Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Get Outta Town December 24

(December 24). Nine years ago, I published in the Tempest a letter to Santa. In that I didn’t ask for stuff for myself as I am blessed with family and friends who treat me very well. Instead, I inquired about a few items for the betterment of society in general.
Some of my wishes from that Dirty Bastard from up north included a new music bar, quality DJ’s at KAUR, an investigation into the monopolistic nature of country radio, a ban on any bands that feature little more than the original roadie, and death sentences for Phil Collins and Michael Bolton. Sadly, Santa did nothing with these requests.
But Santa did grant one wish that year. If you recall, at the time I was in a bit of a feud with a certain radio station. Here’s what I wrote about the station I called at the time “Really Rotten Oldies”:
“Please send KRRO a thorough rock ‘n’ roll history book. Someone needs to set them straight as to what is classic rock and what is Jurassic rock. Foreigner, 38 Special, Heart and Boston are nothing more than mere footnotes in rock history, and definitely do not need to be aired at a greater ratio than true classics like the Stones or the Kinks. As for new stuff, I think the only reason they’re playing Cracker is because they think they are a distant relative of Lynyrd Skynyrd.”
Ouch! Happily, Jurassic rock is now rarely aired on this station, except for the occasional Ozzy or AC/DC. Not that some of the current nu-metal is much better, but at least it’s current.
So I’m here today with another letter to Santa and his lovely wife. Yes, I said lovely wife. He traded in that old bat for a young babe. Why do you think he keeps saying “ho ho ho”?
Dear Santa,
I generally don’t write to you very often, but every few years I feel that it’s time that you visit a few people who probably don’t deserve gifts. They’ve been bad, bad people, but I believe in the general goodness of people. If you find a place in your heart to reward them, I’m sure the general public will greatly benefit. And I’ve been a pretty good boy this year, so you owe me a couple of wishes.
1. For the fine folks in the KELO Storm Center, how about a super-duper Dirk Diggler Doppler 10,000? Please, Santa, they need some upgraded equipment – something that allows them to predict snowfall more precisely than 2 – 10 inches. They need a device that doesn’t turn every bit of precipitation or wind into proclamations of impending doom. And if you can’t turn up a DDD 10,000, how about just putting in a giant window in the storm center? Just sticking their arms outside for a moment or two should greatly improve their forecasts.
2. While we’re on the subject of KELO, I have more suggestions. How about a new bar right next door to their studios, with a reserved stool for Steve Hemmingsen? If this was in place, then anytime they need a real reporter for a breaking story he’s only a few yards away. He wouldn’t even have to leave his stool. Instead of a remote right outside their front door (which is a huge waste of resources), they could move that camera right into the bar.
3. For Sgt. Jorgensen, I think it’s time for you to start a border war. I know, Santa, war is bad but I really believe he needs to see some action. God knows he’s probably not getting any at home. But think about it, Santa. The KELO-land borders are very imprecise. Is it really from Spencer to Spencer? Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, and Wyoming can’t be happy with our people infiltrating their territory. We need some sort of battle in order to restore order within the KELO-Land regime.
4. I thought long and hard on the perfect gift for Mayor Munson. At first, I thought that he deserved a local version of the Sims computer game – you know, like Sims Sioux Falls. But I have my doubts that our fearless leader can operate a computer.
Instead, how about a scaled model of Sioux Falls? Our honorable leader could then spend days and weeks experimenting with unnecessary buildings at inconvenient locations. He could try opening a new version of Louise Avenue through Tuthill Park, or tourist traps at every interstate exit. Or he could build the largest concert hall of all time. If his theory of more seats equals lower ticket prices, then a building that holds a million people should result in free tickets for everybody!
5. An empty bucket at Minerva’s for the next time a certain KSFY anchor feels the need to toss her cookies.
6. A morning show crew at 104.7 that actually lasts more than six months. Oh, wait – scratch that one.
7. A sense of humor to that perky host of that awful country video show, and anybody else who has bothered Cade and Jen because of something I’ve said. You’re in the public eye, people, expect some criticism!
8. Equal time for the other side of the political fence on any political-oriented radio station. Those pansy-assed liberals also deserve some time to preach to their choirs.
9. A bit of humility for Mr. Janklow. The people have spoken, Billy-Bob. You have always said that those who do wrong onto others must pay the price for their misdeeds. Well, you did wrong onto Mr. Scott, and you must accept the jury of your peers. Appealing the decision does nothing more than make you look arrogant.
10. A special channel devoted only to the young and untalented. Beyonce, J-Ho, Justin, Britney, Diddy. Oh wait, that’s called MTV. But Santa, keep them off all of the other channels so I can just delete them from my remote.
11. Every season of Married With Children on DVD. Seriously, and, while you’re at it, why not some classic episodes of Springer?
12. Some new writers for Saturday Night Live. This is easily the worst season ever.
13. Temporary child support amnesty for my sister’s baby’s daddy’s other babies. After all, my niece and nephew deserve to get what’s theirs. You know what I’m saying?
First of all, if Governor Pawlenty’s tax-free zones work in Worthington, imagine how they’ll work for the local Brotherhood.
Ok, Santa, I think I have exhausted my allotted list of wishes for this year. But before I leave, I do have one serious request. This is a real request. A good friend of mine has a young son who was diagnosed with brain cancer last year. He successfully completed treatment, but recently the cancer reappeared and he’s extremely ill at this time. I’m not a very religious man, but I am requesting that everybody who’s out there listening to give up a few seconds of their time and pray that at the very least little Jakob, and his parents, relatives, and friends, are able to enjoy this holiday season.

