Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Weekly Update #370

Congratulations, James Holmes. You just threw America into another endless debate on gun control. Well fucking done. I'm almost afraid to turn on one of the cable news networks to see some partisan talking head spouting off about the ambiguity of the second amendment. All it does is trivialize and distract from the weight of this tragedy.

There is so much about last week's shooting that makes absolutely no sense. First of all, how in the world did Holmes acquire so much weaponry without anyone noticing?  It's one thing to defend yourself, it's another to have more artillery than the army of Monaco.  You own a .45 Magnum? Fine. A hunting rifle? Whatever. An AR-15 assault rifle, two glocks, and 6,000 rounds of ammunition? Come on.

Secondly, who brings a four-month-old baby to a midnight screening? There is no reason why that child should've been shot, let alone inside the cineplex. If you're a responsible parent, you should've either done everyone you can to find a babysitter, or just say home. In a situation like that, an infant takes top priority over anything else.

Adding extra weight to this tragedy is that something like this will happen again. It's a horrible thought, but it's inevitable. You could push the gun control debate in either direction and it wouldn't change a thing. Somewhere, somebody is plotting another massacre, another tragedy that can only be justified in the shooter's distorted mind.  And what can we do about it? Just go about our daily lives and assume nothing will happen. Live with passion, live like everything matters. Count your blessings and savor your time on earth.

Next week: the year in music, 1997. I promise I won't be as nettled.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Weekly Update #369

Congratulations, you've been redirected!

"Where's Jesse?" That's the refrain that Chicago has been singing in recent weeks. Jesse Jackson Jr, son of the activist and a strange bedfellow of Rod Blagojevich, completely fell off the grid earlier this summer.  After seemingly playing hooky from his office in DC, it was revealed that Jackson was at an unknown rehab facility in Arizona. Little is known about his condition other than what his close friends are calling a "mood disorder." Even his notoriously garralous father has been keeping mum. The Chicago media, famed for their persistence and glad-handing, is being shut out in every direction. It's not a major surprise, given his confusing track record of late.

A promising political figure when first elected 17 years ago, "Triple J" has ultimately proven to be more noteworthy at home than in DC, where is a very average, albeit quixotic presence in the House of Representatives. Rather than set his eye on higher office (Mayor of Chicago? The U.S. Senate?) Jackson seems more content to serve his constituents and nothing more. Jackson's connections to Blagojevich have done him zero favors. His star was on a slow simmer prior to 2008, now it's barely lit.  Triple J has carried his district in a landslide for nine straight elections, but Jackson's next run at the vote will be his most daunting.  Is Jackson really in a "bad mood," or does he know his mostly undistinguished run is near an end?

Other notes:

+ Speaking of Chicago, one of the greatest risks in local radio history has ended in abject failure. FM News, Merlin Media's attempt to bring talk radio to the other side of the dial, was an unlistenable mess for much of its one year run. The new ownership, led by the infamous Randy Michaels, took a perfectly fine (though middling ratings-wise) station like alt-rock stalwart Q101, canned and gutted the format, than replaced it with news/talk without a focus or purpose.  In a city where talk and music formats are virtually segregated between AM and FM, the idea of FM News was noble but woefully ill-conceived. My sympathies to those that have lost their jobs this week, but the chip on Michaels' shoulder only keeps growing.

+ Improv Update: I made a house team! As of two weeks ago, I'm now a regular at the Gorilla Tango Improv Zoo in Wicker Park. We have weekly shows Tuesdays nights at 9 o'clock.

+ Finally, I'm going to look backward, rather than straight ahead. When I wrote my first blog entry in June 2005, I hardly had an idea of what I was doing. The prospect of writing about my life, whether intermittently on a weekly basis, seemed daunting and a little scary. On the other hand, I've always been stronger at writing than in any other means of communication. What started out as a weekly series of trite dispatches became my soapbox, my confessional, and my means of talking about matters unrelated to TV on a web site about all things television. Most importantly, it allowed me to connect to my fellow users and contributors. I'll still be around the forums, but golly whiz if TV.com won't be the same.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Camera Obscura

Does anyone know what the numero uno topic will be for November's election? I've completely lost track. Two months ago it was women's health, than it was gay marriage, two weeks ago it was a moratorium on health care reform, now it's shifted (rightfully) back to the economy. The drive of both presidential campaigns has been just as unfocused as the media's attention to the issues. CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC are embarassing themselves more so than ever.

