Thursday, February 28, 2008

"I've seen the future of rock. And it sucks."

Yeah, but what about TGTV?

(Ah, yes. I really do have a soft spot for Graham Parker, since back in my rock critic days. And he's currently in the 6-CD mix in the car right now. And I just love that line.)

But anyway, as "The Wire" winds down, I thought it might be time to address the future of this blog, since some people have asked me what's next, others are still confused by The Bastard Machine/TGTV duality, still others have claimed (rightly, it turns out) that this site is primarily geared toward "The Wire" and there's the issue of people having trouble/suffering through the annoyance of leaving comments.

Let's go in reverse order:

1. Is leaving comments really a pain? Any other woes?

2. Honestly, it wasn't meant to be a "Wire" only blog. My intentions were many and complicated and probably not too well defined, but it was never about one show. I think it's important to have my "own" blog, since I don't actually "own" The Bastard Machine, despite what all the content lawyers on my block told me I should do to protect my work. My free work. My mistake. So, anyway, I tried to rectify that. Everybody close to me said to do it. Besides, there was a lot of what Variety calls "non-pro" work popping up on SFGate that revolved around television - of course nobody asked me about it - and so why not have my own side project. (Now? I've seen the future of those blogs. And they suck.)

Strangely enough - follow the logic here - I also started a second blog to blog less. Pause. It's true. Over at The Chronicle there's this unspoken pressure to get a lot of hits and blog frequently and blah blah blog. We get e-mail reminders of what blogs are doing well. You can get caught up in that. I mean, it's EASY to blog. Plus, you just press the "publish" button and...well, you know. Instant gratification. Of course, the more you blog, the more hits you get. Feeding the machine, as I say. But then you go on vacation for a couple of weeks and the whole audience implodes and you have to build it up again. Pretty soon you realize what I already knew before I started The Bastard Machine - you're working a second job. For free. This is an industry-wide concern among writers, as it should be. I wrestled with it (as most of you know from me thinking out loud in public before I started TGTV.) There were no good answers then. I still have no good answer now. Because I like to blog. If something is breaking, I'm inclined to write about it. If issues pop up between my three-times-a-week column in the paper - as issues tend to do - I want to post. But for a long time I've been battling annoying "repetitive stress injuries" - RSI - and sometimes no amount of Aadvil can fix that. So I paid for acupuncture (I miss you, Master Ken Luke. Move back!) And massage therapy. And really good wine. Out of my own pocket. That's called blogging at a deficit.

Sometimes, as Billy Bragg sang, "the only way to disarm is to disarm." So I figured if I got off the treadmill, so to speak, over at The Chronicle and contributed but didn't exactly get caught up in the horse race part of it, I'd be fine. Strange logic, but it worked. I'm not caught up in the numbers over there. I do periodic posts. I keep the lights on at The Bastard Machine. I podcast. And I do TGTV when I feel like it. All told - less blogging. Still haven't started the book yet, though.

3. I started this blog before "The Wire," but I also knew that the best show on television would migrate smart, funny, insightful readers over to TGTV. And I was right. Thousands of Bastard Machine readers - and others - from all around the country (and the world, for that matter - more than 40 countries with people from there being regular visitors, not just one-timers) check in. That certainly validated my decision. But again - the bulk of "The Wire" posts are just a timing thing.

4. I can't imagine this duality thing would mess people up, but if it does, let me know. Which do you prefer? What would you like to see more of on this blog - because I'm changing its direction after the season finale of "The Wire." And the name, too. See below.

5. I thought of a bunch of great titles. Really creative shit. Or so I thought. Then I changed my mind. Then I lost interest. I mean, if I really want to do cool names, I can do that in my Fantasy Baseball League(s). So I'm just going to call this site Tim Goodman. I know. But still.

It's not going to be just about television. And I'm too anal retentive to leave the "TV" part in "TGTV." I like order. And meaning. Anyway, I'll be blogging about a lot of things, from TV to music to film and books even (somewhere, Oscar Villalon just fell down and hurt himself) and who knows what else. But there will be a primarily critical bent to it. I've been lucky enough to be paid for that for years now, both as a rock music and television critic. So, do what you know...Can't say how often the posts will pop up, though.

