Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Highway 40 Rebuild

This afternoon on my KMOX show, I talked with Lesley Hoffarth, MODOT's Project Director for the Highway 40 Rebuild, who tried to explain how and why the decisions for the massive construction project will be made, and whether the city and county's competing suggestions have any impact on what will happen.

The St. Louis County plan is the same one I have endorsed for several months -- closing down one side of the highway completely and working on it while the other side remains open to traffic flowing in just one direction. That makes a lot more sense than the city plan (work on just a lane or two at a time on each side), which would probably take longer to complete. It's going to be painful either way but, like peeling off a Band-Aid, let's get it done as quickly as possible.

I also asked her why MODOT refuses to consider widening the roadway east of the I-170 interchange all the way to the city, thus guaranteeing the bottleneck continues.

Listen to the conversation here.

The public can comment at 314-340-4100 (you can ask for Lesley Hoffarth or Linda Wilson) or via e-mail to thenewi64@modot.mo.gov, and get more info on the website for the whole project, complete with interactive maps.

Trampoline Time

The gym ceiling is pretty high -- unless you have a trampoline...


For more POTDs, see the Picture Of The Day page.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Teacher Fires Gun In Class

Lots of reaction today to the story of physics teacher David Lapp, who takes his M-1 rifle to school, fires a shot into a block of wood, and tells his students to figure out the velocity of the bullet. He's been doing it for 14 years without a single complaint -- until this year. Now he may be in trouble with the law and the superintendent of the school district may make Lapp stop the experiment and demonstration.

This guy is obviously a great teacher who inspires his students and gets them excited about learning -- not always an easy thing in a physics classroom. They look forward to his class, even the underclassmen can't wait to get there so they can see his experiments (he does lots of other thing that get their attention and keep them interested). He should be encouraged, not discouraged, especially since he's been doing it with the blessing of the school principal.

A few callers commented on the potential danger in having Lapp fire his weapon in the classroom, but in all these years, there has never been even a near-miss. He's a former military police officer who also includes a little gun safety lesson along with the physics. I'd bet that kids are in more danger taking a driver's ed class or lighting the bunsen burner in the chemistry lab.

Lots of comments below -- add yours.

Spinning Cheerleader Jump

In just a few seconds this cheerleader goes from standing on the ground to doing a double spin in the air and landing on the outstretched hand of her partner.


For more POTDs, see the Picture Of The Day page.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Borders Without Visas

Tim Cavanaugh, one of the editors of Reason magazine, joined the immigration debate on my KMOX show this afternoon by putting forth the controversial proposal that we should allow citizens of the US, Mexico, and Canada to move and work freely among the three countries, in the full spirit of NAFTA. I asked him what impact this would have on our national security, economy, and infrastructure.

Listen to the conversation here.

Where America Is Vulnerable To Attack

This afternoon on my KMOX show, I spent an hour with Clark Kent Ervin, who was the first Inspector General of the Department of Homeland Security and now criticizes that agency for not doing all it can to make America safer in his book, "Open Target: Where America Is Vulnerable To Attack."

He questioned why only 6% of the cargo at our ports is screened for radioactive material, while Hong Kong -- the world's busiest port -- checks 100% of those containers. You'd be surprised at how inexpensively he says it could be done here, too. He also revealed how easy it has been for GAO investigators to get radioactive material and bomb parts through our borders and airport screening points.

Most shocking is the reaction of those at the top, including his superiors who, rather than fixing the problems, chastised Ervin for pointing out weaknesses in America's security -- the very holes they were supposed to plug, the very reason that 22 federal agencies were merged into one new one, the Department of Homeland Security. Not surprisingly, politics gets in the way of doing the job properly.

Ervin also put the lie to the claim that DHS "must be doing a good job, because we haven't been attacked since 9/11."

Since he's unlikely to actually read the book, this is one interview the President should hear! Listen to the conversation here.

Congressional Hypocrisy #110,544,982

Regarding the Congressional uproar over the search of Rep. William Jefferson's office by the FBI the other day, where are all the people who claim "if you didn't do anything wrong, you have nothing to worry about" when it comes to the government looking into the activities of the rest of us? At least this time, the FBI had a warrant. Now, all of a sudden, Congressional leaders in both parties are worried about separation of powers, but not when it comes to oversight of the NSA domestic spying program.

Pierced Eyeglasses

Tired of losing your glasses, or having them hang off your ears? Try attaching them to the piercing in the bridge of your nose, like these. Personally, I'd rather have the red pinch-marks on the outside of my nose. [contributed by Jeff Olsen]

For more POTDs, see the Picture Of The Day page.

Water Fuel Debunked

James Randi, who was just on my KMOX show a couple of days ago, debunks the notion of using water as fuel for a car (or anything else).

I get e-mails at least once a week from people who wonder why, amid all the talk of high gas prices and alternative energy sources, this technology isn't being made available to the public. The answer, of course, is that it's a scam.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Lost

Gotta give ABC and the "Lost" producers credit for the best viral marketing of a TV show ever. In addition to the official site (complete with streaming video of the last few episodes, including the season finale), the creative team has also come up with a site for The Hanso Foundation, complete with bios and background on all the fictional characters who created the Dharma Initiative, some of whom haven't been introduced on the TV show yet. There's also a separate Monster.com tie-in for job opportunities at Hanso.

They started a phone line that supposedly contained the automated voicemail system for Hanso. Hanso even showed up in "Mission Impossible 3," which was directed by "Lost" creator JJ Abrams. And don't forget the interactive "Lost Experience" game and the Oceanic Flight 815 site.

Then there's the "Bad Twin" book, which showed up in print for real after Sawyer was seen reading the manuscript a few episodes ago.

And that doesn't even begin to include all the unofficial fan sites and blogs where fans are adding their theories of what the hell is going on.

The one thing they're not very good at is providing answers. It seems they take great joy in provoking ten more questions for each one they answer, and even that is usually incomplete. Here are some questions of my own:

  • Is it possible that The Others are actually the Dharma research team overseeing everything that happens on the island?
  • Why did The Others make Michael bring along Hurley if they were only going to release him immediately?
  • What did Henry mean when he said The Others got "more than we bargained for when Walt joined us"?
  • When Desmond turned the key, did that trigger a nuclear blast?
Listener John Koester's theories and questions:
  • Walt and Michael's Escape: No way the Dharma people will let them go. They value their privacy too much.
  • Letting Hurley go: The most reasonable idea I have is a combination of warning to the others and part of the Dharma mind games. Is the subject (Michael) properly programmed to obey all instructions?
  • I think the others are the remnants of the Dharma project. A bunch of mad scientists following the precepts of B. F. Skinner. They have a comfortable hideaway someplace near the dock. The raggedy clothes and the beards are props for dealing with their test subjects. I suspect they spend their free time trying to psychologically manipulate each other.
  • The two guys at the end were hired by Desmond's girlfriend (he called her 'Pen' also). She has the will to find him and the money to pay for the search. Daddy's really rich.
  • Charlie was within tens of feet of a major explosion. He should be completely deaf (at least temporarily) and have his brain rattled as well. I think he was doing good to be able to walk and to find the camp.
  • "Our Mutual Friend" was Dickens' last completed novel. According to Wikipedia, it was full of amazing coincidences to gather the various characters together.
  • Who or what is paying for the resupply drops that have apparently been going on for the last twenty years? Air freight is expensive, paying off the pilots and/or the aircraft owners to not ask questions or remember what they do is even more expensive.
A friend reminded me of some connections to Widmore, the ultra-rich businessman who may be behind the whole deal (his daughter was Desmond's girlfriend and appeared in last night's final scene):
  • The video for Charlie's band, Drive Shaft, was shot in front of a Widmore construction site.
  • The pregnancy test Sun used was made by Widmore Laboratories
  • On the Widmore Laboratories website, they claim to be "the exclusive manufacturer of all Dharma and Infinity brand foods and pharmaceuticals for over three decades."
  • Widmore Labs sponsored the hot-air balloon of the real Henry Gale
  • The box company that Locke used to work for was a Widmore subsidiary
  • The Widmore.com website says "Sociometeorological Solutions For Biomagnetic Climates"
The best news about "Lost" this week is that next season will be practically rerun-free. They'll air 7 episodes in October and November, then break until late January, when ABC will air 16 straight weeks of new episodes, which will take them through May sweeps again. Of course, that gives us less than five months to muse about where the season finale left us.

Too Short For Prison

The most ridiculous legal decision of the week has to be the one handed down by District Judge Kristine Cecava in Sidney, Nebraska.

She ruled that Richard Thompson, a convicted child molestor, was too small to survive in prison. The fifty-year-old Thompson is 5'1" and the judge worried that he would be especially imperiled by prison dangers.

Aw, too bad. It shouldn't matter whether he's a Munchkin or the Alton Giant, the threat of Jailhouse Justice would be the same. If you're worried about him mixing with the general prison population, isolate him inside, but don't let him out and then simply hope he'll be a good boy.

That's what she did. Even after admitting that his crimes deserved a long sentence, Cecava gave him probation, ordered him to be electronically monitored for the first four months, and ordered him to stay away from kids.

I'm sure that will work. Pedophiles are so good about obeying the rules.

The judge told Thompson, "I truly hope that my bet on you being OK out in society is not misplaced." And what happens if you lose that bet and another kid gets molested?

