Tuesday, April 29, 2003

Goddamn Internet
I doubt if anyone has noticed or cared, but I haven't posted in quite a few days. Part of this is laziness, but a lot of it has to do with my idiot internet provider. They changed their suffix, and it was supposed to just take a couple of steps to reconfigure, but I think they hadn't really thought everything through...and going through these changes on a weekend wasn't the brightest thing in the world. After a week of bounced emails and intermittent (sp?) I'm finally back on.

This Week's Get Out of Town
Well, it wasn’t a good week for the KELO news team. I know what you’re thinking – it’s too easy. Leave them alone. You’re right; it is easy. But with the exception of an occasional dig, we’ve actually been pretty quiet with respect to our second favorite television station (the rest all being tied for number one). After last week, though, I need to vent.
Strike one. As many of you are probably aware, Pax TV outbid all of the state’s other stations for the rights to broadcast the state high school sports tournaments. And according to past protocol, competing stations have been allowed to show their own brief taped highlights. Pax, feeling these privileges were being abused, asked the SDHSA to clarify and enforce the rules. The SDHSA correctly sided with Pax.
KELO then had a hissy fit to the point where they went to the SDHSA and whined about how this is not right. As if that isn’t bad enough, they went so far as to make it their lead story on their evening’s broadcasts, and general manager made the local talk show circuit crying about how Pax was “desparate”. Even worse, KELO’s lead stories were a team report with sports anchor Travis Fossing and number two sports anchor John Radcliffe (T-Foss and J-Rad as they are known on the playgrounds and in the studio). I was actually embarrassed for them. Their whole premise was that it was “all about the kids”. Yeah, right! This from a network who up until a year or so ago demonized kids on an almost nightly basis. Talk about disingenuous. In fact, those of you who were wondering where the Iraqi Information Minister ended up, I think he landed at KELO as an assignment editor. I can just hear him, “it’s all about the kids”.
If it truly is about the kids, why didn’t KELO broadcast all tournament games or at least championship games, when they owned rights? Why is this the only year that matters? I guess that “tradition of caring” motto should be changed to “just started caring”.
The bottom line is this case is just that – the bottom line. Pax bid $80,000 and KELO bid $35,000. Now I may be the only CPA that has to drop his pants to count to 21, but 80 beats 35 unless you’re playing golf. Maybe when bids are open next time KELO can find another or bigger pimp/sponsor so they can win back the rights. I wonder what they’ll think about the kids then?
The second strike in KELO’s extended at-bat involved Perry Groton’s story stretching the SARS virus from Asia to Sioux Falls, via the fact that Toronto has baseball and SARS, and Winnipeg is in Canada, and the Canaries plays Winpeg in baseball. To borrow a cliché from Mr. Groten, talk about a seventh inning stretch! Is he kidding? Where is their assignment editor? Oh yeah, he still thinks there are no Americans in Baghdad. Does he really believe in this story? I better check my pockets for Canadian coins…or burn my Neil Young collection. We also might want to put a surgical mask on Celine Dion’s face…or at least over my ears.
Finally, strike three came when KELO unveiled it’s new Sioux Valley Hospital Skycam. Great, a shot of the Arena on one day and the VA on the next. At least we know where the SARS virus is coming and going. I suppose that it’s better than having their storm chasers calling in from the road during storms and shamelessly chirping, “I can see Sioux Valley from here”. Another product placement for KELO during their newscast. Have they not even one ounce of shame?
Have Mr. Antonitis and Mr. Millage become such shills for Young Broadcasting that they see can’t see this as embarrassing? All kidding aside, anyone remotely affiliated with KELO and it’s newscast should be embarrassed. So my advice to those most responsible for last week’s comedy of errors is to get on a bus and take a trip. I hear Toronto has plenty of vacancies.

Tuesday, April 15, 2003

More CD Recomendations

Another handful of hard-earned cash went to my favorite record store. Here's what I bought this week:

Ryan Adams Live in Jamaica (DVD)
Sahara Hotnights - C'mon Let's Pretend (reissue of 1st album)
Pete Yorn - Day I Forgot
Uncle Tupelo - No Depression, Still Feel Gone, and March 16 - 20, 1992 (Reissues)
Crooked Fingers - Red Devil Dawn
Static Taxi - Closer 2 Normal (ex-Replacement Bob Stinson's final band)
Mystery Science Theater 3000 Box Sets
Get Outta Town - April 9 and 16

