Wednesday, September 23, 2009


Place: Long John Silver's
Lunch: 3 chicken, 1, wait...3 fish, 1 chicken, Dr Pepper

I order my chicken and fish ala carte so I don't have to have a plate full of crappy cole slaw, hush puppies, and fries. And I usually order 2 chicken and 1 fish or 3 chicken and 1 fish, depending on how hungry I am or my mood. Do you ever eat just because you're in a bad mood and not because you're hungry? Yeah. Me too.

Anyway, the food comes, I go to my table, and realize I have three pieces of fish and one piece of chicken, which I would NEVER order. Long John Silvers has some of the worst fish in the restaurant industry. And if it isn't just out of the oil, it's untolerable. I go to the counter, think to check my receipt to see what I paid for, when the counter girl coldly says "What."

"Well, I thought I ordered three chicken and one fish, but the receipt shows I paid for three fish and one chicken, so never mind, I guess."

She walks back to the kitchen without another word.

This is a textbook example of customer service in Iowa.

At least the fish was hot out of the fryer.

And why does my Dr Pepper taste like bubble gum?

The new TV season is here! And I still have absolutely no reason to watch NBC or ABC! Yay!

Actually, I probably would have watched "Pushing Daisies" had I known about it when it was on. I sort of stumbled upon a rerun, one of the last to air. Oh well.

And I did watch one episode of Leno. Yawn. I have been watching Conan fairly regularly. But the late night talk show I really like is Craig Ferguson. That guy is brilliant.

CBS is rolling out their new fall programming this week. CSI: Miami was just short of a throwaway retro show. NCIS was awesome. NCIS: Los Angeles was absoutely horrible.

The new NCIS spinoff was teased to us towards the end of the previous NCIS season. The team was headed by Clara Macy (Louise Lombard, who used to play Sofia on CSI) and had this dark office in an unmarked, apparently abandoned building. Looked pretty good.
She was replaced by 175 year-old Linda Hunt. WHAT?!?

The new show has an absurd office that is decorated like a Mexican restaurant. LL Cool J and Chris O'Donnell are in this. It isn't helping. I shut it off ten minutes in. So Tuesdays this fall will be the original NCIS, then whatever hockey game I feel like watching.

Thursday is a full-night lineup for me. Fox rolled out Bones last week, which I got into over the summer. Cyndi Lauper was awesome in the season premiere. She should act more. Original CSI and The Mentalist roll out tomorrow night. Apparently Jorja Fox is coming back to CSI, at least for a little while. They're dropping the Riley Adams character.

They should do a CSI in a Canadian city, like Vancouver or Toronto. They could sell it to a Canadian network and syndicate it in the US.

Smallville is on Friday now, I guess. Smallville has become a show that does two or three really good episodes a year, then falls flat on its face the rest of the time. Yet I keep watching the damn thing. Also on Friday is Dollhouse.
Somebody had written a review on the Blu-ray release of Dollhouse's first season and noted that it was a Joss Weadon series. That's all I needed to know to catch up on it. Freaking awesome. New shows start Friday. I still wish he'd find backing to get another Firefly movie made, though.

Tonight we have the season premieres of Criminal Minds and CSI: NY. CSI:NY is my favorite of the CSI shows. There's nothing on at 7. I should go out for a really nice dinner or something beforehand.

I can't believe I ate all this fish. I think I'll stop by QuikTrip on the way back to work and pick up a proper Dr Pepper.

And some Boston Baked Beans.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


Place: smashburger
Lunch: Mushroom Swiss, haystack onion rings, Dr Pepper

Our local smashburger (it's an all lower-case logo) opened today. I don't know what these guys are doing differently than the Wichita store is, but the end result is WAY better here.

Last night's DirecTV program guide, a vast display of reruns and nothingness, indicated preseason NHL hockey was live on the NHL Network. So I checked it out.

There on Channel 215 was the wrong game. It was repeat of a VS (you know, Versus, the sports network) broadcast from last year's playoffs. So for some reason, I wondered if the advertised game might be on the actual VS channel.

Say...Where IS VS?

In place of where DirecTV puts VS is a message from DirecTV that says "Comcast, which owns Versus, has forced us to take down the channel because we will not submit to their unfair and outrageous demands". They give a link to DirecTV's website, where you will find a message that reads:

Unfortunately, Versus is no longer available on DIRECTV. Comcast, the largest cable company in the U.S. and our largest competitor, owns the channel and has forced us to pull it down. Here is the situation.

DIRECTV was already paying Comcast more than any other TV service provider to air Versus — and now Comcast is demanding an overall rate hike of 20% on top of that. Comcast also forces DIRECTV to make Versus available to a much larger portion of our customer base at our own expense than they require from other TV providers — most notably, DISH Network. We simply cannot accept these unfair and outrageous terms. All we're asking from Comcast is equal treatment.

