Friday, September 26, 2008

For Your Listening Pleasure: My Playlist

My friends Lee and Lee Ann tell me they run my playlist whenever they're sitting at their computers. That's nice to hear. Not that I put a lot of thought into it -- I don't. I just add songs that I like, new or old, of whatever genre. I opted not to have the player autostart, so click on the > button.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

News, Chart Buzz, Plus A Lovely Parting Gift

BREAKING NEWS – No, this has nothing to do with Clay Aiken. We already knew he was gayer than pink spandex. I’m referring to the fact that I was “Caller 71” in this morning’s 97X bribe. For those of you who aren’t 97 Xers, “The Bribe” is a regular promotion that goes off a couple times a year. A Bribe song is announced early in the day and when it plays listeners start calling in. The 97th caller wins $1000. This morning’s modest success was only the third time my call has gone through in several years of dialing and redialing. Usually, I get busy signals, or other phone company dismissals. But this morning, Danielle answered the phone and told me I was caller 71. What a nice way to start off the day!

CHART BUZZ – I guess if Willie Nelson can find his way onto the Jazz Charts, we shouldn’t be surprised that Darius Rucker should add his name to the list of displaced persons who are hoping to find riches in the world of country music. Last week, it was the elastic mouthed Jessica Simpson. Before her, it was Jewel and Julianne Hough, the latter one of the “Dancing With The Stars” regulars. While these albums all open with a pop, they also make a rather quick slide down the charts. Darius, I hope you packed some Dramamine. One pleasant surprise this week is Kristy Lee Cook’s top ten debut with “Why Wait.” You’ll remember her as the Idol contestant who sold her horse to get the money to travel to the auditions. That in itself would make a great country song.

All the news is about the proposed $700 Billion bailout package. Hopefully, they’ll be able to iron out their differences today and get the bill passed so that we can move on to other topics. It doesn’t surprise me that Bush’s administration wanted to hand out blank checks to CEOs who so nimbly ran their companies down the toilet. They are his prime supporters along with the oil people. Don’t worry, George, they know you tried.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Foxy Ladies

Uppy – that’s my wife, the former Cynthia Uppington-Smythe – was in a tizzy when she clicked on our local ABC affiliate, channel 11, a couple weeks back at 10 AM and did not find Martha Stewart. I pledged to get to the bottom of this outrageous caper and within a couple days discovered that Martha would be premiering her new season on channel 13, Fox, at 11 AM the following Monday. Thank goodness. I hate for Uppy to suffer even the tiniest disappointment. What’s good about the new time slot is it puts the “good thing” up against Whoopi and Company’s “View” and the Bob Barkerless “Price Is Right,” and offers midday viewers something that’s a little more palatable to go along with their lunches.

Fox is also the home of two of my favorite returns from last season, “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles” and “Bones.” (That reminds me… did you hear Heidi Klum refer to the show as “The Bones” the other night at the Emmies? I’m going to go out on a limb, here, and say I don’t think Heidi’s a regular viewer.)

I’ve read a few negative comments and reviews about T: TSCC that propose the show is somehow lacking and in need of another element. Bulllloney! The show is great just the way it is. Sarah, John and Cameron are living on the edge, always on the brink of disaster. I don’t see how a plot could want more tension and anxiety.

Bones is another great show. I’ve read a few of Kathy Reichs novels. They’re okay but their protagonist is far less original than the Temperance Brennan of the TV series.

Those – Martha, Sarah & Tempe – are my foxy ladies. Who did you think I was referring to? Paula Abdul?

Monday, September 22, 2008

No Emmy for Emmies

Are the writers still on strike? I mean, from beginning to end, that was the worst Emmy Awards Show ever.

If you were looking for a flat opening, you couldn’t possibly have generated less excitement than you did by playing the Oprah card? Along with the 5 reality show hosts, the show was quickly relegated to the basement of the all-time award show standings, just behind Letterman’s fabled Oscar catastrophe. Not even Heidi Klum’s klumsy strip down could derail this train wreck

Of course, Oprah’s appearance was a subtle endorsement of Barack Obama. Sublety seemed to be the dictated policy. Otherwise, everybody would have wasted the uncaring public’s valuable time plugging their favorite African American savior. Laura Linney was bursting with pride when she referred to our founding fathers as “community organizers.” I like the kid, but when it comes to politics, she’s in a league with Lindsey Lohan.

