Back in August, back when I had a functionality in me that left me able to write decent blog posts, and not just Twitter posts, I wrote a little piece called I Want My HBO, where I thought of a service called HBOnline where non-cable subscribers could get HBO content on their computer. It turns out, they had something in the works, but it’s nowhere close to what I’m looking for … yet.

HBO GO is what they’re calling it, and while I’ll admit that’s a catchier name, it also sounds like something you’d order at a sushi bar. Ehchbeeyogo?

But the real problem in their service as spelled out by their website at the moment is that you must be still attatched and suckling at the cable tv industry’s teat in order to get into HBO GO. This could change with the announcement that they’re going to make about the service tomorrow, (NYM via NYT) but I’m not holding my breath. I still don’t trust the telecoms not to have lifelong deals with HBO that are punishable by death if voided. If HBO thinks this kind of measure will stem the tide of piracy against them (see this wonderful essay from Astra Taylor from the new edition of literary journal The Baffler for more on piracy, and if you enjoy it, subscribe, damn it) they’re mistaken.*

HBO’s content, by and large, smashes the competition in the face with a brick. They used to be aware of this, you know:

So you lost The Sopranos, The Wire, Six Feet Under, and that show where the ladies loved their shoes and hated men; HBO, you’ve still got a lot to offer and a lot to get your superiority complex back about. True Blood is great fun, and it doesn’t even feel like a guilty pleasure anymore. Even though I hate on him, Bill Maher is one of the last frank and honest people on American television. The pretty funny Bored To Death is your weaker comedy show, because 1) you have the genius that is Larry David’s ever evolving Curb Your Enthusiasm, and 2) Eastbound & Down is just so amazingly fucked in the head I’m not sure what to classify it as. I know people that swear by Big Love, and you’ve got another David Simon masterpiece on deck, Treme. For once, it’s been proven that it can be a good thing to have the market cornered on old white guys, albeit geniuses who make you piss yourself in laughter or want to get piss drunk from thinking on how shitty the country can get. And I’m not even going to discuss the stuff that works for you that I just don’t think deserves it (Entourage, Hung, In Treatment, and Real Sports). But then again, you can’t be too great: you gave Joe Buck his own show. Also, you do reality tv right: by making documentaries.

Why did I just make a laundry list of reasons to fellate HBO execs for free on the side of the road? To remind them that they know how to do things differently, and to say, HEY, STOP MAKING THOSE WHO CAN’T STAND THE CABLE TV SERVICES HAVE TO PIRATE YOUR G.D. CONTENT!

*I can’t find the new Bill Maher comedy special from this past weekend at any online stomping grounds, so they’re getting better.


I want my HBO

So I recently read that a la carte cable channel bundling isn’t gonna happen. I can’t find where I found it being debated, so I link to a google news search for the last week in this topic’s debate. And the economics make sense, sort of, for why it’s not feasible.

Here’s an idea that I think should be able to work, and it could put pressure on the major networks or cable in general, to make content to compete with HBO:

HBOnline. $9.99/month for access to streaming HBO channels and a Hulu-like resource to get at the HBO OnDemand material. You could even download to iPod/iPhone if HBO & Apple, both known for thinking differently, could get their minds right. And yes, HBOnline doesn’t make sense if you speak it out literally, it’s just a logo kind of idea. Hell, even make a less expensive paywall’d Hulu channel for HBO content! Something.

As you may know, I havn’t had cable for a few months. I think this experiment dates back to March. And depending on which channel we’re talking about, the withdrawl has been nonexistent to harsh. For Countdown and Maddow (MSNBC) it’s not that bad, as they tend to post full episode video podcasts to iTunes, FOR FREE, an hour or so after the broadcast is finished. Most everything else hits the digital ether by the next morning at the latest, which means I can set it up and have stuff ready when I get home.

HBO, and especially Real Time with Bill Maher, on the other hand, drive me up the wall. I assume the wait until the Monday after the air date (a Friday night) has some origin in the fact that even internet bootleggers need weekends off too.

Also, the use of the word bootleggers has some grounding in the fact that I’m not paying HBO for anything. Not supporting the artist, either, as Maher hasn’t done a comedy club in NYC in a long long time. HBO clearly wants nothing to do with a la carte episodes on iTunes except when DVD’s are also out, but isn’t it about time for them to shift the paradigm on the TV world again? Curb’s coming back, and aside from that, and True Blood, which I’ve gotten into, I don’t see much reason why HBO will be getting press any time soon.

Bill Maher is losing it, and losing me.

