July 15, 2010

identifying music

When I first watched The Lake House I loved a piece of music that started 31 minutes in to the movie. Unfortunately, though, this song did not appear to be on the soundtrack. Today I loaded up the movie and went to the music credits at the end, and looked up songs on the list. Success: the song I wanted is called "When it Rains." Interestingly, immediately afterwards I remembered that I have an iPhone app that might have been of use: Shazam "listens" to songs and identifies them. So I grabbed the phone and put it to the test, and it worked! I'll have to remember this earlier next time....

Posted by wrjacobs at 7:11 PM

May 26, 2010

iPad post #6

On a flight to San Francisco last week I used the iPad's iBooks app extensively for the first time, as I read most of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe before we landed (and then finished it later that night). Although an enjoyable experience, I have to say that I'd still prefer an old fashioned paperback. So, I might load a few more books in case I get stuck somewhere with lots of time on my hands, but I will go back to using the iPad mostly for movies on flights.

Posted by wrjacobs at 9:30 PM

April 20, 2010

iPad post #5

Yesterday I flew back from Raleigh to Minneapolis, and watched Up in the Air on the iPad. The picture was great, and the large screen definitely makes a better viewing experience than that of an iPhone. I must admit, though, that it took a while before finding a comfortable resting position for it: one end propped up on the edge of the tray table, and the other resting in my lap. A minor problem: I had to turn the sound all the way up to hear it, but that's probably due more to relatively inexpensive noise-cancelling headphones; I also had to max out the volume on previous iPhone movie screenings. A final note: the iPad drinks much less juice than the iPhone...I've only charged it once in 10 days of use (!). It's a keeper...

Posted by wrjacobs at 3:36 PM

April 16, 2010

iPad post #4

On a flight from MSP to RDU I experimented with in-flight Wi Fi service for the first time. For $7.95 I had surprisingly fast access to email and the Web. I also tested the iPad Netflix app: I watched the pilot episode of The X-Files. For the most part the app worked well: the picture was great, but the stream hung up 4 or 5 times. In all but one instance hitting the play button re-started the stream; in the other I had to fast forward 30 seconds or so to a spot where it would play without stopping (weird!). On the return flight I'll watch a movie downloaded from iTunes.

Posted by wrjacobs at 10:18 AM

April 11, 2010

iPad post #3

A few days ago I told a friend my anticipated uses of the iPad: (1) checking email in the morning before leaving for work (to avoid the hassle of booting up a desktop Mac for just a few minutes of use, and having more screen real estate to read messages than on an iPhone), (2) using instapaper at night to read articles I find online during the day but have no time to read, and (3) watching movies on airline flights. After playing with the iPad for a day I'm thinking that two more items might be added to the list: (4) reading books while travelling, and (5) checking weather conditions; the iBooks and weatherbug apps are pretty cool!

Posted by wrjacobs at 7:35 PM

April 10, 2010

iPad post #2

The iPad is now set up, but not without some drama. First, I plugged it in and got the "Mac OS 10.5 or later needed" error message; I had resisted buying OS 10.5 (Leopard) when my OS 10.4 worked perfectly well. Surprise #2 came when I discovered that one can not download an OS, one has to get it on disc. So I went to the campus bookstore, bought the latest Operating System (10.6: Snow Leopard), and loaded into into my Mac. Surprise #3: the estimated install time was 40 minutes (!). So about an hour later I plugged in the iPad again and was greeted with bug #4: iTunes would not recognize it. After using different cables and different USB ports, I decided to re-download and re-install the latest version of iTunes. Finally, success!

My intial apps are Netflix, Instapaper, Weatherbug, Kayak Flights, Tweetdeck, iBooks, IMDb, Evernote, and Dictionary. All work great so far, though Tweetdeck is a bit annoying given that it currently only supports Twitter and not Facebook. That won't be a big deal once a Facebook app comes out, but for now it looks like I'll have to get Facebook status updates via Safari. Oh well.

Also, I'm happy to report that I'm not having any of the Wi-Fi connection and/or network memory issues some users report. Knock on wood that my luck will continue to be good with that.

My test of Netflix was brief: 2 minutes of The Host, but it was crisp and clear! Maybe I'll do a longer test next week if my flight to North Carolina is Wi-Fi enabled...

In the meantime, I'm glad that I took the plunge!

Posted by wrjacobs at 8:41 PM

April 8, 2010

iPad post #1

So the iPad came out last Saturday (April 3), and I played with it that day at the U of M Bookstore. I bought one on Monday, but decided to wait until Saturday to set it up. Why? Two reasons: (1) not much time during the week to really explore its features, and (2) I wanted to make sure that no big design flaws were reported in the first week (in that case I would have returned it unopened). Aside from some Wi-Fi issues, it seems like there are no big problems, so this Saturday I'll bust it out...

Posted by wrjacobs at 8:18 PM

March 6, 2010

American Legacy Magazine

The Summer 2009 issue of American Legacy Magazine finally arrived this week...6 months late. The website lists the Fall 2009 issue as the most current (!); who knows when that one will show up. I hope that they are not having serious financial (and/or other) problems, as the magazine is great!

Posted by wrjacobs at 9:39 AM

February 21, 2010

African Americans in the Movies, 2009

I am quoted in a newspaper story about African Americans in movies released in 2009.

Posted by wrjacobs at 11:07 AM

February 11, 2010

Sag Harbor: Failed Expectations

My commentary below on the book Sag Harbor appears in the "Bad Books" section of the January/February 2010 edition of the American Book Review.

I liked Sag Harbor, but did not love it or really like it as I do Colson Whitehead's other books (especially The Intuitionist). I can't put my finger on exactly why. Perhaps it's that the other books have either a slightly unreal aspect (e.g., Elevator Inspectors intuiting elevator functioning), or are larger than life (the subject of John Henry Days). Whatever the reason, it's still worth a read, but I don't think that this is the best work of Colson Whitehead.

The above is my July 2009 review of Colson Whitehead's coming-of-age novel Sag Harbor on the social networking site goodreads.com. The "Bad Books" project is helping me complete my thoughts. Sag Harbor is bad because it fails to live up to high expectations (The Intuitionist is on my Top 10 favorite books list). I'd now add that it's bad because it's hyphenated: many reviews (on goodreads.com and elsewhere) note that Sag Harbor is "semi-autobiographical"; the "semi" should have been deleted! As a privileged African American with experiences similar to those of the main character, a memoir would have really activated serious personal reflection. Instead, in many places I found myself stuck on questions like "Did that happen to the real Colson?" and "This passage is definitely fake," instead of "I'm reminded of the time when I..." or "I should have been...." So, in sum, Sag Harbor is a "bad book" because it fails to fully open multiple new worlds for me, as do Whitehead's other efforts.

Posted by wrjacobs at 9:23 PM

February 8, 2010

Ad Bowl 2010

The top entry in this year's USA Today Ad Meter was the Snickers spot featuring Betty White playing football. I liked that one, but my favorites came in lower on the list: Doritos's "Kid scolds mom's boyfriend" ad at #11, and Google's spot at #43. The Google ad, additionally, might have been sappy, but was refreshing compared to other stuff.

Posted by wrjacobs at 5:40 PM

February 4, 2010

iPhone/iPad live TV

It looks like live TV is coming to the iPhone and iPad via SlingPlayer. I might have to check that out on my iPhone, and a good experience would be a reason to check out the iPad....

Posted by wrjacobs at 1:48 PM

December 6, 2009

iPod music on the bus

On Sunday mornings I listed to Jazz 88 FM's Sunday Morning Jazz. Today, though, I had to go to the office, so I booted up the Public Radio Player on the bus ride in and dialed up the program. It worked! This was my first time listening to music on my iPhone while on the bus. My ride is so short (5-10 minutes) that I don't really need the distraction, but I might have to do this again the next time punk kids are making too much noise in the back....

Posted by wrjacobs at 11:23 AM

November 30, 2009

LEGO recreation of the bullet time fight scene in The Matrix

Posted by wrjacobs at 1:32 PM

October 22, 2009

Sunday newspaper magazines

For years the Sunday edition of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune newspaper included the USA Weekend magazine insert. Recently they also started inserting the Parade Sunday magazine. I can see them replacing one supplement with another, but using both? Weird.

Posted by wrjacobs at 9:30 PM

October 20, 2009

out of copies?

One of my favorite periodicals is American Legacy Magazine. Today I called subscription customer service to see why my Summer 2009 issue never showed up. The answer: the publisher did not print enough copies so they extended subscriptions by one issue for those who did not receive the summer edition. Really? I guess this is good in that they have a ton of new subscribers and took care of them first, so I won't suffer a repeat of a happening with another favorite magazine: Story went out of business back in 2000, right after I sent in a check for a 3-year subscription renewal. I never did get that money back...

Posted by wrjacobs at 3:07 PM

September 20, 2009

amazon.com author page

Amazon.com now has author pages, so of course I had to create one. Check it out!

Posted by wrjacobs at 5:51 PM

September 7, 2009

summer XXX9 movies

Today is Labor Day, the unofficial end of summer (Memorial Day-Labor Day). I think that the summer of 2009 saw me visit movie theaters only 7 or 8 times; normally I'm well into double digits. In 1999, for instance, I moved to Minneapolis in June and probably went to the movies every week with my buddy Tom, who was single at the time, as was I. That pales to the summer of 1989, though, when Tom and I saw 37 movies 46 times (!). Those numbers might not be exactly right, but I do know that the number of titles was in the upper 30s, and the number of visits was in the mid-upper 40s; we saw some movies more than once, such as When Harry Met Sally... three times (we saw this at least once at a unique old Minneapolis theater &mdash The Cooper &mdash that was later demolished for a cookie-cookie development). Those were the days....

Posted by wrjacobs at 10:11 AM

August 29, 2009

iPhone adventures

In the surprise event of the month, today I received a new iPhone after taking the old one in for service (!). I went to the Mall of America's Apple Genius Bar after my old phone refused to accept the sync/charge cable until the battery was completely depleted. A slight variation happened a couple of months ago: phone would not charge when the cable was plugged into my Mac, but worked when plugged into the AC power adaptor. The tech dude could not find anything wrong with the phone, but gave me a new one anyway...even though the warranty had just expired!

I had an iPhone 3G, not the newer iPhone 3GS. I thought about asking if I could upgrade at a discount, but decided not to push my luck. I'm not currently eligible for anything other than a full priced 3GS but may look into it when my contract expires in a year. By then maybe a 4G will be out....

