Saturday, January 31, 2009

We've got balls

One of the last vestiges of doing talk radio is that I was afforded the luxury of getting widely circulated crap emails, usually talking points with little or no facts to back them up.  The object of these emails is to persuade you along the lines of thinking of one party or another.  The sad part is that because the internet is so unfiltered, many people read this stuff and imagine that it has to be true, after all, they read it someplace, didn't they.  I remember last year I was caught up in a blog thread of a friend of this page and when I asked for facts regarding some points that a commenter had made, their argument was I could use Google and look it up, as if Google had now become the arbiter of all that was holy or true.  it is the stuff of stupidity to be sure, but it is now cover for some poeple looking to score political points.

So today I open my email and what do I see.  Apparently all of that coverage of Barack and Michelle Obama attending Inaugural Balls wasn't enough for some people, as he apparently skipped the Medals of Honor Ball, sponsored by the American legion to honor former Medal of Honor winners.  This being spam mail, you had to know what was next, the whole see, this is what the President thinks of our military blah blah freaking blah bullshit.  It didn't matter that he had attended ten different balls that evening, or that the Vice President did appear at that particular function, or that the American Legion came out and said they weren't offended because the President didn't get to attend, to the requisite email writer and subsequent forwarders this was just Barack showing how much he hates the military.  Of course had the emailer done even the remotest amount of research they would have learned of VP Joe Biden's attendance as they would have learned that Barack did attend the Commander in Chief Ball, which is also a military function, where, among many other military personnel, 200 injured veterans, currently stationed in beds at Walter Reed Army Hospital, and their families were in attendance, as was the opportunity, via satellite link up, for the President to address men and women currently serving overseas.  None of this would matter to the emailer I am sure, because it would be counter to the crap from which they wanted to spew. 

I have no idea how the next four years will turn out, and don't worry, the lunatic fringe has no idea either.  The only thing that we can be certain about is for some people it is just business as usual.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Asshat - The egg on its face contains egg

A week hiatus and the Asshat is back.  Yes, I know you all missed it, so did I.  This week's winner is the Happy Egg Company.  How can happiness and eggs and Asshats go together you may ask.  Allow me to elaborate.  Apparently the Happy Egg Company now issues a warning on is 6 pack carton of eggs.  And just what would that warning be might you ask?  Well this is the asshat, so it can only warn of one thing, that being "Allergy Advice: Contains Egg".  Check please, were done here, but really for those that can't get enough of such foolishness, the entire story for your consumption though be warned "Allergy Advice: Contains Asshat".

From The Daily Mail

By Helen Dowd
Last updated at 10:21 PM on 24th January 2009

Saturday, January 24, 2009

BFT 10.0 - Fixing what's broken

Tucked away in the mass of hysteria that was the Presidential Inauguration this Tuesday was a slice of info, that unless one was looking closely for it, most assuredly passed quietly into the night, that being the layoffs at Clear Channel Communications.  Timed to no doubt get buried in the Presidential coverage, Clear Channel on Tuesday removed 10% of their workforce, a total of 1850 people were shown the door the same time one man was being sworn in to take over his new job.  For those that don't know just who Clear Channel is, they are the largest radio holding company in the United States, owning more that 1200 radio stations nationwide, as well as having holdings in outdoor media, television and international radio as well.  So while I bemoaned my job loss late last year in my blog (at a non CC station), I was not kidding anyone when at the time I said that this is a intrinsic problem with radio in general and not my specific employer at the time.  That being said, why did it have to happen and could it have been prevented?  First, lets go with why it happened.

It doesn't take a brain surgeon to know that we are in an economic downturn, and one of the primary ways that radio succeeds is by selling advertising.  The thing is, during a downturn, businesses are less likely to by advertising in any form unless they are sure that they can get a return on their investment.  Think I am kidding?  Then why is it that one week before the Super Bowl, NBC still hadn't sold out all of its spots for an event that every year is one of, if not the most watched TV event of the year?  Sure cost figures into it, at 3 million per 30 second spot, it is a huge chunk of change for any business to part with, but the Super Bowl comes with enough buzz that businesses often unveil new ad campaigns during the contests, and part of the day after buzz in the papers is not just about the game, but talk about the commercioals themselves and whether or not they worked.  In many ways, advertisers get free plugs for days after the game by the endless chatter about their efforts days after the game took place.  Still, the idea that 8 days and counting before kickoff of such a largely viewed event, NBC hadn't been able to find enough buyers for all of its potential commercial avails (biz talk for availables, just so you know) .  Larger companies such as GMC, who used to make sure that they had spots running during the game, have come out and said that this year they will not be spending money in such a fashion.  If an event of this size and scope can have problems selling spots, the idea that somebody doing a radio show 5 days a week and looking to fill in the ballpark of 15-18 minutes of commercial avails per hour of every show with an audience far smaller than the Super Bowl, and you start to get where the problem begins.  If you can't sell time, then you can't pay the simple bills that keep the lights on and your employees fed, so you do what you can to start cutting costs, and the easiest way to begin that process is to start cutting jobs, and taking salaries off of the books.

