Tuesday, November 30, 2004

"... and I Feel Fine ..."

Mysterious portents afoot. Major earthquakes. Prospects for peace in the Middle East. Locusts. And of course, this. Clearly, the end is nigh.

Monday, November 29, 2004

Good News on the HD Front

Finally, positive news on the pressing issue of the day. It appears that the world is significantly closer to having a single format for high definition DVDs. Whew!

Actually, I didn't realize that DVDs were not HD until recently (thanks, Andy). Still far better than VHS, though.

We seem to be getting into the era, long-promised, in which HD-ready TVs are not significantly more expensive than ordinary sets. If you haven't gone HD yet, you will, and you will love it. On a large widescreen TV, the image clarity is noticably sharper. Football games, in particular, seem to be made for this format.

My one complaint: I've been an early adopter, grabbing Charter Cable's HD box as soon as it was available, then trading it in for the all-powerful cable box/DVR for which I had pined for years. Unfortunately, I picked it up before the advertisement blitz hit, so we missed out on all the free inducements made available to everyone else. I probably could have asked for the same treatment, but really, who wants to spend extra time on the phone with the cable company?

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

MNF Furor -- Oh, That's Right, It's My Fault

We are being told by our betters that anyone who has a problem with Monday Night Football's pre-show skit is an uptight red-stater. Every time there is an "edgy" program shown on TV, the inevitable adverse reaction is dismissed as reflection of an increasingly moralistic government in the thrall of right-wing evangelicals. I'm more than a little tired of that kanard. Entertainers are constantly pushing the boundaries of social acceptability (which is not the same as good taste), and there is always going to be a segment of society pushing back. That segment is always going to lose. "Sex sells" has been the entertainment industry's mantra since, what, Elizabethan times? This has nothing at all to do with today's "cultural climate," which is usually code for "Bush's jackbooted oppressors." Remember, NYPD Blue came out during 1993, under Clinton's watch. The now-automatic excuse of blaming everything on "W" didn't exist then, yet the loud complaints existed. Does anyone remember Elvis, or The Beatles? Those cultural battles seem quaint now, as I'm sure today's concern about Janet Jackson will seem 30 years from now. But if that's so, what are we going to be watching on broadcast TV then? Will the Playboy Channel be irrelevant?

The MNF skit, for what it's worth, was mildly amusing, poorly acted on both sides, depended on a single, obvious punchline, and probably would not have made the cut on SNL. More importantly, it would have been ignored on SNL, airing late at night. The problem is that the risque lead-in aired at 6 pm on the West Coast. Our betters seem to automatically believe that there was nothing there that kids couldn't handle. Excuse me? It is not within the experience of my 7 year old daughter for women to drop their towels in front of men. Was there depiction of naughty bits? No, but the nudity was obvious nonetheless. Plus, try explaining the point of the skit to a second grader. I don't know what your primary grade kids are watching, but I would imagine it doesn't involve "adult situations."

Thankfully, I got home too late to see the beginning of the game, so it wasn't an actual issue for my family. I think I'll wait a few minutes to turn on the game in the future, though. I just want to see the game, not a crass cross-promotion (thanks, Fox, for leading us down the rathole on that one).

And this is what I thought even before I heard about Tony Dungy's remarks. Dungy, the African-American coach of the NFL's Indiannapolis Colts, was offended by the skit's perpetuation of the stereotype of African-Americans as sexual predators. Interesting point.

Then there's the hypocricy of the league and network apologizing, sanctimoniously condemning the skit, when they provide hours of commercials featuring nubile young women and beer, usually in the same ads. C'mon, NFL, you may not have good taste, but for the sake of credibility you could at least at least own up to it.

Just call me a conscientious blue stater who believes that his daughter is entitled to a few more years of childhood.

Monday, November 15, 2004

The Quietest Place on Earth?

That would be Legoland on a Friday in November. A lovely little park, but a little sad. It seems to want to be a big boy amusement park, but if you are over the age of 9, you probably will be bored. Unless you are a parent, in which case you will spend too much of your day trying to corral your kids to care one way or the other, just like at any other amusement park. It's a nice place for little kids, though.

To its credit, Legoland has the single coolest attraction I've ever seen in an amusement park (this is a very personal preference, mind you), one that would have made it a season pass must-have when I was 10: the "driver training" area. Kids get to drive underpowered go-carts (festooned as Volvos, of course) around a little "city" grid, complete with lane lines, stop signs and traffic signals. Since the park was basically empty, the kids got to use the ride every other cycle. That's a solid hour of fun. You couldn't have pulled me away from that for all the world's treasures when I was that age. Too bad I came along about 25 years too early.

Aaaaand, We're Back

So, if any of my four readers are still there, thanks for checking in. It's been a little hectic lately, so extracurricular writing suffered. Regular blogging will resume momentarily . . .

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Red and Blue -- It's All Wrong

I'm incredibly frustrated with this whole Red State/Blue State thing. I keep hearing about California being a "Blue" state, and it just rubs me wrong. Now I know why. As Keith Olbermann reports, until just days prior to the 2000 election, Blue corresponded to Republican, and Red corresponded to Democrat. For reasons unexplained, the networks switched that convention four year ago. I remember it the old way, and I don't think I'll ever get used to the reversal. Just one more reason to hate politics. Or mass media, take your pick.

You see, rather than taking unilateral action that would disturb the peace of millions of Americans, I would have built a coalition of focus groups, reached out to those who advocated overturning decades of tradition . . .