Wednesday, September 23, 2009

No News is Good News (Literally)

I've stated here a couple of times that no news story that contains positive information seems to be allowed to stand on its own nowadays.

NOTE: Channel 8's Denise Valedez just mentioned "these tough economic times". I wonder if there's a mandate from the news director to throw that phrase in several times a broadcast. I've even heard it during a weather segment. "War on Terror"? No thanks. "These tough economic times"? Yeah, baby. Can't get enough.

Ok, anyway...go and read the first sentence again, then come back.

There have been a couple of examples this week that again led me to think that you can't get an ounce of positive without having a gallon of crap poured all over it:

Exhibit A: The Project CityCenter development has begun hiring and staffing. Yay! Some touts said that "in these tough economic times" such a monstrous project would never move forward. It was simply a case of too much ambition, and not enough dough to bring those dreams to fruition. Whether it's 100, 75, or even 10 percent successful remains to be seen. Still, it's a badly needed shot in the arm for an area seeing record unemployment. There can be no downside, right?

Downside: With part of the project completed, there will be construction jobs lost. Ouch. Didn't see that one coming, did you? Then again, if you watch the news, I'm sure you did.

Exhibit B: The Clark County School District's student enrollment is decreasing for the first time in years. The district will have approximately 1,500 fewer students this school year. In past years, large increases in the number of students have stretched resources thin, led to critical teacher shortages, and forced students and teachers into much less comfortable portable classrooms. The district was sinking under the weight of Las Vegas' population boom. If increases in students caused such problems, reductions must alleviate same, right? Logic dictates so.

Downside: Fewer students means the district will have to cut programs, especially in it's arts departments. There's been a layoff or two. A future cellist is at risk. Enrollment didn't meet projections, so cuts needed to be made. None of these cuts came from any of the amazingly bloated school district administration. After hearing all these years about how the school district was unable to realistically sustain itself with such rapid growth, I thought that a drop of approximately three students per school would be welcome relief. My lesson: I'm a fool.

NOTE: Channel 8 on scene at a neighborhood where a man has barricaded himself in a home. I'm waiting for someone to say how much we've seen of this behavior "in these tough economic times".

Monday, September 21, 2009

Back In Session

As summer turns to fall, it means the temperatures dip (eventually), the Packers lose at home to an unheralded opponent, and the fall television season begins. Tonight, it's the season premier of "Two And A Half Men". While no "Barney Miller", I enjoy "Men" and have seen every episode. It's not overly smart, but it's consistently funny. These days when "30 Rock" is thought of as the best comedy series going (would that it were as funny as it thinks it is), that's enough.

Still, as the season premiere looms, part of me doesn't want to watch the show anymore. I'm not telling anyone else not to watch it. It would be my decision only. It all stems from recently learning that "Men" star Charlie Sheen is part of a conspiracy group that believes that the Bush Administration was behind the attacks of 9/11/01. A couple of weeks ago, Sheen went so far as to request a meeting with President Obama to discuss his theories. Thankfully, Obama was prepping for his appearance on "Tyra" or Jay Leno and didn't have any time to have his ears bent. The story didn't get much play in the media (surprise), but when I found out about it, my enthusiasm for "Men" tanked. I usually don't watch it during the week anymore (it's on twice nightly), but yesterday I caved and set my DVR for a season pass for "Men"

I'm not a boycott guy, because what I do doesn't matter on a large scale. Me not watching it this season won't keep "Men" from consistently rating in the Top 10. It will continue to run until well past the title changes to simply "Three Men". I don't agree with people who try to organize boycotts of artists they don't see eye to eye with. I think Woody Harrelson is a first-class chump, but I can't wait to see "Zombieland". Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon are as opposite my political spectrum as possible, but I'll still gladly watch "Bull Durham", "The Player", "Atlantic City" or any other quality work that they produce. I'm sure the list of people in Hollywood that I share great ideological differences with is vast and wide. I guess I'm surprised that the Sheen story didn't get much play (except for Fox). Maybe I'm not. And again, what I think only matters to a very, very small circle of people.

I told Pumpkin about the whole Sheen affair, and while she thinks the whole "truther" movement is asinine, she wants to watch the show. I just don't think it's going to be as funny to me as it once was. Few things are.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Chapter 15, Page 1

I watched a cockroach die yesterday.

It was in the bathroom at work, next to the urinal. It was on its back and in obvious discomfort. Each time I can in, I thought it had died, only to see it wiggle its legs again. It just would die. It's kind of scary to think that a cockroach can survive a nuclear blast, yet something in the bathroom at work was powerful enough to kill it.

Anyway, today I feel like the roach that just won't die. Again yesterday, more people lost their jobs and I survived. I'm now taking the place of the person responsible for getting me the job in the first place. I'm back to waking up before the sun. I'm back to getting home in time to catch a few innings of the Cubs' game. I'm back at home for an afternoon nap with my dog. I used to love all those things but now I just want things to be as they were last Friday. I want people who only look at the bottom line to realize the simple fact that getting rid of good people to save a few bucks leads to a subpar product, then a poor performance, followed by falling ratings and dwindling  revenue. Then more firings. But they'll never understand, will they?

What's particularly frightening from a radio aspect is that there isn't any good talent rising up to take the place of those who've been let go. A baseball team can shed its high-salaried superstars to save money in hopes that their farm system prospects pay cheaper dividends down the road. In radio, there's no farm system. Good people are sent packing and there's no one in the minor leagues ready to take their place. The industry will eventually die. cause of death: suicide.

Today, I'm just sad and concerned. That's the bottom line.