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Get Out of Town December 10

(December 10) Believe it or not, I sometimes run into people who whine that I’m too critical of a certain local television station that’s located across the street from the prestigious KRRO studio. (BTW, wasn’t that Scot Mundt we saw shoveling the sidewalk? I guess he has to earn his keep somehow.) Anyway, these critics claim that as awful as KELO is, maybe I should cut them a break. After all, they do have the number one nine o’clock newscast in Rapid City. It’s also the only one, but you can’t stop a good publicity machine.
Here’s the deal. Until yesterday, I didn’t even know KDLT had news. I was shocked to discover this when I accidentally punched in the number five in my remote. And as long as KSFY features that luscious trio of ladies – Shannon Stevens, Meagan Dorsch, and Shelly Keohane – I will never, ever bitch about anything they do, even if one of their star anchors has been known to overindulge in local taverns.
My main complaint about KELO is simply lost potential. They could, and should, be the greatest local station that one would ever see in a market our size. Instead, we get over-hyped but erroneous weather reports, feel-good Lifetime Network-ish fables disguised as news, and cheerleading sports segments that have an annoying tendency to show highlights that have nothing to do with the actual outcome of the contest they’re reporting. And their so-called “talent” is either ill-prepared interns or long-in-the-tooth veterans that are a bit too comfortable in their positions.
Not that these problems aren’t evident on the other channels. There’s very little actual reporting on all of our local news. Live remotes rarely give you a feel for the actual story – it’s still just text on a teleprompter.
So I will admit that I expect more from the station that bills themselves as a “tradition of caring”. They have the most money and the most toys. They should be the New York Yankees of local news. Instead, they’re more like the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Still, at times I question whether I’m just a miserable snob who would never be happy with anything they do. Am I being fair to Sgt. Jorgenson, Cable-guy, or Can-she-eat? Is the Bobblehead actually a candidate for a gig with ESPN?
Recently challenged by a friend who claims I really must like the station since I do watch it at times, I started to wonder if I really haven’t been giving them a fair shake. Last week, however, I realized that I have been correct all along.
It was the second or third day of the Janklow trial. Mouse-face Jolene Loetscher and Jodi Schwan had just finished one of their patented but unnecessary team reports, which consisted of nothing more than listing the people that testified and a couple of quotes from the transcript. This was followed by a clichéd Department of Tourism story relating the amount of tax revenue generated by the trial for the city of Flandreu. Of course, this story neglected one major aspect of the big picture – the cost of putting on the trial has to completely dwarf any sales tax that comes through the local café.
After enduring this trifecta of moronic reporting, KELO dusted off Steve Hemmingsen for some commentary. Or maybe they cut him off from his next high ball at the local pub. Whatever it took, they sent the Hem to Flandreu to provide analysis. In a handful of sentences, Hemmingsen gave us more of a true picture of the happenings in the courtroom then these twits could in hours and hours of reporting. He stated what happened, the significance of these occurrences, and highlighted some of the goofy quirks of what will be known as the Trial of the Century (So Far).
In other words, the Hem did some actual reporting. He didn’t just restate words; he interpreted what he witnessed and even related stories from inside sources. This was the schedule for the rest of the week. Loetscher and Schwan babbled about nothing, and then the Hem gave us the real scoop.
To show how far the mighty have fallen, I was not Hemmingsen’s biggest fan during KELO’s glory days. I thought he editorialized way too much; I envisioned him as a bit of an off-camera tyrant. But compared to the twits who currently bring us the news, he’s Walter Cronkite, Edward R. Murrow, or David Brinkley.
Looking back, I really haven’t gone after the twits at KELO in recent months. I’ve thrown out a few one-liners, but I haven’t actually kicked any of them out of town. It would be easy to boot the major players – like the Sgt., Can-She-Eat, Cableguy – but it’s time to give the second tier some notoriety. Obviously, Schwan and Loetscher need to go – and need to go far, far away. But there’s so many more that have no business being in front of the camera - DeeAnn Tiede, Jamie Tschida, Amanda Spicer, Perry (Mr. Cliché) Groten, Jaine (Ms. Un-healthbeat) Andrews, Scott Thorson, Travis Fossing. Hell, I’d like to toss each and every one of them – all except Anna Peters and John Wilson. They’re harmless, they’re not annoying, and they deserve better.
But before I go, I have a plea to anybody who’s listening right now, or may be reading this later off of my website. While I refuse to state the name of the show or either of the people involved, tonight ABC is broadcasting what their promos are describing as the most anticipated wedding in history, or something to that effect. Please, please, please do not watch this show. Do not purchase any magazines that feature that twit on the cover; do not frequent any businesses that will inevitably hire them for advertising. They are cretin; they are the scum of the earth.
These are people that have no business being on the tube, let alone features in People, Us, the Enquirer or any of the other garbage publications that cater to the uneducated. They’re the morons who brought on this trend of using terms such as “incredible journey” and “soulmate” to describe incidents and relationships with people they’ve known for only days. They’re from a show whose success led to such tripe as Paradise Hotel, Average Joe, and many others that I have thankfully not seen. They’re also destined to last for about three months, especially after the unwanted disclosure that the woman in question has never had an orgasm. Hell, she doesn’t even like sex. You know, I wonder what my ex-wife was doing these days. Yeah, that relationship will last as long as it takes to cash the check.