The last time I took the phone in for service was after the phone developed a habit of crashing if I plugged in the phone before receiving a "20% battery life remaining" warning. At that visit the guy said that he could not do anything since the diagnostic did not turn up a problem, so I fully expected them not to do anything this time either since the phone was working properly when I brought it in. I even thought about leaving while my appointment time arrived but there were still people in front of me. I'm glad that I was patient!

Posted by wrjacobs at 4:39 PM

August 6, 2009


Last month I sent/received 199 text messages, the most I have ever sent in a billing cycle. My phone plan includes 200 text messages, so I almost hit the target right in the center! Maybe I should think about going to the next level of included texts?

Posted by wrjacobs at 10:19 AM

July 10, 2009

"Do the Right Thing" parody

Posted by wrjacobs at 12:47 PM

20 years of "Do the Right Thing"

According to the Internet Movie Database, Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing was relased on June 30, 1989. Wow, I can hardly believe that it has been out for 20 years! I can't recall if I saw it in the theaters that summer, but definitely remember a summer 1990 discussion with my Dad and grandfather about why Mookie tossed the garbage can, so at the very least it's been in my life for 19 years. Fight the Power!

Posted by wrjacobs at 12:38 PM

June 25, 2009

The Story of Love and Hate

Posted by wrjacobs at 3:33 PM

June 2, 2009

3008, not 2000 and late

My 10-year old niece introduced me to this song. She says that she is 3008, not two thousand and late, just like Fergie!

Posted by wrjacobs at 5:21 PM

May 30, 2009

Twitter and marketing

Time.com has posted an interesting article on 10 Ways Twitter Will Change American Business. One thing that is not in there, though, is how a fictional character in a movie may start following you in order to promote the movie, as is the case for Jaime_Hired_Gun. She de-followed me after a week or so when I did not also follow her!

Posted by wrjacobs at 9:32 AM

May 22, 2009

gas pump texting

It seems that the latest frontier in advertising is a gas station pump, where the screen might display a number to text message in order to receive a coupon. I saw this for the first time yesterday at the Minneapolis Metro Petro. I was in a rush so could not try it, but next time I might give it a shot....

Posted by wrjacobs at 8:16 PM

May 2, 2009

Twitter for Netflix

Wow, there is a way to use Twitter to add movies to a Netflix queue. I might experiment with this, but in the end it won't be very useful to me since if I want to add a movie while on the go I can use PhoneFlix for iPhone. Twitter for Netflix is a great idea, though!

Posted by wrjacobs at 12:00 PM

April 20, 2009

Hannah Montana: The Movie

On Saturday I took my 10 year-old niece to see Hannah Montana: The Movie. Surprisingly, I actually liked it, even though I got a dirty look from a Brotha when we emerged from the theater. He must be one of the haters on the Internet Movie Database: the movie has an average rating of 2.6 (out of 10) there, based on 5481 votes. Over on netflix, on the other hand, the movie has a 4.4 rating (out of 5) from 2789 votes. What gives? Maybe there were two organized ballot-stuffing campaigns: haters were sent to IMDb, fans to netflix?

Posted by wrjacobs at 4:32 PM

April 13, 2009

Dead Like Me

I loved the Showtime show Dead Like Me. Five years after it was prematurely cancelled, the direct to DVD movie Dead Like Me: Life After Death was released. A movie like this is a perfect example of why netflix needs a 6-star system: it was disappointing in many ways for a fan of the series, but did have a few redeeming touches. I can't say that I liked it, but I can't proclaim to have disliked it either; we need an "it was OK" middle ground.

Posted by wrjacobs at 9:50 PM

April 8, 2009

electronics surprise 2

Today I found out about the cinemizer, video eyewear that make iPod/iPhone movies appear to be on a screen in front of the viewer. While this sounds like a cool gadget, at $500 I'll pass on it, since I can deal with watching movies on the small screen during the handful of airline flights I take year....

Posted by wrjacobs at 9:36 AM

electronics surprise 1

Yesterday I went to Target to buy blank DVD discs for the first time. On the shelf were DVD+R discs and DVD-R discs. I asked the kid at the desk about the difference. His response: "Not much difference, but some older DVD players won't play the newer DVD+R format." That's pretty much the answer that's posted online on sites like answerbag, so the employee actually knew what he was talking about (!).

Posted by wrjacobs at 9:27 AM

April 4, 2009

Northern Exposure

One of my favorite TV shows of all time is Northern Exposure. I recently watched seasons 1 and 2 on DVD. There were only 15 episodes total for the first two seasons, vs. 23+ in other years. What was up with that?

Posted by wrjacobs at 4:51 PM

March 10, 2009

"The Grass"

The Grass: A Novel: A Young Man's Journey to the Korean War The Grass: A Novel: A Young Man's Journey to the Korean War by Paul Zerby

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars

I wrote the blurb that appears on the rear cover:

Paul Zerby's The Grass is a vividly engaging rumination on 1950s America, which is more complex than we would like to imagine. Zerby's novel allows us to journey along with young Tom Kelly as he seeks a deeper comprehension of his Catholic upbringing in Fargo, North Dakota. He protests the treatment of the University of Minnesota's lone Black faculty member, agonizes over relationships with very different women, and attempts to survive service in Korean War battles that are "like the Fourth of July in hell." Kelly becomes haunted by ghosts stemming from his decision to stand up to racial injustice, but he never loses his integrity and ability to dream for a better tomorrow. I recommend it highly!

View all my reviews.

Posted by wrjacobs at 9:31 PM

February 25, 2009

Lost, Pop-Up Video style

It appears that repeat episodes of Lost are being broadcast in Pop-Up Video style, as little nuggets of info are displayed at the bottom of the screen. This is OK, but doesn't make the repeats must-see events.

Posted by wrjacobs at 7:38 PM

February 16, 2009

The Engines Of Our Ingenuity sponsorship

One of my favorite radio programs is The Engines of Our Ingenuity. For years they were sponsored by BP, "An Energy Company Going Beyond." In the past few weeks, though, the show has opened with "This is the Engines Of Our Ingenuity, made possible by GDF Suez Energy. Rediscovering Energy." That just does not flow like "This is the Engines Of Our Ingenuity, made possible by BP, an Energy Company Going Beyond." Oh well....

Posted by wrjacobs at 3:29 PM

February 2, 2009

Ad Bowl 2009

According to the USA Today Ad Meter, two of the top three ads featured the Budweiser Clydesdales. I hated those spots; I'm sick of anthropomorphic Budweiser commercials. They were fun back in the 1990s, but come up with something new, people! (My favorite spots &mdash for Audi and Coke Zero &mdash came in at #12 and #17.)

Posted by wrjacobs at 8:46 AM

XIV years of Super Bowl note taking

Fourteen years ago I started taking notes about Super Bowl commercials. I started teaching in the fall of 1995 so I taped Super Bowl XXIV in case there were some interesting ads I could use, and there was one: a Pizza Hut spot where management of a company sent pizza down to the striking workers in order to get them to the table (!). That year's ads also featured the three Budweiser frogs, and lots of other fun commercials. That was a good Ad Bowl, unlike Ad Bowl 2009....

Posted by wrjacobs at 8:37 AM

January 30, 2009

Super Bowl ads

OK, it's Super Bowl time again, and I'll be watching the event more for the ads than for the game this year, as I don't love or hate the teams involved. It would be great if Apple updated the classic "1984" ad on its 25th anniversary, even though the spot has haters.

Posted by wrjacobs at 3:10 PM

January 25, 2009

Netflix + TiVo

If you have both a netflix account and a TiVo, you can stream movies from your netflix queue to your TiVo. I activated this feature yesterday. While not as high quality as a DVD, the picture looked pretty good.

Posted by wrjacobs at 4:12 PM

January 15, 2009

return of BSG

The second half of the last season of Battlestar Galactica starts tomorrow. In an Atlantic Monthly article, James Parker asks, "Is Battlestar Galactica a great television epic &mdash or proof that there is no such thing?" Isn't the answer obvious, yo?!

Posted by wrjacobs at 10:34 AM

January 8, 2009

Blu-Ray movies

On Tuesday I began setting up a new home theater system, one that includes my first Blu-Ray player. The picture on these things is amazing! I still have some fiddling to do on my system settings, though, as a slight echo was produced through half of the screening of Pan's Labyrinth due to TV and receiver speakers being on simultaneously (TV speakers should have been off). Frak!

Posted by wrjacobs at 4:13 PM

December 25, 2008

25 years of A Christmas Story

Wow, I can't believe that A Christmas Story was released in 1983, 25 years ago! I saw it at the movies with my Dad and brother, and protested the choice (!). Now I watch bits and pieces every year during the annual A Christmas Story marathon, even though I never did get my Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle with a compass in the stock and this thing which tells time....

Posted by wrjacobs at 11:20 AM

December 22, 2008

YouTube and the way we think

Wired magazine has posted an interesting article about changing views about how we can use video to communicate with others and ourselves. Check it out!

Posted by wrjacobs at 5:25 PM

December 9, 2008

BSG webisodes

Tomorrow the Sci Fi network will launch a new 10-part series of Battlestar Galactica webisodes. I've never seen a webisode of anything before, but I'll definitely have to check these out!

Posted by wrjacobs at 7:51 PM

December 7, 2008

the return of 24

Two weeks after I taped it, I recently watched 24: Redemption, which bridges seasons 6 and 7 of the TV show 24. While it was fun to see Jack Bauer back in action after the 2007-2008 writers' strike delayed season 7 by a year, I found the episode to be just OK, and the trailers for the official season 7 premiere episode did not inspire me to watch. So 24 might drop off of my "must see TV" list. 24 needs another year like season 4!

Posted by wrjacobs at 3:18 PM

December 1, 2008

December 2008 TV

For the first time ever, I think I'm down to only one active TV show: Dexter, given the recent season finale of True Blood and winter hiatus of Supernatural. Luckily Supernatural starts up again in mid-January 2009, and will be joined by the return of Lost, 24, and Battlestar Galactica(!). So this month I'll have to be content with the final two season 3 episodes of Dexter, and seasons 1 and 2 on DVD of an old favorite show: Dream On.

Posted by wrjacobs at 7:55 PM

November 30, 2008

iPhone movies

Yesterday I flew back from a Thanksgiving trip down South, and watched Gattaca on my iPhone. Watching a movie one has seen several times before works OK on an iPhone, especially when there is much time to kill; I don't think I'd want to watch something for the first time on it, though.

P.S. I think that Gattaca was one of the first movies to have an elaborate website tie-in: a site where one could design a child, just like in the movie. Unfortunately, the site does not appear to be operational anymore....

