Station Break

Paul Farhi
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, November 25, 2008; 1:00 PM

Washington Post staff writer Paul Farhi was online Tuesday, Nov. 25, at 1 p.m. ET to talk about the latest news and personalities from the pop culture world.

Bring your most outrageous opinions about all things pop culture and wake this party up. Otherwise, Farhi will have to do it all by himself. And don't think he's not capable of it.

A transcript follows.

Farhi is a reporter in The Post's Style section, writing about media and popular culture. He's been watching TV and listening to the radio since "The Monkees" were in first run and Adam West was a star. Born in Brooklyn and raised in Los Angeles, Farhi had brief stints in the movie business (as an usher at the Picwood Theater), and in the auto industry (rental car lot guy) before devoting himself full-time to word processing. His car has 15 radio pre-sets and his cable system has 500 channels. He vows to use all of them for good instead of evil.

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Paul Farhi: Greetings, all, and welcome to pre-Thanksgiving virtual potluck dinner....So, do you like what we've done with the place since last year? Yes, we think the new paint brightens up the place, too...Oh, you brought your famous virtual stuffing? How kind of you!...Ahem. Anyone catch the return of Jack Bauer on Fox on Sunday? Pretty good, but I'm still skeptical that J.B. and "24" still have it after last season's dismal swamp of a show. Maybe the layoff will do 'em some good....Another (random) thing: What's with all the anchor people on TV holding fancy pens? Not Bics or Uni-ball pens, but pens you buy at a fancy pen store? They need a pen in hand because...? Because it makes them look like they have something to do with writing or editing their scripts? When they don't? Just a wee bit bogus, no?

And on that note, what say we retire to the family room after eating, turn on the game, and loosen our belts? (In some families, it's loose belts AND undone top buttons on the pants, but I can't go for that, as Hall and Oates used to say). Meantime, we can also go to the phones...

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washingtonpost.com: '24' Restarts The Clock in A New World (Post, Nov. 23)

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Harrisburg, Pa.: What up, P-Far?

So is "Lipstick" canceled, or what? With Slater's show gone, "Crusoe" being burned off and "Heroes" on its last legs, is there anything on the horizon for the Peacock? Buying "FNL" back from DirectTV?

Paul Farhi: "Lipstick" got a little ratings bump (off a really small base) last week, so NBC is kinda/sorta/maybe reconsidering whether to kill it outright. Meanwhile, the fans are doing one of those silly bombard-the-network-to-show-support things, this time by mailing in lipstick tubes (awww, how cute. Not). But "LJ" was already endangered; any series that moves to Fridays can basically kiss itself goodbye these days.

And, yes, NBC is hurtin' for certain. They have been in rough shape for several years now. And that was before the whole economy went to heck....

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Adams-Morgan, Washington, D.C.: With Barack Obama taking over for eight years, when will the FCC be allowing nudity on television like in Europe?

Paul Farhi: And I suppose you also want to know when the Fairness Doctrine is going to be reinstated, too. Both are conservative fantasies propelled by the conservative echo chamber. Show me one fact supporting either claim and I'll stop dismissing it out of hand....

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Rockville, Md.: Paul:

He got it at Jared!

Every kiss begins with Kay.

No one pays retail anymore, why should you?

A story this week somewhere noted that, about 99.9 percent of the time, diamonds are marked up by about 500 percent -- and they are not rare, anywhere.

Basically, the entire diamond scam is a rip-off. And that's true.

And most jewelry store radio and television commercials are horrible.

Paul Farhi: I can't figure out if they're really horrible, or just overwhelming and inescapable on the air this time of year. I actually saw one the other day that I didn't completely and utterly hate: Was a Kay Jewelers (I think) ad showing a squeaky clean couple who looked a bit like Richard and Karen Carpenter, only they weren't bro and sis but just boy and girl. Twist was, she's deaf, and he's bad at signing. So he lets the bauble do the talking. She's touched by his kindness/thoughtfulness/wallet. Problem solved.

