Monday, March 28, 2011

Basketball -- still don't see the attraction

I wrote a few days ago about wanting to learn more about watching the American game of "basketball" so I might be able to find something on TV to watch during this endless period when the major networks and premium channels are showing bupkis.

A friend offered to teach me a little about the game. Having gone to Marquette, she had a personal interest in last Friday's game against UNC. 

So we met downtown, at the Wine Shop and Tasting Bar, and before the game started, she made a sketch to show me the layout of the court.

I eyed the drawing.

"If my wife comes in," I said nervously, "hide this."

I feared that Mrs Elliott might think that I was being shown dirty pictures by another woman.

After some discussion about strategies and scoring, she had to leave to take care of stuff, and I proceeded to watch the game on my own. I watched for the entire first half, but halfway through the second I lost interest. The game still looked like tall men running back and forth on the court, tossing the ball to each other and into the hoop. Over and over.

(Marquette lost badly, as followers of NCAA basketball doubtlessly know.)

I reckon that the game is either too simple to be interesting or there is something powerfully compelling that I'm not seeing.

Maybe I need more dirty pictures.

Addendum: commenting on this post, a friend in Oklahoma writes to say:
Like so many other sports, basketball is a game best seen live. On TV is it boring unless you have an interest in a particular team. TV seems so detached and the effect of the crowd is lost.

We bought season tickets to the Hornets when they were in OKC after Katrina. I had no interest in basketball, but felt like I wanted to do my part for them and OKC's future professional sport venue possibilities (Seattle was on no one's radar at that time). We had cheap seats ($10) in the upper nether reaches. The team was only fair but what really became the center of attention were the players. It didn't take long for the NO/OKC Hornet players to become a part of the OKC family. It really became fun to watch live and there was a lot of grief when it was finally decided that the Hornet's were going to go back to NO. They had actually made money while the team was here, something they hadn't in NO. People recognized that the move back had to happen, but also realized that there was a good chance the Hornet's would not survive in NO (as has happened). Even when NO came back to play against the Thunder a couple of years later, the fans here gave the Hornets support. Still when they play here, the players who are still on the team (Chris Paul had basketball training camps here even after the Hornets left OKC) from that period are given applause.

The real attraction of the team is not so much the team, but the players as individuals. That is what really makes basketball interesting. I don't care who they play (a good team or not) or really if they win or lose (of course you want them to win), if is just fun to watch. [My wife] Mary had zero interest in basketball or sports in general. She went to a few games because the kid's couldn't go and has really learned to enjoy the games and the players. That tells me something.
[Tells me that without a team to root for, I was right: the game isn't really interesting -- Ed.]

Friday, March 25, 2011

Galactic at the Domino Room

It was AWWWSUUUUMMMMMM!!!!


Followers of Galactic might enjoy seeing the set list:
Click to see larger
Jack was out very late last night. Mrs Elliott was sound asleep when he got home.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

A Possible Solution to Crap TV: Learn to enjoy basketball

Here's the thing. There's not much on TV right now that I care to watch. Mrs Elliott has her ladyshows (American Idol, The Good Wife, Brothers and Sisters, Desperate Housewives, and a few others which seem to go on for two or more hours every evening), while my shows (Men of a Certain Age, The League, Curb Your Enthusiasm, The Life and Times of Tim, Hung, Bored to Death, Dexter, Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Nurse Jackie, the occasional Brit period drama on PBS, and others) are not on.

