Category Archives: media

The Head, the Tail, the Whole Damn Thing…

Cheers to the Discovery Channel for pulling off a whopper.

As part of their Shark Week ramp up, this video was circulated showing a shark off the shore of Wolfe Island in Lake Ontario:

This was of special interest to me because I vacation on the island each summer; the presence of sharks would certainly spice up my kayak excursions.

The whole thing caused quite a media sensation until Discovery’s PR firm revealed it was all a big promotional stunt.

The best line to emerge from the shark panic came from Frontenac Islands Mayor Denis Doyle, who joked, “We’re going to have to get a bigger ferry.”

Newsies

During one of my slow, pathetic runs this week I was alarmed to hear a car directly behind me. After years of running on the road — always facing traffic — I can tell what a car sounds like when it’s coming from the other direction behind me. And this? This sounded wrong.

I darted for the grass, and looking back saw a car driving on the wrong side of the road, dangerously close to where I now stood. A drunk? Someone who had fallen asleep at the wheel? No, just the guy delivering the Times Union.

To paraphrase an old joke, I should have worn my brown shorts.

This is not the first time I’ve seen this.

Early in the morning, Times Union carriers routinely drive on the wrong side of a busy state highway near my house. Stretches of the road have limited sight lines, so this doesn’t seem like a great idea.

But maybe it’s no big deal. I’m sure he’s paying extra close attention to what he’s doing and never fumbling around with his newspapers or anything. Clearly, these are highly experienced professionals who’ve had training in safely driving on the wrong side of the road. It’s possible that they even hold a special license that allows them to drive on the wrong side; I must check the DMV website for that.

Call me old-fashioned, but I miss the days when twelve-year-old kids would deliver your paper. It seems unlikely that you’d get run over by a kid on a bicycle.

When I venture out in the morning, I’m always wearing a reflective vest or sash, and if the sun’s not up yet, I have an annoyingly bright headlamp to alert drivers. I’ve jumped off the pavement once or twice over the years. The one thing I have little control over is cars coming from behind me, and what with all the distracted driving out there, maybe it’s time to be concerned.

So, I hope you don’t read about me getting run over by someone delivering newspapers. It would be a hell of a story, though.  Newspaper people do love irony.

Fright Fest

If you are a fan of Night of the Living Dead, you must see Birth of the Living Dead, a documentary about the making of the iconic horror film and its influence on popular culture.

George Romero’s stories about the ragtag cast and crew, a motley assemblage of friends and business associates, are priceless. It was everyone’s first movie — and as if by magic, they created something completely different. The film also puts Night in the context of its time; they may not have set out to make an allegory for the turbulent late-sixties, but that’s what they ended up with.

One of the interesting things I learned was that Night was originally released in theaters as a matinée feature aimed at kids; it was typical in those days for theaters to run low-budget sci-fi and horror stuff on weekend and holiday afternoons.

Harmless fun — but Night of the Living Dead was like no horror movie ever made.

I vividly remember seeing it at one of those afternoon shows. As my mother dropped us off in front of the movie house in Mineola, a pimply faced teenager with thick glasses accosted us. “I hope you brought a spoon! This movie’s so scary it’ll make you swallow your tongue!”

I was really little, like 7 or 8 years old, along for a fun day out with my older sister and cousins. Swallow my tongue? Bring a spoon? Now I was beginning to worry.

Well, it turns out that spoonboy was correct.

The film was so intensely disturbing and terrifying that several times during the movie we ran from the theater screaming and cowered in the lobby. It was just too much.

Film critic Roger Ebert happened to attend one of these matinée screenings, in a crowd full of children, and wrote this:

The kids in the audience were stunned. There was almost complete silence. The movie had stopped being delightfully scary about halfway through, and had become unexpectedly terrifying. There was a little girl across the aisle from me, maybe nine years old, who was sitting very still in her seat and crying.

A good time was had by all!

Bad News Bear

I’ve only seen a bear in the wild once. It dashed across the road and dove into the woods right in front of me on Starr Road in the hills outside of Ravena. At first it looked like a dog, but it was dark and husky and had a distinctive loping gait that caused me to eloquently remark, “Holy sh*t! That was a fu*king bear!”

Glad I didn’t run it over!

The bear escaped his close call with my car, and I sincerely hope he went on to live a long and peaceful life in the woods — unlike the rogue bear that wandered into Albany this week, sparking the sort of media circus you see in towns with too many reporters and not enough stories to cover.

Things did not end well for the bear, which is regrettable, but not unexpected.

DEC’s bear timeline is a sad read and makes it clear that the bear was headed for trouble from the start. Could anything have been done differently? Maybe not — except for the DEC officers who tried to put down the bear might have been better shots. The injured bear got far up a tree, and like a small, sad King Kong he held on for as long as he could.

Things like this probably can’t be avoided, but look: if you live on the fringes of the wild, don’t freak out if you see a bear. Yes, if it’s causing trouble, that’s different — but just be patient and it will move along, hopefully back to the woods and not to the city. That’s no place for a bear.

Two stray observations:

  1. Yes, black bears can climb trees, so do not climb a tree to get away from one.
  2. Even good writers need editors. For example, an editor could have prevented the phrase “ursine interloper” from appearing in a local newspaper story about the bear. Sheesh…

Madness

God, I’m so sick of it: this obsessive dissection of every TV show is really getting on my nerves.

