Friday, January 18, 2013

(Part II of IV)

This the second of a four-part year-end post about 2012.  What didn't suck about The Earth, Commercials, and Business/Brands can be found here.


  • KFI-AM, Los Angeles. I am a lifelong San Francisco resident, and as such, I have been raised by Herb Caen, the USF Dons, and the San Francisco Giants to dislike all things Los Angeles.  But I've never had a bad time when I have been in the Southland, the traffic is not egregiously worse than it is in S.F., and it's the home of my new favorite radio station, Clear Channel's KFI, accessible through the iHeartRadio app. Thank goodness I'm living in the internet age, and can download podcasts of the goofy Tim Conway Jr., the brash Bill Handel, the newshawk Bill Carroll, the sweet, hilarious, and talented Lisa Ann Walter, and the two and only John & Ken (more on them below).  KFI calls itself "More Stimulating Talk Radio," and it's not kidding. 
  •  John & Ken,  KFI Los Angeles John Kobylt ("KO-bilt") and Ken Chiampou ("sham-POE") continued their unrelenting, ongoing audio record of the rapid decline of the once-great state of California.  If you've heard of John & Ken, likely it's from their part in recalling former Governor Gray Davis, who was replaced by hacktor Arnold Schwarzenegger (to be fair, nobody foresaw that happening).  
John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou, KFI Los Angeles
I first encountered John & Ken in the late 1990s, when they had a syndicated show that was carried on KSFO (San Francisco) in the early evening.  In the midst of multiple Clinton scandals were decidedly more forgiving of than the rest of the lineup (Lee Rodgers, Geoff Metcalf, Jim Eason), and I found other things to do when Michael Savage's show (which hadn't yet been syndicated) ended and their show began.  Eventually, KSFO dropped John & Ken, and I didn't hear from them again until 2004. That's when George W. Bush Homeland Security Undersecretary Asa Hutchinson, in response to complaints from Chicano activist group National Council of La Raza ("The Race"), took action to end a phenomenally successful roundup of illegal immigrants by the Border Patrol in Southern California.  Hutchinson agreed to an interview with Kobylt (Ken was off that day), and he perhaps figured that all he had to do was say "Don't worry, we're on the case" and that would end the controversy.  John was having none of it, and several times stunned Hutchinson into dead silence when he refused to accept answers that fell short of promising enforcement.  Michelle Malkin linked audio of the interview (which I unfortunately cannot locate), and I fell into strictly non-romantic love with John & Ken.
When introducing people to John & Ken, it's almost as important to say what they aren't as to say what they are, because they confound many stereotypes about talk radio hosts.  They are often dismissed as "shock jocks." They are often mischaracterized as typical radio "right-wingers" because they take Democrats on with a vengeance.  Some say they're bigots because they're in favor of border enforcement, against illegal immigration, and delight in skewering L.A.'s incompetent Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (more on him in 2.Politics).  Others call them "RINOs" because they don't delve into discussions of Obama's birthplace or religious beliefs, and laugh out loud at conspiracy theory talk of chemtrails, FEMA camps, and black helicopters.  As they say whenever they're written about, hardly anybody gets it right about them because they are impossible to pigeonhole.
Here are the facts: Kobylt (the louder, longer-winded, and more opinionated of the two) and Chiampou (who at times plays devil's advocate, and is a moderating influence on John) have been professional partners since they were paired as afternoon disc jockeys in New Jersey 25 years ago.  They trust no politicians (save Chris Christie -- more on him under Mark Levin), have no political affiliation, and bash whichever ideological side needs it at the time. Most of the time, who needs it are Democrats because there are only a few important elected officials in California that are Republican (as I type this, only San Diego's Rep. Darrell Issa comes to mind).  After decades of the state Assembly being close to split down the middle between Republicans and Democrats, the left has steadily built a veto-proof majority in both houses. Whatever happens in California government -- good or bad -- is stamped with a "D." Still, the remaining Republican politicians know they will get the Hutchinson treatment if they pettifog on John & Ken's air, so most of them -- and all GOP state officials -- are scared spitless of going on the show (yeah, I'm looking at you, Tom Del Beccaro).
