Saturday, November 4, 2006

Warning: Blog Links Ahead

November, in Television Land, means it's Sweeps month. For those who may not know, our pals at Wikipedia define Sweeps this way:

Much of the ratings system still consists of the completion by viewers of ratings diaries, in which a viewer records his or her viewing habits, generally for a week, in exchange for being advanced a nominal fee. These diaries play an especially important role during the four annual sweeps periods conducted in February, May, July and November in an attempt to measure smaller local market audiences in markets that are not covered by People Meter samples already.

The term "sweep" refers to how the diaries were handled by Nielsen Media when the ratings were first produced: They are mailed to the households and processed by starting on the East Coast and "sweeping" across the nation.

You can tell it's Sweeps month, because the promos for local news border on ridiculous. Thursday night, CBS3 told us that they were going to "let us in on the Thanksgiving sales before the flyers came out". Let me set my TIVO. Last night, the big story was "Things that men in your workplace don't want women to know." OK, so watch it and let me know what it is.

Over on my thinking spot, post-makeup kara is wondering why mainstream media is the way it is. Well, kara, I suppose it is nothing more than a number. They are what their ratings say they are, and if it takes stories on Thanksgiving sales or exposing workplace nonsense, then that's what they will do. Of course, these are on the local level, where the evening news is led by a house fire or car accident and followed by a few network tie-ins where we find out that Doogie is gay.

On the national level, I wonder myself how anchors get crowned with such fanfare. They are all compared to the sainted Walter Cronkite, who, absent of his rich vocal tone, is just another guy with a chair and a viewpoint. Now, he is looked at as some sort of historian, merely because he lived through the space program and VietNam. We're all historians if we live long enough.

Meanwhile, catch one of them if their TelePrompTer dies, or the satellite link goes haywire. Their underpants bunch up and they start stammering like Mel Tillis. You have to be a historian to know who Mel Tillis is. I suspect that they get the job because they look good on camera and are likely not to bitch and complain when the network tells them what to say. Why else would they all start talking extemporaneously once they no longer have the job?

My answer to kara would be for her not to get so worked up over the nightly news, and live with what it is. Americans really are interested in the big Thanksgiving sales and what men don't want women to know. Television blows the lid off sex in the workplace 4 times a year, and we gobble it up like cranberry sauce. As I've said before, we're a fat, bloated country of convenience, and if we wanted to know things, then Newsweek wouldn't have to change its cover for us. Perhaps they know us better than we know ourselves?

The biggest news story of the last year was Katie Couric taking over the CBS Evening News. That was a great example of our in-bred news media having sex with itself. They made a national story out of their own broadcast. Bravo. Why should it matter who is reading? It wouldn't matter if content was the key concern, but it isn't. It's a television show - no more and no less. Just like CSI: Miami or The Tonight Show. The only difference is the type of entertainment.

To make matters worse, it's Sweeps month, and the show has just started. Check your local listings for time and channel.

Thursday, November 2, 2006

What Am I Doing Now?

I'm on Where's George, which, several of you may think is some sort of tracking device for the idiot son of our 41st president ... but, no. It's a tracking device for dollar bills that are stamped with the distinctive Where's George stamp. I came up with one at a local Wawa store near My Sick Headquarters and logged it in here.

Otherwise, my day has been spent rehearsing for my potential appearance on Deal or No Deal. I'm memorizing all the numbers ... 1 through 26. Labor intensive, I know, but I think it may pay off in the end. I'm also practicing my OCD-induced-fist-handshake so Howie won't hate me.

Meanwhile, political dumbass John Kerry shot himself (and the party) in the foot (or ass) with his stupid remark about either being educated or "stuck in Iraq", which prompted some Minnesota National Guard members in Iraq to scrawl out this inspired sign:Oy. John ... be a fountain, not a drain.

And then...
SYDNEY, Nov 2 (Reuters Life!) - Size really does count, just ask Australian underwear maker AussieBum which has just launched the "Wonderjock" for men who want to look bigger.

They have discovered a new Wonder Down Under.

"The design of the underwear, separates and lifts. The fabric cup protrudes everything out in front instead of down toward the ground," said "Wonderjock" designer Sean Ashby. Separates and lifts? Geez. Ashby said the idea for the "Wonderjock" was the result of online feedback from customers who expressed an interest in looking bigger, just like women using the "Wonderbra."

First, you idiot, it's not like women wearing the Wonderbra. Nobody outside of a carnival sideshow wants to see giant junk, your "feedback" notwithstanding. So, what ... are we supposed to wear this on the outside?

I have several sensible, modern female readers. Is this what you're looking for?

Thursday Thirteen v.8

Thirteen Reasons I Almost Didn't Do a Thursday Thirteen This Week
Subtitle: Thirteen Lame-Assed Excuses

1. Daylight Savings Time ended, and I've been slowly adjusting. It's dark all the time.

. My Helper Monkeys walked out. I've been buying those green bananas again. The last time they threw crap on me, so I guess I'm lucky they walked out.

3. Hallowe'en. I'm logy from eating too many Skittles. I'm peeing a rainbow.

4. I'm still goofing with my new toy. So far, I've found the "on" button and have also been able to find my ass with both hands.