Look, your honor, here's how it should work. Everyone gets exactly one opportunity to go through life without sexually abusing a child. You do it once, you're done. One strike and you're out. No second chances, no ankle bracelet to wear at home.

Smart Guys Guilty

Now that Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling have been found guilty on multiple counts in the Enron trial, I have to re-recommend the brilliant documentary, "Enron: The Smartest Guys In The Room."

Based on the book by two Fortune magazine writers, the movie gives an in-depth explanation -- but in layman's terms -- of what these sleazeballs did, how they manipulated their stock price, and worst of all, how they brokered the California energy crisis. Most amazing is watching Lay and Skilling lie to their own employees about the company's situation, telling them not to worry, to keep their retirement money in Enron stock, while at the same time the execs were dumping their own shares and fully aware of the disaster they were sitting on.

May they rot in jail for the rest of their lives.

Nuclear Implosion

One of the cooling towers of the Trojan Nuclear Power Plant in Rainier, Oregon, was imploded on May 21st, and here's the video...


For more POTDs, see the Picture Of The Day page.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

James Randi Returns

James Randi is recovering from his heart attack of a few months ago, and was back on my KMOX show this afternoon to continue the fight against flummery, pseudoscience and other garbage claims.

After an appalling story about Sylvia Browne, Randi talked about a recent Time magazine story about facilitated communication, in which the emotions and wallets of the parents of severely autistic children are exploited.

I also asked his opinion -- as a magician -- of David Blaine's recent stunt, and we discussed other stories where science and rational thought are under attack.

Listen to the conversation here and visit the James Randi Educational Foundation website for more.

Randi Naughton at "AmIdol" Finale

Fox 2's Randi Naughton was on my KMOX show this afternoon live from LA, where she's covering the "American Idol" finale, both inside and outside. She says that the crowd in the Kodak Theater was overwhelmingly for Taylor last night -- and shared an interesting tidbit about what Simon, Paula, and Randy do during the commercial breaks.

Listen to the conversation here.

Alabama Yoga

There are two types of yoga: Ancient Yoga and Alabama Yoga.

For more POTDs, see the Picture Of The Day page.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

American Idol finale

"Gray vs. Anatomy" -- the best description I've heard of the Taylor vs. Katharine finale of "American Idol."

Maria Bartiromo


With the stock market having a bad few days, I invited CNBC's Maria Bartiromo back to my KMOX show this afternoon to talk about it. We also discussed the controversy over a discussion she had with Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke a few weeks ago which, when she reported it on the air, may have caused the stock and bond markets to turn sharply lower that day. Then the discussion turned to oil company price gouging and whether alternative energy is an emerging market for investors.

Listen to the conversation here.

High-Speed Police Chase Lawsuit

On my KMOX this afternoon, I talked to attorney Terry Crouppen, whose law firm has filed a lawsuit on behalf of the family of Rev. Nathaniel Rose, who was killed when his Chevy Blazer was hit head-on by a Ford Bronco being driven by Robert Smith, who was being chased by St. Louis Police on February 13th.

Crouppen says that this isn't about money, it's about getting the policy changed so that no other innocent people have to die during a chase like this one. After the conversation, many of my listeners went on the attack, wondering what's wrong with a policy that doesn't let criminals get away. Listen to the conversation here and then add your comments below.

10 Things I Hate About Commandments

If Cecil B. DeMille's version of "The Ten Commandments" were released today, it would probably be promoted like most high school comedies...


For more POTDs, see the Picture Of The Day page.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Lazy Ramadi

Two US Army staff sergeants made "Lazy Ramadi," a rap about their experiences in Iraq -- and they call it an IED Production! [contributed by Mark Kohring]


For more POTDs, see the Picture Of The Day page.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Elliott Yamin's Obscure Song Choices

"American Idol" third-place finisher Elliott Yamin obviously didn't read my "Ten Tips for American Idol Wannabes" column, in which I wrote,

Perform songs everyone knows. This may be the only time you're ever on national television, let alone have an opportunity to show everyone what you're really capable of. Wait until after you're a huge star to perform your tribute to Nina Simone. Until then, emphasize your strengths and sing something the home viewer -- who will have to vote for you -- immediately recognizes and probably likes. It could be Motown, Nirvana, Elton John, Jennifer Lopez, Mariah Carey, Sheryl Crow, or even a Huey Lewis hit you heard in kindergarten (these kids are all under 26!).
In an interview with MTV this week, Yamin was asked, "Did you deliberately sing mainly unfamiliar songs throughout the season?" His reply:
I did it because I can relate to being a person coming from relative obscurity myself and having overnight success from the show. I know it's good to sing songs people know and that are modern and that people can relate to and are familiar with, but at the same time, that's what deterred me from picking those types of songs. I wanted to give people a taste of something different, help them fall in love with different songs. And they're just songs I enjoy singing.
Bad strategy, Elliott. You save that sort of self-indulgence for your third album, after twice giving the people what they want and having them accept you and make you a star. Only then do you give them songs you think they should hear because you like them so much.

