comedy, personal, politics, sports, tv

2022 in pithy quotes and shared links

After trying and failing to come up with a year-in-review that was entertaining and enlightening, I’ve decided to be lazy — I mean, creative — and regurgitate old quotes in the name of narcissism — I mean, find relevant and informative excerpts from my writing this year to highlight the best and worst of the year.

Enjoy.


January

6th: “We once stood with Stalin against Hitler. We can stand with Cheney and Manchin against QAnon.”

30th: “One-way traffic, as they say. Well, it’s actually four-way traffic, as the USA pass the ball all over the place with nothing moving forward. Eventually, Pepi gets an awkward shot from an awkward angle that goes awkwardly out of play.” (The Guardian: USA-Canada World Cup qualifier live coverage)


February

5th: “The men’s free skate is the next event in the figure skating team competition. Canadian Roman Sadovsky will get us started with a program set to the Snow Patrol song ‘Chasing Cars.’ Is that the one with the repetitive two-note guitar riff or the one with the repetitive two-note guitar riff?” (The Guardian: Winter Olympics Day 2 live coverage)

7th: “And back to the big air — the skiers go in reverse order of their two-jump scores in the last round, and those who are out of contention are having some fun. Norway’s Sandra Eie landed upright at last. The USA’s Darian Stevens did not, going for a 5000 septuple cork inverted stalefish meat-grinder scrum-half flippy floppy and bouncing up with a big smile and shrug after failing to finish it on her skis.” (The Guardian: Winter Olympics Day 4 live coverage)


March

2nd: “DIRECTOR: Well, it doesn’t fit the story, but OK. How do we make it interesting?

“PRODUCER: Tommy does a lot of cool tricks with his sticks and then looks like he’s putting himself in an armlock.

“DIRECTOR: That works.

“PRODUCER: Tommy? You cool with that?

“(Band snorts cocaine)

“PRODUCER: It’ll be fine. Here’s a pile of money.”

3rd: “I’ve given up news for Lent, but I have something complicated to discuss … Shamrock Shakes are NOT just vanilla shakes with food coloring.” (Facebook)

10th: “The women, though, have more work to do. They’ve convinced a lot of supporters and columnists that their legal fight was essential. Now they need to convince those who actually look at the federation budget.” (The Guardian: Women’s team got equal pay, but not everyone in US soccer is happy)

11th: “The blonde woman in the nice SUV counting out change with shaking hands to buy two boxes of Chardonnay at 7:30 a.m. at the 7 Eleven next to Madison HS is either having a better day than I am or a considerably worse day. (She did drive away from the school, so that’s good.)” (Facebook)


April

15th: “So on that note, to quote Frank Costanza, I’ve got a lot of problems with you people …” (Medium: A Good Friday airing and burial of grievances, 2022 edition)


May

4th: “But just for fun, should we tell Texas Gov. Greg Abbott that aliens are coming in from space? I’m sure his response to fortify an atmospheric border would cost Texas taxpayers a lot of money, but it would be less destructive to the rest of us than the extra layer of border security he added before realizing, ‘Oh, right! Food comes across the border!’ Total cost to Texas: roughly $4,000,000,000. And the rest of us need to pay a bit more for produce, thanks to this self-inflicted knot in the supply chain. The word for that is ‘inflation.’ Or, as some people might say, ‘Damn, these avocados are expensive.'”

18th: “Who has two thumbs and just saw a faint line on his COVID test that likely means a positive?
… wait … where’s my other thumb? …” (Facebook)

23rd: “More recently, she owned the stage in the world’s most dramatic paint ad.”

23rd: “And what happened to the Tea Party? Hello? Libertarians? Are you high? Oh … you are. Yay, you got a victory on one issue. Have some brownies.” (Medium: Expanding upon Elon Musk’s view of polarization in cartoon form)

26th: “‘My three-year-old could’ve made that call!’ exclaimed commentator Kaylyn Kyle after an apparent handball wasn’t called at the end of an NWSL Challenge Cup game between OL Reign and the Washington Spirit. Unfortunately, most three-year-olds who grow up to be soccer fans will be armchair referees rather than being on the field where they’re actually needed.” (The Guardian: Referee numbers are plunging and aggression is to blame)


June

13th: “So I’m back for Round 3 with another program. I’m starting by watching a tutorial video on how to watch the tutorial videos.” (Facebook)

