|Dangerspouse Rides Again|
Garage - Track
Mar. 29, 2004 - 4:19 p.m.
Live! From New York! It's Miami Vice!
Got in to work this morning and had a bit of a shock. Some of our announcers were told they would be doing traffic for Miami stations starting at 5am.
We're in New Jersey.
There was no prior warning, no helpful maps, no pronunciation guides. Just "hook up this here machine at 5am and start giving the locals 4 reports an hour. And try to sound like a local."
Thankfully, my shift was deemed to hectic already. I was passed over for this particular "honor".
This, kids, is the wave of the future. Ever since the invention of the hammer put all those Clovis Point artisans out of business, industry scions have been coming up with new and better ways to maximize profits by trimming employees. This is merely the latest example.
Basically what's happening is, our Miami network has fired all their traffic announcers. Through the miracle of modern technology, we announcers at the Mother Ship (here in the NYC market) just have to log onto the network's intranet to access the information from Miami's producers. Then we use an ISDN line to connect to affiliate stations down there, and to all but the most trained ear it will sound like we are sitting in the chair right next to the latest FCC lawsuit-waiting-to-happen Morning Guy. (BTW, through an industry practice known as "voice tracking", he's probably not in Miami either.)
An interesting point to note: we are not paid any extra on our end for picking up these stations. Our Union contract stipulates a set per-hour fee for our services, no matter how many stations dot our schedule.
So the nework sharholders rub their hands with glee once again. By kicking a dozen or so announcers onto the street (well, more likely the beach), they save that much in payroll. But they don't lose any client income, since the work will be done by announcers in NJ. Basically for free.
And I understand more markets will follow soon.
Here's an amusing anecdote from the annals of Radio World:
The CEO of our network, affectionately known as "Uncle Mel", had a bit of a tiff with our Chicago office 3 or 4 years ago. Seems the part-time staff had the temerity to ask for some medical benefits. These were not kids working their way through cosmotology school, but rather 40k/year (average) middle managers and support staff. Our company likes to keep people just under the weekly number of hours where they'd be considered full time, so they don't have to pay benefits. As a result, 90 percent of employees not in management clock 35 - 37 hours per week (myself included). These are guys and gals with families, trying to meet their mortgage and car payments every month. On 40 G's that's tight enough, but when you toss in the periodic laproscopy it gets a little more serious.
Uncle Mel's solution was to fire them all and bring in a new crew, with a new contract. A contract which not only specifically underlined the lack of medical coverage in perpetuity, but also represented a 5% less pay scale than the outgoing workers had.
At the end of the year Uncle Mel signed himself a Christmas Bonus check for 230 million dollars. Almost a quarter of a billion dollars in one stroke of a plastic Bic. His justification was that corporate profits reached an all time high that year, largely due to his paring costs. Like those pesky employee paychecks. There was applause at the annual shareholders' convention.
In yet another example of how I can't seem string together more than two disaster free days in a row, we hosted a small dinner party on Sunday.
This was supposed to be just a quiet get together with two other couples. The two women were co-workers of NewWifey(tm), each of whom were allowing their spouse to tag along.
None of the men were looking forward to it. Myself included.
Oh, it's not that any of us dislike any of the others. As a matter of fact, none of us guys had actually ever met before. It was the broads who were dying to get together and dismember their fellow hags at the office. Us menfolk were told to make ourslves invisible once the cackling commenced.
Of course, I was expected to provide food for the festivities beforehand.
Normally this is not a problem. But....
What's with chicks, anyway??
It seems like any time I cook for a group of women it turns into a fiasco. They're ALL picky about something. If they're not on a weird diet ("Nothing orange colored or containing polysorbates for me, thank you.") their taste buds convulse at the thought of the most mundane flavors.
This current pair are no exception. Girl #1 is a strict vegetarian...who eats bacon. Girl #2 will not eat anything tainted by onions, which cuts my repertoire by 2/3, including desserts. She also doesn't like anything that smacks of foreign influence.