Posted by wrjacobs at 2:58 PM

November 20, 2008

iPhone apps

Last week I downloaded Shazam for iPhone, an application that identifies music: press record to capture a sample of something you are curious about; sample is sent to a database for identification; results sent back to your phone, including a link to iTunes. This reminded me of an app I thought of a while back that I would love to have, but don't think exists: a service that lets you search movies by scene and/or approximate elapsed time to identify a song, and link to iTunes or something so you can download it. If any iPhone app developers are reading this, get to work!

Posted by wrjacobs at 7:56 PM

November 10, 2008

newspaper quote

I was quoted in a recent University of Minnesota campus newspaper article. The reporter did a good job of capturing one of my comments, but then devoted most of the space in the rest of the article to some haterization. Oh well, one can't win 'em all....

Posted by wrjacobs at 7:29 PM

October 21, 2008

a Black Doctor Who?

Could there be a Black actor playing The Doctor in the future? While just a rumor at this point, that would be fantastic!

Posted by wrjacobs at 10:05 AM

October 16, 2008

Obama op-ed

A slightly edited version of the following appears in the October 30-November 5, 2008 edition of the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder as "Obama can be our Nehemiah, not our Moses" (pp 4 and 11; the article has not yet been posted online).

Many people of color are very excited about the prospect of an African American man occupying the highest office in the land. Even my soon-to-be 93 year-old African American grandfather – a life-long Republican – is energized by Senator Barack Obama's candidacy. Before Senator Obama claimed the Democratic nomination in St. Paul on June 3, 2008, many of us thought that we wouldn't see such a night in our lifetime. After all, only 45 years ago we were not only barred from running for public office, we were routinely turned away from the polls. Now some believe that a President Obama can be a Moses figure who leads us to a Promised Land. Our optimism is high.

We still have much work to do, however, to turn that optimism into reality. Hip Hop historian, journalist, and activist Davey D notes that while wearing an Obama t-shirt or watching the "Yes We Can!" video is great, it won't matter much if we don't go to the polls to vote, and show up in large numbers. You may have heard about "the Bradley Effect," the explanation for a discrepancy between voter opinion polls and election outcomes in contests between an African American and a White candidate. Tom Bradley was the long-time African American mayor of Los Angeles who lost the 1982 California governor's race despite being ahead in many voter polls. The Bradley Effect refers to the tendency of some voters to vote for the White candidate despite telling pollsters that they are undecided or likely to vote for the African American candidate. So even though Senator Obama might be leading by a large margin in the polls on November 3, we need to be out in force on November 4.

Davey D reminds us that we also need to educate ourselves and others about important issues in our communities, and work together for social change. After eight years of constant noise about the government being the source of our problems, the Obama campaign has awakened many to the possibility that our elected officials can generate solutions to problems, with our help. Every person can make a difference. So pass on the informational email you receive. Well, the legitimate email anyway. Encourage friends and family to visit websites that check out as reputable. Read publications like the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder and American Legacy Magazine. Hold intergenerational discussions where those from diverse backgrounds can learn from one another.

2009 marks the 40th Anniversary of the founding of the Department of African American & African Studies at the University of Minnesota. In January of 1969 African American students occupied the main administration building until several demands were met. We are scheduling a series of events that are designed to help African American communities hold discussions where we can investigate connections between the past, present, and tomorrow. Professor Rose Brewer has organized a November 7, 2008 Youth Conference to kick off the events. At this Youth Conference some of the activists present at the 1969 Morrill Hall Takeover action will engage high school and college students in an intense discussion about social change strategies for the 21st century. That will be followed by a November 12, 2008 discussion by faculty on events surrounding the January 15, 1969 occupation. On January 23, 2009 we will host a conference and Gala dinner to honor the pioneering activists, and chart a path for the future. Professor Brewer will discuss the November events in a column that will appear in next month’s Spokesman-Recorder. For updates on all of our 40th Anniversary events, visit http://www.afroam.umn.edu/anniversary.html

So we need to educate ourselves, get out to vote on November 4, 2008, and then work with those in office after Inauguration Day 2009. If Senator Obama becomes President Obama we must also resist the temptation to view him as a Moses who has a black and white pre-scripted way to lead us out of the enforced wilderness of the Bush years. My U. of M. colleague Harry Boyte has written that "the President can call the nation to enter into a new covenant with substance and seriousness: a common agreement to work together to address our problems." Like the Old Testament prophet sent to Jerusalem by the King of Persia in 446 B.C. to lead the Jews in the rebuilding of their capital following captivity in Babylon, President Obama can work with a vast range of people to dive into the unforeseeable gray areas where we collectively tackle the many challenges our community and our country face. If Senator Obama wins the election, then we must embrace him as our Nehemiah, not our Moses.

Posted by wrjacobs at 6:33 PM

September 28, 2008

Spike Lee's movies

Last night I saw the new Spike Lee joint, Miracle at St. Anna. Strangely, before Friday I did not even know that Spike Lee had a new movie in release (!); a friend emailed in the morning to suggest that we check it out. 20 years ago I would have known months in advance and been at the theater on opening day! Well, at least I made it to opening weekend....

Posted by wrjacobs at 4:01 PM

September 25, 2008

watching TV shows on non-TVs

The new season of Supernatural premiered last week. I totally spaced on that, so I had to download "Lazarus Rising" from iTunes later. Watching it on my computer wasn't as bad as I though, maybe because I have a 24 inch screen and a comfy chair. It would have been a much less satisfying experience watching it on my iPhone, though, I think. The only thing I've watched on that was the "Blind Date" episode of Roswell, but I've seen that episode several times and watched it while not having anything better to do at SFO while waiting for a red-eye back to Minneapolis on Labor Day. Watching a new episode of a favorite show on a 3.5 inch screen is another story....

Posted by wrjacobs at 7:44 PM

September 6, 2008

16 Candles

Last night I watched part of the movie Sixteen Candles. I can hardly believe that the movie had an offensively stereotypical Asian character. Even harder to believe: I saw this movie in the theaters when I was 16 years old...and I went to this "chick flick" with a male friend!

Posted by wrjacobs at 2:26 PM

August 25, 2008

cell phone boombox

Today a teenager was walking down the street using his cell phone as a mini-boombox. I wonder if he lost his headphones, or if this is some new trend? Whatever the case, it was weird....

Posted by wrjacobs at 8:33 PM

August 21, 2008

online TV comedy

I posted a number of videos from TV shows by Black comics (like Dave Chappelle and Richard Pryor) to the website for my People's U Black TV Comics class.

Posted by wrjacobs at 8:06 PM

August 10, 2008

parents' first day with new tech

There's a new Verizon commercial where two African American children are at a curb with their parents. In a nice inversion of first day of school jitters, the kids patiently explain new phone gadgets to apprehensive Mom and Dad. "Call or text if you need help," the kids announce as the parents board their car pool. I can't find the video online, though; when it appears somebody let me know!

Posted by wrjacobs at 2:26 PM

August 4, 2008

misleading newspaper headline

While browsing today's online Minneapolis Star-Tribune I came across the following headline: "Rage Against the Machine to play during RNC" (!). My first reaction: how much money did they get to sell out!?! As it turns out, though, the actual story is about RATM playing at an event unrelated to the Republican National Convention, but held during the same week. I wonder if the editors intentionally mislabeled the headline in order to attract more eyeballs?

Posted by wrjacobs at 6:10 PM

July 31, 2008

X Files 2

Earlier in the week I saw The X Files: I Want to Believe. Of course, as an X Phile I enjoyed the movie, but I wish that it were more epic, like The X Files: Fight the Future. The X Files 2 did, however, prompt me to buy seasons 8 and 9 of the show; previously I avoided re-watching these post-peak seasons (as were seasons 6 and 7 also, to a lesser extent).

Posted by wrjacobs at 9:07 PM

June 21, 2008

first digital story's "final cut"

On May 23 I posted an entry about my first experience with digital storytelling, in a class at the Center for Digital Storytelling (CDS). The class did not include the production of a final version of a digital story; the last draft that students leave behind is cleaned up by the staff and a final cut mailed later, along with all of the source files. I received my stuff earlier in the week, and was a bit disappointed in the CDS "final cut." They made four changes: (1) inserted a promo at the end, (2) shaved 39 seconds off the length (from 4'49" to 4'10"), (3) sped up the final "It is what it is" text crawl, and (4) produced a smaller QuickTime movie (320x240 vs.720x480 of the draft). I don't mind change #1 at all, and changes 2 and 4 are OK (though slightly annoying), but #3 messes with an artistic decision, thus it ain't cool at all! Compare for yourself: Walt draft cut vs. CDS final cut. I'll have to take my source files &mdash which included a date change correction (May 18 -> May 17) that I made just before class ended but did not have time to render &mdash and create a true final cut....

Posted by wrjacobs at 3:33 PM

June 16, 2008

The Happening

Yesterday I saw The Happening, M. Night Shyamalan's new film. Before seeing this movie my expectations were primed by claims like "this movie could not have received less than a R rating!" and "Shyamalan returns to the style of The Sixth Sense!" I would have enjoyed the movie a lot more if I had gone in knowing that the movie is a significant departure from M.N.S.'s other movies (while still beautifully shot): there are no special people/people with special powers, and while his other movies are clearly about the supernatural, The Happening is not. It's more of a thought-provoking Fall movie vs. a fluffy popcorn Summer blockbuster. So check it out, but be prepared to experience something different....

Posted by wrjacobs at 2:59 PM

June 14, 2008

waiting for more BSG

The mid-season finale of Battlestar Galactica has aired, and the next set of episodes won't begin until 2009. Frak!

Posted by wrjacobs at 7:46 PM

June 9, 2008


For the first time ever, yesterday I bought movie tickets online, via Fandango. It was definitely an underwhelming experience, as (a) my preferred theater is not in the Fandango network, so I had to go to choice #2; (b) they tacked on a $1 "convenience charge" that one does not pay at the theater; and (c) I had to go to a kiosk to print tickets vs. being able to print them at home. So given that you pay more and don't really save time (assuming that you get tickets from the kiosk anyway &mdash like I do &mdash instead of getting in the longer human ticket agent line), what's the point? I suppose that one benefit is being guaranteed a seat vs. getting to the theater and being frustrated by sold out shows, but that doesn't outweigh the drawbacks. As a birthday present I received 50 Fandango Bucks, so once those are used up (pretty quickly with the frakking service charges!) my account will be cancelled....

