Monday, October 05, 2009

My latest rant

Tomorrow: my take on David Letterman's Monday night apology, but for today -- what good is having a blog if you can't rant about things you have no control over and will never change?
I had occasion to drive through Beverly Hills last week (where the Iranians who aren’t protesting roost). And there arching over on Rodeo Drive were Christmas decorations.

It was September!

Now granted, Christmas decorations anywhere in sun drenched Southern California are somewhat absurd (“winter” is a destination not a season here), but September? Isn’t that a bit early even for Beverly Hills? Wasn’t Labor Day and summer just a few weeks ago? To my knowledge this is the first year the Christmas garlands have gone up before half the new Fall TV shows premiered. We’re so close to Labor Day that people are still allowed to wear white pants.

The reason is clear: to get potential shoppers into the stores sooner. Segue right from “Back to School Sales” to “Holiday Sales”.

It’s time to ring in the season and wring out those few extra dollars.

And it’s not just Christmas.

If the World Series goes a full seven games this year it will end on November 5th. And with snow-outs even longer. A new tradition is to play an NHL hockey game outdoors on New Year's Day. If they do that at Fenway Park in Boston there may be a conflict with a Red Sox World Series game. For the money that Fox is paying for the Fall (early Winter) Classic, they want the games to lap into November sweeps. And since spring training is now a cash cow games start in February. It used to be such a big deal for baseball fans when pitchers and catchers reported to camp. Soon that big day will be welcomed in by Dick Clark.

The NBA is not much better. Their Finals used to be held in the spring. Now there are so many playoff rounds that the champion isn’t crowned until almost the 4th of July. What’s the point of playing an 82 game regular season when every team but the Clippers get into the playoffs?

Oscar campaigns now begin the day after the Oscars.

Sarah Palin is already running for president.

And speaking of the Fall TV premieres, remember when NBC unveiled their entire new lineup during one “NBC Week”? (Remember when there was an NBC?) Now new entries are doled out from late summer until November. Half a network’s schedule is cancelled before the other half debuts.

The end result is that the product gets diluted. Ratings for big sporting events like the World Series and NBA Finals are down. The Oscarcast is in the tank. Holiday shopping revenue is suffering and although you can make a strong case that it’s due to the economy, it doesn’t help that shoppers are already sick of Christmas by Halloween.

And then there’s the ole' seasonal music. Can you imagine if the songs were revised to reflect the current trend?

On the one-hundred-and-thirty-fourth day of Christmas my true love gave to me – one-hundred-and-thirty-four Jet Blue miles, one-hundred-and-thirty-three little individual boxes of Kellogg’s cereal, one-hundred-and-thirty-two HBO/Showtime/Cinemax/Starz/Encore movie channels…”

You get the idea. Anyway, Happy Easter.

26 comments :

Ron said...

Hockey plays outdoors on New Year's Day but don't let a fact get in the way of a good rant.

Wojciehowicz said...

Yeah, but you gotta admit Hallowmas 2024 is coming real soon so we better get in gear. Right after that is St. July's Day 2025. There's almost no time left.

For those who can nominate for the Oscars, you might want to get a head start. I hear they'll have Most Likely to be Adopted by Angelina Jolie in 2013 and there's several continents full of children competing for that.

VP81955 said...

Of course, if November sweeps finds the Rockies and Twins in the World Series, expect Rupert Murdoch to kindly tell Bud Selig that come 2014 (the year after the current contract ends), baseball can telecast the World Series on its own, newly-formed MLB network unless it realigns baseball along the lines of English soccer (Premiership, First Division and so on) to ensure that at least one of the "right" teams (Yankees, Mets, Red Sox, Cubs, Dodgers, maybe the Cardinals) are in. (And currently, Fox is probably the only over-the-air network interested in baseball).

wv: "prent" -- Mr. Musberger's evil twin.

Buttermilk Sky said...

Thank you for confirming that pro basketball is now played year-round. I thought I was losing my mind, but if you can see it too...

And what's the deal on NHL games played in Scandinavia? Can't the players visit their families on their own time?

Barefoot Billy Aloha said...

This is just the beginning...

Hawking said that if we travel in one direction toward the edge of the Universe, that we'll actually return to our starting point. So, what that means is this: Christmas eventually will be never-ending.

Just think: The Barking Dogs singing "Jingle Bells," forever.

Anonymous said...

i wish u ranted often:-) i had a few good laughs reading this:-)

Rory L. Aronsky said...

Just think: The Barking Dogs singing "Jingle Bells," forever.

*takes out a gun and places it in front of him at the computer*

I'm not sure I can tolerate that.

Tom Quigley said...

For me, the Christmas shopping season officially begins when I see the Salvation Army volunteers and their red kettles stationed outside of Walmart which, since they've just pulled the landscaping and barbeque merchandise off their floors, should be in about another week or so...

xjill said...

Maybe it's for a film or photography shoot? I honestly can't imagine why else they would have them up so soon!!

emily said...