Much attention is given to their style, which is oftentimes loud, snarky, cynical, rude, and occasionally lewd.  Sometimes, they are too frank for their own good and they regularly run afoul of the political correctness industry.  For example, in 2012 they came under fire for this exchange, in which Kobylt referred to the recently-deceased Whitney Houston as a "crack ho." No doubt it was a harsh thing to say, but it was part of a larger discussion of how Whitney's been addicted and out-of-control for two decades, something that cannot be denied.  Indeed, on the day Houston died in that luxury suite bathtub on the eve of the 2012 Grammy Awards, the National Enquirer's cover story on the supermarket racks was that she was "strung out and broke, it's worse than anyone thought." The article inside specifically mentioned Houston's hard partying with William "Ray J" Norwood (the nominal recording artist whose sex video made Kim Kardashian infamous), who was in her suite when she was pronounced dead. Nevertheless, the remark outraged enough people that KFI's owner Clear Channel Communications met with "community leaders" to do the shakedown shuffle.  It was baselessly alleged that Kobylt wouldn't have said it if more black people worked at the station.  It all resulted in a week-long suspension for John & Ken from KFI's air, and the permanent cancellation of their daily live remote segment on an L.A. afternoon TV newscast.
In a sense, John & Ken are like Bill O'Reilly in that they portray themselves as being in the reasonable middle between extreme poles.  But unlike self-described "culture warrior" O'Reilly, they have no tolerance for social conservatism.  That annoys me.  Kobylt especially summarily dismisses religious conservatives, and embraces stereotypes and dubious anecdotes that leftists spread about George W. Bush (of whom I'm not a fan) and Sarah Palin (of whom I am).  In the case of Palin, he ignores her steady and successful stewardship of the state of Alaska (all supposed "scandals" surrounding Palin are false and farcical), choosing to just call her "crazy" using as backup sources like Vanity Fair, The Daily Beast (online home of Palinphobes Tina Brown, Andrew Sullivan, John Avlon, Mark McKinnon, John Batchelor, and Meghan McCain), and even political consultant (and former McCain '08 honcho) Steve Schmidt. John was disgusted with Schmidt when he followed up McCain's loss by being the force behind Republican Meg Whitman's failed campaign for California Governor. Whitman was whipped by Jerry Brown, who spent a fraction of the record $162 million spent by Whitman under Schmidt's leadership. Just a year or so after laughing long and loud at how Schmidt conducted a devious, duplicitous, and extravagant campaign that cost Whitman a small fortune, John suddenly took him seriously when he blamed Palin for McCain's loss. 
On national political issues, where talkhosts like Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin and others are strong, Kobylt and Chiampou are weak (which is why I think the expansion of their show to the New York market is a bad idea). Outside of their home turf, they over-rely on MSM sources, whose biases are obvious. So, you may ask, why do I rarely miss a podcast? Because I know I'm going to learn something by listening to John & Ken I will NOT learn anyplace else. 
The John & Ken Show is the absolute best at lifting the rocks hiding the vermin infesting state and local government.  On a daily basis, they  expose how politicians are corrupted by influence peddling and leeches of every possible stripe: public employee union bosses, big corporation lobbyists (especially the ones who literally seduce lawmakers), environmental groups, ethnic pressure groups, NGOs, lawyers' groups, anarchists, friends and family of public officials, even churches and charitable organizations.  In the end, those are the entities that touch our lives more directly than the ones in Washington, D.C.  And John & Ken are blessed with the excellent reporting staff of KFI (Eric Leonard, Steve Gregory, Jo Kwon, Shannon Farren, et al), all of whom are sharper than a samurai sword.