Second is oversaturation.  Clear Channel is the most obvious, holding 1200 stations, but they are not the only player in having too much of a radio thing.  Media owners have been buying multiple stations in the same market for quite some time now, and the goal of that media ownership isn't neccessarily to compete in the marketplace, but simply to hurt others that are trying to compete.  In the grand chess game of corporate ownership, sometimes a station will be bought not because it is expected to be a big ratings winner, but because with little effort, you can hurt another company trying to do business in the same market.  Here in Pittsburgh Clear Channel owns 106.7 FM (country), 105.9 FM (alternative rock), 104.7 FM (talk), 102.5 FM (rock), 96.1 FM (pop, or whatever they call it these days) and 970 AM (sports).  Not that they are the only ones, CBS has at least 4 stations in this market, and many others also own multiple stations within the same market.  Not all of the CC stations are successful, take 970 AM for instance, that is largley syndicated fare from Fox Sports Radio out of Los Angeles, but the goal isn't necessarily to be dominant in the market, but simply to harm the local ESPN affiliate, 1250 AM that relies on a similar sports talk format.  If 970 AM can steal a few advertisers, while at the same time not spend that much on actual local talent, then their job is done, their goal isn't to try to compete to be the best station in the market. just steal enough listeners so that no one else can topple their bigger stations (102.5 and 104.7) from the lofty perches they currently have in the Arbitron ratings.  The result is that a signal that may employ quite a few people and try to be competitive is run on the cheap and is just designed to harm other stations in the same market.  Worse is if you feel you can't compete, which was the position my former station was in, then you opt not to, you basically just throw in the towel.  You sell off blocks of air time to advertisers, usually in 30 or 60 minute increments, and live off of those checks.  The quality of programming is not an issue, it is simply a matter of can you find enough Dr. McQuackens to hock their cure alls on your signal.  Every market has stations like these, you scan the dial and it is usually some religious programming or some guy selling the latest product to save your colon from some unmitigated disaster that your eating habits created.  While it generates money, it awful sounding radio, and usually such stations garner so little of an audience that they don't show up in the ratings at all, but they are paying to keep the lights on, and that is all that matters to them.

Third would be technology, which has allowed listeners more options than ever before.  Whether it be MP3s and Ipods, the internet which allows access to stations and media previously unavailable or satellite radio, radio has never had this many challenges from outsides sources before. 

Now the answer to trivia question, could it have been prevented.  In a simple word yes.  That doesn't mean that their wouldn't be a fall off in revenues, as long as fewer companies are spending advertising dollars, any form of business that relies on such revenue, whether it be print, television or radio, is going to feel some of those effects.  To suggest otherwise would be foolish, but that doesn't mean that radio hasn't overreacted either.

Let's go back to the arguments and dissemble them just a bit.  First is advertising revenue.  Sure numbers are down, but audience size is not.  In fact last year the number of people listening to radio actually increased, not decreased as is the case with newspapers and TV.  One of the big failings of radio is that it hasn't been able to make the argument that now, more than ever, they are capable of delivering an audience to advertisers.  When looking for how to spend advertising money, a business is going to look to get the biggest bang for its buck, and radio can deliver that, but it requires radio to stop with the "Woe is us" arguments that are permeating the industry and start dealing with facts and delivering those facts to advertisers.  Sure TV and print have helped permeate the argument that radio is dying, they are going to do that because they are competing for the same advertising dollars, radio is just making it easier for them to get away with exploiting that myth.

Second, the oversaturation of markets by a few big time players.  This is starting to play itself out in a way, those stations that were purchased originally as simple properties to hurt someone else are in fact bleeding money.  CBS has put radio stations up for sale,  and Clear Channel is trying to cut in markets where it overextended itself just to name two.  Not that owning multiple stations is a bad thing, but owning multiple stations when one or more are just throw aways rather than actually trying to program something is.  In the end you just end up hurting your own bottom line and maybe costing a few radio professionals jobs in the process.

The technology argument is another sham.  Audiences for radio online are incredibly small, and chances that advertisers will waste a lot of money targeting an audience that small and scattered aren't great.  Satellite radio may have the edge in sound, but it doesn't have the edge in listeners.  When Howard Stern gave up his show for satellite radio  he lost better than 80% of his audience despite the fact he was now available everywhere, not just in markets that carried his show, and now XM/Sirius are starting to realize that they overpayed for underperformance with a number of talents, so much so that they are facing bankruptcy.  MP3 players and Ipods are nice, but the argument that people will only listen to what they want to has always be made false.  When 8 tracks were introduced into cars, that was to be the death of radio, then it was cassettes, and worse, blank cassettes and cassette recorders, as people could now tape what they wanted to listen to ahead of time and just take it with them.  But alas, those never killed radio, nor will current technology, what is hurting is radio trying to be like current technology.  Regardless of the format, people have to have a reason to tune in and that reason is the personality of the station.  If your goal is attracting lisrteners, just doing song, song, back sell, time, temp, front sell, song, song is not a reason for anyone to tune in, because they can get that from current techonolgy without the middle garbage.  Likewise talk stations can't just plug in automation and walk away, there has to be a hook, a reason for the listener to care about what is on the station.  Small local stations do this better than anyone, they identify their audience and communicate with them and the larger markets would be wise to follow their lead on this front.  It isn't the small mom and pops serving 20,000+ that are cutting jobs, it is the big markets with the potential for big audiences that are hurting most.  The reason why is simple, the listener isn't given a reason to tune in.  Radio is being done on the cheap, rather than it being done well.  Programmers need to better understand their audience, sales people need to understand the audience they are trying to reach when pitching the station to advertisers and talent needs to both be free to do a show and responsible enough to do the work required to put on a show.

If anything, technology has given radio many ways for free promotion that were previously unavailable.  From podcasting to social networking sites, talent has been granted a unique opportunity to interact with listeners that heretofore was unavailable, and they need to take advantage of that.  A show host that doesn't have at least an email account and one social networking profile is simply someone who isn't doing their job.  Likewise, with the availability of information on such a grand scale, show prep these days should be better, not worse, than it was in the 1950s and 60s.  Finding a clever anecdote about a song that was just played or is about to be played, or getting a bead on the pulse of what people may want to talk about has never been easier, yet radio fails in this regard time and time again, instead opting for what is easy as opposed to what is good. 

