Tuesday, September 30, 2008

News To Me

Pumpkin will be home shortly, so I've got a little time to kill before fulfilling husband duties. It's been a crazy two days. KDWN is moving me from traffic to news, and that means learning a whole new way of doing things. Quickly. The traffic gig was a snap, hit the roads and report what you see. Cake. Learning to report news is a whole new game, and at 42, I'm not sure I'm good enough for the starting lineup.

I've always said that the only day worse than the first day on the job is the second day. You're just happy to survive the first day, and there's a certain excitement that comes with a new gig, especially in your chosen field. On Day Two, you realize this is going to be your gig, and you're filled with second thoughts. If you're like me, anyway.

I've never approached something new with a confident attitude. Whether it was busing tables, bartending, going to college, losing my virginity, entering radio, coming back to radio, etc- I've always lacked confidence about my ability to do something well. Most of the time, I was wrong (tragically, the lack of confidence about losing my virginity turned out to be accurate). I picked things up quickly, and made the most of it. Perhaps it will be like that in the news game. They think I can do the job and I don't want to let them down. Few things bother me more than disappointing people who have faith in me. I don't know what Day Three holds for me, but it has to be better than today. I was overwhelmed and in way over my head. As always, the staff around me was supportive. I hope I can reward that support with a good effort. Tonight, I doubt that result, but that's par for the course for me.

Pumpkin's home. Time to whip up a good batch of lovin'!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

No Escape

Do you ever have so many things going on in your head that you can actually hear a buzzing sound from it all? I'm having one of those types of mornings. I usually love Sunday mornings for the peace and quiet, but I just can't settle down today. I'm thisclose to a monumentally large headache.

Today, there is a collision course set between sports stress and news stress. The Packers game is locally televised, so I'm obligated to watch. The Brewers game is televised, too, but I'm too terrified to tune in. I know I wrote earlier about filing for divorce from them, but the papers never went through. If the Brewers win, and the Mets lose, the Brewers will make the post-season for the first time since 1982. In just typing that sentence, the buzzing in my head grew louder. It's like someone is sawing a tree down the street. Today, I have twice the sports stress that I usually have. maybe more.

Then there's the news stress. Sunday morning is Opinion Central, with more pundits and prophets than you can swing a dead cat at. They'll analyze the debate, they'll analyze the bailout bills, they'll analyze the economy (there's even one show on CNN that analyzes how the media analyzes. I'm not kidding). At the end of all this analyzing, the consensus will be that this is the worst time ever to be on Planet Earth. You can either buy into that, or go get another cup of coffee. I'll choose the latter.

So today, or this morning at least, there is no escape from the two things that stress me out the most. I've already been to the gym, but my mind was all about sports stress there. I had a hard time focusing. Upon returning home, I brought the Sunday paper in, and that built up my news stress. I'm typing this to purge myself of that, and it seems to be working a little bit. The trouble is, I'm almost done. Funny how the more technically advanced we become, the more difficult it is to actually escape. I really want this day to be over.

But then it would be on to work week stress. Sigh.

Friday, September 26, 2008


It's one of those days. It wasn't supposed to be, but it is. It's a day when I watch an old movie and get nostalgic. It's a day when I watch a plane take off and wonder where they're going. It's a day where driving the freeway until you run out of road is an ever attractive option. It's a day where no amount of aspirin can cure the pain. It's a day where even if I don't say a word, my dog can sense something is wrong. It's a day when nothing sounds good for lunch. It's a day where I see everything, yet feel nothing. It's a day where I feel every moment of my close to 43 years of age. It's also my busiest day of the week, working split shifts on traffic, then going over to call the game of the week. It's a good day to be busy. Otherwise, I might become lost in thought. Today, that's the most dangerous place to be.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Back to the Dial

I haven't written about radio for awhile, as my last post about it came back to bite me. It helped clarify what I can and can't write about. Personal moves: out. Generic commentary: in. Let's go.

