Amtrak, a new feature, and comment pork products

A few quick items:

  • I have a blurb about NJ Devils’ owner Jeff Vanderbeek in the January / February issue of Arrive, Amtrak’s in-train magazine. You can read a digital copy of the magazine here; my contribution is on Page 12.
  • On Monday, I’m rolling out a new feature on this blog; for now I’m calling it “Dead Article Theater”. It will consist of articles that were killed by the publications I wrote them for, or essays that never found a home after years of submissions. The first piece is an interview I did last April with a very funny comedian that anyone who listened to a certain radio show would know pretty well. Stay tuned.
  • Finally… I’m getting a lot of comment sp*m. Since I moderate comments, I delete them before they ever get published on the blog. But they seem to be coming in at a more rapid pace than ever. Any of you veteran bloggers figure out a way to stop the sp*m? The only way I’ve seen is to use HaloScan, which of course takes the comments off my server. Any ideas? Let me know in the comments (I’ll make sure I approve them if you’re not already approved. Honest).

Remember that letter from DiNizio? Never mind.

In my last note, I mentioned that Pat DiNizio of the Smithereens had put a letter on his website regarding his bands’ absence from New Jersey Monthly‘s music issue. Well, it looks like he’s taken that letter down. Maybe he felt he said his piece and didn’t want to belabor the point. Dunno. So, if you follow the link below and see nothing there, don’t fret for my sanity. There was a letter there at some point. I swear.

Yo La Tengo does Hanukkah, and a Smithereens snub

One of my articles that got cut from the New Jersey Monthly music issue was a short one I did on the Hanukkah concerts mounted by the indie band Yo La Tengo. It was cut because we couldn’t confirm that the shows were going to take place in time to make the print publication. But, since they are going to happen, the folks at NJM were nice enough to put the article on their web site. Here it is.

Meanwhile, Pat DiNizio is (correctly) upset that The Smithereens were left off of NJM‘s NJ music history timeline in that issue. I tried to tell him that it was likely an oversight, but still… there are few acts outside of Springsteen and Bon Jovi that are more closely identified with New Jersey than are The Smithereens. They should have been included. What do you folks think?

Links and my confab with Contessa

First, let’s get the links out of the way:
Here is my New Jersey Monthly article on Robert Randolph.
Also from NJM is a brief article I did about Fountains of Wayne.

Now, here’s the video of my MSNBC appearance, which my boss Keith at TV Squad was kind enough to encode so I could embed it (the embed is at TVS; I have an AVI copy of the video here). I thought I did OK; I even made anchor Contessa Brewer laugh a couple of times. Will I do anything different when (if) I get asked back? Sure. But, at least I didn’t choke under the glare of the cameras; I thought I was going to pull a Cindy Brady and freeze up, but I just ignored the cameras and talked to Contessa. Seemed to work. Watch if you dare:

MSNBC, Futurama, and some music stuff

Looks like my pundit career is “taking off.” Tomorrow, I’ll be on MSNBC, around 2:10 PM ET, representing TV Squad. I’ll be interviewed for their special “Super Tuesday” political show, discussing a new TV Guide article that finds out the shows the presidential candidates like to watch. They’re asking me to have fun with the topic; after having seen a press release that lists some of the candidates’ choices, I don’t think that will be much of a problem.

Other stuff:

Just posted: A TV Squad interview I did with David X. Cohen, executive producer (along with Matt Groening and others) and show-runner of Futurama, on the DVD release of Bender’s Big Score and the show’s return to TV.

Also: In the December issue of New Jersey Monthly, I wrote two articles for their Music Issue package: One on Adam Schlesinger of Fountains of Wayne, and a lengthier one on Robert Randolph. Neither piece is online yet, but it should be on the stands as we speak.

I think I was on a blogging strike for a while

Whew, October went in a flash, didn’t it? So much so that I didn’t realize that I hadn’t posted for the entire month until I looked at the blog yesterday.

Anyway, about this writer’s strike

I’m not much of a union guy, but I completely support the TV and movie writers in this dispute. As a freelance writer myself, I know what sort of constant struggle it is to be properly paid for the use of my words in various media. Publishers are increasingly putting in wording in their contracts that give them the right to use our stories on “every medium that will be created in the known universe for infinity plus one” or other such CYA nonsense. But at the very least, we get to keep the right to resell our material on our own (in most cases). TV and movie writers don’t get that choice; a long time ago, they traded the right to own their work for the union protection the WGA gives them. But they still should be compensated for every use of their work, whether it be on TV or DVD or online.

No TV show has been more impacted by online distribution than The Office, so I’ll let them explain why the WGA is on strike, in this video, which contains the same wry humor familiar to fans of the show. Enjoy!

The interview I did in my socks

Here’s the embed of my Attack of the Show appearance last night. They said I did a good job, so who am I to argue?

Yes, that’s my dusty rack of CD’s (my friend Ken will enjoy seeing his handiwork getting a little TV exposure) and a couple of photos of mine in the background. The door on the right is to my kitchen, and I think it’s the only time it’s been closed in the 10 years I’ve lived in this apartment. I wish the webcam wasn’t so choppy, but they were using Yahoo! Messenger and I don’t think it’s particularly fast to begin with. Maybe next time they’ll use AIM and/or iChat.

Links and another TV appearance… via webcam!