Comcast and Versus are currently engaged in a noisy publicity campaign to distract attention from the fact that they are trying to take advantage of DIRECTV and our customers. The bottom line is this, if we were to accept their unreasonable demands, we would have no choice but to pass on the increase in cost to our valued customers. We do not want this to happen, especially in these difficult economic times. That's why we're standing firm in our negotiations with Comcast.

Regardless, we will continue to work in good faith with Comcast to try to reach a fair and just settlement. Our commitment to deliver the best TV service for the best price is and has always been our first priority. We truly appreciate your patience and understanding during this time.

DIRECTV still leads the industry in sports programming, whether or not we have Versus in our channel lineup. For college football, NHL hockey and other sports, here's just a brief list of what's available on DIRECTV:
  • College football: Available on Big Ten Network, CBS College Sports, ESPN, ESPNU, ESPN GamePlan, The Mtn., local channels and your RSN.
  • NHL: Available on NHL Network, NHL Center Ice, and your RSN.
  • Mixed Martial Arts: Available on HDNet, Spike TV, and UFC on DIRECTV Pay Per View.
  • Auto Racing: Available on IRL on ABC, Formula 1 on Fox and Speed.
  • Bull riding: Available on ESPN2 and the Houston Rodeo on DIRECTV Pay Per View
  • Hunting and fishing: Available on ESPN2, The Sportsman Channel, The Outdoor Channel, and Pursuit TV.
Versus, of course, has a rebuttal on their website:

If you are a DirecTV customer, you are most likely aware that VERSUS’ contract with the satellite provider expired on August 31. Throughout our discussions, VERSUS made fair and reasonable offers to DirecTV – simply asking them to carry the network at a comparable level of distribution as they had for several years, at the same market price that other operators are currently paying. Yet, despite our good-faith negotiations, DirecTV chose to remove VERSUS from its programming lineup and deny millions of passionate sports fans access to our comprehensive coverage of the sports they love.

DirecTV has also been trying to cloud the real issue in its comments to the press about this situation. What DirecTV has conveniently neglected to mention is that they demanded a deal that would place VERSUS on a tier, removing the channel from more than six million subscribers who were getting it at no additional cost. DirecTV would then force those subscribers to pay an additional fee to get access to VERSUS. We hope to resolve this soon, but DirecTV’s current offer of taking VERSUS away from sports fans only to charge them more is simply unacceptable and we refuse to submit to such an unreasonable demand.

DirecTV has openly insulted our passionate sports fans and viewers by calling VERSUS “an infomercial network.” It is absolutely shocking that the self-proclaimed “leader in sports” would call the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Lance Armstrong’s remarkable comeback in this year’s Tour de France, top-ranked college football, IndyCar Series racing, World Extreme Cagefighting and PBR events “paid programming.” Furthermore, they have belittled hunters and anglers, our vast and loyal field sports fans, by dismissing your programming entirely.

We started hearing from a large number of sports fans the second VERSUS was taken off the air, demanding that DirecTV return the network to its lineup. This overwhelming support that VERSUS continues to receive from our passionate fans is why VERSUS is one of the fastest growing sports cable networks in the country.

Thankfully, you do have options and can sign up for another video provider, one that cares about sports fans. We want to make sure you don’t miss out on any of our upcoming programming, including college football featuring nationally ranked teams such as Texas, BYU, TCU and Kansas just to name a few plus the start of the NHL season, the conclusion of the IndyCar Series season, several live WEC and PBR events and much, much more.

We thank you for your tremendous support over the past few days and want nothing more than to resolve this issue quickly and amicably.


Jamie Davis
President of VERSUS

The best part of Davis's message was that on the sidebar of the very page his letter was on was a DirecTV banner ad. HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!

The Los Angeles Times reported "people familiar with the situation" were claiming the increase would be $.21 to $.26 per month. So it would appear DTV is paying a buck, buck ten per subscriber currently. The same article claims that ESPN is currently getting "almost $4 per subscriber".

I hope that $4 is for ALL the ESPN channels combined.

It's no wonder my TV bill...with no premium $72 a month, easily double what it was when DirecTV launched. That doesn't even include NHL Center Ice. Even at that rate, one has to wonder how cable and satellite companies, bringing 100-200 channels into your home, are able to make any money at all.

Ah, the good old days when the cable industry was a shameless monopoly with a 35-channel capacity who could dictate and crush any aspect of the industry on a whim. I worked in cable back then. Pure evil. Fun times. I used to say that TCI was the greatest company in the world to work for...and the worst company in the world to not work for.