Posted by wrjacobs at 8:48 PM

June 4, 2008

Obama-Chappelle '08!

I think that Obama should select Dave Chappelle as his running mate. Their tagline, of course, would be "Yes we can, bitches!" :). On the real, though, Chappele should do a sketch about this and upload it to YouTube or something....

Posted by wrjacobs at 4:40 PM

May 29, 2008

missing adcritic.com

Today, for some reason, I started thinking about the old web site adcritic.com, from which one could download current TV commercials (and search for old spots too). Unfortunately the site was shut down at the end of 2001, and eventually re-surfaced as the subscription-only web arm of Creativity magazine. Damn Capitalists!

Posted by wrjacobs at 12:34 PM

May 23, 2008

first digital story

Last week I took a class at the Center for Digital Storytelling, and produced my first digital story. This story &mdash "Letter to My Mother" &mdash is embedded below. (You can also click the title to access the story if the embedded movie does not display in your browser.)

Posted by wrjacobs at 10:39 AM

May 20, 2008

the engines of our ingenuity

I usually don't listen to non-music radio programs. The one exception: The Engines of Our Ingenuity. Today while in the car I heard an interesting segment about the invention of the flexible straw, and hoped that I could remember the epsiode # to do this blog post! Luckily, it was 2047, so I just had to remember to add 1 to the movie 2046.

Posted by wrjacobs at 8:01 PM

April 18, 2008

music on Roswell DVDs

Recently I bought seasons 2 and 3 of Roswell, since they were 50% off at amazon.com. I did not buy them when first released because I was disappointed with the DVD of season 1, as some of the music was replaced due to prohibitive licensing costs (damn those frakking Capitalists!). The same problem bedevils seasons 2 and 3, though, as I discovered while watching "Heart of Mine" and "Graduation." Luckily, however, they did not mess with the Liz/Max theme song!

Posted by wrjacobs at 11:01 AM

March 13, 2008

Obama vs. Hillary: who should Sistas favor?

I was interviewed for a news commentary that appeared today: "Clinton-Obama race producing 'delightful dilemma' for black women." All of the other people quoted are Black women (I think) so I'm not sure why I was called....

Posted by wrjacobs at 9:50 PM

February 9, 2008

Sci-Fi top 25

EW.com has posted a (highly subjective) list of the greatest moments from the past 25 years of science fiction TV and film. Although I would change a few things (like swap the positions of #2 Battlestar Galactica and #4 The X-Files), it's a pretty good list. Check it out.

Posted by wrjacobs at 4:40 PM

writers' strike over?

It appears that the Writers Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers have reached a tentative agreement to end the writers' strike. I hope so, 'cause I need some new episodes of my shows!

Posted by wrjacobs at 4:18 PM

February 4, 2008

Ad Bowl 2008

Yesterday's Ad Bowl was filled with the worst Super Bowl commercials ever, I think. The San Diego, CA paper said something like, "there were a handful of good ads, a few more horrible spots, and the rest were too boring for commentary." Indeed! My bottom-dweller (careerbuilder.com "follow your heart to a better job") came in at #39 on the Ad Meter, and my #1 (Diet Pepsi Max "Night at the Roxbury" allusion) was #8; their #2 (FedEx carrier pigeons) was also my #2, so we were in agreement about some things. I don't know how the f&%*, though, people liked the Tide stain commercial (Ad Meter #10) and E*Trade baby spots (#s 14 and 15)....

Posted by wrjacobs at 7:03 PM

January 5, 2008

movie sneak-ins

Yesterday afternoon I did a sneak-in double feature to see Alien vs. Predator 2 and I Am Legend. Both were sparsely populated (less than 10 peeps for both), and both times I was the only one there until a few minutes before the movie started. This was fine for the first show, but I was getting worried before movie #2: if there were no paying customers, would the film be screened?! Are films in googleplexes shown on an automatic timer no matter what, or does the switch get clicked on only if tickets are sold? Hhhmmm....

Posted by wrjacobs at 3:35 PM

December 21, 2007

cancelled TV shows

Earlier in the week the last episode of my favorite new show of the season (Journeyman) aired. Yesterday I learned that two older shows I watch -- The Dead Zone and The 4400 -- were also cancelled. Rough week.

Posted by wrjacobs at 4:08 PM

December 13, 2007

spring TV shows

In February NBC will air a pilot for a remake of Knight Rider, featuring a bomb-ass Ford Mustang Shelby GT500KR as KITT. I hope this pilot is better than NBC's fall 2007 re-visioning of Bionic Woman, which was very disappointing.

Posted by wrjacobs at 11:25 AM

December 12, 2007

fall TV shows

Looks like one of my new TV shows, Journeyman, will not be renewed following the conclusion of the writers' strike. Damn!!

Posted by wrjacobs at 5:45 PM

December 8, 2007

iTunes disappointment

Earlier in the week I heard a great song on the radio: Charlie Haden's "The Left Hand of God." I went to iTunes to buy it, but was greeted with the note that it was an "album only" song, one that you can get only if you buy the whole album (!). I'll probably go 'head and get the whole thing -- Now is the Hour -- because it contains other cool songs, but I thought that MP3 download sites were created to let you get exactly and only what you wanted?!?

Posted by wrjacobs at 6:46 PM

October 24, 2007


One of my TV shows, Heroes, is blogged about on Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast.

Posted by wrjacobs at 1:11 PM

October 22, 2007

memoir at Target

Yesterday I discovered that my memoir is available via Target's online store! I wondered if it was also in a physical store, but a check of the nearest location revealed that I would have no such luck. Oh well, at least the book is popping up in unusual places! Now if only Oprah would give me a call....

Posted by wrjacobs at 5:20 PM

October 21, 2007


Last week I set up a meeting after checking participants' schedules via a Doodle poll. Ah, the wonders of the web....

Posted by wrjacobs at 2:28 PM

October 11, 2007

fall TV shows

I watched Pushing Daisies for the first time last night (after missing last week's series premiere). I liked it, but it did not quite meet all the hype, IMHO. I'll keep watching, however. Another new show that I've given up on, though, is Bionic Woman. I had sky-high expectations for that show, from the creator of my #1 show of last year, Battlestar Galactica. Oh well....

Posted by wrjacobs at 10:34 AM

October 7, 2007

memoir reading

On October 4 I held a reading and signing of my memoir Ghostbox. About 50 people showed up, and I knew almost everyone; five were strangers, and only one of those looked like she was forced to go and did not enjoy herself...I think that a colleague assigned attendance as an optional event for her writing class. Another stranger was a student who wanted to videotape the reading as part of a journalism class project. Also, one of my current students showed up and bought a copy. Finally, 24 of the 25 copies on hand were sold! So, all in all, a good night....

Posted by wrjacobs at 6:22 PM

October 2, 2007

Instant Getification

Ask.com has unveiled a new ad campaign: Instant Getification. I saw an ad for the first time last night. It was cool, but I'll probably still use google....

Posted by wrjacobs at 3:10 PM

September 30, 2007

book signing

At 7:00PM on October 4, 2007 I will hold an author reading and book signing of my memoir Ghostbox. The event will be held in the Coffman Union bookstore on the campus of the University of Minnesota.

Posted by wrjacobs at 6:51 PM

September 25, 2007

ST:TNG 20th anniversary

Wow, I can't believe that Star Trek: The Next Generation is about to turn 20 years old (on September 28)! Check out an Entertainment Weekly article about the show's creation.

Posted by wrjacobs at 10:25 AM

September 15, 2007

Orlando Jones

Normally I'm a big fan of actor Orlando Jones, but in the movie Primeval his character says this: "I'm never gonna say this in front of a bunch of white people. Slavery was a good thing. Anything to get the f*&^ out of Africa is a good thing." Orlando, my brother, why did you accept this role!?! You just set our people back 300 years....

Posted by wrjacobs at 1:09 PM

September 10, 2007

TV broadcasting error

Last night The Dead Zone TV show went to commercial break at 9:30 as usual, but when it came back on the previous 10 minutes were re-shown! After the next commercial break the show picked up in the right place, so we had missed 10 minutes. Hhhmmm, I don't think that this is the type of error TV executives want to make in the effort to lure in more viewers.

Posted by wrjacobs at 9:40 AM

September 5, 2007

iPhone price drop

I knew there was a reason for me to wait before buying an iPhone: the price was just cut by $200. I may wait a little longer, though, as I still don't use many minutes, and I'm not sure if it is compatible with UMCal.

Posted by wrjacobs at 8:23 PM

August 21, 2007

summer movies

Only two weeks to go until the end of summer (Labor Day), and I've only seen a handful of movies. Actually, only three come to mind...but I saw each one more than once: Knocked Up twice, Harry Potter 5 twice, and Transformers three times (!). I've got to get out more....

Posted by wrjacobs at 5:06 PM

August 11, 2007


I'm now up to #34 on the list of UThink blogs with the most entries. This is probably as high as I'll go, as soon I'll switch most of my blogging efforts to a new blog on the Afro-Am website.

Posted by wrjacobs at 4:25 PM

August 8, 2007

books in weird places

My memoir is starting to show up in unexpected places, like eBook Eros. Huh? I guess it went there because I include a bell hooks quote on eros and eroticism, but that's only one sentence out of 166 pages; nothing else is really relevant. Weird.

Posted by wrjacobs at 1:58 PM

July 23, 2007


Posted by wrjacobs at 7:35 PM

amazon sales rank

One bad thing about Ghostbox being listed on amazon is that I've been constantly checking its sales ranking. The highest so far: 14230. Will I be able to crack the top 10000!?!

Posted by wrjacobs at 7:33 PM

memoir at Amazon

My memoir Ghostbox is now available via amazon.com. Check it out!

Posted by wrjacobs at 7:19 PM

July 12, 2007

top 10 movies (revised)

Speaking of movies, I should revise my list of Top 10 movies, replacing The Matrix with Pan's Labyrinth. The original list and discussion is here. Below is the revised list:

Posted by wrjacobs at 5:02 PM

Harry Potter 5

Yesterday a streak was broken: I was not able to attend an early morning screening of a Harry Potter movie, because I had almost non-stop meetings during the day! So I had to settle for a 10:00PM Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Actually, I went to a 10:45PM show because the 10:00 offering was sold out! Oh well, at least I made it in before the end of the day....

Posted by wrjacobs at 4:53 PM

July 6, 2007

fun with Photoshop

wrj_pc.jpg wrj_pe.jpg

Which image should I use as a fun web site picture?

