Top Ten Bad Things About Facebook's Redesign

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Last week, Facebook overhauled its site for the second time in only about nine months or so, and the reviews are in: it sucks. And it sucks in the most insidious ways. You see, at first glance, things don’t seem too drastically different. Navigation and usability is more or less the same (unlike the last transformation which was a radical change from the previous layout). However, the more one uses the new Facebook, the more terrible it gets. Little tweaks and changes become apparent, and soon it’s very obvious that the problems with New Facebook aren’t just kneejerk reactions against change. There are some major flaws with the new design, and I’m going to endeavor to detail them all right here.

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How Dumb Is CBS.com?

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I’m really loving this latest season of The Amazing Race, but when it comes to building buzz on the Internet, CBS seems all backward. Absolutely none of the show’s videos can be embedded, and that goes for previews of upcoming episodes. What sort of marketing genius thought that up? Wouldn’t CBS want previews to be accessible on every site on the Internet? I imagine some myopic supervisor thought that by disabling embedding, it would draw traffic to CBS.com, but if there’s anything I learned from my TVgasm days, it’s that readers don’t like to do anything that’s inconvenient. Specifically, if you make content difficult to reach, it simply won’t be reached.
It’s bad enough that CBS posts only a handful of photos from each Amazing Race episode (usually three to four days after a show airs), but to deprive the blogosphere of usable video? That just seems cruel and unusual. It’s especially maddening when compared to how accessible the network makes content for Big Brother. When that show is in season, the webmasters deluge us with images (upwards of a hundred per episode) and video that can be embedded. Why the change of heart for Amazing Race?
Awful.
(For a good recap, click here)

THE HYPE IS TRUE: 'Mad Men' Is Amazing


Click above to watch part 1 of the pilot. Click here to see the rest.

I like to talk as if I live a very lavish, party-filled lifestyle, but the truth is that on July 4th, I found myself at home by 9:30 with nothing to do. Televised options were limited, and I was completely caught up with my backlog of programs on the Tivo. Sure, I could have done something productive like reading or even writing, but c’mon, let’s not talk crazy. Truth was that I’d been hankering to watch Mad Men, the critically acclaimed AMC series whose hype has been inescapable of late: cover stories in The New York Times Magazine section, newly released DVD box sets, rumors of Emmy glory — it’s all been practically suffocating.
Well, with nothing better to do, I decided to dip my pen into the On Demand well and download the first episode. And so the adventure began.

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SHOCKING NEWS: Heidi Montag's New Single Is Crazy Catchy

I just heard Heidi’s new song/caterwaul, “Fashion,” and I’m not going to lie: it’s vapid, atonal, and totally awful. And yet, it’s so crazy catchy that I’ve been whistling it for the past five minutes (and I’ve only heard it once). If you can just get past all the vocoder effects and the French lyrics (!) and the so-cheesy-it-hurts “HEIDI!” line at the beginning, you’ll find that the chorus is kind of like crack — equal parts shameful and addictive. I’m sorry people. I can’t help it.
Now I know what some of you might be thinking. A) I have no taste (which could be true); B) I myself am on crack; so therefore I would appreciate the musical version of it; or C) after my morning with Speidi, I’m completely biased towards their creative output. Well, when it comes to the latter accusation, fear not. This comes from an unbiased point of view. Or rather, an unbiased AND fairly embarrassed point of view.
Why do I feel like I’ll always regret this blog post for the rest of my life?
To hear Heidi Montag’s “Fashion,” click here.
And to replenish your music cred, listen to David Bowie’s “Fashion” here.

I'LL JUST SAY IT: The Fix Is In For Archuleta!

