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Clock Wise 

How to use that extra hour from daylight savings time? By watching more TV news, of course

This coming weekend, we turn our clocks back and "gain an hour." With your best interests at heart, I've personally devised a plan for you newshounds to make the best use of that extra hour you can. Hurry now ... time's a-wasting.

-- Why be content with mere snippets of gossip on the "local" news when you can get the full story on TMZ.com? Plus, there are legions of entertainment tabloid shows on television that explore these topics in-depth -- like a cultural colonoscopy. Sure, WTAE will give you the bare bones of these stories, but if you really want the nuance and insight these stories demand, spend some time tuning in to Entertainment Tonight.

-- Weather. There's no question whether you have to watch the weather report -- because without it we wouldn't have a damn thing to talk to one another about. But so many of us simply skip those first six minutes and only tune in to the five-day. That means you're missing out on all of those colorful maps-in-motion, and depriving yourself of what could be a mind-expanding experience, especially on the channels that have gone hi-def. ("Hey, that cold front looks just like Wendy Bell! Awesome!")

-- Teasers. Yes, any story that has to be teased 13 times before it airs is bound to disappoint. Half the time, the story runs for roughly eight seconds. But the story itself is hardly the point: You want to pay attention to those artfully constructed teasers. Like Zen koans, they suggest depths of mystery and truth in just a few cryptic words. The story itself is beside the point: This is your chance to experience oneness with all things.

-- Traffic. In the past, I've suggested that it's a waste of time to watch "transportation" reporters like Melanie Taylor, Jim Lokay or Tricia Pittman. But with an hour to spare, you actually have time to memorize the traffic report by watching its unchanging patterns each and every morning. Spend your extra hour this way, and you need never pay heed to a traffic report again.

-- Segues. Those annoying silly comments one anchor makes to another to transition from a story about 32 people who died in a plane crash to what to wear to a wedding may seem easy to you, but you try writing one: "And speaking of crashing, Sally, people love to crash a good wedding. But what to wear?" See, not so easy, is it? Put down the sudoku and keep your mind sharp with segues, baby.

-- Watch more stories about missing people. Then go looking for them. That should kill a couple of minutes.

-- National news. The one complaint I always hear about local news is, "National news? Who cares?" I'll tell you who cares: You do. In fact, so much so that you should use some of that extra time to call your local news stations and ask them to air more national news. Because more national news = less local news!

-- Start counting the number of fires, automobile wrecks and shootings each day. Keep track, and compare numbers with your friends. After you get a sense of the daily odds, you'll be ready to start wagering.

-- Pay attention more to the "kicker." This is that cute little meaningless story at the bottom of the newscast -- often a promo for the station, for example, some fund-raiser where they sent the sports guy to emcee. It's meant to send you off feeling like all is right with the world. But you're smarter than that. You know things suck. Play a game with yourself and try to put your finger on the dark underbelly of that kicker. Then spend some quality time wallowing in your misery.

-- After you watch the sports report, check out the local sports blogs. They offer information, often in painstaking detail, and with just as much bias as we've come to expect from our local sportscasters.

-- What's all the hubbub about student athletes? I'll tell you: Bob Pompeani is giving out six-foot-long hoagies! You're missing this?

-- Have an elderly aunt who was ripped off $3.54 by the cable company? What are you waiting for? Call the consumer reporter hotline at your favorite local station. Hell, call every station. Let them know that you're mad as hell and you want action.

-- Give those "Style Sisters" a try on KDKA. I know, I know -- you're a fashion-savvy Pittsburgher, and you know what looks good. Like I say, watch one of their segments.

-- Speaking of KDKA, take a trip to Dave Crawley's KD Country. Every story seems to last for ... infinity. You will totally lose track of time. And that's a promise.

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