Today’s show is live and local, in the air everywhere over CMU’s very independent free-form WRCT-FM (88.3) and online at McKeesport’s www.tubecityonline.com/radio. I’ll be taking your requests from 12 to 3 p.m. at 412-385-7450.
Speaking of McKeesport, from where I do the show most weekends, someone asked me Friday morning “Why are you so committed to the Mon Valley?”
I said, “You’re right, I probably should be committed.”
On the other hand, I worked from the studio on Friday, and this was the view from my window, which wasn’t too shabby:
The creator of the fivethirtyeight.com website, political prognosticator Nate Silver, has been laid off by ABC News.
According to our models, there’s a 50-50 chance he didn’t see that coming.
It’s no secret that I love newspaper and online comic strips — especially the traditional ones. Now, I don’t know if you follow the “Heathcliff” cartoon — you probably don’t — but, friends and neighbors, believe me when I tell you: It’s gone completely bonkers.
“Heathcliff,” a single-panel daily cartoon about an orange-striped cat, is perpetually upstaged by that other daily cartoon about an orange-striped cat, “Garfield.” But “Heathcliff,” which debuted 50 years ago this September, actually pre-dates the better-known strip by five years. “Heathcliff” hasn’t been featured in a movie (yet) but the comic strip has inspired at least two animated TV cartoon shows — one in 1980, one in 1984.
And there are some distinctive differences between the two orange tabby cartoon cats. Garfield is extremely lazy, gluttonous and sarcastic, offering snide comments about the world and people around him. Heathcliff is sneaky, but industrious, and he never talks, even in the form of word balloons — he pantomimes or simply “meows.”
And whereas Garfield more or less behaves as a furry human, Heathcliff’s behavior has always been more in line with that of a real tomcat — albeit one with human levels of intelligence.
I suppose the fact that my real name isn’t “Jay Thurber” isn’t a surprise to a lot of folks. I picked the DJ name more than 20 years ago as a tribute to my favorite writer and cartoonist, and it just kind of “stuck.” But I use my real name everywhere else (including the talk show I produce for WEDO and WZUM), and on the cartoons I draw each month for CQ Amateur Radio Magazine.
I’ve been drawing ever since I could hold a crayon, and took some summer art classes in high school, but I’m more or less untrained, and it sometimes shows. I didn’t learn how to use a lightbox until very recently, and I stuck to an old-fashioned metal pin and inkwell for much too long. I still haven’t learned to use a digital tablet and stylus.
I did editorial cartoons for the college paper, as well as a weekly comic strip, but after graduation, I more or less went back into the art closet, so to speak, for about 10 years, rarely drawing anything. (For a short time in the 2000s, I was freelancing editorial cartoons for a small chain of weekly papers in New England, but the editor who was buying them had … shall we say … a difference of opinion with the owners, so that ended that.)
The late New Yorker magazine columnist A.J. Liebling famously wrote, “Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one.”
So, since I own this space, I’ve decided to start using it.
Facebook proved itself to be more trouble than its worth a while ago. (I wrote about my decision to exit Facebook, except for professional and work-related use, back in March.) While I still maintained a presence there, I was spending more and more of my time on Twitter, at least for fun.
Like a lot of people, I’ve been considering getting off of Facebook for a while.
I’ve already cut down the amount of time I spend there, but that’s a little bit like cutting your cigarette consumption from two packs a day to one pack — you’re still making yourself sick, just more slowly.
And I’ve concluded Facebook is making me sick.
I’ve joked with my shrink that Facebook has been a great benefit to the psychologists of America, because it’s generated so much business.
After all, how many people have had fights, ended relationships, got into arguments, cheated on their spouses, alienated themselves from friends and family, or lost their jobs because of Facebook?
If you haven’t heard already, the ratings for the Sunday broadcast of the Academy Awards were the lowest in history.
According to Nielsen, 9.85 million people watched the broadcast. By comparison, 23.9 million people watched the year before.
One big problem, of course, is that many movie theaters were closed most of last year. But ratings for the award ceremonies have been declining for a long time.
Ken Levine, an award-winning writer and director, baseball play-by-play announcer and podcaster — leave some talent for the rest of us, geez — has some thoughts about “Why no one gives a shit about the Oscars”:
One of the reasons that the Academy Awards are such an afterthought is that movies play a much smaller role in our lives.
As I frequently mention on the air, I was a big fan of the late Doug Hoerth and a heavy listener of WTAE (1250) when it was in its all-talk heyday — a lineup that included, at one point, O’Brien & Garry, Lynn Cullen, Hoerth, Ann Devlin, Myron Cope, Phil Musick and Larry King overnights. It was a murderer’s row of Pittsburgh talk radio.
When I was in high school, I mostly got to listen to Hoerth in the summertime and on weekends, so I vividly remember how disappointed I was in 1990 when his “infamous Saturday show” (a freewheeling panel discussion/trivia contest hosted by Hoerth and his buddies) was shortened so that WTAE could pick up repeats of a new syndicated show by someone named Rush Limbaugh.