Posted by wrjacobs at 2:26 PM

June 23, 2007

memoir cover

Posted by wrjacobs at 2:08 PM

June 22, 2007

memoir publication

My memoir Ghostbox just became available via the iUniverse online bookstore. My author copies don't arrive for another two weeks, though, so hopefully everything will look good!

Posted by wrjacobs at 11:24 AM

June 12, 2007

interesting book passages

I just finished the novel The Rope Walk. Two passages really caught my eye:

"It seemed that in order to save oneself, again and again, one had to fight one's own instincts, one had to gain mastery over all the urgent imperatives of flesh and blood. One had to be less of oneself, in order to try and preserve that self" (p. 132).

"It was strange how electricity masked the actual sound of things, she thought, this deep silence that must be there all the time, lying beneath the hum of the lights" (p. 309).

Intriguing, no?

Posted by wrjacobs at 12:22 PM

June 4, 2007

the end of BSG

Oh no, Battlestar Galactica will end after one more season. Oh well, at least it will go out while still fresh vs. shows that drag on too long, like three more years of Lost.

Posted by wrjacobs at 10:09 AM

May 24, 2007

30 years of Star Wars

Tomorrow is the 30th anniversary of the release of Star Wars. I saw it for the first time in late June or early July of 1977 in Easley, SC, and watched it two more times that summer. It was indeed a milestone movie fo me: first time I saw a movie more than once, launched a life-long love of sci-fi, and made it OK to be a geek. Thank you, Star Wars!

Posted by wrjacobs at 10:11 AM

May 16, 2007

Freedom Theory

album cover

Posted by wrjacobs at 9:25 AM

April 25, 2007

learning from the movies

Last Sunday I watched the 1962 movie To Kill a Mockingbird, in which a character was instructed to "bust up a chifforobe." Chifforobe?!? I had to look that up, and found this: a chifforobe is a "piece of furniture that combines a long space for hanging clothes (that is, a wardrobe or armoire) with a chest of drawers." OK then.

Posted by wrjacobs at 10:01 AM

April 1, 2007

cavemen on TV

The GEICO cavemen could maybe possibly have their own TV show in the fall. Sweet!

Posted by wrjacobs at 3:06 PM

March 8, 2007

BSG fan movies

Check this out: fans of the TV show Battlestar Galactica have been encouraged to download video, music, and sound effects for use in a four-minute movie contest! Wow, I wish I had a video camera and some time to come up with something....

Posted by wrjacobs at 9:43 AM

February 9, 2007

Is Barak Obama Black?

Maybe not, according to a guest on The Colbert Report.

Posted by wrjacobs at 11:22 AM

February 7, 2007

movie news

After seeing a trailer for the upcoming movie Bridge to Terabithia I was worried that it would not be faithful to the book at all, but the ads mislead. Cool.

In other movie matters, check out an interesting post about Pan's Labyrinth, but only if you've seen the movie since the post contains major spoliers.

Posted by wrjacobs at 5:37 PM

February 5, 2007

2007 Ad Bowl

According to the USA Today ad meter, the best Super Bowl XLI commercial was a Budweiser spot with crabs worshiping an ice chest, and the worst was the salesgenie.com ad. I agree about the selection for worst, but the Bud crab spot was just so-so to me. My favorite landed at #4 on the ad meter: a Doritos-eating driver crashes while gawking at a pedestrian who is also munching Doritos. Live the Flavor! (Creatively, at least; I'm not a Doritos eater.)

Posted by wrjacobs at 10:22 AM

February 4, 2007

Pan's Labyrinth

Pan's Labyrinth is superbly wonderful! It's currently #1 on my list of 2007 movies, and might still be in that spot on December 31....

Posted by wrjacobs at 4:35 PM

February 3, 2007

Ad Bowl pre-game

For the first time in several years I'll watch tomorrow's Super Bowl more for the game than for the commercials, but hopefully the ads will be entertaining. Then afterwards I might have to check out the Ad Bowl web tie-ins.

Posted by wrjacobs at 8:56 AM

February 2, 2007

Super Bowl weekend

Outside temperatures may not rise above zero for the next few days here in Minneapolis, but it will be a hot weekend in other ways. On Sunday, of course, I'll be watching Super Bowl XLI. On Saturday I'll probably go check out Pan's Labyrinth. I've been eagerly awaiting this movie ever since I found out about it last summer, so I can't believe that I let two weeks go by after its Twin Cities premiere....

Posted by wrjacobs at 2:07 PM

January 31, 2007

Freedom Theory

Two of my former students are part of a group that has just released a hip-hop/soul/acoustic CD. Check it out:

album cover

Posted by wrjacobs at 10:22 AM

January 28, 2007

the influence of movies

Last week I attended a conference in Ohio. Each time I went in to my hotel room I immediately locked and bolted the door, so that I would not get Derailed. While I was alone vs. messin' around with someone's wife as in the movie, I was not gonna take any chances on having some fool bum rush the door and start up some stuff....

Posted by wrjacobs at 7:10 PM

January 18, 2007

an idea for "24" season 7

In the 24 Season 6 Premiere Jack Bauer found himself battling a familiar enemy: Islamic fundamentalists. Next year the producers should give him a new enemy. Maybe it can even be a radical combination of people, like former Black Panthers teaming up with a White supremacist organization!? That would shake things up a bit!

Posted by wrjacobs at 6:29 PM

January 17, 2007

influence of Office Space

Today I called my dentist's office to check in on an insurance billing problem: "Should I go ahead and mail in a check now, and then your office will send a refund later?" In the movie Office Space a main character uses the construction "Go ahead and X" quite a bit. Man, that movie is a bad influence!

Posted by wrjacobs at 3:54 PM

January 3, 2007

correcting regrets

The Sci Fi Wire reports that Fox is developing a pilot for a TV show about two detectives who help clients go back in time to change events that they regret. Very interesting! I'll definitely tune in.

Posted by wrjacobs at 12:21 PM

December 28, 2006

ultrasonic ringtones

Sony Pictures will market an upcoming movie using an ultrasonic ringtone, which, supposedly, people over 25 can't hear. I might have to download it to test out that theory....

Posted by wrjacobs at 9:44 AM

December 18, 2006

TV on the web

Damn, I just found out that one of my TV shows got cancelled over the weekend, effective immediately. The remaining episodes of Daybreak, however, will be available for online viewing. I have never watched a show online, as I either catch it live or on DVD. I think I'll experiment and check it out....

Posted by wrjacobs at 10:50 AM

December 6, 2006

the return of 24

One of my favorite TV shows --24 -- returns to the Fox network in January. YES!

Posted by wrjacobs at 4:39 PM

November 20, 2006

Battlestar Galactica

Have you ever seen the new version of the TV show Battlestar Galactica? You may be tempted to check it out after reading this story.

Posted by wrjacobs at 1:35 PM

November 13, 2006

music from the movies

"Have you ever heard a song from a movie and thought 'I want that song, but how do I find out what it is and where can I get it'? These resources will show you a way to get your hands on the classical music you hear in movies and on TV."

The above question (from About Entertainment: Classical Music) popped into my head yesterday while rewinding a three-minute stretch of The Lake House. Instead of a list of resources, though, wouldn't it be great to have a site where you could enter a movie title, then search through a list of all the music that appears in that movie (of all genres, not just classical), then download mp3s of desired songs?!? That would be very coolio, but I don't think that such a thing exists. I wonder if I should think about approaching a Venture Capitalist with this idea. If so, though, the best name -- Music From the Movies -- is already taken. Damn!

Posted by wrjacobs at 10:13 AM

October 31, 2006

sorry Showtime

Last year I posted an entry that criticized Showtime for not showing an episode in its "Masters of Horror" series. Well, on Sunday I watched Imprint, and must apologize to Showtime, as it's definitely a disturbing movie, and probably is better suited to a niche DVD market than mass-market cable broadcast. My bad, Showtime!

Posted by wrjacobs at 11:34 AM

October 26, 2006

MN Daily article

On Tuesday a reporter from the campus newspaper interviewed me for an article that appeared today. He did a pretty good job of capturing what I said during our 20 minute conversation. I've got to learn the skill of talking in soundbites, though....

Posted by wrjacobs at 10:02 AM

October 4, 2006

Fall TV

Two of my favorite shows have premieres this week: Lost (tonight!) and Battlestar Galactica (on Friday). Ah, now fall has really begun....

Posted by wrjacobs at 4:11 PM

September 26, 2006

a second thought is always good

Here's an example of why it's good to really reflect on ideas that might seem interesting at first: "a jihad on the automotive market"?

Posted by wrjacobs at 10:47 AM

September 12, 2006

top 10 movies

While surfing yesterday I came across a class blog that asks for the students' 10 favorite movies. Of course, that got me thinking about mine! In no particular order (trying to rank them would be a nightmare), they are:

Posted by wrjacobs at 10:56 AM

July 13, 2006

my car is in the movies!

Recently I saw Superman Returns. It was disappointing overall (all the magic must have been used up in the 1978 version), but Lois Lane drives the same car that I do! Other than a different interior color, everything else is the same. Cool.

Posted by wrjacobs at 9:35 AM

June 28, 2006

unwatched movies

I've had a netflix account since April of 2004. For the first time ever, yesterday I returned a couple of movies without watching them (only had mild interest in "Walk the Line" and "All About my Mother," and not much free time lately). Also, I've only been to the theater twice so far this summer. This is turning out to be a summer of few movies....

Posted by wrjacobs at 8:19 PM

June 12, 2006

cancelled Sci-Fi TV shows

This week's SciFi Wire poll is about cancelled major network Sci-Fi TV shows from the 2005-2006 season. I can't believe that all (Invasion, Surface, Night Stalker, and Threshold) but one (Ghost Whisperer) bit the dust, with the crappiest one returning. Oh well, at least Supernatural survived netlet The WB's transformation into CW....

Posted by wrjacobs at 5:52 PM

May 23, 2006

end of TV's main season

With tomorrow's broadcast of Lost, the 2005-2006 TV season will be over (well, the shows I watch anyway). Luckily I only have a couple of weeks before the summer session starts, as the third season of The 4400 kicks off on June 11....

Posted by wrjacobs at 10:07 AM

May 15, 2006

Akeelah and the Bee

For Mother's Day V and I took a friend and the friend's mom to see Akeelah and the Bee, a wonderful movie. Critics have called it "unrealistic." True, but something like 90% of movies fall in this category, right!? This movie is a must-see!

