December 5, 2008
My agenda for Las Vegas includes doing a whole bunch of blogging for Rotoworld, meeting Phil Miller of the St. Paul Pioneer Press for the first time, trying to avoid talking about soccer while hanging out with Official Twins Beat Writer of AG.com LaVelle E. Neal III, being a fly on the wall of the jam-packed media room while the sport's writing heavyweights do their thing, and interviewing Ron Gardenhire again. Oh, and perhaps playing a little poker too. It should be a very interesting week.
If any AG.com readers are planning to be in Las Vegas next week for the winter meetings, drop me an e-mail and we can try to meet up. And if any AG.com-reading media members feel like being friendly to a lowly blogger, let me know and I'll try to get over my shyness long enough to introduce myself and/or buy you a beer. While you're hopefully bookmarking the Hot Stove Blog and I'm hopefully packing for my trip, here's the usual Friday link dump ...
For years I've used Stern and Carolla as sort of the background music for my day-to-day life, listening to them while writing or watching sports on television or driving or simply sitting around the house. In fact, old episodes of Loveline playing on my iPod are what will help kill time Sunday during my flight to Las Vegas. All of which is a very long, overly detailed way of saying that I'm a huge fan of talk radio and tend to become obsessed with constantly listening to certain shows.
At various points Tony Kornheiser, Dan Barreiro, Bubba The Love Sponge, and a few other talk-radio guys have joined Stern and Carolla in my listening mix, but recently I've been devouring the Two Jacks In The Hole archives at Poker Road. However, Two Jacks clearly isn't a poker show (they sarcastically play a clip from Rounders every time someone even mentions the word poker) and in fact technically isn't even a radio show. Instead, it's a radio-caliber podcast hosted by Scott Huff and Joe Stapleton.
There are re-occurring bits, callers, news segments, and all sorts of other stuff that you'd normally hear on a morning or drive-time radio show, except without the annoying traffic updates, lengthy commercial breaks, and pretentiousness. Oh, and it's also extremely funny. Huff and Stapleton have an incredible on-air chemistry that sort of mixes Carolla's ability to entertainingly riff on random subjects and Stern's ability to be brutally honest about his personal life.
I've listened to a ton of talk radio over the years and have rarely heard a mix of intelligence, humor, and on-air chemistry like what Huff and Stapleton bring to the table, which is pretty amazing for a couple of guys who started doing the show for literally zero audience just a couple years ago and have turned it into something with a devoted following. In fact, it reminds me of the "this is fun, let's see if we can turn it into something" approach that blogs like this one have taken and that makes it even more enjoyable.
Anyway, if you like Stern, Carolla, Kornheiser, Barreiro, or talk radio in general, listen to a few episodes of Two Jacks In The Hole and give it a chance to grow on you. After initially only occasionally listening to the show while checking out the various poker-related content over at Poker Road, I've recently become hooked to the point of listening to their entire archive during the past couple weeks. Right now they do a two-hour show once a week, but if life is fair they'll be snatched up by some radio station and get big.
However, that part pales in comparison to the fact that the "sloppy seconds" Avery was talking about is none other than former Official Fantasy Girl of AG.com Elisha Cuthbert. Seriously. She's currently with Dion Phaneuf of the Calgary Flames after previously dating Avery and Mike Komisarek of the Montreal Canadians. As they say, you can take the girl out of Canada, but you can't take Canada out of the girl. Or something, I'm still trying to wrap my head around the notion of Cuthbert as "sloppy seconds."
On a related note, my MinnPost colleague David Brauer reports that there's yet another batch of layoffs and buyouts coming at the Star Tribune.
A newspaper film critic is like a canary in a coal mine. When one croaks, get the hell out. The lengthening toll of former film critics acts as a poster child for the self-destruction of American newspapers, which once hoped to be more like the New York Times and now yearn to become more like the National Enquirer. We used to be the town crier. Now we are the neighborhood gossip.
The celebrity culture is infantilizing us. We are being trained not to think. It is not about the disappearance of film critics. We are the canaries. It is about the death of an intelligent and curious, readership, interested in significant things and able to think critically. It is about the failure of our educational system. It is not about dumbing-down. It is about snuffing out. The news is still big. It's the newspapers that got small.
Once you're done here, check out my latest "Daily Dose" column over at Rotoworld.