Monday, October 26, 2009

Local on the 8s

So, some time ago the good folks over at The Weather Channel hit upon a truly brilliant idea: show local weather slideshows every ten minutes on the time ending with "8." How smart is that? That is what single handedly put The Weather Channel on the map and made it the huge success that it is today, at least in my humble opinion. Now, this only works on cable systems where it can be narrowed down to almost ones exact location, satellite systems because of their nature get a sort of broad general national slideshow that shows what is going on all around the nation. Fine, great, good.
So anyway, I have been watching the "Local on the 8s" for years and years, and when I go to a new town the first thing that I always do in the hotel or house I am in is turn on The Weather Channel to see the local forecast, so I can see the towns that they refer to, the location the local conditions are taken from, the general lay of the area, etc. I find it a wealth of information about any given area. That being said, I have been able so sort of chart the evolution of the local forecast over the years for a sort of old-school, text-only thing that was just on a bluish-purple background but still got the information across to what it is today. Today there are lots of graphics, including moving ones, and in larger cities you can get traffic and airport and air quality information on your local forecast in addition to how long it will take you to get to work. The other big thing is that these days, the local forecast is always set to music.
The music for the local forecast is now often interrupted by voice-overs, yeah, that's right, they read the forecast to you as well just in case you are too busy doing other things to watch TV for like two minutes. However, when you watch the local forecast and the voice-overs stop, or if you watch on a satellite and get the national version, you can hear a lot of the music. Usually it is like basic and non-descript elevator music, but every once in a while they sneak something in that is totally recognizable to just about everyone in common society. It's like they sneak it in there just to see what they can get away with or to make sure that you really are paying attention.
There are two examples that come immediately to mind. And no it's not the Christmas music. Like everyone, The Weather Channel puts Christmas music on the local forecast during December, and that is fine. What I am talking about are two songs that I very distinctly was amazed to hear pumping out of my TV speakers during the local forecast. The first I just saw today, this morning while I was getting dressed, curling my hair, whitening my teeth, etc. Just kidding. Anyway, I am wandering around the bedroom going about my business and I heard the unmistakable song "What I Got" by the band Sublime playing along with the local forecast.
Wait, what? Seriously? Yeah, that's what I said. There were, of course, no words, but that aside it is still not the kind of music that one would expect to hear in that sort of situation. First of all, it is not soft rock, which it is not uncommon to hear in elevators, etc, it is like alternative rock, which is strange. One does not expect to hear scratching turntables while brushing their teeth in the wee hours of the morning. But there it was, plain as day, playing along while the screen told me about rain in the Pacific Northwest. It was a strange and ethereal sort of experience. I cannot fathom who went ahead and made the decision to put that tape in the machine, but I can only imagine that they were laughing their ass off, or at least smirking with satisfaction, as that played out across the nation on a Monday morning. It brought no joy to me, only confusion.
What did bring me joy, pure and unadulterated joy, was the music of the second example that comes to my mind. I haven't head this in quite some time from the local forecast, but several years ago my life was brought to a screeching halt one day because they were playing the Peanuts theme with the local forecast. Yeah, you know the song that I am talking about: it's the one that Schroeder plays on the piano that all the other guys dance to when they are rocking out. Yeah, you totally know it. You can hear it in your head right now. I can hear it too. And I heard it on that day on The Weather Channel. Needless to say, I did not find out anything about the weather that particular day. I spent the first half of that particular "Local on the 8s" running around in circles like an excited little dog going "That's the Peanuts song, that's the song from the Peanuts cartoons!" and being generally way too excited about a song that you can probably download from the Internet. By the time the second half of the local forecast came on I had been transported to different time and place and I was actually sort of watching that part of the Peanuts cartoon in my mind. I could see each of the people doing their awesome little dances, and I loved every minute of it. Before I knew it the local forecast was over and I was snapped back to reality.
So, if you watch The Weather Channel in the morning or in the evening or whenever, sort of take a moment to listen to the music on the local forecasts and see what you can hear. You will most likely hear something that you recognize somewhere along the way, which I suppose is neat. It's kind of distracting though, especially when the Peanuts theme comes on.

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