A great new use for Facebook

I've been happily buried in three different projects, one of which involves considerable historical research about the Civil War. The Facebook advertising engine picked up on that research – they're watching our every move! – and suggested I "like" the daily updates from this site.

Damned if the advertising engine isn't right. I do like the updates. In fact, I think whoever came up with the idea of sending around a daily Facebook post on something of interest related to the Civil War that happened on the same day 150 years ago is freakin' brilliant. Way to go, unknown fellow historian!


This is not a Paris runway

First casualties of the new season – Lone Star on Fox and My Generation on ABC. There were issues with the Lone Star pilot, but I didn't hate it. I could see they might be headed in interesting directions. I would have given it a second look. And yet – though I Tivo'd it, I didn't get around to watching the pilot until after the series had been canceled. I still haven't watched the My Generation pilot. I watch a lot of television, but neither show excited me enough to click play. Here's why –

The posters that adorned every bus shelter and many of the buildings where I live were some of the worst I have ever seen.

In the My Generation posters, pretty people stare at the camera with no expression on their faces. In the Lone Star posters, a handsome young man stares at the camera with no expression on his face. Why would I want to watch shows about expressionless people? If they aren't interested in their own lives, I won't be either. Not that the shows themselves – Lone Star at least – featured expressionless people. An early line of dialogue specifically points out the importance of the lead character's awesome smile. And the actor has an awesome smile. Why didn't they feature that in the posters? I might have watched the show sooner to find out what he was smiling about.

I think I know where the blank-faced trend originates. For some time now, fashion photography and fashion runways have featured expressionless models. Here's a note for television marketing departments: this is not because we like blank faces. It's because fashion designers want us to focus on the clothes alone. Most people don't watch television for the clothes alone. Not even Gossip Girl – though how awesome were the clothes in the Paris episodes? And Gossip Girl posters are some of the best out there.