Archive for March, 2013

late night wars: a form of soap opera

Saturday, March 30th, 2013

Just about my entire reading of the “Late Night Wars” comes down to reading some entries of Mark Evanier’s blog… his background in Show Business brings things to the fro, and perspectives and opinions I don’t really share — but that’s the reason I read through his comments — they’re interesting and challenging to my (admittedlynever on target) perspective…

well… we lob some sentences which, I don’t know… amusing.

I’ m a little mystified at those who can’t grasp that an awful lot of America loves what this guy does and that he’s outlived 20+ years of predictions that his show couldn’t sustain the numbers it’s sustained.

There is a bit of snobbishness in “Jay Leno bashing” — I am a bit mystified when I read a commentary here or there from my alt weekly that don’t so much grasp him being on top as deny it.  (Can’t find the link, but oh well — it’s an off key joke they threw in asking why Leno is still on the air).  But, here to,  my sense is an awful lot of America doesn’t love what this guy does, so much as “like” — so goes the snobbish assessment that lines him to a homogonized lcd entertainment loaded to lull one from the late local news and into sleep.  [see too social media ‘like’ numbers on Leno as against his supposed replacement of Jimmy Fallon.]

Actually, I recall some commentary at the start of Leno’s run along the lines of “What happened to Leno?” — though, to be fair, the standard storyline of Leno’s run on the Tonight Show (and as relayed by the man himself) is that he never quite found his comfort zone until some “eureka” moment when he took his show for a visit in New York and then reconfigured his LA studio for better effect (also extending his monolouge).

And right there we have the interesting thing where… in the end the cultural memory (at least to his mocking detractors) of a Leno monolouge is of an endless series of Judge Ito jokes.  If Letterman (on CBS) ends up at self deprecating lines on his Oscar performance and the contrived Oprah feud — well, at least he’s in the “joke is the joke” arena.

Things fall into place with this:

One of the gripes NBC execs had about Conan O’Brien on his Tonight Show was that he was booking folks like Norm MacDonald and Kevin Nealon as lead-off guests because he thought a funny segment would result…to the exclusion of someone hotter and probably younger who had a huge movie opening in two days. There were also NBC execs who thought the segments with MacDonald and Nealon weren’t all that funny but the real objection was that the show could have had just about anybody and was bypassing guests who might have brought in higher numbers. I’m told that CBS thinks Letterman does a little too much of that as well.

Not coincidentally, Letterman and Conan O’brien both came out of long runs in the 12:30 slot, where they could get away with (and, indeed had to get away with) this a bit more.  But this also slides us away from that “LCD” thrust of a Leno against a Letterman and Conan.  These days, I shift through the Conan O’brien show and Letterman show (on the Internet days later) for the Norm MacDonald segment … or the Chris Elliott segment… and what guest of the type does Leno bring us?
And right here we have that odd cultural imprint item.  It was a Tim Riley who put it this way — with one exception (and we all know that is), what moment does anyone remember from Jay Leno’s long tenure of Jay Leno’s run?  My joke from that is that a “Best of Tonight Show with Jay Leno” would consist of Leno asking Hugh Grant “What the Hell were you thinking?” on a continual loop.  (The clip used to hilarious effect by Letterman during his ‘last point of late night wars crank fest’ — Leno replacing Jack Paar asking the question to a laughing Richard Nixon.)  [Actually a second item would be Madonna’s “mock saintly” appearance — but that was a joke going back to her infamous appearance on Letterman.  Also we can’t ever have a Carson wedding of Tiny Tim again, can we?]

I frankly never really understand this, about the second time I’ve read Evanier put it this way.  I understand the vested interest that guys like Letterman and Kimmel had in trashing the guy who was beating them in the ratings — and I lost a load of respect for Dave for stooping to that.

This has long been part of Dave’s schtik, (I recall once a sketch ending with a “dumb Letterman character” on the couch with the remote control saying ‘Ugh.  I wonder if Leno is doing Headlines’.  It is interesting because once upon a time Letterman would bleep out any mention of Leno on his show — in about the same way Leno did with Carson).  Frankly… has been one of the only funny things with Letterman in the past few years.
… Interestingly, Conan O’brien stuck to NBC during his final two weeks (arguably the highlight of his career output) on The Tonight Show.
Even with Letterman’s crankiness, even he doesn’t seem to take it seriously — lest he wouldn’t bring Leno onto his Superbowl ad — and the bit fell right back into the self-depracating line about being beaten in the ratings.
For his part, Leno was castigated by Oprah — unfairly, I would say, for bringing in a joke about Letterman’s infedility.

Sigh.

