March 15, 2009

Is Cable / Satellite TV really worth it?

Posted in Other Stuff at 6:46 pm by loolar

So, I checked my blog and realized I was overdue for my twice a year post.


Sorry, for the few tumbleweeds that might actually read this drivel, and a solemn promise to think, guiltily, about what the point of this blog is, periodically, before squeezing out another post around September.

So, my wife has been laid off, and as an educator with Los Angeles Unified School District, I often wonder how long my professional career is for this world.  For the record, I did not get my pink slip on Friday, the supposed Union-imposed deadline by which teachers have to be notified regarding their employment status for the upcoming year.  Twelve teachers at my school were “on the list.”  Can I be added to the list at a later date?  Am I safe for one more year?  Who knows.  Magic 8 ball, anyone?

Okay, so the subject has turned to how to cut costs.  And the easiest “pork” spending in this house is cable TV.  We have a DVR, and enjoy watching, commercial free, some occasional network dreck.  But for the most part, we’re just not that interested in what’s out there.  I guess we finally passed that 18-36 demographic, eh?

What do we watch?  Ghost Whisperer.  Treacly, trashy, maudlin and cheap, but Jennifer Love Hewitt is a binky biscuit and I love her.  Her cleavage is also a factor.  Besides, I’m a shameless sap, and 50% of the time the maudlin and cheap stuff actually chokes me up.  With tears, even.

We were watching Battlestar Galactica, but that started mainlining J.J. Abrams-style plotludes (plot interludes, or “occasional glimpses that there’s a point, only to be roundly ridiculed by the writers, who long ago gave up having one.”  Perfected by Chris Carter and the X-Files) to the point where I started wondering if I wasn’t a cylon myself.  The groovy sado-masochistic soft-porn mental manipulation dynamic between Six and Balthar had all but disappeared, and that was my primary reason for liking it in the first place – because face it, Tricia Helfer is a binky biscuit and I love her and her spray-paint-applied red dress until I jizz in my pants.  Ahem.  And thanks to Mike and Melinda for showing that Saturday Night Live has proven the law of averages, and was funny for one out of seven million skits.

So lacking that very compelling, uh, plot, the show degenerated into a meandering mess, and I could no longer tell if Apollo (Jamie Bamber) or Starbuck (Katee Sackhoff) was the “girl” in the main plot, cause damn, Katee, yer more man than most, and all that that implies.

And we’ve been watching “Xena-light,” Legend of the Seeker, and the only reason to do that is to watch Bruce Spence chew scenery with demonic relish (“A fella, a quick fella, might have a weapon under there. I’d have to pin his head to the panel.“), or wait for Kahlan’s (Bridget Regan) boobs to pop out of her preposterous Ren-Faire corset.  Richard (Craig Horner) looks like David Cassidy and hops about in the battle scenes like a Pez junkie on a pogo stick.  Sadly, my wife really likes the Sword of Truth novels, and so onward we go.  I kind of liked them, too, until I realized I could save myself reading the last six by reading Atlas Shrugged.

When I can, I try to catch Colbert and Stewart, but “when I can” roughly translates, using “reality,” into “never.”

Much as I adore and worship Hugh Laurie (and he doesn’t even have breasts!), I find that House has firmly dug its trench and nothing remains but to admire long past victories.  Over, and over, and over again.  In a world where Bernie Madoff exists, being a curmudgeonly misanthrope only gets you so far, when you still actually, y’know, help people.  Besides, I recently lived my very own episode of House (I’m waving at you, you arrogant, pompous boor, Dr. Lawrence Leiter – don’t worry, your very own blog post is a’comin’!).

And we adored the hokey over-the-top seriousness of Heroes, but again, the tightly scripted hijinx gave way to stunt plotting, and healthy doses of J.J. Abrams-style plotludes.

Frankly, all of this can be watched on the internet, or wait three months, and on Netflix.  Without having to fast-forward through the damn commercials.  Which are set at a 100% higher volume level.  Rant on that forthcoming.

And so all I’m left with is caring about the NFL Football package, and frankly, with a kid and having to take Sunday classes to get credits, to get salary points, to get a raise (the only way you get paid more as a teacher – merit?  What’s that?  Go take pointless classes, stat!), I wasn’t even getting to enjoy football.  And while we did enjoy PBS Sprouts as an adjunct baby sitter, frankly, the boy enjoys Pixar movies more (and so do we.  Although Nina on the Goodnight Show… and, I’m a gonna stop right there).

So why TV at all?  About $60 a month in savings – add that up over a year, and that’s real cash.  So we may be dumping that very soon indeed.

Four years ago we decided to drop home phone service, given that we only used our cell phones.  We’ve never looked back.  That said, I think having access to local news (“Yes, Andrea, I’m standing here in front of the Wild Fires, and they are still burning.  Stay with us for more as it never develops!”), and the broadcast football games (the Patriots games are usually on as the network game) might be worth it.  If I could get ghetto-local service for like, $10 a month…?  Maybe I would.  Maybe I should, y’know, call someone about that.

