Sunday, November 18, 2007's Kindle: Can it Succeed Where Other eBook Readers Have Failed?

The idea of eBooks sounds great: Download entire books to a little PDA-like device, and carry around an entire library with you to read at your leisure in one compact package. The eBook format has been hailed as the next big advance in media... except that it's never really taken off.

People just don't seem to like the idea of reading an entire book on a small computer-like screen. But now the 800-pound-gorilla of retailing,, is launching its own eBook reader, called Kindle, on Monday, November 19th. In doing so, Amazon is trying to succeed where many respected companies (including Sony) have failed.

An article from Publishers Weekly has links to several reviews of and comments about the Kindle eBook reader, including some from Newsweek, Engadget, and PW's own commentator.

Will Amazon's eBook reader succeed where others have failed? Amazon definitely has the marketing savvy and the customer-service expertise, but are they out of their comfort zone with trying to launch their own electronic device? We should find out soon, especially with Amazon's habit of ranking the sales of the items they sell.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Good News: Travis Barker is Very Much Alive

Turns out that rumor flying around cyberspace about Travis Barker dying was just that: a rumor. It's hard to tell who started it, but Barker's wife ended the speculation on Friday when she issued a statement that he was indeed alive.

Barker's wife Shanna Moakler confirmed today on her MySpace page that her husband is still alive. I haven't seen the statement, but apparently she went on to rip the rumor-mongers a new a-hole for spreading the rumor... which I fully agree with. Celebrities are always the subject of rumors, but to spread around news that someone is or may be dead with no proof at all is totally cruel and pathetic.

I posted an article to this effect at

Rock on, Travis.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

What's the Story with Blink-182 Drummer Travis Barker?

The Internet has been on fire November 15th with the rumor that drummer Travis Barker of Plus-44 and Blink-182 has died. There have been some postings on a MySpace to this effect, but it's not known how legitimate the news is

Supposedly Travis Barker died while returning home from an awards party or dinner, or died shortly after arriving home. But again, nothing is known for sure at this time.

Is this a hoax? It's hard to tell, but Travis Barker turned 32 on November 14th, so it's possible that someone set up this whole story as a cruel hoax. As sick as that would be, I'm hoping that it's the case, only because it's a far more desirable outcome that having Travis Barker actually no longer with us.

If I find out any more details, I will post them here.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

"Quarterlife": The Web-Only TV Show from the Creators of "thirtysomething"

Producers Ed Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz have always felt out of step with the whims of the traditional TV network game, even though they've definitely had success with it. So now they're making TV show on their own terms, except that you won't find it on any TV.

The show, "Quarterlife," involves a group of people in their twenties trying to manage love, life, work, and other things while trying to figure out what to do after college. "Quarterlife" can be viewed only on the show's MySpace page.

Zwick and Herskovitz have the creative chops to attract viewers and keep them engaged. Their series "thirtysomething" captured the minds (and eyeballs) of young professionals during the late '80s and ran for several years, attracting lots of critical acclaim (and some derision) along the way.

They had mixed luck with their later TV series, gaining more critical praise and loyal audiences (but the size of those audiences was modest by major-network standards). Each of these shows—"My So-Called Life," "Relativity," and "Once and Again"—ended up being shuffled around to different times and days, which Zwick and Herskovitz feel made it tough for them to gain a steady audience.

I've always liked the work and the approach of Zwick and Herskovitz. They presented characters who felt like real people in real-life situations, not cardboard cut-outs. And they've always had some great young actors. The 15-year-old Claire Danes played 15-year-old Angela Chase in "My So-Called Life," which also starred Jared Leto in his first widespread exposure as an actor. And I seem to recall that the young Brad Pitt even played a bad-boy motorcycle boyfriend of the family's babysitter on one episode of "thirtysomething."

So I'm glad to see these two pros at work again and having more control than they've every had. With "Quarterlife," Zwick and Herskovitz are producing the show they want without having to worry about network schedules, oversight, or bottom-line issues. (In fact, "Quarterlife" was originally supposed to be a network TV show, but never got aired, as far as I know.)

And if "Quarterlife" doesn't last very long, don't feel bad for Zwick and Herskovitz. Like I said, they're definitely got creative chops and can find work: Together they have produced movies such as "Blood Diamond," "The Last Samurai," and "Legends of the Fall." And Zwick has been the director of a number of films including "Glory" and and "Courage Under Fire."

It'll be interesting to see how the "Quarterlife" experiment turns out. If it goes well, we might see other creative teams deciding to bypass the whims of network programmers and seek out their own audience on the Web. Considering the tremendous network pressure for a hit, with new shows being pulled off the air after only one episode if they don't draw an immediate audience, it might be a smart move. Or the only move.