Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Screw the NFL Network

I didn’t really pay attention when the NFL created the NFL Network, and I paid even less attention a couple of years ago when decided to assign a handful of late-season games to their own channel.
When Midcontinent finally added the channel, I wandered through it a few times. All I could ever think was, “is there really a reason for this channel?” Really, what has it ever given us that we can’t get from a half-dozen ESPN channels or FSN (talk about a real waste of a channel outside of Twins games)? There are only so many times you can view the highlights of Super Bowl 28, or those wacky training camp rookie talent shows.
Like most people, I shrugged my shoulders when word came earlier this year that it would cost extra to access this channel. With the exception of the eight weeks of the year that they would actually show a game, it didn’t seem worth the extra $2.50 per month (or whatever it is). Surely, the games relegated to this channel would involve teams from Houston, Miami, and Oakland.
Plus, I already had a ritual for the evening they were going to show these games. Thursday is really the only night that any of the networks broadcast anything that I make a point of viewing. My Name Is Earl, 30 Rock, The Office, and sometimes Scrubs are the strongest comedy foursome I’ve seen in decades.
But with the writer’s strike already messing with the production of all of these programs, suddenly I have a hole in my busy schedule. Hey, it’s a lot of work to be a hermit. Take Thanksgiving evening. I had done the family thing earlier in the day, and had taken my post-meal nap while the Cowboys bored me to tears (as usual). Now I had nothing to do, and the Colts game was on this silly channel.
This Thursday is even worse. Instead of a contest between two cellar-dwellers, the NFL Network somehow awarded itself with the NFC version of the earlier Patriots/Colts game. The top two teams of the NFC, Dallas and Green Bay, are meeting in a game that will likely decide home field advantage in the playoffs. And I can’t watch it!
It would be pretty easy for me to sit here and condemn Midco for this fiasco, and I obviously have no problem complaining about those scum-suckers. But this time they’re not to blame. It’s the NFL that’s playing hardball with cable companies across the country by charging prices that are normally reserved for channels with a significant number of viewers. They’re also (unsuccessfully) demanding that cable companies put this channel in the core area of the lineup. Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones has even begun to plead with consumers to drop cable and pick up Direct TV, which doesn’t charge extra for this channel.
Come on, this is ridiculous. The NFL Network is a 24-hour infomercial for the league, and should be treated as such. It’s a loss leader designed to make us want to watch more of their product, and purchase more of their memorabilia. Yes, it’s operating at a loss, but overall it’s designed to create more profits for each of the teams.
There is good news, though. Since I can’t watch the game, I now have an open evening. If there’s any lovely ladies out there who wants to spend some time with an ageing, chubby, pasty-skinned music-obsessive goofball, hit me up. I’m easily the most available person in town…and likely will continue to be as I keep hitting refresh on my myspace site waiting for that elusive invite. I stink.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Argus Woes, Part 3

I have a good friend who has an even bigger mouth than me. He’ll babble his opinions anywhere without any worry of offending anybody. I don’t always agree with him, but I have to admire that he just doesn’t give a fuck.
Yet there’s one publication he will not chat with. To be fair, he does write letters to the editor. Lots of letters, actually, which I’m sure doesn’t please another person in town with a similar name. But he refuses to chat with Argus Leader reporters.
Too bad I don’t think like he does, but I’m too big of a media whore. In fact, I’ve said more than once that I’m surprised I don’t get called more often whenever the paper has upcoming stories involving music and other topics.
A few days ago, my phone rang shortly after I arrived home from work. Seeing that it was from the Argus, I assumed it was somebody trying to sell me a subscription. A half hour later, it rang again. I thought about picking it up, but I really didn’t feel like dealing with people at that very moment.
No message was left, so I forgot all about it. The next morning, however, I did answer. A reporter was on the line, and he wanted to hear my thoughts I had about the former management team of the Washington Pavilion.
While I was caught a bit off-guard, this is a topic I can ramble about at any given moment. For the next fifteen minutes or so, I did just that. Besides my usual complaints, though, I did throw in a compliment or two.
This past Saturday, the top story of the day was about new hires and job opportunities at the facility. I wasn’t mentioned at all, until this last paragraph:

Scott Hudson, too, would like to see more musicians at the Pavilion. He said past management has passed on or failed to draw artists on the rise, such as Lucinda Williams, Wilco and the Arcade Fire. More local acts should be playing the facility's smaller rooms instead of playing bars, he said.