Here's an example of what I mean. The YouTube video below is a portion from a show about "The Browndoggle," John & Ken's nickname for Governor Brown's so-called high-speed rail project, for which California voters foolishly approved a bond. Starting in the distant future (and perhaps never ending), the project will begin construction in the Central Valley of California, not the Northern or Southern cities that where tourists want to go. Why?  Because in 2010, Congressman Jim Costa (D-Fresno) withheld his vital "yes" vote on ObamaCare until he was assured by the Obamastration his district would get the first infusion of megamillions for the project. The language of the proposition contained specific guidelines about how fast the trains are supposed to travel to prevent the project from becoming just a massive years-on-end project to renew standard railroad tracks. The trains, as they are planned currently, fall far short of those speeds. Add to that the open admission by administrators drawing up the plans that they plan to use some of the borrowed billion$ to illegally fund non-HSR transportation projects by state legislators whose votes were needed to approve the train's existence.
Just by listening to this ten-minute segment of the John & Ken Show, you've learned more about the California so-called High Speed Rail project than you would have in many weeks' worth of thirty-second mentions on your local TV newscast.  That's just partial exposure of the shovels full of graft and wa$te that must constantly be fed into the government engine to create a concept that may never come to fruition. And that's why I listen even if John & Ken say something that makes me mad; I know something is coming later in the same broadcast that everyone should hear if they want to be even minimally informed.
Bottom line: If you don't listen to John & Ken, you don't really have a comprehensive understanding of the depth of the trouble California is in, and how it is a bellwether for the rest of the country. 
  • KFOG Ten@Ten Podcasts. Over 20 years ago, KFOG DJ Dave Morey -- the last link in Bay Area Radio to the days of free-form AOR (radio talk, scuse me) -- created Ten@Ten, a 10:00 am program in which he played ten songs from one year, or ten songs that fit a certain theme, or one song from ten consecutive years ... you get the picture.  It was so popular they played it again at 10:00 pm.  On Saturday mornings, KFOG used to play the five Monday-Friday shows consecutively.  Then Morey retired from radio, and the suits from Cumulus Media did what they do: Mess with success. But they did partially redeem themselves; 10@10 can't be heard on Saturday anymore, but the week's podcasts are now posted on Soundcloud.
  • Mark Davis. The Dallas-based frequent fill-in for Rush wasn't unemployed for long after being dumped by tight-fisted Cumulus Media's WBAPHe made a quick switch to Salem Communication's KSKY ("The Answer").  Davis is one of the rare widely-heard talkhosts who isn't afraid of being called a Christian conservative; most stay safely in the "I'm libertarian when it comes to that"category.  Unlike John & Ken, who rarely take calls and are short-tempered when they meet resistance, Mark truly is interested in what the audience thinks, and kindly engages opposing callers.  He is skilled in breaking down bluster and getting people to the point, but still allows them their say.  
Davis has now added a video blog.  This is the first of 2013.
I know it's none of my business, but I'm glad he's gotten rid of his goatee -- it made him look like Colonel Sanders.
  • Mark Levin, after wasting many hours over the past two years griping about Glenn Beck's stardom (and how many of Beck's ideas seem derivative of his), stayed focused on the Constitution in 2012.  He sounded an unheeded warning against Ameritopia, concentrating on first principles and calling out those who practice moderation in the defense of liberty and the pursuit of justice.   His Landmark Legal Foundation challenged ObamaCare in the Supreme Court, and LLF would have been successful in striking it down but for Chief Justice John Roberts' determination to retrieve politics from the jaws of the Constitution.  Mark was one of the few who dared call out Chris Christie, who is almost worshiped by others in talk radio, as a Republican governor who didn't join in the suit. 
Newbies may find him tough to listen to, but if you stick with him through some of his temper tantrums, the show's like a college course given by a wise professor.  The best part of his show from last year was his point-by-point explanation of Griswold vs. Connecticut, the 1965 Supreme Court decision that gave us the so-called "right to privacy."

George Stephanopoulos made this conversation necessary after out of the clear blue sky, he asked Mitt Romney this ridiculous question:
Romney acquitted himself well in this exchange, but this moment was nevertheless the genesis of what became the "Republicans' War on Women" meme against Romney; the bizarre assertion that because he refused to accept the premise of this question, that he in his heart wants to "turn back the clock" to "Nick at Nite" years when women had fewer rights.