The latest ratings trends are out and in the country race, such as it is, KWNR is soundly beating Coyote. My thoughts have already been written about why I think Coyote continues to flounder, so I won't bore you with those. KWNR's numbers are nothing to celebrate, either. They used to be a market leader, and now are a ratings afterthought. They can tout how they have a sizeable advantage over Coyote, but that would be like a pitbull boasting over mauling a poodle. It's meaningless. What's most noticeable to me this trend is how low the market share has become for country music in Las Vegas. Add up the share between Coyote and KWNR and you get a 6. A 6 rating for KWNR in the past used to be cause for concern. Now, it's the total share. Why are the country numbers dipping?

Country music has always done better with older listeners than younger listeners. Both suffering bosses at KWNR and Coyote are trying to recapture that younger audience and that's causing the older audience to go away. The younger audience WILL NOT come back to country radio. Radio needs to strengthen their base listeners and instead does everything in its power to alienate them. At 42, I don't consider myself old, but I would rather hear something mature from George Strait or Reba than some teenage angst from Taylor Swift. There's less and less out there that's identifiable to me, and for the new stuff that is, I feel like I've heard it all before.

We have more talent contest winners and prime time wannabes cutting music that they didn't write. And it's so predictable. If Carrie Underwood releases a "fun" song, you can bet the next song will be soft or sad. She's a sweet thing, but she belongs more on the cover of Tiger Beat magazine than on a concert stage. Don't get me started on Kellie Pickler or Julianne Hough (she was on "Dancing with the Stars", in case you forgot). Country music is choosing style over substance at the worst possible time and listeners are fleeing.

There's nothing wrong with radio that can't be fixed by simply serving the customer better. It works in every other business, yet only in radio do the bosses seem too stubborn or stupid to address the obvious.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Race to the Finish

This was too easy to predict. I wrote earlier that if Barack Obama loses in November, it will be attributed to the fact that he's (half) black. Nothing else will matter. It looks like that excuse is already being used now, as John McCain moves to the lead in some polls. A new study from Stanford University says that whites may be less likely to vote for Obama because of their negative views of black in general (no such study was done to ask blacks their opinion of whites, but I surmise it would be low, and somehow justified in the media). The study said that even if whites voted for Obama in the primary, they may not follow through with the same vote come general election time. So there you go. The only reason for an Obama loss will be attributed to racism.

What's never brought up is why blacks vote for Obama. It sure appears to me that blacks are more likely to vote for Obama because of the color of his skin than whites are to vote for McCain because of the color of his skin. In that case, the votes of blacks are more race based than the votes of whites. This is NEVER brought up. Anywhere. Plus, the fact that Obama is even the Democratic nominee has much more to do with the color of his skin than any legislative record. Ergo, his entire success is base on race. Fascinating to think that racism will be given as the cause for his defeat (if that happens), while at the same time, racism is directly responsible for his success.

Meanwhile. the ascent of Sarah Palin and the sheer amount of mean-spiritedness directed towards her only goes to further prove that there's nothing women hate more than...a successful woman.

Even though it's what they all strive to be.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Bailout Fallout

Spare the rod, spoil the child, the old saying goes. More simply put, it meant if you didn't punish your kid for screwing up, he wasn't going to learn anything from it. I was spanked hundreds of times growing up, and I don't don't think I was left with any permanent scarring. The phrase can be twisted into a new variant for today's economic times. Bail the corporations, fail the public.

Ok, it's not nearly as catchy, but it's not bad for a (so far) coffee- free Sunday morning. In just the past few weeks we've seen government bailouts of mortgage lenders Fanny Mae and Freddie Mac, as well as a huge loan given to insurer AIG in order for them to stay afloat. Government seems to be taking over institutions, and no one really seems to be that concerned about it. Certainly, my portfolio has benefitted over the past couple of days, as the stock market rallied on news that the government was planning on establishing a commission to prevent failures of companies like Freddie and Fanny and Lehman Brothers. So what's the big deal? Only time will tell. In the short term, though, our already huge national debt has doubled. Who's going to be responsible for balancing that out?

