Web content upstages TV lineups
ACCORDING to the Associated Press, the first week of July was a low-water mark for TV. Only 20.8 million people watched the big four networks, allegedly the "least-watched week in recorded history."
I guess the test pattern that ran for 167 hours in-between episodes of "Howdy Doody" back in 1947 had a bigger following than I thought.
But summer is always a TV wasteland. Contestants on "Big Brother 7: All-Stars" are cut off from the world, but it's not such a big sacrifice when you consider the only thing they're missing on TV is "Big Brother 7: All-Stars."
Still, even the Fall TV lineup has become about as culturally relevant as the Farmer's Almanac. Sure, we have a vague idea it's important, but those who need to know about it are on the job, and we'll get word if there's something significant in the forecast.
Rather, Digital Slob eyeballs are migrating to "user-created content," aka "cool Net stuff that Hollywood doesn't make 15 percent off of -- yet."
So, if summer has turned your TV stale, and it's too hot for novels (isn't it always?) then here's some tips for good online, iPod-ready fare:
Ask A Ninja (video): Imagine Dear Abby with an insatiable thirst to kill. Imagine a hint from Heloise about how to sever arms from torsos without staining the rug. This video blog stars an assassin who answers viewer e-mails, ending each reply with "I look forward to killing you soon."
His five-minute weekly-ish shows are frenetically entertaining, thanks to the Ninja's intense, gesture-rich oratory and the quick-cut, split-second editing that must also be the work of a ninja, or at least someone who's had a four-pack of Red Bull -- probably both (askaninja.com).
Cotolo Chronicles (audio): Veteran broadcaster, writer and Canadian liquor aficionado Frank Cotolo entertains the old-fashioned way via a live, two-hour Internet broadcast every Thursday at 9 p.m. EST. He then converts the show into a podcast -- but resist the fast-forward button -- getting there is all the fun.
The long-time head writer for Wolfman Jack guides listeners along his "Hallelujah Trail" with rhythmic streams of consciousness and a narrative that serves as a beacon of light for lost ships in the night. Always entertaining. Often profound. Stay tuned for a show about urinating with celebs (cotolochronicles.blogspot.com).
GeekBrief (video): Most guys still remember that archetypal "cute girl" from high school, the perky one that everyone wanted to propose to just to "lock in" happiness as soon as possible, even though we were all at least 10 years away from being taken seriously. Think Mary Tyler Moore on "The Dick Van Dyke Show." Or Hillary Duff. Or the teen Pebbles on "The Flintstones." Or Margaret Bundrick (sorry I missed the reunion, Margaret -- hope you got my roses and my papier mache likeness of your head).
Well, if your romantic dreams include a girl who knows how to install a Wi-Fi network within that white picket fence, then host Cali Lewis is your anchor dream girl. Cali (somehow, I feel we're on a first-name basis) provides short tech news updates every few days. And if you're still unmoved after the saccharin-sweet outtakes at the end of each show, well, you must be dead inside (geekbrief.tv).
Next week: more favorites.