Ellen Degeneres’ Tweet Heard ‘Round the World

Ellen snaps a selfie

Ellen snaps a selfie

It was a rich moment: Ellen Degeneres snapped an impromptu selfie as she hosted the Oscars, and requested that viewers retweet it with the goal of breaking the record for most retweets. The Twitterverse responded with a frenzy. I’m trying to decode the meta-meta layers: a performer, photographing herself as she performs on live TV, then asking viewers to, in a sense, rebroadcast her yet again by tweeting it furiously, after which everyone tweets about the fact that they tweeted it; a great moment in the history of the self-refrential. About the photo: I like the mix of expressions; these usually most posed of performers all appear to be at their most human and real.

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House Of Cards: Still Great, But Less So

House of Cards, season two

House of Cards, season two

I’m almost done binging on House of Cards, season two. It’s been a fun ride, even though this second season is clearly several steps down from the first. These episodes feel less like an ensemble work and more focused on Kevin Spacey. I miss the wayward Congressman, Peter Russo, and one other major character who met an untimely demise (I won’t spoil it for you – her end felt like a bold choice, but the show lost something without her). President Garret Walker is all cardboard as he woodenly delivers his lines, and his First Lady murders every scene she’s in. Still, I’m almost on the last episode, and I can’t resist – which tells you something.

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Is This Irony?



Just curious: is the name of this nightclub meant to be ironic? Yes, certainly it is. We want to believe it is. It is, isn’t it?

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Clarence Thomas, Where Are You?

Jeffrey ToobinI’m a huge fan of Jeffery Toobin, the CNN commentator and New Yorker writer. Among several other books, he wrote the definitive account of the O.J. Simpson trial, The Run of His Life: The People v. O.J. Simpson. A great read.

I greatly enjoyed his recent piece, Clarence Thomas’s Disgraceful Silence, which all but lacerates the Supreme Court Justice for failing to take part in the give and take that’s customary for Justices to engage in with lawyers presenting cases before the Court:

As of this Saturday, February 22nd, eight years will have passed since Clarence Thomas last asked a question during a Supreme Court oral argument. His behavior on the bench has gone from curious to bizarre to downright embarrassing, for himself and for the institution he represents.”

Thomas’s longstanding silence has changed over the years, Toobin says. In the period immediately after his controversial confirmation in 1991, he seemed to be at least acknowledging where he was, though his comments were limited to whispers to the Justices that sat to his right and left. Now, however, Thomas has fallen into something that Toobin describes as close to catatonia, staring at the ceiling at length during proceedings, while Justices such as Scalia, 77, and Ginsburg, 80, engage actively:

“By refusing to acknowledge the advocates or his fellow-Justices, Thomas treats them all with disrespect. It would be one thing if Thomas’s petulance reflected badly only on himself, which it did for the first few years of his ludicrous behavior. But at this point, eight years on, Thomas is demeaning the Court. Imagine, for a moment, if all nine Justices behaved as Thomas does on the bench. The public would rightly, and immediately, lose all faith in the Supreme Court. Instead, the public has lost, and should lose, any confidence it might have in Clarence Thomas.”

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Television is So, So, So…Dead

It’s odd that TV still has as much life as it does, given as close to the bottomless grave as it is. No one under age 35 or so cleaves to the cathode ray teat like in the golden era of classics like Love Boat and Mork & Mindy.

And it makes sense. TV offers set programming on a fixed schedule. If you were raised from birth with the Internet, would you want to look at a screen that stayed stuck on one page – and only when the screen itself decided to play it? That’s preposterous.

Traditional TV executives are doing their best to usher the medium to the grave, letting cable TV best them with smart stuff like Breaking Bad, Mad Men, The Wire, Homeland and numerous other dramas worth watching. And House of Cards shows that little Netflix – a web site, for goodness sake – could kick the butt of deep-pocketed CBS, NBC and ABC, which churn out tired, safe stuff that quickly fades into the murky deep.

Even cable TV is being consumed by the Internet, as Hulu and Netflix grab younger viewers who aren’t willing to fit a real time schedule into their Twitter-Tumblr-Facebook lives.

I must admit I still like TV. It’s a deep vice, but I enjoy cable news, with its funky macrame of pundits; I can catch short doses and it helps me follow the news; I’m particularly fond of Howard Fineman, who’s always insightful.

Maureen Dowd writes an insightful piece about this fall’s upcoming TV schedule, its creative limitations and tired feel. “It turns out that Washington isn’t the only place where ideas go to die….”

In honor of TV’s impending demise, here’s a clip of Elvis Presley on the Ed Sullivan Show in the late 1950s. TV has hardly been as exciting since.

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