(April 16) For some strange reason, murals have always caused controversy in this fine city. When Great Plains Coffee painted one on the side of their building last year, it became the number one controversy for a few weeks. Businesses that want to attempt to beautify their buildings have had little luck getting approval. Yet now our country commission wants to spend close to a hundred grand on one for the back wall of the old Coliseum, now the home for the Sioux Falls Multi-Cultural Center.
The story begins almost two years ago, when a few of the commission members, including Carol Twedt, began discussions with artist Eyob Mergia. (Incidentally, Eyob was also the artist who created the infamous mural on Great Plains Coffee.) Commissioner Jim Zweep was quoted in the Argus as saying that the idea originated when he looked out of a Country Administration Building window and noted that the wall "looked awful".
From my understanding, Mergia originally requested a fee of $20,000 plus expenses. Sources tell me that his fee has somehow been raised to $60,000. Either way, how did we get to ninety grand?
What's most disturbing is that this entire process has been done in private. Government is supposed to be an open process. The public has a right, and the politicians have an obligation, to inform the public on all matters. Shutting the door on the public does nothing but create future problems, as we learned a few months ago with the many allegations of police impropriety.
Two weeks ago, the public finally learned of these behind-the-scenes shenanigans when Anne Hajek raised the question at a county commission meeting. As she said at the meeting, "we haven't voted, but we have picked the artist, the location and the work. He has done artwork with the expectation he'll be selected."
Hajek is completely correct. When Zweep and Twedt decided a mural may be a good idea, they should have immediately went public. There should have been meetings with the entire artist community (as many of them are upset they weren't considered) and the entire commission should have held discussed it at open meetings. Instead, it was an example of Janklow-nomics, where a decision is made behind the scenes and then ratified by a rubber stamp.
Except this time there is no rubber stamp. After Hajek's objections were raised, the mural became the talk of the city. Newspaper columnists and talk show hosts pulled out old interviews where the country commission complained there was no funds for the sheriff's department, the bookmobile, and other necessary needs.
But Zweep has an answer for this criticism, and it's a doozy. Since the county recently received an unexpected 2.1 million as its share of an inheritance tax paid to the state we've got some free money to spend. "It's one-time money that has fallen out of the sky," echoed Commissioner Bob Kolbe. Think about that for a bit. Since we didn't expect this cash, they should be able to throw that money wherever they want. I haven't heard that excuse since one of my employees used her entire earned income credit money on a big screen television and rims for her babydaddy's vehicle instead of food and clothes for her child.
If this story wasn't already ridiculous, the latest word on the controversy takes the cake. There are now plans for a county-wide election to determine whether we proceed with the mural. Sure, let's spend ten grand to vote on a piece of art. I take pride in being a patron of the arts, but even I think that this is a ridiculous waste of taxpayer money. Yesterday we saw how few people vote for school board members. How many would show up to vote on a piece of art that only county officials and convicts can see?
I think it's obvious that this week's kick in the ass goes to most of our county commission. They'll need a good hard kick as they need to leave not only the city of Sioux Falls but the entire county.

(April 9) As everyone knows, I don't get a lot of sleep at night. It's not that I have a life. I don't. Generally, I spend the evening watching white trash television and then I try to get to sleep before 1 am. Five hours later, my day begins again.
It sucks, but I've gotten used to it. But every year around this time there's this silly thing called Daylight Savings Time, and it really screws me up.
First off, you lose an hour of sleep on Sunday morning. After staying up until 2:30 this past Saturday, I awoke Sunday morning expecting it to be around nine or so and it's already 11:00. That would be fine if I had nine hours of sleep, but I didn't. Of course, seven hours is pretty good for me.
So it gets to be around midnight on Sunday night and I'm not even close to going to sleep. I toss and turn for a while, and finally I turn the tv back on. Of course, after day of non-televised war action, something is actually happening. We're moving into Baghdad! Even though the story was over within a few minutes and the news networks resorted back to pundit after pundit, and replay after replay, I didn't fall asleep until well after 2 am.
On a side note, the highlight of the night was that wacky Iraqi Minister of Information, who's quickly becoming the nation's best known comedian. With gunfire in the background and soldiers a few hundred feet away, literally seconds after we destroyed a Hussein statue he's hustling into position for a hastily arranged press conference. "There are no Americans in Baghdad. They tried to enter and we slaughtered them." Really? And here's the topper - "the al-jazeera network has a pro-American bias." I guess that's the Iraqi version of the so-called liberal media bias.
Monday night was no better. In fact, it was almost a replay of the previous night. At least I had some trash shows to watch. Married With Children was a classic, and on Shipmates this complete moron had this hot little blonde. This guy was such a moron that he poured a drink over this young babe. (I told you that I watch too much tv.)
Again I started surfing through the news channels, and once again there was action. The ali-rhubarb channel had a camera just a few feet away from some American tanks, and they were knocked around a few times by enemy gunfire. Again you had my favorite Iraqi politician pleading with journalists to tour the city to see that there wasn't any troops in town. And again ten minutes of footage padded hours of airtime. A few minutes of Springer finally put me to sleep at close to 2 am.
Here I am today almost completely frazzled. I'm living on Great Plains Coffee, Red Bulls, and Mountain Dew. My food intake is limited to a burrito for lunch and a frozen dinner at night. The neck throbs, my eyes are weary.
Why? It's that damned Daylight Savings Time. Why do we have to go through this? Is it really for the farmers? If so, why are they dictating the time of day? What have they done for me lately except slow down traffic on the interstate? I say we organize an anti-time change rally and set those clocks ahead to the real time. And let's do it on a Saturday night so the bars can stay open an extra hour.
Before I go, I have other candidates to just go away. I was reading the paper last week and there was a story that Meat Loaf was starting a farewell tour. Didn't that already happen...what has he done in the past ten, no twenty years? At the same time, NBC wasted an entire night of programming to that non-talented hag Cher for her so-called farewell performance. Right, farewell until the next year's tour. And we also have the Who's 20th farewell tour, and now the Eagles and Fleetwood Mac are doing the same thing. And Kiss has been on a six year goodbye tour. Someone please stop the madness!
My idea is that we actually extend these farewell tours. I've got a few candidates that should just take their bank accounts and retire forever. How about the whole Styx/Kansas/Foreignor/Journey/REO/etc. fiasco? As a friend said the other night, "they need the Midwest more than the Midwest needs them." Along the same lines, it's time for the hair bands to realize that their bald spots should be signs that their time is up. Please go home Poison, Ratt, Slaughter, and the rest of your cokehead pals. Or the entire Jackson clan, from Tito to Michael to Janet to Latoya. Or anyone that calls themselves a diva.
Ok, I'm getting riled up so I'll stop here. I'm just trying my damnedest to rid the world of evil. Just call me the George Bush of music. On second thought, please don't.

