Michael B. Duff

Lubbock's answer to a question no one asked

Archive for August 2008

It's a girl!

Alaska Gov. Sarah PalinMcCain’s new VP is hot, right? Can we just get that out of the way?

You know what this means? It means Joe Biden isn’t the sexiest person in this election cycle anymore.

I don’t want to reveal too much about my politics or my taste in women but I think I’ve been sending inappropriate messages to this woman on Facebook for the past six months.

She really should add “Governor of Alaska” to that profile.

Written by Michael B. Duff

August 29, 2008 at 14:19

Posted in Humor, Politics

Quick reaction to Obama's acceptance speech

I’ll leave the hardcore analysis to Freda and Donald, but as a long time blogger and recovering policy wonk, I wanted to throw a quick reaction to this speech on Lubbock Online, just so you know we’re paying attention.

I won’t pretend to be any kind of objective reporter here, but my personal ideology is so bizarre, I don’t really have a dog in this fight. Being utterly disillusioned with the process is not the same as being objective, but for our purposes tonight, I hope it’s the next best thing.

In fact, with so many members of my peer group off the fence and in the tank for Obama, I may be the last cynic left on Earth. For years I’ve watched my friends mope around and whine about how stupid elections are. Now suddenly Obama’s made it cool to care about politics, and they’re walking around like characters from a Capra film — sporting campaign buttons and big goofy grins.

Rachel Sklar actually used the phrase “Happy days are here again” in a video yesterday. There’s something unseemly about watching Generation X wake up and try to believe in something. My people were not built for optimism. There’s something mildly creepy about it, watching this uncomplicated and decidedly unironic outpouring of love for a politician.

We were taught to distrust and sneer at authority, dammit! Not to roll over and sigh at the first sign of a candidate who can form coherent sentences.

Obama brought it home, but let’s face it, his supporters are so in love with him, all he had to do was come on stage without tripping over himself and they’d call it a win.

And by the same token, his opponents are so inflamed I suspect Obama’s appeals to patriotism will be ignored.

I was impressed with the fairness and decency of both candidates tonight. McCain ran an extraordinary ad congratulating Obama and acknowledging his place in history. He played it utterly straight, with no cheap shots or veiled attacks thrown in.
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Written by Michael B. Duff

August 28, 2008 at 23:54

Posted in Politics

'Mad Men' fans strike back with online manifesto

Looks like the Mad Men Twitter brigade is fighting back. Or maybe they just got tired of incessant interview requests and decided to answer everybody’s questions at once.

Mission statement from We Are Sterling Cooper.com:

Fan fiction. Brand hijacking. Copyright misuse. Sheer devotion. Call it what you will, but we call it the blurred line between content creators and content consumers, and it’s not going away. We’re your biggest fans, your die-hard proponents, and when your show gets cancelled we’ll be among the first to pass around the petition. Talk to us. Befriend us. Engage us. But please, don’t treat us like criminals.

And that’s how you spank a giant, clueless corporation. Nice work, guys.

For those who are just tuning in:

First I spent 800 words praising AMC for their innovative marketing campaign. It turns out to be a fan project, and the giant clueless corporation invokes copyright to shut them down.

The characters are back on Twitter now, but I haven’t seen any kind of explanation from the company.

Written by Michael B. Duff

August 28, 2008 at 13:43

Posted in TV

My Wonkette Story

Still can’t sleep, so I’m going to tell my Wonkette story.

Technology has basically given me a new way to stalk Ana Marie Cox today, so this seems like a good time to recout my (fleeting and pathetic) brush with net.fame.

I like to tell people I almost interned for Wonkette.

I used to send in items from time to time, when Ana Marie ran the place. Dishing dirt on Libertarians, mostly. She linked me a couple times and I thought I was hot stuff. This is less impressive now that I know the reality of her working conditions.

She was working in a Nick Denton sweatshop at the time, struggling to fill a ridiculous daily quota. When I got my first link, I was beside myself with joy, assuming this had something to do with the cleverness of my pitch or the quality of my humor.

The truth is, catch a Wonkette editor during a slow news cycle and she’ll post pictures of your cat with a political caption underneath, if she thinks it’ll keep the lights on.

Ana put out a call for interns and asked them to prove their worth by composing a haiku about Al Gore.

I got her attention by ignoring the rules and offering…never mind what I offered. The point is, it worked and she told me I had made the first cut. I spent two hours in a joy/fear coma and started to seriously consider a move to DC.