Now admittedly, Leno is only in First Place by a hair or two lately. He’s a bit ahead in Total Viewers and holding his own against Jimmy Kimmel in the 18-49 bracket. In the latter category, he’s again topping all expectations though, also admittedly, he has a lot more viewers at the 49 end of that demographic than around the 18. It would not be unscientific to presume he will start losing in that capacity before long…except for the fact that for something like two decades now, every single prediction that Leno’s Tonight Show numbers would plunge has been dead wrong.

Yeah, I’m pretty sure that the recent dumping of total viewers of late night talk shows will continue its basic trend, and the “more viewers at the 40 end than 18″ will continue the dropping apace with Leno against Kimmel.  Also none of my fortunes will be tied to this; I have no fortune to wager.  Frankly, I ponder what the medium of “television” will even be in fifty years, and think that the stricture of tv programming formats that have existed from its inception may well finally be crumbled… late night talk format sliding the way of the soap opera… and more power to that.

This paragraph (which I failed to excerpt in its entirety) strikes me as over-wrought, plugging every detraction point as equal for a dramatic effect to posit Jay Leno as “Mr. Underappreciated”.  In the early 1990s, an NBC executive would be wise to place his bet on Leno over Letterman (the latter, incidentally, had a huge schtik about making fun of the network’s parent company).  Which turned out the case, even if momentarily it didn’t appear to be the case.  Dumping Leno for Letterman, once Leno was in place, was never an option — just as Conan picking up a 12:00 “Tonight Show” bid was never an option.  After that, NBC made a mistake in trying to save Conan, and I suppose one can point out to Jay Leno’s detractors at the 10:00 flame-out that that show failed only in terms of prime-time ratings (more watched than any of the late night talk shows) — but the last decision then and now in wondering what to do about Leno and a would be replacement with an encroaching change in tv landscape is understandable, even if they turn out to make a mistake.

in the political graveyard — noted famous political figures lost to forgotten political figures.

Friday, March 29th, 2013

Yeah, what the Hell was this guy thinking?

Name Ambassador James Watson Gerard  Votes 133,815 (62.08%)
St. Sen. Franklin Delano Roosevelt   63,879 (29.64%)
James S. McDonough  17,862 (8.29%

So.  About the man Roosevelt lost to in a 1914 Senate bid — he never really had any intention on winning (Just trying to up his name recognition):

Remarkably for a former Ambassador to the country, Gerard regarded Germany with little less than loathing. His bile was reserved not only for native Germans, but was also taken to include German-American U.S. citizens. 
Gerard gained particular notoriety for a speech given on 25 November 1917 to the Ladies Aid Society of St. Mary’s Hospital in New York. During the course of his speech he feared for the possibility of up to half a million German-Americans rising up and wreaking havoc within the U.S. once General Pershing’s American Expeditionary Force (AEF) took part in its first major offensive against the German enemy. 
His solution was startlingly simple: to hang German-Americans from lamp posts. Unsurprisingly Gerard was unsuccessful in his bid for the Democratic Presidential nomination in 1920. 

Well… we were right there at war with Germany.  And another Presidential candidate running around wanting to imprison people based on little more than supposition, Mitchell Palmer — well, he might’ve gotten in had the political climate in 1920 been as it was in 1919 — as it were he bobbed up and down and finished off third.

draft dodging conservative rock stars.

Thursday, March 28th, 2013

I don’t know what the ruling here ought be, but I tend to think “Pants on Fire” should be relegated to things that are so utterly baseless, that they were essentially just conjured from thin air.

So here’s what we have.

Liberal group claims Mitt Romney, Dick Cheney, Donald Trump, others are draft dodgers.

And this is ruled “Pants on Fire”.

I am well aware of the pit falls of this accusation, as well a bit of the double standard through the last four decades of our nation’s history, but whatever the defamatory “Draft Dodger” charge — a deferment and obvious exiting from Vietnam while supporting the war lands on a sort of “here’s the point being made”.

Throwing away the man Mitt Romney — Mormon missionary service counted for something, even as he charged around campus lobbing rhetorical spitballs at Vietnam Protesters as his dad slid into controversy around the word “Brainwashing” — and just kind of shrug at others… the figure that demands some attention here is about here…

Limbaugh and Nugent were ultimately disqualified from service for medical reasons, according to Snopes.com and TheSmokingGun.com.

Ted Nugent.  And I have heard liberals tell of this fabled story…

Nugent claimed later about his “Draft Avoidance” technique of … being as revolting as possible…  he was messing with a gullible High Times reporter.

Never mind that this dove-tails in with his Rock persona of the time, never mind that parts of the story he has verified even while denying… it is why Snopes calls the story “Undetermined”.

If Nugent wanted people to believe it then, I’d just go ahead and say… let everyone believe it now.

And for Politi-fact… so it goes for your Democratic partisan “sigh“.