Looking at last night's lineup of shows gives me a clue about the problem:
  • CBS (1080i) has Survivor at 8 p.m., and Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior at 10 p.m.
  • NBC (1080i) has Minute to Win It at 8 p.m. and Law & Order: SVU at 10 p.m.
  • ABC (720p) has The Middle at 8 p.m., Modern Family at 9 p.m., Mr. Sunshine at 9:30 p.m., and Off The Map at 10 p.m.
  • Fox (720p) has American Idol at 8 p.m.
  • Syfy (1080i) has Ghost Hunters at 9 p.m. and the season premiere of Fact or Faked: Paranormal Files at 10 p.m.
  • FX (720p) has Justified at 10 p.m.
  • History (720p) presents Journey to the Earth's Core at 9 p.m.
  • TBS (1080i) has Are We There Yet? at 9 7 9:30 p.m.
  • Discovery (1080i) has Sons of Guns at 9 p.m. and Desert Car Kings at 10 p.m.
  • MTV (1080i) has The Real World at 10 p.m.
  • Showtime (1080i) has Inside NASCAR at 9 p.m.
  • A&E (720p) has Dog the Bounty Hunter at 9 & 9:30 p.m., and Storage Wars at 10:30 p.m.
  • Bravo (1080i) has Top Chef at 10 p.m.
  • Travel (1080i) has Deathwish Movers at 10 p.m.
  • TLC (1080i) has Hoarding: Buried Alive at 10 p.m.
  • ESPN (720p) has Magic/Knicks at 8 p.m. and Spurs/Nuggets at 10:30 p.m.
  • ESPN2 (720p) has NIT action with College of Charleston/Wichita State at 7 p.m., Miami/Alabama at 9 p.m. and Nothwestern/Washington State at 11 p.m.
Other than Modern Family and Mr. Sunshine, there's nothing I care to watch.

What do we see a lot of? Basketball. Lots and lots of basketball. In high def, and it has been going on for weeks now because this is March Madness, after all.

It seems to me that if I actually understood basketball, I might grow to appreciate it. If I appreciated it, I would enjoy watching.

So what I need is a tutor to teach me how to watch the game.

I'll buy the beer.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Bird Feeder, Pt. 2: Mrs Elliott has her doubts

I posted about our new bird feeder a few days ago.

Mrs Elliott wonders whether it will work.

Due to the anti-squirrel screen around it, she calls is a "bird cage."

"How can birds get in?" she wants to know.

I explain that under its feathers, a bird is in actuality a tiny thing and would have no trouble getting through the openings in the screen.

She remains uncertain.

"What if they eat so much they get fat and can't get out?"

A woman, who is so much smarter than I in so many ways, baffled by birds.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Attracting the Wildlife

"What's that?" said Mrs Elliott.

"It's a bird feeder."

She eyed the new feeder sitting on the dining room table as if it was an artifact from a foreign culture.

"What's it for?"

Mrs Elliott sometimes asks questions that just fluster me. I can never tell if she's messing with me or is just being blond or what.

"Feeding birds." I venture.

"Why?"

Now she's stumped me. I would have thought it self-evident that the whole point of a bird feeder is to attract birds, to feed them, so as to watch them.

I do have a field guide to Central Oregon birds near the window, and have been known to stand there -- in plain sight -- with a pair of anti-shake binoculars pressed to the face, exclaiming about some bird, a Dark-Eyed Junco, for example, that I spotted.

And few weeks ago, Bruce Miller gave me a poster of Common Feeder Birds of Western North America he lifted from Wild Birds, Unlimited. I showed it to her that same day.

"Look what Bruce gave me."

Mrs Elliott was mystified.

"What's that for?"

"To . . . identify birds. See, it has pictures of the common birds around here."

She looked at me.

"For the bird feeder I'm going to hang."

"Why are you hanging a bird feeder?"

She's killing me.

Back in February when we had that heavy cement snowfall, the juniper outside our bedroom deck on the second floor lost a few limbs. Peeled them right off.

I had been studying that tree for a couple weeks, trying to find a limb where I could hang a feeder. I didn't want the feeder too close to the house because the bird poop would fall onto the wood steps down on the ground floor, so it would have to be about ten feet away from the deck, and about 18 feet above the ground.

The best location was buried back in a tangle of branches. So when the snow ripped those other limbs off the tree, I decided that a little more pruning wouldn't hurt and fetched my limb pruner from the garden shed and did a little cleaning up of the candidate bird feeder hanger limb.

"What are you doing?"

"I'm clearing a spot out there to hang a bird feeder."

"What for?"

I explained my plan, how the feeder would hang out over the lawn so the grass could take care of the poop, how it would be rigged with rope so it could be easily lowered down to the ground for refilling then hauled back again, and pointed out how the pruning I'd done provided clear view of the feeder as well as an unobstructed path below the feeder to the ground.

That was back in February. The poster came into the house early March.

I swear the woman has had ample warning that a feeder was going up. I couldn't have made it more obvious if I'd hung a big yellow sign from the branch with the words FEEDER GOES HERE on it.