So, at the end of the day, or days as I have been working on this post for a while now, the simple question of what is wrong with radio can be answered in one sentence, "Radio is what is wrong with radio.".

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Radio waves

Buenos dias compadres! Yes, I am in a good mood, maybe it has to do with my first full paycheck from the new gig, which actually pays better than radio did, how is that for sad, and I am sure the 6 beers I had after getting the paycheck are playing into my better than average vibe as well. Still, lots to talk about, so lets get at it.

First, the new gig continues to go okay, not great, the money is decent, but some of the other stuff I am iffy about. Prime example of the iffyness. I mentioned previously that we get a discount on the stuff we buy there, which is good, don't get me wrong, and the discounts vary based on what we purchase. They range from normal foodstuffs, which we get at 35% off down to cigarettes, which we get at 17% off. Not bad and a kudos to ownership for doing that for their employees. That being said, even with the discount, because we are basically priced along the lines of most convenience stores, it is still usually cheaper to actually shop elsewhere and buy stuff than to buy it in house. All good, there is something to be said for being able to pick something up at work, and there is something to be said for buying elsewhere when one has the time. So anyway, I am sitting at home the other day, actually sleeping because I was working the overnight shift and my phone rings. Mind you, I have answer call (the phone companies answer to actually buying an answering machine) set to pick up after the third ring, so even if I were to get out of bed, the chance I will stumble to the phone on time is suspect at best, so usually I will just let it ring and continue to snooze. Well, as luck would have it last week, it was work and they were calling to see why I hadn't charged anything at work using my employee discount. For me the answer was fairly obvious, I can get the same stuff cheaper elsewhere.

(Excuse me, my dinner arrived, I ordered Chinese in, so I might be a tad distracted.)

Anyway, they leave a message on my machine asking if I know about the charge policy and whether or not I might be stealing from them. Excuse me for being just a little insulted. Anyone who has worked with me would have told them that they haven't seen me take anything plus they have at least 16 cameras mounted throughout the store which they can monitor from their laptops at home should they feel the need to investigate me, without calling me and asking me if I am stealing from them. If I still had the radio gig, it is the type of thing that would have pushed me right out the door, but since I don't have the full time gig to fall back on, I just took the insult in stride and proceeded on my merry way.

We do have radio updates while I think about it. First, I tried calling Doug just before the holidays as it has been better than a year since the radio station let him go, and other than a couple of phone calls, he and I hadn't spoken since. I will take the blame for that, I was not as persistent as I should have been in keeping in touch. That being said, just before Christmas, and right after my dismissal, I tried calling Doug, he used to joke that his next job would be grocery bagger at Kuhns, to which I called and left a message saying I hoped he kept a bagger position open, and he tried calling me back over the holiday, but we just missed each other. Finally a couple of nights ago he called and we actually ended up chatting for a good hour and half.. It was so nice to catch up and he and I blabbered about everything from radio to internet porn. It was the type of connversation that would have been great for radio had we not been shackled by the conservative ownership we had, which would have been offended by such conversation and instead was left to a telephone call a year after his release. I could pluck out at least 5 radio bits we could have done just based on that conversation.

I aslo have been in touch wth Lynn, her and I are still trying to get our schedules together to do lunch sometime in the near future, but just as we were closing in on a specific date was when Mike went into the hospital and everything got put on hold. (Damn, those egg rolls were quite tasty.) Still,  I need to get back into scheduling a lunch date just so we can shoot the breeze. (Egg drop soup anyone? Okay, twist my arm, I will eat it.)

We continue onward with our radio updates, next was the demo I sent to KDKA 1020 AM a couple of weeks ago. You may remember that I was told by Carol (who I used to ride into work with at my old gig) that she had spoke to Marshall Adams, the news director at KDKA and according to her he mentioned that they may be looking for radio producers. Well I found his email address on the stations website and contacted him via email about such a position. Of course as it turns out, he has no say in the hiring of producers, but he did forward my resume (which I emailed him) to someone who does have say in that regard, but as it turns out, he scanned my resume closely enough to notice that I sat in for Lynn, hosting the show when she was on vacation a few times, so he asked for a demo of my work. I had to run out and purchase some blank CDs, then find some content worth sending over to him, both of me doing an interview and with me just taking calls on the fly, and I dropped them off on a Friday morning after work. Mind you, after work for me was 7am, as I did an overnight, and since the station and my job are both downtown, I was at his place by 7:30am, and I left the demos with who I assumed was probably a morning show producer. So I didn't hear anything for about 9 days or so, and I will admit, I didn't expect the best of replies, here I am of little on air experience dropping off demos to a station with a 50,000 KW signal that overnight can be picked up in 38 states, but no reply at all made me wonder if he even got the CDs, so I emailed him again, asking for any criticism he had, even bad criticism can be constructive in my book and you can't do radio with thin skin, so at worst it would be a learning experience for me. A couple of days later I get his reply, and while it wasn't a job offer (radio jobs are being cut so much these days I wouldn't have expected one) his criticism consisted of "You've got talent. Keep in touch." which I will take as a good thing, since I am not by nature a show host.

(Wontons are delicious by the way.)

But wait, there is more radio where that came from. My former employer has seen the ratings for their station, which were never great I might add, but you could at least find them, have now seen their audience dwindle to such a point that Arbitron, the group that measures such things, has deemed the audience to small to measure at all. I thoght the format switch was a bad idea and the only thing better than being proven right is being proven so right that it is glaring in its obviousness. If this were professional wrestling, this would be the point where I would do the DX crotch chop and scream "Suck it!"

