Rethinking Jordan's minor league baseball stint

In a chat with Kevin Goldstein at Baseball Prospectus a while back, I spotted this Q&A:

Rob (Chicago): Call me crazy, but Michael Jordan showed pretty decent numbers from a guy who was randomly stuck into AA. His OBP was almost 90 points higher than his AVG. You think he could've improved if given more time (and not, for some crazy reason, go back to being the best player in basketball?).

Kevin Goldstein: You are NOT crazy. I actually think Jordan's .202/.289/.266 line in Double-A was an incredible athletic achievement.

On average, spectators underestimate the difficulty of competing at the professional level in sports. I have some sense of how hard it is to hit major-league pitching, but only because I was a failed high school player who couldn't hit the curveball. I'll never forget the first time I faced our closer in practice. He was the tight end on the football team, someone so large (6' 4" and maybe 260) that it made you wonder how he could only be two years older.

Even at his size, his fastball "only" averaged 88, 89mph. In MLB, that's middling at best. To me, it was knee-softening and sweat-inducing. By the time I saw a blur of white of the pitch leave his hand on its way to home plate, my body couldn't fire the necessary muscles to swing the bat quickly enough to even give myself a random chance of hitting the ball by accident. One bag of baseballs, maybe 15 to 20 pitches in all, or just five minutes of futility was enough to effectively end all my dreams of playing professional baseball. This would be the case for the vast majority of human beings, 99.999% of people in the world.

So I don't think it's crazy at all to think that Jordan's performance in double-A, where most MLB teams place their star prospects (triple-A is filled with journeyman major leaguers who just can't quite crack the show and who don't have star potential), was an amazing accomplishment that will never be properly appreciated. To try and switch to playing major league baseball mid-career, with barely any practice for years and years, is crazy, especially to hit. It's one thing to try and break in as a pitcher, where you might survive just on sheer velocity as a short reliever, but hitting major league pitching may be one of the single most challenging feats in sports.

Of course, this won't change the public's mind about those two years Jordan left the NBA. And don't forget Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders, who had even more success at baseball than Jordan. It feels like there's a SpikeTV reality show in this concept (Who is the World's Greatest Athlete?).

Man vs. Machine

IBM's Jeopardy playing computer Watson will challenge the game show's grand masters Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter one game apiece.

I don't use any IBM products; the only one I still see in my day-to-day life is the Thinkpad which is popular among Windows users at the office. But the strongest cultural resonance of their brand is in the software they build to challenge humans at various games. For Watson to be able to mount a challenge to top Jeopardy players so quickly (development only began a few years ago) is really impressive.

Over the next four years, Mr. Ferrucci set about creating a world in which people and their machines often appeared to switch roles. He didn't know, he later said, whether humans would ever be able to "create a sentient being." But when he looked at fellow humans through the eyes of a computer scientist, he saw patterns of behaviors that often appeared to be pre-programmed: the zombie-like commutes, the near-identical routines, from tooth-brushing to feeding the animals, the retreat to the same chair, the hand reaching for the TV remote. "It's more interesting," he said, "when humans delve inside themselves and say, 'Why am I doing this? And why is it relevant and important to be human?' "

The Jeopardy games will air Feb 14-16.

The Super Bowl Ads...a day in review

I spent the day at Hulu HQ with a team of folks watching the Super Bowl to release ads to the Hulu AdZone as they aired on TV during the game. It's a crazed day, and I only have a fuzzy recollection of how the game itself actually unfolded.

But here's a running diary of my notes from watching the ads as they aired...


It was a much ballyhooed battle between similarly unstoried franchises with many similarities. Of course I'm referring to the battle between LivingSocial and Groupon. After Groupon confirmed it had bought a Super Bowl spot, LivingSocial quickly followed suit. If this coupon site war is one of scale, LivingSocial didn't want to be left behind.

Which company's ads will come out on top? And will their ads during the Super Bowl help consumers to understand the difference between the two companies?

Both aired spots during the pregame. LivingSocial's spot came with the message that it could change your life, a lofty claim indeed. Strangely, the transformation it showed was the evolution of a Harley Davidson-looking grease monkey into a...woman?! Transsexuals may not be large enough a demo to raise too much of a protest online for being used as a punchline, but regardless, it's an odd way to debut your service to over a hundred million people.

