Tuesday, March 06, 2007


Busy morning today, with various work-related things to do. No one cares, so I won't saddle you with the details. But I will briefly note something that half bugs me, half amuses me. Which you might combine into "bumusing."

(Or maybe you might not.)

So what's this I'm talking about? Those weeks when the local PBS outfit goes into one of its "Pledge Drives." Now, I'm not gonna rant about the fact that there seem to be about 31 "Pledge Drive Weeks" in the PBS year. Nah. Nor am I gonna whine about federal funding and all that jazz. No sir. I'm not even gonna draw any attention to the fact that as someone who watches PBS yet never gives one cent of his money, I'm a class-A, television free-loader. Nope, none of those topics.

What I love are the lame raps we get during breaks, where the host-goofballs try to guilt us into writing a check for $350, so we can "support PBS" and get our autographed Ken Burns baseball caps, sewed at the seams with actual strands of Buck O'Neill's hair. During pledge week, PBS outlets break out the big guns: Ken Burns, Bill Moyers, Julia Child, ancient concert footage of The Boss, or The Dead, or some other popular-but-not-well-represented-in-the-video-archives artist. I'm not complaining; the shows are great. Even though they interrupt to pass the hat every 15 minutes.

The problem, and the comedy, comes when the hostess, smiling and glowing beneath the four pounds of make-up on her face, tells us something along the lines of, "And that's what made the Battle of Antietam such an important day in the history of our great nation. Just like today is such an important day in the history of television. And you can be part of that history, by sending in your check for $250 . . ."

Or . . . her well-coiffed male partner, sporting the finest-framed eye glasses on the tube, segues from helicopter shots of the Manhattan skyline to instruct us that, "New York City remains a celebration of all that man is capable of. And you can celebrate the capabilities of public television by sending us $125. For which you'll receive the book companion to the wonderful series you're enjoying, plus a 1937 New York bridge and tunnel map, signed by Robert Moses himself."

And on that note, as I said, I gotta be boogying along. Share your own stories of Pledge Drive madness on PBS. Or just tell me what a free-loading, ungrateful shit I am. It's all about the choices we make for the best that television has to offer . . .

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Blogger Dwilkers said...

What the heck is it with you free loaders anyway?

My lefty neighbor is the same way. He doesn't recycle ANY of his trash, he bags his lawn clippings rather than composting, has a gas guzzler. Here I am the supposed 'righty' and I recycle all paper, glass and aluminum, use a mulcher mower, have a new 34 mpg Toyota. I mean, what the f*cking f*ck?

This feeds my thinking that traditional political labels don't work anymore.

My favorite thing to rant about re PBS nowadays is that - at least around here - they have advertising in addition to the pledge drives, gov funds, etc.


8:29 AM  
Blogger Mort said...

...there seem to be about 31 "Pledge Drive Weeks" in the PBS year.

That's downright reserved compared to the religious channels. At any given moment you turn to TBN, et al, you stand a 5/2 chance of being solicited for alms. Plastic Jebus book marker anyone?

8:57 AM  
Anonymous John Royal said...

And, in defense of PBS, they wouldn't have to beg so much if Bush didn't keep slashing their budget.

And Mort is right. The religious channels run actual programs to break up the begging.

10:10 AM  
Blogger George said...

Maybe we should have faith-based public broadcasting, and combine the two into one (holy) entity.

12:24 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

faith-based public broadcasting

Isn't that what Christian broadcasting is? Who's to say their tax-exempt status doesn't pay the production costs.

12:46 PM  
Blogger Dwilkers said...

Maybe we should have faith-based public broadcasting


Not sure I get the whole religious channel vs PBS thing though.

/scratches head

I will say this about PBS here, we actually have 3 PBS stations from UH - 1 in analogue and 2 in HDTV. Those 2 HDTV stations are awesome, loaded with really nice travel stuff and high end HDTV nature programming. Its the best HDTV we get outside of major league sports.

1:12 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

2 public channels in HDTV! Damn, everything is bigger in Texas I guess.

