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The Cooking Channel debuts on Memorial Day. Maybe "debuts" is a little strong. Technically, it's a re-branding of the Food Life Network (FLN). Apparently living food got to be too much, so they've decided to turn on the oven and change their name.

Cooking Channel is owned by Scripps, which also owns Food Network and the Travel Channel, home of food-centric shows such as Bizarre Foods, Man vs. Food, and No Reservations. Just how many food-centric television channels does one company need? Hell, how many food-centric television channels does one country need? The FDA is prepared to say that too much salt is bad for us, but the FCC is keeping mum on the proliferation of cooking television networks. Does America have so many food networks because Americans are fat, or are Americans fat because we have so many food networks?

I speak from a position of indifference: my plebeian tastes never evolved past the 4th grade cafeteria. My palate still prefers mashed potatoes, pizza, and chicken fingers. I won't eat anything that I've ever seen Bobby Flay prepare. I've never even heard of most of the secret ingredients used on Iron Chef. And I don't care enough to get queasy over Bizarre Foods. I'm the antonym of a gourmet, which defines as an "ignoramus."

If something is an acquired taste, why should I bother to make the effort to acquire it when I'm just going to be hungry again in a few hours anyway? Give me something that won't go bad before I eat it and can be prepared in under 5 minutes, and I'll be just happy with my peanut butter and honey sandwich on white bread, thank you very much. Let's see Scripps turn that into an entire television channel.

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An update to some previous blog entries:

First things first. On my last post, I covered the Scripps Howard celebrity Super Bowl poll. And now that the game is over (damn you, Saints!), it should be pointed out that the celeb who picked closest was Joe Mantegna, who predicted Saints, 28-17. Outperforming a majority of the celebs were video game simulations run by newfangled Madden 10 and classic Tecmo Super Bowl, both of which had forecast a Saints win. So keep in mind that the next time you need to turn to someone to advice, you'd be better off talking to a computer screen than your average celebrity.

On December 17, 2008, I mentioned that New York was planning to tax soda consumption. It failed to pass. According to the Houston Chronicle, a similar fate has just quietly befallen a federal measure with the same intent. Sure, raising taxes on an item to increase revenue and decrease health risks sounds good, but who really wants to pay an extra 15 cents per can of soda when they could instead pay higher income taxes? No one I know, that's for sure.

And speaking of predictions, last week I noted two separate incidents of single-vehicle accidents on the same stretch of road. Now another mysterious accident claimed the life of a third person, who was found mauled in the middle of that road. Police have no clues about the third death in three weeks on Newnan Crossing Bypass, but are guessing hit-and-run at 4AM in the morning. You heard it here first, people. Grab your .30-30s, the Great Deer Uprising of 2010 continues.

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Another year, another Super Bowl. But lest you fear that you don't know enough to make a good pick in your office pool, there's always a celebrity nearby to show you the way. For the 21st year running, Scripps Howard News Service has polled 103 of the world's best and brightest most desperate for attention for their Super Bowl picks. Figuring that there must be some wisdom in the masses, I took a look at the figures:

  • Sixty-two of the 103 stars polled (60%), including Haley Joel Osment, who has correctly predicted 9 of the last 10 Super Bowl winners, losing only on the Giants' improbable 2007 victory, took the Colts to win.
  • Mode score predicted for the Colts is 35. Mode score predicted for the Saints is 28. Four different celebs picked the Colts 35-28, including Pat Robertson, who apparently still feels that New Orleans will get what it deserves.
  • The celebs agree with Las Vegas, culminating in an average over/under of just better than 57 points. A very slight majority, 52 of 103 celebs, took the over.
  • The only NFL team owner to have a say in the poll is the Miami Dolphins' Serena Williams, who picks the Colts because she cryptically "knows" Peyton Manning. She was among the 10 celebs who declined to venture a guess at the final score. I could say something very critical here, but she'd no doubt threaten to kill me if I did.
  • Average final score predicted: 30-28. The only celebrity to pick the Colts winning 30-28 was Russell Johnson, better known as the Professor on Gilligan's Island.
  • The smartest celeb reporting is clearly Dennis Farina: "I hate to bet against Peyton Manning because I think he's probably the best quarterback since Dan Marino." Damn straight, Dennis! For the record, Farina, who previously won the Scripps Super Sage Award for picking the closest final score in the 2005 Super Bowl, picks the Saints, 31-27, which looks an awful lot like 30-28.

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This year, ABC broadcast the annual Scripps National Spelling Bee with such innovations as pre-produced informational segments, competitor interviews, running commentary, and television time-outs. It was like watching a televised football game without any actual football. I recall watching once as some Fox announcers tried to spell the name of Green Bay Packer defensive end Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila before some organized football broke out and shut them up. No such luck at Scripps. The ABC commentators frequently stepped all over the children's frequently amusing banter with the official pronouncer (which, by the way, is one of the best job titles ever).

I can proudly say that I was able to spell two of the words on the program: "basenji" and "Rorschach." The first is an African breed of dog renowned for its lack of bark. And while the second is the name of the familiar ink-blot psychological test, it is also the name of a super hero. I'll admit that I failed to correctly spell "empyrean," despite the fact that it was the name of my High School's yearbook, so you can see where my interests lie.

I'd rather watch than participate in a spelling bee, mainly because my spelling has historically been so terrible. "You're a phonetic speller," my mom would always explain to me whenever I failed yet another spelling test in elementary school. When I would ask what that word meant, she'd tell me to "look it up." Parents can be so cruel to their children.

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Today is Groundhog Day. World-famous Punxsutawney Phil (which is more a title, like "Pope," than an actual name: groundhogs only live about a decade) has seen his shadow more than 6 times as often than not in the past century. What does this mean? That it's generally sunny in Punxsutawney in February.

And if you live in an English-speaking country, you no doubt know that the Super Bowl featuring the New York Giants and the New England Patriots is tomorrow. While it remains to be seen if a groundhog can predict the winner as poorly as it can predict the winter, Scripps Howard News Service isn't waiting to find out. As usual, they asked a bunch of celebrities for their picks, trusting to the observed phenomena that famous actors are more important and more right about everything from medical practices to political theory than common slobs like me.

This year, Dolph Lundgren predicted a Giants win (21-13). On the other hand, Carl Weathers presumes a Patriots victory (31-17). Amusingly enough, the only time these two masters of modern cinema have ever appeared in the same film, Weathers played a patriot ("It's too bad we've got to get old.") who was beaten to death by the fists of the giant Lundgren ("If he dies, he dies."). What does this mean? That apparently Sylvester Stallone was too busy gleefully mainlining HGH for the already green-lit Rambo V to comment. ("[I'm] your worst nightmare.")

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To be continued...


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