Conan’s Not Gonna Take It Anymore

Embroiled in a controversy caused by NBC’s scheduling ineptitude, Tonight Show host (for now) Conan O’Brien says he’s not moving his 11:35 time slot for anyone, including the large-chinned talentless comedian responsible for the peacock network’s ratings nosedive:

People of Earth:

In the last few days, I’ve been getting a lot of sympathy calls, and I want to start by making it clear that no one should waste a second feeling sorry for me. For 17 years, I’ve been getting paid to do what I love most and, in a world with real problems, I’ve been absurdly lucky. That said, I’ve been suddenly put in a very public predicament and my bosses are demanding an immediate decision.

Six years ago, I signed a contract with NBC to take over The Tonight Show in June of 2009. Like a lot of us, I grew up watching Johnny Carson every night and the chance to one day sit in that chair has meant everything to me. I worked long and hard to get that opportunity, passed up far more lucrative offers, and since 2004 I have spent literally hundreds of hours thinking of ways to extend the franchise long into the future. It was my mistaken belief that, like my predecessor, I would have the benefit of some time and, just as important, some degree of ratings support from the prime-time schedule. Building a lasting audience at 11:30 is impossible without both.

But sadly, we were never given that chance. After only seven months, with my Tonight Show in its infancy, NBC has decided to react to their terrible difficulties in prime-time by making a change in their long-established late night schedule.

Last Thursday, NBC executives told me they intended to move the Tonight Show to 12:05 to accommodate the Jay Leno Show at 11:35. For 60 years the Tonight Show has aired immediately following the late local news. I sincerely believe that delaying the Tonight Show into the next day to accommodate another comedy program will seriously damage what I consider to be the greatest franchise in the history of broadcasting. The Tonight Show at 12:05 simply isn’t the Tonight Show. Also, if I accept this move I will be knocking the Late Night show, which I inherited from David Letterman and passed on to Jimmy Fallon, out of its long-held time slot. That would hurt the other NBC franchise that I love, and it would be unfair to Jimmy.

So it has come to this: I cannot express in words how much I enjoy hosting this program and what an enormous personal disappointment it is for me to consider losing it. My staff and I have worked unbelievably hard and we are very proud of our contribution to the legacy of The Tonight Show. But I cannot participate in what I honestly believe is its destruction. Some people will make the argument that with DVRs and the Internet a time slot doesn’t matter. But with the Tonight Show, I believe nothing could matter more.

There has been speculation about my going to another network but, to set the record straight, I currently have no other offer and honestly have no idea what happens next. My hope is that NBC and I can resolve this quickly so that my staff, crew, and I can do a show we can be proud of, for a company that values our work.

Have a great day and, for the record, I am truly sorry about my hair; it’s always been that way.

Conan is handy at wielding the batI have to admit that I’m surprised and happy at the stance Conan is taking here.  Surprised that he’s standing his ground and essentially daring NBC to fire him if it really wants to move Jay Leno back to 11:35.  Happy because he’s sticking up for himself- he didn’t cause the mess left by the Talentless Jay Leno Show at 10:00, so why should he have to move so NBC can keep Jay Leno on the air?

NBC originally said it viewed the Talentless Jay Leno Show as a 52-week experiment.  Well, it hasn’t been close to that long.  It’s understandable that the network wants to shake things up to improve ratings.  But as Conan says, the Tonight Show wouldn’t be the Tonight Show airing a half hour later with another similar show airing right before it.

That’s called Late Night, and Conan paid his dues there for 16 years (and never even got a 15th anniversary special for it).

Still, if there’s a positive out of this (besides the principled stance Conan’s taken here), it’s that Conan could go someplace that wants and values him.  As’s TV Critic Alan Sepinwall writes:

a “Tonight Show” that airs tomorrow, and after another late night comedy show, is “The Tonight Show” in name only, nothing more. It is NBC’s attempt to hold onto both Jay and Conan no matter what, to avoid giving Conan his money, or his ability to jump to Fox (whose executives, though they couched their comments to critics on Monday in careful legal niceties, seemed very pleased by the possibility of getting to start a late night franchise with the guy), and to pretend like the whole split-the-baby strategy wasn’t a massive miscalculation in the first place.

It was a miscalculation that evolved into a disaster.  Sure, NBC has two spots for three people (nevermind the fact that two of those people have contracts for those spots).  And regardless of the decision, the network knew it would upset one of those people with its decision.  But with this decision, it’s dumping the future and letting it find its way into the arms of a rival.  It’s another wonderful move from NBC.

How To Make Football Watchable

So this weekend, The Civee was watching the Cincinnati Bengals take on the New York/New Jersey Jets in a playoff football game.  Feeling the need to fill my football-watching quota of a few minutes for this year, I sat down to watch with her.

During the action, I had an idea which could revolutionize the game of American football forever: the decoy ball.

You know how on boats they have those emergency rafts that can inflate in 2 seconds? Why not equip the offense with a similar device.  Un-inflated, it could be about the size of a quarter.  When activated, it would automatically inflate and resemble a football (but in reality have the weight and feel of a beach ball).