Figuring out why everything got so out of hand is simple. Banks and lending institutions made too many bad loans. I know of several people who either bought a house with an interest only loan, or simply with no money down whatsoever. Buying a house was now on a par with buying a flat screen TV. Imagine if you were constantly loaning money to people whom you weren't sure could pay you back. What would happen? You'd eventually run out of money. Yet the lending institutions were only too happy to do this practice, over and over again. Do you think the government would bail you out for giving money away without knowing whether you'd get it back or not? That's what's happening today with Fanny and Freddie.

I'm not a student of economics, but I don't like what I'm seeing with this constant stream of bailouts. People who live in hurricane country know full well that a storm could throw their home into the sea, and they most certainly know the government will be there to bail them out when it happens....so they can build in the same place all over again. The free market will always work things out if given the chance, and we're not seeing that here. If the government continues to bail out the financial institutions, there'll be no need for them to change their practices, and we'll see a continuation of the problems that got us where we are right now. There's no punishment for the wrongdoing.

Commit the crime, do the time. I always liked that one.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Separation Anxiety

(NOTE: If you're not a hardcore sports fan, this article will make no sense to you. It may as well be in some other language altogether. Don't bother with it.)

Divorce is painful. Divorce signals the end of something that you vowed would last forever. When you first entered into your relationship, you never imagined this day coming. You do everything in your power to keep divorce from happening, but in the end it sometimes has to be done. So it is with me. This has nothing to do with me and Pumpkin, who are rock solid. After 38 years, I'm filing for a divorce from the Milwaukee Brewers.

The non-Brewer fan would no doubt greet this with something like, "why quit now when they're finally starting to get good?". That's a fair question, but it fails to address the decades of suffering Brewers fans have endured. Many sports franchises have glory years, tremendous runs of success. The Brewers have 1982, their last World Series appearance, and their last playoff appearance altogether. Last season marked the first time since 1991 that the Brewers won more games in a season than they lost. They'll win more than they lose again this season, and improve on last year's record.

So why quit? Simple. They will never, ever achieve what a fan roots for. A championship. In a wild case of irony, the Brewers recent success has showed me that a championship is less likely than when they were losing games in droves year after year. As little as two weeks ago, Milwaukee looked like a lock to get into the playoffs. Then September arrives. September is a time when the good teams turn it on, and the bad teams fold. The Brewers are 3-14 in September. The bad teams fold. A team that was supposed to be good has showed its true colors (yellow), and folded like a newbie at a 4/8 table. I've given all I can. To paraphrase Brett Favre, I still have what it takes to root for the Brewers. I just don't think I want to.

They lost again last night (11-2 to the Reds) and I didn't get angry. I didn't get annoyed. I didn't even shake my head in mild disgust. I have turned the corner from Outright Fanatic Street on to Increasingly Indifferent Avenue, and it feels fine. If anything, this team betrayed me by allowing me to believe that after 26 years of frustration and foolishness, THIS was going to be the year things turned around. Then September came. It's akin to pursuing a girl for the longest time, and she allows this pursuit. Then she tells you she's married, or a lesbian. Either works. So much work for no reward, and in the end far too much wasted time.

I almost cried after a bad loss this week. That makes no sense to me. I don't cry for human tragedies. Why cry over an underachieving 70 million dollar payroll, right?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Weights and Measures

There are certain things I envision doing once I'm no longer working. Going to the gym is not one of them

I started lifting weights in my parents' basement back when I was around 15. My big brother did it, so I did it, too. Girls didn't go for the flabby types, so I wanted to be in decent shape. I lifted through my sophomore, junior, and senior years, and the number dates I got was exactly..one. Of course, I was terrified of rejection and I never actually asked a gal out, so..Anyway, I'm off the point.

During my six months of unemployment I went to Gold's Gym pretty much every day. It was done more out of boredom than anything else. It was an easy way to kill 60-90 minutes, and I felt good about myself afterward. Now that I'm back amongst the employed, I only go on weekends. Sure, I have six hours of downtime between my AM and PM shifts, but I just don't want to go when it's this hot. I have a nice cozy home, and I'm more than comfortable occupying it until the time comes to head to work once again.