Instead, you'll get exactly one shot to make an album, and you'll make it full of songs the audience doesn't know and won't care about. And then you'll wonder what happened to the rest of your 15 minutes.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Dear Keith Olbermann

I've written about how much I like Keith Olbermann's "Countdown" newscast on MSNBC, but I agree with everything Anna Johns says in this entry on TV Squad.

Friday, May 19, 2006

John Stossel

ABC's John Stossel was back on my KMOX show this afternoon to talk about his new book, "Myths, Lies, and Downright Stupidity: Get Out The Shovel -- Everything You Know Is Wrong."

He's a proponent of letting the marketplace regulate itself, rather than having the government involved. You may be amazed at what he says about price gouging, investing in renewable energy, public education, drug laws, farm subsidies, and the government letting broadcasters (like the companies we each work for) have the airwaves for free. And that's just for starters.

Listen to the conversation here.

Bad Customer Service Story #9,548

On the way home from work last night, I stopped at a frozen custard place to get something for the three of us to have for dessert.

I ordered various kinds of concretes, all with chocolate custard. When they were handed to me, however, it was clear that they had been made with vanilla custard. I told the guy behind the counter that I'd asked for chocolate, and he replied, "Oh, the chocolate custard is too hard to serve right now."

He said it with a tone which indicated this made perfect sense to him -- rather than telling the customer that you can't fill his order properly, you simply substitute something else and keep quiet about it.

I pointed out that this wasn't what I ordered, and he looked at me as if I were speaking Norwegian. Seeing that this mental giant didn't have the brain power to realize we had a problem, I suggested that he either forget the order and give me my money back, or take four steps backwards to the chocolate syrup container, squirt some of that in our cups, mix it all up again, and then give it to me. I could actually see the 10-watt lightbulb go on inside his head, and a couple of minutes later I left with a product that was at least close to what I had asked for.

I was reminded of a time in college when I went into a Burger King and ordered a Whopper. The clerk asked me what I'd like to drink, and I asked, "Do you have root beer?" She replied, "No, but we do have Diet Sprite." As if that would naturally be the second choice of someone who wanted a root beer.

I felt yesterday the same way I felt then -- that I was stuck in some sort of Consolation Prize hell.

Da Vinci De Bunk

Does anyone really believe that "The Da Vinci Code" story is fact, that Dan Brown actually believes that Jesus and Mary were married and had children?

For those believers, here's a quick movie tutorial to help you sort fiction from non-fiction:

  • There is no secret map on the back of the Declaration of Independence.
  • Lex Luthor has not gained easy access to nuclear missile controls.
  • Dr. Evil did not leave the planet in a flying Big Boy.
  • No one named Dave has ever doubled in office for a stricken US President.
  • There is no inflatable auto-pilot named Otto in an airplane cockpit.
Got one? Add it to the comments below.

Two Questions

1) With the FBI digging up that farm in Michigan looking for Jimmy Hoffa, has anyone called Geraldo Rivera? Sounds like another opportunity for an embarrassing TV special.

2) After this week's "American Idol" vote, I couldn't help but wonder -- has there has ever been a major pop star with the first name Elliott?

We Didn't Start The Fire

A grad student at the University of Chicago found images for all of the people and events Billy Joel mentioned in his song, "We Didn't Start The Fire," and combined them into a flash presentation.

For more POTDs, see the Picture Of The Day page.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Jon Lovitz

Jon Lovitz was in the studio this afternoon on my KMOX show to talk about his TV and movie careers. He also explained the genesis of his Pathological Liar character and how he ended up on the "The Tonight Show" with Johnny Carson. Then he shared some insight into his friendship with Phil Hartman.

Listen to the conversation here.

Black Jack vs. Unmarried Couple

The city council of Black Jack has upheld its closed-minded reputation by deciding not to change its laws to allow an unmarried couple with three children to live there.

Mayor Norman McCourt released a statement that makes no sense, explaining that the purpose of occupancy permits is to "avoid overcrowding by non-related parties, assure the lifelong maintenance of the cities (sic) housing stock, prevent new buyers from being obligated to repair residences that were not kept up to code, preserve the character of the neighborhoods and the city and to protect the general safety and welfare of the city's residents."