  • Rush Limbaugh survived yet another national bash-and-boycott fest, this time over his unwise, crude remarks about the ridiculous twit Sandra Fluke.  As some were preparing his broadcast epitaph as he became the poster child for the "Republicans' War on Women," his already dominant ratings went up, and advertisers who abandoned him (especially Carbonite, which issued a incredibly terse statement) suffered a backlash.
  • Dana Loesch, KFTK St. Louis. Although she's had a falling-out with the people now guiding the Breitbart brand, talkhost/CNN contributor/pistol-packing mama Dana Loesch ("lash") is a proud Tea Party ruckus-raiser, fearless defender of the First and Second Amendments, a stalwart fighter against media bias, creeping governmental overreach, and a caller-out of bovine compost whipped up and plopped on your plate disguised as chocolate mousse. An authentic part-Cherokee, Loesch took it personally when Harvard professor Elizabeth Warren couldn't support her long-accepted (and false) assertion that she also had Native American roots.  Loesch's show was ground zero for coverage of  the Todd Akin (R-Missouri) gaffe, and she did her best to help him crawl out the hole he dug for himself; unfortunately, Akin decided he liked living like a gopher. She and her husband Chris are two of the biggest targets of the progressive lefties online.  (More on Chris in Part 5. Internet).
  • Red Eye Radio. Cumulus, which cut its KSFO programming costs by dumping Rush in favor of Mike Huckabee, also cast off Coast-to-Coast AM, the Twilight Zone-ish show that Art Bell made infamous.  In its place, it added Red Eye Radio (not affiliated with Fox News' Red Eye program), Gary McNamara & Eric Harley's syndicated show. For the first time since KNEW dispatched Lars Larson, there's Bay Area talk after midnight worth listening to.

6. TELEVISION (in alphabetical order):  

  • Sharyl Attkisson, CBS News reporter who, in the greatest tradition of investigative reporting,  continued her aggressive, tenacious coverage of the Fast and Furious scandal. The rest of the mainstream media pretended the entire story was either meaningless or unimportant because acknowledgment of it would have been hazardous to the reputation (and re-election hopes) of President Obama.  No, she won't say that, even if she agrees (I have no idea if she does).
Attkisson often uses her Twitter feed to provide context that was missing from the final cut on video. Following her is a good idea. Tell her @LNSmithee sent you.
  • The Big Bang Theory, CBS. I would love to have had a hidden microphone in the CBS boardroom when this show was pitched. 
"Good Morning, Mr. Moonves. This show's about four socially-retarded genius scientists who dress horribly, are obsessed with comic books, and can't maintain a relationship with the opposite sex. One is a short, bespectacled asthmatic nerd with a crush on a beautiful blonde waitress/aspiring actress across the hall, one is a tall, skinny, obsessive-compulsive guy who is like C-3PO with human flesh, one is a horny nebbish who still lives with his domineering mom, and one is an Indian immigrant who is incapable of speaking to women he's attracted to unless he's inebriated.  Throughout each episode, there are cultural references about Star Trek, Dungeons and Dragons, Doctor Who, video games, and various superheroes (including Aquaman).  Every so often, real-life genius scientists will guest star so the characters can fawn over them as if they were rock stars.  Trust us, Mr. Moonves, given time, not only will this show be a huge hit, it will defeat American Idol head-to-head, become the nation's most watched program, and absolutely clean up in syndication. So ...whaddaya think?"  
  • Jedediah Bila, Fox News Channel & Fox Business Network.  When someone you respect for her substance comes into your life in a form with electromagnetic allure, how do you acknowledge her smarts or the sexiness (or both) without seeming patronizing?  If you don't know what I mean, meet Jedediah Bila ("jed-eh-DYE-a BEE-la"), the Audrey Hepburn of television punditry.  She's the author of Outnumbered (her book about being a Reagan conservative in progressive New York City), and the reason why some East Coast guys set their alarms for 3:00 am when they've got to get up at 7:00 am (on the West Coast, Red Eye comes on at midnight. Nyaah.)  