Okay, besides radio, I suppose I haven't mentioned that I hate the cold yet today. Yes, it continues to be cold, even though the temps may have reached 20 degrees today. I know, break out the sunscreen kids, summer is right around the corner. The thing is, my apartment is part of a house and the walls are made of brick. It is good in that it is hard to change the temperature in my place, but when the temperature4 of the bricks does change, it is equally hard to change them back to something more comfortable. As a result, this big chill has left my place in a constant 62 or so degrees, regardless of how long the heat is on, the walls just won't warm up, creating that indoor ice box feel I have come to love so much.

Fortune cookie time, which we all know is all kind of American bastardization on Chinese food. Really, there is no need for fortune cookies in China, after all what would they say, "you will paint lead onto Barbie dolls?" What kind of fortune is that? Or maybe "the state will come and knock your door down and cart you away?" Thanks, but no thanks, I will stick with my cookie right here. What do you know, it is a penis fortune "It is not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog." Suddenly I don't feel so small. I knew there was a reason I got Chinese food tonight.

Anyway, I should mention that Mike got out of the hospital on Monday. He will not be back to work for a while yet, but he is no longer tied to a hospital bed and is recovering at home for the time being. I'll admit, I am glad I am not there, I can imagine he and my mom will end up getting on each others nerves after a couple of weeks.

The change meter continues to climb, another $2.14 to the kitty and if this keeps up, it could be a good change meter type year, as the new total is $43.64. And to think I started this year under 40 bucks, this might be one of the most productive months in change meter history. Plus I have been scooping up a fair amount of Coke points, just the other day I added 45 points on stuff I had found and I still have caps on my desk to add and I am getting dangerously close to a blog giveaway at current pace.

I did take in some of the Inauguration coverage on Tuesday. Unlike the networks, I didn't devote my life to it. I watched to see the swearing in and the subsequent speech that came afterward, but I didn't get so caught up in it that I needed to see who was wearing what, or how many Balls were attended and all of the silliness that goes with it. I stayed for the truly historic moments, then went back to my life so anyone looking for great insights by me into the parade, or what not will be sadly disappointed, I watched the swearings in and nothing more, and beyond the coolness that goes with the peaceful changing of power from one administration to the next (and kids, we aren't the only country where that happens, then again, I wish every country where that does happen would appreciate how truly significant that is) the one thing that stuck out like a sore thumb was that oragami like disaster Aretha Franklin had on her head. It took me a full 2 to 3 minutes looking at it before I realized it was supposed to be a bow, I originally thought it was a paper swan gone bad.

I suppose I could opine some more, but I have to be up in a couple of hours, my body clock is all kind of messed up with the changing of schedules, I am sleeping when I should be awake and awake when I should be asleep. I woke up for my 7am-3pm shift today at 3am, and because the previous week when I was working overnights, I just couldn't get back to sleep. All I know is that I have two more mornings, followed by an overnight and then I get Sunday off. I hope I get the following Sunday off as well, as it will be Super Bowl Sunday, and the Steelers will be playing in it, which would be the glog of glogs as far as this page is concerned. Plus, I don't know if I want to work an overnight if the Steelers win, it could get messy around these parts. But I am getting ahead of myself, first things being first, I need sleep, even though I am not tired. Maybe I will just eat some more Beef Lo Mein instead.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

In English, with subtitles

There is lots to blog about, but none of it really goes together, so instead of some meandering post going all over the place, I am going to break this bad boy down into segments.  Read the parts you like, ignore the others. 


Thank you Aldo Nova

Life is like a fantasy.  At least for the hockey team as I posted my second consecutive winning week, gong 4-3-3.  Not numbers to strike fear into anyone's heart, but at least my roster hasn't quit yet.  We plan on doing that next week sometime.  Just kidding, but while I did get a second winning week, it came at a price as two more guys have fallen victim to injury.  That is 4 guys on my roster now that are hurt, and I can't afford to release at least three of them, because as soon as I do, someone will scoop them up.   So for the time being I am essentially playing shorthanded, a position that the 9th place team most certainly doesn't like to be in.

Bring me my robe and sickle

Okay, so I go home for Christmas and what should happen but a couple of weeks later my mom's husband ends up in the hospital with a ruptured brain aneuysm.  If that weren't enough, I go into work last night, my first night as the "primary"  Not a cool primary like in all of those cops shows on TV where the primary is the lead detective on a case, but the uncool kind where I am in charge of the bank at work, basically running the shift.  I had all of half a day's training on it by Mark who showed me the bank and how to count it Saturday night when we worked together.  So what should happen on my first shift as the primary?  Mark has a seizure and collapses during the shift.  Luckily we were running with three people on duty, because the paramedics had to come and take Mark to the hospital, leaving us with two employees.  Had I been the only person there, I am not sure how I would have gotten through it.  As it is, I have a feeling that the longer I stay at this job, I could end up with a novel full of stories to tell.

Turning 40

No, not me silly, I am still firmly enscounched at 39 years of age, but the change meter has turned 40, and then some for that matter.  Another $1.57 to the kitty and we have a new change meter total.  Get me Jerry Lewis on the phone, I need to borrow the tote board as the new total is $41.50.

Playing OT

Just got the call from work, I am needed Saturday night now as well.  That will be 6 days in a row, but it means my first full paycheck with have 8 hours of overtime on it.  And to think I was wondering if I would even have a job after the radio gig, they can't seem to get enough of me at the newsstand.  Actually Mark is scheduled to work Saturday night and they don't know if he will be available, and even if he is they want someone else there just in case.  As it turnms out, apparently this isn't the first time he suffered a seizure while on duty, but at least the third.  Nice of them to warn me of that possibility ahead of time.  A little "hey, you know, the guy you are working with has collapsed on duty a few times" might have been helpful.

