Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Moving Day

My blog is moving to a new location, Beacon TV. The location may be different, but you'll get the same peculiar, personal ramblings about life as a TV critic that have been available here since April. Thanks for reading what I have posted here, and I hope to see you at the new site.

Real Baseball

Saturday night, my wife and I went to an Akron Aeros game, a nice evening out. The seats were good, the atmosphere cheerful and the heat far less oppressive than it has been most days lately. Still, even in a relaxed situation like that, I found myself scribbling notes on a corner of the roster; the reporter-critic in me never takes much time off.
I liked being that close to the game, and letting the eyes go where a TV camera might not. On the other hand, I missed seeing replays of key events, to be clear on what had happened and how. And while the pace was pleasant, it felt slower than the game does on TV. On TV, the breaks are filled with commercials and a chance to flip channels to see what's going on in the rest of the world; in the ballpark, even when there's a little stunt to keep the fans entertained, the time until play resumes feels longer.
Little things caught the eye and ear, too. I couldn't help but write down that an announcer was touting a drawing of tickets for the World Series in Detroit -- confusing the series with baseball's upcoming All-Star Game. That's in Detroit. We don't know where the World Series is going to be (although Indians fans right now are probably humming ''High Hopes'').
Then there was the billboard for Pax 23 News, the Akron-based newscast which had its last day on Pax 23 on Friday; it has now officially moved to Time Warner Channel 23. (See the posting below for more about that.) Not far from that was a sign touting Fox Sports radio on 1350-AM, which carries Aeros games; the station now calls itself Radio Free Ohio and has moved from a mostly sports-talk format to political talk from the left of center.
But hey, the Aeros won. And came from behind to do it.

Friday, July 01, 2005

The Perils of the Answer Man

Today's e-mail included a (very polite) request from a reader wanting advice about how to sell an old LP of ''The First Family,'' the Vaughn Meader parody. At church last Sunday, another member asked me (very nicely) if I knew what had become of Johnny Mathis.
I suggested the ''First Family'' owner try eBay. This Sunday, I'll tell the church member about johnnymathis.com. Neither of these questions had anything to do with television, but I try to be nice about it. After all, some folks think I'm the Answer Man.
Not the only Answer Man, of course, not even the only one at my newspaper. George Thomas, the movie critic at the Beacon Journal, does a weekly mailbag column for the newspaper and the Knight Ridder wire, as well as an online Q&A at ohio.com.
He gets a steady run of questions about movies, including some made for TV. Since we sit next to each other, we frequently end up swapping questions -- he'll hand me the TV-movie ones, I'll hand him ones about big-screen films -- or occasionally let our mailbags overlap.
With my own online Q&A, as well as a weekly column in the paper, I also get a steady flow of questions from e-mail, postal mail and online queries. Also the occasional phone call, even though I ask people to send me the questions in writing.
The plus to getting all those questions is that they give you a sense of what readers care about, which can lead to column ideas or shows that deserve a little more attention -- in other words, doing my job better.
One minus is that some questions get asked -- and answered -- again and again. Another is that, if you've answered a few semi-obscure questions, folks figure you're, well, the Answer Man.
I'm often backed up with questions, especially online. While there are many that I can answer immediately, some are really obscure, or they require some research Others may pack three or four questions into a single posting, and I need time to gather all the threads.
So there are times when I mutter about the questions. I have here and there suggested places people can find answers on their own. (There's an archived posting on this blog called ''Links'' with some resources.) But I still love doing the mailbag -- because readers like it, and because it leads to connections and conversations that might not happen otherwise.
Besides, some of the questions are really good. And I love it when they lead to some nugget that I never would have written about otherwise.