12/29/2005

Running in place to get to work

The baby is in her chair now in the living room. Rock and roll music, early music, is playing on the radio. I love having a radio in the house like this and definitely appreciate being able to turn on a box and let other people make the decisions for me in terms of what song comes next. I am tired and not looking forward to going in to work tonight, but it'll be fine. This is kind of a dream time where I get to play a different role while holding on to my old ones.

This new radio is otherworldly, with those odd speakers and the stand, which grants the radio much more dignity than any other appliance in our house. The songs coming out of it at the moment are amazing, timeless, fast. Baby is sitting in her chair kicking her feet into the air and waving her arms while she and the Butterfly catch up on old times. The dial is tuned to 91.2, which is something you don't see in North America. The jingles for U.K. radio stations can be jarring, hearing frequencies ending in even numbers.

I'm thinking of the impending trip to England and thinking about my Englishness and my Americanity and what they are and how they influence me. I could look through that chest of drawers forever, searching through a collection of memories and images and maps that belong to two places.

I think I like working at Court Square Tavern because it's an English kind of place. I get to be myself there in a way that I don't get to be anywhere else. I keep working there despite being awfully busy with podcasting because I want to retain this part of my identity.

In any case, I'll be there, exulting in being a server, a dishwasher, a manager, a bartender and a podcasting salesman. If anyone reading this through cvilleblogs.com is in town, I'll be in tonight, tomorrow night and New Year's Eve. A special prize for anyone who comes in and records their New Year's resolutions for a podcast.

And, the offer on the Scrabble game still applies.

12/24/2005

Jon Stewart to CBS Evening News?

Okay, that's a gotcha headline, definitely. The idea of Stewart crossing over to a corporate sister is something that has been bandied about a lot since Dan Rather stepped down, and I have nothing new to offer on that score. But, this article in Forbes by David Andelman mentioned it as part of a slightly tongue-in-cheek list of media predictions for 2006.

CBS News will move The Daily Show over from Comedy Central, and anchor Jon Stewart will replace an aging Bob Schieffer in a last, desperate effort to attract the young viewers that advertisers so lust after and increasingly fail to find on the networks' news programming.


On the face of it, I don't think this is likely at all. First of all, Stewart is not news, and his demographic doesn't start watching television until later on in the evening. The network may not have a hit on its hands, but I'm sure the status quo makes money. I think it's too big a risk to move Stewart to broadcast television, because his act would largely have to change.

Besides, I don't believe the show is as good any more since The Colbert Report began. Colbert always had the best lines on the Daily Show, and his absence has created a huge void for the parent show. I'm confident the Daily Show will find its stride again, but it won't be on CBS.

12/23/2005

British comedy quote of the day from Nigel Planer

"People talk about alternative comedy, but how it started was simple. We
were bored and knew we would never be part of the mainstream, so we thought, 'why don't we just do what we like?'"


That's Nigel Planer, who played Neil the hippy on the Young Ones, BBC's ground-breaking "alternative comedy" series. Americans were exposed to this program thanks to how much cooler MTV was back in the days where they didn't exactly know what was going to make the most money. The Young Ones is a glimpse into how crappy Britain is perceived to have been in the 1980's: Bleak, despairing, and run-down.

The 12 episodes, spread apart two series, follow the day to day lives of four flatmates attending university. None of them are particularly good students. Rik is a self-proclaimed People's Poets who always talks about others' first, but is always looking out for himself. Vyvyan is the metal medical student who wings up pregnant in one episode, despite being a man. Mike is the cool person, and Neil is the classic hippy, always eating lentils and pointing out how cruel everyone seems to be. All four are loathsome, but in British comedy, humor often flows from the despicable nature of the characters.

