Thursday, July 26, 2007

Public Radio Sucks

[since this blog continues, much to my annoyance, to be rated "G" by the blog-rater thingy, I have determined to use more salty language in the next few posts. If you read this, Mom -- sorry.]

[this post goes out to MyDogIsChelsea, who is cruelly laid up with strep throat for the second time this summer. Lame! Way lame!]

After 30 years of listening to public radio, I have come to the conclusion that it sucks.

With that said, let me jump immediately into the qualifications:
  • Public radio sucks objectively, not comparatively. Indisputably, it shines like a precious diamond in the vile wasteland of ClearChannel-era commercial radio, not to mention television, newspaper journalism (with a couple of exceptions), and magazine journalism (with a handful of exceptions).
  • This American Life does not suck.
  • Michael Feldman does not suck.
  • Many individual public radio stations produce solid local content, or curate unusual or interesting content. I happen to listen, for my sins, to Oregon Public Broadcasting, which does neither well and thus especially sucks.

OK, moving on to the evidence. Here is why public radio sucks:

1. It is stuck in time. The hot new show, Wait Wait Don't Tell Me, is as old as the century. This American Life, though still lovely on a good week, can no longer be considered fresh and hip eleven years into its tenure. What I can expect to hear on any given Sunday is almost exactly what I could expect to hear when I entered graduate school in fucking 1991. This makes public radio essentially an oldies station. Ergo, it sucks.

2. It is not public. Programming is flagrantly directed by what can gain corporate sponsorship -- announced in a steady stream of commercial advertisements -- and by what can be funded through sucking up to grant-wielding foundations. Not that any of this craven behavior stops the agony of:

3. Fundraising Weeks. Talk about sucking. God. Public radio fundraising is embarassingly inept. It demeans all who take part and all who listen. Sucks! Sucks! Sucks! In recent years, it has taken me months to get back in the habit of listening to the radio after fundraising weeks. I think I am wising up.

4. It is devoid of surprises. Public radio cleaves to the notion that formula creates comfort, so its shows march through their formats in a dull lockstep. Now, this is all fine and good in pleasant fluff like Car Talk, which has broadcast essentially the same show every week throught my adult life. (Car Talk has more ritual incantations per hour than the Roman Catholic mass.) In news programming, though, it is kind of disturbing. It isn't too hard for a regular listener to predict what the news will be before turning on the radio -- which means that is ain't really news at all, doesn't it. And finally:

5. Liberal Bias. Where is it, anyway? I can turn to any other media outlet if I want the bland, reckless, willfully ignorant false moralities of conservative so-called thought rammed down my throat. From a medium that professes to a little intellectual rigor, I expect a bracing liberal perspective. But I ain't hearing it.

That is all.

Happy listening,


Monday, July 23, 2007

What I Did This Weekend, by Michael5000, age 38.

I've had several questions -- some of them unnecessarily skeptical, I might add -- about how the mechanics of the whole county-collecting thing works. Well, it's not rocket science. You take a road atlas with reasonably visible county lines, and highlight every road you've ever been on. [Tip: it helps to have grown up in a family that never travelled, and to start before you have a car of your own.] From that, you can see what counties you've been in. Easy as that.

This Saturday, for instance, I drove on Washington State Highway 142 from Goldendale to Lyle. Not that I needed Klickitat County, of course. Please. I finished Washington seven years ago. But it was a road I'd never been on before, and really that's the point of the whole exercise: to encourage yourself to poke around in places that you would never go otherwise. And in this case, we were rewarded by a lovely, quirky road that twists through bucolic wheatlands before diving down into a series of narrow, twisting canyons. Nice.

We were in that part of the world to visit the Maryhill Museum, which was opening a show of regional book artists. Frequent L&TM5K commenter fingerstothebone had four typically fabulous pieces prominently displayed, and was on hand to hold forth.

Shu-Ju Wang, 'Fatherland', 2003.

We ran into her again on Sunday at the big shindig to open the Museum of Contemporary Craft. This was quite a happening scene but maybe a little Pearl-y for my taste, know what I'm sayin'? I got to see some work by Sally Finch, though, which always makes me very happy.

Sally Finch, 'Four-Place Logarithm Study 1', 2007
As far as we could tell, fingerstothebone was not at the open-air Decemberists concert at Edgefield Sunday night. We pitched our blanket next to an area reserved for "Decemberists Parents," and it was fun to check out the moms and dads and brothers and sisters and watch how they reacted to the show. Bitchin' keyboardist Jenny Conlee came out during the opening act to hang with her fam, but I was very cool and did not gawk, solicit an autograph, or shout "I love you Jenny!" I'm a fanboy, but I'm a grown-up fanboy.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Windfall from the Second-Hand Gods

I was walking down the street this morning, just minding my own business, when I passed a woman setting up a yard sale. As I passed, she stuck a sign next to THREE BOXES of Legos that said "All -- $10."

Oh my. I had bought them within 15 seconds, and there were already people disappointed that they didn't get there soon enough. ("How much did you pay?" asked one sad woman. "Not very much!" I chirped. Which was terribly unseemly. I was wrong to gloat.)

Check out this haul!

That's, like, fifteen POUNDS of Legos. Which is awesome because, um, you know, kids. Kids love Legos! Gotta have toys on hand for when kids visit!

So I get home, and there's this antique-store find in the mail from occasional L&TM5K commenter Dug:

SUWEEET!!! And this isn't just a postcard, it's one of those booklets with 20 gatefold images inside, including not only such gems as the (former) Greyhound station and the judging of the Rose Festival floats, but also this one of Laurelhurst Park, a mere four blocks from Castle5000:

What a gem! It will hold a place of honor in the boring postcard collection.

