Monday, August 28, 2006

Toolbelt Diva

In the continuing series to help everyone become a better TV watcher, today I review Toolbelt Diva. This show is so much more than This Old House hosted by a hot chick. And the Diva herself is the best place to start. She reminds me of Fran Drescher, as she is good looking and has that New Yawk accent. But that is where the similarity ends. The Diva is either an ex-contractor, or she at least does a really great job impersonating one. She does appear to know her stuff.
The premise of the show is that the Diva shows up at someone's home and helps the homeowner do some sort of household repair. It may be a job like replacing the glass shower door (my favorite episode--more about that later) or putting in a new sidewalk.
The angle of the show is that the Diva guides the homeowner through the process. She demonstrates the technique, and the homeonwer then sweats right alongside the Diva. They do the teardown together, go to Home Depot, and then come back and do the repair/replacement. Along the way, the Diva may show what some tool does, or show some tip if you would like to try the home repair yourself. The Diva also itemizes the cost of the job. The show appears to be very informative.
But for those of us who can barely tell a screwdriver from a hammer, and have no desire to learn, the show is still pretty good. Most episodes feature attractive single women. In my favorite episode, the shower door one, a really well built blonde installs a shower glass door with the Diva's help. They both get sweaty, and for some reason, and believe me I'm not complaining, the busty blonde bounces in her tub.
This show is very hard to rate because the episodes are so inconsistent. The aforementioned shower door episode is a solid 8. But some other episodes could only be a 5.
So, if forced to come up with just one number, I'd have to rate this show a 6.7.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Meerkat Manor

In a continuing series to help you watch television, and expose everyone to shows not normally seen, it's Meerkat Manor on Animal Planet. The new episodes air on Friday at 8:00 p.m. but that is irrelevant. Most of the shows are the same.
As part of a university study (who funds these guys and why do they do it?) cameras were set up to do a long term study of meerkats. A meerkat, for those of the more Disneyfied, is the animal in The Lion King known as Timon. If the meerkats in the Manor were as entertaining as Timon, then the show would be infinitely more watchable. They are mostly assigned names of classical composers like Beethoven, but they basically all look and act the same. The show is pitched as a reality show with real meerkats, but it is boring beyond belief.
If you can catch an episode where the meerkats fight another group for dominance, then, my friend, you have seen the best of Meerkat Manor. The late Marlon Perkins would have turned it into one very interesting episode of Wild Kingdom. The less than brilliant programming geniuses at Animal Planet turned it into a series. One that is boring at best.

On my 1-10 scale, I give it a very charitable 3.

Maybe I should explain my rating scale.

10--a prime show. The Sopranos or 24 would rate a 10.
9-- definately worth watching. Think South Park or Seinfeld re-runs. Not as funny as the first time, but still great TV fare.
8-- Pretty darn good stuff. If you can't be home, you'd consider setting up the VCR. Some solid 8's would be Earl, or Everybody Hates Chris.
7-- Not quite good enough to tape. But you can look forward to watching. The Office is the first show that comes to mind as a 7.
6-- Now we get into the shows that are ok, but only a first choice if other shows are re-runs. You won't mind watching a 6 at a different time. Britcoms are 6's.
5-- Think of a movie you liked, but have seen a dozen times or more. You'd choose the movie over the program, then the program is a 5. Mash and almost everything on TVLAND has become a 5.
4-- Crappy show, but with some redeeming quality, like it features hot chicks. Any show with Pam Anderson would be a 4.
3-- Only worth watching if the only alternative is infommercials. Fishing shows are 3.
2-- About the same as a good infommercial. QVC is a 2.
1-- Infommercials, unless they are The Knife Collector Show. They sell swords!

Friday, August 25, 2006

Scandanavian Cooking

In my continuing mission to help alert others to the many fine TV shows not normally seen, I am reviewing Scandanavian Cooking. Now this show may actually be called New Scandanavian Cooking. But I am sure that there is no confusion as I doubt anyone ever watched Old Scandanavian Cooking.