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Satellite Radio vs. Regular Radio: Last week on your chat there was a discussion about music and satellite and regular radio. I don't have satellite in my car but, I think that our local grocery store is playing the satellite '80s station because it is AWESOME.

I grew up in the '80s and had many albums and tapes. I have NEVER listened to a really great '80s station. They play the most obvious and lame songs. My question is why can't DJs that are getting paid find good music and play it? Although I sold my albums in 1999 -- I can still picture where the good songs were at on those albums. Why can't someone go deeper into an album? Do we always have to play the "hits"? Mister Mister's best song is never played on the radio. Hint? Is It Love?

Paul Farhi: How many times do we have to say this? Radio programming isn't about you and what you like, necessarily. It's about what some masses of people LIKE you like. That is, playlists are tested and re-tested with sample audiences of listeners. The "winners" are those songs that people say they like hearing the most. Probably not exactly your faves, but close enough.

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Chicago, Ill.: I'm a middle-aged person. (Hopefully that explains everything.) Why do the Jonas Brothers wear wedding rings? Are they married? We have a very young new hire in our office, right out of college, who wears a strange, similar type ring and I'm pretty sure he's not married. What is the meaning of this?

Paul Farhi: Outside my demographic pay grade, too, Chicago. Perhaps one of our youth-ier chatters will explain this one to us proto-grandpas and grandmas...

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Potomac Village: What's Horatio Sanz been doing for the last two years?

washingtonpost.com: SNL Alum Horatio Sanz Drops 100 Pounds (Huffington Post, Nov. 24)

Paul Farhi: Losing weight, I guess.

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Bethesda: What's the status of Weasel at 94.7?

Paul Farhi: Still there. Doing "special projects." Not gone, but not exactly there, either.

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Rockville, Md.: A bunch of us watched the "24" thing Sunday night --and everyone thought it was terrible. Enough with the lack of humor, anywhere. Gawd! We just made our own jokes -- often. Enough with the "madam this..." or "president that..." and all this stuffy office posturing -- please. Enough with the jerky cameras -- that went out of style about five years ago already, and it's a cliche now. It's a cliche, already! Film directors: Stop the jerky camera thing! We get it! Move on! 24 producers: Please, get back to terrorists. Seeing little kids shot and bleeding is not anyone's idea of entertainment. And from a critical perspective, the show suffered from bad production values (overdone), bad writing (tacky and cliched and humorless), bad acting (everyone seemed to be auditioning for an undeserved Emmy -- or for a Razzie, and Sutherland seemed to be mumbling half of his lines) and even pacing, which was uneven. And it all seemed to be shot through a dirty lens. Enough! If you're out of idea, you're out of ideas. Run a movie, instead -- it's cheaper.

Paul Farhi: "Get back to terrorists." First time I've ever heard that uttered, in any context!...And thank you for that fine rant. Others (me) disagree, in part. The production values on the "24" movie were actually quite amazing, for a TV movie. You expect to see that kind of action stuff in an actual movie, with a big budget. Pretty good stuff, I thought. As for jerky camera work: It's gone from a distraction to a cliche. Every "action" movie or TV show seems to be required to use it. Some of it, I have to add, actually works, intensifying the "reality" of the action...

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Jonas Rings: I wonder if maybe they're wearing the rings to symbolize that they won't have sex until they're married...good for marketing to teens and their parents, right?

We had something like that when I was the Jonas boys' age...we called them leisure suits.

Paul Farhi: Hahahaha!

How very wholesome of them. But why the need to advertise it, fellas?

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Jonas Bros.: They're "promise rings" meaning they'll wait until marriage to do the horizontal bop. That whole movement kind of creeps me out. If you want to stay a virgin until marriage that's fine, but it shouldn't be something one advertises. I'm middle-aged too but have a "tween."

