Wednesday, October 31, 2007

E-Mail Of The Day

On my show, we're talking about the completely inappropriate Halloween costumes that are on sale and targeted at girls my daughter's age (13) and even younger. Some of them would be a better fit in a Victoria's Secret store than in the "tweens" section of our local costume shop.

A 17-year-old named Lorraine just called and said that this trend started with the movie "Mean Girls" a few years ago. She admitted that she'll be dressed up as a French maid tonight for her college boyfriend's Halloween party, even though her high school peers told her she's crazy to wear that in public.

Then there's this e-mail from John:

I made the mistake of going with my 9 year old to get a costume. She originally wanted to be a Super Model for Halloween. When I convinced her that was stupid, I agreed to take her to the local Halloween store to find a better outfit.

I was surprised at the French maids and sexy outfits in the kids section. I noticed a Pirate outfit for girls similar to Johnny Depp’s character in Pirates of the Caribbean. I did not pay 100% attention to the costume next to it called “Wild Pirate” with fishnet stockings, low cut top and short skirt. She wanted it and I bought it (like an idiot) because I did not believe it would be that bad on my kid. Wrong!

My daughter modeled it for us and I think she was even aghast at the outfit. She was excited that the boys would think the outfit was cool. I had to stand there and see her childhood explode before my eyes. My wife, of course, used the opportunity to give her (and me) a stern lecture on what is appropriate for a nine year old girl.

We allowed her to keep the outfit, but she has to wear her black gymnastic leotard under it. And the fishnet gloves will not be worn to school.

My lesson: Supermodel dress and pancake makeup does not sound so bad.
One last point. When Lorraine mentioned "Mean Girls," I said, "Oh, yeah, the Tina Fey movie, a good one." I'm sure she was thinking, "Uh, you mean the Lindsay Lohan movie, grandpa!"

Judge Andrew Napolitano "A Nation of Sheep"

Judge Andrew Napolitano was back on my show this afternoon to talk about his newly published book, "A Nation of Sheep."

In it, he rails against the Bush administration's continuing encroachment on our civil liberties (particularly the Patriot Act) and the slew of Congressmen and Senators of both parties who go along with it. They've all forgotten their oath of office -- to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States -- which Judge Nap cleverly includes in its entirety in his book.

He explained how many abuses of the Patriot Act there have been since it was passed without most members of Congress even bothering to read it, and what he says to those who claim "we're fighting against terrorists, so if it saves one American life, I don't care if the government listens to my phone calls or reads my e-mails."

We also talked about cities putting up more and more surveillance cameras, politicians and candidates pushing protesters into "free speech zones," and what Americans like you can do to stop politicians from using fear tactics to increase their governmental power.



Several POTDs for Halloween...

First, a montage of witches and more witches, set to the music of Eartha Kitt [thanks to Marty for the contribution]...

Next, a Halloween prank by a couple members of the crew that freaks out the morning news team at a Sacramento TV station. Watch the woman on the right run for her life and the one of the left duck under the desk and hide...

Here's a site with some extreme pumpkin carving [thanks to Steve Gurley for the contribution]...

And finally, something to keep you busy at the office all day, until you duck out early for that costume party: Halloween Hangman.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Wild Football Finish

What an ending to a Division III football game this weekend between Trinity and Millsaps. Trinity had the ball on their 39-yard-line, down 24-22 with two seconds to go. They pulled off a play with 14 different laterals that rivals the 1982 Stanford-California finish for all-time wildest game-ending play. The TD made the final 28-24.

Almost as good as the play is the call by the college kid on the broadcast, who tries to turn this into a "Do you believe in miracles?" moment (thanks to YouTube, he's getting a lot more attention than Trinity football game announcers ever have)...

[thanks to Tim Galvin for the contribution]

Monday, October 29, 2007

Alan Zweibel

Alan Zweibel appeared on Letterman's show a couple of months ago, and was actually allowed to read from his book, "The Other Shulman." The excerpt he read was so clever and amusing that I made a note to get the book and, if I liked it, see if he'd come on my show to talk about it.

I got it, I liked it, and this afternoon, I spent an hour with him on the air. I told Zweibel I couldn't remember ever seeing an author given the opportunity to do that on a late-night show before, and he explained how the unusual booking was arranged.

After several minutes of discussing the book, its origins, and how much of it was autobiographical, I steered the conversation towards Zweibel's career as a TV comedy writer. We talked about "It's Garry Shandling's Show" (which he co-created) and the earliest years of "Saturday Night Live," where he got off to an inauspicious start by hiding behind a potted plant.

