popular thinking

hopelessly devoted to deconstructing popular culture and conventional wisdom, one blog at a time

SPEDERLINE MOVES IN AFTER I MOVE OUT: Or so it would seem. Two weeks into their retreat in Paradise Valley, Britney and her fetus daddy continue to wreak havoc across the Valley of the Sunbaked. After a full week of photos flew around the Internet (I usually saw them first on Trent's site), I wondered why the Arizona Republic didn't have much to say about it. Then I remembered. I used to work at the Republic. They're not exactly the swiftest bunch when it comes to pop culture. Not until I placed a call to one of the few, the proud, the remaining journalists there with gumption did I see any movement there in mainstream medialand. A full cycle later, this story appeared. Even then, though, they didn't bother to give any of the real juicy details. Such as: Why doesn't Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain (I can vouch for the bar, the restaurant, the spa, but not the private villas, although my folks once stayed in one of the "regular" suites) have some sort of control over these paparazzies that photomagraphed Brit and Bit Bit and Federline and the bodyguards by the pool and their villa? Or does the pub work in the resort's favor? This is the place where Average Joe's average schmo had his final flame-out opportunity with Melana Scantlin, after all. Oh well. I'm sure there's some logic, considering the woman I talked to at the resort said that "we don't talk about our VIP guests until after they've left the resort." Eggsactly my point, my darlings. At any rate, it's odd to see photos of them walking around the glammed-up strip malls around Scottsdale, PV and Northeast Phoenix, acting like regular folk, when they're nowhere near regular, and I'm nowhere near them.

TONIGHT'S APPRENTICE ARTIST COMING TO BOSTON: At least that's what Burton Morris told me. Tune in tonight and see if he was right. Sounds like he wasn't particularly thrilled with whatever Tana and Alex had in mind, but then again, the other dopes could be worse. That's been the trend on this year's Trumpsters-in-training NBC "hit." Can Trump really still call his show the biggest hit on the network? Well, at NBC, maybe.

Related: Artist is all fired up over T-shirt he helped design on `The Apprentice' (Boston Herald)

WHO CARES ABOUT THE HUFFINGTON POST? No, really. Who cares? Sir Drudge, perhaps? Anyone else? Bueller...Bueller...anyone?

Read my story: Celebrity bloggers ready to sound off for Arianna (Boston Herald)

MY UNION RATIFIES NEW CONTRACT: That's the good news. Not-so good news? This means my boss can roll out a buyout/layoff plan that can eliminate as many as 35 guild positions from our newsroom. Of course, since we voted to allow management to lay off outside of the seniority ranks, that would seemingly protect me. But the uncertainty of the situtation certainly has kept everyone -- and I mean everyone on edge. At least Monday night's vote allows us all to move forward. I expect to have tidings of great joy to share with all of you about the future of the Boston Herald someday soon.

Related: Herald editorial union approves contract (Boston Herald)

OUR SUGGESTION BOX BEGINS TO FILL: With my current employer undergoing some serious introspection, the city's alt-weeklies have jumped into the fray with their own unsolicited suggestions. The Weekly Dig (or just The Dig, as the redesigned covers suggest) dropped specific names on their in-and-out list, although the "media farm" column does not appear online. Dan Kennedy, longtime media critic for the Boston Phoenix, has similar ideas. They both think my paper should get scrappier and more conservative to serve as more of a counterpoint to the Globe. I'll add my two cents in a future post. But it's all curious to watch, especially as a newcomer to the market.

Related: A better Herald -- How to reinvent the ailing tab in five not-so-easy steps (Boston Phoenix)

LET THE COMMENCEMENT CAVALCADE BEGIN: Starting next weekend, all of Boston's many colleges will begin holding their graduation ceremonies. Several logistical potholes to avoid -- from the literal potholes to the other kind of traffic jams to, well, making sure your school gets its first pick for speaker. When I was a college senior, I was part of our student committee that decided (more or less) who would give the baccalaureate speech in the Princeton University Chapel. We also had Class Day speakers the next day, followed by graduation itself, which was handed over to the president, valedictorian and salutatorian. Anyhow, we had quite a debate about what kind of speaker to get, and whether the person should be a political figure or not, since that could divide the ranks. In the end, we got Garry Trudeau. A fine and worthy choice, and a fine and worthy speaker, hitting just the right notes of wit and wisdom to impart unto us. Not that we've done much with it. But enough with the tangent. Now back to my regularly scheduled post.

Related: What commencement speakers are colleges trying to get (Boston Herald)

THE ROXY TURNS 20: Or does it? One of Boston's biggest nightclubs is celebrating two decades in business, although the truth is really somewhat different, since the building has been around since 1925 and the "current" nightclub since 1988. But of course, any math after dark gets a bit fuzzy, doesn't it?

Related: Night people: The Roxy celebrates 20 years on the Hub's club scene (Boston Herald)

FOX SHOWS MAKE NO SENSE: I make sure to watch 24, American Idol and even The O.C. as much as possible, which might qualify me as deficient in some manner, since I have to remind myself to think about how all of these shows defy logic week-in, week-out. Perhaps a psychologist can explain why we watch shows that annoy us or otherwise throw us for nonsensical plot loops.