Paul Farhi: Yep. And--let's not go there, but let's go there--so many of these abstinence-only programs don't work so well.

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Clifton, Va.: What's the worst Thanksgiving anyone has ever had?

In the early years as a reporter, I had to work on Thanksgiving, and ended up covering an extremely depressing local fire story -- out in the cold, and everyone was depressed, upset and cold. It was not fun.

Back in the newsroom, there were tables of food, with all the traditional things. But eating plates of food at your desk in a half-filled newsroom after writing a depressing story, and not being with friends, girlfriends or family, was just plain depressing.

No one liked that Thanksgiving.

Many of us have never worked on a Thanksgiving since that day.

Paul Farhi: Well, that doesn't sound as bad as this: You could be a former reporter who has no story to cover on Thanksgiving day because you don't have a job any more. There seem to be a few (thousand) folks in that situation this Thanksgiving.

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Jonas Brothers: I believe they wear purity rings: Purity Ring (Wikipedia)

Paul Farhi: Check.

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Diamond Commercial with Deaf Girlfriend: I had the opposite reaction you had. If the guy cannot effectively communicate with his girlfriend, why is he buying her an expensive piece of jewelry?

Paul Farhi: Well, see, you're getting to the heart of Our Corrupt Value System. If you can't communicate your feelings, according to OCVS, you buy something to communicate your feelings. On that level, the commercial works brilliantly. We (guys) are all, metaphorically, unable to really express ourselves to our significant. others. Ergo, like the guy in the commercial, we have to buy something. Problem. Solution.

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Anchor people with pens: I think they cross off text they've just read, so they don't accidentally go back and repeat it -- or skip a section they haven't read yet because they lost their place. I do agree with you, however, that a cheap pen works just as well as a costlier one.

Paul Farhi: Ah! So there's a practical reason for it. I feel (sorta) better about it now...although I've never actually seen an anchorhuman USE his/her pen on air. Never.

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Chantilly, Va.: Speaking of radio diamond ads, was the Washington area ever blessed with Van Scoy Diamond Mines, owned by the legendary Tommy Van Scoy?

His ads featured a Carol Channing sound-alike singing his trademark jingle. I'm sure it's easily found on the Web.

So bad they were great!

Paul Farhi: I'm trying to remember local jewelry store ads from my youth. Musta been some, but I can't recall any. Car dealers were the only local businesses that consistently put commercials (usually cheesy) on local TV back in the day.

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Comedy Central: Colbert Christmas special -- great Christmas show or greatest Christmas show? Hint: Toby Keith's song was a classic.

Paul Farhi: Must see. Have not. Don't spoil nuthin'....

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Outragedish: Seriously, as lame as Hannity and Colmes is, imagine it with just Hannity!

I can't believe (which is to say, I can believe) that Fox News is going to do that.

Paul Farhi: Colmes was a very important part of Fox News, I thought. He created the illusion for Fox viewers that they were getting "both sides of the story," a fair-n-balanced debate of idea. Yet he was usually so weak, and Hannity so forceful, that "right" always seemed to "win." Wonder how they'll maintain "balance" now...

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although I've never actually seen an anchorhuman USE his/her pen on air: They use them during commercial break.

Paul Farhi: They blow their noses during the breaks, too, but you don't see them with a box of Kleenex on their desks.

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Richmond, V.: The Jonas Brothers may wear 'promise rings,' but many gen-xers wear simple bands that look like wedding bands just for fashion. No deep meaning or message. That's prob what dude at office is doing.

Paul Farhi: Interesting. This whole marriage, or perhaps "marriage," thing is catching on. I never realized how cool it was to appear to be married, if not actually married.

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Silver Spring, Md.: I loved the parts of 24: Redemption set in Africa, but found all the scenes in Washington ridiculously boring and predictable. They could have just put up a title card that says "generic shadowy conspiracy #7."

