Sunday, March 22, 2009

News and Comment... And The Rest of the Story

Hello again everybody…

A few Saturday Nights ago, Trophy Wife and I were at home watching Momma Mia for the umpteenth time, and as Pierce Brosnan pierced my eardrums with his horrific singing, I took the opportunity to pull out my cellie and check the news update on CNN. That was when I found out that radio legend Paul Harvey had died. This column would have been more timely a few weeks ago, but this is the time of year when my late night computer time is spent scouring the web looking for baseball nuggets to prepare for my annual fantasy draft(s).

It’s amazing how Paul Harvey's commentaries were so popular for so long.. yet nobody else delivers that type of radio broadcast anymore... But you can bet that his style has inspired quite a few blogs and podcasts… So without further ado, let’s launch today’s column with a salute to Paul Harvey’s format of news and comment, and feel free to insert a dramatic pause wherever you feel necessary…

FACEBOOK – It’s interesting to see how many people truly loathe the new format they dumped on us a couple of weeks ago. I'm not that annoyed by it (although I just sent out a group email through it that I thought was just going to one person), but there were 2 features they removed that have basically moved it to the backburner on my favorite website list. First is the live feed that changed automatically every time one of your friends posted anything whether it was a status update or posting “Halloween” cross dressing pics as one of my buddies recently did…. The live feed was like a private real time newscast…

And the new friend announcements are also puzzlingly gone. For those of us in our very late 30s its fun to watch the updates to see names from our past pop up that are long forgotten, yet have suddenly rediscovered a mutual facebook friend. Others use it as a warning about people they want to avoid from their past who have just climbed aboard FB.... giving enough warning to adjust the settings to “block” the offending person from seeing your Facebook profile.

This may have been a very smart or very stupid idea. One friend suggested that FB is obsessed with Twitter. I am not a twitter-er, but I hear that the new FB is very similar to its competitor. But just because a website wants to remain competitive doesn’t mean it has to destroy itself to copy somebody else. Google acquired blogspot and it competes with Wordpress, but Google incorporated Blogspot into its own site and didn’t totally redesign itself to try to beat its competitor.

Also, FB has ads along the right column, so if you watched the old live feed, the ads never changed. But if you watch the new format, you have to refresh the page to update the feed which means – a new batch of ads! And if you want to see whos friending who… (sort of like Whos Zooming Who… a tune that will now crawl into your brain and haunt you for the rest of the day)… you have to go to each friends individual page and get that info there instead. Which means – more fb ads! Or… maybe these young 23 year old whippersnappers who run Facebook should be more focused on drinking and chasing chics instead of sinking the website with constant unnecessary changes.

Page 2

NBC? – Whatever happened to the TV network that used to rule the Nielsen ratings in the days of Seinfeld, Friends and Cosby?

While NBC falls apart,… CBS continues to amaze me with its incredible prime time lineup this season. Even Fox which has the American Idol juggernaut tweaks its lineup every few months. But CBS? I don’t think they have cancelled a show since they took away that fantastic Swingtown in September. Even that crazy Jennifer Love Hewitt talking to ghosts show chugs along and I don’t recall any changes CBS has made to its lineup this season.

ABC was in a similar NBC rut in ’04 but then they started airing Lost and Desperate Housewives and started having some water cooler shows. ABC may have taken a major step in the wrong direction by cancelling the amazing Life On Mars.. LoM is a remake of a BBC show… and the BBC original inspired a spin-off…. Perhaps ABC could undo its dopey mistake and do likewise?

But when it comes to NBC…. its prime time lineup has virtually no buzz. Its incredible how NBC gets great ratings from The Today Show and Jay Leno… yet nothing in between. By the way, did anyone catch Letterman this past week with the bit about the Madoff sitcom? The actress playing Mrs. Madoff wore a Trophy Wife T shirt and the “credits” showed that the sitcom was written by my Trophy Wife’s cousin Sheldon Leonard! Even NBC's daytime lineup is in the crapper with its lone soap opera Days of Our Lives on life support. (If NBC cancels it, the ghost of my mother will haunt that NBC executive and I don’t even think Jennifer Love Hewitt will be able to step in to help!) The only shows on that network that people talk about now are Heroes and Celebrity Apprentice.. with a little mini buzz buzzing about for The Office and 30 Rock. And even Heroes is taking a beating from its fans for losing its original charm and most people TIVO, VCR it, or watch it online since 24 is soooo much better!