I'm down to making bacon wrapped corn. No salt.
Guys are much easier to entertain, as you might imagine. Just empty anything you have in the pantry onto a slice of bread. Leftover pepperoni pizza with Blueberry Pop Tarts and saurkraut on a hoagie roll will disappear without hesitation. Just make sure there's beer and you'll be feted as the Host of Hosts for weekends to come.
One thing I did make, just for NewWifey(tm) really, is my Justifiably Famous Babaghanoush. If you've never had it, babaghanoush is a terrific Middle Eastern eggplant dip that you scoop up with wedges of pita bread. And I make the best babaghanoush in the world.
Really, I have the medals and certificates to prove it.
I'll share my secret with you here: You just don't know what the fuck you're doing in the kitchen.
That's basically it.
So early on Sunday morning I gathered my spatulas and set out once again to earn my keep. I lined up 4 medium sized purple beauties (eggplants, that is) on a cookie sheet and set them under the broiler. Ideally you'd want to roast them over a charcoal fire, but that makes too much smoke in the kitchen and sets things like walls on fire. So I use the broiler.
While they charred I poured myself some Maker's Mark bourbon.
It was 7:30am. A half hour later than I usually get started drinking.
Fifteen minutes later the tops of the eggplant were carbonized and brittle. Perfect. I turned them 90 degrees and poured myself another snort. Rinse, lather, repeat, until all four sides were toasted.
There was probably only about 5 minutes to go when I heard a curious high pitched whistle coming from inside the stove, and then a muffled "FWOOOMPH!
NewWifey(tm) yelled out from the bathroom where she was spackling herself in anticipation of guests, "What the hell was THAT?"
I had a funny feeling I knew,. Yanking open the oven door, my fears were confirmed.
I had forgotten to pierce the eggplants.
Because I don't know what the fuck I'm doing in the kitchen either, apparently.
See, eggplants have a very high water content. When you roast them whole, the water turns to steam inside and tries to escape out. However, if the skin is intact, it doesn't let it. The pressure builds up like a woman 48 months pregnant. Eventually, SOMETHINGS is gonna come out one way or another. If you don't stick a fork in it a few times around the perimeter - BEFORE you put it in the oven - she's gonna blow.
And she did.
The oven was a mess. Shredded strings of eggplant meat lined the walls, pulverized skin created a purple cloud wafting out, and eggplant juice was sizzling down among the coils. It smelled awful.
I didn't want that to happen to the three remaining eggplants, so I grabbed a paring knife. Then I did one of the most spectacularly foolhardy things I've done in a long, long time.
Imagine pumping up a football with superheated oatmeal, but the switch on the pump is jammed and the football swells to twice its normal size. Now take a pen knife and jam it into the football "to relieve the pressure". What do you think will happen? The football will slowly deflate as a trickle of molten oats gently oozes out of the slit? Of course not. You, being the rational type, realize that stabbing an over-inflated ballon results in a "POP!", not a sigh.
I stabbed the next eggplant to relieve the pressure.
Not only that, but the resultant force of hot gasses exploded the other tow eggplants in quick succession.
I stood there in shock, until the realization of real pain hit me. Oh my GOD - have you ever been napalmed? I think the outcome of the Vietnam War would have been much different if we'd dropped burning eggplants onto those thatched huts instead of that jellied gasoline. Vegetable of Mass Destruction. I felt like one of those people running away from the blast at Hiroshima with the skin peeling off them. It was unbelievable!
Needless to say, I did not make the babbaghanoush. It was tough enough just to fry up a slab of bacon for the girls with both my hands wrapped in gauze and one eye puffed shut. Thank god for Maker's Mark and Percoset. I wasn't much of an opponent at the foosball tournament in the basement later, but the other husbands were pretty supportive. They poured my drinks and helped lift beef jerky and Tang sandwiches to my mouth. Overall, a decent bunch of fellows. I'm glad they came.
Now if you'll excuse me, I have an oven to clean.