Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Maybe smoke was in everyone's eyes

Turning first to the entertainment coverage on a morning when I find a lot in the papers that could be better:

I saw the Seattle Times' venerable rock critic Patrick McDonald at last night's Neil Young concert, hunched at intermission over a laptop with a Verizon wireless card. Good for Patrick, I thought. Next-day coverage, maybe even same-night coverage of a live event! I almost stopped and said hey, but he looked like he was on deadline and I didn't want to interrupt. I needn't have worried, apparently.

No sign of the concert in either local paper or on their web sites this morning. Deep in the Times' site, on the Entertainment page, a purple-shaded box with the photos of two editors offered their "Get Out" recommendation: Neil Young. But when I clicked I got some kind of this-file-is-empty error message. Lame. The recommendation has since been changed to "Spamalot."

I don't get how the papers could punt this. Even if I found the concert a bit disappointing it's a big deal, with a lot of expensive tickets sold, three generations of fans, a brand-new CD being pitched and almost an entire tour left to come. It's news. Sporting events are covered live every day of the year. Come on, man, even M&M was able to post a review by midnight last night.

Update: As of midday the Times has posted McDonald's review -- "a great, unforgettable, powerful show ..." -- and the P-I has posted a nice photo gallery, but still no review.

Moving on: The big news all over the Internet again today is the still-raging SoCal fires. The cool LA Times Google fire maps, first pointed out around these parts by Kaye's great NiteNote blog, have spread like, well, you know. The Seattle Times and P-I have been linking to the LAT map off their front pages, and now I notice the New York Times has gotten into the act with its own, staff-produced, non-Google multimedia map. Pretty good, but no better than the much quicker and totally intuitive Google version.

Although Long Beach hasn't been hit directly by the fires -- Kaye's been keeping us updated -- the LA Times has a good piece today about how topography funnels the smoke right into our old hometown.

The P-I "localizes" the fires with a front-page feature about some evacuating Californians who ended up here in Seattle. It's funny, when people first started leaving their homes down there I thought of the running gag in this year's "Curb Your Enthusiasm" show on HBO, in which a black Katrina-victim family comes to LA to live with Larry David and Cheryl. Maybe next year, I thought, the smoked-out Davids could pack up and head to New Orleans. When they get off the plane some bored-looking couple could say, Oh, you're Jewish! (You'd have to have seen the show for this to make sense, and don't worry, it really wasn't funny the first time around either.)

Other than the fires, which dominate both local front pages, it's one of those days when you could make an argument for two Seattle dailies. The P-I has one of its periodic cold-case murder stories (not my cup, but pretty well done) and a James Wallace takeout on the Airbus A380 superjet, of big interest to local Boeing-heads.

The Times has a good political profile of Richard Pope, a dumbass perennial loser candidate who unexpectedly -- probably even to him -- finds himself in the thick of a race this year because his opponent for the King County Council was caught driving drunk. Good take.

And David Postman, an FOM&M, has a sharp Postman on Politics post about how Republican Dino Rossi should frame his campaign for governor. The other day I complained that both papers were underplaying the news that Rossi would run again. But I also understood the editors' decisions; neither story had more than: He's running again. What they need, I thought, is a good second-day story (but on the first day) that explains why Rossi's decision is important and spins it forward. Postman, who is a good political reporter and must have had some brilliant direction somewhere along the way, gets that. His post still could be fleshed out a bit in story form and run in the paper, but it's a good start.

Paging down his blog, I notice he took a typically Postmanesque swipe at his bosses, complaining that his coverage of Hillary Clinton's Seattle visit was buried and providing a link to his own story. But it's followed immediately by this: "UPDATE: Apparently I wasn't paying attention and the story was on the homepage. Apologies to all. I hadn't had coffee yet." Sigh. As I've told my friend David a thousand times, Be cool, man.

Finally, in sports news, tonight is the beginning of the World Series. It looks like a decent matchup between the storied Boston Red Sox and the come-from-nowhere Colorado Rockies, this year's Cinderella story. But the LAT's terrific sports columnist Bill Plaschke isn't buying it.

Plaschke, who was from Seattle before moving to Los Angeles, minces no words in his take: "The Red Sox are a much better team from a far superior league. The Rockies are the Seattle Mariners with galoshes."


"So the most celebrated glass slipper in recent baseball history comes clacking to the World Series," Plaschke writes. "Good. The Boston Red Sox can use it to drink their champagne."

Bill's probably right. Still. I know where I'll be at 5 o'clock.


Michelle said...

Nice post, baby. Five guys and a mac, is what I say.

Rita said...

I could rave on and on about all of your reviews and critiques, but I'm afraid I would sound too much like a mother.

mich said...

Another excellent post, Mark. I like your take on Postman, top to bottom. You should know that Patrick did do a quickie half-review from the Neil Young show, and it ran inside Local (because our section has early deadlines on Tuesdays, argh). It was so-so, and he then fleshed out the review for posting today -- the posting took two hours after the editor finished her job, for some unknown reason. But at least Patrick was trying. I give the oldtimer some credit for that.

Are you getting the print versions of the papers again?

Mark said...

Thanks Mich.

I guess I missed Patrick's early take. And no, I'm not getting the papers every day, but I guess I assumed that if a review had been in the paper it would have been on the web site. I couldn't find it.

mich said...

Yeah, it was a weird glitch on our part. But Patrick did his part. No biggie though.

I love this blog!