Category Archives: media

Gather Round the Hearth

We’ve been looking at a lot of houses lately and noticed something interesting: people like putting flat screen TV sets over the fireplace.

Not to be judgmental or anything — because I would never do that — but one thing goes through my head when I see this in a house: douchebag bad idea.

There are a couple of practical reasons not to mount the TV over the fireplace. The heat might not great for the TV, and ideally, a TV should be level with your eyes position so you don’t have to look up at it. That could be bad for your neck.

But there are less tangible reasons, too.

It used to be that the space over the fireplace was reserved for something special, like a piece of art or an antique that sits on the mantle. Let’s say you have a mounted moose head that you love. Where’s it going to go? Over the fireplace, of course. It sends a message about what you find important.

When you put the TV over the fireplace, it says that the most important thing in your life is the TV. And it makes your house look like a barroom.

So don’t be a douchebag silly: find somewhere else for the TV. I know the fireplace thing is popular right now, but just because it’s popular doesn’t make it right.

Twitter 1891

Social media? It was around long before Twitter and Facebook. Granted it moved at a slower pace; columns like this in an 1891 issue of the Altamont Enterprise contained posts that are not so much different from what we see today:

fullersstation

A dozen or so local towns are covered in the “Vicinity Correspondence” section, and besides word of mouth, in its day this is how small bits of news were passed about. When you think about it, “This place is now without a shoemaker,” wouldn’t be a bad tweet.

Just like today, there were certainly people who thought all this information was useless. They’d probably shake their heads and say, “Christ! I don’t care whose farm Norman Miller is going to work on any more than I care what he ate for breakfast!” That may be, but I bet most people turned to page two and read that first. It’s interesting even 125 years later.

Ink Spot

When Metroland collapsed it left a void in the Capital Region media market. It felt odd being left without an arts weekly after all these years.

Thank goodness, the Spotlight has stepped up to fill the gap! Sure, you’ve all read the Spotlight, longtime purveyor’s of suburban news, and now they’ve jumped into the arts and culture weekly business.

thespot

When I found this in Starbucks, it was certainly exciting. Just look at that edgy graphic on the front page! This obviously isn’t your grandma’s Spotlight!

Oh, wait — actually, it is.

Yeah. it’s pretty, pretty mild — and don’t go looking in the back for Savage Love or racy classified ads. A few things you will find advertised:

  • Dentists (two)
  • “Tools for Caregivers Day”
  • Chair lifts
  • Alzheimers’s memory screenings

The paper did contain a couple of decent local stories and serviceable arts listings — but certainly not with the scope that Metroland did them. On the down side, there were a couple of pages of provided content and press releases. Gotta fill that space.

The Spot is a fine thing to pick up for free and browse through while you drain your coffee, like the recently horse/cow confused 518 Life. But there’s something about that graphic that bugs me. It promises cool, but what we get is more comfy than edgy — and that might be puzzling to strangers who pick up it up expecting a peek into alt-Albany.

Ask a Stupid Question

On our local talk radio station this week, the host said he couldn’t fathom why people don’t join him and the millions of others who support Donald Trump. He asked, “Do they think we’re stupid?”

Yes, actually, you hit the nail on the head: we think you’re stupid. Any other questions?

And not merely stupid, but dangerous.

I’ve made fun of these local radio goofballs before, but it was just harmless fun. They’d rant and say dumb things, but it was just entertainment. That was before they pitched a madman to be our next president.

It’s easy to be dismissive of local talk radio when you hear the numbskulls who call in to agree with the host, but it’s those who don’t call who worry me. In this town, many influential people listen to this garbage and some of them even advertise on the station. Business is business.

If you need proof that ignorance sells, there you have it: talk radio and Donald Trump. In the oft misquoted words of H.L. Mencken:

“No one in this world, so far as I know—and I have researched the records for years, and employed agents to help me—has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people. Nor has anyone ever lost public office thereby.”

Help Wanted

cows

518 Life, the Times Union’s free monthly magazine about the Capital Region, is seeking an editor. Knowledge of the Albany-Schenectady-Troy area is helpful. Must know the difference between a cow and a horse.

Coffee Buzz

Let’s talk about this Death Wish Coffee. A large bag of the highly caffeinated brew showed up in my house recently, and in the interest of full disclosure, I didn’t pay for it. Long story.

Death Wish hit the marketing jackpot recently they won Intuit’s  Small Business, Big Game  contest, and all of America saw their commercial in the Super Bowl. You remember the commercial,  the one with vikings rowing toward doom in a raging sea? Yeah, this one:

So, after a few days of drinking Death Wish, here are my observations.

Death Wish tastes good, at least as good as the premium store-bought ground coffee I usually brew. After two to three cups, my normal morning routine, there was definitely a noticeable and familiar effect: the feeling you get after having a little too much coffee — and I’m not sure I want that every morning.

If you were on your way to do some pillaging in your viking ship, a pot of Death Wish would be exactly the thing to put you in the mood.  Having said that, if I were on my way for a day of pillaging, I’d probably go light on the coffee so I wouldn’t have to stop at every rest area along the way to pee.

Maybe with hyper-caffeinated Death Wish you could drink less coffee and get the same boost. This way you won’t annoy your fellow rowers with constant requests for pee stops  — and also avoid a possible beheading.

At $20 per pound, I’ll stick with the coffee I usually drink at half the price — but I’ll save some of the Death Wish just in case. You never know when someone’s going to invite you for a day of pillaging.

Going Viral

what's trending in your life and in mine

Loser Cam

Sports journalists are buzzing mad over Cam Newton’s post-Super Bowl press conference. OK, maybe he could have handled the Q & A session better, but tell you what: I’m not interested in hearing him explain why the Panthers lost.

It’s understandable. If your job is to get a quote for your paper or some good sound, yeah you’d want his to say all the empty bullshit that’s said in these interviews. It’s pretty rare to hear anything interesting.

From a fan’s perspective, all I need to know about why a team lost is on the scoreboard. Exceptions? Yes, there are a few things worth reaction: a blown call or injury to a key player that cost you the game. Journalists will argue that answering questions is part of the athlete’s job, a responsibility that comes with earning millions of dollars. That’s nonsense.

Maybe if athletes and coaches would simply answer like this, reporters would get sick of asking their stupid questions: “Well, we should have scored more points that the other team. Or prevented them from scoring so much. Or a combination of the two.”

Losing well means not offering excuses and explanations. Let’s allow the losers the little shred of dignity that comes with silence.

Times Union: A Place for Racists?

“Let’s hope for some positive discourse on our stories in the days to come.” That’s what Paul Block, the Times Union’s “online executive producer” said when introducing a system for reader comments on news stories.

How’s it going? Well, here’s a comment from Monday 2/1, made on a story about a racially charged dustup on a CDTA bus, so you tell me:

TUCommentSmall

Click to enlarge

Thanks to the intrepid Keyboard Krumbs reader who pointed this out; on Wednesday 2/3 they finally turned off the story’s comment area.

Look, you decide for yourself: do they really take comment moderation seriously? Even for a second?

It’s funny that they’ll call out a blog commenter who dares to refer to himself as “Old Fart”, but allow the worst sort of racism to run rampant in the news section. I thought that was supposed to be the grown up area.

It’s revolting.

Maybe they were too busy helping Kristi relaunch her blog to keep an eye on the comments. One must have one’s priorities.