But I digress. While there appear to be many hosts of the show, Tina Nordstrom is the best. She is a pretty blonde Swedish woman. Actually, she is more than pretty. She is downright HOT!
The recipes are only half the show.

When she is making a delicacy like (I swear I'm not making this up) smoked eel and eggs, Tina will go out eel fishing first. She'll catch a few eels with the other fisherman. For the sake of TV, she will then go to the smokehouse and get some smoked eels. It would take too long to smoke eels herself, but I am sure she is quite capable of doing that. I mean when she wanted some boar meat, she went out and hunted wild boar. This is a lady who is, to say the least, adventurous.

Then, for reasons only known to the show's producers and Ikea, Tina will build her prep area. If she needs a sink and countertop, she'll build it out of modular units. They fast forward ala Benny Hill and she quickly builds whatever structure she needs. She does her cooking outdoors. If it is winter (I think it is nearly always winter in Scandanavia) she will cook in the middle of a snowstorm and then eat her meal out there.
Part of the show is financed by Scandanavian travel and tourist bureaus, so they show a lot of the countryside. Apparently, the countryside is snow-covered most of the time. During its 15 minutes of summer, she does go out and have a picnic, or something summery to enjoy the Scandanavian summer. But these episodes are rare, as summer is so short in whatever the hell country she is visiting.
She uses ingredients that are nearly impossible to find outside of Scandanavia (where can one find lingonberries and clownberries?) and doesn't give any alternatives. So, if you want to try these recipes at home, good luck. The meals also run heavy towards fish as this appears to be the principle ingredients of every Scandanavian dish, even desserts. They also love dried cod. She must have 50 recipes for dried cod. Occasionally, she will use meat, but even then it is bizarre. One dish used reindeer or something like that. Like I'm going to find that at Stop and Shop.
I do recommend the show. Not for the recipes, but because the countryside is beautiful, and Tina is quite the show hostess.

I give it a 7.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

King of Cars

I spend approximately 90% of my waking hours watching TV.

I'm watching it now. I have it on as I fall asleep at night, and flip it on first thing in the morning.

Do you know what's on the i network at 3:00 a.m.?

I do.

You probably didn't even know that there is an i network.

Due to my tremendous expertise as a TV watcher, I am doing a major public service. In addition to my political rantings and offering insights into Yankees baseball, I will provide reviews on TV shows. I especially like the shows that almost no one knows are on. The cable channels. Not the good channels like Comedy Central and Food Network, but the ones like A&E, Bravo, and W, and Crt.

My first review is for the King of Cars.

This show is on A&E on various days and nights. I usually watch it on Tuesday nights at 10:00 p.m. EST. That's the double episode night. Twice the cars. Twice the fun.
The show is a little hard to understand. It is even harder to understand why I like it.
The show starts with a kickass theme song. Kind of like a Rap style, with some really good old style MTV video. Think Sharp Dressed Man video combined with Buster Rhymes lyrics.

"They dooz it large" is one of the themes of the show. It takes place at a Dodge dealership in Vegas. This is the largest Dodge dealer in the world. The dealership owner is Chopper or Chop. A stout gentleman who "chops" car prices to make the deal. The dealership uses various promotions to bring in the customers, but the highlight is an infommercial they broadcast on local TV. Many of the salesmen play characters in the infommercial such as the "Blue Genie," or Bob the Builder. But this has little to do with the show. The show is about the daily lives of a car dealership, I think. It's really hard to tell what the hell it's about. One episode may be helping get the "Blue Genie" a girlfriend. The next may be about laying off some salesguys because business is slow. They have dunk tanks, gongs, and who knows what else. It is definately entertaining, but I'll be damned if I know why. It must just be because Chop is a dynamic guy. He doesn't get a lot of air time, but when he is on, I can't wait to see what he will do next. He is one very creative dude. On a scale of 1-10, I give it a solid 8.

