TV shows often open with billboards that mention each of the sponsors. On sports broadcasts, the sponsor logos are usually superimposed over scenic views of the venue.
But there are alternatives. Perhaps we could follow the lead of this 1960 program and have the logos modeled by showgirls wearing tiaras.
FEBRUARY 22, 2010 SHRINK AND WRAP
A couple of months ago, I was in Marion, Ohio, and bought a copy of the local daily newspaper. The Marion Star still exists, but barely: just ten small 11 by 22 pages, weighing only one ounce. There were only five stories with local bylines, four of them by the same reporter. There was just one local news photograph. There was also an interesting correction.
When I see a correction notice, I try to imagine the incorrect original version. Was the middle line missing? I hope not.
A century ago, the Star was much greater. Its publisher, Warren Harding, was on his way to becoming President of the United States.
Then when I worked in Marion in the 1970s, the Star was a key resource for my work in the competing medium of cable TV. In those days, futurists looked forward to the paperless office. It appears that paperless is slowly becoming reality.
Today marks the end of my subscription to the paper version of Broadcasting & Cable. From now on, its content will come to me courtesy of the Internet, not the postman.
In recent years, however, the content of the printed magazine has dwindled. Most weeks its now only 8½ by 11 and contains only 24 flimsy pages. And virtually all of the content is available online, for free in fact, more content than in the print version, where a box regularly lists other headlines and urges Read these stories and more at www.broadcastingcable.com.
How much would another year of the printed magazine cost me? The annual subscription fee has now reached $214.99.
FEBRUARY 16, 2010 ICE ROAD TRUCK RACING, ANYONE?
As of yesterday evening, Pittsburghers had already seen 34.8 inches of snow this February, easily breaking the old record for an entire February of 25.3 inches (set in 2003).
A colleague says his kids didnt have school on Feb. 5 because of a previously scheduled in-service day of teachers meetings. Then that night, the big snowstorm shut down everything. School finally reopened last Friday, then closed again for the holiday weekend. The result: between Feb. 4 and today, classes met on only one of the 11 days. One hopes that those kids will receive more continuity in education when they presumably make up the missed days in June.
Back in 1891 in Springfield, Massachusetts, James Naismith invented basketball. He needed an indoor activity for these long cold dark months when no sane person voluntarily ventures outdoors.
basketball is a winter sport. So why is it in the Summer Olympics?
In the Winter Olympics, apparently, we contest only those events that require snow or ice. Fair enough. But then, as local columnist Gene Collier suggests, where is ice fishing? Iditarod? Synchronized snow-angeling?
One can easily imagine adding other sports to attract the coveted younger demographic.
FEBRUARY 12, 2010 IN 10
At three previous Olympic Games, I worked on the TV crew. In Eighty-Eight I was in Seoul, in Ninety-Six I was in Atlanta, and in Oh-Two I was in Salt Lake City. But this year, in Ten, I am not working in Vancouver.
Does it seem odd to say in Ten? All right, I wont say it that way. Ill use the long form, in Twenty-Ten.
Speaking of the Olympics, Im reminded of a challenge that I face in my work: remembering the spelling of unusual names. Sometimes I dream up mnemonic scenarios. For Frank Coonelly, I imagined a line from the Beverly Hillbillies. Now for Alex Goligoski, a defenseman for the Pittsburgh Penguins, I can use this scenario to remind me how to spell his name:
FEBRUARY 9, 2010 MEET JAMBRES THE MAGICIAN
On this website, I've retold several ancient stories from the behind-the-scenes point of view of a participant who was less than awed by the alleged miracles.
Now I present my sixth such first-person account. It's twice as long as the others, so I've broken it into two parts. Click the title for the first installment of The Burning Bush. (This is the blue letter edition.)
FEBRUARY 6, 2010 BREAKING A 63-YEAR-OLD RECORD
By midnight last night, Pittsburgh had 11.4 inches of snow. That's a new record for a single day in February. The old record: 10.4 inches, set on February 20, 1947 the very day I was born!
At the hospital in Zanesville, Ohio, 150 miles west of Pittsburgh, the baby boom was at its peak. "The babies were coming as much as the snow these days," according to a note my mother wrote a week after my birth. Her doctor "spun around as he turned into the hospital this morning, but he said the main road was clear."
As of 7:00 this morning, the roads are far from clear around Pittsburgh. By the expected end of the storm this evening, we may have received another 11 inches. States of emergency have been declared in some municipalities, and TV reporters are urging people to stay home from work unless they're emergency personnel like doctors or policemen. Even four-wheel-drive vehicles like mine are getting stuck and clogging up the streets.
I may have to stay home, but so far I'm still going to try to keep my promise to work a 6:00 pm basketball telecast at the University of Pittsburgh. Time to go back outside and do some more shoveling, or I'll never be able to get my car out of its parking space.