6. I'll probably start blogging more regularly on The Bastard Machine (especially if people prefer that). I know, life is strange. (Acupuncturist references welcome.)

7. On the plus side, I got the book outline done. And the RSI has calmed down a lot.

8. "I forget what 8 was for."

9. I like these music sites, and hope you do, too: imeem, Pandora, The Hype Machine. I've got the itch to write about music more often.

10. A heartfelt thanks to everyone who came over and supported TGTV.


Lysa said...

1. Commenting is easy.

2. We don't want you to hurt yourself - years of therapy for RSI taught me that you will have to watch this forever.

3. Who cares if the bulk of recent posts are The Wire? Is there actually anything else to watch (or think about) these days?

4. One blog, two blogs. Both good stuff.

5. Can't wait to see what else you decide to write about after The Wire - but sure it will all be good. I'd love to hear more about music, etc. I like Pandora myself, but I often forget to turn it on. (Did you listen to any livestreaming of Wilco's Chicago shows?)

6. Great acupuncturist: Brian Barlay (info at, of all places). He's close: on 41st just off Broadway. And wonderful.

Thanks, Tim, for the great writing and thinking.

Orthogon said...

Not that it matters what I think, I vote for more blogging here rather than the Bastard Machine (I check here much more regularly), but I'll take whatever you give us.

Laura's Husband said...

It doesn't really matter what you blog about Tim, although I'll probably relate to it more if it's about TV, it's you're writing style and personality that we find entertaining and worth reading.

Anonymous said...

Hi Tim,
Your comments on The Wire have been filled with insight, humour and wisdom. It sounds so strange, I know, but I feel as if my view on life has changed as a result of The Wire and the comments surrounding the show. Yesterday, when I read in the NYTimes that 1 in every 100 Americans is incarcerated, I felt that I have to do something to help the children. Even Kennard needs help! You opened my eyes to a huge injustice in our society and I thank you for that. I will forever be a fan of your writing.
Janet in Calgary

Anonymous said...

I agree with all of the above. It isn't hard to comment and it isn't hard to check more than one site. Do what works for you. My guess is many of your readers are like me, don't have the time to watch TV, so you do it for us (what a hero). Help with cutting through the crap and great writing. I'm hooked.

Sheri said...

I haven't seen The Wire, but your posts about it have made me want to watch it.

I read both blogs. Your podcast is one of my favorites. Have you been working out? :)

JMS said...

Keep both blogs if it keeps you happy and makes your life easier. Most people are tech savvy enough these days to employ RSS, so it's not like you spreading your thoughts across multiple sites creates some onerous task for your readers.

Also, keep up the good work. I've yet to find a television critic to whom I can essentially offload the whole what-to-watch decision making process. I know that if TG says it's worth a watch, I'm probably going to enjoy it.

Finally, thanks a ton for all your work around The Wire. Without fail you've provided some of the most insightful, interesting and entertaining commentary out there. RIP Omar. RIP The Wire.

Anonymous said...

I'm with JMS -- I've never trusted a TV critic as soundly as I do you, Tim.

I know that the definition of "great taste" is "the same taste as mine." You have great taste. It's hard being this much smarter than everyone else, isn't it? ;)

As for "The Wire" blogging -- has there ever been a show so dense, so rich, so impressively deserving of lit-crit style deconstruction? I mean, besides "Full House."

Keep up the great work. We'll keep reading.

Anonymous said...

My take:

• I liked the efficiency of having just one blog to check.

• I do find it easier to post on The Bastard Machine, no hallucinogenic word to type.

• Don't know why, but lots of folks choose to post anonymously on TGTV. I like that I've come to recognize posters on The Bastard Machine. If I'm in a hurry (on rare occasion), I can skim for the posters that I can count on to knock me out of my chair with some mind blowing insight or give me a good therapeutic giggle fit. I'm still milking TrixieQ's comment about putting Kim Bauer on the hit list.