18th: “So apparently, the big thing in Wilmington is to cruise on Front Street on loud motorcycles or in tricked-out Jeeps blasting hip-hop and occasionally hard rock and I’ve never wanted so much to drive up and down a street in my RAV4 blasting Tori Amos.” (Facebook)

25th: “So you’re upset that people hate Donald Trump. A majority of people. A substantial majority of people. But here’s a surprise for you: We don’t hate you.” (Medium: A letter to the person leaving the F— BIDEN stickers at Starbucks)


July

14th: “I don’t know how to reach low-information voters and explain the realities of climate change, COVID prevention or domestic terrorism. What I do know is that we’re not going to fix the problem with doomscrolling. It’s not a coincidence that the longest song on the new Metric album, maybe the longest they’ve ever done, is called Doomscroller.”

19th: “It’s 2032. At long last, humans have landed on Mars. Back on Earth, US sports fans have a simple question: Is the Mars colony in the Big Ten or the SEC?” (The Guardian: College football realignment winners and losers)

24th: “Reconstruction! Not as cool as R.E.M. made it sound. The Ku Klux Klan kicks into high gear. The Republican Party, founded in 1854 in large part to prevent the spread of slavery to new states and territories, is trying to be the good guys, held back a bit by Southern Democrats stuffing boxes with ballots and stuffing people with bullets.”


August

1st: “I think the only thing more surprising than Robert Fripp’s sudden career turn would be if Pauly Shore started making popular videos analyzing the evolution of iambic pentameter.” (Facebook)

3rd: “The purpose here isn’t to put forth some sort of Milquetoast Moderatism. There’s no middle ground between “the left” and the people who ran into the Capitol alongside people bearing Confederate flags and anti-Semitic slogans. The people on the “left” who commit political violence are swiftly denounced and hold no real power; the people on the “right” who do so are given political cover by a party that refuses to participate in an investigation of an assault on democracy.

“But there’s no reason We the Common People Who Have Things in Common can’t rise above all of the hatred, all of the ignorance and all of the fundamental disrespect that manifests itself everywhere from political protests to merge lanes on the interstate. We have more in common that we think, and we need to demonstrate that in a show of strength to disarm the haters.”

8th

10th: “Rob goes on entertaining personal digressions. He has a unique style. Which, of course, I have felt compelled to parody, like Weird Al doing Eat It or Ridin’ Dirty. So this is also full of personal digressions that I hope are entertaining. Either that or you’re going to come out of it saying you now know way too much about me.”

19th: “When a hotel says something on its room service menu is “housemade,” does that mean it can’t be made in an apartment? If I were to order avocado toast right now, would someone have to run a few blocks to a house, make the toast, then run back?” (Facebook)


September

2nd: “What must it be like to know that every swing of the racket could be your last in competitive singles tennis? What must it be like to do that in front of a packed stadium with millions watching on TV? Then what must it be like to see your opponent suddenly hit long and give you a break point? Maybe Serena Williams can answer whenever this ends, three minutes or 30 minutes from now.” (The Guardian: Live coverage of Serena Williams’ final match)

7th: “But nowhere in the Laws of the Game does it say, ‘… but don’t call it if someone makes a fantastic play immediately afterward.'” (Soccer America: TV commentators’ over-the-top VAR criticism)

9th: “Who else would love to see King Charles III come out and say, “Parliament is dissolved. Brexit is herby rescinded, and we shall rejoin the European Union. Also, we’re sending our military to reclaim our American colonies — the good ones, anyway. Monarchy’s back, bitches!”” (Facebook)

25th

29th: Third-grader: “Mr. Dure? Why is your hair so disorganized?”

Me: “Because it’s been falling out since I started working here.”

(Which is true but coincidental.)

(Facebook)

30th: “Not particularly happy with humanity at the moment. Thinking we should turn the planet over to dogs and dolphins.” (Facebook)


October

24th

30th


November

11th: “I generally think complaints about ‘wokeness’ are overblown and that young people have a lot to say. Then I hear someone from Harvard on a town hall griping that their generation is the ‘most financially underserved in history.’ (Facebook)

27th: “The Greek goal was offside in the Monty Python sketch, by the way. Confucius needed VAR.” (The Guardian: Croatia-Canada World Cup live coverage)


December

10th: “In Grant’s case, I keep thinking that I should send him a message to express my sympathy. I can’t process that the fact that he can’t answer. When my wife came running up to say, ‘Grant Wahl died,’ I heard what she said but couldn’t understand those three words in that order.” (Duresport.com: Grant Wahl: 1974-2022)