Posted by wrjacobs at 1:53 PM

April 25, 2006


I'm a huge fan of The X-Files, and recently started re-watching the series on DVD. Tonight I'm up to the season 2 episode that got me hooked for life: "Anasazi". The X-Files rules!

Posted by wrjacobs at 11:33 AM

March 28, 2006

missed step on 24

Last night's epsiode of 24 introduced a new character -- Shari -- who (in her back story) had accused another character of sexual harassment while the two were at a different agency. Shari told new friend Chloe that "these things are hard to prove, so they let him go with a slap on the wrist." At the end of the show Shari got a pat on the back from her boss for a job well done. She immediately turned to Chloe and said "Did you see that? That was inappropriate!" Chloe made a face that said "Shari is a wacko who sees problems where there aren't any." This is a not good, because too many people think that sexual harassment is just in the eye of the beholder. Hopefully a future episode of 24 will throw Shari and her experiences in a more complicated light....

Posted by wrjacobs at 4:24 PM

March 24, 2006

manly men

Spike -- the "network for men" -- is in need of a more manly logo, it seems. I rarely watch Spike, but I liked the old logo. I guess I'm not a real manly man then....

Posted by wrjacobs at 10:56 AM

March 20, 2006

new Dr. Who

Zap2it has an interesting article about the latest incarnation of the Sci-Fi cult classic Doctor Who TV show, now airing on the Sci Fi Channel. I watched the premiere last Friday. It was OK, but many of the original episodes are still vividly imprinted on my brain, so it might be a while before I adjust to the re-imagined 21st century version....

Posted by wrjacobs at 5:22 PM

February 13, 2006

best and worst 2005 movies

For some reason, this weekend I was compelled to think about my best and worst 2005 movies. Here's what I came up with: best = Crash and worst = She Hate Me. I know, She Hate Me came out in 2004, but I didn't see it till last year. Something told me that it would be a stinker so I put off the screening for a year. I should have delayed forever....

Posted by wrjacobs at 10:33 AM

February 6, 2006

Super Bowl commercials

According to the USA Today Ad Meter, Bud Light won the 2006 "Ad Bowl" with its "Magic Fridge" spot. That was a good one, but the Ad Meter's #3 spot was my favorite: the FedEx "Cave Man" commercial. My bottom-rated commercial -- supermarket checkout person extolling the virtues of Miller Genuine Draft -- does not even appear on the Ad Meter chart, so I guess it was total stinker. Overall, also, this year's Ad Bowl spots were not that interesting; let's hope that Ad Bowl 2007 is more memorable....

Posted by wrjacobs at 10:35 AM

February 2, 2006

Bud Light Daredevil commercials

Bud Light has a new series of commercials featuring "Ted Ferguson, the Bud Light Daredevil". Stunts like staying late for work on a Friday (for a full 2 minutes past 5:00!) and listening to an entire John Tesh CD are hilarious, but he may have crossed the line with one I saw last night: "I will actually listen to my girlfriend!" Check it out ("Listening," episode #2) along with the others here.

Posted by wrjacobs at 9:43 AM

January 31, 2006

Monday night TV

Prior to last week, only two of my TV shows appeared in a back-to-back 2-hour time block: Wednesday's Lost and Invasion, both on ABC. Last week brought not only the second 2-hour block, it introduced my first 3-hour block: Surface, 24, and Medium (hours 1 and 3 on NBC, hour 2 on Fox). I was all set last night for another 3 hours in front of the tube, but Medium was a repeat! Ggggrrrr. Next week will be my last chance to get another 3 hour block in, as Monday's Surface episode will be the season finale. 24 will definitely air a new hour of Jack's fifth day, so keep your fingers crossed that Allison will see some new ghosts on Medium....

Posted by wrjacobs at 1:46 PM

January 25, 2006

Ask Dr. Science

Jazz 88 is now airing "Ask Dr. Science" Q & A radio segments. Check him out weekdays at 5:28 PM.

Posted by wrjacobs at 9:36 AM

January 20, 2006

why Showtime will always be #2

I just learned that Showtime will not air an episode of the 13-installment Masters of Horror series, and it was one I really want to see! I suppose that this should not be a surprise, as Showtime has made many other boneheaded decisions recently, like cancelling the wonderful Dead Like Me after only two seasons. No wonder that Showtime is always behind HBO in popularity....

Posted by wrjacobs at 10:22 AM

January 10, 2006

Netflix rating system

If you are a Netflix member then you know that they have a 5 star rating system for movies. I think they should go to a 6 star scheme, in order to (a) one up Blockbuster's "member rating" appropriation, and (b) give fans one more needed category. If you agree, send Netflix a comment, suggesting the following rating scheme: 1=hated, 2=did not like, 3=it was OK, 4=liked, 5=really liked, 6=loved.

Posted by wrjacobs at 1:40 PM

December 29, 2005

TV shows in December

For the third week in a row ALL of my TV shows were pre-empted this week! While episodes are never new between Christmas and New Year's, I think this is the first time ever that everything was a repeat the week before, let alone the week before that. Man, the analysts aren't kidding when they say that broadcast TV has gone downhill in the last few years....

Posted by wrjacobs at 8:22 AM

December 21, 2005

digital vs. analog TV

There are a lot of great things about digital TVs, such as picture and sound quality, and -- for flat panel models -- they can be easily mounted on a wall. One thing that advertisers of one of this year's "hot products" fail to mention, though, is that one can waste hours playing with all of the various available video/audio settings, like I have this week with a new set for the bedroom. For instance, should I go with a "pro" picture with "clear voice" sound and "noise reduction" at "medium," or a "vivid" picture with "dynamic" sound and the "backlight" at "low"!?! I think that at times this week I'll miss the old 13" analog set with everything set to "standard"....

Posted by wrjacobs at 10:57 AM

December 9, 2005

return from Narnia

This morning I saw The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, and rate it 4 out of 5 stars on the Netflix scale. I can't go to a 5 'cause some of the dialogue was changed and/or given to different characters. You wouldn't notice if you hadn't read the book several times, but it was a bit jarring for one who has. [STOP HERE if you don't want to read spoilers.] For example, when Aslan goes to the Stone Table, Jadis (the White Witch) says something like "Behold, the King of Narnia," whereas the book has her saying "The fool! The fool has come!" Now that I think about it, Jadis says "fool" on several ocassions in the book but not once in the movie, if my memory's right. Hhhhmmm. OK, another example: in the book a bull says "Come and take him then!" when Jadis says that Edmund is her lawful prey, but Peter says it in the movie. Huh?

On the other hand, some dialogue was changed for the better. Take Father Christmas' speech to the girls as he presents The Gifts: "battles are ugly when women fight," is in the book (p. 105), but the "when women fight" part is dropped from the movie. The movie also nicely empowers Susan: the book's "it [the bow] does not easily miss" is changed to "you will not easily miss, I'm sure." Nice.

I had high expectations for Tilda Swinton as Jadis, and for the most part she delivered. In both book and movie pride is always in the mix of emotions Jadis radiates. When the combo is pride and fear -- like when she first realizes that there are 4 humans, or when Aslan roars at her when she asks for assurances that he'll keep his word -- Swinton doesn't quite pull it off. I'll blame the director for that, though. Also, she blows the audience away in the climatic battle scene!

In sum, although the movie has a few flaws, it's well worth the price of admission. I can hardly wait for Prince Caspian....

Posted by wrjacobs at 4:28 PM

December 8, 2005

going to Narnia

Tomorrow one of my favorite books of all time opens as a movie. I'm a little worried that The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe will be a big disappointment, but a review by a dude I like is positive (4 out of 4 stars!), so I'll go 'head and take a chance....

Posted by wrjacobs at 6:05 PM

December 5, 2005

bball on the radio

On Saturday I listened to part of the U of Minnesota women's basketball game on Jazz 88. This was my first time listening to a radio broadcast of a bball game, and it will probably be the last, as it seems that I need the visual element to make sense of what's going on. How do radio sports junkies get into it!?!

Posted by wrjacobs at 10:20 AM

November 18, 2005

Harry Potter 4

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire opened today and, of course, I went to the first Twin Cities AM showing (other than the various midnight screenings, that is). Not only was I at the first show, I was the first one in the theater...and the first patron in the building, as I had to wait outside for about 5 minutes before the doors were unlocked. Luckily it's fairly warm today (low 30s when I arrived). How was the movie itself? Let's just say that after time to fully reflect on it I may pronounce it my favorite so far....

Posted by wrjacobs at 3:19 PM

November 17, 2005

fall sci-fi TV update

A little over a month ago I posted an entry about 6 new sci-fi TV shows. Earlier this week the first cancellation of the batch was announced: ABC's Night Stalker. This was one of my "if I'm not doing anything else I'll watch but it is not TiVo-worthy" shows, so I'm not too disappointed that it's gone, especially since Netflix finally shipped the original Night Stalker double feature after a two-month delay. They must only have one copy in stock....

Posted by wrjacobs at 1:54 PM

November 15, 2005

creative movie marketing

During a commercial break in last night's episode of the TV show Medium a trailer for Memoirs of a Geisha appeared. No big deal, right? True, but something very unusual happened just before the commercial break: the characters discussed the movie and went to see it! What will marketing execs think of next?

November 16 update: check out a posting in the SciFi Wire.

Posted by wrjacobs at 9:22 AM

November 11, 2005

The Boondocks

Missing Chappelle's Show on Comedy Central? Check out The Boondocks on the Cartoon Network for a bomb-ass mix of humor and social critique.

Posted by wrjacobs at 10:12 AM

October 25, 2005

Tuesday night TV

From TV Gal:

"You know what's funny about Supernatural (Tuesday, WB, 9 p.m.)? Every special effect is perfectly eerie, yet when the brothers are driving in the car it looks totally fake. Let's work on that boys, because your show is too good to look cheap like that."

Right on!

Posted by wrjacobs at 10:10 AM

October 5, 2005

fall Sci-FI TV

This week's poll on SciFI Wire is about 6 new sci-fi TV shows (Surface, Threshold, Invasion, Supernatural, Ghost Whisperer, and Night Stalker). I've seen 5 of the 6 listed, and the 6th is on my TiVO waiting to be viewed. My choice for the best of the bunch so far -- the WB's Supernatural -- is in second place, just behind CBS' Threshold. I'll watch Night Stalker soon, but it will probably be disappointing, 'cause I loved the original....

Posted by wrjacobs at 5:35 PM

September 19, 2005

Spike Lee joints

Last night I saw Spike Lee's 2004 movie Sucker Free City. While good, it was nowhere near the level of his late 80s/early 90s work, like 1989's Do The Right Thing or 1992's Malcolm X. In fact, I think that everything after 1995's Clockers has been just OK (other than 2004's She Hate Me, which was abysmal). Maybe Spike has passed his prime?

