Even though they dispute some Enron-type bookkeeping by rival KPRC, Channel 11 didn't have the best of sweeps months in May. So, it appears, they are taking things to a new level: hard-core pornography.
In a piece for the 5 p.m. news May 28 -- a piece that was plugged that day at the equally kid-friendly hour of noon -- KHOU brought us what all the spam in our e-mailbox would no doubt term "HOT ACTION!"
The station's health reporter, Karen Johnson, was doing a piece on infertility caused by testicular cancer. It included a guy who had had surgery for the cancer and subsequently was infertile because his sperm was going to his bladder instead of "out of the penis at the time of intercourse."
Somehow -- we're not sure how -- "electrical currents" were applied to the guy's baby-making machinery in order to get around the problem. (We thought this was the type of thing Amnesty International is always grousing about.)
We didn't get all the details because Channel 11 was busy showing an extremely realistic graphic of Mr. Sperm's Happy Trip.
We saw a cross-section of a drooping penis. And then -- we guess the guy really likes electric shocks -- it was showtime. In the space of about a second and a half, the guy was harder than Chinese algebra.
"As you can see, our patient could now hammer nails with that thing, if he so chooses," the good doctor said. Or maybe she didn't -- we couldn't be sure, because we were entranced by a series of little white globules that were speeding along the inner workings of the guy's reproductive system.
As they entered the hardened home stretch, we were thinking two things: 1) Didn't we see this in the old Woody Allen movie Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex, where Allen plays a reluctant sperm who has to be goaded by Burt Reynolds into performing his duty? and 2) For crissake, Channel 11 isn't about to show a money shot on the afternoon news, are they?
The answer to the second question was, unbelievably enough, yes. Even without the assistance of a thumping-bass, wa-wa-guitar soundtrack -- not to mention a lack of moans or groans -- the little globules exploded out of what's the proper term? the guy's throbbing man-meat.
Just to be sure we got the point, KHOU then showed a microscope shot of a lot of sperm wriggling around. (The whole sex-ed vibe had us expecting an abstinence lecture, but it never came.)
If you missed the video, don't worry. We're sure you'll be getting some e-mail soon about how to WATCH IT NOW!
What's Hot, What's Not
On May 18, the ultratrendy Sunday Style section of The New York Times reported on the death of the latest fashion fad: No one, absolutely no one, is wearing reverse-chic gimme caps anymore.
"Dude, those hats are so six months ago," one scenester was quoted as saying. Another, a store buyer, sniffed that "When tourists from Virginia are buying them at flea markets on Broadway, it's not really our thing anymore."
Declared the Times: "R.I.P. the trucker hat, a fashion statement that traveled from downtown to the mall so swiftly it is still below the radar of most mainstream fashion publications."
Hey, don't include our own Houston Chronicle in that group of negligent radar operators. Ten days after the Times story on how passe the hats had become, the Chron told readers how amazingly hot and chic they were.
The story was a reprint from that noted arbiter of fashion, the Colorado Springs Gazette.
Ripped from the Headlines
Channel 11 didn't get caught up in the recent scramble for jailhouse interviews with Parking Lot Killer Clara Harris, but they made up for it May 22.
That morning, the ever-wacky Johnathan Walton did a "Walton's World" piece on the MINI Cooper car. Well, actually he did a four-minute commercial for the new movie The Italian Job, which features a chase scene with the gimmicky automobiles. About three and a half minutes of Walton's report consisted of a video press release on the making of the movie.
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SHOW ME HOW
It also showed Walton in a MINI Cooper -- one emblazoned with a logo for the movie -- on an empty parking lot. With an enthusiastically nervous PR woman in the passenger seat, he took the car for a spin. Somewhere on the lot was a stand-up Mini-Me doll.
As the PR woman screamed, "You're killing Mini-Me!" Walton swung around the lot and crushed the doll, then came back for a second shot.
If it wasn't an exact replica of that high-priced computer re-creation of Harris's parking-lot jaunt, it was pretty damn close.
Somehow, no mention of Harris was made. But that's probably because she isn't in The Italian Job.