After 20 years, ‘Oz’ has lost most of its magic

The other day I started watching the HBO series Oz. Going in, my expectations were that it was a serious drama from the late 1990s with a brutal depiction of prison life including lots of sexual assault and violence but altogether of high quality.

That’s not unwarranted, but through four seasons it’s mainly been interesting because it’s so completely a product of its era that it feels like it was produced in another country.

Continue reading “After 20 years, ‘Oz’ has lost most of its magic”

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You love a thing because of, not in spite of, its shortcomings

I have a friend who works at a local television station. We argue occasionally about whose mistakes are more embarrassing, and I guess by extension, whose job is more important.

“Look,” she says, “I understand you have deadlines, and I’m sure that’s very stressful, but the stuff we do is live. We’ve got to do our jobs correctly to the second because if we don’t, it’ll mess everything up, and everyone will notice. And unlike newspapers, we actually have an audience.”

And she has a good point. Television news certainly has to have a greater sense of urgency because it’s immediate and it’s a performance as much as anything (though I’d like to point out comparing our circulation to any local station’s ratings doesn’t work in their favor).

But I still disagree.

Continue reading “You love a thing because of, not in spite of, its shortcomings”

You can learn a lot by watching C-SPAN

If you have a basic cable package, you probably have C-SPAN and C-SPAN2. And you probably watch them about as much as if you didn’t own TV. But you should watch them more (and by that I mean “some”) because when you complain that “nothing is on,” C-SPAN is, and you can learn a lot.

For example, you learn that government is mind-numbingly boring, stupid and inarticulate. Otto von Bismarck once said, “Laws are like sausage; it’s better not to see them made.” To some extent, C-SPAN is a window into that sausage factory. You can’t see everything, but what you do see makes your stomach turn. Congressman Mark Pryor of Arkansas has pointed out you don’t have to pass an IQ test to be in the Senate, and he was being honest. Sit down for just a few minutes to watch the nation’s most professional and powerful legislature and its proceedings, and wonder how some of these people were ever elected. Then wonder just how much you want these people’s decisions affecting your daily life.

It’s possible C-SPAN is actually the propaganda wing of the Libertarian party.

Continue reading “You can learn a lot by watching C-SPAN”