The Newsroom

Hollywood has a liberal bias. Sorkin is its poster child. His talents as a writer and ability to frame arguments in a way which make liberals smile must upset conservatives.

Sorkin brings his liberal slant to The Newsroom. Though the series is fiction it is bolstered by fact. The first episode takes place on the day of the BP Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf.

I’m being too positive. That’s not how I was while watching.

I’m an Aaron Sorkin fan. I’ve liked most everything he’s done. That’s why Helaine and I watched HBO’s The Newsroom tonight.

I’m a liberal and even I admit Hollywood has a liberal bias. Sorkin is its poster child. His talents as a writer and ability to frame arguments in a way which make liberals smile must upset conservatives.

Sorkin brings his liberal slant to The Newsroom. The series is fiction, but bolstered by fact. The first episode takes place the day of the BP Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf.

I’m being too positive. It sounds like I unconditionally enjoyed the show. That’s not how I was while watching. The Newsroom developed slowly, relied on tired hooks and predictable interactions. There are too many characters you’ve seen before.

What I did like is the excitement of a newsroom at airtime. It’s not always that way. I’ve seen too many producers pass on breaking stories and in fact that mindset is a large part of Sorkin’s morality play.

If I had to grade the show it would get a C. I will be back because there’s lot’s of potential… and Sorkin.

Veep, Second Look

I want to like this show. I really do. It just feels like there are moments when it stops and becomes listless.

I like the characters. I like the snippiness and self importance.

On Twitter Michael Walsh said,

@geofffox #Veep isn’t about editing! @Aiannucci is a satire/comedy master. He made The Thick of It & In the Loop before coming to America.

Don’t care.

I will probably give Episode 3 a look too, but that’s where my commitment stops. Right?


I just watched Veep on HBO. The show’s not so good. The editing continuity was awful. I love the characters. It gets another chance and I’ll report back later.

On to Episode 2.

The New Adrian Grenier Produced Documentary: Teenage Paparazzo

Though the movie’s original focus was the role of celebrity versus paparazzi and the diminution of privacy their work brings that soon changed. As more and more people noticed Austin he became a celebrity.

As I clicked through the DVR last night hoping to watch The Daily Show I stumbled across something Helaine recorded on HBO: “Teenage Paparazzo.” I was clueless–never heard of it.

As usual the Comcast onscreen guide said little except it was a documentary. That was enough for me.

Here’s the summary from the movie’s own site:

“Entourage” star Adrian Grenier, who is no stranger to paparazzi, was shocked to see a 14-year-old holding his own (and his camera) among veterans more than twice his age. So shocked by the sight of it, he decided to produce a documentary pointed at the paparazzi through his and the teenaged photog’s eyes.

The fourteen year old was Austin Visschedyk. Hauling very pricey Canon gear he was wedged in with the grown-up papps when Grenier first spied him. His age and size made him stand out with the celebs and probably helped him greatly as he competed to get salable shots.

The movie’s original focus was the role of celebrity versus paparazzi and the diminution of privacy their work brings. That soon changed. As more and more people noticed Austin he too became a celebrity. It was impossible for him to be the person we saw at the doc’s opening.

I began to fill sad for Austin. Obviously bright he became jaded and subsumed by the culture he’d been trying to observe.

At about an hour and a half Teenage Paparazzo could use a little tightening. It was still compelling especially when its portrayal of Austin turned dark as he and his mom watched their own ugly side in a screening of the nearly finished doc.

If you liked Adrian Grenier (Vincent Chase in Entourage) before you’re going to love him now. There’s never a doubt his ultimate loyalty is to Austin who should have been allowed to be a kid.

Smokey and the Bandit III

No Burt or Sally. It’s Jerry Reed playing against Jackie Gleason. It’s atrocious.

I have HBO on. It is my current addiction. I am watching the worst movie ever made. Currently in view the crudely awful “Smokey and the Bandit III.”

Yes, there were at least three.

No Burt or Sally. It’s Jerry Reed playing against Jackie Gleason. It’s atrocious.

The timing is awful. The looped audio is worse. Everything is taken at a leisurely pace with as little extra as is possible.

It’s as if the rehearsals were filmed. That’s probably it, right?

This movie was made in 1983 when theaters were really the only market that mattered. I pray it bombed.

It’s Still Porn

Tonight’s midnight feature is “A Real Sex Xtra:Pornucopia” It’s a documentary about porn, so there’s lots of porn in it–in HD.

Recently we got HBO. That means much of what they show I’ve never seen–even the old stuff. I check every night when I get home.

Tonight’s midnight feature is “A Real Sex Xtra:Pornucopia” It’s a documentary about porn, so there’s lots of porn in it–in HD.

HBO could never get away with being a porn channel. Running a doc gives them cover.

It’s still porn.

The New Deal With Comcast

“Worse than getting a mortgage!” That’s a direct quote from Helaine after her conversation with a Comcast. She then proceeded to tell me about the dizzying array of packages and prices.

Customer service. It seems to be MIA in modern day America. How often is a customer left happy after a transaction and does the merchant care.

Tonight’s cautionary tale concerns Comcast. Even though I will leave this transaction paying less per month I leave upset.

Stef is done with college, working here in Connecticut and living at home. “Why don’t we have HBO?” she asked, confusing our home for her ‘HBO included’ dorm room.

Hold on. She had HBO in her room? We had a TV… a single black and white TV in the basement of my dorm. It had rabbit ears and could barely get anything through the snow. I watched 20 minutes of TV during my brief college tenure. She had HBO! Good grief!

Where were we?

“I’ll pay for it,” Stef added. And with that Helaine went to calling Comcast to make arrangements.

“Worse than getting a mortgage!” That’s a direct quote from Helaine after her conversation with a Comcast. She then proceeded to tell me about the dizzying array of packages and prices.

Helaine took notes as she moved along with the CSR. My wife is nothing if not organized. She had copious notes.

The conversation finally ended with Helaine agreeing to take HBO and Showtime, keep the service we already have and pay about $35 less for the first six months. After that we continue to pay less, just not as much.

Our end of the deal was committing for two years. I get it. Comcast is worried about AT&T’s U-verse. Surprise, it won’t be here in the next two years.

At this point I was feeling pretty good. It didn’t last.

Today the official agreement came in the mail and SURPRISE it was different than what Helaine had agreed to. In this new agreement we lose another $10 off the discount in the second year. That’s $120, not an inconsequential number.

Helaine called Comcast tonight. The rep admitted sometimes the package is sold and the agent ‘forgets’ to mention this second year adjustment, but there was nothing she could do. It’s their absolutely lowest price. Why am I not satisfied?

We signed up. We are still saving money every month for the length of our two year agreement, but I’m not happy with Comcast. My only solace is, they’re the loser in this deal getting less each and every month.

If we would have been given the right price to begin with I’d be happy as a pig in s**t. This seems to be a textbook case of how not to win friends and influence people.

From Television City In Hollywood

I smiled, waved and passed unmolested back to the editing booth where my secretive friend was finishing his work.

television-city-in-hollywood.jpgI joined my friend from the secret location for a drive to Television City in Hollywood. Built in 1951 it was the first all-television studio complex built here… maybe in America. Along with CBS offices it’s also where HBO’s Real Time and Foxes American Idol are done. It was where Carol Burnett and Bob Barker worked.

I have been before, but it’s still impressive.

My friend was busy reworking a show recorded in 1967 for repackaging on a DVD. He worked in an old line analog online edit suite.

evan-astrowsky.jpgAfter noon I borrowed his car and headed into the heart of Koreatown to visit Evan Astrowsky. Evan was a producer on Inside Space, the show I hosted on SciFi. Now he’s a movie producer–one of a number of hats he wears.

I parked on the street, limiting my time with Evan. At four Wilshire Boulevard turns into a pumpkin for parked cars.

Already ‘passed’ I headed back to Television City and drove right in. Outside on Beverly Boulevard a line of mostly young woman waited for “So You Think You Can Dance.” I smiled, waved and passed unmolested back to the editing booth where my secretive friend was finishing his work.

Tonight it’s off for sushi with two friends from college.


Comcast Giveth–Comcast Taketh Away

Jose Candelario who I work with said he’d heard from friends this was typical and they’d disappear over the weekend. They did, just after midnight Sunday.

I didn’t want to write about this sooner because… well, I didn’t want Comcast to know what was on my new DVR/cable box. Remember the card from Monopoly: “Bank Error In Your Favor.” After we got our new HDTV DVR from Comcast it got ALL the premium movie channels.