And yet, she gave every impression of being baffled by the new bird feeder on the dining room table.

I know she's not simple, and she gives all the indications that she understands me when I speak, so it's not clear what's going on.

Anyway, the feeder's filled, hoisted into position, and it looks right nice in all its copperyness.

I don't know how Mrs Elliott is going to react when she comes home this afternoon, but if she says, "What's that?" I'll know that she's totally messing with me.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

St. Patrick's Day Pubcrawl Live Blog

The pub crawl is underway. I'm starting at Geoffrey Marlowe's Abbey Pub because it's close to home. This is important because, as I mentioned yesterday, Mrs Elliott doesn't grudge me my St. Patrick's day out, but she forbids me to drive. Generous and smart. So I walked here, then will take a cab to 10 Barrel where Bruce Miller will meet me. The plan is to visit the pubs that are serving anything even mildly Irish.

My reader should know that Bruce turns into a pumpkin in the early evening and I can't drink like I used to, so the day will be over soon. I will miss Five Pint Mary, and the Bend Fire Department Pipes and Drums, but I should be able to taste all the beers I hope to. Mrs Elliott has been warned to ignore me.

2:11 pm. Murphy's stout is on nitro here at the Abbey Pub. and it's a classic, standard dry Irish stout. But I worked up a bit of a thirst walking here, and a pint of bitters sounded perfect to start the festivities. Geoff has a very nice pale ale, the Oakshire KLCC out of Eugene. Big on taste but low on alcohol, it's refreshing and tasty.

(Those of you on newsreaders will only get the above copy because I'm going to post this now. If you want to follow Bruce and me as we wander about, click on over to the blog and refresh occasionally as I will continue to add to this article as the day progresses. I'll post any comments that come in.)


2:30 pm. Ah, now for the Murphy's. (...) You know, I made a mistake. A dry Irish stout doesn't follow a hoppy ale very well. It tastes soft, a large result of being on nitro. Lesson learned.

Geoff's been here since August 2009 and has a loyal clientele. This early in the day there are only a few people in this nice and bright pub. The widescreen is showing a basketball game (Jack does not follow basketball) and the sun is shining while snow falls outside. UPDATE DUBLIN: It's nighttime and St. Patrick's day is over, but tomorrow will be partly cloudy, 51 degrees, with a 10% chance of rain.

2:45 pm: Time to call a cab and head over to 10 Barrel.

2:55 pm. Bend Cab, reliable as always, delivered me safely. The bar's about 80% full, this time of day. We've got Dropkick Murphys on the speakers, and an Irish Red in front of me. I'm still not sure what the appeal of Irish Reds are, nor their  distinguishing characteristics. They're reddish. It's okay? But the ABV of only 4.4% bodes well for my endurance.

3:05pm. Bruce Miller has joined me at 10 Barrel's bar and ordered whiskey: a bit more than 1-1/2 fingers of fine and smooth Tullamore Dew is now in front of him. We are comparing laptops. Not like in the men's showers, or anything. ...

The sun has broken through, DKM are raging, a fellow at the bar has a mini Aussie dog of some sort, not too small for a man, and some jackass who has had too many is laughing loudly in a braying, high-pitched yelp.

4:15 pm: O'Kane's & Cigars. Bruce brought a Nicarao, but I forgot to bring a cigar from home so I've purchased a Romero y Julietta from the establishment. Bruce has this fancy, complicated stainless steel lighter which produces a blue-hot flame. Totally intimidating.

One piper is warming up on the patio, fortunately almost drowning out the Grateful Dead music that O'Kane's unfortunately plays, exclusively.

O'Kane's does not have a nitro tap so I had to hie myself up to the bar to procure a pint of their Irish stout. It's not bad, not bad at all. But not memorable.

It's not very warm here. They have a stout iron woodburing stove which will get red-hot shortly, but right now the temp here is 60 degrees, according to my Harbor  Freight IR thermometer.

6pm: Bruce had to go home so I wandered over to the Top Leaf Mate shop in the alley next to Lone Pine Coffee, but it was unattended. I found the owner, Santiago, next door at the Wine Bar and Tasting Shop watching a basketball game with a Bend poet and some random festive tourists in green hats.