OMG...the Cubs have been mathmatically eliminated from the 2010 season already.

Joe said...

The seasonal stuff aside...

Why haven't sports connected the dots? Lower ratings are because the drama of their games has been diluted. It's like basic storytelling.

Free agency has upset the cast of characters for each game. Conflict isn't the same, as deep. Think of all the non-Fox/ESPN created rivalries from the 60s and 70s.

Less player movement and fewer games results in more drama, more interest.

Eric said...

Barefoot Billy Aloha: "Just think: The Barking Dogs singing 'Jingle Bells,' forever."

...

They are digging another level of Hell for you, sir. :)

wv: compers - Those of us who USED to go to Las Vegas to gamble a lot and expect to get free drinks, food, rooms... before Vegas decided that giving things away to get people there wasn't such a good idea.

Mary Stella said...

It's really hard on those cities that still have stadiums used by both their baseball and football teams.

I hate that the baseball post-season extends into November now.

On the other hand, a good baseball matchup (In a domed stadium) on Thanksgiving Day would be more entertaining than the annual Detroit Lions vs whomever game.

benson said...

Since the post is a rant, may I please unburden myself? Watched a few minutes of this new Jenna Elfman sitcom last night. Omigod. What a load of crap. When did blatant masturbation jokes and orgasm jokes become okay at 8:30? Not that they were funny, so they wouldn't be okay at any time.

I know I'm preaching to the choir here, but would it be so horrible to hire some quality people to produce something of quality, rather than just cheap and easy sex jokes?

Jimbo said...

Wow, an excellent, excellent post.

I've been ranting about this stuff for years, and you put it all together in a few succinct paragraphs.

"The end result is that the product gets diluted."

Right on. For both sports and "consumer" holidays.

And you can add Halloween to the list. They now start stocking stores in August. By the time the actual holiday rolls around, you're sick of it.

That goes double for Christmas. Here's how old I am: I can remember when stores wouldn't decorate until after Thanksgiving, which was sort of the unofficial starter's pistol to the season. And even then, things didn't really get rolling with household decorations until about the second week of December...

...which actually had the effect of making you look forward to the holiday instead of dreading it!

Same with Sports. Even, unfortunately, football, whose season used to last about 4 months, making it one the most intense schedules of the Big Four where every game counted. Now, the season is stretching to 5 months, and they're doing their best to dilute the importance of each regular season game.

I understand the motivation - greed - but maybe in this era of instant gratification we need to review the story of "The Goose That Laid The Golden Egg".

Jimbo

P.S. BTW, as opposed to Ken's post, I guess that was an example of a rant without humor. Sorry 'bout that.

Chris Riesbeck said...

I like Lewis Black's response tp the length of the Christmas season: "How long does it take you Christians to shop?!"

Dana Gabbard said...

Denny's started serving holiday pies (pecan and pumpkin) in mid-Sept.

I have already gotten a few X-Mas catalogs and holiday card samples in the mail.

For many businesses the 6-8 weeks at the end of the year account for an astonishing amount of their annual sales. So you can understand why they try to stretch the season out.

Besides, I like pecan pie.

Kirk Jusko said...

There's a bright side to the Christmas season starting so early. You can now by Xmas decorations, cards, trees, etc for half price IN DECEMBER.

Anonymous said...

Snowouts? WHERE is it gonna snow in late October/early November that'll affect the playoffs? Maybe in Detroit, and they'll be done after today anyhow ;#...

David said...

Loved your mention of "NBC Week". I miss the way the new season's programs were promoted and premiered, along with the new jingles and logos the networks gave us during that time of year.

Jo Gates said...

So true, so true, Ken. There's a homogenization in general that keeps the cultural/sports/etc. seasons from really changing anymore. At least the leaves still change and natural seasons maintain a cycle ... except for that global warming thing. Never mind.

It reminds me of Loudon Wainwright III's "Suddenly it's Christmas, seven weeks before the day." It's a great song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1yzK-Uf6zVs

I think, at the time the song was written, it was actually an exaggeration. No longer.

Anonymous said...

I remember years ago xmas decor up early in BH. Turns out it was for a movie. Think it was "down and out in BH" actually

John said...

Gregg Easterbrook has been doing "Christmas Creep Watch" on his TMQ page for ESPN.com for the past several years.

Matt said...

Don't forget the Super Bowl. Remember when it was played in mid January? At the rate the NFL is going, soon we'll have a Super Bowl / NCAA Final Four big sports weekend!

Bah!

Matt Patton said...

When I was a kid (many years ago), I always had a reliable marker for the approach of Halloween--the Christmas decorations went up at the local mall.

Thomas Beck said...

Gregg Easterbrook's NFL column, Tuesday Morning Quarterback, has a regular "Christmas Creep" feature, in which readers send in ever-earlier examples of ever-earlier Christmas advertising (and, now, ever-earlier Halloween and Thanksgiving advertising - leading to Easterbrook's "Unified Theory of Creep").