at all, but at several. And Adam's report was a strong one.

Jim: We had an e-mail asking why we hadn't noted Adam's show here, Adam vs. the Man, since it moved to YouTube? C.I. tried very hard for the two previous editions to get it in the mix. We have to put things on hold from time to time. Right now, we can say there will be a short piece on Adam's show this week and it's very short but we already wrote it so it will be part of the mix. We're half-way through the edition. What else will we have? Of the not finished features, we can't be sure. We are trying to provide a mix. Ann and Dona hope to grab time to do a feature on a workout video. Will it happen? Maybe, maybe not. It'll depend upon time. Last week, in "A note to our readers," I explained we'd forgotten the book feature. That led to many e-mails about how we needed to do two this week or we needed to do this or that. We'll have one this week. Sometimes, there just isn't time. Sometimes things get forgotten. Sometimes things get planned and we even attempt them but they don't work out. That's the way it goes. Jess?

Jess: Eveyln e-mails to ask why sometimes we have new illustrations and sometimes we don't, and sometimes they're children's artwork -- done by Betty's kids when that happens, by the way -- and sometimes they aren't, etc. It just depends. Right now I've got several pieces that Betty's middle son did for school on my cell phone. I need to e-mail those so we can upload them. His art class had an exhibit and when we were walking around, he'd say, "That would be good for Third." I got about four pieces he did. Other times, they hear us talking about a feature or two and they draw something or paint something and we use it. Sometimes, Kat, Wally and Isaiah work on some stuff and we use that. Sometimes we have photos. Sometimes Rebecca wants to play with photoshop. There's nothing set in stone. In addition, we have set pieces like "roundtable" where we use an illustration done for that. The main point of any illustration is to break up the article so you're not just looking at text, text, text.

Jim: Jordan e-mails about TV and wishes we'd get Ava and C.I. to do more than just one feature each week. But he writes what he really wants to know is "will Marcia be covering Grimm, how did everyone choose the shows they cover and is anyone else planning to pick up TV at their site? I appreciate Elaine's explaining why she's not going to but what about the other shows?" Let's start with Marcia. Covering Grimm?

Marcia: I'm thinking about it. I watched, I liked. But I would really like to cover Whitney and 2 Broke Girls. So far I'm just covering Whitney. I have a feeling grabbing Grimm as well would be too much.

Rebecca: Mike's not grabbing it, right?

Mike: No. I'm doing Fringe and Chuck. I've been doing both for years. Now they're both on Fridays. Grimm's on Fridays as well. Don't have time for all that.

Rebecca: Well, if no one has a problem, I'll grab it. Based on Ava and C.I.'s piece this week, it sounds interesting and I just have Community right now.

Jim: Okay. Betty, I know you've covered this but could you explain again why you do Desperate Housewives?

Betty: Sure. There are so few shows on with a Black character. Vanessa Williams was added last fall to the cast and that's when I start covering it. My youngest is a girl and we watch together. She liked Wanda Sykes on The New Adventures of Old Christine and we watched that together. All Wanda had to do was speak one line -- funny or not -- and my daughter was laughing. I'm not saying Wanda wasn't funny as Barb, she was. But not every line was a joke. But my daughter just thought Wanda was the funniest thing in the world. There are many shows that I'll try out with her and she can't stand the woman. She didn't like the Black actress on Charlie's Angels or really any of them and felt they were "mean" and "bullies." Which goes with Ava and C.I.'s point in "TV: Charlie's Convicts" about how, unlike the original series, here the three were ex-cons who thought you 'investigated' by torturing people into telling you what you wanted. In addition to Desperate Housewives, I also cover Whitney. So that's Marcia, Ann and I that are covering that show.

Ann: Reading Ava and C.I.'s "TV: The perverts still drool over Shirley Temple" had us thinking and made us mad. A funny show? We checked it out. Whitney is damn funny. And it's being attacked because it's about a woman and because it's funny and because she's not a woman surrounded by men and only men except when there's a woman she can cat fight with -- that's The New Girl. So we talked, Betty, Marcia and I, and we just wanted to be sure that this funny show got a real chance to find an audience so we're trying to do our part by noting it each time it airs. It's a funny show. And, if I could quote Mike, "It's like the attacks on NBC's Whitney where a bunch of little frou-frous who can't make a show a hit -- all their listed favorites struggle for ratings -- attack Whitney and say it's not funny and that the laugh track is annoying and blah blah blah. The highest rated sitcom for years and still is Two And A Half Men. The small number of people attacking Whitney attack that show too. So networks should learn not to listen to the posers. The posers can't make a show a hit and listening to them has resulted in some very crappy, non-watchable TV."

