Thursday, October 23, 2014

New Yorker magazine obsessed with portraying people glued to their mobile devices

The New Yorker magazine is known for its great cover art. But this year, it’s repeatedly hit the same theme of showing people fixated on their smartphone and tablet screens.
The first time it was insightful, making a commentary about life in an always connected society.
But the publishers have experienced the law of diminishing returns on this theme. We get it – people are addicted to their phones. Now move on.
Included with this article are covers from New Yorker issues dated Jan. 6, May 5, July 7 & 14, and Aug. 4.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Journey, Boston, Chicago and other criminally overlooked artists that deserve to be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Earlier this month, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame announced 15 nominees for possible induction in 2015. The list includes such big names as Lou Reed, Sting, Green Day, and Nine Inch Nails.
As usual they skipped over a lot of my favorites. This year, however, the hall nominated the Smiths, who are on my list. The last time I published my personal list of overlooked artists who deserve to be in the Rock Hall was April 2013. Since then, one artist off that list, KISS, was inducted. 
What follows is an updated list of rock music artists I’d like to see inducted. After each artist, I’ve included their first year of eligibility for the hall.

1. Steve Miller Band (1993)
2. Chicago (1994)
3. Yes (1994)
4. Journey (2000)
5. Boston (2001)
6. Cheap Trick (2002)
7. Eddie Money (2002)
8. The Cars (2003)
9. The Cure (2003)
10. Joy Division (2003)
11. Siouxsie & the Banshees (2003)
12. Def Leppard (2004)
13. The Motels (2004)
14. Pat Benatar (2004)
15. The Psychedelic Furs (2004)
16. The Go-Go’s (2005)
17. INXS (2005)
18. Depeche Mode (2006)
19. Duran Duran (2006)
20. New Order (2006)
21. The Smiths (2008)
22. Bon Jovi (2008)
23. Concrete Blonde (2011)

For more information about the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, check out the official website, as well as Future Rock Legends.

Photo: Cover of Journey’s 1978 album “Infinity,” which includes the hit singles “Wheel in the Sky” and “Lights.” 

Friday, October 17, 2014

Yahoo errors continue, but web portal spruces up its oops page

Last month, I posted two articles featuring screenshots of all the errors I was experiencing on Yahoo webpages.
Today was a really bad day for Yahoo. I couldn’t get into Yahoo Mail for much of it. But at least they’ve got a spiffy new error page. See “We’re sorry” image up top.
I also got the message “We’re experiencing technical difficulties.”

And the familiar spinning progress wheel of frustration when emails won’t load.

Yahoo Mail isn’t the only Yahoo property with frequent problems. I got the message below when I clicked on a Yahoo Finance news headline recently. It says “Sorry, bad request.”
No, the request wasn’t bad, but Yahoo’s response was.

See also:

Long-time Yahoo user sick of website’s buggy services (Sept. 3, 2014)

More Yahoo error messages: A portfolio of fail (Sept. 13, 2014)

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Remembering Sherpa the cat

Our Himalayan cat Sherpa died this morning. He was 13½ years old.
He had been suffering from kidney disease, which apparently is common with Himalayans.
We adopted him from a breeder in Southern California when we lived there. He moved with us to Chicago, Connecticut and eventually D.C.
He was a beautiful cat with pale blue eyes and long cottony soft fur with subtle tiger stripes. Technically he was a seal lynx point Himalayan. He was born May 28, 2001, in Torrance, Calif., to father PC Dreambear and mother Azure-Puff.
He was my home office companion, a gentle family pet and a good mouser.
He liked to be pampered with a nice brushing and to drink fresh water from the bathtub faucet. He was pretty independent and didn’t much like being held. But he liked lying around with us in the living room, rec room, bedrooms, etc.
He liked the outdoors, but mostly from the comfort of the backyard screen porch or the front step. In his later years, he never strayed outside the yard and kept close to the house.
When he was young, I often had to search for him in the neighbors’ yards at night.
He was a sweet cat and will be missed.
He was preceded in death by his aunt, Leah. She died on July 23, 2007, in Wilmette, Ill.