Bailing out the Asshat again

Kudos to our Asshat winners, Larry Flint and Joe Francis.  Joe is a multiple winner of the award, for Larry Flint, he is a first time winner in the Asshat category.  Reason for the award is simple, they have joined forces to lobby Congress for a porn bailout.  Yes, according to Larry and Joe, apparently the economic conditions are so bad that people are too depressed to fuck.  Well, I can only speak for myself, but I attribute it to a lack of willing partners more than a fiscal collapse.  That being said, the notion that government money should be spent on the porn industry is indeed Asshat worthy, so congrats fellows, you are this weeks's winners.

A Room With a View

I should note that Mike is no longer in the ICU, apparently they moved him to his new room Monday, where he has an actual window.  Not a cool window mind you, you don't get to see the rolling countryside or anything like that, just the neighboring building and if you get up and look down, the road below.  Still it is better than the ICU, so all things seem to be progressing well on that front.

By the Numbers

Sports has become the talk du jour around the Burgh.  The Steelers are playing host to Baltimore this weekend, the winner of which will represent the conference in the Super Bowl.  Of course the city is decked out in its customary colors, black and gold, including the Chjristmas Tree in the courtyard of the City-County building.   Meanwhile, the Pitt Men's basketball team, off to a 16-0 start, has accomplished something no other team in Pitt basketball history has ever done, they are ranked #1 in the nation.  Mind you, the play in arguably the toughest conference in the country, the Big East, which has 8 teams in the top 25, so chances are they will not finish the year undefeated, but the temporary acclaim is nice.  It would be far more important in the long run to qualify for the NCAA tournament field of 64 and actually play well there.  The only downside sports wise is the Penguins continue to struggle.  If the playoffs were today, they wouldn't even qualify, but the season is only halfway over, and they played better in the second half each of the past two seasons, so it is not time just yet to press the panic button.

It's So Funny How We Don't Talk Anymore

As I was scanning the world wide web to get the constant variety of uselessness, I came across an article that said in this week's Parade Magazine, Barack Obama has an open letter to his daughters telling them that he ran for President for them.  For those that don't know, Parade Magazine is a insert into some Sunday papers, but that is neither here nor there, my question is, doesn't the Obama family talk?  Couldn't Barack have had this conversation over, say, the dinner table?  And just how many kids read Parade magazine anyway?  I don't know how things run in your lives, but my family wasn't cosmopolitan enough that when they wanted to tell me something, they called the local paper, usually they just told me.  That's just us being simple folk I guess.

I Should Save My Good Material

Last year I did a Blunt Force Trauma blog on one Ashley Dupree, the female half of the Eliot Spitzer equation, which I titled, cutely enough, "A Whore is a Whore, Of Course, Of Course", a fine play on the Mr. Ed theme if I do say so myself.  Well, I would like to take that back, or at least,  be evironmentally friendly, and recycle it for Natalie Dylan (Bring me my carbon credits!!!).  Miss Dylan is a woman of questionable talents.  Why do I say questionable you may ask?  Because she is auctioning off apparently the only thing of value she has, her virginity.  Of course there are buyers to such an item, the last leading bid I heard was for 3.7 million dollars by an Australian man.    Not that Natalie hasn't had the chance to be deflowered in the past, she claims that she has had two serious boyfriends and that while they fooled around, the guys were nice enough to be patient with her.  Either that or smart, maybe they came to their sense when they realized that they were dating a chick who will lay down for cash, that's a possibility as well.  It is like the old joke, where a well to do man offers a woman a million dollars to sleep with her, to which she says yes.  The man continues to make offers of decreasing monetary value to the point where the woman becomes offended and says "Just what kind of woman do you think I am?"  to which the man replies, "We have already determined that, now we are just haggling over the price."  The sad thing is, this type of stunt will most likely end up in a book deal, or some sad reality dating show with Natalie as host, so I guess the best those of us with a sense of karma can hope for is not just that the winning bidder has sex with her, but rather that he ruts her like a fucking hog, just bang your head off of the headboard, sloppy non enjoyable sex, with an STD as the end result.  It wouldn't hurt if he brought an extreme case of body odor to the mattress dance as well.  And when he is done, he could do like the first men to land on the moon did, and whack a golf ball out of her vagina.  Wow, I am getting all Martin Luther King-y "I Have a Dream" here, I better stop.  And yes, I worked a civil rights leader and vagina golf into the same blog section, go me!.

This is the End

Work beckons in about 4 hours and I want to play some Pogo and what not before I head out into the bitter elements, so we will call it a night. 


Friday, January 9, 2009

Head cases

For those of you that have wondered why I haven't been around, there is a legitimate reason or reasons for it.  First, Tuesday night my mother's husband was admitted to a Pittsburgh hospital  after having a aneurysm burst in his brain. They have hospitals closer to where my mom lives, but they wouldn't have been able to provide the critical care needed for this type of health care issue, so he is actually staying in a hospital about 5 minutes from my apartment. The procedure they used to fix it, which if I was able to focus on the science of it all, might be fascinating in its own right.  They used a process called "coiling", where they insert a catheter in the inner thigh and run it from there through blood vessels all the way to the offending opening in the brain, then fill the aperature with very tiny coil in hopes of preventing any more blood from escaping through the opening.  So far he seems to be doing fine, they actually had him out of bed briefly today and sitting in a chair, but the spinal tap they inserted to drain the excess blood floating around the brain was causing too much pain to sit for a very long perion of time, so back to bed he went.  Still, being able to even sit up after what happened should be seen as a good sign, considering the initial prognostication was that he would be in the ICU for 7 to 10 days, in the hopsital for at least two weeks and not working at all for anywhere form 1 to 3 months just for starters.

