TiVo has me against the ropes

My TIVO is ganging up on me. I didn't realize the side effect of hacking my TIVO and adding hard drives. It starts to save up so many shows that you feel compelled to sit around watching TV all the time. I have about 70 hours of television saved up and no time to watch any of it. I thought a TIVO was supposed to reduce the amount of television you watch.
Since the earliest days of theater, mass entertainment has obeyed some basic laws. First, as with Greek drama, the two genres that work are comedy and tragedy. In TV today that means sitcoms (situational comedies) and life or death dramas (legal shows, The Sopranos, Six Feet Under, medical emergency rooms).
Shows that deviate from that have a tough road to hoe. Take Aaron Sorkin's Sports Night. It was about people producing a sports news show (SportsCenter, it was fairly obvious). Not quite a comedy (Sorkin has a sense of humor, but doesn't play for yucks the whole way through) and no life or death on the line, just corporate intrigue. So he took his formula and transplanted it into the White House, which added plenty of life or death drama. Result? A shelf-full of Emmys.
Why do you think all the ads for American Dreams show people about to die. Six Feet Under takes this formula to the extreme, beginning every episode with a death.
There's something perverse at work here. These dramas leave you feeling empty as soon as they're done. So you have to come back for more. It's addictive, like a drug, which makes for great commerce. But don't confuse it for art. Art that stays with you doesn't need to be watched over and over again. It stays with you, in your head, for a long time, perhaps all your life.
The vogue these days in television show ads is to have characters of the show standing there, staring at the camera, smiling, or not smiling, for about 5 to 10 seconds. They usually stand in front of the strangest backgrounds, like a dark industrial factory, or computer generated graphic. I can't imagine how uncomfortable it would be to pose in such a manner. The look on the faces of the actors say, "I'm very uncomfortable, please watch my show so I don't have to stand here anymore." Or "watch my show or there will be problems." Or "come watch my show where you can actually see me talk." Or "you, behind that camera, turn it off if you like your job."
Speaking of television, is anyone else having as much difficulty as I am finding the playoff baseball games on television? I got home yesterday night from work and decided I'd try to catch the Yankees-Angels game. It would be the first of the playoff games I'd seen this year, and trsut me, I'm not happy about that. I checked all the major networks. Nope, nothing on Fox. I checked the regional Fox channels. Nope. Checked ESPN's family of channels. Nope. I could have stood up, logged onto the Internet, checked a newspaper. Nope. Remember, I'm a guy. Using a remote control is in the blood.
I started flipping up from channel 200 on DirecTV, proceding up. Playoff baseball has to be on TV, so it had to be there somewhere. Sure enough, I found it on channel 311, the ABC Family Channel. Did you hear me? ABC Family Channel?!? Baseball's in serious trouble. Who negotiated that deal? Sheesh.

Stanford vs. Texas

This week's Sports Illustrated has a ranking of all the nation's collegiate athletic programs. The writer ranked Stanford #2, behind Texas. What the hell? Texas? Basically, the writer gave the edge to Texas because they offer more intramural and club sports and because of a slight edge in the "major" sports like football and basketball. Very arbitrary. SI's own stats offer a ton of other reasons why you could have arbitrarily picked Stanford. Stanford has 3 times as many NCAA individual titles (18 to 6), twice as many team national championships (4 to 2), a ridiculous edge in athlete graduation rate (90% versus 56%), nearly twice as many varsity teams (34 to 19), and all this with a school population about a fifth the size (Stanford at 6637, Texas at 35,206). Let's not even get into a count of Olympic medals.

Ryder Cup

The best event in golf, but I was in NYC and spent my time exploring rather than watching TV. Did read about the final score, though. Yes, of course everyone in hindsight can say that Curtis Strange made a tactical error by saving his best golfers for last, but not everyone has pointed out exactly why. In a relay race, his strategy would have worked out fine, because every runner is guaranteed their lap, and there's something to be said for having your strongest horse going in the last lap if things are close. However, in events like Ryder Cup, achieving a certain score can end the event prematurely, rendering later matches irrelevant. It's like baseball, which is in mathematical terms a race until 27 outs. In a case like that, you want to maximize the number of touches by your best guys because it's no guarantee they'll be up when they still have a chance to make a difference. True, in Ryder Cup, every player gets their match, but having Tiger Woods match rendered irrelevant was a tactical error. The U.S. needs to pick a new captain.
Similarly, it's silly for Dusty Baker to bat Barry Bonds fourth instead of third. It's one reason you put your best batters at the top of the lineup, and one reason why Tiger Woods should have been one of the first few golfers playing on the last day of singles. Plus, in an event where pressure has such a huge effect on performance, like golf, I believe it's easier to play from ahead, when you can play loose.
By the way, is Sergio Garcia the most irritating golfer alive? From his ridiculous pre-shot routine to his theatrics on the course, he's the golfer I love to see lose. Sergio and his girlfriend, the pouty Martina Hingis, form perhaps the most annoying couple going today.

Blog as confession

The soliloquy derived from the act of prayer, of speaking to God. My blog is like some degenerate soliloquy.