5. I'm working on the Friday Five. It's 62% less work. I'd be done by now.

6. Sex sex sex. Thinking about it takes up a lot of time. Apparently, the whole "hump day" thing is just an expression.

7. I got mezmerized by this site and wasted a lot of time.

8. I made the mistake of out-sourcing the job to India and had to have the whole thing translated from Hindi.
Gurūvāra Tēraha.

9. Trans fat. The damned trans fat.

10. I got all drunked-up celebrating World Vegan Day. Who knew vodka is made from potatoes?

11. There was a big spider near my keyboard. I ran. Lousy monkeys.

12. Bush said that he wants Rumsfeld and Cheney to stay until the end of his term. I was up all night alternately screaming and crying.

13. I just noticed the little arrow in the FedEx logo and couldn't stop staring at it.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Hallowe'en, Kitty

I got my new Dell Axim today, so I'm a little distracted. So, here's a look at a sweet black cat for the "holiday". He's been with me for over 16 years, which makes him a "senior" by cat standards. Black cats are supposed to be bad luck. It's a ridiculous notion, since this one is the best thing that ever happened to me.

And imagine, in 1990 he cost me a mere $29 at the local animal shelter. At the rate of return vs. cost (a concept that accountants are supposed to understand) this one was way undervalued. I figure that I owe the shelter about a million dollars by now. He's a beautiful boy, and I hope he's around for a few more Hallowe'en's - scaring kids, birds, squirrels and keeping me from thinking that nothing good happens to people.

Sometimes it's something as simple as an animal that makes us believe in goodness. What puzzles me is how I raised him to be such a good cat. Maybe it's him or maybe it's me - or maybe it's a little of both. Whatever it is, today may as well be Thanksgiving.
A little sappy today ... sorry.

Now, Cheryl is getting ready to dance, and I have a huge instruction manual to read. Happy Hallowe'en, Blogger buddies!

Poor Sports

There is no joy in Mudville.

Sports is on the front page of the newspaper after a horrible weekend here in Philadelphia, and to make matters worse, it gets re-played and analyzed on every TV station and sports talk radio station (of which there are 2 here). We even have a 24-hour sports cable outlet that will discuss little else for the next week. The mood of sports fans is sour, and it’s a shame that it has deteriorated to the point that sports has become so important.

Our hometown football team, the Philadelphia Eagles, laid an egg on Sunday. For the third consecutive week, they have disappointed the fans with a lackluster effort in losing to the Jacksonville Jaguars. Fans are calling for the firing of the head coach, cutting of players and generally beating themselves up over the (in)action of the team, who is a bland 4-4 entering into a challenging second half of the season. It could be worse, but it’s hard to imagine how.

Three things happened to make sports as big a part of society as it is today:
• Players started making huge salaries.
• Ticket prices increased (which went hand-in-hand with salaries)
• Television became an invasive part of the landscape.

To put it in perspective, if we go back to the days of my youth (the late 60s – **gasp**). Players had off-season jobs, tickets were reasonably priced (compared with the income level of the fans) and outside of the home team, games were rarely televised.

The fact that people get so worked up is what amazes me. After all, the minimum salary is more than some of us will earn in 10 years. What is lost is the entertainment value. With the advent of such widespread coverage and huge salaries, the fact that it is supposed to be entertainment is last on anyone’s list. They want blood, which takes one back to the days of the gladiators. Calls are pouring into the radio stations, letters are coming into the sports editors and people are talking about it at work as though it was a personal attack on a member of their family.

Meanwhile, there are wild fires burning in California, a war in Iraq, mid-term elections in a week and spiraling out-of-control costs of health care, auto insurance and property taxes. Not to mention the fact that about a third of the population cannot earn enough money to raise a family, let alone attend a game. These are real problems when compared to a sporting event.

I understand that fans spend a lot of money to attend games. Between tickets, transportation and assorted food and beverage expenses, they probably spend a few thousand dollars a year on their football team. In that respect, perhaps they should be upset. I feel badly for them, but they bring it on themselves.

What do they spend on property taxes, health care and auto insurance? When one weighs the return versus the expense, maybe they get less out of the latter than the games. That would make me more upset, but it doesn’t seem to work that way. Most of them probably aren’t even going to vote next week, so they’ll bring that on themselves, too. That’s not to say that sports doesn’t have a place, because it does. I only wish people got as worked up over those other issues as they do about a 13-6 loss by some strangers on a corporate-sponsored football field.

Come to think of it … perhaps the fans are more worked up than the players are.


Sunday, October 29, 2006

Sunday Fortune Cookie

I think this may be a little free advice to back up what my Blogger buddy Carmen nudged me about a week ago. Brevity is indeed the soul of wit:

Your Fortune Is
To make a long story short, don't tell it.
The Wacky Fortune Cookie Generator

By the way, Friday's mention of the Dell Axim (complete with jazzy blue link) did not elicit a response from the Dell people. I'm expecting a goodie bag any day now....holding my breath.

I guess that stuff only works with Big Ass Fans.

Meanwhile, start the week with a laugh. Brian Regan is one of the funniest guys working today. Here he is talking about his latest visit to his doctor: