Category Archives: MSM

Chart of the day: More signs of the death of print

Bad news for newspaper in a new survey [PDF] from the Pew Research Center, which reveals that print media are far down on the list of news sources folks of all ages turn to for information about the current presidential election circus. And as might be expected, the last of the flagging support for print comes from the Boomers, and the news is especially bleak for local newspapers.

Indeed, it’s arguable that print shouldn’t even be labelled as a mainstream medium:


And now for something completely different. . .

For those of a certain age, the comedy routines of Bob and Ray — Bob Elliott and Ray Goulding — provided many a smile and the not-infrequent guffaw.

While they made occasional forays into television, their routines were born in an era when radio delivered not only music and news, but comedy, drama, and variety programs, featuring the leading stars of the age.

Their routines provided inspiration for two generations of comedians, and novelist Kurt Vonnegut wrote of the delight he took in their schtick.

The routines played on the medium itself, skewering newscasts with their intrepid report Wally Ballou, one of a whole cast of characters.

What prompts our nostalgia is a a story in today’s New York Times:

Bob Elliott, who as half of the comedy team Bob and Ray purveyed a distinctively low-key brand of humor on radio and television for more than 40 years, died on Tuesday at his home in Cundy’s Harbor, Me. He was 92.

His death was confirmed by his son Chris Elliott, the actor and comedian, who said his father had had throat cancer.

Mr. Elliott and his partner, Ray Goulding — Bob was the soft-spoken one, Ray the blustery, deep-voiced one — were unusual among two-person comedy teams. Rather than one of them always playing it straight and the other handling the jokes, they took turns being the straight man.

What better way to memorialize what is truly the end of an era than with s few of their brightest routines?

First up, from the early radio days, a sketch that focuses on a feature that was once ubiquitous on the airwaves:

Bob and Ray – The Question Man

The next sketch captures a trauma all too common in the days of live radio news interviews:

Bob & Ray – The slow talker

And another interview sketch:

Bob and Ray A Visit with Neil Clummer of The Hobby Hut with The Vegetable Collector

In 1951 the comedy duo moved their act to television, with a fifteen-minute broadcast [yes, broadcast television then often came in both shorter and longer programs than today]. Audrey Meadows, who would go on to television immortality as Alice Kramden in The Honeymooners, joined the duo for the show.

Bob & Ray. “Jack Headstrong” & “The Life and Loves of Linda Lovely”

Program notes:

The first episode of “Jack Headstrong, All American American” and the contuing story of Uncle Eugen’s kidnapping in “The Life And Loves of Linda Lovely”.

From the “Bob & Ray Show” which ran on NBC from 1951-1953, with Audrey Meadows, announcer Bob Denton and organist Paul Taubman.

And pair of short sketches:

Bob & Ray. “Hartford Harry”. Bud Sturdley “Impartial Survey”

The next sketch was performed just as politicians were beginning to discover the power of the medium:

Bob & Ray “Booking Agents to the Politicians”

And one final sketch from their show, again playuing against the medium itself:

Bob & Ray: “Television Referee”

And finally, their appearance on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, performing two sketches that leave their host writhing in laughter:

Bob and Ray “Most Beautiful Face Winner”

Program notes:

Bob Elliott and Ray Goulding perform two of their classic interviews: “Most Beautiful Face Contest Winner” and “Four Leaf Clover Farmer.” Lots of great Bob and Ray available at the official site:

Radio as they knew it is dead, a transformed into a coldly calculated corporate entity, with local stations reduced to robot run money-making machines.

So hoist one for Bob and Ray, and may their shadows never grow less.

Quote of the day: Jeff Bezos’ paper caught lying

From former Secretary of Labor and current UC Berkeley Professor Robert Reich, writing at his blog:

[Thursday] the editorial board of the Washington Post charged that Bernie Sanders’s health-care plan rests on “unbelievable assumptions” about how much it would slash health-care costs without affecting the care ordinary Americans receive.

The Post claimed that countries with the kind of single-payer plans Sanders likes “ration care in ways that federal health programs in the United States … do not.”

We can debate specific numbers, but the Post’s unstated assumption – that the quality of health care received by Americans is superior to the quality received by, say, Canadians, from their single-payer, mostly publicly-funded system – is not borne out by evidence.

Despite the fact that Canada spends only 10.4 percent of its GDP on health care in contrast to 16 percent of GDP in the United States, Canadians enjoy lower rates of infant mortality and longer life expectancy than citizens of the United States.

And now for something completely different. . .

This time it’s a show of Norway’s leading television network, NRK, featuring a bunch of crusty older guys who love blowing shit up. Hence the show’s name: Never Ever do This at Home.

And we’re forced to admit that the little bit of little boy remaining under our own crusty visage just laps it up.

We begin a very small but spectacular blow-up.

From NRK Viten:

Explosive ice cubes

Program notes:

Rune and Torfinn needs ice in their drinks. Explosive specialist Roar fixes the problem.

Many of the segments are set on an abandoned farm, with massive mayhem resulting.

Consider their solution to cleaning an old farmhouse.

Washing the stairs with explosive chemicals

Next, a very complicated but thoroughly destructive way to add fuel to the fire.

Chopping wood with explosives

Next up, playing with projectiles.

XXL Water Rocket

Program notes:

You may have tried making a rocket out of a soda bottle filled with water, that you pump air into. Never Ever Do This at Home gives you the extra large version of that experiment.

Finally, it’s an Wild West showdown, except that rubbers bands and a watermelon are involved, rather than six shooters and high noon.

The Duel of The Watermelon

Program notes:

Rune and Torfinn are ready to duel. Armed with rubber bands.

The seven-year-old esnl is smiling.

Quote of the day: From narrative to ephemera

From a post by brilliant BBC documentarian Adam Curtis, writing at his blog:

Politicians used to have the confidence to tell us stories that made sense of the chaos of world events.

But now there are no big stories and politicians react randomly to every new crisis – leaving us bewildered and disorientated.

And journalism – that used to tell a grand, unfurling narrative – now also just relays disjointed and often wildly contradictory fragments of information.

Events come and go like waves of a fever. We – and the journalists – live in a state of continual delirium, constantly waiting for the next news event to loom out of the fog – and then disappear again, unexplained.

And the formats – in news and documentaries – have become so rigid and repetitive that the audiences never really look at them.

In the face of this people retreat from journalism and politics. They turn away into their own worlds, and the stories they and their friends tell each other.

I think this is wrong, sad, and bad for democracy – because it means the politicians become more and more unaccountable.

Headline of the day III: Pot calls kettle black

Ironies abound.

From the Guardian:

Fox News accuses Donald Trump of ‘terrorizing’ network after debate exit

Channel, which says Trump campaign threatened ‘rough days’ for Megyn Kelly if she hosted event, rejected ‘capitulating to politicians’ ultimatums’

Headline of the day: There’s no business like. . .

From the Los Angeles Times:

Paramount sued by production assistants over wages, bathroom breaks

The suit, filed last week in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, also says the workers were not allowed to take breaks for meals or to use the restroom, leaving them to instead use their cars as bathrooms.