By the way, the Knife Collectors Show is on i at 3:00 a.m.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Sports Talk-Yankees win again

It does all come down to money, mostly. The highest spending teams are in playoff contention, but it is not a steadfast rule of thumb.
The Cubs have the 5th highest payroll, and have one of the worst records.
The Diamondbacks are one of the lowest spending teams, and they are right in the mix.
As usual, it comes down to...
preparation, and a hell of a lot of luck.
A high payroll can cover up mistakes, but bad luck- injuries, accidents and such, will wreak havoc with any team.

A good farm system can mean more than mega bucks, also.

Look at Oakland. They are competing because they get good young players, who usually make much less than the veterans teams like the Yankees field. The last great Yankees run, from 1996 through 2000-4 Championships in 5 years had a core group of home grown talent.

Melky Cabrera may be the beginning of another talent explosion in the Bronx.
Hughes is at AA, and nearly ready to come up.

Yankees may be getting ready to go on another run.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Men want to have fun, and women want to walk that fun into the woods and shoot it.

I just heard this quote again from a new show on Fox with Brad Garrett, and it still makes me laugh. The show may wind up being funny.

Ok, Cablevision-I got the message

I have been a Cablevision customer for many years. It's not like I have a lot of choices-it's either cable or a dish. Cable has to advertise to keep up their advantage. Ok. It sucks that they advertise on cable channels (which means I already have cable) because I am paying for the channel already, and I don't need to be reminded that I'm paying for them to advertise to me.
What really bugs me is that cable commercials are possibly the dumbest commercials ever made.
Years ago, they had a Dennis Miller wannabe yelling at his mother. And he yelled at some garden gnomes. The executives at Cablevision called them "edgy."

I know because I was there.

I called them f'ing moronic, which partially explains why I no longer work at Cablevision.

The current one features some old guy sitting in his yard. He laughs as he tells about his neighbor who spent 50 grand to fix up house and then put on a satellite dish. His comment is "It looks like a space station!"

A 12" dish makes a rather large suburban house look like a space station?

What planet has the copy writer been living on? Has the writer ever seen a dish, or for that matter a space station?

I realize he's attempting to use hyperbole, but it's past that and just become really incredibly stupid.

I wonder if anyone has made a decision to try or to keep cable based upon these idiotic commercials? If so, I would love to know who these people are.

I have a load of useless crap I'd like to sell to them.

You want to keep me happy as a customer? How about lowering your rates, or at least offer me something besides 112 infomercials on off hours and weekends.

"Little Giant" isn't a friggin' show, dammit.

Friday, August 11, 2006

40 Million Dollar Slaves

The book Forty Million Dollar Slaves: The Rise, Fall, and Redemption of the Black Athlete by William C. Rhoden has certainly received some press lately.
Mr. Rhoden was interviewed on Colbert Report among other places.
He makes a case that today's black athlete, while compensated quite generously for his efforts, is just as a slave because the black community does not own the teams who hire the players. I plan to read the book because his comments appear to be so ludicous that I want to know more. I just can't comprehend how someone who makes millions could possibly be considered a slave on any level. Isn't nearly everyone a slave to his employer?
Whether my boss is black, white, or green, I have little to no input in business decisions. I get nothing extra for going above and beyond when I work. My pay is not need based, but simply the amount that it will take to keep me employed. They know fully well that I am only a small cog in a big wheel. If I leave, I will be replaced. I may be missed by some for a short time, but business will proceed as usual.
And I will work until either I am able to save enough money that I can live out my days (highly unlikely at this point in time) or until I collapse at the plow.
If that isn't the modern day description of a slave, what is?

He's back


Evander Holyfield, that's who.

At the age of 43, he is back in the ring. Evander, former heavyweight champ has a fight later this month, and he has his sights set on the title.

I doubt he needs the cash. So why would a 43 year old man willingly get beaten up? I'm sure he believes that he still has the skills so that he doesn't get hurt too badly.

All I can assume is that he is going through some sort of mid-life crisis. At 43 he is relatively young, and probably is bored.

If it were me, I'd develop some other interests. Life is just full of options. Why just keep pursuing the same one? It's not like he never achieved his dream. He was the champion of the world. And he held the title for a while.