RIDDING THE WORLD OF CELLPHONE WAVERS: If you saw me on TV during Tuesday night's NESN telecast of the Red Sox-Blue Jays game, then you know I didn't get on my cellphone and start waving to the camera. But I was hot on the heels of such people, because I'm part of the solution, not part of the problem.

Spilling beer on a baseball player or allegedly hitting him will get you kicked out of Fenway Park for the rest of the season. But what about fan-on-fan interference?
Throughout the first Red Sox homestand, fans in the stands and watching from home have had their viewing experience tarnished by cellphone wavers - ticket holders who'd rather carry on conversations with select TV viewers than watch the ballgame.
"Nothing aggravates me more than that,'' said Giant Glass owner Dennis Drinkwater, who literally is the most visible fan in Fenway.
Drinkwater sits in the front row behind home plate. You see his blond hair and dapper attire just to the left of the ump. What you don't see is how he polices the area around his four seats.
"I say talk all you want between innings. Talk to Australia if you want,'' Drinkwater said. "But you're here for the ballgame.''
Red Sox policy wants "fans being courteous to other fans,'' said team communications director Glenn Geffner.

Continue reading my story: Bad call (Boston Herald)

OPENING DAY AT FENWAY: I didn't have game credentials to the Fenway home opener, but that didn't stop me from capturing the color of the day for my employer. Read my story here.

Related: Wait till this year! Fans welcome champs home to historic game (Boston Herald)

FENWAY GOES HOLLYWOOD: For more perspective on the relationship between the Boston Red Sox, Fenway Park and Hollywood, read my story in today's Boston Herald.

TEAM COVERAGE ON FEVER PITCH: Yes, I'm part of the madness here in the Hub as Fever Pitch had its "world premiere" Wednesday at Fenway. No invite for me. I'm the new guy, so I can take that in stride. I did get to an advance screening and can report that it more than exceeded my expectations (which were low). I thoroughly enjoyed it. Then again, I'm a hopelessly romantic Red Sox fan, so how much should my opinion count? That's why I wrote a story examining the pitch of Fever Pitch to markets outside of Red Sox Nation. Although fellow Sox fans should know these things, too, before heading into the picture: You get to hear all of the requisite songs, from "Dirty Water" to "Sweet Caroline," the Dropkick Murphys and the 1967 Impossible Dream theme. And that footage of Jimmy Fallon and Drew Barrymore from the end of Game 4 of the Series? Not nearly as horrendous onscreen as it was to see in real-time last October. The Farrellys really pulled it off.

Look for more from me on the movie in Friday's Boston Herald.

Related story: Critics: Fans all over will catch `Fever' (Boston Herald)

BACK FROM THE DEAD: No, really. Sorry for being gone from blogland for so long, but I've been dealing with more death than necessary. And that's not even counting the turmoil in my personal and professional lives that don't involve deaths in the family. Yes, it has been a string of those kind of days.

My Nana died on March 25. Being a newspaperman, I pulled the requisite strings (included calling on a friend for a favor) to ensure Nana had a proper obituary in my newspaper. After my dad, my uncles and my aunt read that, they tapped me to prepare Nana's eulogy. She had so many people who loved her. So many children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren who felt her devotion first-hand. How could I capture all of that? Well, I tried my best. For those of you who want to know more about my grandmother, I'll post a link to the eulogy on my companion blog/clips archive that will launch officially later this week.

A few days after that, Mitch Hedberg died. I performed with Mitch and his wife several times between 1999 and 2003. I also interviewed Mitch a couple of times in my day-job capacity over the years. A good guy. A sweet guy. A vulnerable guy. A brilliantly funny yet tortured guy. I heard the news first from my dear friend in Arizona who runs the Tempe Improv, and at that point, he was hoping I could verify the crazy story he had heard. It took me several hours to find out what he already knew. Mitch had died. An apparent heart attack. Last time I saw that phrase with a performer -- Rick James. I never saw Mitch's self-destructive offstage side firsthand, so let me just say that upfront. But people who knew Mitch better than I had told me repeatedly that he was in trouble. He missed his big gig opening for Lewis Black and Dave Attell in Phoenix two years ago. He got arrested for heroin. He had a disastrous performance in Arizona last year. I saw both versions of Mitch onstage, from the comic who torched the field in the Seattle Comedy Competition (many other stand-ups felt he was a ringer because he already had done Letterman) to the comic who could go down in flames suddenly after 20 solid minutes. Sometimes you weren't sure which Mitch would show up. But his impact is undeniable. My comedy club friends would call me out when they saw me slip into Hedbergspeak. I wouldn't try to parrot his punchlines, but his cadence. Wow, that cadence. His delivery was as important, if not more so, than the long hair and shades. Just listen to his CDs. Or read his hometown obit. It's a damn shame. A damn, damn shame.

OK. I've gotten that out of my system. Now where was I?

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