Last Friday, after Luke mentioned how much Dan Savage disliked Keillor, I did some thinking as to why I have come to truly hate Prairie Home Companion. While it's true that I've always hated banjo music, I used to like the rest of the show. What bothers me is that it is a show aimed at my generation (I am almost 50) and it's the exact same show it was 25 years ago. It's funny enough, but we've heard all these jokes. I hate it for the same reason I hate classic rock. Yes, it's good, but I know it backwards and forwards. Please try something new. Even if it's terrible it could be interesting.
At seven o'clock on Saturday night KUT breaks free from the PHC marathon to broadcast Wits, a show done by Seattle's native son and current Minnesota resident and heir to Keillor's "Life Alert" demographic. It's a clever show with younger guests, but I feel it going down that slippery slope of pandering to white, middle America. It's a lucrative slope, one that might soon see Moe in "wooden boat ownership" financial territory, but I don't think us older folks should give in without a fight.
After Wits comes LiveWire and all is right in the world, at least for an hour. Luke is funny without pandering to the Whitest Common Denominator, the writing is sharp and so far the show hasn't bowed to pressure from Big Banjo. I'm usually out of the car by the end of Burbank's show, but I imagine during this two hour break they've managed to free the rest of PHC from Keillor's eyebrow tendrils and it starts up again at nine o'clock.
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Prison is a difficult place, made even more difficult by the lack of a short seminar or pamphlet explaining what happens there. You spend a few days in a segregation unit while you're processed in, then you're pushed out onto the compound without a clue as to what to do or how to act. I kept my mouth shut, watched everyone, tried to do the right things and still almost got thrown in the hole for not knowing the rules.
It was probably more difficult for me, initially, than most of the guys at FCI Sheridan because I had never done time before. I turned myself in at age 27 without ever having been arrested so it was all new to me. And the prison economy is pretty fascinating. While the administration turns a blind eye to most of it, making occasional token "busts", illicit commerce hums along day and night. Why do the guards sit on their hands? Most of the business doesn't hurt anyone and taking things away from prisoners makes them unhappy. And unhappy prisoners do bad things to each other and to the staff.
I arrived at FCI Sheridan less than a year after a riot happened. I didn't ask a lot of questions about it because I was already under suspicion as a college educated white guy doing time behind razor wire. But there were two constant reminders of the riot. One was the building the prisoners burned had been rebuilt in a different style and the other was one of the guards who worked in the metal detector shack who had some gruesome scars from a struggle with an inmate.
Don't go to prison. It was good for me. I needed it to grow up, learn how to live a clean life, and to make amends for all of the terrible things I did. But you're all nice people, except Jo Ellen McCawley. She a basic bitch, yo.
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People seem angrier these days. But I don't think they are. Just like we are more worried our kids will be abducted than a generation ago despite evidence that these crimes are no more common, the proliferation of news outlets and the internet have also made us hyper aware of angry people. Technology has brought the world to our doorstep and some of us aren't handling the responsibility well.
Local news, in all forms, bears the standard for attempting to make every story about us. We can't be trusted anymore to find news inherently interesting. This approach keeps us through the commercial break and makes us click through the pages but it weakens us intellectually. There is more good journalism today than ever in history, but the bad stuff proliferates faster and it tastes better to dummies. Make room in that canoe, Luke, because I'm coming with you.
Today's show was supposed to be "listener mail" but one thing after another pushed the train off the tracks. Andrew is nauseated from his Eat Street lunch shoveling, and Luke is weary from constant online bickering, especially the bickering about what we should be bickering about. And I will write what Luke stopped short of saying. Everyone has a voice now, and maybe they shouldn't. Unfortunately the "shut up" horse is already out of the online barn.
Let me lighten up this up with a joke I recently made up:
What did the zero say to the eight? Maybe you should just go lie down for infinity.
(I'll see myself out)
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My Jeopardy anecdote: One time I was robbing a bank and just going for the one drawer ($3,000 average) job when I saw that the cash for the ATM was sitting on the counter behind the teller. I instructed her to bring me that money and I almost couldn't fit the $45,000 in my small backpack. Alex? Alex? You OK?
And what kind of lame hobby is watching people play Jeopardy on TV? Luke has the nerve to make fun of people who watch people play video games and don't really watch CBS commentaries but still get super into their feelings about it? Twitch.tv watcher's feelings… the only thing more brittle than a TBTL frisbee.
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Flash's idea to have five or six national days we can spend relaxing, celebrating or memorializing whatever we need to appeals to me. First, it means we can stop arguing about holidays like Columbus Day. I think it's really mean of us to ignore Columbus all year and then jump all over his case on his ONE DAY! Erasing Christmas takes a lot of pressure off in the gift giving department. And finally everyone could fashion their own holiday. Mine would be Cheap Day. It would happen in March during the first day of the NCAA Tournament. The only appliances in operation would be the water heater, refrigerator, and television. No heat and all lights in the house are off. Cheap achievement unlocked.
I haven't seen any movies lately but I do admire Warner Brothers spending what seems like 14 billion dollars to get us out to see The Judge. It looks engaging, but maybe put something a little sexier in the trailer, like a pillow fight between a scantily-clad Vera Farmiga and some other lady. Take that one, ad wizards. it's free. And some advice for Burbank? More Jennifer, please!
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