That led to the topic of Zweibel's relationship, both professional and personal, with Gilda Radner, from "SNL" through the eulogy at her funeral to his book "Bunny Bunny," which became a stage show and may become an HBO movie. In her memory, he's been a big part of Gilda's Club, a series of cancer support centers around the country. Their newest will be here in St. Louis, where Zweibel will headline a fundraiser on November 14th.

Listen, then get a copy of "The Other Shulman."

Here's Zweibel's Letterman appearance from this summer...

Campaign For Real Beauty

Here's the latest from Dove's Self-Esteem Fund...

[thanks to Stuart Snyder for the contribution]

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Another Bad One

Blew it again on the Upset Pick today. I said take the Vikings +1 vs. the Eagles. Final score: Philadelphia 23, Minnesota 16. And so, my season record falls to 4-3-1.

Could be worse. I could be Scott Linehan.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Your Tax Dollars In Action

You're an administrator at FEMA, and you're going to have a press conference about the California wildfires. You announce it to the press about 15 minutes before it's going to take place, which is not enough time for many reporters to show up. What do you do? Have FEMA staffers act like reporters and ask some nice softball questions! Al Kamen has the story.

Dancing With My Baby

Gonna dance with your child, their feet on yours? These shoes make it a lot easier...

Thursday, October 25, 2007

James Randi on NBC's "Phenomenon"

When I heard that NBC had hired Uri Geller to be a judge on its magic competition show, "Phenomenon," I knew the perfect person to review it: James Randi. He joined me this afternoon to talk about the show, give kudos to Criss Angel for the way he handled his role as a judge, and reveal a couple of things about the not-so-stupendous tricks that were performed.

By the way, words like "trick," "magic," and "magician" have been banned by NBC from use during the show -- they're playing up the supernatural garbage to a sickening extent. If they keep it up, Randi says he'll use YouTube to expose even more of the methods behind their tricks.

In the words of Toronto Star columnist Vinay Menon, "Why is Uri Geller about to appear on our television sets this evening? Shouldn't this widely discredited 'master of the paranormal' have vanished like a magician's rabbit 30 years ago?"

Speaking of which, I had Randi tell the story again of how he helped Johnny Carson show up Geller on a 1973 "Tonight Show" appearance by making sure that Geller and his cronies couldn't get access to the spoons and other props before they were used on the show. Needless to say, Geller was unable to do a thing once the cameras were rolling.

Ironically, Randi says he already knows who's going to win the competition: an Israeli guy named Guy Bavli, who will be featured on "Phenomenon" next week.


The biggest problem with "Phenomenon" is that it's too over-produced, in the style of so many other primetime competition shows. In this case, it comes off as both slick and cheap at the same time, much like Fox's lame attempt earlier this year to find a hot new movie director with "On The Lot."

That explains the presence of such geniuses as Carmen Electra, Rachel Hunter, and the could-he-be-more-of-a-stereotype Ross The Intern from "The Tonight Show." As my wife pointed out, they've actually found people who don't even qualify for the D-list of celebrities. It's fair to say to say they're not exactly adding a skeptical perspective to the proceedings.

It's clear that the magicians and mentalists on "Phenomenon" have worked professionally at various levels of the showbiz ladder, and they know that nothing they're doing is even remotely supernatural. It's all well-rehearsed and, in many cases, the tricks have been done better by other, more famous performers. Even Criss Angel pointed this out, when he said to the guy with the nail gun "I've done that trick with a real gun" and credited Banachek for creating one of the mentalism illusions that another contestant did.

And yet, NBC keeps promoting this as something other than magic. That's why they play up Geller's lame little tricks (as Randi points out, he only has three tricks in his entire arsenal) and allow him to spew his ludicrous mysticism. At least two of last night's performers insisted they "don't know" where their powers come from. Of course they do -- from copying more talented magicians!

Upset Pick, Week 8

I have a weakness for home underdogs, and I like the Vikings' defense. So, I'll take Minnesota +1 vs. Philadelphia in a battle of the mediocre.

Season record: 4-2-1.

Larry King's Crown

I missed this during Sunday night's football game, but the folks at Deadspin caught it -- a screen shot of Larry King in the stands. He seems to be ready for Halloween with his Bozo wig...

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Amazing Race Teams

There's the team I'll be rooting against when the 12th season of "The Amazing Race" starts on November 4th. They're the "Dating Goths," named Kynt and Vyxsin. Really.