Marcia: Amen to that. Whitney's getting better ratings than 30 Rock so people are watching it. It's a damn funny show but a small group of posers want to pretend it's not worth watching because it's taped before a live studio audience. Deal with it, you jerks. What whimsical sitcom have you made a top ten hit? My Name Is Earl? Not hardly.

Jim: I'm going to come back to Stan. But since we're talking funny and since Cedric and Wally do humor posts, I want to get their take on the whole Whitney thing.

Cedric: I watch it with Ann. We love the show. It's funny. The studio audience doesn't bother me. And I see Ava and C.I.'s point that they've been making since 2005 about how being before the studio audience can create a rhythm. It does. It also exposes how unfunny most of the 'sitcoms' are. I'll take 2 Broke Girls over The Office any day. And who's the guy I think is the funniest on TV? I'm forgetting his name.

C.I.: Oliver Hudson.

Cedric: Thank you! Yeah. Goldie Hawn's son. I'm searching. Just one second. Okay, when I read "Megyn Price remains wonderful but Bianca Kajlich has really carved out a character and the writers have steadied Adam Rhodes allowing Oliver Hudson to hit notes in that role which are among the year's best," I thought, "Huh?" That's Ava and C.I. back in 2009. But I checked it out and the whole show had improved but I really think Oliver Hudson's doing the best work of any male in a sitcom right now. That was 2009 so that means I'd say he's been doing the best work of any actor in a sitcom in the last three years.

Wally: I agree with that. We both think he's hilarious. In those early episodes, they weren't sure what to do with him but stumbled upon it in episode where he encounters a school bully who teases him about his eye lashes. And that really set the stage for the character that he's playing now. Cedric and I thought his work in the episode where Booger from Revenge of the Nerds becomes Adam's best friend was outstanding. And the two women have always been great but you really have to note Bianca Kajlich because with just the wrong inflections or the wrong reaction, Adam wouldn't be as funny. I love her character. She's really more like the two guys and tends to bond with them, on the other side of Adam. It's funny. As for Whitney. It's a funny show. What you've got is the Volvo crowd who thinks the whole world has to listen to their pronouncements. But none of the sitcoms they like are funny. And they really don't like sitcoms to begin with. They don't laugh. I noticed that in college. The people who laugh out loud while they're watching something funny? They don't mind the laugh track. Those that sit there stone faced throughout, turn it off, get off the couch and say, "That was very funny"? Those are the ones watching these crappy shows that aren't funny. They didn't crack a smile in high school and they can't stand anyone laughing today. They just don't have a sense of humor and laughter from a studio audience just reminds them that they're missing the joke.

Jim: Okay. Ruth, you're planning on covering Cougar Town which doesn't start until January. Anything else before then?

Ruth: With Solyndra -- thank you to Betty for grabbing that last week -- and John Edwards and, this past week, Herman Cain, I have a full plate. But I will think about grabbing something. Let me have this week to look around and I will grab something no one else is in the community is covering. I love Whitney by the way but with three people already covering it, I do not see how I would be able to add anything.

Jim: And Stan. This year you are covering The Good Wife -- which you started covering the first year -- and Body of Proof. How did you pick them?

Stan: The Good Wife? I really don't know. It might have been due to a review Ava and C.I. did. But I caught it and liked it the first year. I missed some of the second year because I had No Ordinary Family and The Cape to cover. But readers asked why I was ignoring the show so I picked it back up. Body of Proof? I liked Ava and C.I.'s piece "TV: Living Proof" and checked the show out. I like it. It moves at a different pace then a lot of shows.

Jim: Okay, that's going to wind down our this-and-that, housecleaning roundtable. We tried to get to as many topics in the e-mails as possible. This is a rush transcript.
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
Poll1 { display:none; }