Among other moments that didn’t thrill me, was the presentation of best comedy show to “30 Rock” by Betty White and Cat Woman. I also discovered sadly that Tommy Smothers isn’t funny any more.

As far as the winners go, I have no arguments there. I don’t get the cable channels. Having grown up with free tv, I just can’t see paying $60 a month. I amuse myself with the basic networks. If I want to see a show like the Sopranos, I get it on DVD. In fact, I just added season 2 of Dexter to my Netflix Queue.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Cram de la Cram

I received an unexpected gift from the folks at Verizon, yesterday - a $14.46 third-party charge for voicemail services provided by ESBI’s Solo Communications. Funny thing was, as I explained to Carlton the Verizon customer service rep, I had never heard of these people, nor signed up for their services. I mean, last time I checked, Verizon’s voicemail service cost $5 per month. If I was in the market for vmail, which I’m not, I think that’s the way I’d go. Anyway, Carlton said that he couldn’t help me – I’d have to take it up with ESBI.

So, I called ESBI. Eventually, I got hooked up with Zack. Zack’s story was that someone signed me up for the service online back in August. They knew my phone number, which is in the phone book, my email address, which is plastered all over the internet, and my address. They didn’t know my given first name, however, so they signed me up with my nickname, Ace. That’s all it took. If this is the case, and I’m far from convinced of that – I picture a team of marauders at ESBI who spend their entire day cramming – a simple email confirmation would go a long way toward preventing this kind of mischief. But, no email confirmation was required.

I wanted to report this to the Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum but a tour of his site convinced me that he wasn’t interested in hearing any complaints by me about cramming or anything else. I suspect that ESBI contributed to his last campaign.

In the end, Zack agreed to close my account and to refund within two billing cycles my $14.46. That means that first I have to pay the fraudulent charges to Verizon, then wait a few months to be reimbursed. As my old man used to say, “What a way to run a railroad.”

Misery loves company. This issue was also reported at Rip-off Report.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Netflix Sunday – The Final Season (2007)

Sean Astin tries to recapture some of the underdog magic of Rudy in this based-on-truth tale about a small Iowa town that is about to suffer an identity crisis when the school board decides to merge with a neighboring district and end a legendary high school baseball program that has netted the school 19 state championships.

I’m a sports nut, so I’m inclined to like nice movies like this, but the critical part of me has to point out that there were no surprises here. I’ve seen this movie before several times, most prominently in Remember the Titans with Denzel Washington. Not that that version was fresh and new either. My spouse liked it mainly because it contained only one or two f-bombs. She has her own unique way of evaluating movies.

Anyway, I wouldn’t call it a total waste, yet, it’s not a home run. Unless you have kids to entertain, I wouldn’t bump this formulaic offering to the top of your list. Just keep it in mind for a day when you’ve no appetite for violence or vulgarity.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Lopsided View

If you missed John McCain’s appearance on the view on Friday, September 12, you didn’t miss much. As you might expect, Whoopi, Barbara, Joy, and that new fat-girl-in-need-of-a-breast-reduction, Sherri, displayed attitudes and temperaments much more malignant than those bubbly facades they presented to his holiness, Mr. Walk-On-Water, Barack Obama and his lovely wife when they appeared on the show. This difference would be understandable if John McCain had been responsible for slavery, the holocaust, Pearl Harbor, and 9-11. But, my research indicates he wasn’t. The good Senator’s only offense is that he has the audacity to run against their beloved boy Barack.

Historically, the view’s proscribed treatment of guests has been deliberately non-offensive. Obviously, Barbara Walters is afraid of offending anyone she might someday want to interview on one of those specials she makes that I have never been inclined to watch. This time, however, the head Viewmeister, the woman who used to cringe whenever Rosie O’Donnell said anything negative about anybody, threw caution to the wind and grilled presidential hopeful McCain with all the tact of Detective Andy Sipowicz.

And, really, despite her constant claims of being the first female anchor woman (the only thing that has been more often repeated are promos of her recent book, which I will not name, but which supposedly details her appetite for men of African lineage – surprise, surprise), at this stage can anyone honestly consider her even an approximation of a journalist? I think not. As for the others on the panel whose absurd rationalizations and defenses of all things Obama has been the overriding theme of all recent shows, they have yet to prove that they have a minimum of intelligence. Last season’s behind-the-scenes show revealed that even Joy Behar’s apparent ad lib jokes were written by the show’s writers.

