Monthly Archives: October 2006

News

In Mr. Thursday’s on-going efforts to learn everything there is to learn, sometimes we’re forced to evaluate the instruments by which we receive information.  We’re especially concerned about Current Events with the feeling that if we can keep up on what’s happening now, what’s happened already isn’t going anywhere.  Of course, keeping up on what’s happening now is extraordinarily difficult, as there is quite a bit going on, and we’ve come to the conclusion that most of the standard methods of information gathering (reading the newspaper, watching the local and national news) are inadequate. 

As a young man, Mr. Thursday was very fond of Peter Jennings and his work on ABC’s World News Tonight.  Out of some kind of (possibly misguided) loyalty, we’ve continued watching these broadcasts with a great deal of regularity, and only just recently discovered that Sri Lanka has been undergoing civil war since the summer.  And we found out about this through The Economist, a British newspaper. 

On the same day Mr. Thursday managed to learn about this civil war, World News Tonight closed its programs with a short piece on where one would end up if one should dig straight through the center of the earth from the United States.  (For the curious, you nearly almost always end up in the Indian Ocean, though a few towns manage to pop up on islands).  While an amusing story that Mr. Thursday appreciated after hearing about the record death tolls in Iraq, we wonder if perhaps this is indicative of a larger problem.  That is, the decline of the news.

A study published in early October found that network news sources–World News Tonight, CBS Evening News, NBC Nightly News–provided about the same amount of content as Comedy Central’s The Daily Show.  Given that The Daily Show is, ahem, satire, Mr. Thursday is more than a little dismayed at the conclusions of this study.  Unsurprised, but still, dismayed.  The conclusion the study draws, one which with we agree, is not that The Daily Show is particularly informative, but rather that the network news is seriously lacking in content.

Our hope for the network news?  Increase your content.  Speed up your delivery, use fewer words, less video, whatever it takes.  Secondly, dramatically increase your international coverage.  Since there are about 240 countries in the world, and about 260 new episodes of the news, we think it’d be lovely to take a couple minutes out of every program and document some of the significant events in a country or small group of countries.  Obviously you can’t get too in depth with only 2 or 3 minutes, but we’d like to think that if we had seen a two minute blurb on Sri Lanka or India in August, we would’ve had the wits to find out more about the Men With Guns. 

For now, though, we’re just resorting to reading our local paper, a few national papers, and an international paper, on top of watching the news, sports, movies, books, new music, and an on-going debate on whether or not to start home-brewing beer. 

Wish us luck.

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Baseball, Irony, and Christopher Guest

Mr. Thursday has long enjoyed the playoff games for most sports, especially baseball (a sport worth watching at any time), and after last night’s win, the St. Louis Cardinal’s are up 3 games to 1 over the Detroit Tigers. Having no affiliation with either of these cities, this website has no particular bias for or against either team, and because of this, we’re rooting as hard as we can in some sort of influential, astral plane kind of way for the Tigers.

The reasoning for this is that, if St. Louis wins, it’s the end of baseball until spring training in mid-February. If Detroit wins, there will be another game, and if Detroit wins that game, there will be the ever-dramatic Game 7. Mr. Thursday believes the More Baseball, The Better, and when our personal teams are uninvolved, we shall root accordingly.

Mr. Thursday is not a big TV watcher. He’s been on the Lost bandwagon since the first episode, and he’s been in on House since the season 1 DVDs came out, but there’s very little he actually bothers to pick up. Occasional episodes of the Daily Show with Jon Stewart and various reruns of half a dozen other shows, but none with any true dedication. Regardless, he stumbled across the heavily advertised and apparently lightly-watched Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip on Monday, and has to note and applaud the ever-so-rare use of irony on the show.