I also thought that the U.N. inspector's character was so laughably a Fox News right wing parody that I'm surprised they didn't give him a curled, sniveling mustache, top hat and black cape.

Paul Farhi: You're gonna hate the new season then, Silver Spring. It's all set in Washington. Although I'm sure they'll be getting their terrorism on sooner or later...

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What's the worst Thanksgiving anyone has ever had? : Wednesday before Thanksgiving 2002. Driving to northern New Jersey from D.C. Eleven hours later, I arrived at my destination after sitting in the most horrible traffic I have ever seen ever. Took two hours in Delaware, the worst state in the nation, and I say that having never stepped foot in it, just having sat in its traffic on I-95.

Paul Farhi: Traffic on I-95 the day before Thanksgiving? [Please insert your own snarky comment here; I'm too stuffed to think of one].

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Chantilly, Va.: Here's all you need to know about Tommy Van Scoy, including his jingle:

Tommy Van Scoy (Wikipedia)

Paul Farhi: Well, okay...

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Chicago, Ill.: How hilarious is it that after so many seasons of black presidents, "24" finally chooses a woman president and we have Obama rather than Hillary? Anyway, I thought the African coup plot was lame. Rather than predicting future headlines, as 24 is so good at doing (torture!), it's now falling back on old historical scenes (fall of Saigon, helicopters departing the embassy as people try to climb the gates). I also do not like the Madam President, though I look forward to her Abercrombie and Fitch son maybe being abused a little by Jack.

Paul Farhi: Yes, that WAS a very Saigon-'75 thing they were doing there....And you can almost take odds on who's going to get beat up by Jack. I'm waiting for him to give it to the Peter MacNichol character...

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Richmond, Va.: I hate the entire "he went to Jared" advertising theme. I don't think Jared is that impressive a store, so It seems like a tacky Walmart customer bragging cuz she's moved up to K-Mart. "He went to Jared!" Oh, so sorry it wasn't Tiffany's, lol.

Paul Farhi: And who gets points for shopping at a particular store, anyway? It's the merchandise, or the price of the merchandise, or the variety of the merchandise, that might get you into a particular store.

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More on purity rings: Where it really goes off the rails is with "purity balls," at which teen girls make a vow of chastity to their fathers, and the dads put the rings on their fingers. To me, that's just so wrong on about four different levels. I don't think they have an equivalent for boys. (There's a shocker.)

Paul Farhi: "Purity balls." Again, I'll leave the smart-aleck cracks to you.

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My favorite commercial: That NFL one "feelin' kinda Sunday..." I keep singing it and I'm not sick of it yet.

washingtonpost.com: State Farm Insurance -- Feelin' Kinda Sunday -- NFL Commercial (YouTube)

Paul Farhi: You know what gets me there, being from L.A.? Doesn't one of those ads show the L.A. Coliseum's parking lot, covered with snow? Freaks me out every time...

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Anchorman Pen: I think it's part of the look, kind of like the "white-coat-and-stethoscope-around-the-neck" look that all health care people use on TV (even if they have no use for a stethoscope and do not own a white coat).

Paul Farhi: Yes! Great visual cliches R they...Another one I noticed last night: No man is allowed to be fat/heavy in a TV commercial except old men and guys who are supposed to be dumb. No woman is allowed to be fat/heavy in a TV commercial unless she's the "before" in a weight-loss ad, or she's playing a "mom."

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Ex-D.C.: Is the wonderfully cheesy Ronnie Mervis still doing radio spots? Or did he go the way of that voice talking about "the most important money in the world"?

Paul Farhi: I think Ronnie's still around. And, yes, those spots are sui generis (a Latin term meaning, I think, "really amusingly overwritten and distinctive").

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Bad jewelry store commercials: My uncle is a lighting specialist and works on television commercials. He said the Zales commercial he had to do was the hardest because they had to make the diamonds look sparkly even though they were nothing better than little mirrors.

