Life in the Slow Lane

July 30, 2009

Country music once again rules Buffalo-Niagara radio roost

Filed under: Entertainment,Music,News,Radio — pauljlane @ 11:42 am

For the first time in a year, Western New York radio listeners have made the local country music offering their No. 1 choice on the dial.

In ratings released July 30 by Arbitron for spring 2009, WYRK 106.5 FM posted a 10.3 rating, meaning that 10.3 percent of local listeners had that station on in any given 15-minute period.

That pushed WYRK ahead of news talk station WBEN 930 AM (9.6 rating), which had been atop the ratings since last summer. The station’s rating dropped from 10.3 in winter 2009.

WYRK last topped the ratings in spring 2008, when the station posted a staggering 11.8 rating. Either WYRK or WBEN has been the No. 1 station in Western New York for most of the decade.

Making a huge leap to No. 3 was top 40 station WKSE 98.5 FM, which posted a 7.3 rating in spring  – up from 5.5 in winter. Rounding out the top five were urban contemporary station WBLK 93.7 FM (6.6 rating) and classic rock station WGRF 96.9 FM.

WKSE’s ratings spike was by far the biggest for the spring quarter, with adult hits station WBUF 92.9 FM jumping 0.6 points to 4.7 (good for seventh place). Nearly every other station held steady or saw ratings decline, with WBLK (a drop of 1.3 percentage points) and adult contemporary station WJYE 96.1 FM (down from a 6.4 rating to a 5.6) among the biggest quarter-to-quarter losers.

Also losing listeners was sports talk station WGR 550 AM. Thanks in large part to another lackluster Buffalo Sabres season (the station broadcasts the hockey team’s games) that saw the team miss the playoffs, the station’s ratings dropped from 4.1 in winter to 3.3 in spring (good for 11th place). That number traditionally creeps upward in summer, when Bills training camp begins, before surging in the fall, when football, hockey and basketball kick off their seasons.

WGR has simulcasted some of its programming, such as the “Schopp and the Bulldog Show,” in Rochester since September. WGR registered a 0.4 rating in Rochester for the spring quarter. The station failed to register a rating in Rochester for winter but posted a 0.6 rating there in fall, thanks largely to the station’s extensive Bills coverage.

Lockport-based news talk station WLVL held steady with a 0.4 rating.

Here are the top five Buffalo-Niagara radio stations for the spring quarter, along with their ratings and improvement from the winter quarter:

1. WYRK, 10.3 (+0.4)
2. WBEN, 9.6 (-0.7)
3. WKSE, 7.3 (+1.8)
4. WBLK, 6.6 (-1.3)
5. WGRF, 6.1 (-0.3)


Sports commentary lacks value, sense

Filed under: Entertainment,News,Sports,Television — pauljlane @ 10:36 am

Here is a blog post written by U.S. News & World Report scribe Bonnie Erbe on the Erin Andrews scandal. She states that women should stop watching sports, that all men are bad because they watch sports and all sports are bad.

Here is the response I posted on the shrew’s blog page:

I have a daughter. I will encourage her to watch sports as much as possible as she matures (not pay attention to millionaire holdouts and steroid scandals, but watch games). She’ll learn how to win, how to lose, how to behave in a sporting manner, how to compete and how to constructively channel her daily frustration into a nightly release of taking in a game.
If you think there were absolutely zero women involved in spreading the Erin Andrews situation, you’re as naive as the sports-loving women you criticize.
Of course, there’s nothing right about what happened to Andrews, but really, what does that have to do with the games themselves? The only tie-in I can see is that Andrews does a sub-par job of sideline reporting for some games. So does that mean that all female sportscasters and reporters, who only in the last 15 years or so have made real strides in trying to level the gender gap in their chosen profession, should walk out on their career dreams?
And as for your argument about women boycotting games, get real. I enjoy watching sports with my wife, and I can’t wait until my daughter is old enough to watch games with us, but a lot of men would quite frankly probably prefer to watch sports only with their guy friends. That would hardly do anything to stop men from “behaving badly,” as if my watching a Bills game means that I’m going to go loot the corner liquor store or something.
And ask Yankees fans who remember the team’s run in the 2001 playoffs – right after Sept. 11 destroyed their city and their hope – if sports culture is nothing but bad. Ask sports fans of last-place Olympic participants, who still wave their flags and cheer on their athletes as the competitors meander to the finish line because it’s the fact that you finish that really matters, if sports culture is nothing but bad. Ask father-and-son golfers whose sole connections are the rounds they shoot and watch together if sports culture is nothing but bad.
The Andrews situation was reprehensible, but the leap of logic you make to vilify the sports that are played – and the women who like them – is illogical, irrational and makes you sound incomprehensibly unintelligent. The only waste of time here is you.

July 22, 2009

Additional proof that the apocalypse is forthcoming

Filed under: Entertainment,Television — pauljlane @ 7:03 pm

The Associated press actually moved this story tonight. I will now go pour lemon juice into my pried-open eyes.

