Randomly

1. Whenever I think of what the web needs more of, I immediately think MORE SOCIAL NETWORKING.

No, I’m not going to join Ello so don’t even ask.

2. Yesterday was the 12th anniversary of Professor Barnhardt’s Journal. I seem to like to start things in early October (for example, The Letter). Other things that started this week: Charles Schulz’s Peanuts (1950), Leave It To Beaver (1957), The Twilight Zone (1959), and The Dick Van Dyke Show (1961) Those are four of my favorite things right there, and I don’t know if it’s a coincidence that I start a lot of things this week or some power in the universe at work, but I like that it turned out that way.

3. I don’t know if you noticed, but there are no longer any cartoons on the broadcast networks on Saturday mornings. The last one aired last weekend. This is sad. Sure, you can find them on Nickelodeon and The Cartoon Network and some of the kid channels, but it’s weird that you can’t find them on ABC, CBS, FOX, or NBC. They were done in by a number of factors: FCC rules for more educational/informational programming, cable channels, the popularity of animated movies and prime-time animation, videogames, the web, and probably a half-dozen other financial reasons. What’s on now? Local news, weekend editions of the morning shows, cooking shows, and maybe a few “educational” shows for kids that feature pets or something. The last cartoons to air I actually tried to watch several months ago, and they were rather painful.

When I was a kid Saturday morning television was a big deal. I’d get TV Guide and mark all of the shows I was going to watch when the new season began – all the networks had big ads for the Saturday morning line-up – and I’d get up really early on the big day, say around 6am. I’d go down to the kitchen and make toast and tea and sit down on the living room floor with a tray and eat breakfast while watching the shows, which started at 7. I’d watch The Super Friends and Looney Tunes and the Star Trek animated show and The Jetsons and The Pink Panther and Scooby-Doo and a lot of other fun shows that hold special memories for me. I also watched many terrible shows that even had me wondering as a kid how the hell they got on the air (I remember there was one where The Partridge Family went through time and found themselves in the year 2200, for some reason). And remember when American Bandstand aired after the cartoons, early in the afternoon?

It’s great that kids have DVDs and streaming and all that, but I don’t think it’s the same. But the cartoons are gone and I’m sure that nobody will really care and they’re probably never coming back. It’s funny how Saturdays in general have been abandoned by the networks. Not just the mornings but also the evenings. It’s hard for younger people to understand now, but Saturday used to be the night for television: All in the Family, The Bob Newhart Show, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Carol Burnett Show, (CBS had the first Must-See TV). Now it’s filled with reruns of shows that aired earlier in the week, movies, and maybe a couple of true crime shows. Probably because people go out on Saturday nights, but didn’t people go out on Saturdays in the 70s and 80s?

With the ability to watch TV whenever/wherever we watch now and DVDs and next day viewing online, TV really isn’t the same anymore.

4. I have not eaten any bread – no slices of bread, no sandwiches, no rolls, no pizza – in 7 months.

Goodbye September

As the month of September ends I’m still frantically working on the September issue of The Letter, which means all of you will get it in the month of October. But if I write it in September, it’s still a September letter, right? Right?? [Pulls on shirt collar nervously, sweat dripping down forehead.]

Anyway, it’s coming! Thank you for your patience.

18 years!

September marks the 18th birthday of this site.

If this is your first time here, welcome! (Actually, if this is your 1000th time here, also welcome!) I usually use this annual post to tell you a little bit about myself and what you’ll find here.

I write a weekly column for The Saturday Evening Post (every Friday morning), and I also write for Vulture.com and Esquire. In 2002 I created the pop culture magazine/blog Professor Barnhardt’s Journal, and I update that once a week or so (or whenever I have something new). In 2003 I released a collection of essays and short humor titled Book, with Words and Pages, which I then put online for free.

I also do a monthly snail mail publication called The Letter., where I send handwritten or typewritten letters to subscribers. You can subscribe to it or donate to the site by hitting the Donate button over there on the right. (And thanks!). You can also sign up for my mailing list on the right and I’ll send you an e-mail whenever I post something new on the site.

Social media? Well, you can read my thoughts on that here.

I have more stuff in the works: more books, more fiction, and also a podcast that I had hoped to launch this summer but has now been pushed back a bit. Any questions or kudos or complaints, send me an e-mail or leave a comment below.

Have a great weekend! Supposed to be cooler.

Five more things about media and technology right now

A follow-up to this post.

1. Please note the word “self” in the word “selfie.” That means you have to actually take a picture of yourself with your own hands for it to be considered this. If someone else takes a picture of you, even if they put it on social media and it has a hashtag, it’s not a “selfie.” This is called “taking a picture.”

(Side note: let’s stop using the word “selfie.”)

2. Someone asked me what my favorite app is and I said “pen and paper.”

3. If you complain about clickbait or gossipy headlines or “you won’t believe!” links, and then you actually click on them, then it’s your fault we have them in the first place. That’s how it works. The more we click on them the more popular they’ll be and the more we’ll see.

4. Weather is the clickbait of television. Unless there’s a massive snowstorm/hurricane/power outage, the weather should never, ever be one of the top three stories on the news. But now it’s always one of the top stories on each of the local newscasts, even if it’s 70 degrees and partly sunny. Yes, yes, they do it to get viewer attention at the top and to compete with other stations and other reasons, but it has gotten insane. For every half hour local newscast, weather takes up several minutes of airtime and three different segments of the show: at the top, during the regular weather segment in the middle of the show, and then “one last look at the weather!” at the end of the show. (And the rest of the half hour is taken up by viral videos and promos for what’s coming up later on the news. Oh and some news too.)

5. It’s spelled W-H-O-A. Not “woah” and certainly not “woha.”

Suddenly, it’s summer

Happy Labor Day. And Happy Summer, apparently.

I just put my fan away for the year, just in time for the atmosphere to turn into hot soup (Chunky style). It’s the type of humidity where you sit on the couch and you try not to move at all, and you sweat anyway. You can feel it forming on your face and body, and there’s nothing you can do about it. There’s no air, no relief, no happiness.. It really hasn’t been that bad this year though. There have been very few days where I thought oh my God another hot day I can’t wait until Labor Day is here please please please. But the past couple of days and the week to come are making up for that. I don’t have to go into all of the details because longtime readers know this already but I’ll summarize my thoughts the same way I did in my Saturday Evening Post column a few days ago:

I hate summer.