I’ve also heard Ted Nugent, in his current right wing nut pundit role, claim he never understood the sexual context of the song “Cat Scratch Fever”… interestingly, I recall my (sort of weirdly veiled Catholic in a public school setting) Health teacher showing a video of calisthenics routines set to different popular music, and opting to fast-forward through “Cat Scratch Fever”.
— Small Edit:  Actually, come to think of it, it was probably Ted Nugent denying understanding drug references to some other hit songs — the sex of Cat Scratch Fever would be palatable for his current persona, moreso than his now (not believably) disclaimed illicit drug history.

revolution now. plugged on a telephone pole. available at wal mart.

Wednesday, March 27th, 2013

One of those things I saw posted somewhere on the other, against a telephone pole.

CONSTITUTION
for the
NEW
SOCIALIST
REPUBLIC IN
NORTH AMERICA
(Draft Proposal)
From the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA

I don’t know if this is a plug for such a thing, or not.  And I actually want to know what the person who posted it to the telephone pole had in mind here — are they plugging it or warning against it?

It got the World Net Daily in a huff a few years ago, apparently.  (I’d be a hypocrite if I wonder too loudly “Why are you even paying attention?”)

So… Want a copy?  Available at Wal-Mart!

the politics of the Democratic abstainers regarding DOMA

Wednesday, March 27th, 2013

Staring at the trend-lines that Nate Silver has number crunched on states and support for “Same Sex Marriage”.  Then look over to different Democratic Senators and how they have responded to the current waves coming out of the looming Supreme Court ruling.  Jon Tester in Montana and Claire McCaskill in Missouri have come out in support — Tester just eked out a victory last term and can feel pretty confident the issue will not hit him in six years; McCaskill just pounded a “Tea Party” candidate and can feel sure that the issue’s double edged sword would hit a possible opponent more than her anyways and certainly not hamper her in six years.  It’s politically unfeasible for Mark Warner to stay away from coming to the “yah to gay marriage” position — moving in the currents of his native Virginia from where he would have staked his stances of his first election in 2001.

The Waves of Democrats coming out in favor of Same Sex Marriage right now is not a coincidence.  It is pretty clearly coordinated.  Yesterday, the Huffington Post ran at the top of their page a listing of the “Ten Democratic Senators” not on board Gay Marriage right now.  Today I see that one of them has slid to support — Kay Hagan in North Carolina — an interesting case… this is North Carolina and she’s up for re-election next year.  But I imagine it is better to “get this thing over with” and let it go into the election cycle as “old news”.  We have, in this list of politicians, a predominance of names who’d probably go ahead and slide to the position but wouldn’t want to make it “their issue” (and will slide into the weird “states decision” that seems to be where the swing vote of Kennedy on the Supreme Court is heading with this one).

So, what we’re left with are… nine.  1. Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) backs civil unions but not gay marriage.  2. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) continues to back DOMA, in addition to opposing same-sex marriage.   3. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) believes marriage is between a man and a woman.   4. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) supported allowing states to decide what to do about marriage but did not take a position beyond that.   5. Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) has mostly shied away from discussing gay marriage in public, offering only her support for people’s right to “love who they love.”   6. Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) opposes DOMA and co-signed an amicus brief last much that urged the Supreme Court to invalidate Section 3 of that law. But the senator has yet to endorse same-sex marriage as a legal right.  7. Sen. Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) does not support same-sex marriage.  8. Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) opposed same-sex marriage during the campaign.  9. Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) does not support same-sex marriage.

And now the question:  does any of this posturing matter?  Leafing through the Senators, I gauge that Joe Manchin of West Virginia, and Mark Pryor of Arkansas would be the most likely to take a stand against it and try to stamp themselves against their party — this is the Appalachia Corridor or the “Red Streak” of rapidly dwindling Democratic support… too, I suppose, Joe Donnelly of Indiana who might just possibly be ideologically opposed “in his heart”.  Carper of Delaware may well throw his support any minute now; Johnson is retiring anyways.

What you’re left with is the sort of shrugging question.  We count the politicians.  Even though I don’t know if we should care about the politicians.  For instance, I note Elizabeth Warren on the issue of marijuana legalization — you go ahead and shrug that one off if you’re a garden variety “progressive” / “liberal” because she is not going to be the spoke standing in the way of marijuana legalization where she is a catalyst for banking reform.

partisan flankering on senate races

Tuesday, March 26th, 2013

Eyeing the election conglomeration of 2014, in a World Where Mr. Gallup claims that there has been no time that a political party has been so unmoored from where the American public sits than the Republican Party right now, … well, things get interesting anyway.  Because the Senate map of 2012 came out well for the Democrats despite looking ugly, and the Senate map in 2014 looks as ugly starting out…

So we get some pretty amusing comedy in the comments section of stories about the retirement of Democratic Senator Tim Johnson.