Groupon's first ad features beloved forgotten actor Cuba Gooding Jr. enlisting our help to save the whales. Oh, wait, no, we're not appealing to your environmental sympathies, we're using it as a joke! See how edgy we are! Early votes on the AdZone are not rewarding this strategy. Somewhere, an ad agency is working on his "Any PR is good PR" explanation.

And then Christina Aguilera screws up the lyrics to the National Anthem. This will be amazing if it's a live ad for Southwest Airlines: [ding] "Wanna get away?"

Commercial Break 1

The first of the Doritos crowdsourced ads runs: "Pug Attack." Since the Doritos and Pepsi ads were chosen by user votes, they've already been vetted and should do well in the Ad Zone. If you treat this entire body of work from the crowdsourced creative community as coming from a single ad agency, the style holds up as coherent: the ads are all comedic, featuring some twist of a punchline in which someone either does or doesn't get away with something.

Audi runs "Release the Hounds." It feels like a direct attack on Mercedez-Benz and a more tangential attack at BMW. Mercedez = old luxury. Audi = middle-aged luxury. And an appearance by Kenny G! Where has he been? Does he have a Vegas show?

Commercial Break 2

The second crowdsourced ad: Pepsi's "Love Hurts." Yep, it fits my earlier thought on the style of the crowdsourced ads. I wonder if the tone would be similar if a more luxury brand crowdsourced an ad, though by definition those brands would probably be least likely to try such a move.

Commercial Break 3

Budweiser's places a product ad about product placement in the Super Bowl.

Commercial Break 4

Hyundai's "Hypnotized" is an attack on some of Volkswagen's past spots (like this). Will enough people actually get that? I didn't realize Hyundai was attacking that ad style until the end of the ad, and I enjoy the VW ad style, so the reversal didn't work out quite the way they'd intended.

Commercial Break 5

In Kia's "One Epic Ride" a wealthy tycoon surrounded by bikini-clad babes a 200 foot yacht hires a henchman to steal a Kia Optima with a helicopter and fly it over the ocean to the yacht. The Kia ad ends noting that prices start under $19K. I think that guy on the yacht could just buy a Kia Optima with his black Amex card. I feel cognitive dissonance.

Commercial Break 6

The Bridgestone ad serves as a good time to remind people that the ability to recall an e-mail doesn't really work.

Commercial Break 7

Budweiser's "Wild West": copyright Cameron Crowe.

Teleflora's Faith Hill ad is a historic moment. I have no evidence to support this claim, but I believe it's the first time a nationally televised ad in the U.S. has used the word "rack" in that connotation. You know what connotation I mean. Not like a spice rack. Unless, well, I guess with some people you could use it that way.

Commercial Break 8

The girl in Motorola's "Empower the People" spot looks like the offspring of Eliza Dushku and Sarah Michelle Gellar, if they could actually conceive a child together.

Commercial Break 9

We meet yet another one of the Matthews clan, this brother is starring in Thor.

And then we see an ad that was already unveiled to the world earlier this week, Volkswagen's "The Force." Like most people, I'm a fan. What little boy didn't want so much to believe in The Force when they first saw Star Wars? The boy who lived in the house across the yard from me growing up believed so strongly in the idea that he'd blindfold himself and have me throw objects at him while he yielded a plastic sword and tried to swat them away. What occurred was more of an endorsement for the scientific method than the existence of The Force, though I draw on the visual memory of racquet balls bouncing off of his head whenever I need a laugh.

Incidentally: German auto manufacturer, John Williams "Imperial March" theme song, the well-known intentional visual parallels between the costumes and formations of the Imperial Army in Star Wars and German troops from WWII? Interesting subtext.

Speaking of Hitler Germany, if an advertiser licenses the Hitler rant scene from Downfall and remixes it into a Super Bowl ad one of these days, the Internet will explode.

Commercial Break 10

Snickers is doubling down after its success with Betty White last year. Richard Lewis, Roseanne...can Eric Roberts and Joan Rivers be far behind?

Finally, more footage from J.J. Abrams Super 8. The music (James Horner?) and imagery evoke early Spielberg. My nostalgia for early magical Spielberg (E.T., anyone) is almost as strong as my nostalgia for my childhood.

Also, it features Coach Taylor (Kyle Chandler) from Friday Night Lights. The series finale is this week, and I am beyond sad to see the series end. Why the networks will replace such a fantastic show with some new show that gets cancelled after 3 episodes is beyond me.