• That said, I confessed some time ago that you could write about paint thinners, and I'd be there. The idea of posts that go beyond TV appeals to me, and I understand that that idea only makes sense for your personal TIM GOODMAN blog.

I hope this works; I keep getting the message that my password's incorrect.

ferrethead said...

On the theme of sucky music, I'll whip out some disco - "More, More, More". Blog day and night, anywhere you want - I'll be there! I enjoy your crankypants take on the world, and would definitely be interested in non-television related posts. My only wish is that you were a little more interactive in the threads. I like it when the blogger posts comments so the readers know they are following the thread. Of course, that assumes that we are writing anything that would warrant even MORE typing by you, but I'd like to think that is the case.

Tom said...

Tim, you and I seem to have comparable taste in TV and music -- I love that you worked a Violent Femmes reference into your list, for example -- and you've obviously attracted like-minded people, be it to your Chronicle column, Bastard Machine or here. I've always thought that that was the point of reading arts criticism, anyway; finding somebody whose taste matches yours.

I'm enthusiastic about the prospect of talking music here, as I suspect that the people who seek out high-quality TV do the same with music.

But do whatever you need to not injure yourself further and that you're not working for free.

Meanwhile, I also like the idea of a moniker attached to someone's name, rather than "anonymous." It makes it much more conversational, especially among we regulars.

Voguette said...

Like lieber I also find it easier to have only one TG blog and no "hallucinogenic word to type" (sometimes I have to type it twice cuz I can hardly make out one or two letters; wtf's up with that!) Also like lieber I've enjoyed recognizing certain posters on TBM and similarly skim to check them out (needless to say, lieber is one). With all due respect, unlike lieber, I would not read or listen to you discuss paint thinner. You're a primo tv critic and that's why I read/listen to you. Unless it's hardcore blues, Beethoven or opera, I'm not into pop music (though I just became an Amy Winehouse fan). In case I'm forced to post this anon, this is from Voguette (aka Veneziana). Mwah!!!

Anonymous said...

There's more to television than The Wire?

Write about it (wherever you want), and I'll catch it.

mazoola said...

And speaking of The Wire (weren't we?), I thought you might like the following in light of the discussion of the believability of Omar's death-defying leap. From a news story with the Winter's Tale-worthy headline "Twin Porn Actors Suspected in Dozens of Burglaries in Three States":

Taleon, who police believe is a trained gymnast and karate expert, has used his athleticism to make several daring escapes from police.

He was handcuffed in the back of a moving police cruiser after a 2006 drug arrest in Clementon, N.J., when he broke out the glass with his head and jumped into a lake while still handcuffed, police Chief Dave Kunkel said.

"He swam across like Flipper, taunting the officers, saying, 'You'll never catch me," Kunkel told the Daily News.

Taleon turned himself in a week later.

In January 2007, Taleon jumped 30 feet from the roof of a Camden, N.J., liquor store
[emphasis added] and swam across the frigid Cooper River before he was caught, police said.

"I told him he should have signed up for the Olympics," Zucker said. "The prosecutor and I even referred to him as Spider-Man."

novelera said...

As usual, lieber managed to perfectly describe things I've thought myself and not been able to express as well.

I prefer posting to The Bastard Machine for simplicity. I finally mastered the Blogger login, and also use it for another blog, but really dislike the number of keystrokes and copying of gobbledegook that it takes to get my comment up.

TBM seemed like more of a community than TGTV has been.

I wouldn't be too interested in musical blogging, since I know from Tim's descriptions of his interests that they don't coincide with my own. But I'm fine with skimming through musical posts appealing to other folks. I'm just expressing what I'd like to see in Tim's blog - mostly TV.

As others have said, Tim has really given me great ideas about what to watch. As far as I'm concerned, he's always right on! I'm loving Breaking Bad. And he saved me sitting through In Treatment!

suzyq2 said...