Posted by wrjacobs at 10:50 AM

August 18, 2005

a movie mess

Remember the first time you used a computer word processing software program? If like me, you probably made a document that used five or six different fonts on each page; inserted many italics, underlines, and bolds; and included mutiple indentation and line spacing changes. While making the movie The Girl From Monday the director must have been on a continual acid trip back to his first word processor days, as every scene contained at least three of the following: skewed angles, slow motion, stop motion, blurred focus, black-and-white (non)color, and sledge-hammer narration. If netflix allowed ratings of zero (current scale is 1-5; 1="hated it", 5="loved it"), that would've been my vote.

Posted by wrjacobs at 10:06 AM

August 16, 2005

banned childhood movies

On Sunday I saw a movie that I was forbidden to watch as a child, The Blue Lagoon. I can understand why any parent would not want a 12 year-old to see this thing in 1980, with its extensive nudity and theme of sexual awakening. On the other hand, I'm a bit puzzled about my parents' reluctance to let me watch a film released a few years later (one I saw for the first time earlier this year), the 1983 TV movie The Day After. One would think that a 15 year-old honor student would be encouraged to watch a movie that questioned the wisdom of a nuclear arms race. I should probably remember, though, that while the movie is tame by 2005 standards, it was graphic in 1983, and the network's extensive promotion of free grief counseling phone services woud only increase parents' concern. But still, I coulda handled it....

Posted by wrjacobs at 1:21 PM

August 9, 2005

race in the Weeds

Showtime has a new show called Weeds, about a White suburban mother who starts selling marijuana to maintain her standard of living after her husband dies. The show walks a fine line between solid social critique and stereotype reinforcement. Take one of main character Nancy's sidekicks: "Heylia, the strong-willed matriarch of an inner-city family, is the pot supplier for Nancy's new business." Her initial behavior in this week's episode signified her as a modern-day mammy [according to some, a "matriarch" is a "mammy gone bad"], but as the show progressed we got hints that she has a deeper complexity...and that Nancy has more than a superficial understanding of Black culture (one telling line, delivered with an ironic smirk: "I'm just a bitch-ass...bitch!"). While Showtime will never be able to atone for cancelling Dead Like Me, Weeds could get really interesting....

Posted by wrjacobs at 1:37 PM

July 1, 2005

War of the Worlds

Last night I saw Spielberg's version of the War of the Worlds. It was a bit disappointing, as he got carried away with dramatic special effects (starting 15 minutes or so after the opening credits), whereas a more subtle build-up of tension with peeks and suggestions of aliens would've been more thrilling, like in Signs. Also, the standard Spielbergian themes -- like the absent father trying to redeem himself -- led to more duh!s that wow!s, I think. While the new movie is worth watching, I'd recommend that one should also check out the better 1953 version, George Pal's The War of the Worlds.

Posted by wrjacobs at 1:02 PM

June 15, 2005

The Dead Zone

On Sunday was the season premiere of USA's The Dead Zone. Unfortunately, I was doubly disappointed with it: (1) the storyline was an ongoing thread (Johnny Smith tries to stop Greg Stillson's political career) that should've been wrapped up last season, and (2) the theme song was new; the old one ("New Year's Prayer" by Jeff Buckley) was one of TV's best. I wonder if a theme has ever been changed mid-season due to viewer complaints? If so, I've got to write in to do my part....

Posted by wrjacobs at 10:17 AM

June 8, 2005

B-movie dialogue

Last night while watching The Thing From Another World I had to rewind one scene several times to make sure I heard a line of dialogue correctly. As an alien tries to break into an Arctic research station the scientists start running around with makeshift weapons. Radio operator "Tex" enters and says, "What's goin' on? Looks like a lynchin.'" Now I know that it was 1951 and such racial throw-away lines were acceptable back then, but DAMN! No wonder Sci-Fi was a B-movie genre for so long.

Posted by wrjacobs at 2:52 PM

May 31, 2005

race in the movies

Back in 1989 I saw the definitive movie about the late 1980s operation of race in America, Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing. Yesterday I saw one of the first truly powerful post-9/11 movies about race in America, Crash. Here's the IMDb summary:

Several stories interweave during two days in Los Angeles involving a collection of inter-related characters: a black police detective with a drugged out mother and a car-thieving younger brother, the brother and his partner-in-crime who is constantly theorizing on society and race, the distracted district attorney and his irritated and pampered wife, a racist veteran cop (caring for a sick father at home) who disgusts his more idealistic younger partner, a successful black Hollywood director and his wife who must deal with the racist cop, an Iranian-immigrant father who buys a gun to protect his shop, an Hispanic locksmith and his young daughter who is afraid of bullets, and more.
At first glance, one may think that the movie has too much going on to convey effective stories and lessons about race, but it all comes together very nicely. Each character has nuances that prevent her/him from being typecast as Good or Bad. That in itself is a reason to check out this movie....

Posted by wrjacobs at 3:52 PM

May 26, 2005

start of summer

When does summer start? Officially, it's June 21. Unofficially, many regard Memorial Day (May 30) as the beginning of summer fun. Those affiliated with the U of Minnesota may think summer started either at the end of the spring semester (May 14) or at the start of May term classes (May 23). For me, it's today, May 26. Why? Yesterday saw the end of the 2004-2005 broadcast TV season, with finales of popular shows on Fox and ABC. I watched Alias and Lost on Fox; the former was surprisingly more engaging than the latter, as the two-hour Lost was long on filler and short on answers to season-long mysteries. Oh well, at least I have my summer shows to enjoy now, starting with the premiere of The 4400 on June 5....

Posted by wrjacobs at 2:00 PM

May 16, 2005

the first Narnia movie

Scifi.com has posted a trailer for the first movie adaptation of a book in the Chronicles of Narnia series, The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. These are my favorite children's books of all time, ones that I've read half a dozen times (at least). It was very strange watching the trailer today, as -- of course -- the actors and sets don't match my imagination at all. I'll adjust eventually, and will probably love the movie; I already think that Tilda Swinton will be smashing as Jadis the White Witch!

Posted by wrjacobs at 3:49 PM

May 10, 2005

May TV sweeps

May is traditionally the wrap-up month for network TV, so all sorts of interesting stuff is happening with my shows. Yesterday, for example, on 24 the terrorists launched a nuclear missle inside the U.S., and tomorrow on Lost the castaways will open The Hatch. It's a fun week for the most part, but then Friday marks the end of 18 years of continuous Star Trek programming, as Star Trek: Enterprise airs its series finale.

Posted by wrjacobs at 9:36 AM

April 19, 2005

favorite TV shows

Today I am assigning students a project of analyzing a favorite past TV show. If I were doing the assignment, the show at the top of my list would be Roswell, but I've already discussed it in a previous post. Next on the list, I think is Northern Exposure, the quirky "dramedy" from the early 1990s. This show is special because it's the first show I fell in love with on its own merits, not because everyone else liked it. Also, I was hooked from the very first episode (as was the case with Roswell). A small problem, though, is that my memory of when I first watched it seems to be off: I recall tuning in during the last week of June 1990, just before I left the ATL to go live with my grandfather in St. Louis, but TV Tome reports that the pilot premiered on July 12, 1990. I think that I took a road trip somewhere in the middle of July, so maybe my memory is about watching it just before I took that trip, not just before the big move. Damn, I used to be able to remember all the correct details about everything....

Posted by wrjacobs at 12:53 PM

April 14, 2005

book release


Today or tomorrow I should receive copies of my book Speaking the Lower Frequencies: Students and Media Literacy. While seeing my first book in print is exciting, it's old news to me: started the proposal in 1996 and did the bulk of the research in 1997-1998 at Indiana University (I do, however, include stuff done here at The U from 2000-2002), so this project has been ongoing for almost a decade. I gotta get going on the next book....

Posted by wrjacobs at 9:10 AM

April 7, 2005

hyperlinked print media

Last night I had a dream in which I was given a book -- titled Memo -- that came with an overlay that revealed additional text in the margins. Maybe my mind was channeling something that really does exist, an article in the April issue of The Atlantic magazine, containing author commentary that appears alongside the primary text; phrases within colored boxes in the main text "link" to the side notes. Interesting....

Posted by wrjacobs at 9:22 AM

March 25, 2005

cancelled TV shows

This year brings a first in my TV watching career: not one, but TWO of my shows have been cancelled mid-season. First, while not yet officially axed, life as we know it hasn't aired since January, and one of the stars has signed on to a new show. Yesterday I learned that another show -- Fox's Point Pleasant -- has also faded to black...and there's absolutely no doubt that it will come back, because Fox erased all traces of it from its website, whereas an official version of life still lives on ABC's site (best info about Point is on TV Tome). Damn! The news from TVland isn't all bad, though: new episodes of Lost start next week....

Posted by wrjacobs at 9:45 AM

March 10, 2005

more podcasting

Last week I posted an entry about podcasting. This week I learned that the Sci Fi Channel show Battlestar Galactica has started a podcast. Zap2it and the Sci Fi Wire have articles about it, and the BSG page has a podcasting link. In the future I may check it out, but for now I like to watch TV the traditional way....

Posted by wrjacobs at 9:54 AM

March 3, 2005

Lost's numbers

A central story in last night's episode of the ABC TV show Lost was about Hurley's belief that his winning lottery numbers are cursed. Despite being worth $156 million, his beloved grandfather dropped dead at his news conference, and when he took his Moms to a new house she broke her ankle getting out of the new Hummer, and Hurley was mistaken to be a drug dealer by the LA Po-Po and arrested. I'd bet that thousands of people who saw the episode will ignore these (and other) tragedies and use the numbers this weekend...I may even join them! I wonder if lotteries like Powerball keep stats about the combinations used? If so, I'd be shocked if there are no media stories next week about a surge in the use of 4 8 15 16 23 42.

Posted by wrjacobs at 10:11 AM

February 10, 2005

Super Bowl ads online

One of my students told me about a site that has most of the Super Bowl ads posted: Milk and Cookies. Back in the late 90s and early 00s I frequently visited Ad Critic to see ads from a wide variety of sources (including the Super Bowl), but now they demand a $100/year membership to view them. Frell that!

