Yes, He Can’t, America

ColbertreportToday’s announcement that Colbert will be replacing Letterman on the Late Show makes zero sense to me, economically or personally.

The move destroys Comedy Central’s 11 to midnight block, the consistently best hour of television anywhere. Whoever they find to replace Colbert will either be an uninspired retread, like having Samantha Bee or Wyatt Cenac riffing on their pretend anchor personas, or some glib internet exploiting lightweight like Daniel Tosh or Chris Hardwick.

Obviously, I’m not a television executive. But I doubt this is going to make economic sense for CBS. Colbert’s audience is loyal, but I would guess more to the show and to the character than to Colbert himself. You’re not going to find a bigger fan of the Colbert Report than me and I doubt I’ll ever watch his CBS show.

Watching him riff through an interview while maintaining his character’s voice is an amazing high wire act. The fact that he does it so well, making clever, insightful points so consistently, is a miracle.

The fictional underpinnings of the persona make it easier to watch than a show where a host is just being himself. There’s somehow less of a stress point of thinking that it’s a real person. The layer of “just kidding” makes the show entertaining and bright despite its current events-driven content. Even though the Colbert Report is just as smart and serious as the Daily Show, it feels like watching Wheel of Fortune after Jeopardy because of its central fiction.

In an interview with Vulture, Jon Stewart said that Colbert is going to show a range of skills that he’s unable to display as his character. And while I’m sure he’s a talented guy, I have much interest in seeing him spread his wings than seeing him continue his character thing.

The format of late night television is almost certainly going to constrain him. Eventually, he’s going to have to prompt Cameron Diaz to talks about the pranks pulled on her new movie or interview a trainer from the San Diego zoo about a chimp.

But even if he’s able to rise above the built in mediocrity of network late night programming, he’s still likely to be at least a little neutered. Being on network TV surely means Colbert will have to at least water down his politics. And politics is a huge part of his show. Otherwise it’s fake vanity and ironic embrace of corporate sponsorship.

And he comes in as a politically polarizing figure. Rush Limbaugh has already come down hard on the decision, saying “CBS has just declared war on the heartland of America.”, which wouldn’t make a dent in Colbert’s smaller, more elite cable audience but could convince grandpas to tune into that nice Jimmy Fallon fellow instead of Colbert.

From a cynical, cash-driven point of view, I’d have to guess that that Chelsea Handler would have been a better choice. I’m not a fan. In fact I’ve never seen a single episode of her show. But she was getting better ratings than Conan O’Brien with far less hype. I think she commands a loyal, largely female audience, one that is otherwise probably not watching late night TV. And she probably would come a lot cheaper than Colbert.

And if you don’t go with Handler, there’s another undervalued late night host you could scoop up for what’s probably less than market value: Jay Leno. Again, I’m not a fan AT ALL but I can’t see how that wouldn’t be a win for everybody involved. I don’t think Leno was enthusiastic about leaving the Tonight Show. According to reports, he got paid less than Letterman despite drawing higher ratings.

The two Jimmys are going to continue to try to draw in coastal elites with their Youtube-targeting material. Without politics or a character, Colbert is likely to mine a similar, knowingly snarky/absurdist vein. That leaves that Leno-loving heartland, the one that Rush Limbaugh believes is at war, up for grabs.

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Did Jimi Just Flub the Intro?

Sometimes google bombing pays off.

I typed in “jimi hendrix, close up on fingers.” Boom. This happened.

I’ve heard this song before, plenty of times. The audio was the lead off to a 90s jimi comp called “Jimi Plays the Blues or Something.” Evidently there was some debate about whether or not Jimi was a good player of blues and the CD was made to show that he was. That’s such a weird thing for anybody to give a shit about. I am an extraordinarily analytical consumer of pop culture and that concern strikes even me as too arcane to bother with.

Anyway. Watching the video I had so an observation of such magnitude I believed it called for the medium of blogging.

The intro part, where they show the sought after close up on Jimi’s fingers, is fucking stunning. The first thing he plays, the little triplet figure, sounds like a Prince guitar solo. Then he moves through a couple of snaky Robert Johnson folk blues exercises and then they show that he’s playing a twelve string.

For a second I though the string pairs were tuned to fifths. They aren’t. It’s just a testament to Jimi’s feel.

Then Jimi stops and asks for a second take, which is shocking because of how brilliant he played up until then. He restarts and plays the familiar version of the song, kicking off with a strangely atonal intro figure.

It always sounded weird to me and i wrote it off to elusive genius, etc. Now I’m wondering if Jimi just fucked up and rolled with it.

That figure sounds like the original Prince solo triplet only played on the wrong strings. Like Jimi meant to start on the g but got flustered and started on the b string. But then he was either too committed to getting a full cut of the song or self conscious about asking for a first take that he kept on rolling.

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January 25, 2014 · 12:35 am

Thanksgiving is the Worst


Having Thanksgiving between Halloween and Christmas is like programming a film festival with an educational documentary about butter between Blazing Saddles and Die Hard.  It’s a valley of dull in between staggering peaks of interest. Continue reading

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Chet Atkins, “The Entertainer”

Man, that’s some smooth guitar.

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October 6, 2013 · 8:59 pm

Ben Affleck Signing Autographs in New Jersey

Ben Affleck Signing Autographs in New Jersey

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September 20, 2013 · 11:49 am

Haha. At least a Little Hurt, at Last, for Zimmerman

Murderous coward George Zimmerman’s wife has reportedly filed for divorce. The look on her face in this random court pic brought me cruel joy. Hope she takes every penny.


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The Worst of Led Zeppelin

The following songs have been scientifically proven to be the worst Led Zeppelin ever recorded, barring live performances and Coda.

(please note: I love the cartoon in the above video. It does not match the song one bit, however.)

(Special note: this one is like a single note away from being a good song. If the drums kicked in earlier it wouldn’t be on this list.)Image

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