The other reason is that I am stuck doing the 11pm-7am shift at the newsstand.  After having a daylight shift Monday and not being on the schedule Tuesday, they used the day off to get me ready to work overnights, at least for the time being.  I have worked two overnights so far and already I have been hit on by one gay guy.  And not the cool kind of gay guy, where you think to yourself, "hey, maybe if I wasn't straight I could almost picture it" but rather the creepy kind of gay guy that comes to the register and puckers his lips at you after asking if you have any "roses".  "Roses" are little glass tubes, maybe an inch long with a cheap little rose inside of them.  The tiny ends are sealed with foil, not unlike a Pringles can top, and junkies buy these things because they make great crack pipes.  So yes, I was hit on my creepy, crackhead gay guy.  Oh joy of joys, that never happened in radio.

Now realize that my 11pm-7am shift is followed up by being at the hospital at 9am for visting hours with my mom, where we normally stay from 9am-12pm then go back for the 2:30pm visiting hours and stay for about an hour before leaving so my mom, who hates city driving, doesn't get caught up in rush hour traffic, then I come home, nap and go back out the door for work.  It's not a fun schedule and i dont reccommend it to anyone, but if you are wondering why I haven't seemed all witty and have just dropped of the radar so to speak, now you know.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Weekly MVPs

This will be an ongoing blog to chronicle the fantasy hockey team.  Every week I will select one guy from my roster for a better than average performance and chronicle it here.  I say better than average, because when you are in 9th place out of 10 teams, nobody gets credit for an outstanding performance.


Because this idea just came to me, I will do the past weeks here then ad future weeks to the comments section.


Anyway, onto the list.....

Week 1  Record 6-2-2 MVP Martin Broduer G - 2 wins, .097 GAA, .951 SV

Week 2  Record 7-3-0 MVP Martin Broduer G - 2 wins, 1.96 GAA, .920 SV, 1 SO

Week 3  Record 4-4-2 MVP Marcus Naslund LW - 2 G, 3 A, +3, 2 PPP

Week 4  Record 3-6-1 MVP Shea Weber D - 2 G, 1 A, +2, 2 PIM, 1 PPP, 1 GW

Week 5  Record 4-5-1 MVP Alex Auld G - 2 wins, 0.97 GAA, .956 SV

Week 6  Record 2-7-1 MVP Devin Setoguchi RW - 3 G, 3 A, +1, 4 PPP, 1 GW

Week 7  Record 3-5-2 MVP Devin Setoguchi RW - 2 G, 2 A, +3, 2 PIM, 1 PPP, 1 GW

Week 8  Record 2-7-1 MVP Nikolai Zherdev RW - 1 G, 5 A, +1, 9 PIM, 2 PPP

Week 9  Record 0-10-0 MVP Paul Stastny C - 2 G, 5 A, +5, 2 PIM, 1 PPP, 1 GW

Week 10  Record 1-7-2 MVP Craig Anderson G - 2 W, 2.61 GAA, .927 SV, 1 SO

Week 11  Record 4-5-1 MVP Pavel Datsyuk C - 3 G, 4 A, +6

Week 12  Record 2-7-1 MVP Pavel Datsyuk C - 3 G, 2 A, +2, 2 PPP

Week 13  Record 5-3-2 MVP Rick Nash LW - 2 G, 7 A, +7, 2 PIM, 1 PPP, 1 GW

Week 14  Record 4-3-3 MVP Ty Conklin G - 2 W, 0.50 GAA, .978 SV, 1 SO

Things I can do without in 2009

I don't make resolutions per se, at least not based on any particular calendar date, so anyone stopping my looking for some sort of confessional to all of the sins I plan on abdicating from my day to day living in 2009 can just move along, there is nothing for you to see here.  That being said, there are some things I can do without in 2009, and the sooner they are gone, the happier I will be.  Feel free to add you own in the comments section.


1) The International Star Registry - Can there be a bigger scam.  pay some schuck money and he will name a star after someone.  How is this not the pet rock revisited?  It is not like you get mineral rights to a star gifted to you, provided we ever land there.  Nor do you have say over potential colonization or anything cool like that. rather you get nothing, and you pay for it.  How highly unoriginal.

2) NBC - Can someone blow this network up already?  Another run of Fat Camp, this time with the fattest contestant ever, Yay to that.  Also the oldest couple ever on Fat Camp.  Didn't Richard Simmons already cover this is Sweating to the Oldies?  Jay Leno will be on 5 nights a week at 10pm?  He isn't funny now, how is moving his show up where more people can see his unfunniness a good thing?  Momma's Boys - 3 relatively good looking guys pick between 30 relatively attractive women, but the men are so weak willed that they have to drag their moms along to determine who they should end up with?  These are people who definitely ended up taking their sister to the prom.  Really, NBC should just give up if this is what they are going to offer as far as programming. 

3) The Snuggie - A blanket with sleeves?  Don't we call these robes?  Oh, I'm sorry, the opening is in the back, so it is more like something from Obi wan Kenobi's closet.  Yes, I have often laid awake at night saying, you know, this comforter would be so much cooler with sleeves in it.  What's next, the Snuggie wife beater, where you can still stay warm and yet your hands are free to smack your woman around a little.  Wait, we call those shirts, nevermind.

4)  Annoying grocery store shoppers - Nothing is worse than trying to navigate an aisle in the grocery store to find some fat ass is bent over spying some food she can most definitely live without, meanwhile parking her carriage in the middle of the aisle so that no one else can get past.  I am opting for the Star Trek approach this year, and initiating ramming speed.

