March Media Mania

This past weekend has allowed me some much-needed personal relaxation time, where I've sampled a wide range of media outlets, wonderful and lame. In addition to watching the boob-tube for the first time in weeks, I also skipped church in favor of doing my taxes...I guess I was "rendering unto Caesar." So anyway, here's some commentary on my past few days of media observation.

Charlie Rose hosts my favorite TV show. I remember the first time I ever saw the program...I had just moved to Chicago about 10 years ago, found the show on PBS, and Charlie had three guests: an expert on the Middle East, a priest who worked at the Vatican, and rock star Peter Gabriel. Charlie knew a lot about each guest and their issues, and every interview was fascinating, serious, and thrilling. I've watched him loyally ever since. It had been a few weeks since I'd seen Charlie lately, so on Friday I snuggled under a quilt and fired up the TV. It was awesome...his guests were:

Richard Stengel, the editor for Time Magazine. They talked about how the magazine is putting more and more content up online, and is focusing a lot on blogging, etc. Stengel is successfully reclaiming more subscribers to the magazine, and is trying to turn the ship around. I love learning about publishing, journalism, and the marketing of the news. I think if I had a parallel life after high school, I would've loved to be a writer/reporter/columnist. This blog will have to suffice. The current issue of Time arrived at my house on Saturday morning, and the cover story about the downslide of the American Conservative movement is very interesting (I must admit, I take some pleasure in their stumbling), and the image of Ronald Reagan crying is quite poignant (although, a bit too obviously Photoshopped).

Taryn Simon, a 34 year old world-renown photographer. Here's somebody who is passionate about her artwork. Man! As an artist, it's very inspiring to witness another freelancer who has such a clear vision for what she's doing. Simon, however, did seem just a touch tooooo obsessed with her work...I'm afraid she may be putting too many eggs in the "art" basket. But that's always been my problem as a musician, I think...I never feel like giving 110% to my music, because as a person of faith, my concern with the stewardship of my time and energy won't allow me to get THAT committed to my art. I wonder if that's why so many of the most brilliant and successful musicians and artists tend to be non-religious...they've put all their faith in art, and there's none left available for God, or something. This is a "vocation" issue, as we Lutherans say.

Chris Rock, comedian and film director. Rock was on to promote his new movie "I Think I Love My Wife," but the best part of the interview involved his comments on other artists/actors/comics who inspire him the most. He talked about the mind-boggling work ethic of David Letterman and Tom Hanks, who work harder and longer than anyone else at their craft, and that's why they're the best in the world at what they do. Again, like Taryn Simon, it's a commitment and drive to be the BEST at your art that results in success. And again, I was left thinking "well, that's impressive and everything, but in the end, wouldn't it be better to have spent more time enjoying your family, the quiet details of everyday life, and to exist at a slower pace?" I feel the same way when I watch the Olympics..."Uhhh...nice you realize you blew your entire childhood and young adulthood on those past 5 seconds?"

So, once again, it was a wonderful and thought provoking hour with my friend Charlie. Last night (Saturday), however, was a TV viewing wasteland. The TV show Law & Order has been on since I was in high school (I think), and it's hugely successful with many spin-off shows, but I can honestly say I'd never watched it until last night. The only thing I knew about Law & Order was a Saturday Night Live sketch from a couple weeks ago, where Amy Poehler and Jake Gyllenhaal played amateur actors training to be extras on Law & was a funny piece. Now that I've seen the real show, I must congratulate the SNL writers for getting it perfect. Saturday's Law & Order featured a cheese-ball plot about a YouTube-style video blogger who gets attacked on camera, and the stern NYC cops sniff around the city trying to solve the crime. The acting was lame, the characters were worse, PLUS it featured graphic violence in prime time! We got to see a masked kidnapper take a straight razor and cut the ear off a hostage, and wave the severed bloody ear at the camera! I couldn't believe it. How does this low-grade Silence of the Lambs crap get so popular? Everything else on the other 5 channels that I get on my TV was equally lame, and the best I could do was watch a funny-haired religious talk show on the Seventh Day Adventist TV Network. Now, I don't really know anything about Seventh Day Adventists and their theology (other than that they go to church on Saturday instead of Sunday, darn it!), but it made me think, man, there should be a Lutheran TV network. We're not all that sexy either, but our denomination is loaded with cool, smart, and interesting people. Maybe that's my future career...TV producer at a Lutheran TV network.