I would think anyway that if a man came home with jewelry in a Zales/Kay box, it would automatically get the frown of disapproval.

Paul Farhi: Well, making stuff look better than real life is what commercials do. There's no car in real life that looks as clean and perfect as those in car ads. Food looks about 6,000 times better in TV ads than in real life (particularly fast food, which is practically the subject of special effects when shown on TV).

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Alexandria, Va.: Worse than the diamond ads, I hate all the car ads suggesting a Land Rover or Lexus would make a nice gift. Are there really enough people in the elite group that does that to make those ads worthwhile?

Paul Farhi: Right. Those ads always pop up around this time of year, too. Big red bows on the Lexus, and all. And your question is particularly apropos this year, what with the horrible sales numbers in the auto market.

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Washington, D.C.: Any word if Tony Kornheiser will return to radio after this year's MNF gig is up? With no obligation to the Post, he's free to go to Rd Zebra without any conflicts of interest if they'll have him besides it affiliated with ESPN anyways. I'd scrap Colin Cowherd in a heartbeat for Tony.

Paul Farhi: I got nothin' for ya there. But your reasoning makes sense to me, on all counts.

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L.A. Coliseum's parking lot: Why would they be feelin' kinda Sunday there? Still hung-over from the USC game?

By the way, Mr. Bruin: who ya got?

Paul Farhi: Do you have to ask? Sheesh....

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Washington, D.C.: This can't be considered a spoiler, since it was in the commercial immediately after the 24 movie, but apparently Jack will be delivering a beating to his old pal (and supposedly dead) Tony. In doing so, he delivers what might be the Jack Bauer-est line ever - "I will kill you and this time you will stay dead!!"

Paul Farhi: Yes! "24" apparently is camping it up early, and intentionally, this time around. You know a show has jumped the ol' shark when it blows a guy up and then brings him back a season or two later. Edgar, where are you?

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Arec Baldwin just canceled!: He must have walked out after reading my question about how he enjoyed leaving the country when Bush got elected...

Paul Farhi: Nice work! Incidentally, I knew I had to go head-to-head with him, chat-wise. But I figured, no problem. What's a glamorous Hollywood actor who was once married to a glamorous Hollywood actress and is currently on a critically acclaimed TV series got on me? Right...

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Virginia Beach, Va.: What, no mention of Heidi and Spencer from the "quasi-reality, not sure if it's real or fake but it looks way too made up to be a reality show." The Hills getting married this past week? Darn it, I just mentioned it! Maybe now, they will go away!

Paul Farhi: Problem noted, if not solved.

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Richmond, Va.: The weirdest ring is the thumb ring. Usually a simple silver band. Anthony Bourdain has one on his TV show and I always wonder why...

Paul Farhi: Maybe it represents another vow of personal discipline, but I don't want to speculate on what it could be.

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Silver Spring, Md.: Re: playing the hits Paul, I think you've told us before, so let us gather around the fire and tell us again. How do stations pick which songs to play?

Isn't it just plain folks in listening booths hearing micro snips of songs and picking the old familiar hits? For all of our complaining, isn't this a fair representation of button-pushing commuters in their cars? Click -- "Brown Eyed Girl" -- I love that tune!

Paul Farhi: You got it. My work here is done.

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Rockville, Md.: That question about the lame 80s songs makes me wonder....in the 80s in the Bay Area was a great radio station, now defunct, KKCY The City ("let's do lunch"). One of the wonders of it was the DJs abilities to string together songs in such a genius way, I can't begin to describe. I am sure I have all of those songs on my iPod. But I can't for the life of me recall the ordering tricks. Is there some source somewhere for old radio playlists that one could replicate an MP3 player. That would make me incredibly thankful....

Paul Farhi: I not only remember "The City," but actually wrote about it back in my S.F. days. I really enjoyed that station. Problem was, there weren't enough people who did. It had a passionate but small following. And in radio, "small" doesn't last very long.

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Silver Spring, Md.: There are a lot of luxury items advertised at Christmas time because (a lot of lawyers and other professional types would be getting year-end bonuses. I'm not talking about the multi-millionaire CEOs but the people for whom a year-end bonus would be a nice down payment on a new Lexus. It's a actually a pretty big market. Yep, diamonds and luxury cars: those are EXCELLENT investments.

Paul Farhi: Well, I guess the profit on selling Lexus's (Lexi?) are so great that attracting even a fraction of the year-end bonus crowd justifies the TV expenditures. But, man, those ads are all over the place. You can't turn on a football game this time of year without being run over by 'em...

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Lexus with a Bow: I suspect that those ads are going to run through the end of the year, because they're already paid for by the dealer group out of their advertising allocation, and the agency doesn't know what else to do.

Paul Farhi: Good point. They were budgeted for, and bought, about nine months ago, probably. They just can't turn that Hindenburg around fast enough...

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Alexandria, Va.: Since Alec Baldwin has cancelled, I'll ask you: What do you think are the three best projects that Alec Baldwin has done so far?

Paul Farhi: --"30 Roc."

--All of his SNL appearances.

--"Glengarry Glen Ross."

Special bonus info: I am five days older than Alec Baldwin. Punk.

Special extra bonus info: He attended Geo. Wash. U., where he was in the same dorm as a pal o' mine.

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"source somewhere for old radio playlists" : Rockville: pack a lunch, say goodbye to your wife and kids, and mosey on over to the FCC archives. Stations are supposed to log their songs, so if you have no career or life, you could probably find those old playlists.

Paul Farhi: Good to know. Or perhaps not.

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Diamond Commercial: I do see your point now but the commercial says to me that the guy could not even understand his girlfriend at all. Even if she told him she likes chicken salad better than tuna salad.

And if you can even express basic facts why are you dating?

If you are correct (and I think you are now), what does that say about my male gender?

Paul Farhi: I would say that he has a physical attraction to her, but that's not exactly clear from the ad. She's pretty, all right, but looks like she went to The 1978 Store for her outfit. So I can't really explain it, either.

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Washington, D.C.: For those 80s music folks out there, check out the 80's channel on Slacker. Good stuff.

Paul Farhi: Thanks for the tip, D.C.

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"Old radio playlists": It isn't KKCY, but as a child of WABC-AM in New York, I love love LOVE this site: Musicradio 77 WABC

Tells you what top 40 radio was really all about.

Paul Farhi: 'Nother tip of the hat on that tip. Thanks.

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Anchor pens: I've never seen them use the pens, except for Jon Stewart, who probably doesn't count as an anchorman, per se.

I like to hold a pen while doing public speaking, as a crutch to help keep me from gesturing too much (which I sometimes do when I talk). It doesn't have to be an expensive one, but it does have to be the kind without an easily-removed cap (because I'd flick it off with my finger) or an easy clicker (because I would clickclickclick). So one of those expensive pens would be useful for that purpose.

Paul Farhi: Ah, now we're getting somewhere! The pen-as-blankie theory. Maybe anchors hold them because it make them feel secure in some way.

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Alec B.: Drop Glengary from that list -- his voiceover work is legendary. He may have made the Royal Tenenbaums.

Paul Farhi: He's really quite a good all-around actor. He does comedy, action, voiceover stuff, romantic lead, character parts, etc. Very large and generally impressive body o' work...

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Old Playlists: Shouldn't the FCC archives be online by now?

Paul Farhi: What, you expect an outfit called the Federal Communications Commission to communicate better?