“Wow, this is cool,” I thought.

Jose Candelario who I work with said he’d heard from friends this was typical and they’d disappear over the weekend. They did, just after midnight Sunday.

A few brief observations from my moment of free-pay-TV:

I enjoyed seeing Bill Maher. Pre-HBO we ran Politically Incorrect on the TV station until Bill became too politically incorrect.

Helaine and Stef have tried to get me hooked on Entourage. Now I am. I’ll probably continue to watch it via DVD.

I like Bruce Willis action movies.

Is it possible to find nubile young actresses willing to take their clothes off who can act? If so, Cinemax has not yet found them. These are a lot more explicit than I remember.

There are a lot of movies being played I’ve never heard of. Is there that much direct-to-cable?

Right now, for me, there’s not enough to make me want to subscribe. I already have enough channels with nothing worth watching.

My Friday Nighttime At Nightline

The Nightline set is, to be kind, tiny. The street traffic behind the anchor plays off a server and is shown on a rear projection TV. Is nothing real?

When I came to WTNH the director of our evening newscasts was a young guy named Jeff Winn&#185. He had the thankless task of directing our newscasts on a chromakey set. This is much too complex to explain here except to say any mistake Jeff made was glaringly obvious to even a casual viewer. It was that obvious. Luckily, Jeff was good at what he did. Mistakes were few.

He left us and went on to bigger things. Again, too complex to explain here, plus if I thought about his career versus mine I’d openly weep. Jeff has seven Emmys, as do I. His are the much larger, heavier, impressive, national ones. Jeff won most of them directing “Real Sports” on HBO. He still does that on a monthly basis.

Jeff’s day night job is directing ABC News Nightline. Originally Ted Koppel’s nightly wrap-up of the Iranian Hostage Crisis and then a daily single subject half hour of hard news, Nightline post-Ted is flashier, lighter and more feature oriented. It’s also stronger in the ratings than it’s been in years, recently beating Letterman.

I’ve been meaning to watch Jeff direct for years but never had the chance. I went last night.

The drive to New York was speedy and without incident until the Bronx. What had been a wide open highway became a slow moving bumper-to-bumper grind. I broke free, headed down the West Side Highway and pulled into an open and totally legal parking space on Columbus Avenue directly across the street from ABC’s entrance.

Really–I found legal on-street parking in Manhattan. I’m available for autographs later.

When Nightline first went to its rotating three anchor configuration it came from a windowed studio above Times Square. Even now you can watch the traffic behind the anchor. Don’t be fooled (as I was). They moved around a year ago and now come from TV-3, the same studio as World News with Charlie Gibson. The Nightline set is, to be kind, tiny. The street traffic behind the anchor plays off a server and is shown on a rear projection TV. Is nothing real?

For much of the evening Jeff is ‘on a leash,’ even when there’s nothing to do. If a major story broke, he would direct live coverage across the full network. That is no small responsibility. ABC has standby staff just-in-case 24/7.

We took the grand tour to the control room passing through Nightline’s sparsely staffed offices. Most of the action happens here during the day. The show is anchored live, but the packages are mainly pre-produced at a more convenient hour. TV work isn’t as glamorous when you consider so much of it is “second shift.”

ABC’s New York headquarters is a confusing collection of mainly connected buildings on Manhattan’s West Side between 66th and 67th from Columbus Avenue to Central Park West. There are a few apartment buildings interspresed, but most of the block is ABC’s.

Back when I did some freelance work at the network (weather fill-ins on Good Morning America–you never call anymore–I’m crushed) I never ventured far from my studio (TV-2) lest I get lost! In some of the interconnections the floors don’t even line up!

The control room itself is very impressive with two rows of arena type seating, a few individual positions farther back and a separate audio booth. The production crew face a winged wall of large high definition flat panel monitors. Each monitor is split to show individual inputs as needed. Most are pretty standard cameras and servers, but I also saw tie-lines to Washington and Europe (feeding Arab language broadcasts back to New York last night).

Jeff sat down and with the technical director and assistant director went through the show’s scripts page-by-page making sure each input was properly marked and available. As far as I could tell only one small change was made during this run-through. A courtesy font for a photograph came positioned over the person’s face. It was moved to air in a less intrusive spot.

As 11:35 PM approached more and more people drifted in. By airtime there were around a dozen people at work. Actually, the show starts 15 seconds early as an animated countdown streams to the network. I’m hoping that’s a tradition carried over from the good old days, because by now the affiliates had better have synchronized clocks, wouldn’t you think?

One floor down Martin Bashir anchored. His only contact with the upstairs crew was electronic. I enjoyed when he read about someone being taken to the hospital and in his British English left out the article “the.” “He was taken to hospital,” was what the audience heard.

The show was flawless… at least it looked flawless to me. In many ways the production resembled a local newscast, but with longer packages, no live shots and more help. The producer even shuffled extra promo content in to help fill the show’s scheduled time.

Jeff and the team were relaxed and playful as the show aired. These are people working together every night. They know their jobs and at this level I suspect screw-ups aren’t tolerated long.

A little after midnight we were done.

&#185 – Our other director was Tom O’Brien, who moved out of directing to sales and then management. He is now general manager at WNBC in New York after a long stay as GM at KXAS Dallas.

Lewis & Clark

What an amazing story! This was the America of Thomas Jefferson. Two thirds of all Americans lived within 50 miles of the Atlantic.

lewis-clark-dvd.jpgLast night, after Helaine had gone to bed and with Stef upstairs watching some form of modern day reality, I sat on the couch looking for something to do. Netflix was fresh on my mind because earlier Helaine and I had blown through a Garry Shandling DVD. I loaded a browser and began to check its online listings.

Old topic, but Netflix ability to stream video to my PC is great. I’m even willing to look beyond the incompatibility with Firefox and terrible search interface. It’s marketed (when it’s marketed) as an adjunct to the DVD service, but it’s really no different that buying a premium channel like HBO or Showtime, except the selection sucks. For that reason alone, no one in their right mind would buy this as a standalone package.

After searching for a few minutes, I came upon a PBS documentary on Lewis & Clark. It looked interesting, so I fired it up. What began to stream was a two part doc, narrated by Hal Holbrook and produced by Ken Burns.

What an amazing story! This was the America of Thomas Jefferson. Two thirds of all Americans lived within 50 miles of the Atlantic.

keelboat_s.jpgOnce Lewis & Clark headed west on the Missouri River, they were fading into an unknown void. Simple things, like the stark magnitude of the Great Plains must have been as overwhelming as they were unanticipated. The year round snow caps of the Rockies were unlike anything any of the expedition’s members had ever seen before. How could they not be frightened or discouraged or both.

For a large part of the trip food was plentiful. By and large, the Native American tribes were friendly and helpful, trading for and sometimes freely providing, provisions. But, the expedition was heading upstream, fighting the current with nothing more than their muscle and sporadic wind.

Are there still trips of exploration to be taken? With every passing day I am more enticed by the prospect of exploring. But this is different than anything I could do today. Lewis & Clark were heading beyond the knowledge of white men. The astronauts on the Moon knew more of what to expect than Lewis, Clark and their expeditionary force.

I was puzzled by the use of photographs to illustrate people and places. The first photographs weren’t taken for a few decades after Lewis & Clark. Even then, cameras weren’t easily transportable. Did these shots represent what was in the narration, or were they just reasonably close analogs? What are the specifics of the shots Burns used and why those particular photos?

I wanted to ask but his production company, Florentine Films, claims they don’t have an email address. OK, they don’t have an email address for me – I get it.

That Lewis & Clark traveled all the way to the Pacific while keeping detailed drawings, charts and journals and then returned to tell their story, was an incredible achievement. Actually, it was the least likely outcome of their journey, which presented them with more peril and challenge than they could have anticipated.

Just one man died along the way. It is likely his death was from appendicitis and unrelated to the challenge. He wouldn’t have fared any better had he been near an early 19th Century hospital.

The full documentary ran 3:30. That’s quite a commitment. In retrospect it was well worth while.

NFL Network Sacked For A Loss

So, it looks like the Patriot – Giants game will be on ‘free’ over-the-air TV (seen mainly on ‘paid’ cable or satellite). Originally it was scheduled to be on the NFL Network alone.

This is a complex story, but it seems the NFL is the real short term loser here.

Basically, the NFL created its own sports network and seeded it with a handful of games. In years gone by, these would have been shown on free TV and, in fact, they were still going to be shown on free TV in the teams’ home markets.

The idea was to force cable companies to carry the network year round. That would be the only way to have access to these individual games. The NFL wanted it to be included on cable as a basic service, like CNN or ESPN and not a pay add-on, like HBO or Showtime.

It was a lot to swallow for a few out-of-market games and lots (and lots) of filler.

Unfortunately for the NFL, the cable companies balked and few fans cared. Did you really miss the Broncos – Texans game on December 13 (or the other random match-ups&#185)?

This would have all passed quietly, except for this weekend and the Patriots going for an undefeated season. Now the NFL had leverage. Fortunately, it blew up in their faces.

Under enormous pressure from Congress on down, the NFL relented. Now, this marquee game will be seen on the NFL Network, NBC and CBS! In Boston and New York City it will be on a fourth station as well! ABC might as well run the “All-Star Salute to Cheese.”

In trying to force the cable companies to carry their network, the NFL didn’t have a leg to stand on because of one other move they’d made: NFL Sunday Ticket.

NFL Sunday Ticket is the NFL’s package, offering every game live. As much as the cable companies and Dish Network want that (and I’d probably buy it), it is only offered on DirectTV.

This is a guess on my part, but I’ll bet Sunday Ticket is the most powerful selling point DirectTV has.

The cable ops (and I) wondered, how the could NFL cry about their fans inability to watch these NFL Network games when it wouldn’t provide all the other games to those same poor fans? This is the definition of chutzpah!

There’s an old story about a guy who kills his parents and then throws himself on the mercy of the court because he’s an orphan. That’s the NFL!

I don’t know how this will all come out. At some point the NFL will have to accept defeat and decide if this in-house network is really a viable concept.

Is it just me, or is there a cosmic thread which runs through America where we root for the evil, greedy corporation to get its comeuppance. At the moment, I couldn’t be happier.

In the Fox house, we will continue to root against the Giants. The Pats achievement is less important.

&#185 – NFL Network 2007 Game Schedule

Week 12: Thursday, November 22 at 8:00 PM ET (Live)

Indianapolis Colts at Atlanta Falcons (Thanksgiving)

Week 13: Thursday, November 29 at 8:00 PM ET (Live)

Green Bay Packers at Dallas Cowboys

Week 14: Thursday, December 6 at 8:00 PM ET (Live)

Chicago Bears at Washington Redskins

Week 15: Thursday, December 13 at 8:00 PM ET (Live)

Denver Broncos at Houston Texans

Week 15: Saturday, December 15 at 8:00 PM ET (Live)

Cincinnati Bengals at San Francisco 49ers

Week 16: Thursday, December 20 at 8:00 PM ET (Live)

Pittsburgh Steelers at St. Louis Rams

Week 16: Saturday, December 22 at 8:00 PM ET (Live)

Dallas Cowboys at Carolina Panthers

Week 17: Saturday, December 29 at 8:00 PM ET (Live)

New England Patriots at New York Giants

Don’t Let Studio 60 Die, Please

Dear NBC,

Hi, my name is Geoff. I’m not sure you know me. I compete against you in Connecticut.

Over this past TV season, I’ve become hooked on “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.” It’s the best show on television.

I know it’s expensive and it’s not pulling the numbers you want, but most viewers wrote it off before it hit its stride. It’s so much better… so much more well defined… so much more compelling now. With a little lot of promotion, it could reach its potential.

Like I said, it’s the best show on television.

I was just watching the episode entitled, “What Kind of Day Has It Been?” I assume it was the last one. All the story lines were tidied up. Nothing was left dangling. In an arc drama, that’s a bad sign.

When Tom found out his brother was alive, I cried. I think my crying pretty much guarantees I’d watch every episode of another season… and I wouldn’t be alone.

TV history is replete with shows that needed time to find an audience. “All in the Family” was #34 its first season on-the-air. “The Odd Couple,” “M*A*S*H” and “Star Trek” also had trouble catching on.

You have the chance to save actual quality television. HBO shouldn’t have a corner on that market. The power is in your hands.

Is quality ever more important than money?

All the best,

Geoff Fox

ps – I don’t really expect you to reinstate the show, but I still feel better asking.