Last week on Celebrity Apprentice,… Dennis Rodman got drunk, picked up some chics and didn’t bother showing up the next day at his team’s assignment at the Bridal Shop. Teammates knocked on his door and he refused to respond. He later said he had an “eye infection” due to an allergy to “cats”…. This was quite ironic because I happened to have a real eye infection and realized that when I called in sick on Monday, nobody who watched The Apprentice the night before would believe me… But… it was really an eye infection!

So what happens? Its time for Donald Trump to fire someone… and who gets canned? Tom Green! How does that make any sense if Green did what he was supposed to do, yet Rodman gets spared even though he was definitely not a team player. Rodman actually told Trump that if he was still a Chicago Bull, he wouldn’t have answered his hotel room door even if Michael Jordan was knocking.

I don’t like the regular Apprentice show, but I like the Celebrity Apprentice because its neat to see these famous people doing all these silly tasks. But as Trump was getting ready to make his decision, he realized that Green has fallen way off the radar, while Rodman remains a very interesting bizarre personality. And that was when Donald realized he had to make a decision… With the ratings for his show and the current fate of NBC riding in the balance, he realized that the show would be more entertaining with the former NBA star and that is why Rodman didn’t get the ax. Now, if The Apprentice was on CBS… would Green have been spared?

PAUL HARVEY – I bought a clock radio approximately 20 years ago at a store called Consumers Distributing. If you remember this odd store, they had catalogs in the store… you would check off what you want.. bring your sheet to the counter and then get your merchandise. Then, they got rid of the format and changed it to Consumers Express and turned it into a regular Kmart type store. At the grand reopening of the Roselle, NJ store in the late 80s, I was one of the first customers that very first day and I purchased a Sony Dream Machine clock radio that I continued to use for many years.

At one point around 2000, the AM stopped working so I started waking up to FM radio… mostly Howard Stern. But once Imus got fired by WFAN, and then rehired by WABC, I decided to buy an alarm clock with a functioning AM band to hear the new show. That Sony clock lasted almost 20 years, but it was time to ditch the last souvenir of the long closed Consumers Distributers/Express Stores. And once AM was back, I rediscovered Paul Harvey., whose News and Comment I used to listen to before my radio broke.

Every morning the new alarm clock would wake me up to the Imus show, and on Saturdays it would be Mark Simone’s weekend show. Paul Harvey’s commentary always came on at some point on Saturdays… as I tried to shake off the cobwebs of yet another crazy week at work in my weekly attempt to wake up for Saturday Morning synagogue services. The hourly ABC network newscast on Simone’s show was anchored by George Weber whose shocking brutal murder was announced on Sunday as I was finishing up today's column.

In recent years, the elderly Harvey’s appearances were not so frequent. I remember one morning Scott Shannon, a radio legend some notches below Harvey, filled in and with the glee of a school boy, happy that he was privileged to fill in for Paul Harvey. And over the last year, it was usually Paul Harvey’s son anchoring the broadcast.

On the Saturday that Paul Harvey's death was announced, I again woke up that morning half asleep and as I got the cobwebs out of my eyes, I again heard Harvey’s fill in. I did not know that this was the day that Paul Harvey would pass on, and more than likely he was somewhere up with the angels getting ready to broadcast his News and Comment over Heaven’s radio airwaves.

The Friday night before that fateful Saturday, as Trophy Wife was cooking yet another gourmet dinner… a little voice started chirping from the ceiling…. It was our detector announcing that we had a dangerous amount of carbon monoxide. I thought nothing of it.. maybe a battery issue? I opened a window and the woman’s chirpy voice stopped… But moments later… it started again. We called the fire department, and it turned out we had very high levels of carbon monoxide in our house due to a now discarded faulty appliance. The house was aired out, and the levels came down and it was time to eat dinner.

It’s a good thing we have those carbon monoxide detectors… and you should have them too. If we didn’t have one, we would never have woken up the next morning. And yet as thrilled as I would have been to wake up that Saturday morning to hear Paul Harvey News and Comment... I must admit that in retrospect, I am quite happy that on that particular morning… it was NOT Paul Harvey we were listening to!

And there you have ….. The Rest of the Story!

Now go check your carbon monoxide detectors!

1 comment:

Nate said...

One addendum to George Weber: Nobody deserves to be brutally murdered, but if he would have survived the attack he likely would have gotten into a lot of trouble for sexual relations with a minor and would have been a registered sex offender.