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.