I don’t like The View from where I’m sitting…(will the puns never stop?)

The other morning I watched Live with Regis and Kelly and then some of the new and improved—The View (G’bye Star—Hello Rosie)!

During the day and at night I listen to 70s pop and rock when I write, but early in the morning I love coffee chat shows. Perhaps I should delve into this with my therapist one of these days.

I feel this odd attraction for watching/listening to Live with Regis and Kelly for a number of reasons. For starters, over the past year or three it’s become abundantly clear to anyone with at least three of their five senses that Regis is rapidly slipping into old age dementia. It’s most noticeable during the part of the show where they interview guests—the ones who have been nice enough to stop by to visit. (They do this bit during almost all the talk shows, especially Conan O’Brien, who should know better by now, and it drives me 100 percent bonkers. It happens at the end of the interview and it goes something like this…“Thank you so very much for finding time in your busy schedule to come by and visit us, Mandy Moore. And thanks for telling us all about your new movie that’s opening this weekend and maybe we’ll see you soon—perhaps you’ll visit us just in time to tell us all about the next new movie/CD/Afternoon Special that you crap out of your talentless ass!”

Please don’t treat us like we’re three months old, guys. Nobody does anything for anyone out of the kindness of his/her heart in Hollywood. The closest thing they’ve got to impromptu out there was planned three to four months ago.

So like I said, It’s fun to watch the decline of Regis. Seventy years of having his brain baked under those hot studio lights has taken its toll. He can’t pronounce the names of most of the guests, even if they’re sitting right there in front of him. Fantasia Barrino becomes Anastasia Burrito, Amy Lee and Evanescence becomes Effervescence, and desperate housewife Nicollette Sheridan somehow turns into Nicole Ritchie. The cool thing is to watch Kelly Ripa sitting next to Regis. She knows perfectly well who the guests are and she probably knows perfectly well which names Regis is going to botch and mangle, but she always waits until he’s buried his foot deep into his mouth and has floundered a while before coming to his rescue.

Ripa sits there laughing AT Regis just as much as she laughs WITH him. As she cackles and pats his liver-spotted hand, she does her impression of a family member stuck talking with an ancient relative at a family affair.

Another fun thing to watch for on Live with Regis and Kelly is when Regis zones out. He just flat-out drifts away to his happy place while Kelly is busy gabbing with Jessica Simpson or someone important like that. After a few minutes his internal timer kicks in and in a mad panic his eyes do that auto focus sort of thing and he’ll repeat the last thing he heard Kelly said and will suggest that they look at a clip from Jessica’s latest movie, even though they just did.

Regular visitors to the show like NASCAR’s Jeff Gordon or maybe Queen Latifah are in on the joke and they play along, but every now and then they’ll have a politician or an author on. Suddenly from out of left field Regis will ask them if they work on a computer or an old fashioned typewriter, and then he’ll ramble on about his AOL account and how he can’t check his email or phone messages, and then ask whatever happened to writing someone a letter on a piece of paper. The guest being interviewed will look around like he’s being Punk’d or something and then will visibly mouth, “What The F**k?!?”

Plain and simple, this is too much fun to pass by.

About halfway through Regis and Kelly I would normally switch over to music, or just turn the television off, but then one day I stayed around and watched The View. I’ve had a minor crush on Meredith Vieira since she was on Chicago news during the early 1980s. My wife doesn’t get it; just like she doesn’t understand my attraction to Susan Sarandon or Jamie Lee Curtis. That’s fine. She doesn’t need to understand. The only thing she has to ‘get’ is that all three women are on my list, so if the stars align and I find myself locked in a hotel room with any or all of them, she can’t complain. (Just like I can’t complain if she finds herself hooked up with Bruce Willis or Justin Timberlake. Willis I can see, but come on, Justin Timberlake?)

If you’ve never seen it, The View has a somewhat interesting format. When the show begins the four or five ladies will sit around politely slurping coffee and talking about hot topics of the day. It starts out slow, but five or ten minutes in they’ll all be shouting and clawing for camera time. After they’re done with their Hot Topics and a stretch of commercials for feminine products, the featured guest (normally a man) will nervously climb into the viper pit and try to look as comfortable as possible while dodging meat hooks and puddles of estrogen.

I don’t miss Star Jones a whit. She annoyed me to no end and made my stomach roil. See ya, wouldn’t want to be ya.

I don’t really miss Meredith Vieira as much as I thought I would. Her role on the show was as a player/coach who worked hard to both keep the peace and to keep the show moving along at a lively pace.

Barbara Walters has positioned herself between the two potential powder kegs, Rosie O’Donnell and Joy Behar, but that won’t last too long. Everyone has been playing nice since Barbara unleashed her power by cutting Star Jones free. It’s crystal clear that this is her show and people are going to play by the rules or there’s the door.

She’s only a couple of weeks in but O’Donnell’s comedy isn’t meshing with the other women. She used to make me laugh years ago, but not so much now. She talks about her kids a lot, which wouldn’t normally bother me, but when she recounts their activities she has to narrate what happened talking in baby talk. Her kids are almost teenagers and they still talk in baby talk? Baby talk by adults should be outlawed. I hate it with a passion. My wife and I never talked to our child like she was an idiot, so she never did it in return. God, I hate baby talk. It’s like my kryptonite.


To boldly go where we’ve all been before…a bunch of times….