Thanks to Aaron Barnhart's tip, here's the entire lineup of the teams. I can't help but notice how many no-doubt-attractive Californians are in this cast, but I haven't figured out whether there's a bald, overweight, middle-aged guy to cheer on yet.

Worth A Link

St. Lou?

"What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas."
"Virginia is for lovers."
"I love New York."
"St. Louis all within reach."

Which of these slogans is not like the others?

The last one is the newest slogan for our town, unveiled with a new logo yesterday by the Convention and Visitors Commission. As soon as I saw it, I didn't like it, and neither did most of my listeners.

I have no problem with promoting our city to the rest of the country as a place to visit and bring your business. It's the graphic that bugs me. What's the "is" doing offset like that? It changes the name of our town to "St. Lou."

No one here calls it that. No one anywhere calls it that. It's like when there's a concert and the lead singer stands on stage and greets the crowd with, "How ya doin', St. Louie??" Well, we're doing fine, except that we don't call our town St. Louie. It's St. Louis. You pronounce all the letters and all three syllables, if you don't mind.

Maybe I'm sensitive to this because my name, like our town's name, ends with the -is suffix, and I don't like seeing it dropped. My nickname is not Paul Harr. This website is not called Paul Harr Is Online.

Can you imagine trying this elsewhere? "parIS the capital of france." "memphIS the home of elvIS." Now we're really debating what the definition of "is" is. Or capitalize the last two letters of Chicago and turn it into "chicaGO." Actually, that looks like you're telling a young hispanic woman to leave -- Chica, Go! -- in some sort of immigration argument.

I know what the CVC is trying to say with "St. LouIS All Within Reach" -- that St. Louis is a town you can get to from anywhere easily, that we have whatever you need, that there's lots of stuff here for you. But if that's true, why did the CVC hire a company from Kansas City to come up with the new slogan and logo? Apparently, "all within reach" doesn't include any design firms on our side of the state.

Of course, if they'd asked anyone here, they would have been told, "St. Lou IS Not What We Call Our Town."

Fire From Above

How bad are the California wildfires? You can see them from space. Here's NASA video from the International Space Station...

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Ken Levine

Ken Levine is a very successful comedy writer, having worked with his partner David Isaacs on such sitcoms as "M*A*S*H," "Cheers," "Frasier," "The Simpsons," and others. That would be enough career for one guy, but Levine also was a Top 40 DJ in Los Angeles (using the name Beaver Cleaver) and spent a few seasons doing play-by-play baseball broadcasts for the Baltimore Orioles, among several teams -- an experience he wrote about in the very funny book, "It's Gone! No, Wait A Minute." A year ago, Levine started a blog, which quickly earned a bookmark in my browser and became a must-read destination.

Recently, Levine has been teaching other writer wannabes about the business with a seminar he calls The Sitcom Room. In connection with that, he recorded a 75-minute tele-seminar, in which he offers funny insights on the business and plenty of stories from his career. His simple explanation of how to write a farce should be mandatory for any aspiring writer.

There's no video, but you can listen to (or download) the mp3 audio here.

Amazing Race Returns

After just two episodes, CBS has already cancelled "Viva Laughlin." It didn't help that the show got very few positive reviews, and even fewer viewers.

Here's the good news: this opens up a time slot for "The Amazing Race," which will return to CBS-TV on Sunday, November 4th.


Five friends from Colorado Springs built this as their entry in a soapbox derby, but when they took it to Seattle last month for a race, someone stole it. Fortunately, they were able to give the cops an easy description -- it's a 7-foot-long, 7-foot-wide toilet, known at The Crapster, complete with a blue velour seat, red flush handle, and tires -- and it was found by a sheriff's deputy the next day.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Abe Foxman of the ADL

Today I talked with Abe Foxman, who has been national director of the Anti-Defamation League for the last 20 years. We discussed his book, "The Deadliest Lies," which is a response to the writing of two professors who blame "the Israel lobby" for many things, including our involvement in Iraq. Foxman addressed that, and the embattled relationship between Israel and Iran, and I asked him why he didn't support the recent congressional resolution regarding the genocide committed by the Ottoman Empire against Armenians in Turkey. Listen.

Bob Newhart

Legendary comedian Bob Newhart returned to my show this afternoon for a few minutes. We talked about his friendship with Johnny Carson, and he told some stories from the more than 100 times he appeared on "The Tonight Show." That led to a discussion of those rare nights when the act isn't working and he's bombing in front of an audience. To my surprise, Newhart says he still gets nervous about two hours before he does a standup concert.