What really needs to happen is the a la carte model of ordering stations.  You could take a free 30 day preview, and then decide to add the station.  You could add or remove stations at any time.  This would work wonders for advertising revenue models, and advertisers would know precisely how many viewers they were reaching, and moreover, that those were HIGH QUALITY viewers; i.e., the demographic they wanted – because those viewers are self-selected.  Oh well… as grandpa Gould used to say, “If it makes sense, you’re doing something wrong.”

I do things wrong all the time.

January 19, 2008

What gives with the stink at John Harvard’s brew pub?

Posted in Fatherhood, Other Stuff at 10:08 pm by loolar

It just goes to show they’re right – you should always ask Dad first.

One Sunday last November, I was in Boston with some friends for a wedding. We were enjoying the football games at John Harvard’s brewery in Harvard Square, for a nostalgic trip to one of our former favorite haunts (all but one of us has since moved away; the remaining holdout now lives far out in the burbs).

Our experience was marred, however, by the apparent stink of manure that periodically wafted through the bar. After repeatedly checking our shoes, we dismissed it as a possible by-product of the local mounted police, brought in whenever the door opened.

I asked my dad (former brewmaster at a brew pub in Ohio), and he immediately recognized the issue. It seems that, after brewing a batch, if you leave the spent grain (the barley) around for a few days (after essentially accelerating the decomposition of the grain by using it to create the wort), it starts the stink up the place – really badly.

And the stink may be pretty close to what we mistook for manure, since you’ve essentially done the same thing to the grain that a horse/cow digestive tract would – brew it in a moisture bath, leaching out the sugars that can be metabolized, leaving behind bacterial waste and spent, indigestible fiber (a few days exposed to air takes care of the bacterial part of the equation).

He says they never brewed on Friday or Saturday if they couldn’t be sure they could get the grain hauled away (usually by a pig farmer), because the smell only took a day or two to develop. So he surmised that they did a brew on Friday, and we got the benefits of it on Sunday.

I’m sure you’ll all sleep better now that this mystery has been put to rest.

October 30, 2007

Which Supervillain Are You?

Posted in Other Stuff at 6:30 pm by loolar

Again, thanks to Rob Sama, who seems to find an endless supply of these time-wasters.

I hate wearing the mask, but I gotta admit, if the shoe fits… er, mask…

Your results:

You are Dr. Doom

Dr. Doom
Lex Luthor
The Joker
Dark Phoenix
Mr. Freeze
Green Goblin
Poison Ivy
Blessed with smarts and power but burdened by vanity.

Click here to take the “Which Super Villain am I?” quiz…

October 11, 2007

Which Superhero Are You?

Posted in Other Stuff at 9:18 am by loolar

Thanks to Rob Sama for wasting fifteen minutes of my life. Now I’d like to forward the favor to you.

At least I’m only 34% Robin. Honestly, I think most men would prefer to be Wonder Woman before the yellow-caped pansy. And I’m a Batman fan, too.

Your results:
You are
Green Lantern

Green Lantern
Iron Man
The Flash
Wonder Woman
Hot-headed. You have strong
will power and a good imagination.

Click here to take the “Which Superhero are you?” quiz…

September 19, 2007

Avast, me hearties!

Posted in Other Stuff at 4:55 pm by loolar

Tis international talk like a pirate day, ya scallawags!

Shiver me timbers, hoist the main jib, swab the decks, walk the plank, your cliche here, etc.

Boy, pirates sure have good lobbying, to get a whole day devoted to them.  However, the ninja lobby is stronger.  Every other day is talk like a ninja day.

March 20, 2007

A blog is born

Posted in Other Stuff at 12:33 pm by loolar

This is it – I’ve joined whatever century this is (21st?) and started a blog.

I have very few illusions about my own importance in the world (just one or two cherished ones), so I won’t advertise this blog as yet. If you stumbled on it, how the hell did you get here? For now, I will use this in the initially conceived manner – a log on the web.

I expect to be writing on, in no particular order:

1. The English language and teaching (I’m an English teacher – brand new last year, 2006, so excuse any grammar foibles – it turns out they’ll let just about anyone have a classroom nowadays).

2. NFL football (and the New England Patriots in particular) and Arena Football (and assorted other sports from time to time).

3. World of Warcrack, er, Warcraft, that is (and the occasional video game observation).

4. Cooking (simple recipes for dumb guys).

5. Hiking/camping/fishing.

6. Music (I expect these observations to be largely irrelevant to the public at large).

7. Toys (Star Wars and Transformers in particular).

8. Health care (or lack thereof).

9. Fatherhood (as of November 24, 2006).

10. Role playing games and rules creation.

11. And a huge section on CUSTOMER SERVICE, or the lack thereof.

In fact, one of the big recurring themes that made me want to start a blog was to have a platform upon which to hurl my impotent vitriol at the corporate schmendricks that mostly make our lives more difficult – in hopes of using the web to reduce the “impotent” part.

With that in mind, on to my next post – the first “on topic” post, whatever that means.