The offense calls the play, everyone (or just one or two players) activates their decoys, and BOOM, the defense doesnt know who to cover, and the guy with the real ball goes in for a touchdown.

Way I see it, it’s the football equivalent of the hidden ball trick (or at least the rosin bag trick used by Henry Rowengartner in Rookie of the Year).  Adds some creativity and confusion to a game that I find difficult to watch.

I’ll spare you The Civee’s response.  But just know that I’m ready to make American football watchable for the first time since the players stopped wearing leather helmets.


Well Conan, It Was Nice While It Lasted

Sometimes I feel out of touch with the rest of society.

For example, I’ve never understood the appeal of Jay Leno.

The comedic stylings of Conan O’Brien are more my speed, and I’ve been a quasi-regular watcher of Conan’s for the past 15 years.  When The Civee and I first got our DVR two years ago, Conan’s Late Night was the first show that got added to the record list.  And when Conan took over the hallowed Tonight Show last June, I couldn’t have been happier.  As Conan took over Late Night, Jay moved to 10:00 and the once great NBC saw the ratings for its last hour of primetime drop off a cliff.

Well, it looks like NBC is putting the Jay Leno Show (or, as it’s known in my house, the Talentless Jay Leno Show) out of it’s misery.  But the effects may not be good for Conan.  From the New York Times:

NBC executives held discussions with both Jay Leno and Conan O’Brien Thursday about the future of the network’s late-night lineup. And while executives said that no final decision has been made, they did not deny that the network is considering moves that could include returning Mr. Leno to his old job as host of “The Tonight Show.”

NBC executives said a decision would definitely not be announced Thursday but did not deny a report posted by the website TMZ that NBC was considering making the switch and replacing Mr. O’Brien at “Tonight” with Mr. Leno.

So what would they do with Conan? They can’t exactly move him and his crew back across the country and give him his old show back because that would upset Jimmy Fallon.

Back in the day, CBS had a reputation as the old folks’ network and NBC was cutting edge.  Kinda sad to see the network that brought you the A-Team, Knight Rider and Seinfeld fall like this.  Sure, they’ve got things like The Office, Chuck and Conan (still under contract), but this is just digging an even deeper hole.

Don’t worry, fellow tall pasty one, I’ll still watch ya.

What’s The Box?

Ben Linus: And now you have a choice. Because if you stop and if you think, I can show you things. Things I know you want to see very badly. Let me put it so you’ll understand. Picture a box. You know something about boxes, don’t you, John? What if I told you that somewhere on this island, there’s a very large box… and whatever you imagined, whatever you wanted to be in it, when you opened that box, there it would be. What would you say about that, John?

The Man from Tallahassee

A bedridden Ben Linus used the above analogy to illustrate to a desperate John Locke just how special a place the Lost island was.  Sure, we viewers have seen people on the island cured of terminal illness and paralysis.  Others (literally) are ageless.  Viewers (and John Locke, from experience) know the island is a place where wonderful things happen, but in the above analogy, Ben hints that the island’s magic isn’t random, and that individuals can have the island make their dreams come true.  A few episodes later (in The Brig), Ben admits the box is a metaphor.

So the subject of this edition of I Want Some Freakin’ Answers is Ben’s magical mystery box, a topic only brought up twice during the series, but which may be the driving force behind some of the mysteries of the Island.

The only other time the box is mentioned is during the fourth season finale, There’s No Place Like Home, when Locke asks Ben whether The Orchid station is “the Box.”  Ben dismisses Locke’s question, later saying that the purpose of the Orchid is the same as all the other DHARMA stations- to conduct “silly experiments.”

So viewers (and Locke) are left with Ben’s metaphor promising a device which could grant one’s heart’s desire.  We’ve never seen it, but have had plenty of evidence of its existence, kind of similar to the way Hawking describing the way DHARMA first found the island.

Because of this, I’m led to believe the whole island is the Box.  One just has to know how to use it.

We find out through the course of the series that there are unique pockets of energy housed on the island.  DHARMA, a group of scientists, created a number of stations to try and harness this energy.  I argued a while back that DHARMA messed up by trying to turn the island’s magic into science.  I still think they did.  But this energy is there for a reason.  It healed Rose’s cancer.  It let Locke walk again.  Perhaps because these people believed it could happen, or in Rose’s case, had someone believe on their behalf, their wishes came true.

In The Man from Tallahassee, Ben showed Locke what “came out of” the Box when he used it: Locke’s father.  It’s probably more accurate to say the resources of the Others enabled Locke’s father to get to the island, but it’s that magic (along with appropriated DHARMA technology) that enabled the Others to travel the world and acquire detailed files on visitors to their Island.

I have no doubt that in this upcoming season, we’ll find out more about the powers of the island.  And then finally, we’ll have some freakin’ answers related to Ben’s analogy. Either way, I’m sure there’s much more in the Island’s box than this one:

Goodbye Mr. Fat [Poster] Toad

This weekend, The Civee and I cleaned out our basement.  Sadly, I had to dispose of this:

Typhoon Irabu Poster

The image quality is horrible because I took the picture in the basement.