Nobody can put a sound byte together on the fly like the Jedi Princess can. A graduate with honors of Columbia University, she's an articulate advocate of her convincing positions. Concise and to the point, clear as a bell, and eminently quotable. 

Jedediah's secret seems to be that she knows what her principles are and can explain the reasons why she holds them.  What a concept, huh?  There's a long list right-of-center people that ought to learn from her.
As I alluded to earlier: She's unapologetically gorgeous; a doe-eyed, long-legged enchantress (who was at one time a high school teacher inspiring countless pleasant dreams). Jedediah Bila is a seriously intelligent woman.  But from what I've been able to gather, like Nancy Kwan's "Linda Low" in Rogers & Hammerstein's Flower Drum Song, Jedediah Bila enjoys being a girl. 

  • Breaking Bad, AMC. The promised transformation of Walter White from underachieving chemist/high school teacher to desperate meth-cooking terminal cancer patient to healthy cold-blooded drug kingpin is complete, and now, in the final season, comes the downfall.
Every episode is an acting clinic given by three-time Emmy-winner Bryan Cranston, two-time Emmy winner Aaron Paul, and supporting cast members like Emmy nominee Giancarlo Esposito, Jonathan Banks, Dean Norris, Bob Odenkirk, and others. Creator Vince Gilligan has thus far fulfilled his original vision in thrilling, nerve-shattering fashion. I just hope it ends satisfactorily and doesn't limp to the finish line, as did other great shows like Lost, Seinfeld and (some say) The Sopranos
  • Broke, ESPN. A 30 for 30 documentary directed by Billy Corben. Corben interviewed over a dozen former professional athletes about how they either squandered or were cheated out of their multi-million dollar salaries.  While fascinating to watch for many reasons, one thing I took away from it is that public education fails miserably to teach students about the realities of economics. 
  • Neil Cavuto, Fox News Channel/Fox Business Network. The tongue-in-cheek, self-deprecating financial expert takes no prisoners in his interviews; he insists on answers to relevant questions, and when they aren't forthcoming, he'll ever-so-gently reach into your throat to pull them out. 
Also, Cavuto's "Common Sense" monologues at the end of Your World with Neil Cavuto are always worth watching. 
  • Fox & Friends First, Fox News Channel, for the first ten minutes. (WARNING: Politically correct women, skip this one, your blood pressure will thank you). It's like being a schoolboy allowed in a faculty lounge where every bug-eye beautiful, endless-legged teacher you've ever had in your life meets before the first class of the day. "Good Morning, Ms. Nauert. (sigh...) Good Morning, Ms. Earhardt. (sigh...) Good Morning, Ms. Childers. (sigh...) Good Morning, Ms. Simonetti. (sigh...) Good Morning, Ms. Kooiman. (sigh...) Good morning, Ms. M-m-m-molina ..." It softens the blow suffered by leg men since the cancellation of Deal or No Deal. 

  • Fox News. Contrary to its famous slogan, Fox News Channel is NOT "fair and balanced," it IS balance.   
The Obamastration and the mainstream media (MSM) have a symbiotic working arrangement: The White House keeps them at arm's length and treats them like mushrooms, and the press corps grins and bears it because the alternative is giving the Republicans traction. The goal in the Obama era is not informing the public, it's damaging the GOP -- otherwise, there would be something resembling balance in the MSM, and there would be fewer reasons for Fox News to exist.  So after the deadly terror attacks occurred in Benghazi killing an American ambassador and three others on September 11, 2012, reporters for other "news" organizations (other than Jake Tapper, and maybe a few others) just swallowed and regurgitated Jay Carney and Victoria Nuland's nuggets of It Was The Muslim-Bashing YouTube Video And We're Sticking To That.  To challenge the official story might cause people to question the Obama campaign slogan "Bin Laden is Dead and GM is alive!"