I’ve heard the story of how Paramount is sprucing up the original 1960s Star Trek series for another run on broadcast T.V.. They’re doing some CGI shots to cover the special effects that they feel are a little too embarrassing for today’s audiences.

The photo I’ve pasted somewhere in this item is a sample shot from one of the contractors trying out for the job.

My first impulse was to wonder why they’re wasting their time? I’m not a massive Trek fan but just about everyone I know has seen the original episodes a couple of dozen times each. I’ve seen all the episodes of Next Generation at least once. I started getting my fill of Trek around the time Deep Space 9 and Voyager came along. I think there’s still a Trek series currently in production. I believe it’s called Generations(?) and it stars that guy from Quantum Leap, Scott Baklava.

So why make the effort to release the original Trek series—especially with G4 doing their fun Trek 2.0 show?

And then it dawned on me. I hate it when obvious things clobber me over the head when I’m not looking. When I was young I used to watch WGN TV on Sunday mornings. For the longest time the Sunday AM lineup included The Wild Wild West, Secret Agent Man, and then Star Trek. When baseball season was in full swing the Cubs would play around lunch time, after Trek. When there was no baseball WGN would pull out their collection of Sherlock Holmes and Charlie Chan movies. Each week they would switch back and forth between the two detectives, and every once in a while they would switch things up with a Mr. Moto movie featuring the always-creepy Peter Lorre.

So why is WGN or some other Chicago UHF channel going to start showing the old Trek episodes? It was kind of embarrassing when the answer hit me. It is so easy to forget that there are more people in the United States who don’t have basic cable than those who do. They can’t watch the original Trek episodes on G4 because they don’t know what G4 is. And besides, even if they do have basic cable, they can’t set their TiVo or cable company digital video recorder to snag it when it’s on each Thursday night at 3:00 a.m. because they don’t know what a DVR or TiVo is.

There are only three people who live in my house, yet we have three color televisions, two cable digital video recorders, two CD burners, one DVD video recorder, and all kinds of assorted MP3 players and digital cameras, and a couple of clunky PCs in the garage that may be slow by today’s standards but they probably had a hundred times the computing power that the computers aboard the first couple of Apollo moon shots had.

It’s the whole embarrassment of riches thing that socks me in the gut every once in a while. Valarie is talking about a new Mac she’s getting too do some work on, yet there’s a good chance that a handful of kids my daughter Dakota goes to high school with, not only don’t have a computer or digital video recorder, but they probably go to bed at night with nothing more nutritious than a bowl of Ramen noodles in their bellies.

Forget about television sets and iPods, I learned the hard way that it’s a whole lot easier to get help in this country if you need a lot than if you simply need a helping hand.

A few years ago my family was in serious trouble. I called in every favor I had saved up but I still couldn’t get a scrap of writing. We had been selling off a lot of our old books and toys and crap on eBay to help pay the rent, but we needed to get the car fixed and we had some major bills to pay so I did something that I never thought I’d do. I walked into the local welfare/public assistance office, laid all my cards out on the table and told them that we needed help. Cash would be great, but even if it were some food stamps or help with paying the utilities would make all the difference.

The robot sitting across the desk from me took down all my information, did a little math and talked with someone on the telephone. Things were sounding pretty good until she told me that she was sorry but my requested had been denied. I was dumbfounded. I couldn’t understand what she was saying so she gave me a brochure with a toll free number on it that I could call for a full explanation.

When I didn’t get up and move out of the office quickly enough a supervisor and a security dude came over to pry me from my chair. The supervision was a tad more understanding than the robot who had been helping me. He looked over my application and told me that the reason I didn’t qualify for any sort of public assistance was because of my current lifestyle.

His words were bouncing off me like bullets off Superman’s chest. The two big reasons we were declined was because we were paying too much money in rent on our house each month (I think it was around $1200 a month) and our car was too valuable (we had a Honda Civic that we were still paying for and was only worth five or six thousand dollars).

So, in essence I was being told that the government wasn’t interested in helping me if I was simply stumbling around trying to get a hand up. On the other hand, if I were nearly down for the count, inches away from falling down into the gutter, they’d be more than happy to help.

I don’t have the figures in front of me but there is a large portion of the population of this country that doesn’t have a single black & white or color television in their houses (there’s probably a substantial lack of milk and bread in those households as well). There are even a higher number of people who don’t have a computer, and even if they did there’s a high likelihood that they wouldn’t know how to use it to get a job in today’s society.

I know that Bill Gates is doing fantastic things with the billions he’s accrued over the years. It might not put too big of a dent in his budget to make sure that there’s a computer in every school classroom in the U.S.. Perhaps if a student demonstrated and affinity or aptitude toward using said computer, how much more would it cost Mr. Gates to put a PC into that child’s home?

He knows that he can’t take the money with him, and apparently he’s not going to make any of his children or heirs instant billionaires, so why not? The man has the resources to change the world. Isn’t it his responsible to do so?


I blame society...and the SciFi Channel

Normally I'm more than capable of making a fool of myself with no outside help, but this time the SciFi Channel has pitched in to give me a hand.

A couple of weeks ago I sang the praises of the BBC import Garth Marenghi 's Darkplace that SciFi had been playing at midnight on Sundays. I told everyone I know to tune in for a good time, but before they could the SciFi Channel pulled the rug out from under us. Bastards. They show Mansquito three time s a week, but they hold back on Garth? Again, bastards!