Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Leave it to Fox

Four out of the five major TV networks covered tonight's press conference by President Obama.

Guess which one didn't.

That's right. Fox.

I'm not talking about Fox News channel. It's a given that any news channel HAS to cover a presidential PC in order to maintain any semblance of credibility. I'm talking about the Fox television network.

They chose, instead, to show an episode of their series "Lie to me". I've watched a few episodes of this series. I wasn't all that impressed. And, judging by it's ratings, not a whole lot of other people are either.

So, basically, Fox believes people would rather watch a poorly rated TV series than the President of the United States answering important questions.

They are quite dumb.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Grocery shopping

Today I went shopping for Groceries at both Costco and Kroger.

I go to Costco about once a month to stock up on non-perishables that I consume on a regular basis, and I go to Kroger about once a week to buy perishables and other stuff I run out of regularly.

I don't know if anyone who reads this has ever been to Costco, but if you haven't, let me try to describe it. For an annual fee, you can enter a shopping warehouse the size of four football fields, filled with every product imaginable, from fresh fruit to batteries to soda pop to lawn fertilizer to frozen dinners, and everything there is in between. EVERYTHING is sold in bulk. You cannot buy anything in small quantities. The store also has a full pharmacy, a photo lab, an optometrist, a tire store, and a cell-phone retailer inside.

The biggest danger that comes from shopping there is that you might buy too much. I often do, but I have never failed to use everything I bought there. It may take a few years, but it gets used.

Kroger, by the way, is no slouch. You can buy nearly everything there as well, but you can usually get it in much smaller quantities, which is why I buy my perishables there.

You may be asking what my point is in all this. Well, Sparky, my point is this: We live in a nation of abundance. At any given hour, on any given day, in just about any place in this country, we can go to any grocery store or retail store and buy anything we need or want.

It was not always thus. In fact, this situation has only come to be within my lifetime. When my parents were born, they had no opportunity to do this. If they needed or wanted something that wasn't available, they simply did without.

I have to wonder how long our current situation will last. We as a species are facing a rapid depletion of our natural resources, a depletion that is destined to occur far faster than our current ability to replace them.

Hopefully, someone soon will be able to find a solution to this problem.

If they can't then God help us all.

Monday, April 20, 2009

A Sad Anniversary

Those of you the three readers of this blog may or may not remember that April 19th (yesterday) was the anniversary of the Oklahoma city bombing.

I was at home when it happened. I had come off a night shift at the current crappy job I was working, and I was sound asleep when it happened. I was deeply contemplating quitting said crappy job. Too many night shifts in horrible working conditions, with low pay and no benefits.

So, when I woke up, I turned on my TV. I saw what had happened. I watched, stunned, as did most of the rest of the nation, and a large portion of the world.

Over the next few days, I saw in the coverage the picture of fireman Chris Fields carrying the body of Baylee Almon from the wreckage. The man's face is shrouded in shadow and we cannot see the expression on his face clearly, but I cannot begin to imagine what he must have been thinking as he carried that tiny, burned, bloodied, broken body from the wreckage. The photographer who took it won a Pulitzer Prize for it, and it has come to be the defining image of this tragedy.

And I remember thinking to myself that, no matter how crappy my job was, at least my job would never require me to do anything like carrying the body of a one year old dying toddler from the wreckage of a destroyed building.

It's things like that that can really give you a renewed sense of perspective.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Two Teabags Please! (pt. 2)

I watched Rachel Maddow's coverage of the Teabaggers. She was barely able to contain herself.

What was the Genesis of this event?, I wonder.

"Hey, the Boston Tea Party. We are anti-tax. TEA. Tax. Enough. Already. No, no. TAXES Enough Already. No, no. TAXED Enough Already. Yeah! Let's go teabag them!"

If there was ever a more graphic demonstration of how out of touch the Republican party was with modern society, it is today. I mean, come ON! I'm a forty-one year old man who was raised by small-town parents, and I know what tea-bagging means. And please, to the single reader of this blog, PLEASE don't look it up on the web--oh, to hell with it. Look it up. If there was ever a time when the whole nation is going to know what this term means, it is now.

Laughing. Harder. Than. Ever.

Two Teabags Please!