Joel Keller's Facebook profileA few notes:

  • I wrote an article about Newark’s new arena, the Prudential Center, for the October issue of New Jersey Monthly. Here’s the link to the story.
  • I’ll be on G4’s Attack of the Show again tonight, on a segment called “Blog Watch.” I’ll be talking a little about the new fall season, concentrating on the shows G4’s audience loves. Here’s the interesting part: instead of schlepping into New York to do the interview from a satellite studio, I’ll be doing it via webcam from my New Jersey hidey-hole. It should be on between 7:30 – 8 PM ET.
  • I’ve decided to dip another toe into the 21st century by creating a Facebook profile. Click on the badge to the left and you will see it. Hey, throw me a friend invite if you feel like it. Just don’t poke me; that term creeps me out to no end. Next stop on the train from Ludditeville: an iPod! I’ve heard those things are cool.
  • I interviewed Rob McElhenney, creator and co-star of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, for TV Squad. This time, we decided to embed the audio and list highlights rather than transcribe the whole thing. Rob gave a pretty informative and funny interview. Definitely check it out if you’re a fan of the show.

TV Squad mourns the loss of a friend

Folks, I encourage you to go over to my “main gig”, TV Squad, today. We’re paying tribute to Adam Finley, one of the biggest contributors to the site; he died Thursday morning after he was hit by a school bus while riding his bike. No one found out until Saturday; Adam didn’t have any ID on him, and the medical examiner’s office finally identified him via the serial number off his iPod. He was only 30.

We’re foregoing news today and just posting our favorite posts from Adam, who had a love of animation, Amy Sedaris, and had a really wicked sense of humor. In my assistant editor’s role at TVS, I sometimes clashed with Adam over the obscurity of what he posted. But I always enjoyed what he wrote, especially when he created fictional conversations between two people, or himself and God, or himself and a can. Yes, he’s “talked” to God and a can.

You’ll be missed, Adam.

I’m going to be on TV today… I think

For those of you with digital cable, tune in to G4 at either 7 PM or 10 PM ET tonight; I’ll be on the “geek chic” channel’s Attack of the Show, talking about how networks are dealing with pilots that are leaked to BitTorrent and other places on the Interwebs.

Here are the details; the segment I’ll be on is called “The Loop.” This is the third time I’ve done the show, but the first time in about a year. The reason why I say “I think” I’ll be on is that I could be bumped at the very last minute. But right now, I’m 99% sure I’ll be on.

Oh, and later tonight, at 10 PM, I’ll be participating in the second full episode of TV Squad’s revived podcast, which is being hosted by BlogTalkRadio. Details here. So it’s a very busy multimedia kind of day for me. Woo.

Here’s a link that’s less than six years old

I just realized that the link that I posted for Andy Breckman’s radio show, Seven Second Delay, hasn’t been updated since 2001. So, here’s some more up-to-date links: the show’s blog (which happens to have a link to my article at the top… don’t worry, there’s no quid pro quo deal or anything like that), and a list of archived shows.

By the way, if anyone can tell me what the Robin Williams quote I discussed yesterday actually means, let me know in the comments. I’ve been hearing that damn quote for 20 years now (I even had the soundtrack, which had all of Williams’ bits as Adrian Cronauer interspersed between the oldies), and to this day I have no idea what it means.

“Basically, it’s hotter than a snake’s ass in a wagon rut.”

ThermometerI just came back from a dance lesson (yes, I’m taking dance lessons… more on that later), and the one block walk from the dance studio — it’s over Hennessey’s bar! — to my apartment was just a murky mess. I’ve finally stopped sweating, about 30 minutes after coming back to my AC-bathed home (and that’s a victory in and of itself, considering how poorly the AC has worked in my building over the last few summers).

Anyway, my Andy Breckman profile has finally been posted at New Jersey Monthly‘s web site, complete with the sidebar about Breckman’s writing staff at Monk (which was completely rewritten, save for the quotes I got. But the larger article is 95% how I wrote it, which is pretty satisfying to me, considering how long it is). It was a fun article to do, as I followed Breckman around for two days, from the show’s offices to the studios of WFMU, where he does a weekly radio show, to his home. The writers’ room experience was interesting, especially seeing how Andy and his crew break down the story of an episode into acts and scenes within those acts. And that’s before the script is even written.

Oh, and being in the writers’ room led me to another story lead, which I can’t talk about right now. But it’s an exciting one.

By the way, the line in the post’s title is from Good Morning, Vietnam. No, I don’t know what it means, either. But it was probably the last live-action movie where Robin Williams’ random improvised humor was actually funny. Unfortunately, it also led other filmmakers to make movies where Robin “winged it,” leading to pretty ugly results.

Premiere.com and NJ Monthly

Ahh… it’s always good to announce new stuff of mine that pops up throughout the publishing universe. Why? Well, ego for one thing… I like seeing my name in print. But it also makes me feel good because I know a check with numbers and a dollar sign on it will soon be arriving in the mail. And, as much as I love writing, I love getting paid to write even more.

So, allow me to announce two new pieces:

1) With The Simpsons Movie coming out, I wrote a piece for Premiere.com that examines five other movies that came out while the TV shows they were based on were still running.

2) I will also have a huge profile of Monk creator Andy Breckman coming out in the August issue of New Jersey Monthly. No link yet, but I just wanted to mention it in case you wanted to run right out and get the magazine (which would be hard, since it’s not quite out yet. Should be any day, though).