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Can You Hear Me Now?

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In the opening minutes of the Adventures of Superman TV series episode entitled “Beware the Wrecker” (Season 2 Episode 20), which first aired on 30 January 1954, Clark Kent apologizes for being unable to trace a telephone call from the Wrecker, opining that the villain might be using a “portable telephone.”

Ummm, hit the rewind there. Say what?! Yep, I heard that correctly: “Whoever it is who is making these calls must be using a portable telephone,” says Clark. Not only that, but neither the Editor-in-Chief of the Daily Planet, Lois Lane, Inspector Henderson nor the heads of the city’s three transportation systems (in the IMDB page’s snapshot of the episode, depicted moments before Mr. Kent’s statement) think to ask what he means. And just as obviously, the show must have expected the TV audience to know what was meant. That, and apparently everyone understood without second-guessing that of course Clark Kent was right, about calls from such a device being immune to a trace.

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Written by macheide

10 January 2015 at 12:03 am

Posted in television

Tagged with ,

Bloomberg’s Fake Magic

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Same way as CNBC’s corporate policy requiring rudeness eventually turned me off, now Bloomberg’s done them one better. Already the Magic Jack commercials had been unbearably obnoxious. But this morning they hit the level of inhumane insanity: two Magic Jack commercials per commercial break!

At first I joked about it, thinking they’d blundered in their programming. After four successive commercial breaks with the same waterboarding technique, it became sadly clear how low Bloomberg’s standards had dug below the cesspoll they’d already been swimming in.

Any TV station – but particularly a station broadcasting what purports to be informational, educational programming – must accept responsibility for all of its content, including whether or not the commercials alienate its viewers. Either Bloomberg doesn’t give a damn, or else it’s worse: this Magic Jack blitz is not really all that different from the quality of any of the rest of Bloomberg’s content.

So let’s lighten up our TV news favorites listing and send Bloomberg off to join Fox, wandering out there talking to themselves. There are better places one can go to get financial news without putting up with such junk. Bloomburg’s no longer on my TV because it no longer cares about what matters.

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Written by macheide

18 June 2009 at 7:34 am

Posted in television

Best TV of the Year

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canon-090226-013A side benefit of getting a new roof put on the house: we finally get something on TV worth watching!

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Written by macheide

26 February 2009 at 6:06 pm

Posted in television

TV Programming Worth Watching

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After using the Weather Channel as our TV’s home base for most of the early part of the week, this morning I turned to Houston’s ABC 13 channel for some local insights on Hurricane Ike. Then wound up just leaving 13 on most of the day, with only brief digressions to check on the market and to watch some of our usual weekday afternoon line-up. (No, that afternoon lineup did not include Cash Cab. The Discovery Channel has made it quite clear they don’t care to have viewers turn Cash Cab into a habit.)

Which gave me wall-to-wall coverage of Hurricane Ike. No soap operas or any of the other usual junk. No obnoxious commercials, whether political or not. Amazingly, not a single word about the 7th anniversary that today was. Just Ike. Finally, TV programming that isn’t just bland background noise!

But I won’t bother giving a link to ABC 13’s website. For one thing, their pages are poorly designed bandwidth hogs. I’m not interested in waiting forever until all their overhead for each and every page has to completely reload before I can follow any link to a story or whatnot. More so than that, though, I have a serious beef with a website that hasn’t a clue about the need for some degree of permanence to it. Seriously, if I were to give any link to ABC 13 content about Ike, I have a much lower expectation that the link would still be working after Ike has vanished over the horizon than the survival rate I might expect of a western Galveston beachhouse surviving Ike’s storm surge.

Still, good TV coverage on the storm. The kind of TV we’ll sorely miss after Ike has departed.

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Written by macheide

11 September 2008 at 9:05 pm

Posted in television

Marinated Moments

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“Have some beans,” Lindsey encouraged me to at dinner last night. “He doesn’t eat green beans,” Susan explained why my plate remained content with half a chicken breast (very flavorably seasoned with rosemary) and a slice of potato. “I ate green beans at the Thai restaurant,” I protested. “Yes,” Susan admitted, “He does eat green beans spiced with curry.”

