The Bochco Code

When I was a child, I had a fever
My hands felt just like two balloons

I felt a little queasy when I saw the following article in the NYT Magazine: “Watching TV Makes You Smarter.” Not that it isn’t a good article; it is. It’s about the cognitive demands placed on viewers by today’s complex multi-threaded television shows: The Sopranos, Deadwood, yadda yadda yadda. Hill Street Blues gets a nod as the big innovator of multi-threaded arc-within-arc storytelling, though the structure obviously comes from soap operas and from serialized fiction before that (as Jonathan Dresner notes).
Read more


News and Jews

The New News

It’s been a busy week, but a good one!

  • Sunday: Lisa and I put our condo on the market.
  • Monday: Lisa and I sold our condo.*
  • Tuesday: I gave my end of the year talk at the Academy; it was very well received.
  • Wednesday: Lisa and I drove to London to look for a house.
  • Thursday: Lisa and I looked at about a dozen houses. Also, we got approved for a mortgage.
  • Friday: Lisa and I looked at another half-dozen houses. Also, we bought a house.*
  • Saturday: Lisa and I drove back to Boston.
  • Also: Lisa got accepted with funding to the PhD. program in Education at Western.
  • Also: My dissertation is one of four nominees for the Herman Krooss Prize, given by the Business History Conference to the best dissertation in business history written that year.

*Pending inspections and renegotiations and whatever else could transpire between now and closing. But you know. Offer accepted. Knock on wood.

The Old News

So like I said, it’s been a busy week. To keep this blog limping along, I shall continue to cannibalize old posts from my LiveJournal. Today (last night, technically) is the start of Passover. Last year at this time, I meditated on Douglas Rushkoff‘s very interesting book, Nothing Sacred. Here’s what I said…
Read more


Hit By A Fish

It’s pretty decadent to pad out your weblog by recycling posts from your other weblog. But it’s a cute story, even if it doesn’t have anything to do with history, and I haven’t been posting much here lately, and I’m interested in narrowing the gap in tone between this site, which can be a little stuffy, and my LiveJournal, which can be a little infantile. So, in honor of the date, my April Fish story (originally posted April 1, 2004) revisited:

In French, as you may know, April Fool’s Day is called Poisson d’Avril, which literally means “April Fish.”

My parents sometimes tell the story about when I was a little kid and I discovered a deck of Tarot cards. Immediately enchanted, I set about telling the fortunes of all my friends. Of course, I didn’t know what any of the cards or layouts meant, so my readings were both linear and extremely literal. I’d just slap the cards down one after another like I was playing War: “You will be stabbed with ten swords! Then you will be given seven coins! Then you will become a juggler! Then you will die!”
Read more