Bill Maher Audience Trouble

During Friday's "Real Time with Bill Maher" on HBO, some 9/11 conspiracy whackos started shouting from the audience, interrupting the show and getting the host himself involved in kicking them out. As Maher pointed out, this is one of the perils of doing live television. [rated PG for language]

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Andy Rooney & Jon Macks

Yes, that was Jon Macks' book "How To Be Funny" featured at the end of Andy Rooney's segment on "60 Minutes" tonight.

Upset Pick Blows It Again

I said take SF + 9 @ NYG. Final score: Giants 33, 49ers 15. Ah, well, at least I get credit for accountability, posting both my victories and losses. Season record is now 4-2-1.

It could be worse. I could be Mark Bulger's ribcage.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Jeffrey Toobin, "The Nine"

Jeffrey Toobin was back on my show to talk about his book "The Nine: Inside The Secret World of the Supreme Court." He was given extraordinary access to the justices (the ultimate "activist judges"), their clerks, and others, which led to some interesting stories.

I asked him about why Sandra Day O'Connor turned against President Bush, why she resented Samuel Alito even before he replaced her on the court, and what her relationship was with the only other woman to wear those robes, Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

We discussed how the 2008 presidential election will have enormous ramifications for the court, since three of the liberal justices are likely to retire in the next few years, and whether pro-choice Rudy Giuliani would appoint pro-life justices to appease the conservatives in his party.

Toobin explained about why the justices won't allow cameras in their courtroom, whether their minds are made up before they even hear a case, and whether oral arguments or comments from their colleagues ever change their opinions.


Shirtless in Abercrombie

Alan Light e-mails,

"A while back, you may recall that a group called improv-everywhere sent more than a hundred men to a Best Buy store dressed in blue shirts and khaki pants, so that they looked exactly like BB sales people, totally confusing and even panicking the real Best Buy staff who thought some scam might be underway. Now, the same improv group sent 111 shirtless men to the Abercrombe and Fitch store in Manhattan, which always has a shirtless hunk at the door greeting customers."

E-Mail Of The Day

John Ryan writes,

Yesterday after work I went to the Scott Trade Center to pick up some hockey tickets. I made good time and got down there at 4:00. I knew there was no hockey game but figured even if there was an evening event it wouldn’t impact me. Au contraire, mon ami. My first clue that something was amiss came when I encountered some pretty heavy traffic approaching the Center. Then when I noticed the parking spaces for picking up tickets were full. And all the cars double-parked in front of the Center were yet another clue, to say nothing of the TV and radio vans with their remote antennas extended. Did the Blues just acquire Sydney Crosby? Alenander Ovechkin? Were the Blues sold again? LaRussa hired as coach? Not so much I discovered, as I came upon a giant pink bus parked on the sidewalk in front of the Center. Hannah Montana!

Instead of a quick in and out to pick up some hockey tickets, I ended up knee high in 7 and 8 year girls. There was a mom with her kids outside the center trying to buy tickets on the street. I was tempted to introduce her to the word “NO”. Inside the ticket area was wall to wall little girls, their seemingly adolescent mothers, and a handful of hapless fathers. I felt like I had just entered the Twilight Zone. One mother put a move on me for the ticket window that rivaled Karia cutting to the crease. At any rate thanks to the intervention of an usher I was able to escape, my masculinity intact, tickets in hand. As I walked away I made the mistake of counting my tickets and overheard a mom commenting on how many I had. YIPES! She thought I had Hannah Montana tickets! I picked up my pace convinced that I was about to be mugged by a hysterical Hannah Montana Mamma. Somehow I went to a hockey game and a Hannah Montana concert broke out just doesn’t have the right ring to it. What is the world coming to?

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Upset Picks, Week 7

This week I'm going with San Francisco +9 at the NY Giants. The home team may win, but I don't think they're good enough to cover a spread that big.

Season record: 4-1-1

Fire Alarm

Conan O'Brien was taping his NBC show Monday night when, all of a sudden, a fire alarm went off in the studio. O'Brien stopped what he was going and noted that he had never heard a noise like that in the 14 years he's been doing his show. It wasn't a bit -- there was something going on somewhere else in the building -- but Conan turned it into one...

This reminds me of an incident about 20 years ago when I was doing mornings at WCXR in Washington, DC.

It was just before 9am when, during a commercial break, one of the people on my show looked out the window at the courtyard below and noticed a large crowd milling around. Since we were in an office building next to a courthouse, we were used to seeing people coming to work, but these folks weren't going into the building. In fact, it looked like some of them were coming out of the building. As we looked more closely, we noticed that many of them were our co-workers at the station (sales people, secretaries, even some members of management).