“And three-bean salad,” I quickly added. I pile up on three-bean mix at almost any salad bar. “Yes,” Susan gave me the look, “But we know why that is. It’s not for the beans.” OK, yes, it’s true: I will eat almost any veggie if it’s been sufficiently drowned in vinegar. “But at least I’m getting some fruits into my diet along with my veggies,” I offered as paltry excuse. Fruits? Yes, fruits. Isn’t vinegar made from apples?

Thereby launching a moderately invigorating dinnertime debate over exactly what one uses to make vinegar. That’s right: a dinner table with four boneheads who were not really sure where vinegar comes from. Our pantry’s vinegar bottle was of no help, not only failing to provide any list of ingredients, but also lacking any nutritional information whatsoever. Our dinner-question researcher ChaCha skipped the first time we asked, then told us a little of how vinegar emerges from some distilling process without helping us on what one throws into the distillery. This must be why we happened to have a laptop close to the dinner table: it took more poking around on the Internet than one might have thought necessary, but we found that vinegar can come not only from apples, but from grapes, corn and other grains, and maybe even from wood.

OK, so early this afternoon after Susan returned home from her morning of work, with me telecommuting from the corner of our room, she was flipping channels on the TV, what with NBC’s typically mediocre Olympics programming having gone stale well before its expiration date. Whereupon she chances upon a History Channel program on Acid, coming into the middle of the program exactly as the topic turned to how vinegar is made.

Sweet. Vinegary sweet. What should we chat about over dinner tonight, eh?

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Written by macheide

20 August 2008 at 1:36 pm

Posted in television

I Street?

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It’s the only thing worth having on the tube tonight, but siriusly, you’d think they’d know how to spell the Boss’ name if they’re going to devote an entire channel to him 24/7.

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Written by macheide

9 July 2008 at 8:07 pm

Posted in television

Best Thing On

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best thing on

Dish Network farts yet again.

We never had any of this until our old satellite box burned out late last year and we picked up this new one. I must admit, this new box is a significant improvement, what with its artificial intelligence capability: when it recognizes that there’s nothing but crap on the screen, it gives us this sort of programming, which is far far far superior to whatever had happened to show up by default otherwise. And infinitely more responsive than if we were “relying” on cable.

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Written by macheide

18 May 2008 at 3:49 pm

Posted in television

To Illustrate, A Mule

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A mule is an animal with long funny ears
he kicks up at anything he hears
His back is brawny but his brain is weak
he’s just plain stupid with a stubborn streak
and by the way if you hate to go to school
You may grow up to be a mule

Except that the way that the Comedy Channel sings Swinging on a Star in this morning’s airing of Hudson Hawk, you take a commecial break right after singing “hate to go…” then after 5 minutes of junk pick right back up at “…to school.”

OK, maybe I sometimes take TV more seriously than the low IQ level it’s clearly aimed at, but I’m a little curious. Is this just plain lazy production programming, letting some computer simply slice the movie up into chunks without any regard for where the axe happens to slice? I doubt it, since they didn’t seem to catch the movie quite so crudely mid-sentence for any subsequent commercial breaks. So then this was the result of an intentional choice made by a production manager? Why, I wonder, did they choose that particular spot in the song for their break, when a line earlier they could have done themselves one better by breaking smack in the middle of either of a pair of two-syllable words, depending on which one best illustrated their own distorted mindset on how to broadcast a movie. Still, let’s be at least a little charitable: they’ve proved the point of the song’s verse by showing us one doesn’t need to go to school to be able to be a TV program manager.

But despite the channel name, it’s not comedy. It’s sheer stupidity.

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Written by macheide

11 May 2008 at 9:40 am

Posted in television

Dishing It Out

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dishing it out
Dish Network burps again.