Here's where he's wrong:

  • There's no overcrowding in the case of Olivia Shelltrack and Fondray Loving. They bought a five-bedroom house to live in with their three children. Five people, five bedrooms. Plenty of room for everyone.
  • Maintenance of the house has nothing to do with whether the couple is husband and wife. Longtime married couples aren't necessarily more responsible with their homes than unwed couples (or newlyweds). If anyone isn't keeping their house up to code, you act against the violators -- you don't launch a pre-emptive strike based on a marriage license.
  • The marital status of the homeowners also has nothing to do with the safety and welfare of anyone else in the community.
What the Mayor and five members of the city council won't admit is that this is all about imposing their morality on everyone else. That's not their job.

What makes it even more hypocritical is that the current law that they've upheld would allow Olivia and Fondray to live in that house unmarried with one child, but not two or three. Or Olivia could live there with all three kids if Fondray wasn't around. How does that make a better family situation? Shouldn't we be encouraging families that include two loving, nurturing parents?

It will be interesting to see what the ACLU can do for them in court.

Here's another column I wrote about the story three months ago.

Cip's Promos

One of the most downloaded audio files on this site is the interview I did last year with voiceover specialists Joe Cipriano and Don LaFontaine, in which they talked about the profession and told lots of insider stories.

Now, Cip has started a blog and posted a couple of videos in which he's doing network voiceover work via ISDN from his home studio. Here's one for Fox, nicely embedded on his site, in which he uses his lighthearted voice to promote "Mad TV." Here's another one for NBC, which you'll have to download, in which he promotes "The West Wing" in a completely different voice. I'm sure he'll add more of these, and it's pretty cool to see him doing this behind-the-scenes work.

For more POTDs, see the Picture Of The Day page.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

CNN Jumps The Gun on Bush

President Bush started his speech last night about a minute too soon, and CNN went to him live, just in time to see him look off camera and stop. Wolf Blitzer explained it as the President "rehearsing," but it turned out that a stage manager for NBC (which was in charge of the network pool feed) had simply cued Bush too early. See it here.

For more POTDs, see the Picture Of The Day page.

Monday, May 15, 2006

A Border Patrol Agent's View

While discussing the immigration issue this afternoon on KMOX, I got a call from a Henry, a listener who spent 18 years as a Border Patrol Agent. He had some fascinating insight into the difficulties of guarding the US-Mexico border, and of using the National Guard, as President Bush will suggest tonight. In particular, Henry wonders how we would train all those Guardsmen to speak Spanish.

Listen to the conversation here.

Cabbie Commentary

The BBC did a story on the court case between Apple Computer and the Beatles' Apple Corps, and brought in an expert to comment on it. Unfortunately, when the time came for the interview, the stage manager grabbed the wrong guy in the lobby -- instead of the expert, he brought in the man's cab driver instead. What followed was like a scene in "Being There," where the cabbie tried to answer the news anchor's questions as best he could, and she accepted them. No word on whether she ever knew who her guest really was, or if the real expert kept the meter running.

Update 5/16: The BBC investigated and explains that the man was not a cab driver, but a job applicant who happened to have the same name as the expert.


For more POTDs, see the Picture Of The Day page.

Taylor Hicks PacMan

He's less than two weeks away from being named the "American Idol," and now here's your chance to play the Taylor Hicks PacMan game! Randy thinks it's a little pitchy, Paula thinks he's doing his thing, and Simon finds it absolutely appalling.

For more POTDs, see the Picture Of The Day page.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Anti-Gravity TV Needed

An AP story recently reported the death of three young children who were killed by televisions that fell off of stands or furniture. Of course, any time a kid dies it's tragic, but after giving those details, the story went on:

The deaths have prompted a plea by some grieving mothers for new laws that would mandate warning labels about the potential danger of top-heavy or poorly place TVs.
Warning labels? To tell adults that large, heavy objects can fall and crush their children? If these parents aren't already aware of the Law Of Gravity, what possible good is a warning label going to do?

The story continued by quoting the mother of an 8-year-old boy who was killed while playing a video game on a 19" television:
"If there were warning labels, or if there was any awareness that this could be a danger, believe me, the kind of mother I am, I wouldn't have even let my son have a TV in his room."
Awareness this could be a danger? How about the danger of letting an 8-year-old have a TV in his room to begin with, regardless of the family's lack of knowledge of Sir Isaac Newton?

Wondering how many kids die each year because of falling televisions? According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, it's a grand total of six. Again, every one of those deaths is sad, but parents who don't take responsibility for their own actions is even sadder.

Maybe mom and dad need a warning label, "Caution: Making a child is easy, raising one is hard."

Friday, May 12, 2006

NSA Phone Database, continued

This afternoon on my KMOX show, I talked with Judge Andrew Napolitano ("Constitution in Exile") of the Fox News Channel and Rebecca Jeschke of the Electronic Frontier Foundation about the NSA Phone Database story. They each explained the serious problems they have with the program.

Listen to the conversation here.