He graciously dashed over to his shop and fetched me back a mug of invigorating mate.

Feeling vaguely awkward due to being twice their age, unfamiliar with the various fist bumps and man hugs in currency today, I stood about with the much younger men at the table, peering at the game. I lost interest in about 30 seconds. They were willing to explain its artistry and beauty but I felt that was something I'd save for another day.

I mentioned that I was going over to Velvet, on Wall, to sample another dry Irish stout.

"You're going over to Velvet?" asked Santiago. "I have some mate I've promised them tonight."

Mate? For a cocktail bar?

Sure, I can take it over, I said, volunteering to be his mule.

Velvet is pouring the St. Patio's dry Irish stout from Three Creeks, in Sisters. I handed the bag of mate to Nolan, the bartender, and asked for a pint.

It's sweeter than I like.

"What's the official name of this?"

The bartender didn't know. Look at Three Sisters's site he said.

So here I am, sitting at the bar at Velvet, The Pogues on the sound system (excellent choice), sipping this sugary stout and looking at http://www.threecreeksbrewing.com/brews.php -- and near as I can tell, they make no mention of this brew.

Velvet uses mate in a few of their signature cocktails, it appears.

 . . . .

Well, crap. It's Friday morning and the sky is just getting light. Not that it got very dark last night due to the big full moon. Looks like Blogger lost the final bit of this post. So I'll summarize the rest of the evening:

Velvet was dead that early in the evening and I'm too close to retirement age to make waiting for the place to pick up worthwhile (or maybe even possible without recourse to the types of illicit drugs that were popular in the '80s) so I decided to see if that new restaurant Boken was open.

It was. And it was wonderful. I had the best pho I've ever had. And I've had some good pho. The broth was deeply, richly flavorful. I was impressed and I will return.

The place is located in the breezeway between Wall and Brooks street, in the old Downtowner (briefly Lola's) space. Give them a try. Despite the establishment's name, the menu isn't particularly Japanese, being a collection of various Pacific Asian tasties, and everything on it looks intriguing. An interesting-looking cocktail list, too, though Jack seldom has cocktails so can't comment on that.

I wanted to end the evening at the Wine Shop and Tasting Bar but when I got there they were closed, closing, as they do, at 8 on weekdays.

It was cold, I had to pee. Four Five pints of beer over six hours and I was tired.

Called Bend Cab and in eight minutes I was back home to Mrs Elliott who was watching American Idol.

"How was your evening?"

I had a good time.

"That's nice, dear."

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

St. Patrick's Day Irish Stout Pubcrawl -- recalibration

Jon Abernathy at the Brew Site has kindly provided a list of Irish-themed beers happening here in Bend.

I am somewhat disappointed that the BBC isn't doing that lovely dry stout they did last year, but there are interesting bits anyway. I urge my reader to visit Jon's site to learn more about these beers.

As previously mentioned, Abbey Pub has Murphy's on nitro.

Deschutes Brewery isn't doing anything stoutish, just an Irish Red ale. Not clear to me what the attraction is for Irish reds, but maybe I'll learn something.

The BBC will be adding green food coloring to one of their ales. Jeepers, can you be less interesting? Yawn.

Silver Moon is also doing an Irish Red.

As mentioned in my last post, McMenamin's will have their Irish stout, and some other stout with raspberries in it. I'll taste it -- someone has to hurl himself atop the grenade -- but I don't think that dessert and beer make a good mix. I could be wrong.

10 Barrel. Another damn Irish Red. Sigh. Gotta give it a chance. Another pint in the service of research.

Boneyard has a 15% ABV Russian Stout. F#@k me running. 15%?

Three Creeks (Sisters) has a dry Irish stout and Velvet will be pouring. I'll be there.

Finally, Blacksmith will have Moylan's Dragoon dry Irish on tap, along with some doubtlessly sweet espresso stout.

Jack will man up and try these beers for his reader. Someone has to do it. On that day, follow my blog at socal2bend.blogspot.com, or, to see what a more perceptive fellow has to say, read Bruce Miller's blog at bendsux.blogspot.com.

St. Patrick's Day Irish Stout Pubcrawl -- initial planning

Mrs Elliott has been told not to wait up for me. 