Commercial Break 11

Many are disappointed that we live in the year 2011 and haven't achieved the Jetsons future once predicted for us. We don't have jetpacks or robot maids that we can order around just by speaking to them, we can't live forever, we haven't cured cancer, and our cars don't hover or drive themselves...but what's this? Our cars can now read our Facebook news feeds to us? Hah! Advantage...ummm...Facebook?

Paramount unveils its trailer for Captain America: The First Avenger. It looks like the usual paint-by-numbers superhero action flick, but if there was ever a time for a Captain America movie, this might be the year. Given our economic difficulties in recent year, the story of a scrawny American who takes a super serum and turns into a muscular superhero may be the type of escapist fantasy Americans turn to Hollywood for. Let's have him create some jobs at home while he's unseating oppressive regimes around the world.

Commercial Break 12

Given some of the occasional social controversy over where and in what conditions our consumer goods are manufactured (e.g. Foxconn), it's a bold and bizarre move for Sony Ericsson to play into that meme head on with their ad depicting an Android mascot being operated on in some dingy back-alley hovel in some unnamed Asian country. Also, the metaphor of grafting a thumb onto the Android mascot is a strange one as it implies, perhaps unintentionally, that the gaming controls in the ad were grafted onto this smartphone rather than being built into the phone from the start.


The ads for (here and here) were shot to bookend the halftime show by the Black Eyed Peas, so they may not play as well out of context. Actually, they didn't play that well in context, either. Were they meant to be abstract? Their only saving grace was the fact that the Black Eyed Peas' halftime show was so awful it served as a much larger target for vicious feedback on Twitter.

Commercial Break 15

Not content to just offend environmentalists, Groupon airs its second ad: "Tibet." Perhaps the blowback from the ad will fade in time. How many people still nurse a grudge over the homophobic Snickers ad or the two racist ads from Super Bowl XLII? But for now, it serves as an distasteful nudge to unsubscribe from the Groupon mailings, none of which have been topically or geographically relevant to me for months now.

Coca Cola doesn't dance anywhere near the line of controversy. Their second ad, "Border," and their first ad, "Siege," are two data points that draw a straight line. This is the Watchmen plot remixed. It's not a common foe that will unite is in world peace but our love of sugary carbonated sodas.

Commercial Break 17

This entire ad break is one epically long two-minute ad, and it's a great one. It builds to a dramatic and unexpected twist, signaled by the quiet fading in of that great guitar riff from "Lose Yourself." Who better than Eminem as the symbol of Detroit reborn: raw, blue collar, tough, steeled by rehab? B-Rabbit! B-Rabbit!

By the way, when is Eminem going to act again? He was good in 8 Mile.

Commercial Break 20

Looking for the Angry Birds secret code in the Rio trailer? It's in this moment embedded below.

Or if you just want to see it...

Hulu - AdZone 2011

Commercial Break 21

With their second ad "Black Beetle" it seems that Volkswagen will be the big winner in the Super Bowl ad battle. Some brands and agencies might extrapolate from this that they should also release their Super Bowl ads before the game itself, but that's the wrong conclusion.

Commercial Break 24

Kim Kardashian for Skechers. You know, I think that sex tape worked out for her after all.

And your Mr. Irrelevant for 2011: Fox's house ad for their new program Terra Nova. The tagline should read: Lost, except on Fox.

Okay, I'm headed home to catch up on this football game that happened today. It's amazing how much people have started caring about that football game that runs during the ads each February. I really think this whole Super Bowl concept might turn into something for the NFL.

Interview with Matthew Weiner

Lots of good nuggets for Mad Men fans in this interview with Matthew Weiner. In light of the Epstein interview I posted the other week, I thought this sentiment from Weiner was interesting.

The other aspects of things that are going on in entertainment right now are frustrating to me. I’ve been very disappointed with whatever has happened to the business model that has made the movies so incredibly unattractive to me. I’m so starved for things, for any kind of entertainment. The Oscar things are coming out right now – maybe they saved everything good for right then and there. But it’s been a bummer. It’s a bummer to see movie after movie where so many talented people get together and so much money is spent, and they’re just bland, lifeless, familiar, fake. I’m not a superhero, it’s not one of my interests. It’s O.K. for it to be a fraction of the entertainment that’s out there, but it can’t be everything. And I have four little boys so I’m seeing everything. And they’re tired of going to the movies.


It’s a bummer. But we have things we watch together. We still watch “The Simpsons.

How TV and Movies switched roles

Edward Jay Epstein offers an explanation as to how TV become elite entertainment while movies became mass entertainment. What's interesting is that he attributes most of the switch to structural conditions and not creative choices.

