Tuesday, February 15, 2011

It's a date: My social media engagements

One of many things I appreciate about social media is the opportunity to engage in opinion and conversation with people who share similar interests with me.

Over the past few months, I've discovered a couple of online forums that are both engaging and enjoyable, and they're worth making time for each week:  "Tate Debate" via Facebook on Thursdays and the Washington Post's "TV Column Live with Lisa de Moraes" chat via the newspaper's website, washingtonpost.com, on Fridays.  The former is thought provoking while the latter is lively and entertaining.  Together, they make up my social media engagements.

Tate Debate / Thought provoking
On "Tate Debate,"  moderated by the staff of the London-based Tate Museums (which includes the Tate Britain and the Tate Modern), a topic or question is posted each week on its Facebook page for art enthusiasts to digest and share feedback.  Recent debate topics have included: Digital technology ("How could it change the arts?) and artistic concept versus artistic creativity ("Which is more important?"). With a new exhibition, "Watercolour" opening tomorrow at the Tate Britain, last week's debate focused on painting in watercolour.  The question: "What do you think of watercolour ~ a traditional method, or a visionary, abstract medium?" brought out some very interesting and thoughtful answers. Here's a sample:

"Watercolour is unforgiving and the sharpest insight to an artist," opined a middle-aged male artist from Utah.  "It reveals the actual thought process of its creation."

Another contributor, a twenty-something woman from England, added: "Whether a medium is traditional or not highly depends on the person handling it."

Because of the eight-hour time difference between London and the Bay Area, by the time I log in to Facebook on Thursday mornings, anywhere from 25-50 comments or more have already been posted to the Tate Debate.  Still, I find it's a great opportunity to see what's on the minds of other art lovers ~ especially since most of the comments are posted by Europeans ~ and, I have found, it's a unique opportunity to put in my two-cents worth from across the pond.  I've even received a couple of e-mails via Facebook commenting on my responses or thanking me for "Liking" their comments.

By the way, here's my response to the last week's "Watercolour" debate topic: "Watercolour is popular and universal.  While I normally think of watercolour as traditional landscapes painted in pastels, it's obvious that watercolour can be an abstract concept painted in bolds, too.  Each in its own way is beautiful ~ and powerful, too.  There's no right way, no wrong way to paint watercolour."  My comment even drew a couple of "Likes".

The TV Column Live /
Lively and entertaining
Meanwhile, the Washington Post's "TV Column Live with Lisa de Moraes" chat (Fridays at 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT) usually runs for about an hour.  De Moraes, the Post's witty TV columnist who also writes a TV blog for the Post, answers questions about "the drama, comedy and heartbreak of television ~ both on screen and behind-the-scenes." Through my own observation, I've discovered she loves 30 Rock, but hates ~ hates ~ American Idol's Ryan Seacrest (she calls him Seabiscuit)and she fawns over most PBS Masterpiece Classic "crunchy-gravel dramas" (a term she coined to describe a lot of English period dramas whose mansions include a crunchy, gravel driveway) like the recently aired "Downton Abbey."

Last week, de Moraes started off with a bang and came with a topical agenda: "Super Bowl ads ~ best ever of The Big Snooze? Idolette telling Ryan Seacrest he's all washed up emotionally from 10 years hosting show ~ best TV moment of the season? Will Keith Olbermann get you to watch Current TV? So much to talk about this week.  Let's get started. ..."

I should note: I credit my wife for introducing me to the "TV Column Live" chat and, after regularly participating, not only do I find it to be entertaining, but also an interesting perspective on the TV industry from a media insider and that ~ bottom line ~ it's a very much a business based on ratings points.  In a typical week, de Moraes (whose nickname is Pookie) responds to between 35-50 questions.

Here's a couple from last week's chat:

From Bored with My TV Shows: "So, Pookie, I watch the following: Blue Bloods, White Collar, Modern Family, Castle, Hawaii Five-O. I am sorta bored with them, except for Modern Family, which is always top-notch.  Castle is amusing at least. What should I start watching?  Lisa's response: "Episodes on Showtime because it's the best comedy on TV, Mr. Sunshine on ABC (just to see Allison Janney play crazy), The Good Wife because Alan Cummings is fab, new season of American Idol because Steven Tyler is a revelation. ... I could go on and on ..."

From 30 Rock: "Why doesn't NBC cut costs and get rid of the rest of the cast on 30 Rock and devote the half hour to Alec Baldwin and Tina Fey?"  Lisa's response: "Wait a minute! You want to get rid of Kenneth the page? And Tracy Jordan? And Jenna?  I admit Liz's writing staff could go, but I draw the line at Kenneth, Tracy and Jenna ..."

Occasionally, I've submitted a question and sometimes, like last week, I got lucky to have mine used during the chat:

From Countdown to Current TV: "Hey, Pookie: I'm looking forward to seeing Keith Olbermann's literary wit and acerbic commentary resurface on Current TV. Do you think he made a good career decision joining a fledgling cable network and should MSNBC be worried?  Lisa's response: MSNBC seems to be hanging in there without Keith.  And, as to the career move, it depends on his equity stake, I think. ... I always enjoy watching Keith move from network to network. ... And I'm anxious to see what other shows he's going to exec(utive) produce. ..."

Say what you will about social media, being able to contribute to a thoughtful, cultural discussion and sharing in an entertaining dialogue with a media critic are both pretty cool things in my book.  After all, like Madonna, herself an artist and cultural critic, once said: "Listen, everyone is entitled to my opinion."


  1. Thanks for having RSS feeds set up for your blog!

    Do poker shows ever come up on Pookie's show? I watched a couple of American Idol auditions with Steven Tyler when I was sick, and they were quite entertaining and sometimes surprising. Have only heard of those other shows, but I love my neighbor Tina Fey.

    (P.S. There's a missing "w" in Downtown.)

    Have a good TV night!

  2. @ Monica: Thank you for your kind response. I don't recall the subject of poker shows, such as what often pops up on ESPN, being discussed. However, it seems worthy of asking Pookie's opinion about them. Also, I'll have to check out Steven Tyler on AI and see how he's faring and getting along with J-Lo. Thanks.
    (P.S., actually Downton without the w is the correct spelling for Downton Abbey. It's a great period drama, written by Julian Fellowes (Gosford Park) and now available on Netflix instant view, and for a limited time can also be streamed via pbs.org.).

  3. You're welcome. Oh! "Downton" just popped out at me as being very wrong. Obviously, I know nothing, and I am very wrong!

    There are an abundance of poker shows these days, but the only one that captures my attention is NBC's "Poker after dark." You know, Pookie is an excellent poker name.