The White Noise Of The Presidential Race

26 03 2008

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Every once in a while I get on this imaginary treadmill and start running in place. It’s not a great feeling and usually I start feeling it when I feel confined by the world around me.

I don’t know if it’s a thing about getting older or if it’s just me. I’m leaning with door number two.

As a political junkie, I’m not too compelled by the presidential race right now and have been watching some of the state elections.  So much information comes in during these dead times of a campaign and sometimes it’s daunting. During the primaries, there was too much going on but now, small details are coming out about the candidates. If you follow the news, you know what I’m talking about from “misspeaking” about Bosnia sniper fire to someone asking Chelsea Clinton about Monica Lewinsky (which I thought was pretty classless.)

Static.

The political spin of today with the introduction of cable/Internet news in the last 25 years has given news stories the shelf life of a mayfly. The passport incident from less than a week ago is old, tired fodder now. Today’s news du jour is that Clinton is still bringing up the Jeremiah Wright incident where even a pastor she used to go to church with ( there seems to be confusion) is telling her to stop it, Barack Obama is pressing her to come clean on her finances and John McCain is watching to see if the Democratic Duo will destroy each other.

**Whoops, there is a story on Britney Spears** and thus the news cycle begins again.

Are we talking healthcare, the war, secrecy in government, Osama Bin Laden or the cost of gas prices? Are we looking for solutions? We can bail out Wall Street but not Main Street?

No, we aren’t talking about those things.

We are nation that doesn’t believe our leaders, despite their party affiliation, because they are not giving us anything put static. People tune out static after awhile, because we are a world comfortable with white noise. It plays in the background and it becomes part of the environment steeped into our senses to where we don’t hear it after awhile.

Everyone wants their voices heard. They want to be treated as valid entities. Hope is important.  Day-to-day issues dominate our world. How will a person buy milk for their family or do they take that four bucks and put it in their gas tank to get to work? Do you go to the doctor and take on additional debt or hope their illness will get better on it’s own?

I’m extremely disappointed with it all but I’ll get over it.

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Hulu

24 03 2008

I’ve been pretty intrigued by Hulu. You can go to their vaults and watch some of the television you might be missing.

Entertainment Weekly has a story about it and why it’s so innovative.

For starters, Hulu features free, ad-supported content, and all you need is a decent Internet hookup and a browser. An episode of The Office, for example, includes two 15-second ads and a 30-second commercial in the middle. The site does not require any kind of download service, credit card number, or separate device (or ”client”) for access. ”They’ve found a way to make it a premium-advertising environment, so you’ll generally see the full episodes with significantly less commercials,” says Scheppach. ”Advertisers like that because then you remember the commercials that are there. iTunes is successful, but I think consumers are wanting this content for free.”

I have said for awhile that if I had to choose between my television and my computer, I’d go with my computer. Of course, Hulu is offering the best of both worlds. It’s still got some bugs but I’m catching up on 30 Rock on MY schedule. Later this week, I’m going to see 28 Days Later.

Pretty impressive.





If I Were On A Reality Show, I’d Suck

17 03 2008

I’ve often wondered if I were on a reality show how incredibly boring I would be.

People would see me in my Chucks or Crocs staring at two computer screens looking at the clock with a squint (which usually means I’m hungry or want a beer) and answering the phone in my everyday-professional phone voice. (Which is what you do.)

So if I was ever going to be on a reality show I’d think I’d have to be unreal. I think that’s how it’s done anyway so I’d give it a whirl. I would wear a leather bustier and the reddest lipstick you’ve ever seen. I would whip (hah) through my day with a sashay in my hips that would knock everyone out. I hate fighting and confrontation although I’m not afraid of it,  but I guess I’d have to pick some drama/confrontation thing for each episode and there would have to be kissing. Lots of kissing although I have my limits of what I’ll do on television although this apparently isn’t a problem on the latest installment of Big Brother which I’m not even watching this year.  I would listen to bands that everyone talks about although I’d much rather be listening to Miles Davis or Johnny Cash.

I guess I’d wear stilettos but I’d fall on camera a lot. Unfortunately, reality television LOVES women falling about. I guess I’d need to drink more often to make it look like I’m Leona Helmsley or something.

I’d quote novels written by Lynne Cheney just for fun. Crap, I’d have to dye my hair. I’m starting to honestly think the bits of silver showing up up above my ears is kinda sexy. (Naa, I’ll keep it.)

I also would allow Mabel a starring role as the dog who is put upon. Homer would have to be in it but she’s so busy although Ace and Bear would demand to be in every scene which could get complicated with the leather bustier. (Dang. I’ve never had a leather bustier. I guess I’d have to wear a superhero outfit. Yeah, that would work.)