I wanted to find when an NBA game would be on tonight and schedule it to switch over. Instead, this black -and-white pretender took over the set. After which, none of the remote buttons would respond, not a single one. Turning the TV off and back on did nothing to remove the screen. Nor would the satellite box itself even turn off (and it didn’t occur to me to just throw the fuse on the whole damn thing).

I’m dangerous with a remote under such circumstances, so sought for assistance, but everyone else in the house was busy, so I experimented further. Finally, switching control of the set to TV, changing the channel to produce total static, then switching back to the satellite channel gave me the following, which then took several minutes to find something overhead:

dish burp 2 dish burp 3

dish burp 4
And finally my TV broke loose of the block of ice Dish in which had encased it.

Daring it to repeat its burp, I again navigated to the theme menu. This time, it worked fine: this is what that first black-and-white screen was supposed to look like.

I’ve not been terribly impressed with Dish lately. That doesn’t mean I’m going to be looking around. The local cable company already stole too much of my money for extended periods of absolutely no service, and I’m not interested in asking them to steal from me again. I’ll just put up with these burps and experimenting with the remote.

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Written by macheide

9 May 2008 at 6:20 pm

Posted in television

Tunnel Vision

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tunnel vision

OK, what games are Dish Network satellites playing here? My fave channels list is stuck on TMCXW where it had landed overnight, giving me nothing to watch but The Odd Couple II.

tunnel vision 2

Susan‘s fave channel list is just as exciting.

tunnel vision 3

Since I know that CNBC is channel 208, I can manually navigate there by clicking in the numbers. Now Dish Network thinks that’s the only thing on the air.

Gives new meaning to the common saying, “There’s nothing on TV.”

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Written by macheide

7 May 2008 at 10:20 am

Posted in television

Bent Hurt

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Ben-Hur was getting his revenge again this morning on Turner Classic Movies.

Remined me of the hilarious commercial TCM once broadcast, a well-done spoof of this same classic. (Nice some of the things one can find on YouTube.) A hundred times better – more, even – than the junk one sees during the Super Bowl.

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Written by macheide

2 March 2008 at 5:27 pm

Posted in television

RSS Wish List – “Is It Safe?”

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Marathon Man will be on TCM this coming Saturday early morning.

I found that the hard way – going to each of Dustin’s movies one by one on IMDB (which I hate anyway, since they over-clutter it with worthless junk) until I found one of his with an upcoming TV showtime.

There’s got to be a better way, although I’m not holding my breath thinking IMDB would be the ones to do it. But with personalized RSS already years established, it ought not be all that difficult a process for an RSS feed to be automatically created from the intersection of an individual user’s fave movie list with published TV schedules, so that a line fed into a suitable blog reader (I use and heartily recommend Bloglines) would let one know when a fave is coming to the big bright green pleasure machine.

Yeah sure, in this case I could merely pull Marathon Man out of the DVD cabinet. But there are too many that I don’t own on DVD that do come up on TV without getting my attention. I know, that has to rank as one of life’s smallest of tragedies in a world of courageous cancer patients and a liar for a President and nobody worth voting for this coming November and tax forms awaiting the formaphobe. Even so, if I care to know if it’s safe to turn on the TV, a simple RSS response ought not be like pulling teeth.

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Written by macheide

24 February 2008 at 8:27 am

Posted in macheide, television

8-Second Attention Span

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OK, I’ll ‘fess up: I have been turning into a bullriding fan.

I do have a ready excuse: Susan won’t let me actually ride the beasts, so the best I can do is spectate. Or hope that someday they’ll have alpaca-riding events.

My recent “interest” was a combo of having nothing else worth watching on TV as I’m settling down toward sleep, having some fun playing with the new satellite dish that gives me more control over scheduling programs to come on automatically, finding out that we have a station that regularly delivers bullriding almost every night at 10pm, teasing Susan by continually having our TV switch to that, and pretending that watching enough of such fun might make a cowboy of me. Now the joke’s on me: not only do I know the difference between a sub-80 ride and a 90-plus ride, but I can usually score within a point of where the judges will put it. And I’m even starting to be able to identify my favorite bulls. (Yes, I cheer for the bulls, not for the cowboys.)

