Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Preposterous Primaries

We are within a few days of the first presidential primary for 2016 followed shortly by the second election. Does anyone else see the ridiculousness of the attention paid to these first two tests of the candidates?

Those first two contests are Iowa and New Hampshire. I realize that the selection process has to start somewhere but these two states should not be where we begin or at least not put such emphasis on.

A few boring facts about these states. Iowa is the 30th state in population with about 3.1 million people, 91% White. That is 0.9% of the US total. They have four House of Representative seats. New Hampshire is even smaller, ranking #41 with 1.3 million residents, 94% White, 0.41% of the US. They have only two House seats.

So, we have about 1.31% of the US population, almost all White, getting all the attention for months. Neither state has a really large city or urban area either yet they get to set the tone for the primary season.

To make matters even more obscure, Iowa doesn't actually have a normal primary election. They have caucuses, whatever the hell that is. In this convoluted process, voters meet at the precinct level to discuss and elect delegates to the 99 county conventions which elect delegates to the state convention which elects delegates to the national party conventions. Got all that? So, on caucus (primary) day, the voters don't actually cast a vote for a candidate but for a delegate. That goes on for several iterations. 

The candidates spend an inordinate amount of time and money in these two states. The news media reports and analyzes every visit to the local cafe by the contenders. They conduct polls every 15 minutes and then spend 15 hours, on air, interpreting the numbers. 

The whole exercise is mostly a circus. 

I would hope that by 2020 we have a better system for choosing the major parties' presidential candidates. There is no need to give these two states such an outsized influence on national politics. I don't have the answer, but maybe a more diverse mix of states should have primaries right at he start, maybe on the same day. Oh yes, we really need to eliminate this caucus BS. It's the 21st century, we don't need to be choosing delegates who have to travel days by horseback to the county seat or state capitol to cast votes on our behalf. 

The only good thing about these early primaries (caucuses) is that the candidate field will start to be reduced. Of course, that does not mean that the campaigns will become any more substantive.

What do you think?


Thursday, January 21, 2016

Angie Tribeca

I have watched five episodes of the new TBS comedy show Angie Tribeca. All ten episodes were aired multiple times on January 17 and 18. I recorded them all and am working through them. If you are impatient, I'll give you my opinion here at the top, I like it.

For those of you who missed the marathon, the show will be airing Monday nights on TBS beginning January 25th. It will also be repeated multiple times each week. The shows are also available on-demand.

The program is a half-hour comedy cop farce. The creators are Steve and Nancy Carell. It is completely stupid. It is full of sight gags, slapstick, satire, running gags, cliches and bad dialogue. It all adds up to a funny romp. Rashida Jones plays the part of Angie Tribeca. Angie is a police detective in Los Angeles. She is a member of the RHCU (Really Heinous Crimes Unit) although the crimes she and her partner, Jay Giles, investigate aren't necessarily very heinous. Rashida is the only regular cast member that I recognized. The big names show up as guest stars or recurring characters. Alfred Molina is an expert in the crime lab/morgue. He has a different malady or handicap each episode. Other guest stars include Lisa Kudrow, James Franco, Bill Murray and several other "names". 

The show is similar in concept to the great Police Squad! TV show and Naked Gun movies from the 1980's that starred Leslie Nielsen. Angie is not quite as clueless as Frank Drebin but she is a very flawed character. 

Like those productions, Angie Tribeca has a lot going on. There is always something in the background. If you aren't paying attention, you'll miss many of the jokes. 

I told you up front that I like the show. Yes, it's completely stupid and juvenile. Many of the jokes are lame but then there is a good one 10 seconds later. Rashida Jones is a funny broad. The other regulars are OK too. The guest stars are fun too, playing along with the ridiculousness of the show. 