14th

16th: “The women’s legal team’s filing includes plenty of self-aggrandizement about the landmark settlement and the collective bargaining agreement that followed, the latter of which was a multiparty conversation that would be at best tangentially related to the lawyers’ aggressive posture. What’s mentioned a bit less frequently is one little detail: They lost the case. (The Guardian: Lawyers seek big money from US women’s soccer team)

16th: “Comparing teams’ records across groups is always awkward because some groups will be a Group of Death and some will be a Group of Sharks and Minnows.” (Soccer America: Thinking outside the box to create best World Cup format)

16th: “What would famous philosophers suggest regarding USA Curling? Plato would say we’re living in a cave, observing only the shadows of Niklas Edin and Tabitha Peterson. Ayn Rand would let the free market decide, which means we probably wouldn’t have any curling on TV at all. And Rene Descartes would say curling doesn’t think; therefore, it is not.” (Duresport.com: Why support USA Curling?)

16th: “If I’m found murdered in the next few days, please check my latest Guardian piece and my latest blog posts for suspects.” (Facebook)

21st

24th: “Google’s Santa Tracker says he’s in Beirut. NORAD’s says he’s in Luanda, Angola. Whom are we to believe? This is a matter of national security, and we can’t even place him on the same continent? We’re in grave danger! Shut your chimney flues and close your blinds!” (Facebook)

cynicism, journalism, personal, politics, tv

Why bother with news?

The Washington Post has informed me that I’m not the only journalist with decades of experience who’s gotten pretty bloody tired of “news.”

Then one day a journalist friend confided that she was avoiding the news, too. Then I heard it from another journalist. And another. (Most were women, I noticed, though not all.) This news about disliking news was always whispered, a dirty little secret. It reminded me of the scene in “The Social Dilemma,” when all those tech executives admitted that they didn’t let their kids use the products they had created.

Amanda Ripley, WaPo

The basic problem is simple.

Negativity.

“Whoa, whoa!” you say. “News may be negative, but we need people to be informed!”

Sure, but it doesn’t have to be so negative. And viewers who dwell almost exclusively in the negative (Fox and MSNBC infotainment) are not well-informed. Satirists may do a better job of informing the public than journalists do, given the numbers from a 2007 study that showed viewers of The Daily Show were better informed than most.

Even if you’re smart enough to avoid watching the people whose job is to make you afraid to change the channel, your knowledge may skew toward the negative.

You probably know about monkeypox. Or new COVID subvariants. Or the Jan. 6 committee hearings.

Did you know 9 billion COVID vaccine doses were administered in 2021? How about the new Ebola vaccine? How about the disappearance of the Victoria flu virus that used to kill hundreds of thousands of people each year? Did you hear about Biden expanding protections for waterways and wetlands? Maybe the restoration of biodiversity in the Thames? Expanding abortion rights in Latin America? Support for same-sex marriage in the USA rising from 27% in 1996 to 70% today? The global decline in coal production? The tuna populations that have rebounded after years of overfishing?

You may also be taken in by sensationalism, even if you’d consider that story “positive.” How many times have we heard Trump is on the verge of being ruined or arrested? How many of the stories along those lines mention the fact that he continues to be relatively unscathed even after his fraud settlements, his sexual immorality, his use of the White House to enrich himself and his family, everything we already know about Jan. 6, etc., etc.? And we’re supposed to believe that he’s finally going to prison because he yelled at a Secret Service agent to take him to the Capitol?

Suppose we actually consumed news in a constructive way?

Back to Ripley’s WaPo piece: “There is a way to communicate news — including very bad news — that leaves us better off as a result. A way to spark anger and action. Empathy alongside dignity. Hope alongside fear. There is another way, and it doesn’t lead to bankruptcy or puffery. But right now, these examples I’ve listed remain far too rare.”

I don’t know how to reach low-information voters and explain the realities of climate change, COVID prevention or domestic terrorism. What I do know is that we’re not going to fix the problem with doomscrolling. It’s not a coincidence that the longest song on the new Metric album, maybe the longest they’ve ever done, is called Doomscroller.