So anyway, it seems like the second-hand gods are taking good care of me today.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Boring Postcards: An Introduction

Mrs. 5000 and I collect boring postcards. It's hard to explain why boring postcards are more interesting than interesting postcards. They just are.

It's also hard to explain what makes a postcard boring. The two of us don't always agree on whether a given postcard really qualifies. We can spend a lot of time arguing about this.

Although there are no universal rules, common characteristics of the properly boring postcard might be:
  • it shows an "attraction" that no one would ever actually want to visit
  • the attraction lacks visual interest
  • the attraction is something that is common as dirt
  • a genuinely interesting attraction is made to look uninteresting
  • the image is poorly photographed or framed
  • text on the postcard carries an unintentional pathos or irony
Also, although every era produces its own boring postcards, our favorites tend to be from before 1970.

I should mention that this (fantastic) collection concept did not originate with us. For sheer postcard tedium, I highly recommend the books Boring Postcards, Boring Postcards USA, and Langweilige Postkarten, all by Martin Parr.

If you would like to start your own collection by receiving a genuinely boring postcard in the U.S. mail, send me an Email with your name and address. We'll set you up.

Monday, July 16, 2007

The Fashion Issue!

All About Fashion

Fashion is really just another way to get you to buy shit you don't need. But if you have an interest in clothes and the money to spare, more power to you! I bet you look great!

Who's Hot!
  • Kind people.
  • People who are interested in things.
  • People who are competent.
  • Bookish people.

Who's Not!

  • Disingenuous people.
  • People who are indiscriminately insulting.
  • People who use the phrase "fashion faux pas."
  • Snide bloggers

Michael5000's Fashion Tips

  • The older you get, the less writing you want on your clothing.
  • You are more attractive when you are comfortable in shabby clothes than when you are uncomfortable in expensive clothes.
  • If you are in food service, many of us do not want to see your undergarments.
  • Men: Women pay attention to your shoes. It's weird, but there you go.
  • Women: If you choose to dress like a hooker, you will attract men who are attracted to hookers.
  • Beware of all enterprises that require new clothing.
  • It's better to leave something to the imagination. Yes, even with your beautiful body. Trust me on this.

Saturday, July 14, 2007


In the late 90s, when I watched television on a regular basis, we were often treated to commercials for a soft drink called Surge. It was Coca-Cola's answer to Mountain Dew, a beverage which in my childhood was purchased only by the elderly but which by 1995 or so, on the strength of its near-lethal caffeine content, had penetrated the lucrative market of marginally-employed slacker dudes.

Surge had an uphill battle in its quest to catch up with Mountain Dew, both because of its late arrival in the marketplace and because it apparently tasted something like, as The [Cherry] Ride recently wrote of a different soft drink, "someone drank a pepsi, ate a sno-cone and a handful of smarties and threw it up all into [one's] mouth." So Surge advertisements came thick and fast. They all followed the same basic plot line:

  • Group of marginally-employed slacker dudes set up vaguely Xtreme-sportsy obstacle course.
  • Bottle of Surge is placed at finish line.
  • Lead slacker dude bellows "Surge!!!" in a tone that suggests that he is extremely stoned, suffering an aneurism, or both.
  • Slacker dudes rush towards Surge bottle, pell-mell, to a lite speed-metal soundtrack.
  • Lucky winning slacker guzzles the Surge beverage in a fashion that, in the real world, would rupture his stomach from the Xtreme carbonation.

Here's an example that someone, presumbly for very good reasons of his or her own, posted on YouTube:

Now, you probably see where I am going with this. I can't hear Mr. Bush and his cronies discuss the "surge" policy in Iraq without immediately thinking of this ad campaign.

You can imagine a line of American soldiers -- whom I certainly wouldn't call "underemployed slacker dudes," but who by this time I imagine look and feel similarly bedraggled -- lining up at the border. "General Petraeus" (whose name, one notes, it appears to be administration policy to utter as often as humanly possible) can be the guy who shouts "Surge!!!!!" Then the wacky misadventures begin.

Well, you hope for a peaceful resolution. But you fear they'll get stuck guzzling the heinous overcaffeinated beverage. So to speak.


Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Another Great Moment in Ducks Football!

Now to the world of sport, where we have an exciting development today in the 2005 college football season. I quote from the L.A. Times:

The rich tradition of Oklahoma football now includes one of the most punishing losses in the history of the college game.The Sooners lost an entire season.When the NCAA announced Wednesday that it was vacating all of Oklahoma's wins from the 2005 season because three players accepted improper payments from a car dealer, the hallowed program took a historically uncommon hit.The Sooners' 8-4 season becomes 0-4. A come-from-behind win over Oregon in the Holiday Bowl? Never happened.

Yes, that's right! In an unusual come-from-behind-twenty-months-later nailbiter, the Ducks have WON THE 2005 HOLIDAY BOWL!!!

This is my second favorite dodgy victory over Oklahoma in recent memory!

Go Ducks,

Saturday, July 7, 2007

County Clerking

I got home today, and I'm going to ask you forgive me for a moment while I totally geek out on you:

The total county tally from my vacation is as follows:

Colorado: 3 new counties (Pitkin, Hinsdale, Rio Blanco) for a total of 46 (18 to go)
Wyoming: 1 new county (Lincoln) for 12 (11 to go)
Idaho: 5 new counties (Bear Lake, Franklin, Caribou, Banock, Power) for 31 (13 to go)
Utah: 3 new counties (Dagget, Rich, Cache) for 22 (7 to go)

With these new 12, I'm up to 935 counties (out of 3131 in the U.S.)

(Mrs. 5000 scored 2 new ones in Wyoming, 5 in Utah, and 4 in Idaho, so she's at 919)