Is He Still Going to Be Funny Thin?

Wow! Look at Him!

I was a little surprised when I went through the Sunday Commercial Appeal while watching the Titans game. No, not that going through a Sunday newspaper is a much simpler affair than it used to be (seems that there’s a lot less in what used to be a pretty big edition… I think it’s the shrinking comic pages. Just 4 pages? What’s up with that?). It was the cover of Parade Magazine, showing the now 185-pound Drew Carey.

Joining the Empty Plate Club

Honestly, seeing him at a buck-85 when he used to be 262 was amazing. It almost doesn’t look like him. He says a series of health problems, coupled with being unable to keep up with his girlfriend’s 5-year old convinced him that it was time to change the way he was doing things. About 10 years ago, I went from 246 to 186, and believe me, it’s a life-altering feeling. I’m plain enough not to be vain, but when you’ve been fat, it’s a joy seeing a thin you in the mirror.

It’s not always the issue of dropping the weight. Not for me, anyway. I can always shed a few pounds when I put my mind to it. I was up to 235 when we started our office weight loss contest in July. I was down to 215 when I got on the scale last week. That’s 20 pounds in 7 weeks. If I can match that over the next 7 weeks of the contest, well, do the math. I’m a pretty happy guy when I’m under 2-bills. But that’s where the trouble starts. It’s keeping the weight off. I’ve been running, walking and biking pretty regularly, but as soon as this contest ends, right about the time it gets too cold to want to be outside exercising, I have a feeling that the pounds could come roaring back. After all, that’s what happened after I lost 35 pounds in last year’s contest.

Maybe It’s the Shoes…

My KSOs

One of my problems is my slowly-deteriorating left knee. Every year, I get a little slower when I run, and my knee aches a little more. I know joints wear out, and I’m pretty sure that’s what’s going on here. Unfortunately, running is about the only exercise I’ll do consistently. I thought about making the move to a different type of shoe last year, but finally pulled the trigger after a co-worker made the move (it’s easier to make a decision when you have some empirical evidence to look at). He got a pair of Vibram 5-Finger running shoes. After he used his for a while and had good results, I got a pair of my own.

First, they are funny looking. Inside of being a box surrounding your feet, like most shoes, these fit like gloves, with a little pocket for each toe. It forces you to distribute your weight differently when you run, approximating running barefoot – although there is enough of a sole to keep you from laying your foot open running through the street. You can get socks (with little toes sewn in) or go without. I’ve got a pair of KSOs, which have a mesh top to “keep stuff out.”

The makers urge users to take a few weeks to get used to the feel of the shoes before running or hiking in them. Mine fit, but I’m still not quite used to the way the two outside toes on each foot feel. Still, I took them out running for the first time and managed my fastest 3 mile time this year. The temperature was down about 25 degrees from where it’s been and I haven’t done any exercise for 3 days, so I was well-rested. Still, I’m willing to give credit to the shoes. And, my knee isn’t aching like it does when I run in my Nikes, either.

The Great One

Back to my original thought. The great comedian Jackie Gleason said he was funnier when he was fat (according to The TV Guide TV Book: 40 Years of the All-Time Greatest: Television Facts, Fads, Hits, and History). I don’t get much chance to see Drew Carey on “The Price is Right,” but I wonder whether we’re pre-disposed to laugh more quickly at a fat comic than a thin one.

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Can I catch a ride?

I know it’s been awhile. It’s not that I’ve been busy – I have – but not so busy that I couldn’t blog. But since the local election passed, I haven’t felt particularly inspired by anything. There’s nothing like Memphis politics to get you thinking.

There seems to be so little going on that I’ve even stopped listening to Drake and Zeke on the way to work. It had gotten to the point where I’d here them in the morning, then, if I went anywhere after dark, I’d hear the same show again… and if I got into the car Saturday morning… it’s on again in “The Best of D&Z.” Not to mention when they take time off – you end up hearing stuff you heard a few weeks earlier. I know they’re popular, but the station could actually spring for a nighttime and Saturday morning disk jockey!