I couldn’t have been more pissed. First off, where’s my plug? How about identifying me as either “former Tempest Music Editor” or “Prime Magazine Music Columnist”? That’s a minor bitch, though.
My main beef is that this paragraph does not represent at all what I said to the reporter. Ok, Lucinda Williams was included in an anecdote of an act that the Pavilion had reportedly said no to a few years ago. But Wilco was part of a compliment, along with Elvis Costello, of the types of shows that were my personal highlights of the past few years. Arcade Fire was a band I noted (along with the Bright Eyes show that should have been held there) that would fit perfectly in the Great Hall.
I also never mentioned the word “bar”. I had spent some time talking about how cool it was that all-ages rock and hip-hop shows had been held in the building’s smaller rooms, and that the building should be more open, and less costly, to fledgling promoters attempting to give social opportunities for high school and college-age people. Attempts should have been made to get around the ban on insurance coverage on hip-hop shows.
Ok, I didn’t come off looking like a complete ass, except for the listing of a band that had played in the building as something they had passed on. But I detest seeing my name representing opinions that aren’t mine. I don’t just want “artists on the rise”; I desire and demand that the Pavilion a). is more helpful and open for promoters and b). would actually take a chance now and then. If they’re happy booking nothing but the bland sounds of Lori Line and Jim Brickman, then fine for them. Just quit sending me donation requests.
As for Argus reporters, just toss my phone number unless you plan to accurately quote me. Oh hell, who am I kidding? Like I’ll turn down an opportunity to rant and rave.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Boston Sports Fans Stink!

This morning, I received the greatest news I’d heard in quite some time.
After I stumbled into my office, I immediately fired up my online XM player and jumped onto the Paltalk video conferencing program to listen and watch the Opie and Anthony Show. The topic at the time was a report that New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was suspended for four games for steroids.
Oh My God. It was a dream come true.
But it was also too good to be real. Although mainstream media sources across the country picked up on the story, it turned out to be a hoax. O&A had decided that Tuesday was “Make Up the News Day”, or something silly like that, and had even announced it was not true when they first told the story.
Now my day went from elation to disappointment…just like most of my day to day life. I hate, hate, hate the Patriots. Well, to be fair I hate the fans of the Pats. Hell, I hate the fans of all Boston sports teams. They are by far the most arrogant, self-centered jerks I’ve ever encountered in my decades of following sports.
Ok, they have some reason to be arrogant these days. The Red Sox just won the World Series, and halfway through the season the Patriots are on an amazing run. And the additions of Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett have given Celtics fans the first legitimate hope of a title run in well over a decade.
Boston sports fans, though, are over the top in their babbling. They pontificate for hours and hours about their teams, and will not accept that anybody could possibly follow any other team. Please help me to never hear the words “Red Sox Nation” ever again. I hated when the Cowboys called themselves America’s Team; I detested Oakland when they were Raider Nation. Yes, the “Sawx” have a bigger national presence then they’ve ever previously had, but I would bet that the majority of non-Northeasterners are nothing more then bandwagon jumpers that will suddenly be fans of another team next year.
The Patriots fans are by far the worst, however. To these assclowns, head cheater Bill Belichick invented the game. Let me throw out a few names to shut them up – George Halas, Paul Brown, Vince Lombardi, Tom Landry, Bill Walsh.
Maybe this year’s Patriots will run the table and become the first 19 – 0 team. We’re a long way from that moment, though, and one has to admit that they’re assisted by playing in the weakest division in the league. The Dolphins may be the worst team of all time, and the Jets and Bills aren’t much better. Looking ahead at their schedule, only the Steelers have any real shot at defeating them, although the Giants and Eagles could pull out an upset. (Actually, I bet that at least one team does surprise them at some point, or a key injury or two could create a late season slump.)
One great thing will be accomplished if they go all the way, however. The whining members of the ’72 Dolphins will finally go away. I’ve never seen a successful team with such an inferiority complex. Every year at this time they come out of the woodworks to complain about the last unbeaten NFL team. In their eyes, nobody can measure up to them. Nobody can take away their accomplishments, but people forget that they had an even easier situation then this year’s Patriots. New England, New York, Buffalo, and Baltimore were all beyond awful. In fact, the teams they played that year had a combined record of 70-108-4. It’s certainly still quite an achievement, but I really don’t think you can compare them to the ’85 Bears, the late-70’s Steelers and Cowboys, the 60’s Packers, or the late-50’s Giants and Colts…to name just a few classic teams. I wish I could include the Vikings in this list, but I guess I’ve become used to being frustrated. I guess you could argue that being aggravated by my sports teams fits in perfectly with my mental, emotional, and sexual frustrations. I stink.