India Journalism

Delhi Snapshot: Think Your TV Job is Tough?

Spare a thought for this local reporter I saw doing a (rather crowded) live shot the other day. I count more than 15 people, not counting the journalist, in the frame. 

That cannot have been been easy, but she seemed totally unflustered. 


Quote of the Week: David Letterman Visits India

David letterman india

“You talk about the energy of New York City — India makes New York City look like nap time.”

That’s from an in-depth New York Times story this week on what the late-night icon has been up to since retirement (beyond growing an impressive beard).

Letterman apparently traveled here to world’s second-most-populous country to film a TV series on global warming called “Years of Living Dangerously.” He continued:

“The first day was very depressing. You smell what you think might be furniture burning, and it never leaves.”

“And then,” he added, “one day it would be exhilarating. What never seemed to waver was their optimism. The fact that there’s 1.2 billion people is, to them, an asset, where we would think, oh my God, what are we going to do?”

Here’s more info on the series. The show airs on National Geographic Channel later this month.

Movies Tech

Does Social Media Make TV a Better Entertainment Medium for Our Time than Film?

This snippet in Richard Brody’s recent New Yorker piece on the best movies of 2015 struck me:

The cinema’s self-conscious modernity arose when its makers put a virtual mirror into its lenses and revealed the filmmaking process in the films themselves. They reflected the world around the movie within the movie, the director on the screen. But television has outrun the cinema here, too, by replacing the mirror with an echo chamber; by means of social media, television has gone beyond reflexivity to become participatory. It has become its own story. “Transparent” isn’t about an elderly father who comes out as a transgender woman; it’s about the making of a show on that subject. “Mad Men” is about the making of a show about advertising people in the nineteen-sixties. Unlike movies, where reflexivity is a matter of aesthetics, TV has made it a matter of ethics, politics, and sociology.

Food for thought.


Presented Without Comment: ‘Killing Bigfoot’

Embedded above on and on Vimeo here: Peter von Puttkamer’s trailer for “Killing Bigfoot,” which begins Oct. 17 on Discovery’s Destination America.

Via BB.


There’s more. For an inside-baseball discussion on the ethics of hunting Bigfoot, see the video above.


What cell phones will look like in the decades ahead

2014 04 09 cell phones

According to a recent flash-forward episode “Grey’s Anatomy,” that is.


Some favorite albums, books, TV shows, movies, and in-depth stories from 2013

Here’s a look back at some of my favorites from last year.


My pick: “Modern Vampires of the City,” by Vampire Weekend.

Here’s “Obvious Bicycle“:

And “Diane Young“:

Runner-up album:

Beta Love,” by Ra Ra Riot. Here’s the title track.

Honorable mentions: Sky Ferreira’s “Night Time, My Time,” Daft Punk’s “Random Access Memories,” and Lorde’s “Pure Heroine.”


Of the books I read last year, two stand out, not least because they were written by pals.

First: Matt Gross’s “The Turk Who Loved Apples: And Other Tales of Losing My Way Around the World.”

2014 01 08 turk who loved apples

This may not come as a surprise, since I’ve written about Matt’s work before.

The New York Times called the book “a joyful meditation on the spontaneity and unpredictability of the traveling life,” and said:

Gross ruminates on the loneliness of the road, the evanescent friendships that occasionally blossom into something deeper, the pleasures of wandering through cities without a map. Now settled in Brooklyn with his wife and daughters, he leaves little doubt that all his years of near-constant travel have only whetted his appetite for more. “The world,” he writes, has become “a massively expanding network of tiny points where anything at all could happen, and within each point another infinite web of possibilities.”

Worth checking out.

And second: “The Accidental Playground: Brooklyn Waterfront Narratives of the Undesigned and Unplanned,” by Dan Campo.

2014 01 08 accidental playground

The Times included the book in a piece called “Suggested Reading for de Blasio,” and wrote:

Daniel Campo, a former New York City planner, considers the serendipitous development of Williamsburg and concludes: “In contrast to urban space produced through conventional planning and design, the accidental playground that evolved on the North Brooklyn waterfront generated vitality through immediate and largely unmeditated action. The waterfront was there for the claiming, and people went out and did just that without asking for permission, holding meetings or making plans.”

Indeed, it’s worth a read.

TV shows

2014 01 09 breaking bad

There can be only one.


I haven’t yet seen many of the year’s most talked-about films, but I liked “Gravity” and “This is the End.” 2013 films I still intend to watch: “12 Years a Slave,” “The Act of Killing,” “Inside Llewyn Davis,” and “Computer Chess.”


And finally, here are some in-depth stories, blog posts, reviews, and other pieces of writing I liked this year:


    ‘The New Myanmar’: First Two Episodes Available Online

    I mentioned a few weeks back that Anasuya’s new Channel NewsAsia TV show, “The New Myanmar,” would soon air.

    Well, the first two episodes have been broadcast, and they’re now available online.

    Embedded above on online here is episode one, “Artistic Freedom,” about music and the arts in the country.

    And embedded above on and online here is episode two, “Saving Yangon,” about the city’s architectural heritage.

    There are several more episodes to come. You can see them live on Channel NewsAsia on Mondays from 8:30 to 9 p.m. Singapore time.


    Kevin Costner’s Turkish Airlines TV ad: “Feel Like a Star”

    The first few times I saw this Turkish Airlines ad — embedded below — on CNN International, I didn’t recognize Oscar Award winning actor Kevin Costner. Instead, I noted the ad’s other elements: The twist at the end, the catchy tune, and the various appeals to male vanity.

    But then a pal, K, mentioned Costner’s involvement, and I gave the spot another viewing. And indeed, it’s Costner:

    Predictably snarky commentary can be found here and here, and a Turkish Airlines billboard featuring Costner and the “Feel Like a Star” campaign can be seen here.


    Bizarre Thai TV ad: light bulbs keep ghosts away

    I love this bizarre Thai TV ad (embedded below) for Sylvania light bulbs.

    According to this blog, the light bulbs are advertised as helping to “keep monsters at bay”:

    Jeh United Ltd in Bangkok promoted the Sylvania Light Bulb as the way to keep monsters at bay in this off beat TV ad from Thailand. A child at a picnic points out figures from South East Asian mythology. His father fearlessly names them as Kra Sue, the floating head of a female vampire ghost, Kra Hung, a flying ghost, the Banana ghost and others. All is safe in daylight. But when the light goes out…

    Via Wise Kwai’s Thai Film Journal, where you can find more info on the ad.


    The Wire Rap: five seasons in five minutes

    This rap (embedded above) summarizes all five seasons of The Wire. Spoiler alert, naturally, if you haven’t yet seen the best television show ever created. (And why haven’t you?)

    Related: The “Re-elect Clay Davis” T-shirt.

    (Via Kottke.)