I’m trying to find a way to find good stories while we have such a high signal-to-fear ratio. The battleground area for me is my Gmail, my subscriptions and my filters:

  • Washington Post: I don’t get the full daily newsletters I used to get, but I’m sticking with Must Reads and the Post Most in the hopes of catching those stories that aren’t all doom and gloom.
  • The Guardian: I’ve re-subscribed to the daily briefing because I need to know what ran in the sports section. They usually have some good reads in culture and other sections as well.
  • The Atlantic: Their specialty newsletters such as Up for Debate, The Third Rail and Galaxy Brain are good for alternate viewpoints.
  • USA TODAY: Their fact-check newsletter is good.
  • Vox: Unsubscribed
  • Mic: Unsubscribed. Sorry, Millennials.
  • The Bulwark (conservative anti-Trump): I’m down to one of their many newsletters.

And I get a couple of roundups. Pocket has some good reads that its users save. Something called 1440 has a Daily Digest that quickly covers the top stories but has a bit of serendipity as well. On my phone, I can check my personalized Google News briefing and Apple News, which also lets me check out stories I spot from The New Yorker, The Wall Street Journal and a lot of lifestyle, sports and music magazines.

It’s not perfect. I love having one Apple News subscription that covers a lot of magazines and daily news sources, but I don’t need yet another roundup of today’s doom.

Finding the healthy mix, though, is worthwhile. Mental health is a serious issue. Don’t sacrifice yours when there’s no need to do so.

comedy, tv

Farewell to a great SNL group

Once upon a time, Saturday Night Live went through waves of wholesale changes, allowing us to divide the show into several eras.

Original

1975-80: The original Not Ready for Prime Time Players dwindled from their 1975 debut to the end of their fifth season in 1980. Chevy Chase left after one season and change, later replaced by Bill Murray. Next out were John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd, leaving the core of Murray, Jane Curtin, Garrett Morris, Laraine Newman and Gilda Radner to be supplemented by the quirky duo of Al Franken and Tom Davis, later joined by Harry Shearer and some cast appearances by band member Paul Shaffer and an array of bit players.

(Coincidentally, as chronicled last week in a marvelous WaPo oral history, Radner, Shaffer, future SNL cast member Martin Short and Short’s SCTV castmates Eugene Levy and Andrea Martin had all appeared together in a 1972 production of Godspell.)

Lorne-less

1980-84: Lorne Michaels, the man now synonymous with his show, departed after that 1979-80 season along with the entire cast. Enter a new group that couldn’t carry the torch aside from a young featured player named Eddie Murphy, though Gilbert Gottfried went on to an entertaining career. Only Murphy and Joe Piscopo survived the 1981 clearout. The cast overhauls were a little less drastic the next couple of years, and four 1982 and 1983 arrivals — including Jim Belushi and a very young Julia Louis-Dreyfuss — carried over to the next season …

1984-85: Producer Dick Ebersol, best known for his distinguished career in sports, swung for the fences in this unique season packed with established talents such as Short, Billy Crystal, Christopher Guest, Rich Hall, Pamela Stephenson and the prodigal Harry Shearer.

Carvey/Hartman to Sandler/Farley (via Myers)

1985-86: Michaels returned in 1985 and started from scratch, building around the hot-at-the-time Anthony Michael Hall and some people who would eventually be huge — Robert Downey Jr., Randy Quaid, Damon Wayans and Dennis Miller. It sucked.

1986-95: So on top of the complete overhauls in 1980, 1981 and 1985, SNL had a near-total clean slate, keeping only Miller, Jon Lovitz and Nora Dunn. Then, just as Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski saw the benefits of his job-saving class in 1986, Michaels brought in a show-saving class — Dana Carvey, Phil Hartman, Jan Hooks, Kevin Nealon and Victoria Jackson. Add Mike Myers (and briefly Ben Stiller) in 1989, and you have a strong case for the show’s all-time best cast.

That group evolved slowly over the next few years. Departing (in order, more or less, though some cast members returned for occasional appearances): Dunn, Lovitz, Miller, Hooks, Jackson, Carvey, Hartman. But the cast kept swelling with the additions of (among others) Chris Rock, Chris Farley, Julia Sweeney, Tim Meadows, David Spade and Adam Sandler. (Most of the others were women, and unfortunately, this was not a time in which women were developed into stars on the show.)

The loss of Hartman in 1994 nearly destroyed the show. Myers stuck around for increasingly infrequent appearances, and Michaels once again reached out to get some veterans who were, to some extent or another, already recognizable — Michael McKean, Mark McKinney, Chris Elliott, Norm Macdonald and Janeane Garofalo. Unfortunately, no one told Sandler, Spade and Farley that they weren’t in charge of the show, and they ran it into the ground. Garofalo fled after a few months of being underused, citing a sexist atmosphere.

