Odds and Ends

WARNING: The following are personal opinions and may cause harm to your belief systems. Proceed at your own risk. We are not responsible for fainting or nausea. Please put your own oxygen mask on first.

• Over half of all union members in the US are now employed by the government, the first time this has ever happened (reported today in the New York Times). Union strength in the private sector has been declining, due to the downturn in manufacturing and construction. Imagine, though, one of the most inefficient, bureaucratic entities known to us—government—also a victim of union rules and bargaining. It staggers the imagination. American workers, by the way, mostly un-unionized, are among the most productive in the world, far more so than Japanese and German counterparts, for example.

• Television’s 20/20 ran a story last night of a 16-year-old girl who was abused and forced to have sexual relationships with a Starbucks store manager, who was her boss. The story was overwhelmingly in her favor. But the facts that emerged also showed that she had had consensual sex with many men prior, and had requested sex with him on occasion; that she never told her parents or police at first, and then when she finally told her parents, she continued to have relations with the man until her mother accidentally found out. The setting was in an expensive home with a very articulate mother, no mention of a father, and showed the girl at one point tending to a horse she had ridden. No one deserves abuse, no teenager should be pressured by a boss. The manager ultimately served time in jail. But the family, of course, is suing Starbuck’s.

• The NBC mess reminds me of the old story about the dog food company that spent $50 million to launch a new product, which was a disaster. The executives scurried to point fingers, citing the tremendous money pored into focus groups, nutritional content, and store promotion. Finally, an intern mentioned to the CEO, “The dogs just don’t like the stuff.”

With Conan, the dogs just don’t like the stuff. He’s a nice, affable guy, but he’s just not very funny. His numbers are the maximum he’s going to get for the avid followers he has, but there aren’t enough of them. Leno will go back to beating Letterman every single night, because Letterman is also at his max—he’s not that funny, and he’s still bitter over bad treatment he perceives by NBC and Leno decades ago. He’s bitter and vengeful, and it shows in his work. If he needs a therapist, then he can pay me.

The dogs just don’t like the stuff.

• And what about all the pompous writers who “look askance” at the imbroglio at NBC? Why shouldn’t O’Brien and Leno and Letterman get upset and take shots? Who says that they need to be some kind of avatars of propriety, according to the columnists?

If politicians, athletes, columnists, and everyone else hogging the media real estate can take shots, why should comedians be held to some higher level of relationship hygiene? Frankly, I thought that the on-air invective was when at last the dogs could like the stuff.

• There was a great deal of talent during the Help for Haiti telethon last night, and I hope you, as did we, contributed or will. The effort was laudable and generous, though typically Hollywood self-indulgent (muted colors, no indication of who was singing, recorded snippets of celebrities on the phones with donors).

The worst voice and least talent on the stage all night: Taylor Swift. I don’t get what that’s all about, but when compared so closely with all the others, she has a weak voice and zero excitement.

• Without Sarah Palin and the election, Saturday Night Live is excellent at putting you to sleep, so it’s in the perfect time slot.

© Alan Weiss 2010. All rights reserved.

2 thoughts on “Odds and Ends

  1. Alan, your comments about the public section unions are right on point. They own the legislatures of States like New York and California. Apparently, a decent salary and benefits are supposed to enable anyone to shop at Saks Fifth Avenue.

    I also agree that public disputes by and between high-powered raconteurs and media conglomerates are not newsworthy. Actually, of all the late night hosts I find the funniest to be Craig Ferguson with his loopy sense of humor.

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