The Ann Romney Files
Ann Romney commented today on "Fox News" how the country lost when her husband Mitt didn't win the election. She's taking a hit for the comment, but honestly, I'm okay with her saying that. He's her husband -- of course his wife would think that.
What I wouldn't have been okay with is if he had actually won.
If I had any advice for Mrs. Romney, though, it would to be careful about too much whining, because I don't think she wants to become the Sarah Palin of political wives. And she's coming close to that. So close, in fact, that you can see it from my porch.
If you love awards shows and just can't get enough of them -- or if you love good writing -- here's one more for you that's upcoming.
Tomorrow (Saturday), the Writers Guild of America is having its annual awards, and it will be webcast online. This is the second year that they've made the show available online to the general public. I watched a bit last year, and it was reasonably fun. There was something charming about it being so un-slick, though they do a reasonable job. To be clear, there aren't all that many celebrities, but they do have celebrity presenters -- and the host is Brad Garrett. There's a good chance that you won't recognize a single award winner, but it might be fun for some folks to hear what the people who write your favorite shows and movies have to say.
My big quibble with the WGA Awards is that 90% of them are for TV, rather than feature film. That's less of an issue when watching online than it was on the two times I've gone to the event as a guest. You're stuck there for TV award after TV award. (Nothing against television, just that as a Guild member I'd like to see more balance.) When watching online, though, you have more distractions than a plate of food.
The pre-show coverage will begin at 5 PM (Los Angeles time), followed at 5:30 by "Meet the Writers," which will be interviews with some of the nominees. The ceremony itself then starts at 6 PM.
No password is needed to watch, it will just be an open live stream.
I'm a bit uncertain about the exact online address for all this, since I've been given different information. But I suspect the safest best is to click here -- it's being hosted through the Los Angeles Times website -- and if the show is streaming on this page, they'll have a link there where clicking through will take you to the show.
(If you might be interested in watch, best to simply click that link above now and bookmark it for tomorrow.)
Just in case, here is another L.A. Times page that may have the broadcast or will get you there. The confusion is that the link above is the one the WGA sent out. But it goes to a news story on the Los Angeles Times about the awards show. The article, however, has a separate link here that takes you to their Envelope page, where they say the webcast will be. At the moment, though, there are just a lot of entertainment news stories and videos, and no streaming, so it's hard to be sure what gives.
I suspect the webcast will be on this "second" link, and is the direct one. But either link should get you to the show.
Again, the WGA Awards starts at 6 PM (Los Angeles time) with pre-game festivities starting at 5 PM.
Beer With Me a Moment
The Super Bowl (sorry, I think I'm allowed to use those trademarked words...) is coming this Sunday, so that means it's time again for "the best commercials of the year" interspersed with the game. (It should be a very good game this year. Here's hoping. Why they're playing it outdoors in New York in January is another question entirely...)
Most companies hold their Big Ads to be revealed during the game itself, but a few release them early for the attention build-up. One of those latter is Budweiser which is following up on it's friendship ad last year between a dog and Clydesdale which was voted the #1 fan favorite in USA Today's Ad Meter. An article on the Huffington Post found this new ad to be beyond endearing, one of the most emotional beer commercials ever, so let's take a look at "Puppy Love" --
While a bit forced, it's a very nicely done, charming ad. After all, it's hard not to love a puppy spinning around and hopping, most especially an absolutely adorably cute puppy. I suspect it will be a viewer favorite, as well.
But when it comes to the Super Bowl (again, I hope I can use that term without paying for the rights...) and beer commercials, this new one below is going to be hard to top as my own favorite.
To be fair, this won't run during the game, so it's not exactly an official Super Bowl (yes, I know, fill in disclaimer...) ad, which is its point. I believe that Budweiser bought the rights to all beer commercials during the Super Bo..., so no other beers can be advertised during the broadcast. So, as I said, this won't be on then. In fact, I think right now it's only intended for the Internet, though I suspect it will be trimmed down for TV later.
This is the actresses Anna Kendrick as herself on behalf of Newcastle Brown Ale, and it's the behind-the-scenes of the ad you won't get to see during the Sup...B...
(She was on the Conan show this week, and had a brief clip of the ad, which is what got me to track down the full thing. The sense I got from what was said is that this is part of a larger campaign, so there might be more to come, though I can't swear to that.)
I'm a big fan of Anna Kendrick having zero to do with her acting, which I think is terrific. My admiration comes from her talk show appearances and Tweets, I find her utterly self-effacing and hilarious. This beer commercial only adds to that.
Now, that's a beer commercial ad!! And I just love a company that's able (and clearly willing) to be so self-effacing about itself, as well.
By the way, what's hilarious (or pathetically sad) is that among all the comments on YouTube from people who love this ad are far too many people (and one is too many) who not only miss the joke, but actually think this is real. As one , happily sentient commenter noted --
"There's a distressing number of YouTube comments calling her foulmouthed and rude. People, this isn't Anna really talking to herself. It's...a commercial. It's...fake. And really funny.
"Why does YouTube attract so many dimwitted people?"
If putting up with this reality means we get such ads as this...so be it.
The iTunes Tale
I may finally be done with iTunes. I can’t swear to it, but I’m on a test run to do without. I’ve uninstalled it from my system, and we’ll see how it goes. For those of you who've ruminated about doing this, as well, the tale might offer some insights.