Like last year, Jack will be out sampling the Irish ("dry") stouts at our local brewpubs.

I don't know yet who will be serving what, but I do have a request in with the Brew Site's Jon Abernathy to obtain a full list of what breweries plan to feature their takes on the classic Irish stout. Once I have that, I will begin my plan.

BBC, Deschutes, McMeninamins, possibly 10 Barrel will be on the list. No telling, Boneyard might make a run at it but I'm not confident of their devotion to classic beer styles.

Last year, Tonya Cornett's dry stout was the standout winner, IMO, because it most closely resembled a simple dry stout.

Most breweries here seem to think that adding molasses, chocolate, coffee or other flavorings to stout "improves" it. McMenamin's, for example, has their dry stout on nitro right now, but I'm told that they also have a raspberry-flavored stout. (Really? Can I have a dress with my pint?)

Of course, one needs to touch base with the closest to the real thing that we can get without flying to the Emerald Isle: either Guinness or Murphy's on draft. Guinness is pretty easy to come by -- the Decoy (erm, Bond Street Bistro) and Blacksmith both have those, I think. Abbey Pub on College has Murphy's on nitro right now, probably will on Thu, too.

I might want to start at the Abbey Pub, then swing down to 10 Barrel, if they have anything, then downtown for the remains of the day (a lovely book, BTW).

Then there are the pipes and drums. Bend's Fire Department will be making their second foray out into the streets of Bend. Aye, a little piping goes a long way, but the skirling of the pipes, the wrong notes spraying about like buckshot, and the sight of frightened wogs and women does stir my Hibernian blood, diluted tho' it may be.

I'm cabbing it the whole way. Mrs Elliott told me in no uncertain terms that if I get arrested for a DUII she's sending my son to bail me out and is that something I want my son to see?

No ma'am. Message received.

Bruce Miller has volunteered to pub crawl with me. He knows his onions when it comes to Irish whiskey (Jack can drink no brown spirits, Bruce can drink no ale). Those who wish to follow our journey, live, can tune in either here, at socal2bend.blogspot.com, or on Bruce's blog, at  http://bendsux.blogspot.com. We will be posting along the route.

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

This Week in Poor Value Cable TV - Cost per Minute

Hey kids! Let's see what how much value Jack got from cable TV this week!


[Jack is not such a big fan of TV and generally resents paying good money for what he feels is a massive preponderance of moronic programming. -- Ed.]

Here in chez Elliott, we are signed up for Bend Broadband's "Preferred" package, plus the HBO and Showtime movie channels. This lineup costs $97 a month1 with the set top box2 rental added in.

Here are the shows that were on this past week3. Let's see whether Jack is getting his money's worth (Mrs Elliott probably is. She'll watch about anything. I am told that when she was a kid they used to put her in a corner of the kitchen with a pot and a lid to play with. With such implements she was able to entertain herself for hours. So this analysis applies only to the mister, and not the distaff, side here.)

At the end of this post I will tally up the number of minutes of good programming the week yielded and see how much I paid per minute for the stuff I found worth watching.

Right then. To the listings.

If a show is in boldface, it means it's a program I enjoy watching, a program I think is good enough to pay real money for. Otherwise, it's crap. Movies are not listed because Netflix has a much better selection of movies and the only reason we're paying for HBO/Showtime is for the original programming. Of which there seems to be little at all for the past few months.
.
Wednesday:
  • Fox: American Idol at 8 p.m. and Traffic Light at 9:30 p.m.
  • CBS: Survivor at 8 p.m., Criminal Minds at 9 p.m., andCriminal Minds: Suspect Behavior at 10 p.m.
  • ABC: has The Middle at 8 p.m., Better With You at 8:30 p.m., Modern Family at 9 p.m., Mr. Sunshine at 9:30 p.m. and Off the Map at 10 p.m.
  • NBC: Minute to Win It at 9 p.m.
  • FX: Justified at 10 p.m.
  • TBS: Are We There Yet? at 10 & 10:30 p.m.
  • Discovery: Sons of Guns at 9 & 9:30 p.m. and Desert Car Kings at 10 p.m.
  • Comedy: The Daily Show and The Colbert Report
  • Syfy: Face Off at 10 p.m.
  • TLC: Hoarding: Buried Alive at 10 p.m.
  • Travel: Man vs. Food at 9 p.m.
  • ESPN: College basketball with UNC/Florida State at 7 p.m. and Clemson/Duke at 9 p.m.
  • ESPN2: College basketball with UCONN/West Virginia at 7 p.m. and Texas A&M/Kansas at 9 p.m.
  • NBA TV: Hornets/Knicks at 7:30 p.m. and Rockets/Clippers at 10:30 p.m.
Wednesday's yield: Three shows: Modern Family, The Daily Show and The Colbert Report. So this Wednesday yielded 66 minutes of programming worth watching the whole damn night.