NSA Phone Database

I received so many comments about my opening monologue yesterday about the NSA phone call database story that I have posted the audio here for those who missed it.

I tried to bring up some points that others have missed -- that this isn't about the government's ability to monitor the bad guys, but that it must be done legally, with the oversight of both the courts and Congress. We must have those checks and balances, and we (the people) must have our elected officials doing a better job of representing us, the taxpayers and citizens of this great nation. Having one branch merely "brief" the other is no different than the relationship of parent and child, as in when I "brief" my daughter about where we're going to have dinner and when she's going to bed. She has no real input into that, just as Congress and the courts have had no input into the unilateral actions of the executive branch.

This should not be about politics. Those who make this only about the Bush administration are forgetting that, in 1999, the Clinton administration launched the Echelon program, which was also a giant government fishing expedition that ran roughshod over our Constitutional rights. I railed against that at the time, as I did against the TIA program a few years ago. By the way, one of the people who also were uncomfortable with Echelon and wanted more details about it made public was a then-congressman from Florida named Porter Goss. Yes, the same one who was pushed out of the top CIA job last week, coincidentally just days before these new revelation about the scope of the domestic surveillance program (which we were told last year only applied to international phone calls).

Yes, the nation must be protected, but so must the Constitution and the inherent rights of Americans. Those are not mutually exclusive concepts. They are, in fact, what makes us different and better than every other nation on the planet. We don't want to be a nation whose leaders can decide to monitor the actions of its people at its own whim and cloak it in a veil of "we're protecting you" -- that's China, that's North Korea, that's not the United States of America.

Lots of comments below, feel free to add yours.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

American English, the Beatles Band

This afternoon on my KMOX show, American English (the best Beatles tribute band I've seen) were back in the studio and brought their instruments, as always. They played "Help!," "Another Girl," and "Get Back" before I convinced them to do an almost-unplugged version of Ringo's song "It Don't Come Easy." They've added that to their repertoire as part of a "What If?" set -- showing what some of the solo material would have sounded like if the Beatles had stayed together and played them. Listen to the conversation here.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Bob Costas

Bob Costas was back on my KMOX show this afternoon. On the heels of his HBO show starting a new season last week with a discussion of steroids in baseball and the whole Barry Bonds controversy, I got into some of those questions with Bob, who was making noise about this issue years ago.

I also talked to Bob about his other network job, wondering why he won't be doing play-by-play for NBC Sunday Night Football and how NBC can get better ratings with the Olympics, and more.

Listen to the conversation here.

Is The Upper Class AWOL from the Military?

On KMOX show this afternoon, I talked with Frank Schaeffer about his new book, "AWOL: The Unexcused Absence of America's Upper Classes from Military Service -- and How It Hurts Our Country." Listen to the conversation here.

Ladies Room

For every woman who had to wait in line for the bathroom...


For more POTDs, see the Picture Of The Day page.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Christine Brennan

Christine Brennan, one of America's best sportswriters, has a new book, "Best Seat In The House: A Father, A Daughter, a Journey Through Sports." Today's the official publication date, and she was kind enough to give me one of her first interviews about it this afternoon on my KMOX show.

We talked about how hard it was for a girl to dream of being a sportswriter in an era when there were no women doing the job. No role models meant she had to blaze her own trail. Fortunately, her father supported her efforts, as he had done with her love of sports from a very early age. Christine explained some of the triumphs and obstacles she has faced in her remarkable career -- from owning the Tonya Harding/Nancy Kerrigan story to being one of the first women in a locker room full of naked NFL players. She also shared her unique perspective on the Olympics, Barry Bonds, and much more.

Listen to the conversation here.

Christine Brennan's weekly column USA Today makes her one of the most-read sportwriters in the country. She also appears on ESPN and ABC, and has written several definitive books on figure skating and the Olympics.

Evolution of Dance

Comedian Judson Laipply covers six decades in the evolution of popular dance in six minutes...[contributed by Fran Goedeker]


For more POTDs, see the Picture Of The Day page.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Just Blaine Bored

David Blaine burst onto the scene a decade ago with cool magic done on the street and a style that seemed fresh at the time. Too bad that magic is gone, and he's now reduced to boring stunt after boring stunt. Criss Angel now does what Blaine used to do, and better.

Blaine's aquarium stunt ended with a whimper and a yawn tonight. If I wanted to see a wrinkled man who needs help walking and an oxygen mask to breathe, I'd go visit half of the population of South Florida.

Back Off, Good Humor Man

Last week on the air, I was talking about Coke and Pepsi agreeing not to sell their soda in schools anymore, and wondered what was next -- a push to ban ice cream trucks, perhaps?

Well, that was fast.