This is truly puzzling. I'm sure he will be releasing some incredibly lame excuse for getting back into the squared circle.

My top choices for the lame excuse Evander will use:
1. The division needs a great champion. I saw no one else was around.
2. I'm still in great shape.
3. I missed the competition.
4. I wanted to prove that I still have the skills
5. yadda, yadda, yadda.

It's funny how some athletes know when to hang 'em up, and others just hang on until we just can't take them anymore.

I know my respect for Holyfield as an athlete will not change based upon how he does at age 43. I highly doubt that he can ever achieve the greatness that he once exhibited. At best, he can only be a shadow of himself. Even George Foreman, the most well known of these comeback athletes, was not nearly the boxer he was in the old days. The "new" George is fun, but the old one was one of the greatest to ever lace up a pair of boxing gloves.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Winning Ugly

Randy Johnson and the Yankees were on their way to a laugher, and then all hell broke loose.

They barely squeaked out a 7-6 win.

But I'll take it. A win is a win.

And I'd rather win an ugly one than lose a beautiful game.

You're welcome, Bosux fans.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

What are they doing in them?

I saw on the news yesterday that 24,000 kids per year are injured in shopping carts.

24,000? What in hell are the kids doing?

I mean, put the kid in the little seat part, put the potato chips and canned tuna in the other, and push the cart to the checkout.

It seems pretty simple to me.

Shopping carts have to be redesigned because we need to cater to the lowest common denominator, I guess.


Sunday, August 06, 2006

What happened to big business?

Big business is no longer in touch with the average American. Many years ago, Henry Ford believed that the most important person was the working man. His car had to be cheap enough that every person who worked could afford one. And, he paid his employees enough that they would be able to afford his car, also. Before Henry, only the wealthy owned cars. To Henry, it was important that every working person participate in the Great American Experiment. I know in later years he did some questionable things and had some friends who were truly suspect, but in the early days, he had a better idea.
Big business has gotten away from that. It no longer considers the needs of its workers, those people who made it great. Instead it is beholden to stockholders who are only interested in the bottom line. Period. This is a foolish thinking. It is very shortsighted thinking also.
I know that America has become a service economy. And yet I put forth that this is not in our best long term interests. Production in America means jobs in many sectors. Construction. Direct manufacturing. And of course all the ancilliary jobs that go with them. It also keeps more money in our economy. Trade deficits are rarely beneficial.
Whether they are businesses related to the workers such as delis and the like, goods made here do provide decent jobs. And I know that this is overlooked, but some of the people who would get work in a factory may not be suited for other jobs in a service economy. Not everyone has the desire to get a college degree. Not everyone can, or wants to be a salesperson or truck driver. Believe it or not, some people enjoy working with their hands and get satisfaction from being part of a team that produces a product.
Big business has become so profit driven that they have forgotten the common man. And the common man is the one who buys the product. As jobs disappear, so goes the opportunity for the common man to purchase products.
By outsourcing manufacturing, big business can increase profits, but in the long run, they may be destroying the basis that made them successful.

Talk about out of touch

Nothing shows the absolute contempt that big business has for the avwerage American than the way Con Ed handled the recent blackout in the borough of Queens, NYC.
In the middle of one gawdawful heat wave, the people (anywhere from a few thousand to 100,000 or more depending on whose estimate you use) were without electricity for 10 days. Some may have been out even longer as blackouts continue but on a much more limited basis.
Con Ed has decided that up to $500 will go to people who put in claims for lost food that was in storage. Businesses will get $7000. How they came up with these amounts, I have no idea. I'm sure that it will cover the real losses of food that most people had. If they had more, well, I guess Con Ed's attitude is "Tough Shit."
So far, so good. At least they have made an attempt to recognize that people had real losses, and the amount is at least a start. The flower shop, deli, luncheonette or whatever can at least have some cash to get going. If the losses were greater, I'm sure that down the road some legal action or insurance may get them their fair amount of compensation.
But here is where the contempt kicks in.
Con Ed announced that they will compensate the good people of Queens for their pain and suffering. For 10 days without electricity during one nasty heat wave, Con Ed will give every customer.....