I didn’t understand the mechanics of internships, of course. Jobs like this are not meant for hardworking Texans who pay their own bills. They’re meant for brats with trust funds, milking that last bit of parental goodwill as they run off to “find themselves” in New York or DC.

I was too old, too scared and too poor to chase a job meant for college kids, so I told Ana I was “just kidding” and wept into my pillow until my ambition faded to a more reasonable level.

Looking back on it, I wonder how many guys were in my position — frantically feeding links to Wonkette in hopes that Ana or someone like her would wave a magic wand and invite them into the big leagues.

Political geeks are a sad, desperate lot. It doesn’t take much to win our love, and it doesn’t take much to keep us going. One little sentence of encouragement was worth a dozen tips from me.

I don’t blame her for exploiting her appeal. Working for Nick Denton is like being in a prison movie from the 70s. Gawker editors will do awful things to keep the hits coming, if only to avoid the lash.

I was never very close to the world of high-stakes blogging, but I see Ana and Rachel eating cupcakes and I wonder what might have been.

Written by Michael B. Duff

August 28, 2008 at 05:20

Posted in Gossip, Politics

Cute girls liveblogging at the DNC

I really should be sleeping. Instead I’m up late adding dubious celebrities to my Twitter account.

There are some incredibly smart and funny projects happening at the DNC this year, and the best stuff is actually on Twitter. I’m a fan of anamariecox of course, but the best writing so far is actually from Slate magazine.

For any newspaper people who can still stand to read me, this is how you liveblog a political event. Slate basically turned their writers loose and let them be funny.

The Twitter stuff brings a wonderful sense of fun and immediacy to the process. I mean, where else can you get video of Ana Marie Cox and Rachel Sklar making cupcakes that resemble major figures in the Democratic Party?

Notice in this video, Rachel actually says, “Happy days are here again!” completely without irony, as she sprinkles confetti on a cupcake.

Do you think the Fox News people will film themselves eating cupcakes at McCain’s convention? And while I’m up late asking difficult questions, why don’t my Senior Contributing Editors look like this?

Maybe the answer will come to me in a dream.

DISCLAIMER: And yes, before anyone points it out, I realize I have just referred to some of the finest political journalists of my generation as “cute girls.” Please understand, this language is not intended as an insult or as any kind of disrespect. Our market research has shown that I will get 30 percent more hits on this post if I use language like this. The ladies in question are all familiar with hardcore blog sweatshops, so even if they don’t condone my language, I’m sure they will understand it.

And for those 30 percent of you who would not have clicked on this post if I had used the words “Eminent female journalists,” please take a moment and feel ashamed of yourselves.

Written by Michael B. Duff

August 28, 2008 at 03:40

Posted in Politics

AMC shuts down Mad Men Twitter accounts

UPDATE: Quote of the day goes to Peggy_Olson: “Pleased to discover it’s not hard to make friends in advertising after all. But the guys in legal are humorless, and frankly not too bright.”

UPDATE 7:33 p.m.: Mad Men characters are back on the air. More details if I can get one of them on record.

Typical. I spend 800 words praising AMC for being innovative and cool, it turns out to be a fan project, and the giant clueless corporation invokes copyright to shut them down.

I said Hollywood doesn’t get the Internet, and AMC seems determined to prove me right.


Written by Michael B. Duff

August 26, 2008 at 10:53

Posted in TV

Mad Men invade Twitter!

It’s 3 a.m. on Thursday morning and I’m writing text messages to a fictional character. Peggy Olson wants to read “Atlas Shrugged” and I’m trying to stop her.

Hollywood hasn’t really figured out the Internet yet. I remember a good friend in 1993, promising to boycott any movie that had its own web site. I presume he’s reading books now.

These days, all movie web sites look the same — struggling to be different in exactly the same way. Buggy, flash-heavy pages that require dozens of plug-ins and fail spectacularly when you don’t have them.

Most promoters try to impress us with video, eye-candy and sound effects, but every now and then, somebody gets creative.
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Written by Michael B. Duff

August 25, 2008 at 11:35

Posted in TV

iPhones are great until they get stolen

Probably the closest this blog will ever come to breaking news.

I was robbed about an hour ago. Forgot to lock my door back after a guest left this afternoon, so this kid walked right in and woke me up while he was taking the iPhone off my nightstand.

He crouched down beside my bed and froze when he saw me move. I actually touched his head before he took off running. He had the presence of mind to take my USB cord and my microphone adapter and discard the headphones as he took off.
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Written by Michael B. Duff

August 10, 2008 at 06:45

Posted in Apple