Yes, it was framed.  Sadly, it suffered some major water damage, but that’ll happen to things left leaning up against a basement wall.

Back in my single days, this looked pretty cool on my wall.  Of course, three years ago, it was more of an ironic statement than an item promoting a baseball superstar.

Or Typhoon, if you will.

For the life of me, I could never understand why they didn’t sell items (be they posters or name-and-number t-shirts) with the player’s name written in Japanese.  Even though he’s no longer a Yankee, I’d still like a Hideki Matsui Yankees name-and-number t-shirt with “松井 秀喜” instead of “Matsui” over the 55.  And I have two Irabu t-shirts, but both of them are in English.

Oh well, one can always hope they take that marketing approach with the Yankees’ next Japanese superstar.

Till then, I’ll keep myself amused with other things I find in my basement.

NWS Nds Vwls 4 Ths 4cst

For the past week, the weather has been typical winter weather here in central Ohio: dreary, cold and snow/rain/freezing snow.

I wanted to see what it was going to be like this weekend, so I visited the National Weather Service’s forecast site (which I use instead of other sites for two reasons- they don’t have ads on their site and most other weather sites get their weather information from the NWS).  When I saw tonight’s forecast, I was confused, scared and bewildered:


The forecast for this afternoon and New Year’s Day are pretty straightforward.  Simple explanations and easy-to-understand graphics.  But what about tonight? Are frozen stalactites going to be raining down upon partiers in Central Ohio?  What is this FzgDz? Did they run out of vowels, or are they giving forecasts in leetspeek?

After Googling the phrase “FgzDz,” I found out it stands for “Freezing Drizzle.”  In fact, most of the sites that come up are weather related.  So fear not, Central Ohio, there’s no massive vowel shortage and you won’t be impaled by icicles tonight.  Just some freezing drizzle.  Makes me glad The Civee and I are hanging around here tonight.  Happy New Year, everyone.

Claire’s Psychic: Soothsayer on a Slow Ride

The next and final season of Lost is a little more than a month away.  With less than 20 episodes to go, there are a lot of unanswered questions that remain part of the show’s mythology.  This series, “I Want Some Freakin’ Answers” will take a look at some of the lesser mysteries that I’d still like answered.

He was the bassist for Foghat.

He was also the Russian President for two seasons of 24.

And as an accomplished voice actor, he’s been a part of shows like The Critic and nearly every Star Wars video game until a few years ago.

Yet it’s Nick Jameson‘s role as Australian psychic Richard Malkin that interests Lost fans.  He’s only appeared in two flashback episodes, and is potentially responsible for two characters getting on Flight 815, which brought them to the mysterious Island.

Or maybe not.

Claire visits Malkin, who appears spooked by some vision of Claire’s baby.  After finding out that Claire intends to put her baby up for adoption, Malkin later implores Claire that she must not allow the “baby to be raised by another.”  However, he later changes his tune, saying he knows of an acceptable couple in Los Angeles, but she has only one option for transportation: Oceanic 815.  In fact, he’s quite adamant about it:

MALKIN: It has to be this flight. It can’t be any other. They’re already scheduled to meet you when you arrive. Flight 815. Flight 815.

We next meet Malkin in Season 2, during Eko’s flashback episode “?,” when his daughter has a near-death experience.  Malkin tells Eko the near-death experience was  mistake and that he’s a fraud as a psychic.  Only, we later find out that Malkin’s daughter did experience something supernatural.

(And yes, there’s a deleted scene where Malkin admits to Eko that he was paid by the Los Angeles couple to convince Claire to give them her baby.  But since it was deleted, it never happened).

So the question remains: is Richard Malkin for real or a fraud?

It would tie in well to Lost’s mythology if Malkin was able to see the future.  Claire and Aaron are important players in the whole story.  It’s hinted at the end of Raised by Another that Claire suspects Malkin knew all along that Flight 815 would crash and she would survive. This would ensure that Claire and no one else raised the baby.

But Malkin’s encounter with Eko (and the deleted scene) are evidence that Claire’s being on 815 was coincidental and he was perpetrating a ruse.

I’d like to think that Malkin was an important player.  The biggest piece of evidence is his insistence on Flight 815.   It’s likely though, that this mystery won’t be answered.  There are other, bigger mysteries, and this might not fit in to the time left to tell the Lost story.

Still, as long as there isn’t a Foghat reunion going on this winter, maybe Malkin will reappear on Lost one last time.

Forgive the Mess

So this afternoon I noticed that we’re a little more than a month away from the next season of Lost.  I was ready to write a new entry in the I Want Some Freakin Answers series (hint: it involves a former Foghat bassist, Russian Premier and voice of Emperor Palpatine), but then got a note that I should update the version of WordPress the blog is running.

Most of the time, upgrading WP takes two minutes.  But this time, it was more like two hours.  Had some difficulty with the version of SQL I’m running not being compatible with WP and the flux capacitor mucking everything up.

I had to upgrade the SQL and re-install (and re-configure) WP.  Not everything is working yet.  But it will be soon.

And hopefully I’ll get to the longawaited post about what a Foghat bassist has to do with the mysteries of Lost.