Thursday:
  • Fox: American Idol at 8 p.m.
  • USA: Fairly Legal at 10 p.m.
  • WGN: WWE Superstars at 8 p.m.
  • Spike TV: TNA: Impact! at 9 p.m.
  • Discovery: Man vs. Wild at 9 p.m. and Out of the Wild at 10 p.m.
  • Comedy: The Daily Show and The Colbert Report
  • TLC: Babies Behind Bars at 10 p.m.
  • ESPN: College basketball with Tennessee/South Carolina at 7 p.m. and Wisconsin/Indiana at 9 p.m.
  • ESPN2: College basketball with St. John's/Seton Hall at 7 p.m. and UCAL/Washington at 9 p.m.
  • TNT: An NBA doubleheader with Magic/Heat at 8 p.m. and Nuggets/Jazz at 10:30 p.m.
Thursday's Yield: WTF? NBC usually provides some entertainment with Parks and Recreation, The Office, and 30 Rock, but not tonight. Cripes. Basketball is about as interesting as watching tall men running from one side of a gym to the other. Then back again. Over and over. 44 minutes. Good thing my Blu-Ray player is set up with Netflix.

Friday:

  • CW: Smallville at 8 p.m. and Supernatural at 9 p.m.
  • NBC: Who Do You Think You Are? at 8 p.m.
  • Syfy: WWE Smackdown at 8 p.m. and Merlin at 10 p.m.
  • CBS: The Defenders at 8 p.m.
  • TLC: Say Yes to the Dress at 9 & 9:30 p.m. and DC Cupcakes at 10 p.m.
  • Discovery: Flying Wild Alaska at 9 p.m. and the season premiere of American Loggers at 10 p.m.
  • BBC America: Law & Order: UK at 9 p.m.
  • IFC: Onion News Network at 10 p.m.
  • HBO: The Ricky Gervais Show at 9 p.m., Real Time with Bill Maher at 10 p.m. and Funny or Die Presents at 11:59 p.m.
  • ESPN: an NBA doubleheader with Bulls/Magic at 7 p.m. and Heat/Spurs at 9:30 p.m.
  • ESPN2: Akron/Kent State college basketball at 7 p.m. and Friday Night Fights at 9 p.m.
Friday's Yield: 90 minutes. I'd probably watch the Onion News Network on IFC if I wanted to pony up more money for the Variety package, but I don't see much else in that package that interests me.

Saturday:

  • Fox: Cops at 8 p.m.
  • CBS: Duke/UNC college basketball at 8 p.m.
  • BBC America: Being Human at 9 p.m.
  • Showtime: Caroline Rhea & Friends at 9 p.m.
  • NBC: Saturday Night Live with Miley Cyrus & The Strokes at 11:29 p.m.
Saturday's Yield: Really? That's it? They're not even trying, are they. 0 minutes.

Sunday:

  • NBC: America's Next Great Restaurant at 8 p.m. and The Apprentice at 9 p.m.
  • CBS: The Amazing Race at 8 p.m. and CSI: Miami at 10 p.m.
  • Fox: The Simpsons at 8 p.m., Bob's Burgers at 8:30 p.m., Family Guy at 9 p.m. and The Cleveland Show at 9:30 p.m.
  • A&E: Breakout Kings at 10 p.m.
  • HBO: Big Love at 9 p.m.
  • Showtime: Californication at 9 p.m., and Shameless at 10 p.m.
  • History: Ax Men at 9 p.m.
  • Comedy Central: Daniel Tosh: Happy Thoughts at 9 p.m.
  • TLC: Cake Boss at 9 p.m., and Heavily Ever After at 10 & 10:30 p.m.
  • ESPN (720p) has Celtics/Bucks at 9 p.m.
  • ESPN2 (720p) has college basketball with Santa Clara/St. Mary's at 8 p.m. and San Francisco/Gonzaga at 10 p.m.
Sunday's Yield: 0 minutes.