Bill Carter, "Desperate Networks"

This afternoon on my KMOX show, I talked with Bill Carter, who covers the TV beat for the NY Times, about his new book, "Desperate Networks."

He explained how hard it was for "American Idol" to get on the air -- it was turned down by all the networks (twice by ABC) before Rupert Murdoch finally ordered Fox to put it on. We also talked about how Nicolette Sheridan's audition was so bad she almost didn't get the job on "Desperate Housewives," how "Lost" got on the air despite network tinkering, and how the internet has become another distribution channel for network content.

I asked Bill for his opinion on whether ABC will move "Grey's Anatomy" to another night, whether NBC has any shows that look like they can turn the fourth-place network around, and how Aaron Sorkin and Tina Fey can both be developing new series about what it's like behind-the-scenes at a show like "Saturday Night Live."

Since Carter was responsible for "The Late Shift," which documented the Leno vs. Letterman battle for Johnny Carson's desk (which was made into a memorable HBO movie), we talked about Leno handing "The Tonight Show" to Conan O'Brien in three years -- and whether David Letterman will break Johnny Carson's thirty-year late night television record.

Listen to the conversation here.

They Just Look Like Best Buy Employees

An improv group got about 80 people together, had them dress just like Best Buy employees, go into a store separately, and just hang out waiting for customers to ask them questions. They never told anyone they worked there, but were helpful if they could be. The real store employees thought the whole thing was amusing, but the management and security personnel were completely freaked out. Story and pix here.

For more POTDs, see the Picture Of The Day page.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Peeves

Fast food restaurants that hear me say "no mustard" and interpret it as "instead of mustard, add extra ketchup." Having worked in one of these places in college, I know the employees are used to the routine, and maybe this is corporate policy. If so, knock it off. If I wanted extra ketchup, I'd ask for it. I'd say, "Please give me a hamburger that is guaranteed to squirt ketchup onto my shirt as soon as I bite into it."

Hotel rooms where the air conditioning vent is specifically located above and pointed at the bed. Thus, whoever is in that bed gets cold air blowing directly on them all night long. Either point the louvers upwards, or make them movable, or figure out a way to run the duct work around to the other side of the room. And while you're at it, instruct your housekeeping staff to stop cranking the thermostat down. It takes us several hours to get the temperature back to a reasonable level, and then they reset it every day so low that the road company of "March Of The Penguins" would catch cold.

Cars that don't have the gas tank on the left side. Why is this not standard yet? It took a few decades to get rid of the behind-the-license-plate position, now it's time to get rid of the right-side fill-up. That would eliminate the weird game of gas station chicken when two cars end up face to face at the pumps. It would also relieve the anxiety everyone who has ever rented a car feels when filling up the strange vehicle they've been driving -- which side is it on? You figure you have a 50/50 shot, but you're never right.

Cell phones that can download ring tones, but not phonebooks. I want to be able to enter all of my contact information online and then have it transferred to my phone. I know I could do this if I bought a Treo or a Palm-ready phone, but it should be available on all cell phones by now. That way, I can look someone up online, add them to my phone book from anywhere, manage the list and other contact info, and have that info in my phone within seconds. This would be much more valuable than having a camera built in that I rarely use.

When driving west late in the afternoon, you will not hit the sun. Yet every day, as the sun gets low in the sky, traffic headed uphill in that direction inevitably slows down because someone's been surprised by the big orange thing in the sky. You'd think they'd be used to it, but no. Here's the rule: if it was safe to do 60mph down the hill, it'll be safe to do 60mph up the hill. If my math is correct, at that rate, you won't collide with El Sol for approximately 177 years.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Jumping Caesar's Palace Fountains

Motocross star Mike Metzger jumped the fountains in front of Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas last night, setting the world record for longest motorcycle jump with a backflip.

Three other guys had tried it before, none with the backflip. Evel Knievel crashed in 1967 and spent a month in a coma. Gary Wells tried it in 1980, also crashed, and was badly injured. In 1989, Evel's son Robbie Knievel was the only other person to successfully land on two wheels.

For more POTDs, see the Picture Of The Day page.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Horse Sense

I know nothing about horse racing, but I if I owned a horse that was running in the Kentucky Derby this weekend, I'd give it the perfect name: Get This Guy Off My Back.

However, a friend who does know a few things about horse racing told me that sometimes, if a horse's name is too long, the authorities -- whoever they are -- will chop the name down to make it fit the program better. In that case, I wouldn't want my horse's name truncated by two words, making it Get This Guy Off.

Maybe I'm better off sticking to four classic movies about the sport: the Marx Brothers in "A Day At The Races," Richard Dreyfuss in "Let it Ride," Tobey Maguire in "Seabiscuit," and no one you know in "Phar Lap."