Cable and satellite are less central to many of our lives anymore anyway. We have the Internet to entertain us. We can download programs to our portable media devices. We're getting out more. We're spending all day texting. Are you really watching all those channels? Or are they merely background fodder?

My bedroom television is strictly pulling TV over the air. With an indoor loop/rabbit ears unit, I get 16 free digital and HD over-the-air channels with perfect images. There's the major networks, plus sub-channels they run that carry continuous weather programming, old movies, old TV reruns, religious channels, a Spanish channel...I even pick up an old low power snowy analog home shopping channel, making my lineup 17 channels. I can remember when cable didn't have much more than that. And digital over-the-air TV has program titles and program guides now, just like the pay providers.

Between OTA, the DVD player, and video games, pay TV is completely expendable if I'm willing to sacrifice hockey. If I find the need to cut back, that might be the thing that goes.

If VS ceased to exist tomorrow, I'd hardly notice. They do two hockey games a week. Big deal. I have access to far more. And it's a well-known fact that ESPN wants hockey back, so even if VS and DirecTV never come to an accord, I don't think it'll matter in a year or two. As far as their other programming goes, I don't care about the Tour de France, Indy racing, cage fighting, or rodeos. In fact, well over 3/4 of DirecTV's channel lineup could bite the dust tomorrow and most of us wouldn't even blink.

I think the pay TV industry as a whole...from the networks to the providers...needs to take a step back and reconsider how much they're demanding from consumers. It's easier than ever to say "enough is enough". And don't let that pesky neighborhood association bully you into not putting up an aerial if you really need it. The FCC has regulations in place to protect you from such nonsense.

Don't even get me started on today's neighborhood associations and their draconian garbage. THERE'S a group that needs to be seriously reigned in.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Durr Fooball

Place: Incredible Pizza
Lunch: Lunch buffet (some tacos, some pizza, some bbq...) Dr Pepper

(Yes, the goofy title spelling was intentional. I thought it looked fun.)

Ever notice how excited everybody gets about the start of football season? It's a bigger event than any other professional sport. And there's a very good reason for it...Football is the only professional sport that doesn't overstay its welcome. Everybody else has too long a season.

Hockey should be done in March. Basketball in mid-April. Baseball in early September. When I see baseball highlights after football starts, I think "Who cares". (Okay...I think "Who cares" anytime I see baseball, but still...)

For Week 1 of the NFL season, DirecTV did a "Sunday Ticket" free preview. And I learned a valuable lesson from this...Viewing multiple football games is sensory overload. In a bad way.

It's crazy. I'm flipping through like four games and not really getting the gist of any of them.

So don't expect me to fork over the $300 a year for Sunday Ticket. I need to just settle down and watch one game.

I was watching when Cincinnati's non-existent offense marched down the field as Denver played dead and let them score a touchdown. And I was watching when Denver, out of their own clumsiness, inexplicably scored a touchdown of their own, and won the game. Until the end of the game, the scoring was two long field goals. I fully expected a 0-0 tie at the start.

Now don't get me wrong...there's nothing more fun than listening to WLW the day after the Bengals lose, but there's NO way Denver should have won that game. And Denver's my team!

And HOLY COW...What was up with the idiot on the Bills trying to return that kick last night? Was there ANY point in even trying? If that guy isn't unemployed by the end of the day, Buffalo deserves to lose every game this year. The guy may as well have been intentionally throwing that game.

In fact, why is it that so many games will be all but decided in the first half, then the team leading the whole game will roll over and play dead in the last five minutes, allowing for a dramatic finish? How many times do we see this? It happens ALL the time. It drives me NUTS.

Then there was the season kickoff Thursday night, where a half-hour pre-show that had absolutely nothing to do with football aired. The Black-Eyed Peas played a couple of songs. I've heard of the Black-Eyed Peas, but have heard very little of their actual music. I've never quite understood what the deal is. But I get it now...It's a boy band with a girl. And what was the deal with that ridiculous robot song?

Then there was Tim McGraw, who proved that modern "country" music influences begin and end with Lynyrd Skynyrd anymore. And country fashion influences begin and end with the Village People.

Letterman had George Jones on the other night. When he introduced him, he referred to him as the real deal. Real country music. So it was with some mild amusement that I noticed this real country musician had a drummer playing an electronic drum kit. Built by Roland, no less.

I guess I must have known they exist. Neil Peart has had an electronic kit stuck on the back of his regular drum kit (he can just spin on his throne from one kit to the other) for years. But I thought they were just effects toys, not for full-time drumming.

Maybe I should go to the music store and mess around with one. I used to play the drums. If you can plug in a headset and have no noise for the neighbors to complain about, maybe it might be worth having.