1:26 PM  
Blogger Comandante AgĂ­ said...


Practically every weekend the LA PBS affiliate runs self-help seminars non-stop. Last week it was Susie Ormand, next week will probably be Tony Robbins...


Don't knock TBN - that's great entertainment! Haven't you ever seen Kirk Cameron and his Aussie buddy use a banana to explain intelligent design? Or when they cruise Hollywood Blvd asking people if they want to be saved?

All kidding aside, the TBN national headquarters is a few blocks away from where I work. It's a white mansion surrounded by statues of angels. It was named one of the scariest places in Orange County by our local alt-weekly.

1:47 PM  
Blogger maurinsky said...

At least you get good programming during the Pledge Drive. We get smelly Il Divo concerts or self-help shit or marathons of Lawrence Welk.

2:35 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

Maurinksy & Agi - You seem to have some shit on PBS. Ugh.

I'm not even sure what "smelly Il Divo concerts" are, but it can't be good.

Agi, is that white cathedral visible to the left as you drive north on the San Diego freeway? I saw a horrifying building about a mile (I'd guess) to the left as I drove from SD to LA in '01. Must've been Irvine or Orange, though not sure what town exactly.

2:52 PM  
Blogger maurinsky said...

I'm not even sure what "smelly Il Divo concerts" are, but it can't be good.

Il Divo are a quartet of opera singers who are supposed to be hot and make all the women and gay men swoon, but I have it on good authority from The Minstrel Boy that they are not rigorous about their person hygiene.

3:05 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

I have it on good authority from The Minstrel Boy that they are not rigorous about their person hygiene

Those musicians are such fonts of good, inside info, aren't they? Not to mention, it was Minstrel who hooked me up with Dark Wraith's page on how to use HTML tags last summer. No italics, bolds, strikes, or tildes without Minstrel.

And now smelly singers too.

3:24 PM  
Anonymous John Royal said...

Hey, we just got some Rolling Stone special that was filmed in the 60s and features The Who for our pledge drive feature.

As for the religious stuff: if you want entertainment, track down whatever religous channel Dr. Gene Scott's on. That guy's a laugh. Sometimes he gets angry and just walks off to never return, leaving them to fill 40 minutes with nothing but a backdrop. It's brilliant.

6:06 PM  
Anonymous waitingforthealiens said...

You should be ashamed of yourself. To borrow a phrase, you are the public in public broadcasting. I wish they had endowments big enough to cover the costs, but they don't. Since my wife will almost certainly survive me, there may well be no estate left to give, but I will probably ask her to leave it to the public radio stations in Houston and Baton Rough.

I'm off to the Middle East on biz tomorrow, so if anybody says anything really ugly, please repost it on the 14th.

6:26 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

Rolling Stone special that was filmed in the 60s

John, is it the Rock 'n Roll Circus? If so, I think it's probably worth watching. I caught a few minutes last month, and John Lennon was jamming (and I mean jamming with Wyman, Watts, Richards and Mick Jones. Just mid-groove on some standard r&b sort of cut, with John and Keith trading grungy rhythm licks.

And then Yoko came in with the "vocals," by which I mean she screamed and shrieked as off-key as you can imagine, only worse.

Whoa. But still worth watching.


I should be ashamed, but I'm not. If I had money to throw around, I'd throw it their way. But I don't, so I can't, so I won't.

Where to in the M.E.? Can you say?

6:32 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

John Lennon was jamming (and I mean jamming with Wyman, Watts, Richards and Mick Jones

Well, I was only really wrong, not totally wrong. According to this, it was John, Yoko, Keith, Clapton & Mitch Mitchell (Jimi Hendrix Experience drummer).


As you can see, no reason that group didn't kick ass.

And it didn't. Except for the "vocalist."

6:40 PM  
Anonymous waitingforthealiens said...

Cast thy bread upon the waters and it will return many fold.

One of the Gulf states that produces lots of nitrogen fertilizer.

It's kind of like a week in rehab.

10:49 AM  

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