Wash Your Melon

In the kitchen one recent morning, I set about to slice up a watermelon.

My wife was reading the obituaries — as often does over coffee — pointing out the men my age who’d died, some of them quite suddenly.

“You wash these before slicing them, right?”

“Why would I wash a watermelon?”

“The same reason you wash anything — except melons are worse. They grow on the ground and the soil could be contaminated with E. coli. I read somewhere that the farm workers don’t have proper toilet facilities and they poop in the fields. The E. coli gets in the soil, the soil touches the melons… next thing you know, you’re in the hospital.”

I paused.

“Would you like some to bring to work?”

Smudge Report

A co-worker suggested I check out a new website, saying it’s like The Onion, except local. I set my expectations on low. I’ve spent enough time reading Times Union blogs to know that when people try being funny, it usually sucks.

But I went to Albany Smudge anyway – and I was pleasantly surprised.

At Albany Smudge you’ll find satirical news stories that are both funny and dead on target. Many of the pieces use references that display a deep knowledge of local culture and the stereotypes we have of area towns. For example, this jab at snooty Bethlehem:

“The Town of Bethlehem is even a little less friendly now that it has announced it will remove all “welcome” signs by the end of the summer. The move, said one local official, is being made so that area signage “conforms more accurately to the evolving views of our residents toward outsiders.”

The writer knows Bethlehem, right down to the annoying hyphenated last names.

People will be curious to know the author’s identity. Whoever is behind this is a real writer — not some hack like me who bangs out silly blog posts — and he or she deserves credit.

My only critique is a tiny one: some stories might play better using the names of real local figures and politicians, but that’s easy for me to say; I’m not the one responsible in case someone gets angry — and the fake names are pretty good.

Chalk up this one up as a winner. A bright spot on an increasingly bleak and depressing internet.

Canis Populi

If you take your dogs to Thacher Park, it’s best to go early. More often than not, you’ll have the place to yourself and they can race up and down the trails without bothering anyone.

One recent morning was different. Instead of the usual empty parking lot, we found three school busses — and the hiking paths were far from empty. We were barely out of the car when college kids started approaching us and asking to take pictures of the dogs.

Pictures of the dogs? Of course you can — but why?

Dogs

It turns out that this was a biology class from Siena College who were out learning about the forest by conducting a scavenger hunt, and among the things they needed to find was a mammal. As we walked along, we continued to be approached by mammal hunters, petting the dogs, shooting pictures and checking off an item on their list.

At one point, we encountered their instructor, who looked on sourly as the students discovered our dogs. I’m sure he had squirrels, chipmunks or other woodland critters in mind — not dogs — when coming up with the activity.

But hey, you take what you can get, right? And the dogs loved being queens of the forest for a day.

Segue Fever

The college DJ in me is constantly hearing songs that belong together.  

Today I present two artists who couldn’t be more different with two songs that are long lost twins, The Offspring’s Get a Job and Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da by The Beatles.

Seriously, you can’t convince me that The Offspring didn’t have that song in mind. You be the judge.

Nowhere Man

Ooh, look! Delmar now has an intersection where Abbey Road and Penny Lane meet!

$653580EF3AE5E75A

Don’t get too excited. Abbey Road and Penny Lane are not quaint byways that will remind you of merry olde England, but posh townhouses that run in the $350,000 to $450,000 neighborhood. And that’s a fancy neighborhood.

And there does not appear to be a cool crosswalk where you can take a picture.

I’d love to name a street after a rock & roll song. Thunder Road, Shakedown Street, Creeque Alley… how about Desolation Row? I’m curious what you would name your street.

Burger Bites Man

Every year, local reporters and photographers head to Scotia — a place typically avoided unless there’s a murder or a particularly interesting fire — to cover the opening of Jumpin’ Jack’s Drive-In, the ad hoc beginning of spring in the Capital Region.

You know what would be news? If Jumpin’ Jacks DIDN’T open — yet every year we get the same damn story. Here’s an example from last year. Sorry in advance for the terrible video player. Continue reading

The Sincerest Form of Flattery

A group of Siena College students staged a protest this week over a billboard put up by a local contractor. It shows a posh kitchen with the headline, “Your Wife Wants Me.” The students claim that the billboard’s message is sexist, and they felt so strongly about it that they stood out in the cold for hours to express their opinion.

billboard

WTEN

You can decide whether it’s sexism — but it’s certainly plagiarism.

That headline, “Your Wife Wants Me,” is riffing on a campaign by a Baltimore area jeweler in 2007 with the headline, “Your Girlfriend Wants Me.”

Smythgirlfriend

Since then, the clever creative has been ripped off all over, sometimes substituting girlfriend for wife like in the kitchen ad. In fact, it appeared on a local jewelry billboard within the last year.

Borrowing ideas is nothing new in advertising. I suppose it becomes stealing when you claim it as your own, but there’s something else going on here: the jewelry ad is funny and surprising.  The kitchen ad is neither.

They took a great concept and sapped all the wit out of it, which to me is more offensive than any sexist overtones. If you’re going to rip something off, at least do it well.

Foto Friday

Venus, Mars and the moon putting on a nice show at dusk in February 2015.

 

The Media Was the Message

There was a nice piece about the passing of Don Weeks in the Gazette — and Mark McGuire, who used to write about TV and radio for the Times Union, was the perfect guy to handle the job.

It used to be that the dailies had someone writing regularly about TV and radio, but now coverage of the local media has pretty much vanished. At WNYT we had scrapbooks filled with stories about the station’s performance in the ratings, the comings and goings of reporters, puff pieces about anchors and more.

Now it’s very rare to see stories like that, and even the Business Review, which used to follow TV and radio ratings like they were the Dow Jones average, has given it up.

It’s funny because there would be so much to write about today. There’s more local TV news on the air than ever before, stations are big in social media and the radio business has changed dramatically.

I’d guess we’ll never see local media covered again. Local papers are doing more with fewer people — and in many cases, the people doing more are doing it for less money, like the crew at the Times Union who haven’t had a raise in seven years.

Maybe someone should write a blog about local media. Wouldn’t it be interesting to read critiques of local TV and newspapers, or have someone writing about the imbecilic ranting of local talk radio hosts?

Nah, that would never work.