Sunday, May 25, 2008

What Month is it Again?

I have spent what I had believed to be Memorial Day weekend at the Seattle International Film Festival, and spotted this sign in a restaurant near one of the festival venues.

More on "Another Countdown"

Recently I blogged about how annoying I thought TV "countdown" shows have become.

With apologies to the Food Network (one of my favorite DirecTV destinations), my wife sent me the following email:

Next week, Bobby Flay is going to count down the top 35 most amazing grilling moments on the Food Network.

What IS an amazing grilling moment?

Why 35????

I'm sure you won't want to miss it.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

More Jury Duty

Today things started out slowly (as they have every day this week), with no one from the pool called out for trial, so they turned on a television and everyone was allowed to watch Family Feud.

I must admit I miss the old Richard Dawson version of the popular game show. Did you know Dawson developed Family Feud as a spin-off of Match Game? Succeeding Dawson as host was the late Ray Combs, who was sufficient, and certainly better than those hosts who followed: comedian Louie Anderson, and Tim Allen's "Tool Time" buddy, what's-his-name.

The current host is mail-order mogul J. Peterman, who also, I understand, hosts a dog show broadcast and a celebrity dancing program.

Peterman closed his Seattle store a number of years ago, which was a shame, because it was absolutely my favorite place downtown to browse. The products were always interesting - the urban sombrero, and so on.

But enough about Peterman. My number just got called by the clerk. I am off to court.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Waiting on Jury Duty

It seems I am sitting on jury duty two or three times a year these days. Not an excuse, I am told, for getting out of the next one.

I have grown numb to the travails of jury service. At one time, sitting in a crowded jury room waiting endlessly for something to happen was nearly unbearable for me. Now I realize it's not much different from waiting for a delayed flight out of O'Hare - there are too many people crowded into the seating area, the room is too warm and stuffy, it's boring and there's nothing to do and nobody that works here can tell you anything.

At least at the King County Courthouse if the trial is cancelled I can just go home. Not so easy if my flight out of O'Hare gets nixed.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Flying High with C-17 Daddy

I sometimes worry that my Tahoe is too big to maneuver and park, but after seeing a C-17 Globemaster III up close and personal I have found a new respect for the men and woman who sit behind the stick of those flying whales.

C-17 Daddy is one such man. He opened his Saturday to allow the family to come down to the base and look around, and I got a better idea as to what it is that he does. The C-17 does resemble a whale -- it's a large, fat, gray-skinned jet with a mammoth tail and enough room in its cavernous belly for hundreds of Pinocchios and Ghepettos. Plus any tanks or jeeps the marionette may have under his command.

We were given a brief tour highlighting the history of the air wing. The base is an impressive, and it was fascinating to be provided a window into C-17 Daddy's world.
Taking a look at the aircraft that have been flown out of the base over the years, we are given a close-up view of a C-124C (above); looking down the gun barrel of a C-10A Warthog (left).

Friday, May 09, 2008

Another Countdown

Anyone who has cable or satellite TV is inundated with countdowns. Have we, as a society, lost our patience and attention spans to such a degree that we need our television encapsulated into digestible, 40 second nuggets? Along with the success of "clip shows," countdowns have overtaken the American airwaves.

At one time, it was Casey Kasem who "counted them down," the Billboard magazine top ten or top 40 popular songs. That was okay. It was fun to know what the most popular songs were, and to hear them again on radio.

And if you did not want to hear them, then Casey was syndicated on only one channel in each market, and his countdown was easy to avoid.

But countdowns are everywhere now, and for the most part they have no meaning. Even Keith Olbermann's "Countdown" on MSNBC has lost some of its charm ("though not its wit," I was tempted to add, but his obsession with Bill O'Reilly has weakened his show). But at least Olbermann, like Casey Kasem, actually has something to count down. The top news stories of the day have relevance in the same way as the top-selling music singles do. (And if you are asking yourself, Is he suggesting that cable news reporting has stooped to the level of counting down pop hits? the answer is, um, yes, mostly.)

There's no relevance, rhyme or reason to counting down the "Top 10 Shark Attacks." How can that truly be measured? And who cares?

Television itself has jumped the shark.

I envision the pitch meeting at FOX: "We have a thousand hours of stock pelican attack footage in the vault. Why don't we bring in a kid to write a top ten pelican attacks show to air during prime time sweeps?"

"Brilliant! I'll alert our advertisers!"

So for the three people who regularly read my blog, here is the

Pacific Grits Top Ten Annoying Television Countdowns:

10. Disasters of any kind. It's a shame outlets such as the Weather and Discovery Channels have jumped on this bandwagon.

9. Celebrities being bad.
Please! Enough!

8. Best theme parks, roller coasters, hotels, restaurants or travel destinations.

7. Murders, murderers, or other gruesome crime-related countdowns.

6. Any countdown show that has the tag "Caught On Tape" in its title.

5. The AFI. Several years ago, the American Film Institute counted down the 100 most popular movies of all time. It was a nice idea and an entertaining hour or two of television. Now the AFI are counting down one hundred of anything and everything having do do with movies: The AFI 100 Heroes and Villains, The AFI 100 Best Movie Quotes, and the recent, ridiculous AFI 100 Years 100 Cheers. Come on! What's next? The AFI 100 Years of Foley?

4. Food- or cooking-related countdowns of any kind (Food Network excepted).

3. Celebrity countdowns of any kind - best dressed, worst dressed, weddings, shocking moments, and so on.

2. Any countdown featuring D-list comedians no one knows making unclever and unfunny comments about whatever is being counted down.

1. Television "moments" shows. These glorified clip shows require no ideas, no script or imagination. Do we need some D-list celeb counting down something nonsensical like "wackiest sit-com moments" or "most amusing game show responses?"

These countdown shows are reality television at its worst. And I do mean it when I think the entire industry has jumped the shark.

Oh, and yes, I do watch them. How can I look away from the train wreck television has become? I only wish they could get Casey Kasem for the Weather Channel's Ten Most Outrageous Tornadoes caught on tape.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

House in the House...Sort Of

I don't watch much dramatic television, and have not seen the program "House." I don't know if it is any good or not.

But I love the commercials for "House" that they air on FOX. I saw one tonight that left me breathless and anxious. House appears to be in some big trouble. I hope he gets out of it. I would hate to miss out on future promos for "House."