the last word (tm)

Vol. 16/No. 1 - 434th issue - February 2, 2007 - - Bellevue, Kentucky
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Jan. 31 - TV Brick - a device intended to be hurled at TV screens by angry viewers - was a legend in its own time!

We've done a little research (it's called "pulling a Last Word", because we get laughed at for actually checking the facts before we say something), and it appears as if they still make TV Brick. But the TV Brick of the therapeutically correct new millennium is nothing like that of yesteryear. Today's TV Brick is really a TV Sponge: It's no harder than a Nerf ball. But in its early 1980s heyday, TV Brick was a brick!

Imagine the possibilities!

With the real TV Brick of old, you could actually break stuff. Pretty clever when you think about it!

That would come in handy for Cincinnati area TV viewers who are required to contend with the ongoing right-wing beedledickery of Channel 19 - called WXIX by those in the know.

Most of you who know me know I'm a fan of the long-running reality series Cops. This passion may seem unusual for a progressive populist, but in my part of town, thousands of viewers consider a spang-new episode of Cops to be the proper way to celebrate the weekend. The intense popularity of Cops in this market has never sunken in with Channel 19, which ignores the fact that this network institution clobbers rival shows in its Saturday time slot locally and nationally.

Over a dozen years ago we reported how Channel 19 preempts and otherwise abuses Cops. The situation has only barely improved, despite WXIX being generously provided with many years to fix it.

If I could still get Dayton's Channel 45, this wouldn't be a huge deal for me. (Cable won't fix this issue, because the Northern Kentucky cable system refuses to carry any alternate network affiliate for the many occasions when the Cincinnati stations preempt your favorite national shows with crap.) This also would not be that serious of a problem if Channel 19 was reliable in delaying Cops instead of not showing it at all.

50 ways to ruin 'Cops'

These days, Channel 19 often utilizes its "Bearcat Bounce", in which it delays a show that was bumped by a University of Cincinnati basketball game that nobody watches. Even if Cops got bounced to 4 AM, this would be adequate for us and other VCR-owning viewers. But Channel 19 can't always be counted on not to fuck up its "Bearcat Bounce." What sometimes happens is this:

1) Cops fails to be shown at its rescheduled time. Instead, WXIX often shows a stale sitcom rerun, and never shows Cops; or

2) The 8:30 PM Cops, which is usually a repeat, is shown - while the 8 PM Cops, which is usually a new episode, is nowhere to be found; or

3) A full-screen slide with the Channel 19 logo pops up in the middle of the rescheduled episode, so you can hear it but can't see it; or

4) The final ad in a commercial break runs over Cops. (Channel 19 sometimes does this even when Cops is shown in its normal time slot.)

That Channel 19 has a "Bearcat Bounce" at all is an improvement from only a few years ago, when Cops was usually bye-bye altogether if a game was on in its slot. But even these days, if a game starts at 6 PM on a Saturday, you're up Bunk Gas Creek anyway. That's because the games always - without fail - run longer than the 2 hours that Channel 19 has allotted for them (even when they don't go into overtime). This has happened twice this season already. When it occurs, Channel 19 simply runs the game over Cops and joins Cops "in progress" instead of delaying it - so you miss over half of Cops!

After all these years, they still haven't learned to allot more than 2 hours for a basketball game.

It isn't just college hoops horseshit that WXIX blots out Cops with. A few years ago, the station cut into Cops and deprived viewers of almost the entire first half of that show by showing a weather report - for Missouri! And in late 2005, Channel 19 once preempted Cops with an ordinary, run-of-the-mill high school football game. Cops was not shown at all.

We might be a little less angrified by this slap in the face against one of our favorite shows, if not for the fact that Channel 19's total preemptions have become almost Cops-specific. We knew the station had a special objection to Cops back in the '90s during conservatives' moral panic against "violent" TV. We know this is still true, because whenever the network opts to show something other than Cops in Cops's regular time slot, Channel 19 never preempts that.

This policy is further borne out in a Cincinnati Post article from October 13. According to the piece, Channel 19 decided not to show 4 UC basketball games this season that they had originally scheduled - because the games would have bumped American Idol. American Idol just had to be shown at its normal time, instead of being delayed even a minute.

Why??? What makes American Idol so much more special than Cops???

"It wasn't good business for us to preempt the #1 show on television for UC basketball," a Channel 19 big shot told the Post. Um, they wouldn't have been preempting the network's #1 show - for The Simpsons moved to Sunday years ago, and UC rarely plays on Sundays. As a diehard Simpsons buff, I know the station is chagrined by this, because it used to preempt The Simpsons with basketball when it was on Thursdays, choosing not to show the bumped Simpsons episodes at all. With nothing around to snuff out The Simpsons anymore, the total failures to show a scheduled program really are limited almost exclusively to Cops now.

