Trumping SNL

Is anyone going to watch Donald Trump on Saturday Night Live?  I won’t — but not because of any organized boycott.

Trump’s not my cup of tea.  I think he’s a buffoon and an offensive jerk who hasn’t even put on the pretense of studying the issues.  But what’s really pathetic is that Saturday Night Live invited him to be guest host in the first place.  It shows that SNL has reached the desperation stage and will try to do anything to get better ratings.

When I was in college the original SNL was must-watch Saturday night TV.  It was hilarious and absolutely nailed the ’70s.  And some of SNL‘s later iterations, particularly during the Phil Hartman and Will Ferrell eras, were equally good.  But the show’s been lame for some time now, and having Donald Trump on isn’t going to help any.

We’ve reached a kind of weird point in our culture, haven’t we?  A businessman becomes a reality show star with a catch phrase, then becomes a political candidate whose bombastic bluntness makes him popular with a segment of the electorate, and now he loops back to TV again to try to prop up the ratings of a once-great show.  Who’d have thought we’d reach the point where SNL needed a politician to get people to watch, and where a presidential candidate would move from a candidates’ debate to a late-night sketch comedy show?

I hope the show really sucks.

 

 

Theodoric of Cleveland

Today the Cleveland Browns announced that they were hiring Mike Pettine to be their new head coach. He’ll be their third head coach in three years, and his resume sounds a lot like the resumes of their last two coaches. He’s a guy who has had decent experience as an NFL assistant coach but has never been the head guy — just like Pat Shurmur and Rob Chudzinski. Shurmur was overwhelmed by the job and got fired after two uninspired seasons and Chud got the boot, unfairly, in my view, after only one season at the helm.

Who’s Pettine? He’s been an assistant coach with the Baltimore Ravens, New York Jets, and the Buffalo Bills. These aren’t exactly the elite franchises in the NFL — Buffalo won just six games this past season. Pettine is a defensive guy, which could be a good fit because the Browns have some defensive talent. But who knows? He’s got a limited track record and limited experience.

I listened to some of the press conference for Pettine today and had to laugh when Browns owner Jimmy Haslam said the Browns were “thrilled” to have Pettine, who would be “tough, aggressive and innovative” and bring “a blue-collar, team-first mentality.” Who does Haslam think he’s kidding? Cleveland Browns fans may be ridiculously devoted, but we’re not blithering idiots. The Browns clearly hired Pettine because their coaching search had become an embarrassment. Cleveland was jilted and rebuffed by all of the hot coaches, who no doubt wanted to avoid a franchise that looks more like a clown show with each passing season. The Browns’ decision to can Chudzinski after only one season in which the Browns played without an NFL-caliber quarterback obviously limited the pool of people who would even consider a job.

I don’t wish Pettine ill. I hope that, against all odds and notwithstanding the obvious incompetence of the Browns organization, they found a diamond in the rough who succeeds famously. But the Browns have no credibility with me any more. Their front office is like a collective Theodoric of York, the medieval barber played by Steve Martin on Saturday Night Live in the ’70s. After Theodoric would kill or maim his patients with his quackery, Jane Curtin would confront him and say: “Why don’t you just admit it! You don’t know what you’re doing!” At the Browns’ press conference today, I was hoping Jane would make an appearance.

Weiner Rolled

Here is some good news:  disgraced former Congressman Anthony Weiner limped home to finish fifth in the New York City Democratic mayoral primary, getting less than 5 percent of the vote.

Why is it good news?  Because it not only shows that voters have good judgment, it hows that maybe — just maybe — we’ve gotten past the point where politicians and sports figures and celebrities are immediately forgiven by the American people simply because they appear in public and express regret for their appalling actions.

Weiner was repeatedly confronted by disgusted voters during his campaign, he was forced to admit that he had continued his misconduct even after he resigned from Congress, and he sank like a stone in the polls.  He was (or should be, at least) further embarrassed by his ill-advised reentry into politics and held accountable for his bad behavior, his previous lies, and his stunning willingness to expose his wife to even more humiliation.  (And, to top things off, another disgraced New York politician, Elliot Spitzer, also lost in his attempt to get back into politics.)