This morning I got up and caught the entire broadcast of Meet The Press with Tim Russert. I enjoy this show, but rarely watch it. This morning featured Democrats Tom Andrews and Joe Sestack, and Bush buddies Tom DeLay and Richard Perle. Of course, the debate was on what to do about the situation in Iraq, and it was a very interesting discussion. I tried to detect a blatant "liberal media" bias, but to me, it seemed like all sides had a equal chance to vent. There's a big pro-war argument that all the conservatives throw around that annoys me profusely, which is: "if we withdraw troops from Iraq, the terrorists will be happy and emboldened." Well, sure, but isn't it possible that that negative effect could be outweighed by mountains of positive effects in our favor? Here's what I'd like some democrat to communicate:
we withdraw, terrorists are happy/emboldened: AND our troops are safer, and the Iraqi people are safer, and we can focus on the real causes of 9/11 and terrorism with the help of the global community
we stay there, terrorists are mad/desperate: AND our troops are in danger, and the Iraqi people are in danger, and we are unable to focus on the real causes of 9/11 and terrorism, and the whole world is against us

I like OPTION ONE better, and there are plenty of brilliant military and foreign policy experts who think so, too. I'd rather have some happy terrorists to fight on the real frontlines of this conflict than some mad/desperate terrorists keeping us bogged down in a civil war in a country that had nothing to do with 9/11.

Well, that was my first bloggy rant about the Iraq war. I was gonna apologize for "going there," but oh well, if Tom DeLay can speak publicly about it, so can I. Dear God, help us all.

Two more bits of media commentary before bed. Tonight after the rugrats went to bed I zipped over to Borders to blow a few gift certificates that I had. I picked up Bob Dylan's book Chronicles in the bargain's supposed to be one of the finest rock memoirs ever written. I'm excited to check it out.

And then I picked up the new album Influence by Tommy Shaw and Jack Blades, two of my favorite rock singer/songwriters. The thing is, this is an all-cover-song album...they do their own versions of classic rock hits like "For What it's Worth," "Lucky Man," and "California Dreamin'." Rock journalists always say that the big signs that any band is washed-up and lame are 1) live albums, 2) "best of" albums, and 3) covers albums. There have been a glut of covers albums in recent years from a wide variety of artists like Def Leppard, Styx (Tommy Shaw's other band...two covers albums in two years...yikes!), Lyle Lovett, Rick Springfield, Shawn Colvin, Mandy Moore (her covers album is quite awesome, I must say), and even local Minneapolis folkies Storyhill. I like the idea of a covers album, but I've got too much other stuff to work on before I reach that point (does the Styx Tribute album count? I guess not, 'cause I only did one song). Since I've already got a live album, and a newly released Best Of album, I guess I'm quickly on the road to being a crappy has-been rocker. Oh's what I'd do for a my own covers CD:

JONATHAN RUNDMAN: The Not-Yet-Existing Cover Song Album

1. "Shrapnel in my Heart" written by Jeff Krebs
2. "Thursday Morning" written by Bruce Rundman
3. "Picture of Helen" written by Walter Salas-Humara/The Silos
4. "No Romance" written by Bob Walkenhorst/The Rainmakers
5. "Three of us come True" written by Nate Houge
6. "Mary Alice" written by Beki Hemingway
7. "I Shook His Hand" written by Peter Case
8. "Runs in the Family" written by Moe Berg/The Pursuit of Happiness
9. "You Know Me So Well" written by Todd Miller & Lloyd Garrelts/Echelon
10. "Slip Sliding Away" written by Paul Simon
11. "Hold On" written by Kerry Livgren/Kansas

There are more tunes that I'd include, but my brain is fried. Good night to all.


Bridget Delaney said…
It's late, so honestly, I didn't get to read all of this - but yeah, I don't like Law and Order (my parents like all that stuff - Numbers, 24, etc. and not me).

If you want to know about Seventh Day Adventist and their beliefs, I am the Lutheran girl to ask! In my years of searching, finding that church home, I attended one of two SDA churches in Lake Charles. I learned a whole lot and they even gave me this book called "The Great Controversy" by their "prophetess" Ellen G. White.

I could go on and on about this. . .e-mail is much better, obviously!

Stein Auf!

p.s. - hey my word verification looks almost like "whatever."

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