Approaching 43, I'm realizing there's quickly coming that point of diminishing returns where a visit to the gym is more likely to do harm than good. Muscle strains, bulging discs, strained necks and sore pecs..all much more likely from lifting weights than staying at home. I see both men and women of an advanced age working out, and I so don't want to be them. I realize, though, that they may be there for the same reason I was there during my downtime- it's something to do. Usually, the phrase "act your age" is applied to someone who's acting childish. It can also be applied to someone who's elderly trying to look like they're in their prime. I don't want to be "that guy".

I've been perfectly content watching baseball and doing laundry this afternoon. My parents are closing in on 80, are full of energy, and haven't lifted a weight in their lives. Entering the halfway point of this story, I've realized that it's more important completing the NY Times crossword puzzle than it is another set of curls.

Nap time.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Worlds Colliding

One of my favorite scenes from "Seinfeld" is the one where George explains to Jerry the theory behind "worlds colliding". There's "Relationship George", and there's "Independent George". Independent George is threatened because of his fiance's new friendship with Elaine. The fiance (Susan) now is part of the group of George, Jerry, Elaine, and Kramer, a world that George had previously occupied without her, but now must share. His behavior is altered as a result. I now find myself in a similar situation.

Football season has begun and, between last year and now, Pumpkin has become a big Packer fan. She is wearing the apparel and watching the games. While I certainly appreciate her new found fanaticism for my favorite team, this could lead to trouble. There's "Everyday Mitch", who is pretty easygoing about everything, though slightly anal and neurotic at times. Few things bother Everyday Mitch. On the other hand, there is also "Sports Fan Mitch". This is a Mitch that Pumpkin rarely encounters, and can never completely understand. Sports Fan Mitch rants and raves. Throws things. Breaks things. Uses foul language. Simply put, Sports Fan Mitch is the complete opposite of Everyday Mitch, and this is a world my wife is choosing to enter.

We watched the Packers-Lions game at the Riviera last Sunday, and it was a typical roller coaster ride of emotions. The Packers got off to a great start and everything was well. Smiling, laughing, kissing. So much fun. Detroit played their way back into the game, even taking a one point lead in the 4th quarter. This lead to tense moments, and the muttering of profanities that are normally said at much higher volumes. I could tell Pumpkin was uncomfortable, but it was more about my change in behavior than the changing momentum of the game. I had to adjust my normal behavior or she would become upset. Sports Fan Mitch had to morph into Everyday Mitch, at the very point in the game where the Packers' fortunes seemed darkest.

Then the Lions became the Lions again and the Pack rolled on to victory. Still, after the game, I felt the need to apologize for my behavior when things were tight. Essentially, I was apologizing for simply being myself. One of my selves, anyway. She said she totally understood, but I don't think that's possible. When you've lived and died with a team for 30 years, it's impossible for someone just stepping on the bus to understand. You're not ready to race with Dale Jr. just because you've mastered the finer points of the ten speed bike.

"A George divided against itself, cannot stand". We'll see what happens to the House of Mitch. The Cowboys come calling this weekend.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Coffee Talk

My parents are in town until Tuesday, so that explains the calm in my blogging storm. I'll tell you what, if you're ever feeling old, the quickest cure is to either visit your parents, or have your parents visit you. I'll be 43 in December, but my parents still treat me like I'm 14 (or younger). I don't feel comfortable having a beer in front of them. I feel bad if a profanity falls from my lips near them. In spite of the fact that I'm married, I'm a homeowner, and I have some money in the bank, I still have a hard time shaking the feeling that my parents feel I'm barely keeping my head above water. I had hoped that surviving six months of unemployment would've created more confidence in them regarding me, but if anything, the reverse is true.

Anyway, the plan today is to gamble, eat, and take them over to Mamma Mia. I got two -for -one tickets. No doubt they're proud of me for that.