Anyway, just before I switched from D&Z this morning to Mike & Mike on ESPN Radio, I hear either D or Z ask why the assistant school superintendent needed a chauffeur who happened to be a school security guard. I wasn’t familiar with the story, but I logged onto the Main Street Journal’s site and found a link to the story on Action News 5.

So it seems part of Irv Hamer’s deal to be Kriner Cash’s #2 is to get a driver to and from work, as well as to any location where he’s conducting MCS business. Here’s a portion of the statement from the district explaining things: “The current practice allows the Deputy Superintendent to work while traveling and helps to ensure that he safely and timely arrives to and from work as well as the myriad of sites that he visits on the District’s behalf.

A driver is one thing. But it seems that members of the school security staff are the employees tasked with ferrying Hamer to and fro. They do the same for the superintendent. I’ve been at events where Cash has attended, and let me say, it’s the only time in my life where I’ve seen a school superintendent show up anywhere with armed security. It sends some kind of message.

Perhaps security is necessary for some people at some levels. I know the CEO of the place I used to work at has corporate security people at his house. Maybe if I were a billionaire, I’d feel a need to do that too, although I’d pay for my own, and not pass costs onto my stockholders. When Dick Hackett was mayor, he’d walk down Main Street with no more protection than his communications guy (a nice person, but you’d want someone more imposing if you were in a jam). On the other hand, Willie Herenton had enough police around him to look like a visiting head of state. Of course, I guess it’s up to the individual to determine what is actually necessary.

Back to the MCS thing. One of the things Cash had initially wanted for Memphis Schools was an internal police force. He didn’t get it, but let’s suppose for a moment that he was on track about the need for security in the school system. That being the case, why take away from the finite security force that does exist so they can ferry you and your boy to and from? So you can work in the car? If you’re spending that much time in traffic, move closer to work or cut back on your outside appointments. Why use well-trained, highly-paid security staff as bus drivers? In fact, if you need to work and ride, take MATA – it’d certainly be cheaper (doesn’t the mayor of New York City, a billionaire, often ride the subway to work?). Why not use scarce resources wisely, especially in a time where the system is scrambling for money to put badly-needed educational assistants back into classrooms?

I commute 36 miles a day, 180 miles a week. And I pay for it myself. So Kriner & Irv, if either of you are going from downtown to East Memphis in the morning, can I catch a ride wit’ you?

By the Numbers

Just a quick post about TV news. When you spend a bunch of years doing something, you retain some mild interest, even after you’ve moved on.

Here now the news!

Nielsen, the ratings people, have released their annual market rankings. Of the 210 markets ranked, New York remains the largest, Glendive, Montana the smallest.

Memphis, which was in the top 30 when I worked at the big 3 on the river, is now the 48th largest market, with 694,000 TV homes.  Some cities grow, others contract. If there’s any good news in the numbers for Memphis, its that it has moved up from being number 50 last year. Market size plays a role in how much stations can charge for commercial time. TV spots cost more in bigger markets. Doesn’t mean it’s better TV, just makes more money. Of course, it usually means the news people are paid a little better too. I’ve been out of local news long enough to not have a clue as to what people earn in this town. But there are still a boatload of people in Memphis TV who were working here when I got here in 1990 (so maybe somebody’s making some money here).

And no, consolidation won’t change Memphis’ market ranking, unless they turn the job situation around immediately and a bunch of folks move into town.

One CNN Center

Slip Slidin' Away?

Speaking of TV news, I’m starting to think that I got out of CNN when the getting was good. The August rating numbers for the network are out, and it seems they’re the lowest in ten years. That’s a little scary. Again, while Fox News is the clear leader in cable news ratings, it’s probably not a situation of people changing the channel from one to the other. CNN firmly staked out the middle ground for so long, I think it lost out on viewers attracted by point-of-view television. Fox and MSNBC, and even Headline News (sorry, HLN) have developed prime time line ups that have some kind of perspective. It’s interesting that Campbell Brown left the 8pm slot because she had no audience and Rick Sanchez has lost 41% of the few viewers she had. Maybe CNN should switch to NCIS reruns or try to grab the “Real Housewives” franchises from Bravo.