I sent an intern down to find out what was going on, while the rest of us went on with the show (there were about a half-dozen people on my show at the time). When she came back upstairs to our third-floor studio, the intern reported that there had been a small fire in an office on the first floor. The alarms had gone off throughout the building, everyone had evacuated, and the fire department was on the scene.

However, since we were in a sound-proof radio studio, none of us had heard the alarms, so we knew nothing about the fire -- we hadn't heard even one decibel of the piercing siren that permated the rest of the building. Even more disturbing was that not one of our co-workers had bothered to come down the hall and tell us about the fire before running outside!

This struck me as both horrifying and hysterically funny, so I talked about it on the air and we turned it into a bit. My news guy, John Ogle, joked that with the lack of information provided to us, if the rest of the building had caught fire, another station could have scooped us on a story in our own workplace. My sports guy, Dave The Predictor, started making jokes about detectives identifying our charred remains from our dental records, and wondering how they'd know who his dentist was. Listeners called in song requests like "Light My Fire" and "Burning For You."

Fortunately, everything turned out okay, the emergency was nothing more than a wastebasket fire caused by a tossed cigarette (ah, those long-lost days when some idiot could smoke at the office and endanger the lives of their co-workers). The crowd dispersed and everyone went back to work within a half-hour.

The next day, our chief engineer installed a flashing light in the studio hooked up to the fire alarm system, so we'd know the next time the station turned into The Towering Inferno.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

More Movies You Might Not Know

Just added to the Movies You Might Not Know list:

"The TV Set" is Jake Kasdan's scathing satire of the television industry, starring David Duchovny as a writer/producer trying to get his sitcom pilot made and Sigourney Weaver as the network head whose vision for the show doesn't quite match his. Justine Bateman (!) co-stars as Duchovny's wife, and there are impressive cameos by Andrea Martin, Phillip Baker Hall, Jonathan Silverman as himself, and Phil Rosenthal (the man who ran "Everybody Loves Raymond") as a TV executive. For anyone who knows anything about the trials and tribulations of getting a TV show on the air, "The TV Set" will make you laugh -- even while you cringe at the hoops Duchovny has to jump through. This one played in theaters for about a day and a half, but you shouldn't miss it on DVD.

"Comedian" is Jerry Seinfeld's 2003 documentary about getting back onstage to do standup after a decade of his hit TV show. He's developing an entirely new act, which means lots of writing and lots of working the road, from small comedy clubs up to a big theater. At the same time, we see Orny Adams, a comedian who has been working the clubs for years and is desperate for his big break. Between the two of them, you see what it's like to step up to a solo microphone every night and try to make people laugh. There's also great backstage discussion among Seinfeld and fellow comedians like Colin Quinn, Dom Irrera, Ray Romano, and Jay Leno -- plus a classic scene in which Chris Rock tells Seinfeld about having seen Bill Cosby in concert, and the two of them marvel at the legend's material and stamina in putting on a show that lasted two and a half hours.

See the whole list here.

Tom Forman, "Kid Nation" Producer

I've mentioned before that "Kid Nation" is must-see TV in my house, mostly because of my 13-year-old daughter, who can see herself in many of the kids living in Bonanza City.

So today, I invited Tom Forman (executive producer of "Kid Nation") to talk about the show, the controversy he had to deal with in the months before its debut, and the reaction of the kids and parents now that they've seen how they're portrayed on the show (especially Taylor, the 10-year-old beauty queen who won't do dishes). We discussed that gulp-inducing scene a couple of weeks ago where one of the cowboy kids went out into a field to face down a bull, and whether he regrets casting kids as young as 8-year-old Jimmy, who left the show in tears to go back to his mom and dad.

I also asked Forman if he's already planning a second season of the show and, if so, where he can do it after the child-labor-law outcry following his production of this season in New Mexico.


Here's my interview with Laurel, one of the town council kids on the show, on the day "Kid Nation" first aired.

Dog Grooming Gone Wild

That's a dog whose fur has been groomed and dyed to look like a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. It's one of the entries in the recent Super Dog Grooming Competition in Las Vegas. Others included dogs that looked like The Grinch, Pirates of the Caribbean, and one poodle that was turned into a motorcycle. See more here.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Drunk Mom, Dead Baby

Sherri Lohnstein was drunk when she gave birth to baby Zreanna. The girl was declared dead 15 minutes later, with a BAC of .17%, just under mom's .18%. St. Charles County is prosecuting Sherri for involuntary manslaughter.