We’d wander the streets of Hootervegas and ask random questions. We’d go to the fainting goat farm and then drink Mimosas. After that, we’d head to the local haunted houses and act really scared although in reality we know that the ghosts dig us (expect this one place here. YIKES.)

Then we would all have one of those moments like there was real bonding when what we really wanted to do was talk politics respectfully and eat sushi. Being Hooterville, we’d probably be made to eat meat and three and have the local folks looking disturbed (you know, leather bustier and all.)

But, alas, I’d hate to be on a reality tv. I’m not much of a narcissist.

Instead, I’d want to do this.

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 This would do. Or this.

Man, I miss Weekly World News.

Screw the telly.





Lost

24 01 2008

Lost starts in one week. For those of us who adore the show, this is good news but the writer’s strike may impact the series.

Or not.

With that said, I found this and it made me wonder about the whole phenomenon of the whole show.

It’s called Everything I Need to Know I Learned From Lost … I like this one.

7) There is no such thing as a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ person: No-one on the island is free of some crime. Everyone has done something wrong and everyone has done something right. The ambiguity of Lost – its refusal to box people in, whether Juliet, Kate or Charlie – is its greatest and most honest triumph. This, perhaps more than any other reason is why Lost is the show for the uncertain and morally ambiguous 2000’s.

Well, that is more than true about the show. But I’ve learned more from just Lost.

How I learned not to throw matches at piles of wood soaked in gasoline at a party in the country when I was a kid from another teenager who wasn’t too bright (We warned him.) How LOLCats have taken over America, which disturbs me although I realize they are beloved so I just go with the flow on it. How Lou Dobbs has freaked me out for years and if he becomes president I would have to go just sit on the roof for about six weeks (Thanks CNN, you’ve taught me to0.)

But, yeah, I’ve learned a great deal from Lost. Mainly that Jack being the leader of this crew is not of the good and that folks really need to listen to Sayid.

Just saying.





Lou Grant

2 12 2007

Thirty years ago, I watched “Lou Grant.”

I was 12-years-old.

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I’m shocked it’s been that long. Now, I’m going to get all syrupy about “Lou Grant” but I loved that show.  Ed Asner made the transition from comedy after getting “fired” on the “Mary Tyler Moore Show” and took Lou to a new setting. I’m sure that wasn’t the easiest transition but it worked.

I loved the fieriness of the show and how journalism made a difference in the television world. As a tween (I didn’t even know what that word meant in 1977), it looked like, to me at least, that hard work and dedication could make a difference. As a pre-teen, I was enamoured. I was a child of Watergate, Deep Throat, my parents’ memories of the assassinations of the Kennedys, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King and a loveable grandfather who fought in WWII and who knew he did the right thing. I was too young for the assassinations, but I remember my parents perception of them. For my mother, these things were never far from her mind.

So “Lou Grant” spoke to me. For reasons I probably didn’t understand then, but that I do now. 

Anti-press fulminations from the Nixon administration were largely nullified by scandals and disgrace in the White House. It was only later that an anti-media crusade took hold, drawing battle lines between the press and government, and breeding suspicion among much of the citizenry.

It was later, as well, that newspapers were obliged to adapt to emerging, unimagined challenges: new media platforms, “citizen journalists” and information-dispersing gadgets with global reach that anyone could buy.

The Trib reporters were spared these distractions and identity crises. For them, news still took the form of ink on paper, preferably with comics, horoscope and crossword puzzle part of the deal.

The zeitgeist of “Lou Grant” was set forth in the clever opening titles. The cycle began with a twittering bird up in a tree about to be felled and processed into newsprint. By the end of the sequence, the published Tribune has reached its destination a typical reader and, then fully read, is slid into a cage to catch the droppings of a twittering pet bird. A newspaper was a cozy, closed system, and “Lou Grant” celebrated it.

Reporters made a difference in the world of my youth. I saw that as a kid. Now that I’m older and more cynical, I still can remember feeling that I wanted to be a part of something bigger. Of course, life isn’t fair, but on “Lou Grant” there was a sense of fairness that I felt like I could be a part of. In my own way, I’m thinking maybe I’ve done a thing here or there that was important or at least it was to me.
Yeah, I’m a liberal softie. I know that. And “Lou Grant” was part of it.

Happy anniverary Lou, and thanks.





You Kids Get Off My Lawn

30 11 2007

As I woke up at 2:45 this morning, as I sometimes do, realizing that I thought I had beat my cold back down into the trenches and then waking up in a puddle of snot, I did what any person would do when they are drowning.

I just got up.

The dogs (all three of them) decided they were hungry and needed to eat something because God forbid they hadn’t eaten in about, oh I don’t know, three hours so off I went in search of kibble.

Why am I telling you this at (let me check the clock) 4:30 a.m?