Re: the new name. The top of the page says "Post a Comment On: TIM GOODMAN". Makes me think I should write it down on a post-it, come over to your house and slap it on you :)

Sigh. I do long for the good ole days at The Bastard Machine when you blogged alot and we felt like a pretty tight community covering a wide variety of tv shows. I completely understand why things had to change, nothing lasts forever, blah, blah, blah, it all does make sense. And as a writer, I believe it's important to own your work (especially your free work!). But still. A tiny tear wends it way down my cheek for the glorious past.

Perhaps many people sign in as anonymous because it's easier. I too like recognizing posters so am not happy with that trend. It is somewhat of a pain to sign in. The word verification thing doesn't always work and then you have to do it again. And sometimes again.

I'm up for film, books and music blogging too. I think our tastes are similar enough and I'm always open to learning about new stuff. And with the recent spate of great films I have longed to find a civil place to chat about them. And we all know the level of discourse here is so far above what else is out there. While I found a film blog or two where obviously intelligent people were posting, it still degenerated into name calling when some people disagreed with others taste and preferences.

I have a suggestion: How 'bout doing deconstructions at The Bastard Machine (after The Wire ends) -- like you've been doing, for shows like Lost, Pushing Daisies (when it returns), etc. and use this blog for more general topics--discussions of new tv seasons, new trends in tv, etc. and then the film, book and music discussions. You could alert people to a new post and the topic here on the BM, but I do check both regularly.

Thanks for all you do Tim. And really, do what feels right for you, we'll adjust and be grateful for your pearls wherever we find them. You will always be the go-to-guy for me.

ppage said...

Wherever you choose to blog, I'll read your comments.
No problem there for me................
But cut the crap with the 2 podcasts. Leave well enough alone.

How about some movie critiques now & then? Or football critiques. Could be cathartic after a 49er's loss.

Glad your RSI is better.

Pinkhamster said...

The depressed, formerly jovial "Jeremy from Portland" here...

I'm glad the Wire is ending because I am back at the beginning of season 3, so I can't read this blog even though I'd like to. Already by reading the comments for this non-Wire thread I've read two or three mentions that Omar is dead. I don't remember who Omar is right now. I'll miss ya, buddy.

Trixie said...


You are so feeding into my abandonment issues. I'm reading (between the lines), "It's not you, it's me" and "I'm just not in a good place to commit right now" and, "My family is moving to Michigan this summer" (that last one an actual end of school-year line from my best friend's 8th grade son, whose family wasn't going anywhere). And then, just as I think you're breaking up with us, you want to take us for a romantic weekend in the wine country and make us a mixed tape.

I'm hooked. I'm in. Here, there, it's all good. There's a community of respect here/there that provides a place for those of us who appreciate that television is also an art medium. Unlike the land "Out There" filled with posters who deplore TV despite never watching TV, yet read columns about TV and then post about columns about TV.

The Wire deco's? Man. I'm an OG Wire-watcher. The first episode that Sunday night so many years ago was almost too dense for me. But, I watched it again and thought despite the fact that I didn't quite get who was who and what was what, I was watching something special. Then, thanks to you and the many insightful posters on this blog, I got infinitely more out of The Wire than I would have ever hoped to get on my own. It's like Book Club, only with TV, which is so much better. The Book Club I used to belong to made me read books I just wasn't that into. Da Vinci Code? Five People You Meet in Heaven? Whatever. Give me Stringer Bell and Wee Bay and Bunk and especially Omar. Then change the channel and give me Ben and Hurley and polar bears on a tropical island.

Write what you want. Where you want. We'll follow. We'll relish. And, remember, we'll always have Bal'more.

~ Trixie aka TrixieQ

Anonymous said...

Here's what: if I'm logged in at the Chronicle comments section, through either the regular articles or the bastardmachine, I can sometimes follow the links over here and post correctly. But I guess I never became "authenticated" or properly registered here, so if I come here first it doesn't recognize my user name/pw and makes me authenticate the hallucinogenic word 3 times, after which I can post anonymously.