We had no idea anyone actually watched American Idol, unless it just happened to be on at a gathering. We didn't know it had fans. The show consists primarily of a man insulting people as they sing on stage. Whoever gets humiliated the least gets a recording contract on a major label, and gets instantly promoted to radio stations far and wide. Thus, Billboard's Hot 100 has practically become a ranking of who gets yelled at the least on American Idol. Isn't it nice to know that one man can exert so much control over the most authoritative record chart in the business? (According to legend, WXIX did delay an episode of American Idol this week, but on average it still gets far better treatment than Cops.)

The evils of Channel 19-ism

A friend of ours tells us that Channel 19 in the early '80s repeatedly ran a brief but frenzied editorial about "the evils of communism" that sounded like it could have been ripped straight from a John Birch Society magazine. But there exists an ideology far worse than communism: Channel 19-ism.

Channel 45 in Dayton is operated by the miserable right-wing Sinclair syndicate (under a phony corporation to get around the already-weak FCC rules). Sinclair is known for its corporate policy of showing a discredited attack film against John Kerry just before the 2004 "election". Despite this, we - whenever Channel 19 preempted Cops - used to watch Cops on the Dayton affiliate back when we had a set that could pick it up (which our newer set can't), and we never saw that station treat Cops as shabbily as Channel 19 does. Yes, Channel 19 is that wretched, that it treats a popular show worse than a Sinclair outlet does.

Now that is bad!

If showing a fucking dumb basketball game that nobody watches instead of Cops is such a great moneymaker for Channel 19, then they ought to feel damn lucky. But they can't feel. They're a corporation, not a person. While they're raking in fillions of dollars, they need to see how poorly a lot of people and animals in this big, bad world live. We don't see how they could be making that much money off lackluster sporting events though. We're even more doubtful that they're making more dough from lopping off the first 29 minutes of Cops than they would from postponing it.

So let's have TV Brick by the barrelful!

The reintroduction of the vintage version of TV Brick would help alleviate the current economic recession - by causing many TV sets to have to be replaced. If you're in the television-makin' biz, you'd get a lot more work to put food on your family (as Disgeorge would say).

There's no satisfaction in throwing a soft object at a TV that fails to even break it. To borrow a Peanuts adage, happiness is smashing a TV screen into countless smoldering shards. These days, destroying something expensive is often the only way to get your point across. My television set is such a piece of rubbish that this wouldn't be hard to do. (The screen is so brittle that it already has 3 dents just from accidents.)

In the meantime, what substitutes can we use in lieu of TV Brick? How about TV Hammer? TV Bug Spray Can? TV Stop Sign? TV Toilet? TV TV?

My television set is bound to disintegrate anyway sometime soon, so it would be a damn crying shame if that happens before I can break it myself!


Feb. 2 - Major government initiatives - both good and bad - always have catchy names. In the good ol' U.S. and A., for example, these names have ranged from the New Deal to the Contract With America.

Well, here at the office of The Last Word, we're having something called One Step Ahead...of Clutter! Clutter is truly taking a colossal retreat, because it's time for our once-in-a-decade cleaning! Split Enz used to sing about being "One Step Ahead", but they always left out the part about clutter.

So let's get the floors cleared, the dishes washed, the nonlethal mousetraps set, and the toilet flushed! It's our One Step Ahead...of Clutter!

Clutter is an enemy to be reckoned with. But what, indeed, constitutes clutter? When I was a youth, my parents had different ideas than I did of what was clutter. I thought the styrofoam BUMP sign I got at the Ontario store in Newport was beauty. But they thought it was clutter, and I was required to sell it at the family yard sale. I thought hoarding paper from typing class at Bro$$art was an exercise in conservation. My folks thunk it clutter. I thought gluing dried boogers and stale macaroni elbows to a paper grocery bag was an ingenious melding of art, history, and science. But - you guessed it - the oldsters called it clutter.

Lately I've vowed to reduce clutter. That means disposable drinking cups from 1993 now really are disposable. (I only buyed them because the plumbers were working on the shower stall and I couldn't wash the cups I had.) Books that my dog ruined when I was a child by vomiting on them are now finally going into the gar-bahge. Phone books I confiscated from hotels to penalize them for having their swimming pool closed the whole time I stayed there are also being disposed of as clutter, because I'll likely never read them again.

A Mariah Carey CD that I found laying in the street about 12 years ago is not clutter, because I recently discovered that the CD actually works, despite the condition in which I found it. An ancient LED calculator that got broken by idiot schoolmates back when Facts Of Life was still on the air also is not clutter, because I have repaired it. If I ever find the krogie - part of a decorative cardboard pair of scissors I helped rip from a shelf at the now-defunct Kroger supermarket in Highland Heights in 1986 or so - it is not clutter, for it has such great historic value.

Similar to the krogie, but of less historic value (and therefore clutter), is one of the strangest supernatural phenomena we've ever encountered. It's a piece of felt from the box for our cassette deck that is shaped exactly like the state of Delaware!

The photo shows the piece of felt side by side with a Delaware refrigerator magnet to compare it to.

Inspired by the Western Hills Viaduct (funny word alert!), we're also making better use of vertical space here in our office - an idea that's long overdue (like a library book).

Welcome to our One Step Ahead...of Clutter! It's just a few smiles from home!

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(Copywrong 2007)
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