Give it a look, you'll either love it or hate it. I give it an 

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Brain Farts

  • How many times have you left your "doggy bag" on the restaurant table?
  • Sometimes I grab the toothpaste from the medicine cabinet when I really mean to get my razor. Crest does not give a very close shave.
  • I'm hoping that I don't grab the razor instead of the toothbrush. Dangerous.
  • I often put something in a special place so I won't lose it or forget it. I usually find it about three years later. Found my Social Security card about 10 years later, by accident. 
  • I went for a long walk the other morning with intentions of stopping somewhere for lunch. Unfortunately, I didn't take any money or credit cards. Wound up walking about six miles. Came home hungry.
  • I had a classic brain fart today. Unfortunately, I can't remember it now. Does forgetting a brain fart qualify as another brain fart?
  • When your phone's autocorrect makes a wrong assumption is that a phone phart?
  • At least on occasion we all forget what we ate for lunch. Today I forgot if I even had lunch.
  • Embarrassing. I put on a pair of boxers in the dark. I later thought that I had ripped out the backside or maybe blown it out with a real nuclear fart. I was about to throw them away until I realized that the fly was in the back and the seat was fully intact. No harm, no foul. I was home alone. 
  • I have lived in this place for about 10 years. The light switch for the main kitchen light has always been on the hall wall outside the kitchen. Yet, even though I turn that light on at least a dozen times a day, I sometimes reach for the switch on the wall inside the kitchen.  
  • I often get up from reading or watching TV to go to the kitchen. I usually take off my reading glasses when I do. I soon realize that I need my glasses in the kitchen to perform many tasks. 
  • Most mornings I have a large mug of tea. Today I put the tea bag in the mug, filled it with tap water and took it right to the living room. Back to the microwave for a little brewing time.
  • In a related fart, I once put honey and a teabag into the mug then almost put it in the fridge. Decided adding water and using the microwave might be a better option.
  • I come by this behavior naturally. My dad, when he lived with me in his later years, once put the milk carton in the cupboard and the cereal box in the fridge. He was in his 90's at the time. I don't have that excuse (yet).
  • The other night when my phone made the text message tone, I put the TV on mute so I could "hear" the text. Someday I'll learn the difference between the text and call tones which are nowhere near the same.
  • When preparing jalapenos or other hot peppers, never rub your eyes. More importantly, never touch certain other body parts, yours or someone else's, before a thorough hand washing.
  • While watching a movie or program that I recorded or on-demand I often check my watch to see how much longer it will run. Of course I have no idea what time I started it or maybe how long it is.
  • Went to go to bed only to realize that the bed wasn't made and the sheets were in the dryer. Seems I do this quite often. 
  • Had a football game on the TV and one on the PC. Was watching the TV but listening to the PC. Wondered what the hell the idiot announcers were talking about. Guess who the idiot is.
  • There is no need to take your dirty dishes with you to the bathroom. Especially when you have to pass by the kitchen on the way. Different rooms, different purposes.
  • Was looking for something in the fridge. I had to move an item to get to the spot where I thought the item was. Nope, not there, guess I need to put it on the grocery list. It was then that I noticed that the item I moved and still had in my hand was what I was looking for.
  • More often than I would like to admit I have put my cell phone holster/case on my belt and walked out with the phone still in the house.  
  • I recently discovered that if you turn on the wrong burner on the stove it takes forever for the food to cook or heat up.
  • Had to pee the other day and walked into the kitchen. Although there is plumbing in that room I realized that the one fixture I needed was missing. Caught my mistake, no harm, no foul, no mess.
  • Wondered why I didn't get any calls, texts or audio alerts on my phone one day. Seems I set it to silent mode at the movies the night before and forgot to undo that for about 20 hours. 
  • Couldn't find my phone the other day. Looked in every room only to realize it was in my pocket.
  • I'm slowly realizing that if you don't hit start on the kitchen timer it will not beep or ding when time has expired. 

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Heroes & Idols

I found a new channel the other day on U-verse. It was a Sunday early morning before the news and political panel shows come on. Talk about a TV wasteland, there are infomercials on about 90% of the channels and another 9.9% of crap. So, I started scrolling through the onscreen TV guide and noticed a program called Stagecoach West on a channel I wasn't familiar with the initials H&I. I wasn't familiar with the program either but figured it was a western. The description confirmed that and one of the stars was Wayne Rogers so I gave it a try. It was a typical 60's western, not bad, certainly better than an infomercial for some miracle product. 