Today on my show, her attorney, Richard Scheibe, explained why he has asked Judge Nancy Schneider to dismiss the case. He says that Missouri law allows the prosecution of third parties who harm a pregnant woman and her fetus, but not a mother who causes indirect harm to her fetus. That's because, even though the state says life begins at conception, abortion is still legal -- and because of the slippery slope that could lead to prosecuting women who do all sorts of things they shouldn't while pregnant (e.g. smoking, drinking, obesity, taking certain prescription drugs).

Scheibe also says that a ruling by the Missouri appeals court last month sets a precedent that applies to Lohnstein's case. In that case, the court ruled that Janet Wade couldn't be prosecuted for child endangerment even though she was a meth user at the time the baby was born.


Update 10/18/07: The judge just ruled against Scheibe's motion and says the case can proceed. Next hearing is on 11/19.

Giuliani vs. Aliens

This is, without a doubt, my favorite moment of the presidential campaign thus far.

All of these candidates are professional politicians, prepared by their staffs and from experience to handle pretty much any question they get from the crowd or from the media. They have rote answers that they can recite from memory ad nauseum. The war in Iraq? Plenty of material standing by. Immigration? Got it. Social security? No problem. Universal health insurance? A whole paragraph ready to go.

Only on rare occasions does something happen that's so out of the ordinary that it throws a candidate off balance a little. That's when you get to see how they handle being off-script for a couple of minutes, and whether they whiff on it or knock it out of the park. It could happen to any of them, but this one got Rudy Giuliani this weekend.

He was taking questions from a crowd of supporters in New Hampshire, when a young boy raised his hand and asked, "If we find that there is something living on another planet, and it is bad, and it comes over here, what would you do?"

The crowd laughed as Giuliani smiled and admitted that he didn't have a stock answer ready for this one. If this had come from an adult, he could have passed it off as just a crazy guy with a crazy question -- but this was a kid, for whom this was not a silly question but a genuine concern. This is a tough spot, because he wants to convince the boy we'll be okay, but he knows we're not going to be attacked by aliens anywhere but on the movie screen.

You can see Rudy processing all of this as he stalls and ad libs for a half a minute and tries to come up with something. Finally, Giuliani says,

Well, if we're properly prepared for all the different things that can happen to us, we'll be prepared for that, as well. Right? I mean, we'll be prepared for anything that happens.
Ahem. It sounds nice and reassuring -- until you remember that this is the guy who was Mayor of New York City on 9/11/01 (not that he's letting anyone forget it for even one minute during the campaign). "We'll be prepared for anything that happens." Unless it's something we never expected under any circumstances and thus had no plan for.

Somewhere, advisers to the other candidates immediately assigned someone to come up with a better answer if that kid shows up at one of their campaign appearances.

Here's the video.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Get Healthy Or You're Fired

There's a growing trend in the workplace, with more companies denying employment to (or threatening the job of) people who smoke or have other health concerns.

It's not just a matter of what you do on the job anymore, now your boss wants some say in the life you live off the job, too, all in the interest of protecting the bottom line. They want to know if you have high cholesterol, blood pressure problems, or other medical conditions and, if so, they'll charge you more for your group health plan, or fine you for not taking part in a wellness program.

I discussed this today on my show with Jeremy Gruber, legal director for the National Workrights Institute, who suggests we're on a very slippery slope here. At the same time our medical privacy is supposed to have more protections (e.g. the HIPAA law), we're finding just the opposite at work.

Am I the only who has seen "Gattaca"?


No Free Poker in Illinois

First, Illinois cracked down on charity poker events. Now, they're going after free poker nights in bars, the kind where no one pays an entry fee or bets any real money.

Today on my show, Dan Kawa, who runs one of the poker leagues that bars use to run these free events, explained the impact of the state's move, and the person responsible -- Ivan Fernandez, new head of the Illinois Liquor Control Commission. Apparently, his attitude is that if it looks like gambling, it is gambling.

Illinois doesn't crack down on karaoke nights, darts contests, or other competition in bars, but poker is somehow different. The state claims it's because it's not a game of skill. Maybe not the way Mr. Fernandez plays it. And we certainly can't have people enjoying themselves at no cost and then winning a $30 gift certificate for dinner. That's the sort of thing that leads to the end of civilization.

