The day before he began blogging here, Neil tagged me with the Caesar's Bath meme. Fun. This one makes you name five things everyone else thinks are great but you just think are kinda, well, nice enough. Plus, I've got a nice, controversial last one that you'll all flay me alive for. Off we go:
The New Yorker: Really, what's the fuss? I recognize that the writing is often inspired, but the topic choice rarely is, meaning I'm only occasionally interested in whatever the magazine has decided to spend that week's 40,000 words on. The latest issue wastes half its time reestablishing John McCain's credentials as a lovable, cuddly outsider whose tough as nails when the situation warrants and has the genetic makeup to live until 170 and the rest inveighing against the scientific bankruptcy of Intelligent Design. Fine articles both, I guess, but I could have absorbed the same information in less time elsewhere, and indeed, I did so years ago. I guess that's my problem with the New Yorker, other magazines feel they need to break stories, or find new angles on them, The New Yorker instead believes in legitimating them. At great length. When I no longer care.
Everybody Loves Raymond: This show been winning critical acclaim and a variety of awards for years now. How? I can't, offhand, think of anything quite as forgettable as this vanilla sitcom. The characters are stereotypes, the jokes are throwaways, and the plots aren't, well, there. Don't get me wrong -- I like my sitcoms, I thought Friends was terrific end-of-the-day entertainment, and even Will & Grace throws out the occasional worthwhile one-liner. But Everybody Loves Raymond? It's the quintessential Caesar's Bath show: nothing really wrong with it, just undeserving of its success.
Blogs: Look, they've been very good to me, I quite like reading them and lord knows I enjoy writing mine, but someone turn off the hype. We don't break stories, we don't fact check ourselves, we rarely challenge our reader's biases, we don't encourage bipartisan conversation, only a few among us write well, only a few among them think well, and, if all that's not enough, I've managed to ascend to a high tier. Shouldn't that prove the medium's at least a little overhyped? Maybe as TPM Cafe comes online, Democracy Arsenal continues to mature, and a few politicians get the hang of them, they'll mature into a much-needed, unfiltered channel of communication between those on the inside and those on the outs. Until then? We're just marginally awake folks with keyboards and time on our hands.
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