The show was one of the most surreal programs of its kind, with sudden segues into odd sketches that often only grew funny on repeated viewings. The show was a gigantic experiment along the lines of what Nigel Planer describes above. And, the show was a major milestone in the careers of what is now mainstream British comedy and light entertainment. The roster of actors who had cameos on the Young Ones is impressive: Robby Coltrane (Hagrid), Dawn French, Jennifer Saunders (half of Absolutely Fabulous), Hugh Laurie (now House), Elizabeth Thompson and many more.

But, the Young Ones is related to another odd program that MTV later showed as well. How many remember the Comic Strip presents? MTV began showing this as an alternative to showing the same 12 episodes over and over again. This program was different. They were more like short films, shot on location, with each installment being completely different to the next. In all, there are 37 films released by the Comic Strip Presents, which is apparently now available as a boxed set in the UK. Likely not here.

A 38th edition begins this upcoming Wednesday. It's described in this article in the Independent.
That's where Nigel Planer's quote came from. I'm posting it because I feel inspired by the idea of doing something you want to do, and then profiting from it.

12/18/2005

Motel 6 Podcast

The question on everyone's mind: What will become of advertising in the podcasting world? Well, the folks at Motel 6 are proud enough of their witty radio commercials to turn them into a podcast. Chain spokesman Tom Bodett gives the top six reasons why you should stay at Motel 6 this Christmas.

Will this sort of thing work? What's their motivation for doing this type of thing? Do they really think they'll get an audience?

I'd be interested to know what people think about this.

(corrected - Georges le Mener is the CEO of Motel 6, not Tom Bodett. Bodett is an author who is currently hosting a show on BBC Radio 7.

12/15/2005

They Might Be Giants Podcast!

This is what podcasting was invented for - They Might Be Giants have a podcast, and it's offering exactly the kind of material that used to be on their Dial A Song. Subtle evidence that podcasting will replace using the phone to get audio information, perhaps?

The first track on this album would probably not have sold too well, but that's what used to make They Might Be Giants so amazing. I've always thought their better songs to be the whimsical ones. But some of this stuff borders on comedy, as with "Turtle Songs of North America."

I don't know how often they're going to offer podcasts, but when they do, it'll be like a little album each time. How they'll make money off of this, I don't know, but should that always be what motivates people to do creative work?

12/13/2005

Podcasting in Australia

As radio changes, content producers are no doubt going to be looking at innovative ways to make money. The incremental stripping of audience to digital forms of delivery will begin to add up. In Australia, podcasting success is causing one of that country's radio networks to dramatically rethink its business model. Here's a quote from an article in the December 8 Sydney Morning Herald.

ABC Radio, by far the country's leading podcaster with 300,000 downloads a week, is so enthused with the figures it has embraced the unthinkable - exploring ways of charging listeners.

It has already done so in a small way with a $5.95 podcast fee for each of this year's six Boyer Lectures by the Anglican Archbishop of Sydney, Peter Jensen.


Read the rest here: (subscription required)

12/01/2005

Pete and Geoff getting a divorce!

Thanks to the Internet and podcasting, I've been able to connect to British culture in a way not quite possible before. Now I can listen to BBC Radio 4 when I'm in the U.S., catch up on various television shows (erm...), and of course, I can know what's happening in pop culture thanks to the Pete and Geoff Breakfast Show on Virgin Radio. England is part of my every day life.

But sad news this week with the announcement that Pete and Geoff are splitting up. After ten years together as a radio duo, they've decided to go their separate ways. Pete Mitchell is the straight man, much older, and it sounds like he's being pushed out. Geoff is my age, and provides the wacky irreverence. The two of them together are nothing terribly special, perhaps, but to me they keep me company while I walk the dog and try to live my life. And, help me feel a tiny bit more connected to the country where my son is growing up. Divorce isn't really fun for anyone.

So, I'll miss this show, but I'm going to enjoy the next two weeks, as Pete becomes much more candid. He's done in radio, so he can say whatever he wants. It's incredibly entertaining to listen to someone doing a controlled burn, eviscerating management, commenting on the songs he's forced to play, and of course, being egged on by his working partner of ten years.

If you want to hear the show, check it out in Itunes.