News of the Week: Too Much TV, Just Enough Burger, and Fewer LOLs

This week in pop culture, Bob Sassone sizes up TV, the McDonald’s Quarter Pounder, and e-laughter.

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Is There Too Much Television?


You don’t often hear a TV fan saying that there’s too much TV. And you certainly never hear those words coming from the president of a TV network.

But that’s what FX CEO John Landgraf said at the annual Television Critics Association get-together, that “there is simply too much television”. Now, as someone who watches a lot of television (and I mean a lot — around 5 hours a day every day since 1970) I was intrigued and confused by his comments. Why would anyone want less television? Landgraf thinks that “2016 or 2017 will represent peak TV in America, and then we will see a decline.” Needless to say, he’s getting some pushback from other TV execs and fans.

At first I thought it was a ridiculous concept. As long as the television is good, what’s the problem? I don’t mean the business of television and the programming of it and whether or not networks should produce less, I mean on a personal level. I have to admit that sometimes I feel overwhelmed by the number of channels we have now and the choices. I would never say there are too many books published or too much music recorded, but television is somehow different. I find myself having to set my DVR constantly or write down a reminder or put something on my calendar if there’s something I want to watch. I have to admit that sometimes I’ll sigh a quiet sigh of relief when a TV show — maybe even one that I really like — is canceled, and I don’t have to deal with it anymore.

Of course, I’m writing these words in August. Speak to me in a month or so when the fall TV season starts and I replace all of the shows I’ve stopped watching or were canceled with five or six new ones.

McDonald’s Math

Bikeworldtravel /
Bikeworldtravel /

You may not have heard, but McDonald’s just increased the weight of their Quarter Pounder. It’s now 4.25 ounces compared to the four ounces it was before. Though that’s before cooking. It shrinks when cooked. It’s another of many changes the fast food chain has made, which include a streamlined menu, the introduction of all-day breakfast starting this fall, and the hiring of a new CEO.

Now we just have to wait for the class action suit because of false advertising. You said it was a quarter pound, but it’s not!

What else are they lying to us about? Is Ronald even a real clown? Was Mayor McCheese voted into office legally? Are the French fries even French?



How do you laugh online? Are you an “LOL” person? A “hahaha” type of person? Or maybe you like one of the alternate words to indicate you find something humorous or that you’re not serious about something you just wrote, a “tee-hee” or a “heh,” the latter I find myself using way too much.

But the LOL is on the way out. According to Facebook, LOL (or “laugh out loud”) has been replaced by “haha” and emojis. How did the social network come up with this data? They monitored what you were posting on the site and how you depicted laughter. They found out that LOL is being replaced by haha, hehe, and little pictures of people laughing or smiling.

So to summarize, language is dying and we’re all doomed. Soon we won’t speak in complete sentences to each other at all. We’ll just text or post emojis and emoticons because we’ll forget how to actually communicate with each other. Insert sad face here.

The Next iPhone Won’t Bend

Bornfree /
Bornfree /

Two weeks ago we told you about the privacy concerns from butt-dialing. Now comes even more phone-in-your-pants news.

A new video from Unbox Therapy says that the next iPhone is going to be just a little bit thicker, which means it won’t bend like the iPhone 6 reportedly does. Apple, of course, has no comment on this yet, but I hope a spokesperson comes out and simply says, “You shouldn’t be carrying around your phone in your back pocket anyway. Would you carry your eyeglasses back there too?”

Apparently this controversy is called “Bendgate,” because we have to call everything controversial “—gate” now. Don’t people understand that Watergate was the name of the hotel, so adding “gate” to everything doesn’t even make any sense?

Columbia House Files for Bankruptcy

If you’re of a certain age you remember the TV and print ads for The Columbia House Record and Tape Club. You’d send them a penny — a penny! — and they’d send you several albums of your choice, as long as you promised to buy other albums later at the regular price. Oh, I wonder just how many people threw away the reminders they got because they just wanted their several albums for a penny? In a sign of the digital times, the company has filed for bankruptcy.

Now, this is the part of the story where I say I didn’t even know that Columbia House still existed. Yup, it was still around, though they had moved on to selling DVDs. While they made $1.4 billion in 1996, they only made $17 million last year. Now, this is the part of the story where I gasp in italics: Columbia House made $17 million last year?!?

On a related note, I was at Barnes & Noble this weekend and noticed that they’re now selling vinyl albums and turntables. I have no idea what this means.

Happy Birthday, Julia Child

Julia Child, born Aug. 15, 1912,
Julia Child, born Aug. 15, 1912,

Last week I watched Nora Ephon’s last film, Julie & Julia. It’s good, not great. It jumps from a present-day story about writer Julie Powell starting a blog and making her way through Julia Child’s cookbook Mastering the Art of French Cooking to scenes depicting Julia and her husband living abroad decades earlier. The Julia scenes are better than the Julie scenes, but it’s an entertaining movie overall.

In honor of Julia Child’s birthday tomorrow, here’s a site that gathers several of her classic recipes, including her Beef Bourguignon, Roast Duck with Orange Sauce, Scrambled Eggs, Lamb Stew, and Chocolate Mousse. You can watch episodes of her TV show and read tributes on the PBS website and read SEP Archives Director Jeff Nilsson’s thoughts on what made Julia Child so special.

And by the way? Julia loved McDonald’s original French fries!

National Tell a Joke Day

Sunday is National Tell a Joke Day. Or, if you’re a comedian, it’s Sunday.

Here’s one of my favorite jokes (yeah, it’s a knock-knock joke but I like it):

“Knock knock?”
“Who’s there?”
“Interrupting cow.”
“Interrupting co…”

Come on, that deserves an LOL or, at the very least, a tee-hee.

Upcoming Events and Anniversaries

Elvis Presley dies (August 16, 1977)
Thirty-eight years after his death, Presley is still making a ton of money.

Charles Bukowski born (August 16, 1920)
One of the great things about doing this column is finding sites you never knew about before, like this one on the writer. There’s also a new movie titled Bukowski coming out later this year.

President Bill Clinton born (August 19, 1946)
Wikipedia has an exhaustive look at the life of the 42nd president.

The Beatles launch first U.S. tour in San Francisco (August 19, 1964)
A Beatles fan takes a trip to Liverpool to experience the world of the Fab Four.

Hawaii becomes the 50th state (August 21, 1959)
If you’ve never been to the Aloha State you might be surprised at some of the things you’ll find.

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  1. Columbia House is well known to people who buy DVD’s. The club worked much like the old record system, get a few DVD’s at a very low price but you have to buy a few at regular prices and turn down monthly deals. It really isn’t a bad deal, if you keep on top of it. Sorry to hear they are having problems, but with netflex type systems I suppose DVD sales are down.

  2. The FX CEO is right. There really is too much TV overall, but fortunately most of it isn’t worth watching. In a day and time of less leisure time anyway, you have to pick and choose wisely and not get overwhelmed.

    I don’t buy from companies I know are rotten to the core, but gosh that’s just soooo great for the Apple sheeple the next iPhone won’t bend! Yaaay. That’s certainly worth camping out in front of their stores for days in the blistering heat or freezing cold for, right?

    Calling any controversy or scandal “…..gate” is really stupid and doesn’t make any sense, but since there isn’t common sense anymore, it actually does makes sense because it doesn’t make sense.

    That aside, the Watergate scandal was several decades ago that only people over 50 can remember and relate to. I had recently turned 17 when Nixon had to resign in August 1974. The ’72 break-in never should have happened in the first place. Unfortunately it did. Had Nixon read a spin control speech I’d written for him on TV early on, he would have been fine, and the word ‘Watergate’ would have been quickly forgotten; never getting the chance to take on a life of its own.


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