Photo: Sherpa in Vienna, Va., in March 2013. 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

TV Guide magazine living on borrowed time

Every year I buy the Fall Preview issue of TV Guide magazine. And every year, the magazine gets harder and harder to find.
This year, I had to buy a copy of the issue on eBay. The magazine is not available in grocery stores and drug stores like it used to be. In the recent past, I’ve found it at Barnes & Noble bookstores, but those are getting scarce too.
The Sept. 15-21 issue of TV Guide is 94 pages and the coverage of the fall TV season seems light. By contrast, the Sept. 19-26 issue of Entertainment Weekly on the fall TV season is 140 pages and feels much more comprehensive.
Entertainment Weekly has long since taken the torch from TV Guide for fall preview issues.
I have every TV Guide fall preview issue since 1974 (41 issues in all). I wonder how long TV Guide has got left, especially as TV viewers continue to shift away from the broadcast networks, first to cable TV and now to over-the-top TV services like Netflix and Amazon Prime.
As of June 30, TV Guide magazine, owned by private equity firm OpenGate Capital, had a circulation of 1.91 million. That’s down from 2.68 million in 2009. It still has a lot of readers, most of whom are home subscribers, but it’s been on a steady decline.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Fall TV season devoid of compelling new shows; awaiting midseason replacements

I am completely underwhelmed by this fall’s new TV show lineup.
I can’t believe NBC canceled the intriguing and entertaining “Revolution” to make way for junk like “The Mysteries of Laura.” (“Laura” has a dismal Metacritic score of 37 out of 100.)
The broadcast network prime-time schedule is larded up with “NCIS” spinoffs, women-in-powerful-positions dramas (“State of Affairs” and “Madam Secretary”), and comic-book shows (“Gotham,” “The Flash” and “Constantine”). But not one new show I’m dying to see.
This comes after a summer TV season that brought such quality new series as “The Strain,” “The Last Ship,” “Extant” and “The Lottery.”
Usually there are a few shows I can’t wait to check out each fall. But not this year.
My DVR queue likely will remain unchanged. My favorite returning shows include genre series “The Walking Dead,” “Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD” and “Supernatural.”
This fall the networks are playing to the lowest common denominator to reach the largest possible mainstream audience. That’s getting much harder to do with the proliferation of content choices on cable channels and over-the-top Internet video services.
The most exciting new shows are midseason replacements. They include ABC’s “Agent Carter,” a post-World War II comic book drama from the folks at Marvel; the CW’s “iZombie,” based on a comic book about a medical resident turned zombie-slash-amateur detective; and ABC’s “The Whispers,” a creepy alien invasion drama.

Photos: Poster from “The Strain” (top); promotional ads for “iZombie” and “The Whispers.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Even porn movies are exploring the post-apocalypse

Life in a post-apocalyptic world has been explored in Hollywood movies, TV shows, video games and even porn movies.
Last week saw the release of Digital Playground’s “Apocalypse X.” The porn movie takes place in a dangerous land much like the setting of the Mad Max films. It’s a desert landscape ruled by outlaws on motorcycles and armored cars.
“Apocalypse X” stars Stevie Shae and is set “in a dystopian future plagued with destruction and an endless search for water, due to the earth’s depleted natural resources,” according to Xbiz.
Also out this month is “Bound for the Apocalypse,” an X-rated bondage movie from Sex and Submission. It takes place in a post-apocalyptic future where a hunter captures two women and makes them his sex slaves.
Back when the Mad Max films were first popular, porn studios cranked out a bunch of X-rated homages. They include “The Load Warriors” (1987) and “The Load Warriors 2” (1987), based on the second Mad Max movie “The Road Warrior” (1981).
Porn studios also made movies that riffed on the third Mad Max movie, “Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome” (1985). Those movies include “Mad Jack Beyond Thunderbone” (1986) and “Mad Jaxxx Beyond Thunderboobs” (2002).


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