Posted by wrjacobs at 10:34 AM

February 7, 2005

Super Bowl ads

Although my team lost the Super Bowl game I enjoyed yesterday's unofficial national holiday, as the Super Bowl ads were good...well, at least they were definitely better than the ones in last year's Ad Bowl. Topping my list were the entries from Ameriquest Mortgage: their "Don't Judge Too Quickly" spots contained a nice social message to go along with laughs. A bonus to the second spot (cat spoils dinner by knocking over spaghetti sauce) was the appearance of the "Wanna Get Away?" woman from the Sun Country Airline ads, you know, the Sista who walks into an airport men's restroom by mistake. That Brotha was in for a loooong night alone on the sofa....

USA Today conducted its 17th annual Ad Meter survey to rate the public's reactions to the Super Bowl commercials. Normally my favorites are not in the Top 10 most popular ads, but this year they are. Hhhmmmm.

Posted by wrjacobs at 5:07 PM

January 24, 2005

Save KBEM (part 2)

Jazz 88 has found a strange friend, according to an article in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune: media mega-conglomerate Clear Channel Communications has pledged $25K for KBEM's emergency fund drive, and will promote the fund drive on some of its Twin Cities radio stations (including a jazz station). The author of the article asks, "Would Wal-Mart help Target? Would mighty Starbucks come to the aid of Caribou Coffee?" That is not exactly an apt comparison; the correct analogy, I think, would be "Would Wal-Mart help Joe's Corner Store? Would mightly Starbucks come to the aid of Lil' Bros Coffee (two kids who sell coffee at the corner of Minnehaha Av. and 32nd St. in Minneapolis' Longfellow neighborhood)?" In any case, one does wonder: Clear Channel is clearly (sorry for the pun) trying to buy some good publicity, but what else do they want?!?

Posted by wrjacobs at 10:10 AM

January 20, 2005


The local jazz station, Jazz 88, is in financial trouble since Minnesota's Department of Transportation announced that on March 15 it will cancel its contract with the station to provide traffic updates during rush hours. Today at 3:00 the state senate held hearings on a bill that would force MnDOT to continue the $400K contract, which provides half of KBEM's annual budget. Send vibes that the lawmakers will do the right thing. Better yet -- if you're a Minnesota resident -- contact MnDOT or your local representative.

Posted by wrjacobs at 4:50 PM

January 16, 2005

day of firsts at the movies

On Friday I did a sneak-in double feature at the Brooklyn Center 20: watched Darkness at 12:55 and White Noise at 2:40. It was a day of firsts:

  • First sneak-in double feature (pay for one movie, stay to watch a second) of 2005. In a future entry I'll talk about the art of sneaking in the movies.

  • First time I was completely alone in the theater. That was great!

  • First time I didn't like either of the movies. Usually I like both, and once or twice I didn't like one of the movies, but I've never disliked both. Darkness had its moments, but in the end was too derivative of other horror movies. White Noise was just bad.

Posted by wrjacobs at 11:08 AM

January 13, 2005

Bad TV

Yesterday I was disappointed with aspects of two of my TV shows: Law and Order and Alias. ADA Serena Sutherland was fired at the end of L&O, to which she asked Senator DA (the actor who plays the DA was a U.S. Senator before taking the gig!), "This is not because I'm a lesbian, is it?" WHAT? Would an attorney with any experience at all expect a "yes" from the boss, thereby inviting a sexual harrassment suit? Hopefully the writer of that episode will follow Serena out the door....

On Alias, the producers have revamped the theme song and titles sequence to feature a montage of Syndey's various disguises. I'll let TV Gal sum up common reaction to that change:

Okay, so we are all in general agreement that we hate the new opening sequence on "Alias" (Wednesday, ABC, 9 p.m.) My friend Kara announced that she thought it look like an ad for Victoria's Secret. I understand that the show wants to use Jennifer Garner's innate sex appeal and beauty to hook viewers that were watching "Lost," but there is a fine line between playing up Garner's attributes and exploiting them. Right now I'm not sure which side the show is on. But for once, just once, couldn't Sydney go undercover in a baggy jeans and a shapeless sweater. Would that be so difficult? That actually may happen in a couple of weeks when Sydney disguises herself as, and I quote, an "earthy social worker."

Right on, TV Gal!

Posted by wrjacobs at 10:45 AM

January 6, 2005

Alias vs. 24

Two of my favorite shows start(ed) new seasons in early January: Alias premiered last night, and 24 starts on Sunday. I know lots of people that love Alias OR 24, put few like them both. I'm not sure why this is...maybe because 24 stretches the limits of credibility, while Alias totally explodes reality, so an individual's preference may be driven by her/his views on pushing/reworking vs. discarding boundaries. Last year I liked 24 much better than Alias, so I guess I'm more about playing with rules rather than ignoring them altogether....

Posted by wrjacobs at 2:04 PM

January 1, 2005

New Year's Rockin' Eve

For the first time in 32 years, ABC's "New Year's Rockin' Eve" show aired without Dick Clark (who is recovering from a stroke). Regis Philbin subbed, and was way less than impressive. Part of my disappointment, though, was probably a result of seeing the show on tape delay in the central time zone. Even though everything looks live, it's just not the same watching the ball drop when you know it actually came down an hour earlier on the east coast....

Posted by wrjacobs at 3:59 PM

December 29, 2004

Christmas music playlist

Yesterday I promised to post the playlist for the Christmas CD I made for "Moms" (my mother in law). Here it be:

1. I'll Be Home For Christmas / Vanessa Williams 2. A Warm Little Home On A Hill / Stevie Wonder 3. These Are The Special Times / Christina Aguilera 4. We Three Kings / Chuck Leavell 5. What Child Is This / Vanessa Williams 6. The Christmas Song / Bobby Lyle 7. Ave Maria / Stevie Wonder 8. O Holy Night / Donna Summer 9. Sleep Well, Little Children / Vanessa Williams 10. Someday At Christmas / Stevie Wonder 11. The Christmas Song (Michael Kessler Open Fire Mix) / Mel Torme 12. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas / Christina Aguilera 13. Go Tell It On The Mountain/Mary Had A Baby / Vanessa Williams 14. Jingle Bells (Dan The Automator Remix) / Dean Martin 15. Christmas In Hollis / Run DMC 16. The Nutcracker Suite (Baz Kuts Breaks Mix) / Berlin Symphony Orchestra 17. My Favorite Things / John Coltrane

I think that she liked all of the classic stuff...not so sure about the remixes and Christmas in Hollis ("My name's DMC with the mic in my hand, and I'm chillin and coolin just like a snowman")....

Posted by wrjacobs at 11:15 AM

December 16, 2004

Movies from Children's Books

Tomorrow the movie version of A Series of Unfortunate Events opens. I enjoyed the first 5 books in the series (but decided to take a break after the 6th book irritated me to the point where I almost stopped reading it), so I'll check out the movie...despite Jim Carrey's probable overdone performance as Count Olaf. I hope I'm wrong....

I'm much more excited about the December 2005 opening of my favorite children's book of all time, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, the first book in C.S. Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia series. I just found a first-look video online. Check it out: Behind the Magic.

Posted by wrjacobs at 9:51 AM

December 7, 2004

Roswell DVD

In an earlier entry I mentioned that I love teen dramas. A big part of this is because the characters enjoy things that real life teens want but can never get (e.g., Pacey sleeping with his teacher on "Dawson's Creek"; this is the fantasy of EVERY high school boy!). Another reason is that these shows have much pedagogical value (see an article I wrote for Bad Subjects, about the use of Sci-Fi TV in college classes; it's mostly about "The X-Files" but at the end I mention teen shows).

My favorite teen show of all time is Roswell, about four extraterrestrial alien teenagers and their human friends and lovers. This weekend I finished watching season 1 on DVD. I don't know if I'll get the other two seasons, though, as the producers replaced many of the songs from the broadcast version. A note from the executive producer said this was done because fees to license many of the original songs would make the DVD prohibitively expensive. I understand that Capitalist reality, but they could've been more selective in what to keep and what to toss! WHY WHY WHY was Kevon Edmonds' "24/7" replaced during Liz's daydream of "Blind Date"?? That's a criminal offense! Anyone know what law enforcement organization handles this type of thing?

Posted by wrjacobs at 2:03 PM

December 3, 2004

TV Racial Representations

So last night life as we know it was on after a 3 week absence. One of the nice things was that Ben (a White guy) went on a date with bi-racial (Black/White) Sue, and no one even commented on it! Now eventually the producers will find a way to make it an issue, but it was refreshing to see it start out low key.

On the other hand, one of my English professor homies tells me that there's an email circulating on a Modern Language Association listserv about how the "Leon" Budweiser ads are racist because the main character is a caricature of the modern African-American athlete. Stuff like this gives academia a bad name. The ads poke fun at the modern Prima Donna pro athlete in general, regardless of race. While race can be read into anything (like Martin Lawrence in Boomerang calling pool a racist game 'cause the object is for the white ball to knock the black ball off the table), some readings are trivial at best, and at worst distract attention from more important issues...like the overemphasis on sports or entertainment as the avenue for success for young Black and Latino men.

Posted by wrjacobs at 1:15 PM

November 18, 2004


I just found out that one of my fav new shows (ABC's life as we know it) will not be shown tonight in its regular time slot :( . TV Tome reports that it's not doing so well in the ratings, so it will be pre-empted during the entire November sweeps period. That's a shame, as I like this cross between Dawson's Creek and My So-Called Life (later I'll have to post something about my fascination with teen coming-of-age dramas).

The other new show that's on my TiVo list is also an ABC show, Lost. When an old favorite -- Alias -- returns to the air in January ABC will be my most watched network. That's quite a surprise as in the last few years the remote has mostly landed me on the "Mini Networks" UPN and The WB (again, the teen shows!) and cable stations like USA and Showtime (on which another always TiVoed show -- Dead Like Me -- recently concluded its second season). Seems like someone has blown some fresh air into ABC's New York headquarters. Hopefully the developing Monday Night Football scandal won't clog up the filter.

What's the MNF fuss? In a pre-game skit Desperate Housewives co-star Nicollette Sheridan, clad only in a towel, propositioned Philly Eagles bad boy wide out Terrell Owens. She asked T.O. to skip the game for her, dropped her towel, and jumped into his arms. Teri Hatcher and Felicity Huffman (two other stars from the show) were then shown watching the scene on TV and commenting about desperate women. Thousands of complaints have been lodged, and the FCC is investigating. Come on, ABC, this is America: a blonde White woman comes on to a dark-skinned Brotha and you don't expect a stink?!? On the other hand, maybe it's true that "no publicity is bad publicity"....

Posted by wrjacobs at 11:17 AM