The Boston Herald reported that during a commercial break, Barbara Walters asked the audience if “The View” cohosts were being too rough on McCain. Allegedly, the crowd stood in unison and shouted “No.”

She should have asked my neighbor, Helen Murchison. A lifelong Democrat and a Hillary supporter, she told me that after she saw the show she went online and contributed $25 to the McCain campaign.

I doubt that’s the kind of reaction Whoopi and company were hoping for.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Inaugural Post: 97X FM - Something Good About Radio

Historically speaking, there’s plenty to rant about when it comes to the local media. Consider, for instance, the assassination of Gemma Gaudette by Tampa Bay 10, the recent decision by the same CBS affiliate not to broadcast the men’s finals of the US Tennis Open after airing for two weeks the matches that led up to it, NBC News Channel 8’s infamous mind-boggling storm team alert that preempted a critical Tiger Woods record-shattering putt, as well as numerous other broadcasting atrocities. Still, I thought I’d dedicate my inaugural post to something positive, my favorite radio station 97X, “Tampa Bay’s New Rock Alternative.”

Around 6:15 every morning, with one sweeping motion, I hit the “on” buttons of my PC and my GE radio (in the interest of full disclosure, I confess to owning 300 shares of GE which I plan on holding on to for at least a couple years). I’ve had the radio which I bought at a garage sale in northwest Montana for $5 for at least 10 years. It’s a little quirky, but after a few seconds of sputtering I’m soon listening to my morning companions, Fisher & Boy & Danielle.

The Morning X is a local program, not a generic syndication hosted by Billy Bob and his cousin Clem. The sun that shines on Fisher and Boy is the same sun that shines on me when I take a break around 7:30 and make 4 circuits on my bike around the old fogies’ trailer park where I reside. Though they insist their sole purpose is to entertain, I don’t see them as merely entertainers. Enough of their real selves has leaked out over the years, that I, and hoards of other faithful listeners, have come to look at Fisher & Boy &, now, Danielle, as friends and, maybe, even family. They’re good kids. I think I can call them kids. If I had grandchildren, they’d be Boy’s and Danielle’s age, and Fisher is 6 years younger than my daughter.

I called in one day when the discussion was about bad experiences with sports celebrities. I told them about a run-in I had had with former NY Yankee Joe Pepitone at Newark Airport in New Jersey. As a limo driver waiting for a fair to come off the plane, I was standing in the terminal with my sign when who should I see coming down the chute but Joe Pepitone. As any lifelong Yankees fan would be, I was thrilled. On he came, straight toward me. When he finally stopped about 4 feet in front of me, I said “Hi Joe.” He looked to his right, then looked to his left, and, without so much as acknowledging my existence, he boogied on down the road. Screw Joe Pepitone. Anyway, they liked the story and for a while they referred to me as their oldest listener. Since then a few imposters have called in and laid claim to that title but I think everyone knows they’re full of crap. I don’t call in very often – I’m usually too busy with my websites – but I do fire off an occasional email. More often than not, they get back to me.

Among my favorite features are those that include the hosts’ families. Fish’s dad and Mrs. Kushner (Boy’s mom) are beyond hilarious without trying to be. You can add to them Boy’s brother Brett, the NFL prognosticator who in all fairness is about as wrong as all the other professional touters out there. As of this writing, Boy and night-time DJ Phoebe are an item. They’re a nice couple and I’m hoping they stay happy. While his love-life has had its ups and downs, in spite of himself, Fisher has also landed himself a gf. Romantic devil, recently when there was a shortage of seats at the movie theater, he pulled a you-sit-over-there-and-I’ll-sit-here on her and left her to watch the flick alone. Gotta love him.

Yes, the kids have flaws. Even I find myself at odds with them on occasion. Like, when that global Earth Day Concert was held. You remember, super groups were lined up at different venues all around the world and the broadcast included little vignettes about ways we can help the cause. Well, next day, the kids were acting like it was a bunch of hooey. In all honesty, that irked me a little because all the things that I’ve done like switch to those neon bulbs and swearing off paper plates was done, not for me who’s gonna go tits up one way or the other in a few years, but for them and people of their generation. But, I understood and I understand. Kids will be kids.

Anyway, even though they are wrong once in a while, I like them – they’re like family. If you’re sick of the monotonous patter of the other stations, try the X – meet my friends - you’ll be glad you did.