Monday: 

  • NBC: The Event at 8 p.m. and Harry's Law at 10 p.m.
  • ABC: The Bachelor at 8 p.m.
  • Fox: House at 8 p.m. and The Chicago Code at 9 p.m.
  • CBS: Mad Love at 8:30 p.m.
  • ABC Family: Pretty Little Liars at 8 p.m. and the series finale of Greek at 9 p.m.
  • Syfy: Being Human at 9 p.m. and Stargate Universe at 10 p.m.
  • TLC: Cake Boss at 9 p.m., Outrageous Kid Parties at 9:30 p.m. and 19 Kids & Counting at 10 & 10:30 p.m.
  • BBC America: Top Gear at 9 p.m.
  • Comedy: The Daily Show and The Colbert Report
  • USA: WWE Raw at 9 p.m.
  • MTV: Skins at 10 p.m.
  • A&E: Heavy at 10 p.m.
  • ESPN: college basketball with Virginia Commonwealth/Old Dominion at 7 p.m. and Gonzaga/St. Mary's at 9 p.m.
  • ESPN2: college basketball with Saint Peters/Iona at 7 p.m. and College of Charleston/Wofford at 9 p.m.
Monday's Yield: 44 minutes.

Tuesday:
  • Fox: Glee at 8 p.m., Raising Hope at 9 p.m., and Traffic Light at 9:30 p.m.
  • NBC: The Biggest Loser at 8 p.m.
  • Comedy Central: The Daily Show and The Colbert Report and Onion SportsDome at 8 p.m. and Tosh.0 at 10 p.m
  • USA: White Collar at 10 p.m.
  • Discovery: Pitchmen at 7 p.m. and Dirty Jobs at 9 p.m., and American Treasures at 10 p.m.
  • ABC: V at 9 p.m. and Detroit 187 at 10 p.m.
  • History: Only in America with Larry the Cable Guy at 9 p.m. and Top Shot at 10 p.m.
  • FX: Lights Out at 10 p.m.
  • TNT: Southland at 10 p.m.
  • TLC: What Not to Wear at 9 p.m. and Tiniest Tween at 10 p.m.
  • ESPN: women's college basketball with Notre Dame/UCONN at 7 p.m. and men's basketball with Butler/Milwaukee at 9 p.m.
  • ESPN2: college basketball with Arkansas-Little Rock at 7 p.m. and Butler/Milwaukee at 9 p.m.
  • NBA: Trail Blazers/Heat at 7:30 p.m.
Tuesday's Yield: 88 minutes. I still watch Glee with Mrs Elliott, but the teenage dramas have gotten annoying. I don't think I would pay for that show. 

Crunching the Numbers 

This week I found 332 minutes of programming I would be willing to pay for. Not quite six hours.

That's just pathetic. That's two evenings of TV spread out over seven.

My half of the cable bill is $48.50/month, or about $11 per week.

COST PER MINUTE: 33 cents. I pay a buck for every three minutes of TV I find worth watching. Almost anything else would provide a better value.

Is the cable company to blame? No, not at all. They pay for these shows, they make them available, they service the customers. Cable companies have no say in the quality of the programming, they just deliver it into my house. I doubt anyone is getting rich, and they employ a fair number of people.

Who, then is to blame for this terrible value? The networks? The poor taste of the American public? Predatory capitalism? All of the above, for sure. But the real blame can be laid at my feet: like so many pimplewits, I signed up.

I would cheerfully shut off the TV portion of the cable (no complaints about BB's Internet service), rig an antenna to get the local news broadcasts, watch the good films on Netflix and be done with it.

But (a) there's this ridge between the house and the transmission towers so getting a signal with an antenna doesn't work (tried it), and (b) Mrs Elliott has her own ideas. Like I said, she finds plenty on TV to suit her.

Television: As Good as a Pot and a Lid, just a Lot More Expensive. 

