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Oddest Cover Story Ever

Amanda and Robert were both arrested at Samuel’s Sports Bar in southern MA over the weekend charged with trying to steal TV’s from the bathrooms.  Their explanation was that in reality they were actually having sex – hence explaining the commotion.  The problem?  Amanda and Robert Larrivee are sister and brother.

A woman using the restroom at the bar reported to the manager that she heard the pair ripping a TV off the wall.  She says that she was able to leave the bathroom without the pair noticing her.  The manager called police and locked the couple in the bathroom to prevent them from leaving.  When cops arrived and opened the door the pair claimed they were in there “having sex”.

Unfortunately for them not only was it obvious they had been attempting to steal the women’s room TV, further investigation revealed they had also attempted the same theft in the men’s room.

Both were charged with larceny over $250, but Robert got the additional charge of “threatening to commit a crime” after he threatened to beat up the arresting officer.

Meet Boxfish: An App With a Smart Idea

Boxfish is a new iPad application that will make your head hurt.  There are a growing number of “2nd screen applications”, but most distract you from TV, Boxfish pushes you to watch more.  Sorting thru the closed captioning feeds of every channel you can think of, Boxfish then presents that information in the form of trending topics and gives you the ability to search a name/topic/issue and find out where on your television it is being discussed.

So, if you want to know who is talking about the Mars Rover, you type in that keyword and Boxfish will present you with all of the channels on your service provider that is talking about the Mars Rover.  Talk show, documentary, John Stewart, etc.  It is pretty amazing.  Additionally, if your cable/sat/tv  DirecTV box is hooked up to your home’s wifi network, Boxfish will also give you the ability to tune directly to the channel showing the topic you are looking for.

But if you want to keep tabs on what is really trending on TV at that moment, Boxfish is your trick.  While I haven’t yet been able to use it during a “breaking news” situation, I think Boxfish will be a great tool to quickly dig up who’s on top of a story at the beginning of the news timeline.

The app will also alert you to when your search topics are suddenly on a channel, or scheduled later to appear.  If you have an interest in Megan Fox, you save that as a search term and Boxfish will not only tell you when she is the topic of a gossip show, but also when a movie she appears in will air on a certain channel.

The app is free and currently limited to the iPad.  Don’t worry if you don’t have an iPad, there is a web version that you can see for yourself at boxfish.com that is 90% of what the app can do.  Boxfish claims that Android, Windows and iPhone versions are due soon.

 

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Going to the ER Was Not Part of the Magic Trick

A Russian Illusionist, Ilya Safronov, is recovering in a Ukranian hospital after one of his illusions went slightly off plan.

The “Hook from the Eye” trick he was performing on Ukranian TV was supposed to give the audience the idea that he had swallowed a fishing hook and then remove it from his eye socket.  But that isn’t exactly what happened.  Safronov accidentally did swallow the hook and it became trapped in his throat.  His brothers, also part of the act, rushed to him and attempted to remove the device themselves before realizing that he needed proper medical attention.

The TV producers realized quickly that things had gone wrong and cut away from the scene.

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She Drinks Gasoline

TLC has another episode of “My Strange Addiction” and while I can’t get past the idea that people do this stupid stuff just to get on TV, I have to admit this is right there with eating rocks (a previous feature on the show).

Shannon drinks gasoline.  Not sure why, but she’s up to a reported 12 teaspoons worth a day and has consumed about five gallons in the last year.

Gas is toxic and can cause all sorts of issues, and Shannon admits that it tingles and burns the back of her throat, but then it “makes me feel good”.  She either licks the cap of the gas can or actually drinks straight from the big red, plastic tank.

(peet: the issue of her resulting farts was not addressed)

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You Never Want to See Your Parents Doing This

If you think walking in on your parents ‘doing it’ is embarrassing, imagine turning on the TV and seeing them on a show about swingers and dressed up with sex toys in hand.

That is what happened to a 15 year old German girl when she flipped the channel to a show and saw her mom dressed in stockings and suspenders, in a cage, and her father wearing a Batman costume with a dildo in his hand.  The couple sued for compensation for pain and suffering they faced from the embarrassing revelation.

The couple had been told their faces would be obscured from any broadcast, and the production company admitted their failure to pixilate their faces was an oversight, and a mistake.  The judge sympathized with their embarrassing situation, he refused to give the couple the large amount of money in damages they were requesting because they had voluntarily gone to the club and agreed to be filmed on camera.

After the judge decided that all he could grant them was a few hundred dollars for appearing on the show and to cover legal costs, the couple decided not to appeal because any further action would have required their daughter to testify.

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So, You’re Buying a HDTV…

There are so many awesome deals on TV’s out there today.  LED, LCD, Plasmas can all be had for a fraction of what they sold for just a couple of years ago.  Now is a great time to get a HDTV.  Don’t forget a BluRay player!  The only true full 1080p source you can get to display full resolution from your set is from a BluRay disc.

But if you spend that money, you will need to calibrate that TV once you get it home.  Trust me, its worth your time and whatever money you’re willing to put into it.

Calibrating your TV will be the best time and money you can spend above and beyond what you have already spent on your new flat screen.  This applies to LCD, LED, Plasma, DLP and even those few remaining CRT’s.

TV’s out of the box are generally way off when it comes to the picture quality being “accurate” (more on that below).  TV’s now also have a whole gaggle of features and settings that are unneeded – many of which actually make the picture less accurate.