Steffie Goes To College

Every life has milepost days. Yesterday was certainly one of them, as we took Steffie to college and helped her move into the dorm.

Make no mistake about it. This has affected me. But whatever I’m feeling pales in comparison to what Helaine and Steffie are feeling. I can claim to understand, but I can’t.

Our day started very early. It was supposed to start just early, but Helaine couldn’t sleep. When I woke up, a few hours before my scheduled time, she was already out of the shower.

We planned to leave the house at 7:30 and were pretty much on schedule.

If you’re reading this, waiting for the moment when the wheels fell off the wagon, you might as well stop now. This day went exceptionally smoothly. Nearly everything went as planned and the college was shockingly prepared and organized.

Is this my life we’re talking about?

The trip to Long Island took around two hours. There is a ferry available, but it only makes sense if you are going to far Eastern Long Island – not us. We headed down the Connecticut Turnpike which becomes the New England Thruway at the New York State line.

As we passed over the Throgs Neck Bridge, I realized that at some time Steffie would be making this trip on her own. I wanted to let her know about some tricky exiting.

An hour and a half into a two hour trip is too late to start. The best way is to let her drive it some time, with me in the passenger’s seat.

As we pulled on campus, a uniformed guard moved toward the car. Before Steffie went to her dorm, did she have her 700 number?

Sure, it was under a room and a half’s worth of stuff!

Steffie and I set out for the Student Center. This was actually a good thing, because she was able to get her student ID, which she would need for virtually everything else.

Next stop, the dorm. Steffie’s room is on the 6th floor of a 13 floor tower. The building is poured concrete, with some brick and cinder block. I would suppose if you’re going to build a structure to hold hundreds of 18-22 year olds, you’d want to make as little of it flammable as is possible.

The concrete looks like it was poured into wooden molds, so the grain pattern of the wood is still visible on the building’s exterior. I’m sure some architect somewhere will wince when he reads this, but I like that look. At least dull, drab concrete is given some modicum of texture.

Another campus cop, dressed like a park ranger, was near the dorm, directing traffic. He asked me if I could squeeze into a spot, which I did. The rear hatch of the Explorer was poised at the edge of the sidewalk. Perfect.

We walked inside where Steffie registered for the dorm, got a sticker added to her ID and a key for her room (don’t lose it – replacements are $150). Then we moved back outside for the surprise of the day.

The college had a small fleet of wheeled bright orange carts. Instead of hand carrying a car’s worth of stuff, we filled up the cart (twice) and rolled it to the elevator and then the sixth floor.

Steffie’s room was ‘prison modern’. It’s small room, with large window. The floors are some sort of easily cleaned, plastic derivative. There were two desks, each with a hutch, two dressers and two large standing hanging closets.

Near the door was the outlet for high speed Internet and telephone access. It, and the cable TV/phone jack, were the only real mistakes of the room. In order to bring the Internet to the desk across the room, you’d need to run the school supplied Ethernet cable across the floor… or go out and buy a fifty foot cable (which is what I did).

I thought Steffie had overpacked… and maybe she did… but she managed to squeeze everything into her half of the room. Once she put some photo montages and other personal touches on the wall, the room began to look homey.

While Helaine and Steffie fixed the living space, I tackled the electronics. Her computer quickly connected to the school’s network. Her two speakers and subwoofer sounded great on her desk.

At one time a student would pack up a small stereo system for a dorm room. There’s really no reason to do that anymore. Steffie’s laptop will serve as her stereo. It’s loaded with all the MP3’s that are in her iPod, and then some. Plus, it will play CDs.

All this time, while the unpacking and set up was going on, Steffie was alone. Her roommate, coming from Kansas, had not yet arrived. Half the room was warm and fuzzy. The other half was Cellblock-G sterile.

Being on the sixth floor and facing west, the room has a great view. The building in the center of this photo is North Shore Towers (where my friend Peter’s parents once lived), about eight miles away.

As the afternoon moved along, we realized there were a few items we had forgotten, so we headed out, looking for a ‘big box’ store to load up.

When I went to college, there was an old black and white TV in the common area in the basement. With its rabbit ears antenna, we could only get a few fuzzy signals. The was Boston’s Back Bay, where even a rooftop antenna brought ghostly signals and where cable wouldn’t be introduced for at least a decade or more.