This surprise find led me to dig further into the H&I program guide. Turns out the full name is Heroes & Icons Network and it airs almost entirely old TV shows. A lot of westerns and cop shows. I don't know when U-verse added this channel, but it is fine with me. I'd much rather watch an old Wanted: Dead Or Alive episode than some fake reality show. Steve McQueen will always be way cooler than any Kardashian. There is a treasure trove of pretty good old series on H&I. I'm sure I'll be tuning in again during those TV wasteland times. 
I did check out a couple of Hill Street Blues episodes the other night. Hard to believe that show premiered over 30 years ago. Remember how groundbreaking it was. It holds up pretty well, but that precinct station was an overcrowded mess. Detective Mick Belzer (Bruce Weitz) is a trip. Joyce Davenport (Veronica Hamel) was a sexy babe. Lots of other interesting characters too. Just watching a couple or three episodes made me realize that it was more serial chapters than individual self-contained installments. One week builds on the next and there was even the brief "on previous episodes" update at the beginning of each new episode. Don't see that much anymore but it used to be a staple of TV. BTW, the Hill Street Blues theme is a Mike Post classic. 

One other observation, there are at least a couple of World War II shows on. I caught part of Combat! and noticed Twelve O'Clock High airs on H&I too. Not many war shows on these days. I think the real video from Vietnam killed that genre except for M*A*S*H which was a comedy about the Vietnam War set in the Korean War. 

I know this new H&I Network is aimed at aging baby boomers, probably mostly the males. Perfect. Have I mentioned that I am a male, aging baby boomer. Many of these shows aired during my youth. Even though I am familiar with most of the programs, the demands of school and youth social life prevented me from seeing all the episodes so the shows are new. More accurately, I have forgotten most of what I did see 50+ years ago. 

I must admit that I don't think I ever saw Stagecoach West when it originally aired in 1961. A check with some of my contemporaries indicated a high percentage of them don't remember the series either. My hunch is that we were all watching The Red Skelton Show which aired at the same time. That's what my parents watched. In the 50's and 60's there was usually only one TV in the house and dad controlled it. I mean, he chose what we watched. Kids actually functioned as the remote control. Dad would tell a kid what channel and we would actually turn the tuner on the TV set to that station. We also performed volume control duties and adjusted the rabbit ears when necessary.

If you like old TV, check out your TV provider to see if H&I is available. I give it a 


Very Random Thoughts - December 2015

  • Watching and reading about the college football recruiting is often depressing. Pampered 18-year-olds flexing their muscles, changing their minds and showing their ignorance.
  • I'm beginning to wonder why anyone would bother shopping at a brick and mortar store during the holidays. The USPS, FedEx and UPS are more than happy to drop stuff off right at my door.
  • Would Ella Fitzgerald have a chance in today's music world? One of our greatest singers ever, but she was not cute and didn't have a glitzy stage act. 
  • Donald Trump abides by the premise that if you repeat a lie often enough it eventually sounds like the truth.
  • Would you want to be running a TV advertisement during news coverage of a mass shooting? Fourteen dead and several others injured, now a word from our sponsors.
  • How outraged would Christians be if a group of Muslims protested outside a church? Yet it seems to be OK for so-called Christians to protest outside a mosque. 
  • At some point in your life you will use a phrase that your parents did. It will be the exact thing that you once vowed never to say.
  • Remember when TV news reporters were journalists? Now they all seem to be aspiring actors.
  • Would the current in vogue Muslim slurs and jokes be acceptable if you replaced "Muslim" with Black or Jew or Latino or Gay...?
  • I often hear newscasters when referring to perpetrators of bad acts mention that they have "foreign sounding names". What the hell does that mean? Fox News excels at this tactic.
  • Who starts those Facebook posts that try to shame you into "sharing", "liking", adding to your timeline, typing "amen", etc.? 
  • Everything I bought at the grocery store last week is on sale or has a coupon this week. 
  • You know you are out of the loop when you have no idea who any of the guests on late night TV are, the host or musical guest on SNL or most of the Grammy nominees.
  • It must be a rule of the music industry that every artist record a Christmas album. Several should pass.
  • Does anybody understand those perfume advertisements that are run during the holiday shopping season?
  • Remember when bumper stickers were how you expressed your opinion. 
  • Is it just me? Whenever I detect a bad hairpiece, I think whatever this guy says is BS.
  • Many things that are touted as "new and improved" aren't.
  • Do you ever take a long hot shower not because you are dirty but because you are cold to the bone? Me too. Works great.
  • We have become a "gotcha" nation rather than a "fixit" society. 
  • Is there ever a good reason to have three announcers in a TV broadcast booth. 
  • Does the world really need both Diet Coke and Coke Zero?
  • Isn't it amazing how many large corporations pay millions of dollars in fines and settlements yet still "admit no wrongdoing".