I always make sure to take notes when such fleeting episodes of non-dissatisfaction occur, and then I add them to my running list of Simple Media Pleasures (SMPs). Herewith, the latest batch:
Declining 'American Idol' ratings (finally!)
"Compared to last season," E! Online reports, the show's "Tuesday performance shows are down about 3 million viewers, or 10%, through the first two weeks of the finals, Nielsen Media Research stats show."
OK, so it's not exactly a free-fall, but it's a good start. Just think: 3 million people not suffering through pitchy warbling by this season's excruciatingly weak (with a few exceptions, notably Melinda Doolittle) finalists. Three million people getting their Tuesday nights back -- to, I dunno, probably watch other crap on TV, but at least they're not listening to Randy Jackson say, "For me, dawg, that was kind of all right, I kinda liked that," and Simon Cowell saying, "I don't mean to be rude, but ..." and Paula Abdul saying ... oh, never mind. I can't do it. I just can't even bear to paraphrase Paula Abdul. My cats have more intelligent things to say (and are better judges of talent).
Post-apocalyptic nuclear winter? Check. Starvation? Check. Zombies? Check. Cannibalism? Check. "Mad Max"–style rape and pillaging? Check. Oprah's latest book-club pick, "The Road," by Cormac McCarthy (published in hardcover last year and now getting rushed into paperback), is one of most unrelentingly bleak books I've ever read. It's also an authentically brilliant novel -- and, in its own way, an almost subversively hopeful book. Still, it is nothing short of traumatizing, and a lot of its new flood of unsuspecting readers are going to need more than a quick bit of homespun buck up Dr. Phil-is-tinism to recover. Props to my old boss (I helped launch Oprah's magazine back in the day) for pushing her readers into entirely new (scorched-earth) territory.
'30 Rock' rocks
I was initially disappointed by "30 Rock," the Tina Fey-created NBC sitcom about the making of a "Saturday Night Live"-like show. But in the course of this season, it's settled into its own incomparably goofy groove and become, hands down, the best new prime-time TV comedy. The core cast members -- Fey, Alec Baldwin, Tracey Morgan, and especially Jack McBrayer as NBC page Kenneth -- are simply genius. And there hasn't been a funnier guest-star turn on TV this year than Paul "Pee Wee Herman" Reubens' appearance as the horrifically inbred, gleefully hedonistic Austrian prince Gerhardt.
Clipmarks.com describes itself as "a global community of people clipping interesting things they find on the web." The way it works: Users of Firefox or Internet Explorer can install the free browser add-on Clipmarks 2.0, and then they can easily grab text, images and video from within web pages and save those snippets, e-mail them or effortlessly create little Clipmarks highlight boxes (with links to the original source material) on their blogs. It's a clever update on web-content-sharing sites such as Del.icio.us and StumbleUpon but tailor-made for even shorter attention spans (such as mine).
Perez Hilton-free living
According to technology-market-research firm Park Associates, 29% of U.S. households don't have internet access and don't intend on getting it anytime soon. "The main professed cause for nonsubscribers is not economic but a low perceived value of the internet," according to the company's National Technology Scan report. "Forty-four percent of these households say they are not interested in anything on the internet." What can I say? I love these people! I want to talk with them about ... well, whatever it is that people who don't read Gawker talk about. (The weather? Gout?)
Last week when Burger King proudly announced it would begin buying eggs and dead pigs from suppliers that don't keep their animals in cages, it couldn't help but add, in ace corporate-speak-spinmeister mode, that it would also favor suppliers that use "controlled atmospheric stunning" to knock out birds pre-slaughter. Yes, it's official: Burger King is pro-gas chamber! OK, I'm not actually happy about this -- but I do feel vaguely vindicated because I've been insisting all along that that creepy plastic-face King dude is a deranged despot who is not to be trusted.
Pimp my MTV
MTV is developing a show called "Suburban Virgin," "a reality take on [The 40-Year-Old Virgin] ... following men on their quest to find a girl and lose their virginity," a network rep told the Reality Blurred website last week. I bet the folks over at the Sci-Fi Channel and C-SPAN are kicking themselves; their core audiences are 40-year-old virgins! But I suppose it's fitting that MTV, the network behind the car-remodeling show "Pimp My Ride," has now itself become a pimp.
Last December I called for the resignation of FCC Chairman Kevin Martin. Lately, though, I just want to hug him for recommending that the FCC continue to ban in-flight cellphone use. Granted, after I hug him, I might be tempted to give him a wedgie and a wet willy for otherwise being such a censorious little Church Lady -- but the hug part will come from a honest place. (As will the bitch-slapping, which will follow the wedgie and the wet willy.)
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Send your SMPs to [email protected] and they may appear in a future column -- and you'll be eligible to win a Media Guy Box-o-Swag. Media Guy's Pop Pick returns next week.