For example, the morning after every episode of Mad Men the web is littered with stories about the show — and I don’t mean by stupid little blogs like this one, but major publications.

What ever happened to the time when you would just watch the show. Now we need endless analysis the next day, not just reviews, but extreme navel gazing about every single detail and what it all means, often with a grade or rating. Then there will be hundreds and hundreds of comments from fans taking it even further — many of them complaining that (insert show name here) now sucks, especially compared to the first two seasons.

Hey, internet: shut up, shut up, shut up.

Having said that, I think that Don hanging up poor dead Lane Pryce’s NY Mets pennant may be a good sign. After all, it’s 1969, the year the Mets won the World Series, so surely this symbolizes that something unlikely will happen — perhaps that Don, the guy everybody has dismissed, will rise up and win in the end. Or that he will die.

Star Trail

I read over the weekend that Chris Jansing has been named NBC’s White House correspondent. That’s a pretty big deal — and I’d say that it’s easily the most significant thing achieved by anybody who ever worked in Albany TV news.

If you’ve been around for a while you may remember watching Chris on WNYT – if that’s the case, I certainly don’t have to remind you that in those days she went by Chris Kapostasy. There wasn’t a time when my father-in-law didn’t see her on TV and say in his thickly accented English, “Her name means cabbage in Hungarian. Chris Cabbage!”

Chris was the anchor during WNYT’s rise to the top, and during those golden years in the mid to late 1990s I was responsible for the station’s marketing. We had it all going on, and looking back I realize how fortunate I was to be part of that winning team.

People have a hard time believing me when I tell them I wrote and produced thousands of TV spots, but it’s true. Many were forgettable, but this one always felt special to me.

This was in 1996 when the Olympic Torch Relay passed through the area.

We started in Palatine Bridge, me and photographer Tom Wall, leapfrogging ahead of the torch for the whole day as it wound its way to Albany. The money shot was Chris with the torch and Tom nailed it.

I’d say it was one of the best days at work I ever had — and it produced the single most memorable image from my 25 years in TV, Chris running with the torch, waving to the crowd, clearly on her way somewhere.

Don’t Call Me Blogger

Look, I’ve been doing this for a long time.

There’s something about being called “blogger” that rubs me the wrong way. Maybe it’s the face people make when they say it — or that they put it in quotes, as seen in the previous sentence. In polite society, the title blogger seems to fall somewhere between panhandler and pornographer, so it’s time for a change.

From now on, my title here on the blog is Social Media Strategist and Interactive Audience Manager. I think that befits my years of experience in doing this and better describes my role here at Keyboard Krumbs.

Maybe I can’t give myself a raise, but who needs money when you have a fancy title?

Mickey and Me

We were sitting in a box at Saratoga one fine August afternoon. I know that sounds fancy, but if you’ve ever sat in one those boxes you know it’s more cramped than glamorous. And if you’re like me you’d rather be at a picnic table with a cooler full of beer.

It was hard not to notice the activity behind us as a stream of people stopped to say hello to an older man in nearby box. We almost fell off our uncomfortable chairs when it dawned on us that it was Mickey Rooney.

Rooney was sitting alone with his racing form, about as far away from the finish line as you could get and still be in one of the “exclusive” boxes.

Now, working in TV I’d met tons of well-known people — the most famous of whom was Oprah Winfrey. But Mickey Rooney? He was a freakin’ legend. Regardless, we did our best to play it cool, acknowledging him without seeming like amateurs. We inquired with our waiter about sending over a drink, not knowing he’d knocked off the booze years before.

So we went back and forth with a little small talk about the races and such, without being intrusive. Today I would have invited him to sit at our box; it didn’t occur to me at the time that he actually might have joined us.

Eventually, Mr. Rooney let on that he had a well placed tip on one of the races. A tip? From Mickey Rooney? This we must bet, and not just our small time $2 wagers — no, at 10-1, this was more of a $20 or $30 to win sort of bet.

Naturally, we all lost money on that one.

Nothing was said about the sure thing that was not so sure. If only we could have had a preview of Mickey Rooney’s obituary we would have known that he’d visited many racetracks in his lifetime, and more often than not, made impressive contributions to the sport of kings.

So, here’s to Mickey Rooney. He never lost his taste for the ponies — or his ability to charm an audience.

Time To Kill the Walking Dead

The Walking Dead can be infuriating. Part of me enjoys the survivor story that never seems to stop — but part of me craves a conclusion. Stories have a beginning and an end – they don’t go on forever — and as much as I like the show, I’m ready for the final act.

Think of Walking Dead’s AMC cousins, Mad Men and Breaking Bad. Both followed a clear story arc aiming for a destination — and they both featured interesting characters who changed as the series progressed.

Could Breaking Bad still be on the air? Sure. Every week Walt would cook more meth and fend off the latest threat to his empire. Or Mad Men: Don sleeps with someone, gets drunk, loses a big account, has an existential crisis… how long does that stay interesting?

I don’t get the sense that the The Walking Dead knows where it’s going, happy instead rack up big ratings and zombie kills.

Even on MASH, the Korean War eventually ended.

So, I say save the show by killing it. Don’t let it become like the walkers, shambling aimlessly around in the woods for as long as their decaying muscles will carry them.

Having said that, here are the three top rejected Terminus signs:

Terminus: We are here to serve humans.

Terminus: We’d love to have you for dinner.

Terminus: Come for the sanctuary, stay for the B-B-Q.