Because sometimes, in the middle of the night when all that remains in the darkness is a lit laptop screen and a befuddled mind, you find wonderful things on the innertubes.

I’m not a baby boomer. I’m that lost generation that doesn’t really have a name that came after the boomers and before Generation X, Y and Z (that’s next, I’m assuming.)  So sometimes I just haunt the internet looking for things to amuse me in the middle of the night until Star Trek comes on at 5 a.m.

Yeah, I got a schedule. You got a problem with that?

So, I go over to Ken Levine’s blog because I like it and he linked to a blog that has entertained me all throughout these early morning hours.

Lloyd Thaxton’s blog rocks. If you don’t know who Lloyd Thaxton is, you whippersnappers, then go here and it will be explained. Or at least alluded to as I am linking to Wikipedia. Thaxton reminisces about television in the ’60’s (and man, does he have some tales to tell), comments on why Britney Spears is a “bad-mouther” because there is beauty in lip-synching and some political stuff but mainly it’s about the celebrities of the past.

When I was growing up, we had four television channels (of course, my father, Big Daddy, would say “We didn’t have a TV and I walked 35 miles in the snow so shut your trap, kid.” Not really, but sorta).

After school, Homer (the sis) and I had a schedule of watching Gilligan’s Island, The Beverly Hillibillies, I recall Hogans Heroes coming on for awhile before I learned about the sordid past of Bob Crane and then our version of “Dance Party” (actually, I can’t remember the exact name other than it was filmed in Paducah). And, by God, we were to watch Days of Our Lives if we were at my grandmother’s house.

Ahh, Macdonald Carey’s voice at the beginning of each show became a staple in our lives. I also recall watching some soap called “The Doctors” as well. And Barnabas on Dark Shadows.

I haven’t seen a soap in years, but Barnabas was bad ass.

When we got cable, man, the world changed. I go back to not being an official “boomer” and not being part of any of the other generations with cool names because I was at the end of one phase and then in the beginning of new ones but not quite IN either one.

So, yeah, television for me is nostalgic. And reading Thaxton’s blog (just a little free one like mine is which also makes me smile that he’s giving these memories and recollections away for nothing) I remembered those afternoons when I was a kid. When I would dance to the television set, when I thought working at a television station like Mary Tyler Moore did would be the grooviest thing ever and how I wanted to do the weather like Ted Baxter and that I did, indeed, want to marry Steve McQueen.

I guess I need to go yell at some kids to get off my lawn now. (Hint: Getting older can be more than alright. You just have to get the hang of it, that’s all.)





Writers Guild Of America Strike Could Happen This Week

1 11 2007

Well, it appears for those of us who dig television that the writer’s strike most likely is going to happen. There could be a hail mary pass thrown, but it’s looking pretty doubtful.

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Of course, I watch a lot of BBC, so I’m in better shape, I think, than some. Let’s take a look, shall we, of how television addicts will be dealing with their, umm, well, addiction. Pop Matters breaks it down better than anyone and says we may even be seeing the UK versions of shows like “The Office” on NBC if the strike goes on for any length of time.

Variety, by way of Alan Sepinwall, gives a pretty good breakdown of what will be impacted first. It looks like Stephen Colbert just might have plenty of time to make his way to the presidency.

While the networks have been repeating the mantra that “screens will not go black,” it won’t take long for TV viewers to see the impact of a Writers Guild of America strike.

The canaries in TV’s creative coal mine are latenight hosts such as David Letterman and Jay Leno, whose monologues and sketches are dependent on union writers. If history is any guide, both shows will almost instantly go dark, as would “Saturday Night Live.” Comedy Central‘s latenight stalwarts “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart” and “The Colbert Report” would also likely switch to repeats in the immediate aftermath of a strike.

“Boom — our show just shuts down,” said “SNL” vet Amy Poehler. “It’s just done. There is no backlog of scripts.” (For more on latenight and the strike, click here.)

The new shoes, like Pushing Daisies that I kinda dig, will be hit the hardest. And we are looking at lots and lots of reality television, as if there weren’t enough already. For Lost-o-philes, the producers say they will air what they’ve got.

The thing is, if you look at some of the grumbling behind the thing, is that no one wants a strike, but the question is does it financially benefit the producers to a degree. Here’s the gotcha phrase from the Variety article:

From a financial standpoint, network execs are at least in a better position than their studio counterparts. The nets may see their ratings and revenue go south as they replace scripted fare with repeats and reality shows, but their costs will decline, too. Sliding in a reality show that costs $900,000 per episode in place of a $3 million-per-seg drama will help soothe the sting of a strike.

So, for those of us who watch some reality television, we will see what happens. The Writer’s Guild contract ran out at midnight.

It might be a long winter, campers, if you dig TV.

More links, if you are so inclined: