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Monday, March 05, 2007

 

Escape to Television

I probably watch less than a dozen television shows regularly, and most of those are exclusively in reruns, I think. But when the market is as awful as this one (truly a Cramer House of Pain), one needs an escape, and TV is always there. I just finished watching tonight's "24" episode, so my nerves haven't quite returned to normal just yet. I am a relatively new convert to the show, so I am still fascinated by Jack Bauer and his interrogation techniques, such as tonight's pinky amputation (as of the end of the show, there were already 398 comments on tonight's Dave Barry blog entry, wherein his readers provide running commentary on the episode). I think "24" combines the frenetic pace of Fawlty Towers or the Marx Brothers with the basic plot line of Philo Kvetch ("he'll never get out of this one!"). Now that's my kind of show.

Another show that's caught my eye is Cold Case. Admittedly, the dialogue and "police work" performed by the cast regulars fall quite a bit short of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's famous detective hero. Kind of makes you wonder how these cases weren't solved when they were "hot." But like the classic old time TV dramas. the best scenes and the best work belong to the guest actors, and the little dramatic trick of pivoting from the younger character to his current visage seems to work. And Kathryn Morris is pretty sexy for a cop.

Finally, there's The Apprentice. When the show was fairly hot, what people talked about was the conflict in the Boardroom scenes, despite the overbearing and somnolent presence of The Donald. Unfortunately, the show's editors believed their own press clippings and have steadily reduced the portion of the episode given to the Task. So the viewer hardly understands what the contestants are going to do and how, which makes all the usual bumbling by both teams barely comprehensible. By the time they get to the Boardroom, and one team has lost by some infinitessimal amount, Trump's berating of the losing team so he can fire someone seems all the more stupid. No wonder half of the players have figured out that the real object of the game is to gang up on the strong players and get them fired. That, and keep your mouth shut; stay under Trump's radar.

Of course, some contestants seem to be on a suicide mission. Witness Derek, who jokingly referred to himself as "white trash" last night (while sitting across the table from last year's black apprentice winner, who was The Donald's eyes and ears for this episode). Whereupon Trump, in a rare demonstration of senstivity, fired him on the spot, as would have been the case in any public corporation I know of.

This year, the winning project manager gets to retain the title for the next show. Since the PM is the player most likely to be fired from the losing team, it hardly sounds like a reward to retain your position on the banana peel. If they are going to keep doing this show, I suggest some rule/format changes before, like Trump, it becomes a caricature of itself.

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Last week, a piece ran in the WSJ called "The Ball's in your Cubicle" about office workers who sit on, well, exercise balls or "ball chairs." These balls, roughly 18-30 inches in circumference, are supposed to "help posture and concentration." Maybe yes, maybe no. "It can also be a safety hazard, says Andrew Concors, a physical therapist and certified industrial ergonomist at San Diego-based CPT Consulting. He has had a couple of patients in the past who have ruptured their balls at home while sitting on them and doing exercises." Pardon me for sinking below the usual redwavemusings standard , but I had to re-read that sentence a few times, and I'm still not sure what ruptured. The article goes on at length in quite a humorous vein (intentional?). It's not every night on the train that one laughs out loud while reading the Journal.

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On 2/28, I had the good sense to sell 100 shares of BG from the taxable account at 78.96 (50 purchased on 7/25/05 at 65.82 and 50 purchased on 10/27/05 at 50). Today, I braved the shark infested waters, buying 200 TKS at 19.40 for the taxable account. This is sure one ugly market, and this is where a system can provide the discipline to overrule emotion. On the other hand, a system leading to bad decisions can cost you a lot of money. The wisdom to know the difference is rare indeed.

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