3 dollars.

Three ($3.00, 3, tres, tre, III) American dollars.

That's no typo.

I'm not saying that any amount of money is appropriate to cover the pain and suffering of those families. And I'm not saying that they should receive anything. But 3 bucks is more than a slap in the face. It's the knee in the groin of compensation awards.

How out of touch with reality do the execs at Con Ed have to be to think that $3.00 is going to make anyone happy? Sure, maybe the guy panhandling on the corner may like to get 3 bucks, but a regular working person with a family?

That sums up much of what is wrong with America today.

More to follow in another rant.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Where have the Conservatives Gone?

I have noticed recently a large group of individuals who refer to themselves as "Conservatives." I find this very disturbing because they are anything but.
Neo-Con seems to be the term that is hung on them, and to be honest, I'm not very happy with that moniker either.
To me, a Conservative is one who believes in many of the traditional values as set forth in the Constitution. These values would be:
1. Respect for the law.
2. Respect for your fellow man.
3. A responsible government, particularly in fiscal matters.
4. An informed electorate that participates in the process.

I don't see any of this from the Neo-Cons. I see spending like a drunken liberal on a major bender. Our next generation will be hit with a debt that will absolutely strangle them. I see laws bent to fit the occasion. Lies and more lies. Big business running rampant. And I see citizens who do not even bother to get their sorry asses to the polls once every 4 years. Mid-term elections get even less participation.
And before anyone blames a Republican or a Democrat for this mess, go look in a mirror. Do you vote?
If you don't even bother to read about the candidates before an election, that doesn't count. If you are blindly pulling a lever because your Daddy always used to pull that same lever, then you are part of the problem.
When an incumbent has an almost certain chance of re-election based upon little more than that he is already in office-then the fault is the voter who allows a politician to turn a service into a career.
And yes, an elected official is a public servant. That is, they provide a service.

When was the last time you held the person in office accountable?

Get involved. Don't let any of these radicals from the far right or the far left turn our country into a cesspool.
Read a book. Subscribe to the Sunday paper and read more than the sports and comics. Go to an online news source.
Watch BBC news on TV, not infotainment as presented by Fox and CNN.
We need real consrvatives, people who love this country to put a stop to the Neo-Cons and the Ultra-Liberals.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

That's why they make minimum wage.

Once again, raising the minimum wage is being discussed.

I think it is high enough.

Here's my reasoning:

All my friends, just about, started working at minimum wage, or at the least, an amount that was very small.
What did they do?

Every one did something different.

Some furthered their education by going to college. Others worked hard and moved up in the company. And still others, improved their skills and sought another company that would compensate them more equitably.

Not one remained stagnant and waited for the minimum wage to be raised.

So, why is that the apparent method in favor today?

I worked with a woman who made a little more than minimum wage. The company offers college reimbursement, and a chance to move up in the company. A degree pays about double what she makes.

In the 10 years that she has been in the company, she has done nothing to improve her skills. And she expects a raise when minimum wage goes up.

Does anyone realize that is not the way it works? Sure, my grandfather had a chance to work for one company and maybe get a raise just by being there, but that business style is out of fashion.

Why don't the minimum wage bleeding hearts wake up and live in the 21st century? Minimum wage is not enough, but it is not meant to be a lifelong goal. It is a step along the way.

Today, I went to the MickeyD's drive thru.

I ordered an iced coffee with no sugar, a cheeseburger, and apple slices.

I got chicken, fries, and coffee with sugar.

And those employees are worth more than minimum wage? They are barely worth that.

Dog Days

It's hard to blog about anything but the weather.

The heat index is way over a hundred today.

My air conditioner is running full blast and this dump is still hot as Hades.

I'm blogging in my underwear, and it's still too hot here.

I really feel for the people in Queens who went without electric for a week and a half.

Quick baseball update.

Heard an interview with Sheffield today. He said all the right things. He may be back in a month or so. Look out the rest of the AL.

If he comes back on Sept 1, I predict the Yankees will run the table.