In other words, this is yet another waste of government money and resources, particularly in a state that encourages its residents to gamble -- ever heard of the Illinois Lottery?


Dice Stacking

I had never even heard of dice stacking until Jerry Manor sent me the link for this...

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Upset Picks Win Again

I said take the Vikings +5.5 at the Bears, and Minnesota won it with a field goal at the gun, 34-31. Season record for my Upset Picks through six weeks improves to 4-1-1.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Civilian War Injuries

Today I talked with Mike Helms, a civilian counterintelligence expert who was serving alongside Army troops in Iraq when the humvee he was in hit an IED and was blown apart. Mike suffered severe injuries, inclding burns, a broken tailbone, shrapnel wounds, and tramatic brain injury.

You'd think the goverment he works for would take care of him, but you'd be wrong. Unfortunately, the military viewed him as a civilian and refused to take care of him at Walter Reed. The civilian medical insurance system told him he'd been injured on the job, and thus had to pursue worker's compensation. The bureaucrats at the Labor Department denied him care, too, saying he'd been injured at war, and it was the military's job.

On and on it has gone, for more than three years, without Mike getting the medical attention he needs. He's not alone in this quagmire, and may finally have some interest from Congress, but in the meantime, he and other federal non-military employees are trying to break through a brick wall of red tape in the hopes someone will help put them back together.

Listen to his story.

Clay Rabbits

Jane Hansen e-mails from Manchester, England: "This is a commercial for Sony that's not running in the US, but we see a lot here and I thought you'd enjoy it. The stop-motion clay animation is wonderful."

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Upset Pick, Week 6

Season Record: 3-1-1

While I like Houston +6.5 vs. Jacksonville, I'm going to take Minnesota +5.5 at Chicago. The Bears' fall from the top of the heap continues, and the Vikings' defense should step up this weekend. Take them to cover.

Death Penalty for Devlin-Like Crimes

Today on my show, state senator John Loudon explained the legislation he's proposed that would make crimes like those committed by Michael Devlin eligible for the death penalty, as they are in six other states. Currently, only first-degree murder qualifies in Missouri. His proposal would create the crime of "aggravated child kidnapping," when a child under 18 is kidnapped and raped.

Based on response to our conversation, Loudon's going to have a lot of support for his bill, which he hopes the legislature will act on in this session. But a few callers wondered whether this would take away the incentive to plead guilty, and could force the kid(s) to testify in open court about the horrors they faced. Loudon acknowledged and responded to such concerns.


Skip This

Guinness has just declared Russell Byars the world champion stone skipper, after this toss on July 19th was verified as skipping 51 times, breaking the previous record of 40...

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Michael Devlin Pleads Guilty

Michael Devlin is looking at 73 life sentences for what he did to Shawn Hornbeck and Ben Ownby, from kidnapping to sexual abuse to photos and videos of his acts with them to threatening to kill Shawn, and on and on.

Today I asked St. Louis prosecutor Bob McCullough if he was frustrated he couldn't get more punishment for Devlin -- meaning the death penalty. I also asked him whether Devlin had shown any remorse for his horrific actions, whether this monster was promised protection from jailhouse justice once he's put in prison, and more.


State Senator John Loudon says he's going to introduce legislation to make crimes like these eligible for the death penalty, as they are in a few other states (in Missouri, only first-degree murder qualifies). It couldn't be used retroactively against Devlin, but would apply to the next monster caught doing vile things to children and exploiting them for his own perverted means. Based on the response from my listeners today, Senator, you'd have an enormous amount of public support for your efforts.

Oh, and I missed Bill O'Reilly's show last night -- did he apologize to Shawn and his family for his comments in January, in which O'Reilly claimed that Shawn didn't escape from Devlin because it was fun, that he liked it more than being with his parents? It was a horrible thing to say, purely idiotic speculation based on no knowledge of the boy or his family, and he owes them an apology. In fact, at the time, O'Reilly told Greta Van Susteren -- who stood up against him, told him he was wrong, and urged him to wait until the facts were in -- that if he wasn't right, he would replay the tape of what he said. I'm not holding my breath.

Kangaroo Race Track

When you're driving in Australia, it's not unusual to encounter a kangaroo in the middle of the road. It's a little more dangerous, though, when the road you're on is a race track...

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Larry Craig's Hot Dog

Several listeners thought I was kidding about Sen. Larry Craig's favorite recipe, the Super Tuber, which involves shoving a well-buttered hot dog all the way into a potato. Eating it in a wide stance is optional.