Here are some explanations and links to calibrating your HDTV and getting the most accurate picture:

There are a set of standards, by the broadcast industry, that define what an “accurate picture” is to be.  This is insure that all aspects of a picture are consistent from display to display.  Think of it this way… When you are looking at your TV’s picture you want it to look “real”, just as it would if that same scene was playing out in front of you in person.  You want people’s skin colors to be as they are in real life.  Many TV’s will give everyone a tan or sunburn out of the box… Or make your favorite football field look way more green than it really is when you’re sitting in the stadium in person.  Also, “black levels” are very important.  Things that are supposed to be black, should be, not some shade of dark grey.  REALLY look at your TV, pause a frame and look at it.  Think about what you’re looking at and then compare it to what you know it would look like in real life.  Here is where you begin to understand picture quality and the idea of “accuracy”.

First, check out tweaktv.com –  This is a community forum of regular people sharing what settings have worked on their specific brand/model of TV.  This can be a little hit or miss, but it is free and can be a good beginning on teaching yourself more about calibration.

The next step is more advanced.  Go out and purchase either or both of two great calibrating DVDs or BluRays.  The first is Spears & Munsil and the other is fromJoe Kane, “HD Basics”.  These are great educational tools, not only to explain all there is to know about TV calibration, but also all the test patterns your little heart can desire.  They are both great and I can’t recommend one over the other.  I will warn you, these can be very intimidating for the beginner, but with some patience and time you can do a very solid calibration by yourself.

The last option is hiring a professional video calibrator to make a house call.  Best Buy offers this service, but I have no idea if their techs are as capable as many independent providers, and their $300 is mysteriously cheaper than the going rate for calibration.  It is important that you make sure that whoever you hire, they are ISF Certified.  Now, be forewarned that ISF Certification isn’t what it used to be.  There are shady people that have gone thru the course, but if someone shows up at your house without the proper analyzing equipment, they probably aren’t up to the task.  Take the time to do some research and find an experienced tech, with the proper equipment and is willing to spend the several hours it takes to properly calibrate a display and its separate inputs. Check here to check out ISF’s offical list of techs they recommend.  Call several different ones in your area and ask them about their experience level.

Here is a good basic starter from ESPN, of all places, that discusses the benefits of getting your display calibrated.

And CNET has an outstanding reference guide on all specific points of calibration.

If you have any questions, please email me.

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Black Friday is Near, Don’t Get Trampled

Its simply become THE shopping day of each year.  Its also when we get a few deaths, and a lot of arrests from giant crowds all trying to get their hands on that $10 toaster or $1 bottle of Jack Daniels.

If you’re a rookie, don’t be skared.

There are tons of sites for the Black Friday deals.  But understand that the point to this for retailers is to just get you in the store.  The deals are in most cases just “loss leaders” with the hopes that you will not only take that $5 Ben Sherman shirt, but you will also buy the $500 Kenneth Cole suit to go along with it.

Get your smartphone ready, download the app “Google Shopper” (both iOS and Android) or the excellent “Shop Savvy” .  Use these when in the store to make sure that someplace else local or online doesn’t have it for a better price, or just to give you an idea of what a good, or not so good, deal that is.

Spend time online BEFORE Friday to look at the deals, find what you want and educate yourself.  Make sure that the BF price is really a significant deal.  In most cases anything less than 25% is not a “deal”.

The hard part are electronics, especially TV’s.  There are hundreds of deals in this segment and many really good ones.  But don’t buy a plasma just because it’s $200.  Many of the best deals on TV’s are not good deals for the dollar.  There are some on sale for just a little more that are much better performers and newer models.  Black Friday is a time when retailers want to rid themselves of older models, some of which really are already obsolete.

Some Black Friday sites:

BlackFriday.info

BFads.net

TheBlackFriday.com

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Diane Sawyer Must Really Hate Bob Costas

Last night was one of the most bizarre TV moments I have ever witnessed, and I’ve watched a lot of TV.

Bob Costas’ surprise interview with alleged pedophile Jerry Sandusky was as weird, fascinating, maddening and telling an interview as we will ever watch.

Costas, who I think is pretty good at his job, was really tasked with asking a series of hard questions to a guy that the world largely wants shot.  And Sandusky’s answers did not disappoint.  Listening to this guy try and defend himself must have psycho-therapists and clinical physicians around the world with therapy boners.  It really was a fascinating listen into the mind of a guy who, if proven true, is one sick fellow.  I found it riveting.

But the best part, for me, was the competitive media angle.

ABC and Diane Sawyer have been for over two weeks been promoting her interview with Sentator Gabby Giffords and her husband (and astronaut) Mark.  Two weeks of never ending promos, clips from the interview, sneak peek footage, all of what is really a feel good story about two extraordinary people.  It was a “very special” one hour show that was totally eclipsed by Costas’ eight minute interview (entirety seen below) of mind blowing weirdness.

Am I sexually attracted to underage boys? Sexually attracted?

You know, I enjoy young people. I, I love to be around them. I, I…

But no, I’m not sexually attracted to young boys.

I have this mental image of Sawyer freaking out, in a rage, throwing things around the ABC office in a massive talent fit… Freaking out because her giant interview just got “Sanduskied”.

Well played Costas.  Well played.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wQr4x7yzNxg

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