EXTRA: Watching coverage of the "day after" Ike. Again, you can't help but feel that the news networks are disappointed at the lack of destruction. In fact, it could be argued that the train crash in Los Angeles was a bigger news story (CNN was covering that while Fox was all about Ike. Advantage CNN). The pictures that I'm seeing look like Florida on a typical summer day when storms fire up in the late afternoon. Or, for that matter, Las Vegas during monsoon season. Post Katrina hysteria has made the networks proclaim every hurricane that hits the mainland as the potential "storm of the century". Ike hit land as a Category Two, and since the storms are measured on a scale of one to five, claiming it as "storm of the century" only works (slightly) because the century is only nine years in. Remember though, Katrina and Rita were both only three years ago, and it's going to be tough for them to be dethroned. Still, you know the networks are rooting for it to happen. Maybe next time. Anything that distracts attention away from politics is fine by me.

Hurricane coverage has just been interrupted for...a political ad. Damn it.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Paninis and Pablum

The whole point to this entry was supposed to have been how much I hated lunch yesterday. I was meeting up with a friend I hadn't seen in months, and she was bringing her newborn. Five months old. We had lunch at a restaurant I would qualify as something between Fazzoli's and Olive Garden. In other words, not a place you take your infant to. The lunch would mark the first time I'd ever had lunch with a baby since, well, that baby was me. My blog was all written out in my head. Then then damnedest thing happened.

I had......fun.

The baby was cute, cuddly and, best of all, quiet. He (Luke) seemed to warm up quickly to me and everyone got along. I was allowed to catch up with my friend on our separate lives without the constant interruptions that I had expected. All in all, a downright pleasant affair. I left just before diaper changing. I know when to make an exit.

This in no way means means that I've having a fatherly "itch" or anything like that. The baby was very cute, and we had fun together, but it was for all of 75 minutes. I can't imagine 24/7/365. I know why my mom wants more grandbabies, though. She can get them all riled up, spoil the heck out of them, and then leave, letting my sister deal with the consequences. It's kind of what I did yesterday, without the spoiling. I got a lot of smiles out of the kid, which can only mean good things regarding his future intelligence.

See, a baby, and then another baby, etc....then teenagers...seem to take up all of your time and your energy, your concerns, and your wallet. It sounds selfish, but I want to focus my energy on myself and Pumpkin. And Maverick. I love the freedom I have. That's the thing. It's not the cost of raising a child that scares me. It's about losing freedom that I have. Yeah, that sounds selfish doesn't it?

A child has been described to me as both the best and worst thing that can happen to a person. I think the best thing for me would be to make funny faces and crazy sounds and make a baby laugh- every five months or so.

Monday, September 8, 2008

I, Scofflaw

Thunderstorms loom, so once again, I put my life on the line to type. For you.

Something happened to me for the first time in eight years today. Can you guess what it was?

a) broke a bone
b) stopped by a cop
c) bought a car

Correct answer: B

Yep. Stopped by a cop this morning. Thankfully, it wasn't in the SuperCommuter van. It was on the way to work. I made a right-hand turn and travelled up to the first light, which was red. While waiting for the light to change, a cop pulled up behind me. Moments later, on came the flashing lights. Really, I thought he had gotten a call to tackle something else, but when I pulled over to let him pass, he pulled right over behind me.

I knew my plates were legal, and that my insurance was up to date. I didn't have any warrants that could be used against me. I was going to be the least interesting person this guy was going to deal with all day. So what could it be? What could I have done to cause an officer of the law, an important soldier in the thin blue line defending the valley- to pull over someone like me. Thankfully, he didn't ask me if I knew why I was being pulled over. Honestly, I had no idea. He came right out with it:

"Sir, you did a rolling stop over there on Agate (Street) when you turned onto Las Vegas Boulevard".

A rolling stop? I had 100 different responses to that, but refrained from being the smart-ass guy. This had to be a warning, right? Getting a ticket for a rolling stop? I'd be the laughing stock of traffic court. C'mon, give The SuperCommuter a break. After taking my license, registration and proof of insurance he waked back to the squad, giving me a couple of minutes to stew about it. More tongue was bitten off as he walked back to my car. After he handed me back my stuff, he let me off with a warning. No harm, no foul. Still, I was a little annoyed by the experience.