Some people may think these comments are unfair piling on a man who is down, and we should forgive and forget.  I understand that perspective, but I am fed up with people who abuse the public trust and then trade on their misconduct to achieve heightened fame and fortune and end up making jokes about their prior misdeeds on late-night talk shows.  I hope no network offers Weiner a “news” program in hopes that his notorious status will attract viewers.  I hope Saturday Night Live doesn’t recruit him to host a show.  I hope no reputable publisher will print a sugar-coated confessional.

I’m perfectly content to let Anthony Weiner live his life — but he should do so out of the public eye, without constantly looking to benefit from his past errors.

Those Carping Computer Voices

Whenever I am in the drive-through lane and have to unbuckle my seat belt to retrieve my wallet, an insistent computer voice repeats “Please fasten seat belt” until I comply.  (What, they don’t use definite articles in the computer world?)

When I am in the self check-out lane at our neighborhood Kroger, an annoying computer voice instructs me to “place item in the bagging area” — and it does it every time I scan an item and don’t instantly hurl it into a bag.  This computer voice is not only bossy, it also apparently thinks I’m such an idiot that I can’t remember a simple instruction throughout the check-out process, so it needs to remind me again and again and again.  I find myself speeding up the scanning and bagging process in hopes of avoiding that irritating voice.  (Hey, do you suppose that’s why they have the computer voice in the first place?)

It seems like everywhere we go we hear those aggravating, soulless mechanical voices telling us what to do and badgering us until we do their bidding.  I object not only to the dead-sounding voices, but also to the fact that the computer voices are always bugging us rather than encouraging us. Why not have a voice, sounding like the Bill Murray lounge singer from Saturday Night Live, that says “Looking good!” every time you get in the car, start the ignition and look in the rear view mirror?  Why not have the car say “Great driving today!” when you get to your destination and put the car in park?  Why not have the Kroger voice say “Way to go with the healthy eating!” when you drag the salad fixings across the scanner or “Hey, that looks good!” when you scan that frozen pizza?

We’re destined to hear hectoring computer voices for the rest of our lives.  I’d be more willing to put up with them if they paid me a compliment once in a while.

What Do Undecided Voters Want To Know?

We’re almost within two weeks of the election.

In Ohio, the campaign ads are airing non-stop, the candidates are showing up daily, and the polls are tightening.  All of this activity is focused on one group of people — the undecided voters.  After all of the debates, and campaign appearances, and TV commercials, you have to wonder:  who the heck are these people, and what do they need to know before they can finally make up their minds?

A few weeks ago, a Saturday Night Live skit had a pretty funny answer that probably isn’t too far off the mark.

We’ve got another debate tomorrow, and we’ll be discussing more serious stuff about the election as Election Day draws ever closer.  For now, though, we could all use a laugh.

The Comments Function, Free Speech, And Point/Counterpoint

Some bloggers disable the comments function on their blogs; I haven’t.  I think comments make our little blog more interesting, and I’m a big believer in free speech.  If someone wants to strongly disagree with one of my posts, and takes the time to write down their views, I’m happy to provide them with a forum — provided that their response stays within the broad range of decency.

If you read many popular blogs or opinion pieces on the internet, you quickly realize that comments often devolve into personal attacks rather than presenting any form of persuasive argument.  I think such comments — whether made from the conservative or liberal perspective — reflect mostly on the commenter.  Such attacks remind me of the classic Point/Counterpoint segment on the original Saturday Night Live, like this timeless treatment of the abortion debate.

In The Mood For A Classic

Sometimes, at the end of the work week, you just need to scratch that itch and satisfy that desire to see one of the sketches from the original Saturday Night Live — the greatest live comedy show in the history of TV.  And what better way to do so than to check out one of the classic “Two Wild and Crazy Guys” series of skits by Dan Aykroyd and Steve Martin?

Great line:  “Don’t worry about disease!  In Czechoslovakia I was cured many times.”