Today, on tax deadline day, the right wing blogosphere has created an astroturf movement calling for millions of folks to protest the Obama stimulus plan by holding T.E.A. parties (Taxed Enough Already). To (snicker) protest (chortle) the plan (LAUGH UPROARIOUSLY OUT LOUD!) by "teabagging"!

For those 2 readers of this blog who know what teabagging means, please insert your own joke here. For the other reader, please, in the name of all that is Holy, don't ask, and for the love of God don't look it up on the web--you'll be in for a very unpleasant surprise.

We had our own little protest outside my workplace today. Here's a picture, taken from the window of my office:

Quite a crowd, eh? There must be at least 70 people! Most of the folks in the crowd looked like they were unemployed, meaning that they don't pay taxes at all. And they were there for about 20 minutes. But hey, in their defense, it was cold and rainy (not an unusual thing in April in the midwest.)

MSNBC, CNN, and others have had no end of fun with the "teabaggers". They are led by Dick Armey! Fox has blown a load of money! The movement could get too testy! It might blow up in their face!

I haven't laughed so hard in a long time.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Saving TV shows

I just read an article on 10 TV shows that need to return next fall. I have to say that I agreed with most of their choices (but definitely NOT all of them). And I'd add a few of my own to the list, if I could.

My problem is this: TV shows live or die by the Nielsen ratings, a system developed back in the 1950's whereupon approximately 1500 homes would receive boxes that would record the TV viewing choices daily, and thus these people would decide which TV shows lived or died. There were also the so-called "Sweeps" when in certain months thousands of homes would receive diaries, in which they would record TV viewing choices during peak months.

There are any number of complaints about the antiquity of this system. Not the least of which is that it was designed to measure TV viewing when there were 4 networks, not 400. The second biggest complaint is that people are often inclined to falsify the diaries, with people claiming to watch "Masterpiece Theater" when they are in fact watching "Rock of Love" (Don't even get me started.) There is also the complaint that it cannot measure internet TV viewing, which is becoming more and more frequent, especially given the variety of devices that can now display TV.

The Nielsens have been responsible for cancellation of a number of shows I felt deserved better. Just to name a few at random, in no particular order: "Firefly", "Las Vegas", "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip", "Commander-in-Chief", "Dharma and Greg", "Joan of Arcadia", "Sports Night", "Ed", "Action", "Titus", "Rodney", and "Eli Stone".

(Look, I'm not gonna link to all those. I'm not your damn search engine!)

Those of you who recognize the above shows may realize that, with a few exceptions, they were all aimed at persons with above average IQ's. Almost all of them were well-written, well-acted (OK, OK, I liked "Las Vegas" for the hot women), and actually left their viewers waiting for what came next.

The problem is that with so many viewing choices, the advertisers cannot depend on the Nielsen ratings to determine if a show lives or dies. There has to be a new way of determining this. The new Fox show "Dollhouse", created by Joss Whedon, was created as a late season replacement and has been on for only 8 episodes, and has been dropped into the Friday night TV graveyard. And yet it already has its own fan-created wiki site, with over 100 articles on it, entirely written by viewers of the show (which are obviously numbered in the thousands).

We. Need. Something. New.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Life on Mars is Over

The TV series "Life on Mars" ended an hour ago.

I was a fan. I watched, and waited, while the writers struggled to create an explanation for why a modern-day NYPD detective was suddenly transported to NYC in 1973 after being hit by a car.

It turned out that the cancellation of the series was announced soon enough that they were able to write an ending to the show that they thought would be plausible.

It turns out that the main character of the show was an astronaut, in suspended animation, part of the first manned mission to Mars. and the "co-workers" in his world were his fellow astronauts, headed there too. They were all in their own computer-generated virtual reality fantasies, and the main character's was interrupted by a meteor strike (the car crash).

ABC advertised this series finale as "shocking".

I described it another way.


Seriously. I laughed for ten minutes after it was over.

You are a writer on a show. You have been informed that it is canceled. You do not try to come up with a rational explanation for a mystery that is set to evolve over the next 5 seasons.

You walk away. And you hope that there will be enough outrage among the fans of the show that someday you will be able to bring it back as a late season replacement (please see previous blog entry).