Time for another clearout. McKinney and Macdonald stuck around along with lower-profile castmates Tim Meadows and the recently added Molly Shannon.

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journalism, tv

The state of paid media, 2019

Here are the things that can be supported by advertising …

Traditional TV networks, which continue to produce high-budget shows even as ratings are a small fraction of what they were.

Cable/other TV channels, which produce high-budget shows even as ratings were never that great in the first place.

PlutoTV, which must be watched by at least 10s of people. (Seriously — it’s utterly impossible to get schedules, so who watches unless they’ve simply exhausted every other possibility?)

Some YouTube channels

Terrestrial radio

Here are the things that can be supported by a mix of advertising and subscriptions …

Satellite radio

ESPN

The Wall Street Journal

The Washington Post

The New York Times

Here are the things that can be supported by subscriptions only …

Consumer Reports (phew!)

Netflix and its gazillions of original shows

Hulu’s original shows

HBO

Here are the things that no one has figured out how to support …

Newspapers

Magazines

tv

Rebuilding Springfield

I’ve been playing The Simpsons: Tapped Out for a while. It throws a lot of buildings and characters at its players, and I’ve grown tired of trying to cram them in.

I went through and “stored” many of the buildings in town. I left in place a couple of areas that I liked:

  • The park complex: Krustyland, Itchy & Scratchy Land and a nearby zoo
  • The sportsplex
  • The Vegas strip
  • Religion Island: Churches, a Buddhist temple, etc.
  • Prison Island, not including the minimum-security jail by the beach
  • The boardwalk

Everything else is being remade, and I’ve started with transportation. My roads and monorail lines took a lot of awkward turns, and I’m straightening things out a bit.

I’ve staked out a couple of new areas — the rural area and the North Pole/Canada, which has some but nowhere near all of the Christmas properties.

Here’s what I had …

And here’s where the rebuild stands …

Sept. 24 update:

  • Springfield Heights is full of houses and a couple of essential conveniences (Kwik-E-Mart, etc.)
  • Springfield Park faces an exclusive neighborhood, a bit like Central Park or some parks in Chicago. The country club is just southwest of it, and then a few vineyards are nicely placed between that and the shore. The amphitheater is tucked away next to the mountains and the shore.
  • The Governmental Plaza (northeast of Springfield Park) exists but needs some work.
  • The Vegas Strip remains intact with some minor tweaks.
  • The Technology Park and North Pole/Canada (following northeast) are more or less complete.
  • Religion Island and Prison Island remain in place southeast of the Governmental Plaza. Follow the river to the sea, and you get a strip of restaurants and eventually the old mill, with another historic building next to it.
  • The Sportsplex (concrete area southeast of Prison Island) hasn’t changed.
  • The Shopplex is adjacent to the Sportsplex, anchored by Springfield Mall. This area needs work.
  • Between the Sportsplex/Shopplex and the shore, I have a couple of strips of businesses and restaurants. The last strip before the boardwalk is a dumping ground for now — I’m placing things I want to see before I move them to a permanent home.
  • The theme parks — Itchy & Scratchy Land, Krustyland, Efcot’s World Showcase and the zoo — take up most of the southeast-northeast diagonal. Northeast of that is Shelbyville.
  • Next to Shelbyville and the zoo, I have a hodgepodge of entertainment (drive-in, demolition derby) and schools for people who’ve messed up (Rommelwood). This needs work.
  • Capital City is northeast of the DURE block.
  • The dirt area is farmland, which will eventually have many more wheat and corn fields, with Kamp Krusty all the way north. The airport is south of that. The schools are sitting awkwardly next to the airport and Efcot — I’ll move that to the strips between Krustyland and the country club.
  • Finally, Medieval Land is still a happy anachronism between the Technology Park and farmland.

politics, tv

Need insulin? Visit the land of curling … and one heroic medical researcher

Things I did not know: An Ontario scientist named Frederick Banting sold the patent rights to insulin, the life-saving drug for diabetics, for $1.

“Insulin does not belong to me, it belongs to the world,” said the Nobel Prize winner.

A century later, Canada is once again bailing out diabetics — this time because of the willful ignorance and idiocy of those of us who live south of the border, The Washington Post reports.

As is so often the case, The Simpsons predicted all this …