Another Dem afraid to defend Obama Care….
I guess he passed the bill and found out what’s in it…
Democrats are reading the tea leaves.
Democrats will be swept out of office because Barack Obama and his policies are way out of step with mainstream America.
Democrats will be on the ash-heap of political relevance until Obamacare is repealed.|
The GOP will be in total control of Congress following the 2014 Mid-Terms, and Obama will be more an insignificant Lame Duck than he already is.
There’s hope for regaining OUR America, folks–patience.
I disagree. We have already exercised more patience than we (or this great country) can bear. We need to get out in front and press the vote!!
Don’t you just love how these Democrats create big, long lasting DAMAGE to the U.S. they high tail it out of town?
Look at both Dodd and Frank! They played a big hand in the financial melt down by protecting FANNIE & FREDDIE from needed reforms and now small banks and credit unions are suffering from DODD/FRANK – while TOO BIG TO FAIL are still up to dirty deeds.
Im not complaining. Now it is time to get a team of investigators on Johnson, and get him into Jail. Once he is found guilty on something the dems will throw him overboard.
We need to do this enough until they start taking each other out on their own.

The comedy here comes in with the “let’s investigate Tim Johnson and find something”.  Anything will do, I suppose.  A bit of a footnote: the Republican rank and file believes Tim Johnson won his seat in 2002 illegitimately — “last minute ballots” dredged up in the “bought and paid for” Indian reservations — how else do you explain Johnson’s win on a Republican night?  They also believe Al Franken won illegitimately — and when looking over comments of any story concering Senator Franken I run into “Trust me: it was stolen.  And don’t comment unless you were in Minnesota” — the Shadow Claimants.

I also note about Tim Johnson: his most famous moment was literally falling brain dead for a few moment on the Senate floor, thus being rushed into Hospital care for a few moments.  The man has Health issues.  You don’t need to go too much further than that in assessing reasons for retirement and the political calculus of spotting the tea leaves.

So, South Dakota will  either will have a Republican Primary as defacto General election, two parties clearing the race for a general election, or a Republican primary against a cleared General election.  We’ll … see.  I note that the NRA and paranoid claim of “using a tragedy for political aim of confiscated our guns” is always belied in cases like… South Dakota… where the gun issue becomes a headache of wedge issue.

Other “races” to watch… the big one… Kentucky… gets a write up in the American Conservative

If Ashley Judd decides to run for Senate next year, she will get more attention than perhaps any other Democratic candidate. But she’ll be far from the most likely Democrat to win.

The actress’s Twitter feed certainly lends credence to the idea that she’s running. Judd has been rooting for local Kentucky sports teams, talking about hymns she enjoys hearing in church, asking what Bible verses are on her followers’ minds, and offering innocuous political comments.

No, I don’t have a clue if she’s the Democrats’ best option — seems a “high risk, high reward” type dealing where they may be need one lest someone saunter to a predictable ten point drubbing trying to hew to a “Center” and lob an insult or two about the opponent’s college days as an “Aqua Buddha” or whatever –, or if the Clinton design of finding another candidate is necessary.  I will point out something about the ruse of “They elected Rand Paul — how can they elect Ashley Judd?” — some things go beyond “right / left dichotmey” — it’s a three dimensional world and we do have the “Outsider” or (yes indeed) “Entertainer” dimension that might better posit Judd than “Generic Centrist pulled in from Clinton”.   (Paul is tacking “left” — sort of — on Immigration, Drones, and Pot, after all…)

Beyond that… Massachusetts, where we note that Elizabeth Warren is hewing right on Marijuana in attacking the potential Republican candidate in the upcoming special election to replace John Kerry.  No, I don’t think this issue will pull through the next Scott Brown.

late night wars, part 3 or 4?

Sunday, March 24th, 2013

I suppose we can view the latest iteration of the “Late Night Wars” as following the dictum — it first played out as Comedy, then as Farce, and now as Tedium.  (To review … Leno / Letterman of the early 1990s can’t really be taken seriously; NBC trying to save Conan got too cute in moving Leno to 10 and then found out Conan wasn’t worth saving, and now — well, it’s Leno remaining terribly unhip but leading in the ratings and with Jimmy Kimmel now beating Letterman in the ratings they see an immediate future where their late nights are as screwed as the rest of the day… so they want to jump Fallon in now?)

There is, I guess, a pre-history worth mentioning.  I note that a blog post on the history of Johnny Carson’s competition gets relatively higher notice than the rest of this unread blog.  And we continue to have a “sub-plot” where Fox is mentioned as a ground for — first Conan and now Leno — might land.  Then again, this presents a weird problem of Fox’s demographic profile not matching the Leno.  Also, Fox’s late night problems pre-date the network weirdly enough, and you do get the feeling that Fox’s affiliates are right in not wanting a talk show to rein in their long time popular programming of … sitcom reruns from six years’ ago.

Musing, without any other place for Leno to go, I have an idea.  He can be put in after Letterman and moved into Letterman’s slot when he retires in a couple of years.