Note that they had to revise the story to include a translation of “yo quiero Taco Bell.” As if he was saying “I poop on Taco Bell” or “Taco Bell smells like my farts” or something.

Even better, actually, is the fact that they had to say that the dog’s voice was dubbed. Society, you officially get no credit whatsoever.


Taco Bell ad star Gidget the Chihuahua dies at 15
Eds: ADDS translation of dog’s catch phrase. ADDS photo link. APNewsNow. Moving on general news, financial and entertainment services.
Associated Press Writer
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Handlers say Gidget the Chihuahua, whose Taco Bell commercials made her a star, has died. She was 15.
The owner of Studio Animal Services in Castaic says Gidget suffered a massive stroke late Tuesday at her trainer’s home in Santa Clarita and had to be euthanized.
Gidget was the sassy mascot in Taco Bell commercials from 1997 to 2000. While other dogs had bit parts, it was her bug-eyed, big-eared face that is seen pronouncing, in a dubbed male voice, “Yo quiero Taco Bell,” Spanish for “I want Taco Bell.”
The ads made the Taco Bell mascot wildly popular, although they provoked some criticism from activists who felt they used Mexican stereotypes.
Gidget also had a role in the movie “Legally Blonde 2.”

July 20, 2009

‘Family Guy’ Emmy nod is one small step for cartoons

Filed under: Entertainment,Television — pauljlane @ 3:55 pm

I was delighted to see that “Family Guy” was nominated last week for the best comedy Emmy."The Family Guy"

While it’s great seeing the snobby Hollywood elite nominate a cartoon, I think they got the wrong one.

Fox’s “Family Guy” – which was once canceled due to poor ratings – is the first cartoon to be nominated in this category since “The Flintstones” in 1961. While one could argue that “The Simpsons” deserved such an honor during its heydey in the 1990s, the fact is that “South Park” is much more deserving of the honor in the 21st century.

“Family Guy” has maintained a high level of quality, but “South Park” has continually managed to surpass itself season after season. it probably will never receive a major nomination since it’s poked fun at pretty much everyone in Hollywood, but “South Park” might just be the best show on television right now. Period.

That being said, “Family Guy” stands a decent shot this year when looking at the competition. “The Office” is among TV’s most overrated comedies (which isn’t to say that it’s just bad, but it’s not nearly as good as its followers make it out to be), and “How I Met Your Mother” feels like every cookie-cutter sitcom that’s rolled out since 1960 (although that may be what stoic voters go for). “Entourage” is past its prime, and I’ve never seen “Weeds” or “Flight of the Conchords” so it wouldn’t be fair for me to comment, but they seem like niche cable programs at best.

Too bad Peter Griffin could not have made this historic step a few years ago. Homer Simpson, Hank Hill and Jay Sherman deserved the same accolade, but the voters wouldn’t “stoop” to nominating a cartoon in decades past; “The Critic” and “King of the Hill” may not compare to “Cheers” or “Seinfeld,” but they could compete with most other, non-epic sitcoms of decades gone by.

So in that regard (and only in that regard, because I generally don’t care about awards shows), I’ll root for “Family Guy.” Maybe if it wins, then animators will finally get their due.

July 9, 2009

Hockey world loses a legend in Joe Sakic

Filed under: Sports — pauljlane @ 3:00 pm

For the first time in my memory as a hockey fan, Joe Sakic will not be an active player next season.sakicnords01
The 20-year veteran announced today that he’s retiring from the Quebec Nordiques/Colorado Avalanche franchise that he helped dig out of the gutter. The team announced that it will retire the No. 19 jersey of the league’s eighth-highest-scoring player of all time next season.
I can vividly recall watching Sakic and the Nordiques play against the Sabres in Memorial Auditorium. The Nordiques were the league’s laughing stocks, but within a few years they posted the league’s best record, only to get upset in the first round of the playoffs.

I absolutely loved that team, and I still have a pennant in my basement that was signed by most of the players on that 94-95 squad – front and center, of course is Sakic.

The team moved to Denver the next season, robbing Quebec City of seeing Sakic skate the 1995-96 Stanley Cup around Canadian ice. The team won it all again in 2001 and was always near the top until the latter part of this decade, when a reliance upon older players crippled the Avalanche.

I am so glad that, thanks to my wife, I got to see Sakic play one last time in 2006-07. The Avalanche went on a torrid winning streak to end the season (including a victory over the Presidents Trophy-winning Sabres), only to fall one point short of the playoffs.

But Sakic is what every professional athlete should strive to be. He never complained when things were bad, never crowed when things were good and led strictly by example. It will be great to see him in the Hockey Hall of Fame in a few years.


Here, from The Associated Press, is the full story.

