Sunday, March 29, 2015

The future of "Top Gear"

And so Jeremy Clarkson's contract wasn't renewed by the BBC who was put into a very bad situation when Clarkson yelled at producer Oison Tymon for 20 minutes and smacked him around for another five.  I discussed this with a non-Top-Gear watcher at work.  If someone yells at you for five seconds, it's pretty bad; five minutes, it's an eternity; 20 minutes is the length of an episode of "Thirty Rock" without commercials and the abuse.  Toss on the length of the "Queen of Jordan" episode followed by slapping and it's what-the-fuckery at its weirdest. 

Clarkson did it to himself and he knew it as he was the one who called his BBC bosses right after and admitted it.  They were already pissed at him for various reasons -- the N-word controversy, the Argentina special with the Falkland-Islands-War-homage license plate, using a derogatory word in the Burma special  -- so he was the rump roast who stuck himself with the fork and pronounced himself done.  Who might replace him?

This reminds me of Jay Cutler of the Bears.  Jay is a very less-than-average QB.  He is not an elite quarterback like Russell Wilson, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, the Manning brothers.   He might be better than average with the right coach but he will never be great.

I was at a party last summer and talked to my co-worker's partner about it.  I said we needed to get rid of Jay and this man said, "Yeah, we can do that, but who can replace him?  There is no one available.  There are kids coming out of college but they're not ready for the NFL.  None of the really good quarterbacks have contracts that are up.  We're stuck with him and they have to make it work."
The whole Jeremy Clarkson incident/debacle/idiocy/what-the-fuckery reminds me of the Bears and Jay.  How they are they going to replace Clarkson?

For me, they can't.  Maybe Clarkson, May, and Hammond can start another wonderful, exciting show about cars that gearheads and others (like me) will watch.  I can't see sticking in someone else instead of Clarkson because, much like with QB Jay Cutler, there really is no one else.  (To be honest, Jay can be replaced, there's just no one to replace him; Jeremy Clarkson cannot be replaced on "Top Gear.")  If someone else comes in there, it won't be "Top Gear" any longer.  It will be "BBC Presents BBC's Top Gear brought to you by BBC and BBC Americas" and it will be not just different, it will be weird and out of sorts, kind of like Jeremy Clarkson himself when he freaked about not getting a hot meal and ripped Oison Tymon a new one for twenty minutes and then smacked him around for another five.  (Note to Jeremy:  Always have a hot meal provision in your contract.)

Yeah, I know I said I was going to put "Top Gear" behind me but it's "Top Gear" and I honest to goodness love "Top Gear."

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Happy Spring!

Spring arrived in Chicago at 5:45pm on Friday, March 20.  In the spirit of Spring in Chicago, we are expecting about 2-3 inches of snow that will fall most heavily during tomorrow's morning rush.  "Effing swell," she said with great sarcasm.  "Effing wonderful."

So I will take today off to think about this and also watch some of the only season of "Firefly," Joss Whedon's 2002 TV show that really is Ye Olde West with spacecraft.  There are people living by their wits, struggling to make a go of it, fighting to keep their freedoms in a restrictive society.  The most respectable person is the registered Companion, a highly educated and trained woman whose profession is, in essence, prostitution.  She's the most respected person in any room, more trusted and admired than a doctor or a preacher.  If you've not seen "Firefly," watch it on Netflix.  Then rent "Serenity," the movie that tied everything up. 

Sunday, March 15, 2015

I was sick, then "Top Gear" news came over

Every fall for the last 20+ years, I've been getting a flu shot.  I've only gotten the flu twice -- once about five years ago when the Swine flu was not part of the influenza cocktail and the second time this past week.  I missed two and a half days of work, extraordinary for someone who prides herself on always going to work unless there's a fever involved.  (I took one day two years ago when I had a fever that went with a rattly cough.)  Well, I did go to work but my supervisor agreed I should go home after a few hours (and I offered to stay until lunches were over).  I talked to my doctor and he said it sounded like flu to him but if I should happen to cough up something dark-yellow-to-green in color, to call back and he'd give me antibiotics.  There was some considerable coughing once I returned to work but the solid evidence of it being an infection never came forth and I say now that it really was flu.

On Tuesday evening, after being in bed for almost 24 solid hours, I decided to see if I had any email of significance.  My very good friend, Suzy, left me a message about Jeremy Clarkson having a run-in with one of the "Top Gear" producers.


This is what happens when I get sick.  Things go all to hell and I hear about them days later.

It seems Jeremy Clarkson, the main voice of "Top Gear" along with James May and Richard Hammond, got into a fight with one of the producers after a taping in Newcastle.  From everything I've read, it seems it was a fracas of the fisticuffs variety stemming from the lack of availability of a post-production hot meal.

I blushed as I wrote that.  Yes, he smacked someone for not making sure they had some hot food when they were done with the taping.  And when the fight was over, Jeremy Clarkson called the head of the BBC and gave him a heads up that he'd done it.  I am blushing again because I'd learned that earlier this year, Jeremy had used a childhood rhyme from the early 20th century that, in the UK, used the "N" word.  My face is hot because I am so ashamed that I admire someone who would be so stupid as to use the "N" word at any time for any reason.  Americans are mostly politically correct always and the Brits are often not.   If you drop the "N" bomb here, you are basically dirt in the eyes of everyone and you remain dirt forever and ever.  No amount of apology can undo it.  BBC did not air that portion of the show and Jeremy was told that that was his final notice.

After the meal altercation, he was suspended from the BBC and the show will not be aired while they determine what to do with him.

Some people are pissed in both directions.  There was a petition on to bring back Jeremy Clarkson which at least 911,861 people had signed.  There was another petition to get rid of Jeremy for good and hire a popular gay UK comedian named Julian Clary and got 6,198 signatures.  A third petition to simply sack Jeremy Clarkson for good had a puny 805 signatures.

Jeremy Clarkson doesn't seem to think before he talks and he likes to end the work day with a meal of hot meat and two veggies and is willing to pound lumps on someone to get it.  But the man knows cars and is really smart and very funny.  He is charismatic and the audience loves him.  They can sack him and bring in Julian Clary -- who is supposed to be great, smart, funny -- but does Julian Clary know cars?  Can he do a handbrake turn?  Can he tell stories about trying to impress dates with handbrake turns?

"Top Gear" has regular viewers of about 350 million.  It brings in a huge amount of money to the BBC.  In the USA if someone brought in that sort of money to their network, said network would be doing anything those hosts/presenters wanted to keep them happy.  From what I've read, the BBC doesn't  go out of their way for "Top Gear" in ways that they would here in the States, although that might be from the perspective of someone who could soon be sacked.   Has "Top Gear" reached the end of its usefulness?  Will all be forgiven and will that cold-food-providing producer be fired instead?

I have watched all of "Top Gear" that Netflix has to offer at the moment so all I am doing is thinking about whether or not I can let go of Jeremy Clarkson making big, fat, racist comments.  (I gather there was another comment he made about Asians in the Burma special and Richard Hammond made thoughtless remarks about the citizens of Mexico.)  I'm annoyed at being put in the position of having to abandon something I enjoy so much.

I do have a good suggestion, however.  If he makes any more comments of a racist nature, I will fly to London at the BBC's expense and kick Jeremy Clarkson in his testicles as hard as I can.  I will then see a play at the National Theatre (also on their dime), spend the night at the Savoy (did you think I would want anything less?), then after breakfast in the morning, I walk over to the Covent Garden tube stop and get on the Piccadilly line out to Heathrow to come home.  The BBC can reimburse me for the work I miss and Jeremy Clarkson can have ice on his naughty bits and be thankful that I don't have more power behind my kick.  My sister is pretty small and has really mighty legs.  She would send his testes way up into his body cavity where they would likely reside forever, giving him something to think about every single day.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Own it

I know you've seen them everywhere.  You've seen, I have, everyone has seen those diners who bring out large DSLR cameras and take detailed pictures of their food and that of the dining companion.  This angle and that, "tilt the plate ... there!"  Photographing and blogging about the food they order has become the primary event and eating the food is secondary.  You wish there were two of them so you could knock their heads and lenses together because when they're done with the photography, they sit back and look smug and satisfied with themselves.  "I have a camera," they seem to think.  "I took a picture of FOOD."

This morning I met my friend, Michael, for a late-morning repast.  Michael is a dear friend and we'd not had a chance to catch up for several months.  When our food arrived, Michael pulled out his iPhone and positioned the plates.  Then he said something that made everything charming and fun.  He said, "I'm gonna be THAT guy."  I laughed, he got the picture below, and we went dug in.

THE DIFFERENCE:  he doesn't act like he's the coolest, the most creative, the hippest (but he is extremely cool, creative, and hip).  He likes to do it.  He knows it bugs some people.  He charmingly apologizes.

Yesterday, I was in Costco and I asked the checker and the packer to please just stick it all back in the cart, "because," I said with a great smile, "I'm a big asshole and I like things packed a certain way."  They smiled, I smiled, I took the cart to the side, and packed my things the way I like them.

Not everyone thinks you're divine so just make it easy on the world and say, "I'm gonna be THAT guy."

It's a pretty good picture, n'est pas?

Svea's Viking Breakfast with a side of Swedish meatballs.  Courtesy of Michael McAfee

Sunday, March 1, 2015

March 1st reflection

It is the first day of March, there is a lot of snow on the ground in Chicago, and the coldest February on record in this town is for the record books.  So long yesterday morning being -7ºF at 7 a.m. and kiss my ass!  I am filled with measured amounts of hope and expectation.  I am hoping it won't be as cold as last month (or last year at this time, for that matter) but fully expect to be disappointed.

Therefore, I take the day off because all things being equal -- which they are -- I would love to talk about "Top Gear" some more but even I could not bear it.

See you on the 8th!