Tonight, though, I won’t need to have the television switch over. There will be more than enough bull on the screen all night long, what with all the candidates and commentators telling us what Super Tuesday means to our own rough rides into the future.

Except in this case, I have no favorite bull. All of it is plain old country-variety crap.

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Written by macheide

5 February 2008 at 5:17 pm

Posted in jourbeau, television

Not Even Worth Background Noise

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Eh, serves me right for having Tom Cruise serve as background television in the first place. But then ABC decides to ditch the movie for some idiotically endlessly long intermission thing – what was that piece of junk, an ABC self-serving commercial? – for some stupid show of theirs I never cared to have filling my ears anyway. As good an illustration as you could put together for why I never bother to watch ABC except when I go braindead like I did here – you’re either already numb enough to have already been watching their junk so didn’t need this stupid commercial of theirs reminding you how badly you’d already wasted your time with them, or else you had been doing your best to steer clear of that kind of junk food so didn’t care to have it shoved down your throat in lieu of Tom Cruise’s own brand of farce. Whatever. I didn’t care to see the rest of War of the Worlds anyway. But at least ABC had my attention long enough to remind me why I won’t tune into them again for maybe a year or so, longer if I’m lucky.

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Written by macheide

2 February 2008 at 9:48 pm

Posted in television

Unexpected Boy Toy for Christmas

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Unexpected Toy for ChristmasAs much as I do appreciate the gadgets that Susan and Kelly gave me for Christmas, the best boy toy I received might turn out to have come courtesy of our cable – correct that: dish satellite – box going belly up on Christmas Eve.

Susan called the problem in on Thursday, and they had someone out to check it on Friday. Which gave us a new box. With a new remote.

My first impression of the new remote was not that favorable, I must admit.

But new programming features that the new set-up has given me are really starting to grow on me fast. Most of those pretty simple, I’m sure, compared to what’s out in the market these days; but it’s all new to my use of the TV, so it’s no different than a boy who has just received his first Christmas bicycle, even if a Harley would be more fun.

For one, we can add the music channels to favorites lists on this new set. On the old set, since we couldn’t add music to a favorites list and since the music channels were not exactly easy to access by scrolling through screens, that meant having to remember the number of a music channel and punch it in the keypad manually, usually in the dark. Which in practice meant that I rarely listened to music on the TV set, even when we were grousing that there was nothing worth watching, so only left the set on for background noise. With an entire favorites list now devoted exclusively to the music channels that we like, count on our TV becoming more a radio than a video machine during those many hours when TV producers can’t come up with anything worth watching.

And favorites lists can now have more channels, perhaps even the entire list from the looks of it. Although including every channel would obviously defeat the purpose of a favorites list, that extreme is at least better than our old set-up, where the limited number of channels permitted on any one favorites list essentially meant splitting up sets among different lists, resulting in a bit of a quilt for the favorites lists that I had set up. At first I groused about having lost all that past work setting up those old faves, but I pretty quickly got over it when I failed to hit a ceiling under the new system. That changes how we set up the favorites in a way that I think will grow on me pretty comfortably.

What I really had boy-toy fun with last night were the new system’s timers. I can look at the TV schedule ahead for the near term (an evening, or overnight when we leave the set on while sleeping) and set timers so the box switches channels to movies or sports or news or whatever I choose, whenever the time comes for switching. I know, TiVo users and others who have been programming VHS or DVD recording for years would shrug, but I’ve never had this before, and it’s fun to play with. And even when the “Christmas morning fun” wears off, it will still come quite in handy.

Other bits and pieces new and useful too. Bottom line is that I have trashed that negative first impression, and am having silly fun with this new gadget.

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Written by macheide

25 December 2007 at 3:03 am

Posted in television