Today, there is cable TV in each room! Steffie has multiple channels of HBO. Hey, we don’t have that at home!

We had decided to wait on getting her a TV until we got there. And, quite honestly, there wouldn’t have been room in the car.

First stop was Best Buy. It must have been a cold day in hell for me to walk in there, because Best Buy and I just don’t get along. I don’t want to go into the whole story, but my last trip to a Best Buy, much closer to home, ended with me screaming at the manager, “OK then, call the cops.”

We found an off brand 20″ TV for… Oh, go ahead, guess. I’m waiting.

The TV was $87.99. How is that humanly possible?

Forget the labor and parts. How can you ship a weighty box halfway around the world and build a Best Buy on the profit from this thing? I’m not sure how is possible. The TV has remote control and input jacks for a DVD and/or VCR.

The remote came with batteries!

We also picked up a little DVD player. Sure, the computer can play DVDs, but this is what she wanted… and again, it was dirt cheap. The DVD player was $31.99.

Here’s what I can’t figure out. How can this TV/DVD combination sell for less than the frames for my eyeglasses? There’s some disconnect here… or the ability to make a boatload of money producing cheap frames.

The TV fit nicely on top of Steffie’s dresser. The DVD player needed to be turned into one corner. It’s not optimal, but it will do. It’s a dorm room, after all.

Next stop for us was the theater for a lecture on fire safety. I had already given Steffie my own cautionary tale about fire alarms and dorms. It will go off often. She still needs to leave. She can’t take the chance it will always be a false alarm.

There was another paragraph here about the lecturer, his demeanor and his warmth. I have removed it because I don’t want to be sued. ‘Nuff said.

Evening was approaching and Steffie’s roommate was still a no show.

At the lobby of the dorm there was a short list of who wasn’t there. The list grew shorter as names were crossed off. Not this one. She was top of the list and still missing in action.

We went to a barbecue on the intramural field. There were previously warm hot dogs and cheeseburgers (with unmelted cheese on the burgers) and we ate away.

Time was running short. Helaine and I had to return to Connecticut. We didn’t want to leave Steffie before the roommate arrived, but we had no choice.

Our goodbyes were tearful. Steffie put on wide sunglasses, but tears still poured out. Helaine was no less emotional.

After being with Steffie virtually every day for 18 years, we would be separated. Helaine will be seeing her in a month. It will be longer for me.

If you would have asked me how Steffie would fare in college a year ago, I wouldn’t have had a ready, positive answer. It’s different now. This last year has seen her mature a lot.

She has said, and I believe her, that she’s ready for college and the college experience. I think she is.

It will be interesting to see how she ‘plays with others’. As an only child, Steffie has had her own bedroom, bathroom and playroom. Now she’ll be sharing a room with one girl and a bathroom with a floor of them.

There are so many things to learn in college. Classroom work is only one part of a very large experience.

Blogger’s note: Steffie’s roommate arrived, alone, right after we left. She had packed light with more being shipped over the next few days.

Stern to Sirius

Howard Stern announced today that he’d be going to Sirius, the satellite delivered radio service, a year from January. Whether Viacom will find it in their best interest to keep him on the air for that year plus period is certainly being debated now.

I had speculated earlier that Stern would be part of the post-Janet Jackson fallout. Mel Karmazin is no longer at Viacom, and he was Stern’s biggest supporter. I was probably wrong in connecting this to Janet Jackson… though maybe not 100%.

The whole Super Bowl, wardrobe malfunction affair has driven radio station operators, like Clear Channel, to reassess. Maybe Howard is feeling reigned in a little.

I see two interesting outcomes from this move. As little as I personally appreciate Howard Stern, he is a powerful force with his audience. He will give credibility to Sirius – get them additional subscribers. Their stock (not particularly pricey to begin with) is up almost 15% as I write this.

The second effect will be felt by people who don’t listen to Stern and don’t subscribe to satellite radio. Just as more adult or racy content on HBO, Showtime and even MTV, led the broadcast networks to spice up their programming to compete, a good showing by Stern might force the same shift on radio.

It would be ironic if Stern’s move off-air ends up moving on-air toward his type of content.

This is a story that isn’t completely played out by any means.