This role reversal, rather than a momentary fluke, proceeds directly from the new economic realities of the entertainment business.

Consider what happened to Pay-TV. When HBO , now a subsidiary of Time Warner, initially signing up monthly subscribers in the 1960s, it provided the only way home viewers could see movies uninterrupted by commercials, and it (and Cinemax unit) eventually signed up through their local cable systems 40 million subscribers. HBO gets a fixed a fee– about $4.5 per month– for each subscriber, no matter how little or often they watch HBO. To continue to harvest this immense bounty, HBO has to perform a single feat: stop subscribers from ending their service. But since nowadays its subscribers can get movies cheaper and fast from other sources, such as Netflix, retail stores and the Internet, HBO needs a more exclusive inducement to keep them. And so, beginning in the 1990s, it began putting more and more resources into creating its own original programing that would appeal to the head of the house. Not restricted by the need to maximize the audience (it has no advertising), ratings boards (it has no censorship) or non-English speaking markets, it was able to create edgy character-driven edgy series such as Sex and the City, not only succeeded in retaining their subscribers but achieved surprising acclaim in the media. Other pay-channels followed suit. So did other networks so as not lose market share. The result is the elevation of television, or at least some tiers of it, to a medium of entertainment for the elite.

The descent of movies into mass entertainment, a glut of franchises, remakes, sequels, and comic book adaptations, is less mysterious given the rise of the multiplex and its dependence on brute force marketing and the need to create a differentiated experience versus the home theater DVD rental alternative.

The rise of TV as an outlet for elite entertainment is a bit more surprising to me. The ability to write for grown-ups on ad-free channels is certainly an attractive outlet, though it took some time for those channels to gain the scale to finance productions on the level of Band of Brothers, The Sopranos, and Boardwalk Empire, all of which had feature film size budgets. What also fascinates me, though, is the rise of cable as an outlet for serial dramas. A show like The Wire is perhaps the epitome of a type of entertainment that seems entirely impossible prior to the existence of HBO. No broadcast network could have aired that, and even if they had, it's difficult to imagine any broadcast network keeping it on air with its ratings as low as they were during its run on HBO.

The multi-season, multi-story-arc serial drama is a fairly new archetype in the TV world, and cable seems to be the best place creative people can paint on that broad a canvas. It's not just that I'm older, but a night in with a few episodes off of my DVR feels like a huge favorite versus a night out at the movies nine times out of ten these days because cable is where the most ambitious storytelling has migrated.


One of the best new shows of this summer TV season was Louis. As with Seinfeld, the series stars the titular comedian playing himself, a standup comedian, and each episode commingles scenes of Louis CK doing standup with dramatizations of events in his life.

Unlike Seinfeld, the series isn't family-friendly. It's what you'd hope Seinfeld would be if it got translated for FX. Louis doesn't tone down his standup material subject matter or language for this show, and that's one reason it works (unlike his previous TV series Lucky Louie). Each episode can start on one subject and end up somewhere entirely unexpected, almost like a Simpsons episode (Seinfeld always brought its story threads together each episode, but episodes of Louis can skip across multiple subjects, giving it the feel of a standup routine). The wide tonal range of the show is one of its signatures. Some episodes aren't comedic at all, and many of those are the strongest of the series.

One standout was the episode "Bully" which covers as much ground as Louis himself in the episode, starting one place and ending somewhere entirely unexpected (because of its meandering subject matter from one episode to the next, watching the series out of order isn't problematic):

The series ranges from the dark tragedy at the root of standup, but within the same episode can introduce sudden moments of grimy sublimity as in the visually lyrical closing scene to the first season:

The show has been renewed for another 13 episode season. Good stuff.

Songs sung worse

Lee Dewyze sang three mediocre to poor cover songs last night, and for that he was crowned American Idol tonight. As John August termed it last night, the mediocriterrorists won.

Nothing against Dewyze, who seems like a genuinely good guy and whose rise from paint store salesman is a great story. But Crystal Bowersox was the most consistent performer throughout the season, and she sang circles around Dewyze in the finals. It's not just that Dewyze was "pitchy" (trademark Randy Jackson) -- I couldn't help but grimace when Dewyze was given the line "what would you do if I sang out of tune" in tonight's final episode -- but he was also closed off, inaccessible and detached as a performer.