When I made my turn, the cop had to have been a quarter to a half mile to the south of me. At no time was anyone's safety compromised. If there was an oncoming car, I wouldn't have turned. I know from years of experience that plenty of dangers lurk on the road before the sun comes up. Today, I was not one of them. I saw 500 violations on the roads this morning that were more serious than mine. I'll chalk today up to a case of a bored cop with nothing to do who decided to kill some of his time by wasting mine. I sure hope it wasn't at someone else's expense

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Cleaning My Attic

I'm tired of politics. I wish the election were tomorrow. I think everything that's needed to be said and done has been said and done. It's like having an NFL pre-season that lasts six months. It makes no sense. Working for an all-news station means, though, that I will be hip deep in all the action right on through the first Tuesday in November. I'm tired of talking heads. I'm tired of the typing heads. That said, here's a quick two-cents worth from me. Then I'm done with it

I find it interesting on how so many people are cool with the fact that the Leader of the Free World could possibly be someone with essentially entry-level political experience. No other job has that potential.

Those who won't vote for a presidential candidate because of who the VP selection is really need to stay home on Election Day. That's like deciding you're not going to go see Van Halen because you don't like the opening act.

If Obama loses, all we'll hear is that America "wasn't ready for a black president". Never mind that America will have chosen the overwhelmingly more qualified candidate (which doesn't happen as often as it should). The media will simply focus on the color of his skin (Remember, Obama's mom is white, so we call him "Half-rican American" around here). That's easier to do than taking the time to examine the facts.

The fact that people are saying that Sarah Palin should stay home and tend to the babies offends on two levels of sexism: one for saying that the woman must stay home and raise the children, implying that- two: a man is incapable of raising a family while the woman is away. As far as I know, the Palins are happily married and the husband can stay at home. Am I missing something?

Still, the pick of Palin wasn't motivated by anything else other than to sway disenchanted fans of Hilary Clinton who aren't happy voting for Obama. That's all it could be. If this were the workaday world, the promotion of Palin to second-in-command would be met with sex discrimination lawsuits until the cows come home.

Women are much tougher on women than men are on men. Guys are happy for other guys when they do well. Women are jealous. A guy gets together with a hot gal? High fives all around the bar. A woman picks up a hot guy? Women think "what a whore". Women aren't likely to vote for a McCain/Palin ticket simply because a woman is a part. In fact, it might be a tougher sell. And Oprah likes Obama, you know.

One quick point: The presidents during my life have been: LBJ, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, and Bush II. I don't know how my life would've turned out differently if McGovern had been elected over Nixon, Mondale instead of Reagan, Dole instead of Clinton, Gore instead of Bush II, etc. I'm sure my parents would've still been teachers, my upbringing decidedly middle class and happy. Does it really matter who's at the top? In this day and age of the suitcase nuke, probably more than ever. So, does the guy from essentially the political mailroom win the key to the golden throne? My answer was yes two months ago and my answer is yes today.*

*not an endorsement

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Eye On The Storm

I love watching weather coverage. It could be of tornadoes, blizzards, hurricanes, whatever. If there's live coverage of heavy weather, I'm watching it. That's why I was so excited for Hurricane Gustav to make landfall. Certainly I didn't want New Orleans devastated again (nor the oil rigs in the Gulf damaged), but there's something about watching potential disasters as they're happening that holds a twisted allure for me. The hurricane was scheduled to make landfall around 8am pdt on Monday, and having the day off of work meant it was all set up perfectly for a day full of destruction. That said, Gustav was a disappointment.

There's never been a more routine hurricane in recorded history. It rained a lot. Lots of wind. Some flooding. Portions of rooftops blew away. There was absolutely nothing special about it. Oh, and you know the networks were hoping for Katrina 2. They wanted chaos, looting, swift water rescues. I don't blame them a bit. Ratings were through the (leaky) roof for Katrina and Rita coverage. I split my time between CNN and Fox, and both were equally good, though I got a little tired of hearing how the levees might break (which they didn't) and how oil production would be hurt (which it wasn't). I loved how the CNN anchor even had his sleeves rolled up at the desk like he was about to throw sand bags around a nursing home. Compelling TV, even if there wasn't really a payoff at the end. Then again, with oil prices dropping because the damage wasn't as severe as anticipated, maybe there is a payoff after all.