And it isn't even because of his love of HookerBarbie and her friends.

Right now, with marijuana legislation doing better than it has in years and a liberal president whose mistakes on human rights are really worth criticizing, Bill Maher really should be turning out a quality product. But instead, he continues to be an alienating woe-is-me-for-I’m-so-misunderstood fraction of a talk show host whose product isn’t even worth the time it takes to steal off the net and watch.

The main flaw of the last year or so of Maher’s act has been his kneejerk reaction to a joke bombing. He’s too quick to think it’s because he offended his audience of lily-livered liberals, rather than the fact that not ever joke gets a laugh — especially when you’re not as funny as you think you are. His continued antagonism with the crowd extends to the general american public, the easiest punching bag, and one that really doesn’t have the yuks built into it that it used to. Sure flyoverstateistan is pridefully unintelligent, but his interview with Sri Lankan musician MIA did little to educate the viewer about the Tamils and the troubles in Sri Lanka. The interview was such a dud for two reasons, Maher felt it imporant to insert interludes of “You Give The Public’s Intelligence Too Much Credit” all too frequent, and this made MIA whose interview history is sparse enough to make this completely throw any rhetorical rythym off.

The other real problem with the show is the insanely uneven right-leaning panel member casting. He actually brought John Bolton on this week and took him seriously, and a couple months ago he took Andrew Breitbart, right hand ring kisser to Drudge, onto the panel, and didn’t challenge Breitbart or Drudge at all. These defanged treatments of the day’s shitspinners really gives the intelligent audience little reason to defend Maher when his crusade against marriage gets brought up in conversations. Maybe he shouldn’t be trying to hard to bring “both sides” of the debate to the table if the only right thinkers he can find are the shitforbrains-iest of them all.

Bill, remember that the minds like Savage and Taibbi whose on-the-ground reportage gave you some relevance. More of them, less of these half wits, and a bit less of your hatred of the populus and more ideas on how to help those who can’t help themselves. They gave Meet The Press to David Gregory, which was a fail. Real Time should be the Sunday Morning talk show of the Obama generation, a day and night ahead of our elders’ bullshit. Put the Real back in Real Time.

Performance Enhancing Drugs, As American As Enhanced Interrogation.

A-Rod, or Alex Rodriguez The Baseball Player (It’s kind of like how Big Pooh of Little Brother uses the prefix Rapper, but here as a suffix used by me) will probably not be getting much in the way of actual punishment for what he’s done in regards to use of performance enhancing (as well as fucking dangerous) drugs.

A-Rod is a fictional creation to me, something I say because of the fact that except for a possible love of shemale strippers, suntanning, and ditching his wife for some aged British Skeletor with a red ribbon on the wrist, we know nothing about the man. Sure that cackhead from SI’s book with Joe Torre has a lot in the way of conjecture about A-Rod, but honestly the concept of A-Rod is a hollow stat producing game choking statue to me.

Which is to say, he’s Baseball’s Jack Bauer, the fictional terror fighting über cop on Fox’s long running series 24.* Now, ARod’s also on display as guilty of breaking the rules that actually matter. Rodriguez by way of Roids, and Bauer, well we’ve long known this, by way of torture that if it were real (and not just a fictional depiction of Abu Ghiraib actions on US soil) would be just as wrong for the field he works in as A-Rod’s roids. Both broke the rules for the right reasons, though don’t you know!!?!?!. Rodriguez was afraid of letting the fans down (SWING AND A MISS times a billion) and Jack Bauer aka US Troops torture because they don’t know how else to express their love and fear. These shite rationales only help to render A-Rod’s records (as well as all other records from the tainted era) as trustworthy as that fable known as The Ticking Time Bomb Argument that neocons and torture absolvers raise.

Alex Rodriguez the man is as invulnerable to trial for steroid use as a soldier who tortured an “enemy combatant” is to trial for breaking the Geneva Conventions. To continue this parallel, Pre-A-Roid Bud Selig is in fact baseball’s George W. Bush, who oddly enough wished at one point to have the job of … Bud Selig. Post A-Roid Selig is kinda like 44th President, Barack Obama, as he should make tough decisions, but I doubt that he actually will. Yet, Selig didn’t wake up the day after A-Roid Day as a person elected to fill in his old position, and given a mandate by the public to put those who have wronged to trial. The politically minded public is tired of remembering Alberto Gonzalez’s flirtation with amnesia as the baseball community is ashamed of Sammy Sosa’s brief lapse into needing some ESL classes.