Update: I made it to Pitt in time for our 11:30 am crew call, as did about half of my fellow TV technicians. But our 53-foot production truck was still at the bottom of "Cardiac Hill." With the streets covered with ice and snow, the truck could not safely climb the 10% grade to reach the arena. Therefore, our telecast was canceled at 12:30 pm, and we all went home.
We'll listen to the basketball game on the radio tonight and watch the Super Bowl tomorrow. By Monday, we're hoping that the roads will be mostly clear and we can try another Pitt telecast.
FEBRUARY 2, 2010 CANDYGRAM
I had finally learned to tolerate the land shark, and now it has disappeared. The stadium where the Super Bowl will be played Sunday has been renamed yet again.
Im reminded of last Sunday. On The Simpsons, Homer and Bart were treated to a private concert by Coldplay, held in Springfields Naming Rights Available Arena.
Since the venue for Super Bowl XLIV opened in 1987, it has been known as Joe Robbie Stadium, Pro Player Park, Pro Player Stadium, Dolphins Stadium, Dolphin Stadium, and Land Shark Stadium. Now, for the next five years, it will be Sun Life Stadium.
Seven names in the 28 years between 1987 and 2015? A new name every four years, on average? We dont always change Presidents that often.
It's nothing more than an example of the greed of the American private owner, according to Richard Davies, a sports historian at the University of Nevada, Reno, speaking to the Associated Press. It reflects the greatly intensified commercialization of American sports.
At least Sun Life Stadium sounds appropriate for sunny, lively South Florida that is, until you learn that Sun Life Financial is a Canadian company. Theres not much sun (or life?) in Toronto this time of year.
FEBRUARY 1, 2010 IN SEARCH OF THE MONSTER PARSNIP
Forget winter! For several years, I enjoyed the warmth of Arizona during February. I brought back some snapshots of the desert flora, and in honor of the Michael Jackson video on last night's Grammy Awards, I've posted those pictures in 3D. The article is called Dimensional Cacti.
JANUARY 28, 2010 WE PREFER TEN
DIGIT PREFERENCE Round numbers ending in zero why do we love them so much? We cling to them even after theyre no longer correct.
The Atlantic 10 Conference currently consists of 14 universities. The Big Ten Conference has 11 members, though at least theyve hidden a white 11 inside their logo. And the Fox Film Corporation is still stuck in the last century.
LANGUAGE PREFERENCE Now that the Jay/Conan controversy has reached a resolution for the moment, I sampled a different talk show last night: George Lopezs lively Lopez Tonight at 11 PM ET on TBS. I know, you've never seen it. Neither had guest Kristen Bell. When she entered and sat down, she accidentally chose the armchair designated for the host.
In his monologue, George often interjects a Spanish word or two. I had my TVs closed captioning switched on so that I could figure out what he was saying, but the captioner was giving me no help. If George says, Not in my casa he wont, the caption says NOT IN MY [SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE] HE WONT. If he says, We have Kristen Bell también, the caption simply omits the last word.
Somebody must have instituted a deliberate English-only policy for the captions. Thats not helpful for cross-cultural understanding.
And then there was a local newscast last night. If the closed captions were to be believed, a hockey game was played at THE WORLD MOST FAMOUS SABRINA. Turns out the reporter was talking about Madison Square Garden. Sound it out unless you're actually hearing-impaired, in which case such captions are not helpful.
JANUARY 23, 2010 SIGN LANGUAGE
Signs must use as few words as possible to get their message across. However, concise wording sometimes allows for multiple interpretations. Im sufficiently silly (some would say perverse) to deliberately misconstrue their warnings.
JANUARY 18, 2010 CLARIFICATIONS
Some actors' names that I'll confuse unless I make a note of them:
JANUARY 12, 2010 OUR NEXT MAYOR
I live outside the city of Pittsburgh. However, the metropolitan news media rarely mention my little borough. They naturally focus on the big city. The municipal government that gets all the publicity is Pittsburghs, and we suburbanites sometimes think of it as our government too.
According to Carbolic Smoke Ball, scientists at Hoboken State University have reached a breakthrough by building a broken clock that is right not twice but three times a day.
Ive deduced how they must have accomplished this feat. The Swayne Clock runs at half speed, backwards. While a regular clock is making 2/3 of a revolution clockwise (as from 12:00 to 8:00), the Swayne Clock is making 1/3 of a revolution counterclockwise (also from 12:00 to 8:00), so they agree every eight hours.
JANUARY 1, 2010 DON'T SIGN YOUR FOE'S DEMANDS
I learned from this incident in college that you don't get anywhere by shouting the other side's (alleged) slogan. If you're the one shouting it, people will think it's your slogan.