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

Get Out of Town December 3

(December 3) There are two kinds of Thanksgiving traditions. There’s the enjoyable types of traditions – stuffing one’s self with turkey, stuffing, and other tasty treats; football, even if it is the dreaded Lions and Cowboys; that after-meal nap that for some reason is unlike any nap you take at any time of the year; and catching up with the relatives that you actually enjoy being around.
Then there are the bad traditions – nothing on television once the football games are over; the post-meal, post-nap boredom; the relatives that you have absolutely nothing in common with. The only way to keep that fake smile on your face is to drink heavily and pretend that you care about Aunt Bertha’s constipation.
The worst Thanksgiving tradition, however, doesn’t actually occur on turkey day. Every year, though, it slowly creeps up on the latter part of that evening. I’m talking, of course, of the day after Thanksgiving, also known as the Biggest Shopping Day of the Season.
Every year, the most vile, dirty, Springer-esque people start lining up in the freezing cold waiting for retailers to open their doors. In the old pre-internet days, these kinds of lines were saved for playoff or concert tickets. You’d keep warm by drinking heavily, and would possibly profit from reselling whatever you managed to buy.
While some of these people may carry on the tradition of drinking heavily while standing out in the cold, they’re now protecting their place in line for the right to shop. That’s right – shop. Something that can be done any day before or after Thanksgiving. Something that should be done before or after Thanksgiving.
I know what you’re saying – “but, Scott, everything’s on sale that day”. Ok, but they’re also on sale the next day, the next week, the next month. Here’s the retort to that piece of fact – “but they’ll be out of that special gift”.
It’s all a myth. Stores have sales throughout the Christmas season, and oftentimes the prices are even better as you get closer to the big day. And with the exception of a trendy toy that comes around once or twice a decade, there is no product that has any chance of completely selling out.
One of the ways that retailers get away with this myth is the dreaded loss leader. Every year there is some product that’s advertised at some unbelievably low price. Well, folks, there’s a reason that DVD player is only twenty bucks. There’s a reason that Clay Aiken CD, or that seasonal knick-knack, is practically given away. They’re junk. You’re getting what you’re paying for. As someone who has both a nice DVD player and a cheap junker, there is a difference. It’s not unlike the difference between one of those old-school Close ‘n’ Play record players and an expensive turntable with a brand new cartridge.
Even if there are true bargains to be found, there is nothing in the world that would convince me to be elbow-to-elbow with these trailer park cretins. It’s bad enough being at these joints during normal hours. Just the other day I ventured into a certain music/electronics retailer and within a few minutes I was ready to trash the joint. First there was the old lady who would waddle down the aisle and then suddenly just stop without making any effort to let anybody, particularly me, get by. Then there were dozen or so pseudo-cheerful clerks carrying little red baskets bothering me every second asking if I needed any help or would like to buy this goofy discount plan. Trust me, I can wander the CD section without any guidance, and without sounding cocky none of them would be able to answer any question I’d have anyway.
And then there were the dreaded carts. The DVD section in this store has narrow aisles to begin with, along with utility poles strategically placed in the middle of some of these rows. There’s barely enough room for more an person or two, let alone these morons with their close-to-empty carts. Yet there they are, trying to figure out which Van Damme, Schwartzenegger, or Julia Roberts dreck they want to watch millions more times.
My plan for Christmas shopping is simple – get in and out as quickly as possible. My son and I got most of our shopping finished two weeks ago when we had the first KELO blizzard misfire. The mall was our playground as it was almost completely empty, except for those bastard kiosk operators who now think it’s cool to accost people as they walk past. This past week I snuck into a store early Sunday morning before the hicks got out of church. A couple more early evening visits and I’ll be finished.
As I sit here today, I wonder what can be done to make the day after Thanksgiving a more livable, more enjoyable day. Obviously, most of these people will refuse to listen to reason, so let’s have some fun with them. How about we set up a giant wrestling ring in the parking lots of the big retailers and have a massive battle royal – an over-the-top-rope battle royal. Once you’re tossed over the top rope you’re eliminated, and your place in line is determined by your performance. The last person standing is the first person allowed in the store, the runner-up is second, and on and on. That would get me out of bed on Friday morning!