Cancel The Virgins

Zacarias Moussaoui gets life in prison instead of the death penalty. Major kudos to Judge Leonie Brinkema who, in response to Moussaoui's claim yesterday ("America, you lost, I won!"), told him today at his final sentencing:

Mr. Moussaoui, when this proceeding is over, everyone else in this room will leave it to see the sun, hear the birds, and they can associate with whomever they want. You will spend the rest of your life in a supermax prison. It's absolutely clear who won. You came here to be a martyr in a great big bang of glory, but to paraphrase the poet T.S. Eliot, instead you will die with a whimper.

Lost online, resolved

We finally got to watch last night's episode of "Lost" in its entirety via ABC.com. The problem was that I had my resolution set too low and wasn't getting the entire screen, which should have included the countdown clock and other controls. Fixing those settings solved the problem, although the embedded player is smaller than it should be, particularly on a large monitor. You'd think that since normal browsers can adjust automatically to my screen settings, ABC.com's should do the same.

All of that said, this episode went from completely boring -- nothing about Ana-Lucia's backstory was the least bit intriguing -- to completely shocking. The lesson seems to be that if you want to act on "Lost" you should not drink and drive, since both Michelle "Ana-Lucia" Rodriguez and Cynthia "Libby" Watros had been busted for DUI in Hawaii during this season.

Now, the question is, where did Michael's last shot go? Did he shoot himself?

Wild Turkey

Here's something I don't see everyday.

On my way home this afternoon, traffic screeched to a halt while a wild turkey crossed Route 141. I'm talking about the animal, not the bourbon. To paraphrase Arthur Carlson, "As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could drive!!"

Lost online

I forgot to record "Lost" last night, so I tried to watch it online this morning via ABC.com's streaming feed. The video looks great, but when it got to the first commercial break, everything went bad. The screen switched to the commercial message, but then wouldn't leave it, even after the entire commercial had played. I tried this twice, re-watching the entire opening sequence, got to a different commercial in the same slot, and encountered the same problem. There were no prompts on the screen that allowed me to continue watching the show.

Anyone else have this problem, or a solution, other than paying to download it via iTunes?

Real Life Frogger

You come to the intersection, the light is red, several cars are patiently waiting, and the cross-traffic is rolling. What do you? Put the pedal to the metal and cruise through like it's a game of Frogger...


For more POTDs, see the Picture Of The Day page.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Craig Ferguson

On my KMOX show this afternoon, I talked with Craig Ferguson (whose "Late Late Show" on CBS I have praised often here) about his show and his new novel, "Between the Bridge and the River."

Listen to the conversation here.

Anti-Semitism in Europe

On my KMOX show this afternoon, I talked with Richard Trank, director of the new documentary, "Ever Again," about the resurgence of anti-semitism in Europe. This is a story that's not being covered by the American media, but we need to know about it because this hatred is not just of Jews, but of all of us. Much of it is driven by the influx of extremist Islamic immigrants who -- in a bizarre twist -- are joining with neo-Nazis in their violent efforts. Trank's stories should be a chilling wake-up call. Listen to the conversation here.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Bob Greene

Bob Greene was back on my KMOX show this afternoon to talk about his new book, "And You Know You Should Be Glad: A True Story of Lifelong Friendship." The book just hit stores today, so this was one of his first interviews about it, and he was in top form. Bob is one of America's best storytellers, and this story touched me more than anything he's ever written. Listen to our conversation here.

More Movies You Might Not Know

Just added to the Movies You Might Not Know list:

  • "Proof," with Gwyneth Paltrow in her best performance as the daughter of a world-renowned mathemetician (Anthony Hopkins), who cared for him in his schizophrenic last years. With Jake Gyllenhaal as the student who finds what may or may not be a breakthrough mathematics proof, and Hope Davis as the antagonist, her too-grounded and too-urbanized older sister;
  • "Shopgirl," from Steve Martin's novella, in which he plays an uber-rich businessman who woos a young woman (Claire Danes, in a glowing performance) who is torn between his wealthy materialism and the grubby attentions of a guy more her age and speed;
  • "The Onion Field," Joseph Wambaugh's version of a 1963 incident in which small-time criminals abduct two cops during a panicky traffic stop, then execute one while the other escapes. With a breakout performance by James Woods, plus the pre-"Cheers" Ted Danson and a raw role for John Savage.

Weird Beards

I've had a beard since I was 18 years old and have never let it grow to be long or bushy. That's why I could never compete with the guys in the World Beard Championships, which took place this weekend in Germany. Besides, I don't look good with a windmill on my face.


For more POTDs, see the Picture Of The Day page.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Speed Very Limited

James Arnold contributed this photo, taken by a truck driver in Fairmont, Georgia on Highway 59...


For more POTDs, see the Picture Of The Day page.