Dispatches from the Control Room – November 23

Back from my momentary hiatus, sports fans.

I’m calculating now… over the last 24 hours, I’ve slept just 20 minutes. Things are blurring together and my body is running on a combination of honey roasted peanuts stashed in my desk, Dick Johnson’s gingerbread Krispy Kremes and Kim Vatis’ brownies. Also, I have a huge Thanksgiving dinner in my gut, making me very drowsy. I’d hoped the king-size Snickers and Monster energy drink I knocked back on my drive in would push me through. Not so much.

Oh, did I mention I spent the holiday in Kalamazoo, Michigan? And I had to drive through the last 50 miles of I-94 in Michigan as they were blasted with snow (unplowed snow), dropping my commute speed to a good 35 m.p.h. crawl. When you feel like you’re going to simultaneously throw up and pass out, there’s nothing better to do than assemble a newscast to be seen by a few thousand people.

Aw, who am I kidding? Nobody watches the 4:30 a.m. show.

… certainly not the shoppers standing outside mass retailers, waiting to punch each other in the face for a $10 DVD player that will break inside 30 days.

I used to work for a certain large electronic retail chain. I recall one specific day after Thanksgiving where I pulled stereos off the upper shelves and handed them down directly to a teeming mass of bargain-hunters. I still have the scars on my forearms. (Some of them kept screaming for “Barabbas.” No idea what was goin’ on with that.)

That retailer would always bring in weird brand-names just for Black Friday. A $4 Zagtronix TV? Sign me up! A $2 Wanktravision laptop computer? Gimme! A 12-cent Murblaplaz defibrillator? Grandpa will love it!

Anyway, spend the extra $10 and get something that won’t end up propping up your loved one’s uneven coffee table in six months. Besides, I hear half this year’s door-busters are assembled using leftover Aqua Dots.

* We also learned that today is “Black Friday” for plumbers. Use your imaginations.

* As exhausted as all of us are from whipping through a holiday and returning to our grueling, relentless, thankless overnight jobs, things are about to get much, much worse. Thanks to a new technical system, we producers will soon be forced to stick around until 1 p.m. for rehearsals. Nothing like two straight weeks of 13-hour days during the holidays to drive someone to the brink of madness. (For those of us already on the brink, Ozzie Osbourne’s “Crazy Train” is playing on a constant loop in our heads.)

* Everyone hated me today for running the story about the woman who ate so much of her own hair, she had a 10 lb. hairball surgically removed from her stomach. Look. I’m a journalist. A sleepy, bloated, lonely journalist. I took an oath to let the people know the truth. And once we spend 10 minutes informing you that people like to shop on the day after Thanksgiving, we need to let you know about medical freaks, no matter the nauseous details.

Tune in next week when I hope we have a story about a boy with a dorsal fin.

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