Two years running, the people ignored the judges and crowned the lesser talent. Maybe Simon Cowell decided "to hell with the people, I'll go start a show where the voters listen to me."

Well, as with so many things in life, the voters get what they deserve. As for Bowersox and Bowersox nation, take solace in thinking about where Dubya and Gore each ended up in the long run.

Joe Wong

It's always a bit embarrassing when your dad is sending you links to things you don't know about yet, and more importantly, enjoy. Perhaps the only standup comedian both my dad and I are huge fans of: Joe Wong.

My friend and I had a debate about Wong. He was conflicted because Wong's speaking style perpetuates some caricatures of Asian-Americans. My argument in support of Wong is that his ability to produce such sharp satire despite his strong ethnic markers helps to undermine the myth that a sophisticated comprehension of government and its foibles has to come from a white who speaks perfect English.

I actually am not sure how Joe Wong speaks normally. Is this all an act? Regardless, I laughed, and it didn't feel as if I was laughing at him.

Clash of the Titans

Try to not look at the title of the video below and just click on the play button. By consensus, the best poker player in the world, Phil Ivey, faces off against my current favorite hold-em player, Tom Dwan, aka Durrr, in an unbelievable hand of poker this season in High Stakes Poker. It helps to know a lot about hold-em strategy to truly appreciate what happens, but at this level of money (this is a cash game, not a tournament, so you have to put up the exact amount of your bet) anyone will be impressed, unless perhaps you're Bill Gates and this is the daily interest on your backup savings account.

What is the sound of one country screaming?

Not much happens in the video below, but it's the audio that matters. This is a shot of Vancouver during that moment when Canada won the Olympic men's hockey gold metal game in overtime.

[via Scrawled In Wax]

Though I work at Hulu, part of the vanguard in the transition from linear programming to a video on demand world, I'm not immune to the power of collective experience. Part of me misses those days before DVRs and PPV and HBO and VCRs, when you could only catch movies on network TV live. The other people around the country watching that exact moment with you were invisible but palpable, and every moment of the movie seemed more important because of that.

Thus the huge value that accrues to events that still demand live viewing in this world where synchronous viewing has become so unnecessary. Sports leagues are sitting pretty.


James Surowiecki, as he usually does, provides a good overview of a topic that many people never think about, and that is bundling in cable pricing. He's right that most people prefer the convenience of bundling and that in an unbundled world, it's not certain that prices just wouldn't be reshuffled to maintain overall profits for cable companies, but in the current environment, where cable subscriptions are still increasing and profits still high, there is an opportunity at the margins for enterprising customers to try to mix and match their own entertainment lineup for cheaper.

As long as they remain a minority, companies won't bother trying to rejigger their prices and packages to catch them. It's not an endeavor for the lazy, though, as it can require buying special boxes, plugging computers into TV's, subscribing to multiple services, etc.

I'm glad that the convenience of bundling still works for most people, though. One of the simple benefits of Hulu is its aggregation model, which is just a form of bundling. It's one reason that even content providers who want to maintain their own online distribution presence should consider joining us, and one reason I think most online sellers with their own storefront would benefit from a simultaneous listing on

The Late Night Melee

I was in mourning over the collapse of the Pacquiao-Mayweather fight, but the Conan drama this past week has filled the void in my heart for televised combat.

I've been able to watch this battle with more detachment than emotional angst as late night talk shows no longer have the same cachet they once did. s for many of my generation (and Hulu's popular video list bears this out), the talk show hosts that resonate most are Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. Toss in Sportscenter and my after-work, sit-on-the-sofa-and-eat-my-dinner dance card is full. It was more understandable when Letterman and Leno battled so fiercely to gain the vacated Johnny Carson throne given Carson's status as Hollywood royalty and the limited fraternity of late night personalities back then. Now there are so many late night talk shows (where there were once two or three late night talk show hosts of note, now we have not just Leno, Letterman, and O'Brien but Kimmel, Fallon, Ferguson, and Daly) and so many other TV shows period, not to mention time-shifting with DVRs and internet video viewing that the idea of The Tonight Show at 11:35pm as a sacred institution feels dated.

But I'm still a big Conan fan, and I can understand his reverence for that chair. Like most younger people and a lot of "pure" comedians, I've never found Jay Leno to be funny or his interview style to be particularly effective. TV interviews in general are a depressing affair, a setup for celebrities to pitch their latest project at the request of some PR department. The questions are light-hitting, pre-screened, and spoon-fed, and no one does that like Leno. With his huge collection of vintage cars and motorcycles, his real-life caricature of a face, the oddly insecure way he delivers jokes during his monologue (never content with the first laugh, he almost always follows the punchline by repeating it or explaining it to try to grab another laugh), he's like an alien to me, like nobody I know.