Longtime Colorado Avalanche captain Joe Sakic is officially retiring after 20 seasons and two Stanley Cup titles.
The 40-year-old Sakic has been the face of the franchise since the team moved to Denver in 1995. He will formally announce his retirement plans at a 3 p.m. EDT news conference on Thursday.
Known for his lethal wrist shot and precision passing, Sakic leaves the game among the NHL’s career scoring leaders. He’s eighth in points (1,641), 11th in assists (1,016) and 14th in goals (625).
Sakic’s No. 19 sweater will also be retired, getting raised to the Pepsi Center rafters during a ceremony at the season opener, which is not yet scheduled. It will be just the third sweater retired in the 14-year history of the Avalanche, joining Patrick Roy (33) and Ray Bourque (77). The organization also retired four sweaters when they were the Quebec Nordiques.
“It is appropriate and deserving that we launch the season by honoring Joe’s accomplishments,” Avalanche president Pierre Lacroix said in a statement. “We can’t put into words what he meant to this franchise and to our hockey fans.”
Sakic was regarded as a quiet superstar, known for his clutch scoring — tallying an NHL-record eight overtime goals in the playoffs — and his class.
He captured the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy for sportsmanship in 2001, showing his true character by handing the Stanley Cup over to Bourque after winning the title and letting the longtime defenseman skate it around the ice.
Over the last two years Sakic has been riddled with injuries. He missed most of the 2008-09 season with an aching back that required surgery to repair a herniated disk. He also damaged three fingers on his left hand in a snow-blower accident.
Sakic tried to make his way back onto the ice before the end of the season, but his body didn’t cooperate.
He departs with an impressive resume.
Sakic wore the captain’s “C” for 16 straight seasons, making him the second-longest serving captain in league history. He guided the team to Stanley Cup titles in 1996 and 2001, won league MVP honors in 2001, was a 13-time All-Star and led Team Canada to an Olympic gold medal in 2002.
He skates away with no regrets.
“After having the privilege of playing for 20 years, I’m leaving the game of hockey with nothing but great memories and a sense of accomplishment,” Sakic said. “The game has given me more than I ever dreamed of, and for that I am truly grateful.”
Never an intimidating presence — he’s only 5-foot-11 and 195 pounds — he made up for it with speed, determination and intelligence. There are only four players in league history that have scored more points with one franchise than Sakic: Gordie Howe (1,809) and Steve Yzerman (1,755) with Detroit, Mario Lemieux with Pittsburgh (1,723) and Wayne Gretzky with Edmonton (1,669).
Sakic also was remarkably consistent, scoring 30 or more goals in a franchise-record nine different seasons.
He leaves as the team’s leader in virtually every offensive category.
“His leadership, sportsmanship and respect for the game of hockey are legendary,” Avalanche owner E. Stanley Kroenke said.
Sakic was originally taken by Quebec with the 15th pick in the 1987 draft. He made his NHL debut on Oct. 6, 1988, picking up his first assist against the then Hartford Whalers. Two nights later against New Jersey, he scored his first goal.
That would be a familiar occurrence.
“Joe’s contributions have been invaluable and his achievements speak for themselves,” Lacroix said. “I find myself very much like a hockey fan, filled with a tremendous sense of satisfaction which comes from having had the opportunity to know him as a person, to have watched him play and simply appreciate him as a complete professional.”

July 8, 2009

Canadians are far greener than us Yanks

Filed under: Life,News,Travel — pauljlane @ 5:33 pm

We went to Toronto this past weekend to spend some family time up north, and there were a couple things that struck me.
First, and this is not new there, but the food courts in the mall feature receptables for trash, paper recyclables, plastic recyclables and metal recyclables.
Second, a law apparently went into effect June 1 in Ontario that requires stores to charge at least 5 cents to customers per plastic bag they’re given. That’s meant to curb the use of plastic bags, which are generally used once and then thrown away.
I love both of these concepts. Many Americans don’t think twice about what they throw out, and I find the culture in Toronto to be much more enlightened when it comes to the environment. I am always trying to get store clerks to give me items without the bag (sometimes they just give it to me anyway, even when I only buy one thing), and it amazes me how many people insist on a bag to carry their one item from the store to the car, the car to inside and then on the kitchen counter.
My wife brought up a good point, that stores there should offer those reusable shopping bags so that customers who actually need help carrying their items can get it. But at least the new regulation is a first step.
I would love to see these concepts embraced stateside. This country often lags behind the world on such affairs, though, so I won’t hold my breath.
Thumbs up, Canada. I salute you on this one.

July 2, 2009

‘Robogeisha’ is wildest, most effective movie trailer EVER

Filed under: Entertainment,Movies — pauljlane @ 9:23 am

I came across a trailer this morning for the Japanese film “Robogeisha.” I’d try to describe it, but I can’t do this trailer justice. Let’s just say it involves geisha tanks, tengu milk, bleeding buildings and fried shrimp utilized as a deadly weapon.
I don’t know if this film will ever come to the United States, but if it does I have that evening booked. If this is the trailer, I simply MUST know how the entire film plays out. It’s so disturbing, yet so fascinating. I’m thoroughly terrified, yet I can’t help but feel as though my life is better in some small way for having seen this. The dichotomy is striking.


July 1, 2009

Bisons offer fans a chance to throw out first pitch

Filed under: Sports — pauljlane @ 4:30 pm

Check out this story to see how you could throw out the first pitcfh at a Bisons game.

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