To be clear, I've never had a particular issue with iTunes. I know it has its detractors for not being flexible, but I've been fine with how it's designed. I'm not crazy about it's latest re-design, but it's okay. My biggest problem has been that whenever they do upgrades, their testing for Windows compatibility -- indeed their Windows compatibility. I know it's an Apple program. But 90% of computer operating systems are Windows, so it does make sense to play nice with it.
In their last re-design, they screwed up the ability to download podcasts. It finally got resolved, but there was a lot of screaming online from disgruntled users. When I recently got my Windows Phone, transferring songs from iTunes was wildly screwed up -- and when I switched over to a program called Media Monkey to fix things (mainly, "tagging" songs which is how they're identified), it and iTunes seemed to be mortal enemies, and bizarre things started happening.
But the final straw came came about on Thursday when I couldn’t update iTunes with the latest version, and whatever I tried I kept getting error messages. Some messages said “msvcr80 dll is missing” and some explained that “ASPDaemon.exe can’t load” which appeared every time I rebooted my system. I did a search and found that, in fact, I did have msvcr80.dll on my system (despite what the iTunes error messages said), and ASPDaemon is apparently an unnecessary Apple software unless one uses iCloud (which works poorly with Windows).
After wasting a couple hours with all this, I tracked down that a lot of people were having the same problem with this new iTunes update. They were getting the same "msvcr80.dll missing" and "ASPDaemon" error messages. One site finally offered details on how to get it to install, by giving explicit directions on what to uninstall first and in what exact order, which will allow you to then install the new iTunes update.
(For any of you who might be having the same problem installing the new version of iTunes, click here for a link to those instructions. I can't swear that this will work for everyone, but the people who replied suggests it does work.)
I followed those uninstall directions -- but right before installing iTunes again, I paused. “Hey, wait, do I need it?” I have a Windows Phone now, my iPod is now longer my device of choice. I can listen to my albums through Windows Media Player or Realplayer. And I get my podcasts (albeit poorly…) on my Windows Phone. However, I still do want to be able to get podcasts on my desktop (long story, but a main reason is that I want to be able to download them to embed some of them here on my website, like the News from Lake Wobegon and the Piano Puzzler) -- but do I need iTunes for that, I wondered??
I did some searching, found some podcast player alternatives, and am currently trying Feedly. It seems to work quite well -- you sign in with your Google account, so you can access your Favorite Podcasts from any computer. And you can download easily. Podbay.fm also appears to work nicely.
Apparently the aforementioned Media Monkey handles podcasts, too, though I haven’t tried it. I’m a bit gunshy after all its conflicts with iTunes…but if I’ve uninstalled iTunes, all those conflicts should be gone -- hey, maybe I’ll check it out. But Feedly seems to be okay for the moment. And there's something nice about it being accessible as an online website that updates automatically and is accessible right from within your browser, rather than a standalone program.
The larger point is that, for now, I’ve uninstalled iTunes, and we’ll see how it goes. There are some slight downsides to letting it go. (I may want to be able to keep my iPod Touch current. But right now I’ll try without. And ultimately, I do still have iTunes on my laptop computer, as a backup.) But for now, we are iTunes free.
Not So Empty Nest
As I noted in my CES overview the other week, the Smart (or connected) Home has been around for a few years, where you can control devices in house with an app on your Smartphone. The technology is growing, and this all took a more attention-getting turn last week when Google purchased the company Nest for over $3 billion.
As it happened, shortly after writing that -- last Thursday, in fact, I was having lunch with a friend who recently had his home outfitted with one of those Smart Home devices Nest. In his case, it was for thermostat control, which is important where he lives. And he was ecstatic about it, not the least important because he's a technical Luddite. (That's not an exaggeration. Years ago, he asked me a question about using a stapler. Honest.)
As coincidences piled themselves on one another, the next day CNET had a detailed article about Google's purchase of...Nest. If you have the product, or are thinking about it, or intrigued by the concept, the article worth taking a look at.
The core of the article is the future -- Google's plans and the top mistakes they could make. This center on pricing of devices, whether they keep it proprietary to Android only, and perhaps most notably privacy. There is a great deal of data collected by the technology -- when you sleep, when you go out and lock up your home -- and selling data is the lifeblood of its existence. Not to mention protecting it.
If you're interested, click here for the whole article.
Being Seth Meyers
Here's a very nice tribute to Seth Meyers by Mike Ryan on the Huffington Post. As Ryan notes, it's hard to write a "goodbye," when the person will be back so soon with his talk show, but it's still worth it. AMeyers is leaving SNL, where he is head writer, and his legacy goes all the way back to 2001 when Will Ferrell was still on the show. What's so nice to read is the affection that cast members have for him, given the reputation of the show for cut-throat. There's a great generosity that comes through, like when Bill Hader mentions an on-screen hug after his last "Stefon" sketch on Weekend Update, and he reveals that what Meyers said to him was, "Thank you for letting me be a part of that." This from the guy who was head writer.
I've always liked Seth Meyers -- and that's separate from the fact that he's another of those "actors who went to Northwestern." Ryan rightly points out that the best character Seth Meyers plays is Seth Meyers. When he's a guest on talk shows, he comes across as smart, charming and whimsical. Being Seth Meyers.
If you want to read the article, click here.
And here is Seth Meyers being Seth Meyers. Along with his brother, actor Josh Meyers. Often when appearing on Jimmy Fallon's show, the two brothers would appear to play "The Sibling Game," where they'd try to match stories about about growing up. I can't embed the segment together, but here it is broken down into three videos
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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