Nevertheless, thanks for the blogs (both of them) and the podcasts, and the "regular columns." I have no RSI experience, but a friend who did production typing said he found a preventive method of hand placement that was different from the one recommended by the ergonomics guy. The "made up" placement worked for him. Just a thought.

I'm with the regulars who say they want to watch something "light" when the Wire is done. But after that I'm going to rent "The Corner" of which I only saw part.--CasualObserver nli.

ferrethead said...

Maybe I'm doing this wrong - but I just use the 'Name/URL' option, and I've never had to post as 'anonymous'. My problem is that I can't figure out how to use the HTML tags, so I have to resort to OLD or *outdated* methods of expression. Also, by the time I read all of the comments, and post my own, the gobbledygook word verification is no longer valid, so I have to enter it again. Not too painful, just annoying.

Tunnza said...

ferrethead said it. No need to do a whole password thing, just click the Name/URL radio button and put in your name. That's what I do, too.

Tim, whatever you're writing I'm reading (except spoilers for stuff I haven't watched yet; I'll save that for after I've watched the DVD's). Glad to hear the RSI is easing up a tad. Keep after it.

c_in_c said...

Hey Tim-

I'm not into the Wire, so I don't do anything but scan those posts. I read everything else and listen to your podcasts.

I watch Lost. Tell me what the hell is really going on with that show (or at least what you think is going on).

Or tell me what you ate for breakfast and what you thought about it. I'm sure whatever your write, it would be entertaining.

Hell, even those podcasts from two weeks ago, bad as they were, were still entertaining.

Anonymous said...

I'm confused: So do the people who post on the other SF Gate blogs -- who don't work for The Chron or -- they don't get paid? I'm talking about the people who contribute to the culture blog and such?

Susaleenah said...

I can't tell you how much I have enjoyed the Wire de-cos and your blog. I started watching the Wire at day one and never had anyone but my hairdresser to discuss it with. Still don't. So I have enjoyed this blog immensely. I don't have a lot of time for the internet so having the one site is easier for me. That said I have enjoyed the discourse on this site. So much of the internet is bad bad bad. I love to read intelligent comments from adults that share my taste. And even if they don't, it is still interesting.
I need a place to come to carp (has anyone noticed the absolute swill on BBCA lately, etc.)
So keep up the good work Tim and everyone I will be reading no matter where you post.

Anonymous said...

Awesome. Love the blog ... familiar with this more than your BM (Bastard Machine) blog. Blogging about BMs ... eiw ... ere I digress.

Way to go with the Violent Femmes reference. Plus a Billy Bragg callout. Very cool. You're in my highest regard.

Can't wait to hear what you thought about this penultimate Wire episode ... my highlights, aside from the cop stuff: Bubs giving his talk in his meeting ... and Michael's sad journey from boy throwing piss balloons to world-weary, hunted mid-teen. What an emotional powerhouse this show is. And looking at the gray area ... I love how it's not black and white (other than the racial stuff, of course). Herc's affiliations - what an interesting character.

Anyway, like I said, I think this is a great blog - keep up the good work.

- Eric in San Antonio

Rose said...

Sometimes the only reason I go to sfgate is to read your column. You're very me. And then you go & mention Billy Brag or some other musician/band I like & I like you even more. I thought you might like this link to a great SNL skit "there will be milkshakes for old men"

Anonymous said...

I'll take whatever you give us, where ever you put it. You're one of the last few newspapers writers I read anymore and one of the last really good ones. So write what you like, just don't go away and don't lose your mind and your integrity like so many before you have.

Anonymous said...

Tim, I like having both posting sites. I also enjoy opening up Datebook and having a column to read about new shows. The Wire: What am I going to do on Sunday's now? By the way, did not watch Dirt as I was far too bummed to watch anything. First Omar, then Kimma messing everything up for her own piece of mind, ego? Stunned disbelief. Keep both postings and if you want to write about music ( I dig Pandora) then I'll respond to that as well. Okay back to work to ease my worry regarding the finale of "The Wire"

Anonymous said...

Barbara Wilt in Oakland (Park Boulevard) is a great acupuncturist.