A few days ago, my Facebook friend Ben Douwsma (click here for his blog) pointed out something that I'd been wondering for a few weeks now: this election is 2004 in reverse. Think about it: an weak incumbent against a weak challenger. Said incumbent is beloved by his party and detested by his critics. Said challenger is the former governor of Massachuetts, born into a political family. The challenger also has a history of flip-flopping and pandering, and there's little to fuel his campaign other than "get the other guy out of here." Weirder yet, the challenger was considered the "safe" choice for the party's nomination after a rival imploded during the primaries. The only parallel I can draw is the hot-button issue: in 2004, the incumbent had a strong economic outline and a questionable take on defense; in 2012 it's the opposite. The question now is, can Mitt Romney obviate from the same issues that crushed John Kerry?

Finally, I was somewhat upset to hear that after seven-plus years, TV.com might be pulling the plug on user blogs. Worse yet, commenting will be disabled by the end of this week. Even though I "similcast" my musings on Blogspot, to me it seems like CNet is moving forward in their mission to deemphasize the contributors that built this site and turn our little sanctuary into a weird cross between Hulu and Futon Critic. I'm upset, especially because I'm powerless about this profile overhaul. The excuse is that nobody blogs anymore, but in reality CNet scared off half the users on this site and banned the others. Forum traffic is at a fraction of what it was five years ago, and chances are discussion boards will be the next to go. Regardless, I've been contributing and posting on TV Tome/TV.com for nearly a decade now, and if the ship sinks I'm going down with it.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

2012: The Half-Year in Jokes

For those of you who are Facebook friends or follow me on Twitter (@heystu818), I've been  known to write late night monologue-style jokes as status updates and/or tweets.  Late last year, I collected my strongest jokes of the previous year into one blog entry.  It proved somewhat tricky to edit down, and given the fickle nature of topical humor, several of my stronger gags didn't hold up to the end of the year. Instead of saving the whole list for year's end, I opted to break it in half.

With that said, this is my "monologue" for the first half of 2012:

+ Paula Deen announced yesterday that she's a Type 2 diabetic. You can find out more in the next issue of "I Already Kind of Assumed That" magazine. (1/18)

+ Jay Cutler and his on/off fiancee  Kristen Cavallari are reportedly expecting their first child. Apparently, the Bears' offensive line is also terrible at contraception. (1/23)

+ Presidential hopeful Ron Paul says he has a big youth following. I assume that's because most people under age 25 think he's the guy who played Gandalf. (1/26)

+ Following his performance at the Grammy Awards, the question "Who is Paul McCartney?" trended on Twitter. Luckily, one teenager had the levity to say, "Duh! That's Jesse's grandma!" (2/13)

+ Ralph Nader announced that he has not ruled out running for president in 2012. Upon hearing this, the cashier at Arby's nodded and asked if he wanted curly fries. (2/16)

+ A new study found that 15 percent of Americans under the age of 30 don’t have a job. They even have a name for that group: mass comm majors. (2/23)

+ Rush Limbaugh is under fire for calling a college student a slut. As a result, Limbaugh has been invited to join Kappa Kappa Gamma. (3/2)

+  Tonight is daylight savings, so I'd like to remind everyone that you'll be losing one hour of your life tonight. If you watch "Whitney" and "Are You There Chelsea," you know exactly what I'm talking about. (3/10)

+ Chaleo Yoovidhya, the developer of Red Bull, died last week at age 89. Per his request, his ashes were mixed with vodka and sold for $12 in a douchey nightclub. (3/24)

+ A British historical society declared that Britain’s greatest foe of all time was George Washington. Better luck next year, dentists. (4/17)

+ The oldest man in the United States turned 111 in March. For his birthday, he got a steak dinner, a phone call from the Vice President, and a rotation spot with the Colorado Rockies. (4/22)

+ Rick Perry has officially endorsed Mitt Romney, citing his rival's love of country, his economic policy, and... uh... there was a third one... (4/29)

+ Levi Johnston and his girlfriend revealed that they will name their child Breeze Beretta. No word yet on whether the baby will be a boy, a girl, or a scented candle. (5/6)

+ A new study shows that a high-frustose diet can cause ADD and memory loss. I have two puppies. What time is lunch? (5/15)

+ Eugene Polley, co-inventor of the TV remote control, died today at age 96. Per his request, he will be buried between two giant sofa cushions. (5/22)

+ Taco Bell says it has sold 100 million Doritos Locos Tacos in the past 10 weeks. Also selling briskly since late March? Imodium. (6/6)

+ The Electronic Entertainment Expo is currently going on in LA. On display this year are new mobile games, 3D innovations, and a real-life woman. (6/9)

+ CBS has taken ABC to court for launching a reality show deemed too similar to "Big Brother." However, the judge approved ABC's other new show, "Braindead Italians of the Mid-Atlantic Coast." (6/15)

+ Teen prodigy Shouryya Ray, the boy that solved a math problem posed by Isaac Newton 350 years ago, may not have actually solved the equation. Worse yet, his classmates have grown suspicious about his girlfriend in Canada. (6/24)

Enjoy your 4th of July!