When Mitt Romney criticized Obama for blaming the guaranteed free speech of an U.S. resident for the deaths of four Americans abroad, the MSM ganged up on him for speaking out "before ... all the facts were known" at the same time the White House was providing nothing but outright lies. But the pavement-pounding journalists of FNC showed the MSMers who's boss -- Jennifer Griffin and Catherine Herridge uncovered inconvenient accounts about the Benghazi fiasco from their own sources.  Faced with either following up or disproving Fox News exclusives while the polls showed Obama might be vulnerable, they predictably hunkered down, kept their traps shut, and let Obama run out the clock on the campaign until it was too late to raise the issue again. As FNC's Bret Baier uncovered in his blog, only then, less than 48 hours before the polls opened November 6th, did CBS News release the portion of Obama's September 12, 2012 interview with Steve Kroft proving that in the second debate against Romney, he lied about having called the Benghazi incident an "act of terror." Obama was confident that Kroft would cover his inferior posterior, and he did.
I have my problems with Fox News Channel, though; When important stories happen in the wee hours of the morning across the world, the network is useless. Not even the Peruvian mine rescue or the Japan earthquake/tsunami broke the spell of FNC's self-imposed siesta from 3:00 am - 6:00 am EST, after On The Record with Greta Van Susteren replay and before Fox & Friends -- in both cases, one had to go to the other news nets for live coverage because Fox just replayed its earlier live reporting, all without signifying that what viewers were watching happened three hours before.  I also think Rupert Murdoch royally screwed Glenn Beck, whose 5:00 pm show was the most unique hour on television.  Beck's suspicions about the putatively benevolent "Arab Spring" turned out to be prescient, and his prediction that President Obama would use Saul Alinsky's "Rules For Radicals" as a playbook was spot-on. That being said....
  • Greg Gutfeld, whose The Five round table discussion show replaced Beck, has risen from the depths of Red Eye, a bawdy experimental 3:00 am gabfest (that amazingly outdraws CNN primetime shows in viewership), to early prime on FNC, to guest-hosting The O'Reilly Factor!  That on top of writing a New York Times bestseller (The Joy of Hate).  If you're a conservative, his monologues on The Five (formerly known as the "Greg-alogue" on Red Eye) might be one of the highlights of your day (at least, it's often mine).  
Of all the surviving friends of Andrew Breitbart taking up the slack in his early demise, Gutfeld seems to be the most forceful and thus true to the cause of breaking the grip liberalism has on American culture.  He's getting in the face of the useless old guard (hello, Karl Rove) and the hypocritical elites, and having a hearty laugh while doing it. 
  • The Good Wife, CBS. A star-studded law firm show that has no illusion of do-gooder idealism and that includes warts missing from previous series of the genre.  In my humble opinion, Wife is the only broadcast drama that comes close to those offered on cable.  True, it does have a habit of head-nods to leftist and occasionally radical political stances, as well as an overabundance of same-sex makeout scenes (come on, folks, even if you buy into the debunked 10% figure, there's still way too much).  That being said, the writers of the show wisely resist setting up conservative or "too" religious straw men to be pummeled into submission, as was a common practice on programs like Cold Case, Boston Legal, L.A. Law, Picket Fences, The Practice, Harry's Law, The West Wing, and various Law & Order shows.  For the most part, Wife portrays lawyers as they are -- y'know, lawyers -- and not guardian or avenging angels.
  • Impractical Jokers, TruTV. After 2011, I needed something to laugh about, and this show delivers like no other. Jokers stars the four-man troupe The Tenderloins, childhood friends turned childish adults.  They each compete to see which of them can be embarrassed in public on hidden camera the most, via directions that the others give through an in-ear transmitter.  If you are prone to slapping your knee when you laugh really hard, you may have trouble walking after watching.  
  • Judge Judy. To paraphrase praise that the late, legendary concert promoter Bill Graham gave the Grateful Dead: She's not the best as what she does, she's the only one who does what she does.
  • Killer Karaoke, TruTV. A guilty pleasure. High concept: American Idol meets Fear Factor. I can't stand Jackass, the show that made Killer host Steve-O infamous. I figured I'd be safe checking the show out for a few minutes, thinking I am too mature to laugh. I'm not. 