It's for real, from a website that lists the favorite recipes of several members of Congress. Anyone know if they sell this at the snack bar near the men's room at the Minneapolis airport?

Ric Edelman, "The Lies About Money"

A few years ago, personal finance advisor Ric Edelman shocked my audience by telling you to never pay off your house, but instead keep as big a mortgage as possible. Today, Ric was back on my show to advise you to dump all your investments in retail mutual funds because of corruption and other problems in that industry over the last few years which have cost individual investors like you huge amounts of money.

That's one of the big ideas in Ric's new personal finance book, "The Lies About Money" (a great follow-up to the book I've said everyone should own, "The Truth About Money"), in which he addresses what you should do with your 401k or other investments instead of sticking them in the same old mutual funds.

I also asked Ric whether you should care that the Dow was up 120 points today, setting a new record over 14,000, on the 5th anniversary of the bull market. And we discussed whether we should be concerned about how baby boomers beginning to hit retirement age next year will have an effect on the rest of us economically.

Listen, then buy his book.

Billiard Juggling

There's no rule saying juggling must be done vertically. Here's some horizontal juggling on top of a billiards table...

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Upset Pick Week 5

It doesn't matter who the Kansas City Chiefs are playing. When they're a home underdog, they have a remarkable record of covering the spread -- going back three decades, they've failed to cover fewer than a half-dozen times. This weekend, the oddsmakers have made the Chiefs the underdogs at home vs. the Jaguars.

Take the Chiefs +2.5.

My season record thus far: 3-0-1

Jon Stewart vs. Chris Matthews

When an author goes on a TV or radio show to promote his book, he expects the host to welcome him and lead him through questions that will interest the viewer/listener enough that they'll want to go out and buy the book.

Unfortunately for Chris Matthews, Jon Stewart didn't feel like playing that game last night, instead spending most of the segment blasting the "Hardball" host and putting down the ideas in the book...

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Military Mental Health Issues

I've spoken often on my show about the scandalously lousy job the Department of Defense and the VA have been doing taking care of our injured soldiers returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In particular, there are tens of thousands of soldiers who have come home with post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injuries who have either had to wait for months to get help, or worse, been denied treatment completely because the Pentagon decided they had a "pre-existing condition." That's hard enough to hear when you're a civilian and your insurance company denies you coverage, but when the government whose uniform you wear turns its back on you, that's just plain wrong.

Senator Kit Bond -- whose son Sam, a US Marine lieutenant, is just finishing up an extended deployment in Iraq -- was on my show this afternoon to talk about efforts that he (and Senators Obama and Boxer) have made to force the Pentagon to stop this practice. Last night, they successfully inserted language into the defense authorization bill to that effect. You'll love Bond's reaction when I ask him about it.


Last week, I talked with Paul Rieckhoff of IAVA about a new GAO report on the lack of care for our returning soldiers. Listen to that conversation here.

Downhill Racer

Markus "Hercules" Stoeckl just set a new world speed record by steering his mountain bike down a 2,000 meter snow-packed stretch of a Chilean mountainside at 130.7mph, beating the previous record by 14mph. It took him about 40 seconds, which is also how long he had to hold his breath to keep his helmet visor from fogging up...

Monday, October 01, 2007

General Wesley Clark

General Wesley Clark was on my show this afternoon to talk about his book, "A Time To Lead: For Duty, Honor, and Country." After we got past whether he'll be Hillary Clinton's running mate next year, we got into a discussion of what he would do about Iraq, how he feels about the use of private contractors like Blackwater, what he would do about Iran if it does go nuclear, and more. Listen.

Here's To You, Mr. Homecoming Queen

And your Homecoming Queen is...........Aaron Zaggy!

Yes, she is a he. Aaron Zaggy is a senior at University City High School whose friends talked him into running for Homecoming Queen -- and he won. Today on my show, Aaron explained how the whole thing started, how the girls who lost to him reacted, whether he danced with the Homecoming King, and how his girlfriend reacted to the whole thing (for the record, Aaron says he's heterosexual).

Next, I asked UCity Schools spokeswoman Daphne Dorsey why the school district even allowed Aaron to pull this prank, what kind of reaction they've gotten, and whether they'll allow it to happen again next year.

This one seems simple. If there's a single position available, such as president of the student council, it's open to both genders -- but when there's a King and a Queen, the delineation is about as obvious as can be.

The UCity school district blew it, helping make Aaron the Ferris Bueller of 2007.


Two Headed Turtle

Talk about going both ways -- that's a two headed turtle that now lives at a pet store in Philadelphia.