Thursday, November 12, 2015



There are a shrinking number of TV shows that I love to watch. The ingredients that attract me are the elevation of the overlooked, the challenging of myths, and the running of a sword of words through the pompous and politically correct.
Programs that feed new facts and approaches into my thinking are important too. I'm not looking for chewing gum for the mind, just time wasters with an obvious plot, but more substantial stuff.
So of course I'm a fan of 60 Minutes. And Bill Maher. Although the endless Republican debates have splashed my boredom with the tedious and endless American election on them too.
I like peering into the past with Downton Abbey, the fiction based on real issues of the West Wing, and the deadly leadership brawls of House of Cards and the British series that prompted it.
I have read every word of the Sherlock Holmes canon and find the modern variations fascinating when the writers don't get too clever.  Murdoch Mysteries is a gentler Canadian delight when I'm seeking escape, although the latest episode, with space suits and rockets and the PM trying to save New York, was cartoonish and slap dash, not one that we can be proud of when we taunt the Americans that they don't have an equivalent.
Towards his farewell on 60 Minutes, Andy Rooney, with his outlandish eyebrows, was seen as a crank commentator who let  little things bug him too much. The young dismissed him as an old fart.
 He may have overdosed on trivial beefs, like counting the raisins in a box of raisin bran and announcing  the cereal company was ripping us off. Yet I loved that stuff which he made a commentary of the times.
 I confess that as a columnist, I would save up my pet peeves and the cheating of companies, say banks with their gouging charges, and unleash them in one column of indignation.
I really didn't give a damn whether readers loved that stuff or didn't keep reading. It was a safety valve on my sanity.
 Not that companies like Bell or Rogers like you challenging them when they cut corners. To them you're a nitpicker when you complain about dollar charges.
To me we're just keeping them honest because if we didn't fight them on the smaller stuff, like that service fee that TD charges at the end of the month, they would hose us even more on the big stuff, like the interest they grudgingly hand out after they use our money to make a fortune.
I was lamenting the disappearance of curmudgeons like Rooney the other day when I took several magazines to my TV chair in case that television that night would be just a vast wasteland that makes you wonder why you pay for cable.
 Like dandruff, subscription cards fluttered to the carpet. You know, the 6" by 4" cards that publishers stuff in their magazine so you can reply instantly to their blandishments. Damn it, I said to myself, I've been picking up these damn things  for decades. They're not a pain in my ass but my back. Why can't they limit themselves to one piece of garbage per magazine?
I'm sure all readers have their list of the little things that bug them. Like the delivery of my newspapers to the most awkward spot on the porch, if I'm lucky that they made the porch.
Or the repetition of the same ads on TV, some times back to back, so that if you regularly watch baseball or the stock picking on BNN, you may see the same ad dozens of times a week.
Or the fact that it really doesn't matter how often you keep filing your phone number with the "do not call" agency, the duct cleaners will call in the middle of the meal twice a week.
All media need a good crank commentator who never lets triviality stand in the way of anger. What we need is more grumbling about the dumb intrusions on our wallets and our time because silence just encourages the jerks!

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