5)  2008 - Okay, I don't know about the rest of you, but 2008 pretty much sucked here and I would rather not relive it in 2009.  I'd rather just wipe the dry erase board clean and start from scratch if that is okay.

6)  Nancy Grace - If ever there was a self righteous voice on TV that almost made me want to root for the felons, this would be it.  Her holier than thou approach and ability to overblow even the most mundane of facts into more that what they are just annoys the hell out of me.  Prime example her show has been focusing on the Casey Anthony case, where Casey is accused of killing her daughter Kaylee.  Don't get me wrong, I think Casey is guilty as hell and probably did it simply so her daughter wouldn't interrupt her time partying with friends.  That being said, every night ad nauseum (emphasizing the naseum part) we are treated to such astute analysis as "Casey didn't cry in court today.  Why didn't she cry for her dead baby?"  Or "Casey was brought to court today in shackles." (Which by the way, they tend to do when you are incarcerated.)  I don't mind someone going over the relevant facts of a case or updating what of merit transpired in the courtroom (Court TV used to be really good at this sort of thing.)  but the uselessness of what she focuses on makes her program unbearable to watch.

7)  Cold weather - I know I live in a most inadvisable position to bitch about the cold, but damn it if global warming is coming I wish to hell it would hurry up.   I want beach front property damn it, and I need the ice caps to melt for that to actually happen.  That being said, there is an interesting hypothesis surrounding global warming/cooling that actually received the tacit support of one Albert Einstein, one that involves the actual shifting of the poles.  Allow me to elaborate as best as my feeble mind can.  Presumably the continents are all on plates, and those plates to a certain degree move, so that the actual surface of the planet is not anchored in place.  The theory has it that what may have happened, and contributed to the similarities in mythos in various otherwise unrelated cultures is that the poles actually shifted,.  Take for instance a balloon that is being hit by a constant stream of water, when the weight on the top spot of the ballooon gets too great it turns, it shifts, moving the previous wet spot to the side and exposing a brand new dry spot to the stream of water.  Likewise, the theory states that the weight of the ice on the poles became too great, causing the crust of the earth to shift, which in turn meant the ice caps as they were melted, contributing to the flooding stories and aiding in separating the continents, and creating brand new poles where ice began to reform. Peoples that at one time were able to communicate became separated and a sort of great unlearning took place.  Stuff like pyramid design, which is featured in many cultures but no one can explain how or why is knowledge that was lost as the peoples of the earth became more separated and that knowledge was no longer needed.  I know you may ask yourself, how can a culture forget something.  It is easy really, as the knowledge is no longer needed, the knowledge no longer gets passed down to the poiint where it is forgotten.  A current example would be to ask a kid these days to use a rotary phone.  You'll have a 50/50 chance that they will stare at it with a glazed look on their faces.  Liekwise, how many readers of this blog work an abacus on a regular basis?  Certainly we have tools that can do mathematics, so the need for a abacus is no longer required, so the ability to use it becomes forgotten.   The premise does sound iffy I admit, but it does explain why many plants and animals excavated in the now tundra region are flash frozen, those regions quickly became polar regions with the shifting of the earths crust.  Just something to think about in a blog that rarely makes you think.  Onward please.

8)  Bicyclists - By and large I have no disadin for bicycles, nor a love for automobiles, given I am a frequenter of public transit myself.  That being said, somewhere in our past we opted to treat bicycles as vehicles, allowing them to share the road with cars and trucks.  A big move to be sure, but the cyclists want the best of both worlds, and for me that should relegate them back to the sidewalks where they belong.  If you are on the road on a bicycle, then you should obey the rules of the road.  I can't count the number of times I have seen cyclists blow through stop signs/red lights, cut inbetween cars, ingore signaling turns and just out and out create a hazard that doesn't need to be on the road.  If most cyclists were responsible, this wouldn't be an issue, but most aren't.  Bicyclists may be eco friendly and what not, but they are also the most inconsiderate, law breaking people using the roads today, so the best thing to do is get them off of the roads entirely.

Okay, enough with my rantings, feel free to submit some of your own.


There isn't an adequate title for what I am about to write


Well, might as well start off 2009 with a change meter update. I didn't make it to $40 before the new year began, as I have only found 5 cents since the last posting, leaving the change meter stuck at $39.98. That, however, might be the only bad thing to report.

I should note, all of the things you have either come to love or loathe about the page will be back for 2009. I have every intention of doing a brand new Neverending thread, as soon as I finish off a book this year. I still have four to add to the 2008 version,. I just have been incredibly lazy about doing so. Ask Matt Anything will also come back, though I think rather than a blog entry I am just going to post it on the calendar instead, where it will be much easier to reach. Of course Asshats and Karaoke Fridays will also be back, just because I like doing them. And Blunt Force Trauma will also be back, I have two now that I want to do, as opposed to before when I couldn't think of anything. Multiply has informed me that BFT 10.0 is lost, so it will have to be recreated, and BFT 11.0 is swishing around in my cranium as well, I just have to get up the venom required to type them out.

I did start the new job on Friday, and I can honestly say that I never thought I would be this close to a jizz mopper. Not that I am mopping floors, or that I have opted for a career in the porn industry, but the business right above the newsstand is one of those porno peep show places, so technically the first sentence is correct, at least from a proximity perspective.

Really though, I have just worked two days, hardly enough time to get a real liking or disliking for the job. And so far I have just worked from 7am-3pm, not particularly difficult shifts. It is kind of neat to actually be working downtown, a first for me, and it is something to get to work before the city really wakes up and just kind of watching it come to life as the morning progresses.


