I just realized that I began writing these blogs just over a year ago, September 2, 2009, to be exact. I can say that some of them are pretty good, some not so good, but all expressing some aspect of the way my mind works. One hundred and fifty-five blogs counting this one. And in all that time, all those blogs, I've gotten only a handful of comments from readers. I would like to think I have a fan base of more than four or five, but that may be the number. If I have only four or five readers, or possibly no readers, then it's a little like casting words into the wind and watching them blow away and scatter, then disappear. Or maybe like a metaphor I've used before, like speaking in a huge, empty auditorium, my words echoing faintly from that distant back wall. How depressing. So, if any of you out there would like to acknowledge your existence, you might send me a brief message on the comment form at the bottom of each blog. Just say hi if that's all you can muster. Just to let me know you're there. I'll be grateful forever.
Rosalie and I have been faithful fans of Meredith Vierra and Who Wants to be a Millionaire? ever since she took over for Regis Philben some seven years ago. We've watched it go through changes in the format, some we liked, some we didn't. But we stuck with it because of Meredith, her fifty-something beauty and poise, her skill at comic banter with the contestants and the audience. And whenever she was gone and had to have a substitute for a week or so, we always felt disappointed. It was Meredith we wanted to see. This week she began her eighth season and introduced a number of changes in the format, none of which we like. She and the contestant now stand at a variously colored podium looking up to a giant screen with the questions and answers. There is no longer a clock to make the contestants answer quickly, which now means they can stretch their fifteen minutes of fame to any length they want. The biggest change, though, is the set of questions leading to that elusive million dollar payoff. Now, the questions with values up to $25,000 are shuffled, the values also shuffled. The contestant has three lifelines: ask the audience and two "skip the question." But if he chooses to skip a question, whatever money value for that question is lost. We've watched only two shows in this new format, but it seems to us that a lot less money will ever be won. And in order for a contestant to make it to the upper tier of questions, the ones begining at $100,000, he needs to answer all the preliminary questions correctly. And with only three lifelines, that seems most unlikely. If a contestant chooses to walk away with what he's accumulated, he gets half that amount. And if he misses any question, he drops to $1,000. We hate the new format, we hate that Meredith and the contestant are now standing, we hate that Meredith now looks like a clothes horse with much more makeup on, especially the maximum eye shadow she's wearing. So, after only two shows, we've decided never again to watch it. Goodbye, Millionaire, goodbye Meredith.