The guilty have ties to power in both baseball and politics, (and if the low level abusers are fucked with, that insures guilt for the heavies) and these connections will probably protect both all from serious actions, while the Seligs and the Obamas will nonsequitor their ways into bringing up the bigger fights they have to fight, where we find the big scary bastard of the year AHEM, THE ECONOMY, aka “I’m Barack Obama, and I’m about looking forward, not backward,” which reeks of (tip of the hat to Collin for reminding me of) Mark McGuire’s “I’m not here to talk about the past,” except that McGuire isn’t deciding whether or not to prosecute, only trying to weasel his way out of a congressional hearing. Selig also can’t think of prosecuting Alex Rodriguez the man to any degree that would hurt the sales, because of well, the economy, and the power of the players union, as well as the fact that this result should still be a secret if not for the previously aforementioned SI leak, which I guess parallels with Sy Hirsch’s Guantanamo Bay piece in the New Yorker.

Alex Rodriguez should be kicked out of baseball, and kicked out of the hall of fame, as any who have abused substance should be, if the sport is to be sacred, an ideal that most have already thrown under the bus. Selig should be stepping down in ignominy for his involvement with the tarnished era. By not doing so, Selig will now seem all the more impotent, at least to me.

In the same respect, all those who have tortured, need to face trial, as do all those who were aware of what was going on, your Rumsfelds, your Cheneys and yes, your W. Bush’s. And until this happens, we still live in a tarnished country, far from the ideals many progressives voted to uphold, yet knew they would probably never see, due to the improbability of it, because ideals are rarely met.

We go to work and try our best to avoid lying despite the fact that those at the highest office and most adored pasttimes have failed. Next time someone tells you Baseball is the American Pasttime, ask if that’s such a good thing.

*Which I admittedly watched up until this current season, when I finally lost patience with the show, agreeing with This NYMag review’s conclusion:

But Jack will always block real greatness. Less a hero than a golem, he’s uncrushable, agitprop in unshaved form—blocking nuance with his symbolic weight. He is 24’s true cockroach, immune to nuclear war or electoral landslides. Even if he didn’t have God on his side, he’d always have Fox.

• This Pro Israel Commercial You May Have Seen On TV

Almost thought about embedding the video, but yeesh, no. Click the image for it.
Almost thought about embedding the video, but yeesh, no. Click the image for it.

I’m admittedly, and possibly surprisingly, without bias when it comes to the neverending shit story that is the crisis between Israel and Palestine or however it’s supposed to be phrased this week. Well, maybe I do have a bias: People Should Knock This Shit The Fuck Off. I picked up the recent Economist to try and see if I could gleam anything from them, they seem like a rag which could be close to neutral on the affairs (readers, please tell me I’m wrong and inform me on that one), but I didn’t get much from it other than people are reacting out of proportion right now and chill pills need to be handed out.

So there I was last night when I saw this commercial urging people to call some phone number and voice their support. The commercial, from The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews seems to only be airing on MSNBC currently, which is one of the only networks I can be relied upon to watch anymore (seriously, I had no idea yesterday was when Scrubs relaunched on ABC), kind of sickened me in it’s cloyingness. That and I was already (and still kind of am) sick, and had nothing left to puke up, which I probably would have done if there was anything left. But the bile was already on the TV.

Little did I know that beyond being completely manipulative, they fucking photoshopped in some explosions, as Gawker reports. Jesus B-F Christ. MSNBC take this shit down already.

• The Roots Announce Touring Retirement, To Play Jimmy Fallon’s new 12:35am show instead?

I’m not kidding. Check the link. If you didn’t know, Conan is taking Leno’s slot, and moving out to L.A. while Fallon takes Conan’s old slot. This idea alone was questioned.

So, my thoughts? I’ve had no faith in Fallon as a talent in years. There was the occasional spark of The Funny from him on SNL, but his laughing-through-his-lines to funny ratio was not going in the right direction. I’ve been sure for a while that the show is doomed to fail, and bringing in a name brand house band is not a good sign that Jimmy Fallon can keep the damn thing up on his own.

I’m praying this show dies as soon as America finally realizes the powerful flow that is The Roots, so that ?uest & Co. can get back to the road show. That is, if they want to. They’ve been touring for a shitlong now. Maybe they want to take some time and take a breath.

On the topic of young white preppy boys in the spotlight that say or do things that are decent? Ashton Kutcher on Bill Maher saying that Big Oil should be the ones bailing out Big Auto. I know it’s pie in the sky in terms of probablity, but how is KELSO the first one to say this?