The fishwrap.

Thanks to all who are participating in the newspaper-readership survey, below. After reading most of the responses to John Scalzi’s, I can’t say any part of it was all that shocking, but some parts were surprising. The no-more-trash argument against dead-tree versions of the paper never occurred to me, and I am a person who risks a hernia every time I take my recycling to the curb. I guess I’ve been living with newsprint piles so long they’re just part of the furniture.

Here’s what I fear losing when the print newspaper goes away — the surprise. There’s something about the experience of holding broadsheet in your hands, turning the pages, scanning the story array, lingering here, passing by there. I read the Sunday paper on the living room couch and Alan reads it in a family-room easy chair. The rooms are adjacent, and we sometimes talk back and forth about this story or that. The breakfast table gets a bit crowded sometimes, but I simply can’t imagine eating breakfast without a paper. What — you make conversation at that hour? Before the coffee? Don’t think so.

And then there’s the surprise, the hey-Martha story, the I-didn’t-know-that story. Some people find being confronted with material they’re not interested in is a waste of time. I don’t. There’s always something there that I didn’t know I was interested in, and it turns out I was.

I recall a conversation, some years back, with someone rhapsodizing over how wonderful it will be when the electronic newspaper becomes, basically, a clipping service, customized for every reader. All the stories will interest you! How wonderful!

Well, maybe not. When Google comes up with an algorithm for the surprise story, I’ll bite. Until then, I’m taking my chances on the newsprint.

I confess: I’ve been watching HBO’s “Rome.” You need to say it like the actors, though, with a British accent and that extra-long O: I’ve been watching “Roooome.” And Roooome is growing on me.

It took me a while to get into, but it’s paying off. I needed to do some outside reading, but I get it all now, I think: Most of the characters are based upon real people, but the two central ones — a pair of soldiers named Lucius Vorenus and Titus Pullo — are not. They sort of amble through the narrative like Zelig, turning up at key points in Roman history, as in episode 2, called “How Titus Pullo Brought Down the Republic.”

But that was nothing compared to Ep. 8, “Caesarion,” in which T.P. is presented as a good bet for father of Cleopatra’s son, ostensibly by Julius Caesar. Of course this was preceded by some hot Roman soldier-on-Egyptian princess loooove action (otherwise it wouldn’t be HBO, you know). Titus Pullo is quite the jolly hunk, and I’m beginning to understand the eternal erotic appeal of leather miniskirts — on guys, anyway.

They kind of stack the deck in T.P.’s favor, though — he gets all the good lines. Buying a prostitute for a young charge’s first time, he balks at the price, then pays it, saying, “The girl better f*ck like Helen of Troy with her ass on fire, or I’ll know the reason.”

Drop that one at your next cocktail party.

Posted at 8:42 pm in Uncategorized |

7 responses to “The fishwrap.”

  1. Dick Walker said on November 2, 2005 at 8:59 am

    You’re right about one thing. Reading a physical paper can be a shared experience, exactly in the “hey, I didn’t know…” way you mention. Although my gf and I sometimes wind up at either end of the sofa with our wi-fied macs on our laps, we don’t seem to share as much.

    Not sure why. Maybe it’s years of computers taking us to a solitary space.

    Still don’t miss the trash.

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  2. maryo said on November 2, 2005 at 9:23 am

    Thanks for admitting you watch Rooooome. I do too, and it’s fascinating, besides being a total hoot. I’m just now running into other people who watch it and enjoy it too.

    TP is great, as is Atia, my personal favorite, who is witchy and wise as they come. My husband asked after one episode, “Why couldn’t Atia be MY mom?”

    But I agree, TP gets all the really good lines. Vorenus is his perfect foil.

    I also like that they have “middle-aged women” such as Atia (though I’m sure she’s not all that old, really, but hey, she does have “adult” children) in such juicy roles. There’s hope for us 40-somethings yet.

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  3. 4dbirds said on November 2, 2005 at 10:23 am

    With lines such as “Who doesn’t appreciate large penis?”, who can NOT love Atia?

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  4. Dorothy said on November 2, 2005 at 11:14 am

    I guess I’m gonna have to catch Rooooooome in repeats on one of the other HBO channels! I didn’t realize I was missing so much.

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  5. Nance said on November 2, 2005 at 12:20 pm

    I’m always hesitant to suggest people join HBO series mid-season, because they tend to have a fairly steep learning curve. I was befuddled for much of the early part of Roooome — fortunately, as in most things HBO, you know that if you wait long enough, you’ll see a sex scene, so you sit there like a rat in front of your lever.

    Atia is a hoot, to be sure — “You f*cked your sister, you little pervert!” — but Cleopatra stole my heart. I loved her RV-size litter, not to mention her ululating attendants, covering up the sound of the Titus Pullo/Cleo throwdown going on inside.

    Who came up with the idea of ululating? What’s the point?

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  6. Rory on Lawn Guyland said on November 2, 2005 at 2:15 pm

    Yeah, sign me up as another one of the Roman Legions (Heh.) Stumbled onto it shortly after it began, looking for “Entourage.”

    Watched for a while, saw some random sex, and that was good enough for me.

    The wife enjoys telling folks that I like to watch it “…for the hooters.” Well, Duh! Of course.

    That, and the sex. It’s like Legal Pron. Boo-Yah!

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  7. Michael said on November 21, 2005 at 1:21 am

    Just finished the “season finale” where JC is killed in the senate. I like the intrigue betweeen the women, not something really played up in Western Civ. classes. Can’t wait for season 2,if there is one.

    I liked the way British Actors look like real people, probably like the way the real Caesar and Pompey looked. If it was an American production it would have featured Brad Pitt as Caesar, and Tom Cruise as Pompey!

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