  • Dan Le Batard is Highly Questionable, ESPN2. Le Batard is a syndicated sports talkhost and sportswriter for the Miami Herald. On DLHQ, he sits on a studio set designed to resemble a modest kitchen.  From there, he interviews sports figures via satellite and answers questions about the sports events of the day (thus the title) read by his father Gonzalo (or "Papi"), a Cuban immigrant with a heavy accent and infectious laugh.  It sounds silly, and sometimes it is (as when Papi reads rap lyrics off a teleprompter), but you have no idea how enjoyable it is until you watch.  It's especially fun for those of us who can't talk with our dads about sports anymore. Here's Papi in what was originally supposed to be a web-only discussion about his early childhood in Cuba, his path to the United States, and his thoughts about Fidel Castro. It was played on ESPN 2 due to popular demand.
  • Mad Men, AMC. Season Five had a hard act to follow in Season Four, which featured "The Suitcase" (ep. 407), one of the best-spent hours in front of the tube since its invention. Don Draper's third marriage -- which he fought his carnal tendencies to maintain, to the point where it appeared (at first) he fatally strangled a former fling who refused to take "no" for an answer -- is now teetering on the edge.  His saucy new ex-secretary bride, who showed glimpses of budding brilliance in the advertising field, followed her disapproving socialist father's advice, and will instead pursue a career in acting that distances her from Don physically and emotionally. 

It disappoints me that many Mad fans missed the philandering Don, as if they were living vicariously through him, and didn't want him to stay faithful to a smart, young, smoking hot French Canadian chick that his children like.  One more thing: I'm still mad that "The Suitcase" didn't win every Emmy for which it was nominated (including Supporting Actress nominee Elisabeth Moss). That one episode was better than anything from Friday Night Lights in its history. 
  • Gavin McInnes on Fox News Channel's Red Eye. Whether the Scottish-Canadian author/comic was speaking as his soft-spoken (but outspoken) self, in the character of his proudly commie brother "Miles McInnes" or his tartan-clad firebrand father "Jimmy McInnes" from Glasgow, he never failed to break me up (and everyone else on the panel). In a just world, if Louis C.K. is funny enough to deserve three Emmys, McInnes ought to have more than he can carry in his arms.
  • MLB Network. Porn for fans of the greatest sport of all. Wall-to-wall baseball. Analysis almost completely by former players who know of what they speak. Great moments revisited. Highlights. History. Movies. Everything you want, nothing you don't. 
Uhh, check that -- the one thing that made me switch the channel in disgust is when Keith Olbermann guest-hosted Hot Stove on Thanksgiving. 
  • The Pitch, AMC. Part of what hooked me on Mad Men was the fictional glimpse into the creative processes of an advertising agency.  The Pitch eavesdrops on two real ad agencies competing for the same big-ticket account. Like all reality TV, it's tough to know how much is authentic and how much is contrived, but The Pitch showed what goes into the sieve before it comes out as the ads you either love or hate.  It's something that comes to mind when I look at ads like Little Caesars' mind-numbing "Fishing" spot and wonder how strong the drugs dealt around Chicago's Tris3ct agency must be.
  • Shark Tank, ABC. The only truly educational reality show on the air.  Real people, real products, real money, real drama.  They DID build their businesses.
  • The World's Dumbest, TruTV.  Another brain-on-hold laugh-fest from the network that used to be CourtTV, this show features collections of video footage of dumb criminals, dumb inventions, dumb daredevils, etc., with two-cents punch lines from troubled former child actors (Danny Bonaduce, Todd Bridges, Leif Garrett), C-, D, and Z-list celebs (Daniel Baldwin, Frank Stallone, Karrine Stephans[!]) unknown comedians (Judy Gold, Chuck Nice, Loni Love, among others), and disgraced figure skater Tonya Harding.  Hey, it keeps her from kneecapping her rivals.

In the next post: What didn't suck in 2012 in Music, The Internet, and Politics!

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