Studio 60 stars, among others, D.L. Hughley, a comedian and actor who Mr. Thursday is familiar with almost exclusively through The Original Kings of Comedy. This particular episode of Studio 60 feartures Hughley and Matthew Perry traveling to see a black comedian. The comedian’s act features what Hughley describes as stereotypical black comedian, talking about being unable to pay bills, about “bitches with big asses”, and you can assume the rest. Hughley flips out about his act. Mr. Thursday recognizes that the man on the stage was essentially repeating Hughley’s own act from Kings of Comedy, albeit toned down for TV.

Mr. Thursday wonders whether Hughley has matured and really feels this way right now, or if the writers for the show just have him going off on black stereotypes that Hughley himself started to create for the irony of it. Well, whether for the sake of irony or for maturation, this is irony which Mr. Thursday applauds wherever it may be found.

Finally, as part of the series of Volkwagon commercials, a significantly aged Christopher Guest can be seen playing guitar as Nigel Tufnel from Spinal Tap. Mr. Thursday is somewhat disappointed to see Guest, a favorite writer-director-actor, selling out a character from the Canon of Great Films for an extra buck. What’s more, Guest abandons that which made the character so mememorable by actually playing guitar well in the commercial, then making a joke obviously written by a car-commercial-script writer.

Because of this recent selling-out, for the first time ever, Mr. Thursday has begung to worry about the next Christopher Guest film, which we’ve been anticipating for two years, For Your Consideration. It has been Mr. Thursday’s practice to see Guest’s films as soon as they open, without even bothering to see the trailer for the film, which usually has to be sought to be viewed. But our new commercial-related doubt about whether Guest still has it (it being humor, mostly), for the first time, we’ve found ourselves at six AM, on Apple, watching the trailer. Our reaction?

Relieved.

Mr. Guest, our hat’s off to you. Make all the car-money on the side you’d like, as your newest film looks as promising as anything you’ve ever done.

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The Bulls-Eye Theory

Through various websites, blogs, forums, panel discussions and soapboxes, Mr. Thursday has long advocated to a theory of his own origination: The Bulls-Eye Theory of Food.
 

The Bulls-Eye Theory is a simple one: for nearly every specific kind of food in the United States, there is a central location (a bulls-eye) where the comestible of choice can be found at its highest quality.  The best lobsters are found in Maine; the best strip steaks in Kansas City; the best Maryland Crab soup in, that’s right, Maryland.  Now, this is not to say that it is impossible to find a good lobster dinner in a restaurant in New Jersey, rather, it’s far more likely that walking indiscriminately into a seafood restaurant in Bar Harbor, ME is far more likely to yield positive results than using a similar absence of discretion in seafood selection in Sea Isle City, NJ (though if you should find yourself in need of buttered crustacean in Sea Isle, Mr. Thursday enthusiastically recommends Busch’s for both the quality of its dinner, and for the unintentional comedy of the Wednesday night patrons upon hearing a middle aged suburbanite crooning out covers of 1950s pop songs). 

The theory has faced many challenges in the past, in the form of various skeptics inquiring as to specific foods that they imagine to have a broader appeal, and thus no, or perhaps many centers.  Mr. Thursday, as is his nature, listens to these arguments and then crushes them with the swiftness and certainty of Britain’s defeat of Zanzibar over 100 years ago. 

The most common of these counter-arguments is pizza.  A food which, the claim goes, has found peaks in New York, Chicago, California, and elsewhere.  To dispute this, we look to define these foods.  Chicago is distinctly thick-crust, while New York is the traditional Neapolitan while California features the “artisan” pizza which Mr. Thursday generally disapproves of, since this fallacy is almost always, in fact, bland pizza overstuffed with toppings to hide its inadequacies.  Even Philadelphia has a pizza bulls-eye of its own with tomato pie which is hardly found outside the area, and not nearly with the frequency or quality found within. 

Mr. Thursday applauds the regional nature of food—in a rapidly globalizing world, many people no longer take pride in their hometowns, and food’s refusal to get with the program is worthy of note.

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