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Photo via rickey.org

I don’t know why, but for some reason the people behind American Idol want David Archuleta to win. Maybe they’re hoping his presence will boost ticket sales for the summer tour. Maybe they’re trying to gain a larger share of the adult contemporary market. Or maybe they’re just plain loco. But the simple truth remains that lil’ Davey, while technically a great vocalist, is certainly no star.
And yet on tonight’s final performance show, the judges gave him near unanimous praise. Huh? Were they hearing the same sounds? Maybe the acoustics in the new Nokia Theater venue screwed with their ears because as far as I could tell from my cozy seat in the Hollywood Hills, David Archuleta was a veritable snooze-fest. Whereas David Cook seemed to command the stage unlike ever before, David Archuleta seemed to get swallowed up in it. As you can imagine, I was astounded when Simon said all three rounds went to the boy wonder. Let the headscratching commence.

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So Simple, So Tacky, So Wonderful!

I don’t even have houseplants, but for some reason, I want the Aqua Globe. It allows you to leave your plants unattended for up to TWO WHOLE WEEKS. Wwwhhhaaaa?? Actually, the only reason I’m so impressed with this bad boy is because the science behind the Aqua Globe seems so simple, yet so right (assuming it works). Granted, the downside is that it’ll look like a hot air balloon got lodged in your fern, but hey, that’s a small price to pay for what will surely be a wonderful conversation starter!

Will Next Week Be The Best Week of Reality TV Ever?

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A thought occurred to me on the way home from the dentist today: next week might very well be the best week ever for reality fans. Think about it: almost every single reality behemoth will be airing. The sad exception to the rule is The Amazing Race, which unfortunately wrapped up its latest exciting run last month. Nevertheless, an intrepid reality fan (a.k.a. me) will be able to get through next week with brand new episodes of all the reality shows that have come to define the genre: American Idol, America’s Next Top Model, Apprentice, Big Brother, Project Runway, and Survivor. To a lesser degree, there’s also the veteran campy delight, The Real World/Road Rules Challenge, and two of cable’s biggest reality shows, Flavor of Love and Rock of Love. Oh, and did I mention new episodes of the cult favorite, Paradise Hotel??? Seriously, if The Amazing Race and The Hills were airing, next week could have gone down in history as the perfect week of reality offerings. As it stands now though, it’s still pretty awesome.

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I'LL JUST SAY IT: There Will Be Blood Is Overrated

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Since it’s both raining and the end of the week, I decided to treat myself to an afternoon viewing of the film that many critics are happily plopping on their Top Ten lists like a bucketful of sweet, sweet crude oil. I am, of course, talking about There Will Be Blood, the latest epic feature from acclaimed director Paul Thomas Anderson. Starring Daniel Day-Lewis in an excellent performance that will surely net him an Oscar nomination (let alone a win), the film focuses on an oil man’s rise to power at the turn of the twentieth century and all the dangerous, turbulent drama that comes with it. I won’t get into the plot too much, but suffice it to say, at a running time of over two and a half hours, there’s plenty of story to go around.
On paper, everything about There Will Be Blood works: the acting is fantastic, the direction is artistic, and the script is full of those academic conceits that get critics going: parallelism, paradoxes, allegories, social commentary, historic reflection, etc. etc. There’s no arguing that this is definitely a movie of substance with lots to discuss and debate. The problem, however, is that at the end of the day, it failed to be that most elusive quality in storytelling: engaging. The film’s emotional component seemed to be nearly absent, despite several well-drawn and thought-provoking characters. “Thought-provoking,” perhaps though, is the central issue. Too often I found myself in a cerebral state: frequently thinking about the director’s artistic vision and choices rather than merely being swept away in this fascinating —  but ultimately cold and distant — world. I never was bored, per se, by the film, but I didn’t always find myself caring too greatly about the outcome either. And no, it’s not that I suffer from some sort of anti-intellectualism that mandates movies be ninety minutes long and clearly spelled out for me. Heck, I loved Magnolia, even with its controversial, amphibious climax. The point is that despite all the hype the nations top critics have been stirring up, There Will Be Blood falls just short of its accolades. It’s worth seeing, no doubt, and several hours later, I’m still thinking about it, but would I bestow this film with a Best Picture honor? Sadly, no.
Agree? Disagree? What do you think? (And please remember to warn of spoilers if you’re going to talk about, well, spoilers).