Monday night/Tuesday monring

We all know what the dotted line means by now, I have walked away from the blog and come back to pontificate yet again. I wish blogging was more like sex. Then again, one of two things would occur, either the police would break down my door to find me all withered away, laying in front of my computer amidst a puddle of my bodily fluids, or I would be able to finish a blog entry in two minutes and still have time to microwave a hot dog.

Aren't you glad I came back for that description? Sometimes it is a almost worth asking for a refund on the price of admission around here.

Well, since I last left the blog I can say that I am a winner. Hockey wise that is, as my team went 5-3-2 this past week. I can't remember the last time I posted a winning week, so uncork the champagne kiddies, the Argonauts are back, and no longer in last place.

I did the third day of newstand work so far. The new store that was supposed to open today hasn't, there are some things that still need set up. I really haven't learned all that much since my first day, just doing a lot of the same old stuff. Not that there isn't a lot for me to learn, there is plenty I haven't been taught yet, but for now they have kept me solely on register duty. I still haven't made it on the schedule yet, I am just coming in when they tell me to, if they tell me to. I was not told to come in for Tuesday, which is fine, there are a few things I need to do anyway, so I am not going to force the issue. I have some pretty big errands to run tomorrow, most of which are career related.

Carol, who I used to ride into work with at the radio station, informed me that she had spoken to Marshall Adams, the news director at KDKA AM and he said that they may be looking for a radio producer and that I should give him a ring. Well being all computer geeky like I am, I just emailed him instead. Turns out he isn't even the guy that hires the producers for KDKA, but he did forward along my resume to those that do. As an added bonus, he saw on my resume that I had sat in for Lynn a few times, and while he has little to do with the producers that are hired, he does have a hand in hiring the on air talent so he wanted a demo of my on air work. I sent him a quick show segment that I had done with Jon Delano, but he wanted more audio, so I am going to put together a couple of CDs of my work and drop them off on Tuesday.

Tuesday is also a radio jobs fair at Duquesne University, so I have to update my resume and make some copies of it so I can drop them off with other radio stations around Pittsburgh. Don't get me wrong, I am working and in this day and age that is good, but I am not doing anything career related and the sooner I can get back into that field, the happier I will be.

I did get my unemoployment card from the great state of Pennsylvania. Mind you, they still haven't put the money on it for the two weeks I was off of work yet. And with me not knowing if I will be working full time or part time at the newsstand, it would be nice if they would get about actually compensating me for the two weeks I had off.

I have been tinkering with Diablo 2 again. Maybe it was seeing my cousins playing WOW online while I was on vacation, but I have hopped into the online option and started playing. I have rolled up 14 levels pretty quickly playing a druid. First time I have really tinkered with that character and my goodness, it is like having a walking army going with you. Usually I conjure up 4 wolves, a creeping vine, my gift archer (from completing a quest) and a spirit that all run with me while I am out fighting. There is very little yet that has stood in my way as far as combat is concerned, I am like Sherman on the march to Atlanta, just leaving destruction in my wake.

I finished off the Neverending Thread of 2008 and I am about a dozen or so pages away from starting the Neverending Thread of 2009. Since I last spoke about my reading habits and how lazy I have been in that regard, I have actually forced my way forward through the book I was reading to the point I am now just about done. Plus I fired up the old B&N gift card and the Visa gift cart the other day and bought a couple of more books (as well as a 2009 Dilbert desk calendar). I have been spoiling myself of late in that regard, I used some of my WalMart cash to by a printer for the computer and have used gift cards for cool things like groceries and stuff. I think I officially have enough food in my house where I can hole up for quite a while now, if the need should arise. That being said, one of the perks of my newstand gig is that I can buy whatever I want in the shop at a 30% discount and rather than cash, they just put it on a charge sheet and take it out of my paycheck.. It is tempting, since we do get fresh sandwiches and some cool stuff in every day (we are almost mini grocery store like in our selection) but I am wary of walking down that path, because once I start charging stuff, I may never stop. I have seen some of the charge sheets some of the employees have done, and it looks like they are working for free. I will just stick with my coffee or fountain drinks (which are free for me) and not get all caught up in throwing my money away, though the notion that I can charge my smokes now is an appealing one. I will never be out of cigarettes again. As the song goes "Bring on the cancer stick, I know if I can hit it once, I can hit it twice".

Bored to tears yet? Hope not, because there is no crying in blogging, but I will save you before your eyes start welling up and call it a nite, after all, I still have to print up a resume and burn a couple of CDs, so my computer is not quite ready for bed yet, even if I am. Nite all.

Winter Classic 2009

While I tend to limit those hockey videos that don't involve the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Winter Classic is becoming one of those things that a professional sports league gets right from time to time.  The premise is pretty simple, one game a year is selected off of the schedule, usually around the first of the year, and unlike most games, where the sport is played indoors in various arenas throughout the United States and Canada, this game is played on an outdoor rink, amidst the elements.  The game is both a tribute to many of the players, who got their start playing hockey outdoors on frozen lakes and ponds, and a spectacle that is unique unto the hockey season.  You may remember I posted last years game, between the Buffalo Sabres and the Pittsburgh Penguins, a 2-1 Pittsburgh win in a shootout while snows was falling on Ralph Wilson Stadium in Buffalo.  The elements were kinder this year, and the venue was Chicago's Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs baseball team, but the scene was still pretty cool and with better weather the scoring was up just a tad, Detroit won 6-4.

And what may be nothing more than a statistical anomaly, Ty Conklin, the goaltender for Detroit, has now started all three Winter Classic Games, as he was the goaltender for Edmonton in the first ever game between Edmonton and Calgary, he was in net for Pittsburgh last year and year three he was in goal for Detroit.

With that little piece of useless trivia out of the way, watch some outdoor hockey, it's good for you.




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