Monday, April 07, 2003

Al-Jazeera's US Bias?

I hate daylight savings time. I don't get enough sleep as it is, and now midnight feels like 11 pm. So last night I couldn't sleep. I turned on the tube and there was actually something going on with the war. I stayed up until 2 watching the troops entering Hussein's palace and the rest of the circus. As usual, I switched around a lot between the three news channels. I know it goes without saying, but Fox is by far the worst. I'll grant them one scoop last night - they actually had a phone-cam inside the palace. Nobody else had that. But they had to make sure we knew time and time again that they had an exclusive. And that didn't stop the disinformation. Right away they reported that the troops had raised an American flag inside the joint. Well, they didn't but that didn't stop Fox from running it even after their own live report stated that they didn't!

Iraqi's Minister of Information is quickly becoming the country's best comedian. Here's the American troops inside at least two palaces, and they're fighting Iraqi's all through downtown. Literally seconds after the Americans blew up a Hussein statue, he's on the tube claiming the Americans are not in Baghdad! Wait, it gets better. He goes on a rampage at how al-jazeera has a pro-American bias that won't show what's really happening in Iraq. That's right, al-jazeera. I guess this clown now has someting in common with the typical talk radio caller who expects the media to represent their personal opinion 100% of the time.

Tonight I actually sat through Bill O'Reilly's show. It's his opinion that after he compalined about the biased war coverage in certain papers that they changed their coverage. I guess nobody realized how influential O'Reilly is. He followed that with a former NPR DJ who claims that he was fired because he's pro-war. WTF?! It turns out that this guy refused to allow news updates and instructed his listeners to turn to Fox. That's not a reason for termination? Whatever.

Ok, next funniest thing I've heard in awhile. I was chatting with one of my employees about another employee who hasn't been treating his babymama very well. The opinon of this employee? "Just because you cheat doesn't mean you don't love her." And get this - "the only way anyone is hurt by cheating is if she finds out." Hmmm.

Thursday, April 03, 2003

Bits and Pieces

Sorry I haven't posted much lately; it's been sort of a blah week. Nothing but work and boredom. I must thank my good buddy Ben Hanten for fixing the layout of this blog; there's now links to my website and message board, along with a link to send me an email.

Nothing has really pissed me off lately...besides the same old stuff. I'm continuing to be amazed at the horrific war coverage on Fox News. The facts just don't seem to matter to these guys. I found it funny that after running with the Peter Arnett story for a full day on Sunday they had the nerve to criticize the other news networks for their coverage on the Geraldo Rivera controversy. And isn't there something fishy behind that whole story? Wasn't it Saturday that Rivera filed the infamous story? What was going on behind the scenes between the Bush administration and Fox that led to a three day wait before he was kicked out of Iraq?

Musically, there wasn't much this week. The new White Stripes is beyond excellent, and the And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead EP is pretty cool. I also picked up a compilation disc of gospel artists covering Dylan songs. It's surprisingly good, especially the hilarious duet between Dylan and Mavis Staples. The track starts with Dylan and his band, then you hear Bob say "hey, look who's hear. It's Mavis Staples". They banter a bit before they go off on their duet. It's almost like an old-time radio show.

Since I didn't spend much on music, I guess I had some extra cash for DVD's. Of course, I bought the Wilco movie, I Am Trying to Break Your Heart. It's well worth purchasing. Besides some great footage of the band recording and playing live, there's a warts-and-all look at the departure of Jay Bennett and the ridiculous fight with their record company, which led to Yankee Hotel Foxtrot coming out on Nonesuch Records instead of Reprise.

I also picked up Secretary, Far From Heaven, the Beatles Anthology, Married With Children Vol. 2, the Vans Warped Tour, and a used copy of the deluxe Lord of the Rings movie. I've gotta stay out of the video store!