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Washington, D.C.: Re: Comedy Central's Jeff Dunham's Christmas Special: Great show, especially the Dead Terrorist dummy's attempt to get the solemn Guitar Guy's to crack a smile and guffaw with his scoliosis and poliosis "diseases." Ditto in Dead Terrorist's being scared of fellow dummy Walter. Of all the dolls in Dunham's show, I like Walter, Dead Terrorist and Jalapeno on a Stick. BTW, where did those folks in the audience get those Peanut-stuffed toys? Did the producers/ushers pass them out to the audience before entering the theater?

washingtonpost.com: Jeff Dunham's Very Special Christmas Special (Comedy Central)

Paul Farhi: I've tried to watch Dunham and find what he does funny. But I just wind up obsessing over how he does the ventriloquism thing. So maybe he's funny, but I'm missing it.

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More on the anchor's pen: While the camera is on the other anchor or if they are rolling a package, the anchorman is constantly receiving information and directions from the producer or the director. This could include name changes, pronunciation corrections or even brief info on breaking news (address, incident, etc.). Hence, the anchor pen.

Paul Farhi: Yeah, I guess. But since everything is TelePrompTer'ed for them, anyway, why bother writing anything down? It's just a prop to make the newscast look like it's being assembled up the last second, I think.

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Fruitport Township, Mich.: Since CIA interrogators apparently modeled their behavior on Jack Bauer, can we assume now that the government agents responsible for delivering subpoenas to Harriet Miers, Josh Bolten and Karl Rove will be just as rough as the ones hauling away Jack onto the helicopter?

Paul Farhi: You figure the White House is gonna look like an American Embassy in some war-torn country on Jan. 20?

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Purcellville, Va.: That "24" movie -- was it cobbled together from scenes shot before last year's writers strike canceled production? Or was it shot especially as a prelude to the next season? It would make sense that it was the former, but the previews make it look like the new season takes place some time after Inauguration Day (the date of the movie just aired).

Paul Farhi: It was shot especially as a prelude to the coming season. And, incidentally, the producers re-shot some of the scene in the forthcoming season to match up with what unfolded in the movie. In other words, the series was already written and mostly filmed BEFORE they made the TV movie. Then they went back and remade parts of the already-completed series. Really messes with the time-space continuum, if you ask me.

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Metro Center: Okay, I had to go look. Alec Baldwin is a few years older than me, so we may well have been at GW at the same time.

This means that I MUST know -- which dorm did he live in?

Paul Farhi: I'm not sure. I'll ask my friend and report back. But, um, wouldn't you notice if a guy who looked like Alec Baldwin lived in your dorm? He'd be hard to miss, I think....

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Pentagon City, Va.: Newscasts are being edited up until the last second -- even during commercial breaks. I used to be a TV producer and when the anchor was being mean, we'd write words in the script we know he'd mispronounce and then wait for the on-air bungling of English. Good stuff.

Paul Farhi: Well, yes. But that still doesn't justify the fulltime holding of the pen. They could stick it under the desk if they wanted to. But they don't, because it make them look like they have more to do than just reading the news.

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Broadcast House: If you want to really laugh during a television newscast, watch how anchors strangely shuffle, square up, organize, hold, gesture and handle those little pieces of paper on their desks -- which they rarely read from! Come on! That became a cliche about 1978! These anchors are just bozos sometimes. Except Gordon Peterson, who's an actual journalist.

Paul Farhi: Yes, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert have made visual hay out of that cliche. Those papers are just a prop.

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Houston, Tex.: Well, when I was in college, my room in my house burned out the day after Thanksgiving -- but, the up side was the outpouring of caring from my fellow students who put me up, got me new clothes and generally made sure I didn't wander into the highway during rush hour.

Paul Farhi: Nice story, Houston. Most peoples is good. Something to be thankful for...

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Paul Farhi: And on that hopeful(?) note, we should wrap up the doggie bags and send everyone home. Let's digest this one and gear up for next week, when we can all discuss the petty horrors of the real Thanksgiving in our post-turkey chat. Hope everyone has a great holiday. And one tip: Stay off I-95 tomorrow. Regards to all...Paul.

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