Friday, August 20, 2010

20 AUG 10: War or Peace?

A couple of commitments kept me busy for much of Thursday. When I came home in the evening, someone had left a startling message on my answering machine. A media feud which I thought was settled reportedly was on again. And it had nothing to do with news anchors preparing spaghetti in a shopping center parking lot.

"Mediacom has stopped showing WTVM" was the message on my machine. Really? Only two weeks ago, I was told the cable company and the TV station had settled their contract dispute in the nick of time [8 Aug]. Are too many commercials appearing now for Knology and Charter?

I brought up the telephone claim at my Thursday night poker tournament, and a second Mediacom subscriber confirmed what the caller said. He told me WTVM was gone, and a message on the screen claimed it would only be restored if 20,000 people called to demand it. But we must note he was playing poker - so he could have been bluffing through his teeth.

Let's face it - a 20,000-call goal for restoring WTVM to Mediacom Cable is a very high standard for Columbus. WLTZ is on a campaign to have 5,000 Facebook friends, and it was barely above 1,000 Thursday night. Even the appearance of Greg Funderburg on the list isn't attracting many turncoats.

Yet the story became muddled later in the evening, after I made an online appeal for reports from Mediacom subscribers. One person told me WTVM was on as usual in prime-time. But that could have been part of Mediacom's plan. Wipe out the ABC affiliate completely, and fans of "Wipeout" will call to complain.

Hoping to get a definite answer, I called Mediacom's toll-free number - and wound up at a "virtual call center" in Illinois. Don't ask me what makes it a "virtual" call center, instead of a real one. Maybe the woman who took my call was on a cell phone at dinner.

After several minutes on hold, the woman in Illinois gave me the Macon Road address for Mediacom's Columbus office. I'd have to go there personally to get an answer, because she had no local phone number. Yeow - even WTVM's Lee Brantley puts his office number on the screen.

This response raised another obvious question. How can Mediacom get 20,000 calls demanding the return of WTVM, when there's no local phone number for making the demand? Is there going to be a traffic jam on Macon Road today - especially from relatives of Northern Little League players, fearing Saturday's big game will be replaced by infomercials for WalkFit?

A recent online message from Mediacom confirmed it's in a tense dispute with all Raycom Media stations over transmission fees. It even suggested contacting members of Congress, to have the federal government intervene. I'm sure all cable TV subscribers would appreciate a stimulus check in the mail....

It was WTVM which alerted us to the Mediacom mess with on-screen messages during newscasts [29 Jul]. No such messages appeared during the late-night Thursday newscasts, and Mediacom never was mentioned on the air. Of course, we now know that could mean an out-of-court settlement was reached in a big lawsuit.

So as we post this, there's admittedly some confusion about where things stand between Mediacom and WTVM. And you may have to stand in line at their lobbies today, to know if the Northern Little Leaguers will be held as virtual hostages this weekend.

BLOG SPECIAL EVENT: We now return to our Big Blogger Burger Blowout - and we should note our week of hamburgers included two days where we paid for cheeseburgers at traditional fast-food restaurants. Checkers for one dollar impressed me more than a McDonald's mid-week 69-cent special. It seemed to have more meat, although I didn't remove the buns and pull out a ruler for measuring.

BIG BURGER #3: RUBY TUESDAY. Three days after our second stop, our last birthday burger coupon was turned over at Peachtree Mall. I've eaten at that Ruby Tuesday several times - the last time being a Thanksgiving Day when the restaurant didn't serve turkey, as if Piccadilly Cafeteria had exclusive rights to it.

Ruby Tuesday had the most formal atmosphere for eating burgers. At 4:00 p.m. on a Thursday, I was escorted to a booth with dim lights and dark hardwoods -- far from the big-screen TV at the bar. That's too bad, because I went prepared to watch ESPN instead of the drink menu on the table.

I selected the $9.49 Boston Blue Burger, which shaped up to be the tallest burger of the bunch. After all, its toppings include onion straws -- and if they were stacked too high, I might be fighting bad breath for 24 hours.

The Boston Blue Burger won the contest for thickest meat of the three, bulging off the side of the bun. I didn't quite need a knife and fork to eat it. Those onion straws were flat, like a slice of onion -- and thankfully the diet cola I drank with a straw was NOT flat to match.

The Boston Blue Burger had crumbles of blue cheese (as opposed to "bleu cheese" on the Red Robin menu). The alleged "Boston barbecue sauce" didn't seem to clash with the cheese -- but then again, how many people think of Boston when it comes to barbecue? Is that the secret to their baked beans?

With a birthday coupon, a full "to-go" cup of soda and a tip, the Ruby Tuesday dinner cost me $4.56. The price was a virtual tie with Fuddruckers and Red Robin, but the size of the burger impressed me more. It's no wonder the rivals at the food court sell nothing closer to a burger than a Chick-Fil-A sandwich.

E-MAIL UPDATE: We knew our Big Burger Blowout would bring a response from hungry readers. Here's the first one....

At Fuddruckers use the pump cheese on your burger...also the salmon burger there is good..a little spicy...but lots of flavor

I didn't check the fine print on the Fuddruckers coupon, but I think the salmon burger is included in the birthday special. I tend to save fishy sandwiches for trips to the coast -- although I'd be wary for awhile of any Gulf coast sandwich cooked in "natural oils."

THE BIG BLOG QUESTION invites you to keep the discussion going. Which restaurant gets your vote for the best "big burger" in Columbus? We admittedly are NOT including the famous Ranger Burger in this poll. That's in Cusseta -- and we don't want a burger which could leave your substantially heavier car dragging on the pavement through Fort Benning.

Here's a little more to chew on, as we head toward the weekend....

+ The Columbus Housing Authority announced it's considering renovations at the Booker T. Washington Apartments. Step one: metal detectors at the entrances to every building - with loud alarms alerting people to the thugs carrying guns.

+ Phenix City Economic Development Director J.W. Brannan told WRBL the site of the once-promised Phenixian condominiums will be offered to the highest bidder. So instead of a high-rise housing development along the Chattahoochee River, we could see tall cups of Starbucks coffee.

+ Georgia gubernatorial candidates Roy Barnes and Nathan Deal both said they oppose a planned Islamic center near "Ground Zero" in New York. OK - but why did anyone even ask them that? Can the Governor of Georgia change a zoning decision in New York City? Are Barnes and Deal also going to predict the Pacific Ten Conference football champion?

+ The Columbus Northern All-Stars were part of a parade in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, leading to the Little League World Series. Coach Randy Morris told WDAK his players did some kind of "dance" for ESPN's cameras. Uh-oh - now Evangel Temple might not give the team a bus ride home from the Atlanta airport.

+ New England expunged Atlanta in pre-season football 28-10. When the Fox announcers talk at length about the Chicago Bears quarterback who isn't even at the game, you know it's not much of a game....

+ Instant Message to my pastor: I know what you said in a recent sermon -- but I did it Thursday night! It's possible! I opened a Stax can, and ate only ONE Lay's potato chip. The secret is flushing away the great taste with a bottle of water.

Today's main topic was the result of a blog reader's tip. To offer a story tip, advertise to our readers, make a PayPal donation or submit a comment, write me - but be warned, I may post your comment and offer a reply.

BURKARD BULK MAIL INDEX: 633 (+ 19, 3.1%)

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author -- not necessarily those of anyone else in Columbus living or dead, and perhaps not even you.

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