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Footnotes.

1. Our cable bills shows that we are paying $53 for the Preferred Digital package, $16 for HBO, $15 for Showtime, and $13 for the set-top box, for a total for TV of $97/month. But wait—it gets better! Bend Broadband just sent out a mailer announcing that rates are going up in April. Not by a lot, but I bet that the quality of what is delivered into the house won't go up at all.

2. The set-top box (STB) is a Moxi, which we initially liked but have since grown tired of. Its glacially slow menuing system and 15 minute boot time are exhausting. The new Alpha STB, currently in beta test at Bend Broadband, is said to be miles better.

3. All listings are from hd.engadet.com, all are HD. I like HD, don't care to return to SD. Nor do I own a black and white TV or a console radio. 

Thursday, March 3, 2011

You Have To Like How She Smells

Mrs Elliott is out of town, visiting a potential client. I am alone in the house, tidying up.

The cleaning lady comes in the morning. I think that she judges us for our untidiness.

Roaming about the house, I empty the trash, stack our bills discount coupons receipts catalogs and course description neatly on the kitchen counter, I push warm and full wool winter socks down into the dresser drawers and close them shut, I load the dishwasher and set it to "delay run" to do its work after I've fallen to sleep, and I wonder how the messiness of the stovetop, with its stains, blobs of unknown foodstuff detritus, and explosion-shaped spatters, is interpreted.

While making a sweep through the living room I found my wife's green and yellow Ducks sweatshirt on the sofa. I pressed it against my face and breathed in through my mouth and nose. I inhaled fragrant love and warmth.

I do like the way this woman smells. I recommend to all men that they find someone who smells good to them.

For the ladies: Suck it up. I like how Mrs Elliott smells, but she generally finds me stinky. 

I've Never Asked Myself this Question...

Suppose one of your hands was amputated and the only option for a replacement was either a lobster claw or an octopus tentacle.

Which do you choose?

Discovering New-to-Me Authors

Every so often, something I hear or read leads me to discover previously-unknown literary works by authors I've never heard of. Today, for example, THAR I WUZ, reading an article about author/illustrator Edward Gorey in the New York Times (online -- I'll leave the paper version to Dunc), when I came upon this tantalizing little bit:
Gorey was born to be posthumous. His poisonously funny little picture books — deadpan accounts of murder, disaster and discreet depravity, narrated in a voice that affects the world-weary tone of British novelists like Ronald Firbank and Ivy Compton-Burnett — established him as the master of high-camp macabre.
Who the dickens are Firbank and this Compton-Burnett person, I wondered. I checked with Bruce Miller—a man of letters if I'm any judge of men of letters—and neither was a household name for him, either.

To the Wikipedia!

Of Firbank, the wiki says,
Dismissed by critics, with the notable exception of Olivia Chambers, as slight, Firbank's novels have been championed by many English novelists including E. M. Forster, Evelyn Waugh and Simon Raven. The poet W. H. Auden praised him highly in a radio broadcast on the BBC Third Programme in June 1961 (the text of the broadcast was published in The Listener of 8 June 1961). Susan Sontag named his novels as constituting part of "the canon of camp" in her 1964 essay "Notes on 'Camp'".
Good champions, indeed. But it gets better. The wiki article goes on to describe his novel, Concerning the Eccentricities of Cardinal Pirelli (1926), thusly:
[It] begins with the Cardinal christening a dog in his cathedral ('And thus being cleansed and purified, I do call thee "Crack"!') and ends with His Eminence dying of a heart attack while chasing, naked, a choirboy around the aisles.
You had me at "Crack!"

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose, yes? Like a headline torn out of today's newspapers. Sounds like a must-read.

And of Compton-Burnett, ye wiki says
Of [her novel] Pastors and Masters, the New Statesman wrote: "It is astonishing, amazing. It is like nothing else in the world. It is a work of genius."

In her essay collection L'Ère du soupçon (1956), an early manifesto for the French nouveau roman, Nathalie Sarraute hails Compton-Burnett as an "one of the greatest novelists England has ever had".
Possibly true, what do I know? Best play it safe and endeavor to get a copy of Pastors and Masters, too. Works of genius should not go unread.

It's always fun to discover new authors.
 
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