Conan, coming off his days writing for The Harvard Lampoon, SNL, and The Simpsons, has a comic sensibility more in tune with my generation. I never felt comfortable with his move up to 11:35pm to present his more absurdist comic style to what people like to generalize as "Middle America" but which I'll just call the Leno crowd. I liked Conan the way he was at 12:35, loose and free, but if The Tonight Show was what he wanted, I was glad he was getting it. But my fears seemed to be confirmed by the early ratings on the show, which weren't what Leno was pulling in the same time slot. The few times I watched him, he seemed himself and yet not himself. Something, it was hard to pinpoint what, was missing.

That is, until this past week, when, after rumors of NBC's proposed reshuffling surfaced, he finally seemed to say, "F*** it, this is how I feel." This was his Jerry Maguire manifesto moment. All the resentment over the shifting of Leno to 10:00 (poaching premium LA guests) and now the shifting of Leno back to 11:35 honed Conan's humor to a razor's edge, and with the end of his time at NBC all but sealed, he seemed liberated of the burden of The Tonight Show mantle. It is ironic, if not tragic, that what is likely the last week or two of his time at NBC will see his strongest ratings. It must be at least some consolation to have Kimmel and Letterman unleashing on Leno this week on his behalf (Letterman's dislike of Leno is not surprising, but it was only via Bill Simmons that I learned that Kimmel has held Leno in nothing but disdain since Leno and his team told everyone that was anyone to blacklist Kimmel's show when it launched).

His resurgence this week reminded me of the Apatow movie Funny People. Many people found the movie's sudden plot shift partway through the movie disconcerting, but what I enjoyed was Apatow's depiction of the sadness behind the humor of the standup comedian, the pain and spite and anger that drives the court jester. Failure, jealousy, pettiness, pride, ego - all of these are the fuel that comedians use to power their craft.

That dynamic has been on given full demonstration by Letterman, Leno, Conan, and Kimmel this past week. Not only has it been compelling to watch late night show hosts take off the gloves and throw verbal haymakers at each other, it's been surreal to watch Conan tearing into NBC from his show airing on...NBC. Just tonight, Leno for some reason had Kimmel on his show for 10@10, and Kimmel tore into Leno, and Leno seemed either strangely oblivious or gracious, it's not clear which. I was reminded of Stephen Colbert at the White House Correspondent's Dinner.

Ultimately, it may work out for the best for all involved, even if Conan has to drop off the air for some period of time. If Conan walks across town to Fox, he may get to come back with a renewed vigor on a network more suited for his comedic style. What's more, at Fox he might be able to come on the air at 11pm, a half hour before The Tonight Show which would likely be helmed by a reinstated Jay Leno. Given that the current plan was to bump Conan a half hour behind an 11:35pm Leno show, that would seem a satisfying reversal for the man they call Coco.


Last night's opening segment of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart cracked me up and puts the revelations from Game Change in perspective, though I'm still going to read the crap out of it. It's difficult to tell how readers are receiving it as the reviews for the book on Amazon are skewed by dozens of 1-star reviews from users who haven't read the book but are angry that a Kindle version wasn't issued. Amazon does show when a user was a verified purchaser of a book; it would be useful someday if they could allow you to see only the average rating and reviews from that subset of readers.

Also, The Daily Show and The Colbert Report are up in widescreen on Hulu now. We had to work through that workflow with the Comedy Central folks, but we were able to retain captions in the widescreen files which was important for us.

Alicia and Stephen

Monsieur Colbert gives Alicia Keys an assist on "Empire State of Mind."

At the start line of the NY Marathon this year, as we stood at the foot of the Verrazano-Narrows bridge, waiting for them to release our wave, they had someone sing the National Anthem and God Bless America, and then they blasted Jay-Z and Alicia's majestic "Empire State of Mind" over the loudspeakers. We were all so pumped up that when the pistol shot fired to start us, all thoughts of not going out too fast were tossed aside and carried away by the stiff winds that morning. We all blasted through that first mile up the bridge in record time; I'd pay the debt for that some 17 miles later.

When I hear that song, I'll always think of that moment at the foot of the bridge, thousands of people hopping and vibrating in place, all overflowing with anticipation and nervous energy.