Archive for January, 2011

Did you see who was on Piers Morgan Tonight?

January 21, 2011

There was a time when Larry King would’ve left big shoes to fill. But the constant mispronunciations and inept questions had grown particularly thin. CNN may have chalked up their decision to oust King as a move to attract a new generation of (slightly younger, more hip) viewers, but the truth doesn’t lie – King had overstayed his welcome by more than a few years. Keeping him on the air was nothing short of a farce; the longer CNN kept his show going, the worse they looked. To say King was well past his view-by-date is an understatement.

Many critics have taken issue with King’s replacement – former British Tabloid editor Piers Morgan. A fixture on America’s Got Talent since it’s inception in 2006, he upstaged country singer Trace Adkins in the finale of The Celebrity Apprentice during its inaugural run in 2008. Among other accomplishments on his resume, he judged Britain’s Got Talent and Susan Boyle’s now famous audition. Morgan also isn’t shy with regards to controversy – among many hotbed moments in his career, he has banned Madonna from his new CNN show claiming she’s “too vegan for TV” – whatever that means.

It’s clear that Morgan loves attention – whether it’s his public feud with the material girl, or letting Howard Stern go off on a rant denouncing Jay Leno as a “crook.” It’s also clear that Morgan loves good television. His slogan, “Did you see who was on Piers Morgan Tonight?” isn’t in play for nothing. He clearly wants people talking about him (and his show) whether it’s good or bad.

It’s funny though, as much as Piers Morgan Tonight acts as an extension of his highly polished brand of narcism, it also acts as an image builder. On ATG Morgan comes off as a place card, that show’s role-filling “British judge” – a no-nonsense meanie out for the kill. Yet in the time he’s already been on the air, Morgan seems a bit softer – not afraid to laugh and show venerability. He’s adapted his brand for American television and it works.

But the real question remains – should we care what’s on Piers Morgan Tonight? He’s wrapping up his premiere week tonight and all ready he’s interviewed the likes of Oprah, Howard Stern, Condoleezza Rice, Ricky Gervais. Judging by his week so far, the answer is yes. In four days Morgan has shown the ease of a master interviewer; able to move seamlessly from the frivolous world of entertainment to the high-stakes game of American politics without falter. Already proving himself the anti Larry King, Morgan comes prepared and actually knows what he’s talking about.

But he also has the key anyone in his position needs – curiosity. Morgan has a hankering to break down the walls of celebrity and reveal the human underneath; to find the motivation that drives those we’ve all come to know. With Howard Stern, for example, that meant talking at length about his need to have naked women on the radio. With Oprah, it meant discussing her real reasons for remaining single and not venturing into politics. It may sound a bit superficial to some, but in Morgan’s company, his guests become real people – individuals we want to know a little more about. Morgan makes us care by making even the most overexposed celebutante interesting.

But as much as he’s displaying his softer side, Morgan also knows when he has to be tough. During his interview with Gervais, who is currently dealing with backlash from his recent Golden Globes hosting gig, Morgan grilled him about his comedy and with regards to Charlie Sheen in particular, knowing when you’ve offended people. Gervais took it all in stride and left unscathed. But make no mistake, Morgan had put him in the hot seat.

By displaying his tough side, Morgan showed that he’s willing to demand answers and hold people accountable for their actions. This skill will boast well when he interviews political leaders and those in power. Plus, American television needs someone to man up and ask the tough questions. This trait will undoubtedly make for some very provocative television in the coming months.

Another question, though, still remains – is Morgan the go-to-guy for the important interview? Is Morgan able to be counted on to give a serious interview with the likes of Gabby Giffords or Vladimir Putin or is his bread-and-butter post jail interviews with the likes of Lindsay Lohan? Only time will tell.

During his first week, he’s kept his interview subjects clearly in the realm of entertainment, with the notable exception of Rice. It may be his desire to attract viewers or CNN’s need to get ahold of the market share at 9 p.m., but Morgan should mix it up a bit in the weeks to come. We need to see he’s worth more than just an interviewer of celebrities; that he can hold his own with the most important of people.

He’s fantastic right now, but give him an hour with the likes of Nancy Pelosi, Julian Assange, or Aung San Suu Kyi and I bet he’ll really shine.

An intellectual push to write

January 18, 2011

I’m being pushed, harder than ever before, to grow in my liking of country music. Over the past year, I’ve found a couple of country music blogs that have helped to take my appreciation for the genre to another level. My  favorite of those blogs is Country Universe because their posts illicit intellectual and thought-provoking discussions. No longer do I find myself merely liking songs or albums. Instead, I’ve been forcing myself to quantify my reasons as to why I like or don’t like the latest hit single or album.

The writers there are passionate about country music and the discussions provoked by the latest single review or best of countdown prove that there are people out there like me – people who care to have discussions about country music. People who understand the genre well enough to provide truthful commentary. They’re the main reason I don’t have a strict country music blog – why would I want to try and emulate them? Plus, my passion for writing is far deeper than country music, I would never be fulfilled if my writing was only on one subject.

I took a class in college last spring dedicated to writing about the arts, and I learned how to effectively write different kinds of entertainment writing. The instructor had us thinking on a deeper level about the world of entertainment around us. He got me thinking about the quality of the art clogging up our airwaves and exploiting the real estate of primetime. He allowed me to look differently at films, and see when the need to have a hit outweighed the quality of the product.

I’ve learned that developing into a better writer means also becoming a more effective thinker. You cannot have one without the other. Thinking is the foundation of writing. Without proper thought, writing is just as collection of empty words.

When I read the posts at Country Universe, I see how much thinking has gone into their keen observations. With the simplest language they can covey a thought powerful enough to skew my thinking in one direction or another. Plus, they also have an ability to put into words what I may be thinking but don’t have the words to say.

I’ve always envisioned this blog as a place to put fourth my observations onto the world. That does tend to lean towards country music, but it isn’t exclusive to that. This blog has provided the outlet I need when I want to write. What began as editorials in my college newspaper has grown into something bigger.

I’m always thinking about what I want to write about next. The formation of topics is one of the best parts of this little project. When I go weeks without writing, I often get upset. But there are those times when nothing has been profound enough to hit me over the head and send me running to my computer. But when it does happen, there’s no stopping the flow of ideas. And the ideas are ever flowing…

Thank you, Country Universe staff, for being my current inspiration to bring my writing skills to another level. You are just the push I need. Here’s to a great 2011 0f blogging (even if you’re WAY ahead of me).

My Blog Health in 2010

January 3, 2011

Let’s start 2011 by looking back…I want to thank everyone who took time out of their busy lives to read what I had to write. I got an e-mail from WordPress with the stats about my blog in 2010. Here’s what they had to say during my year in review:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads: “This blog is doing awesome!.”

Crunchy numbers

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 1,300 times in 2010. That’s about 3 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 37 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 46 posts. There were 24 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 23mb. That’s about 2 pictures per month.

The busiest day of the year was December 17th with 31 views. The most popular post that day was The 14 Best Country Songs of 2010.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were,,,, and

Some visitors came searching, mostly for jonathan pappalardo, “jonathan pappalardo”, olympic editorial, stephen huneck memorial service, and why doesn’t dave haywood sing solo.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


The 14 Best Country Songs of 2010 December 2010


Who is Jonathan Pappalardo? October 2009


What Elizabeth Edwards means to me December 2010


Stephen Huneck: A man with a love of dogs (and other pets) May 2010


Best Country Albums of the 2000s: December 2009