Sunday, August 31, 2008

Nick Gillespie on The Candidates

Today on WLS/Chicago, I talked with Nick Gillespie, editor of Reason.com, who early last Friday morning, before McCain revealed his VP pick, wrote that Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty would be uninteresting and noxious choices but "Alaska Governor Sarah Palin would be a lot more interesting and fun."

We talked about what led him to that conclusion and what he thinks her role in a McCain administration would be. We also discussed whether McCain or Obama best appeals to libertarians like him, whatever happened to the Ron Paul revolution, and more.

Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

Worth A Link

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Bob Greene, "When We Get To Surf City"



Bob Greene is one of my favorite storytellers, which is why I love having him on the show. Today on WLS/Chicago, we talked about his new book, "When We Get To Surf City," the story of his 15 summers touring with Jan and Dean from the early 90's to the present.

They play oldies shows, state fairs, and corporate gigs. He gets to meet some of the people who made the music for the soundtrack of his youth, from Chuck Berry to Ronnie Spector, from the Beach Boys to The Kingsmen. We discussed all of that, plus the post-gig meals at The Waffle House, whether they're making a good living on the road, and what it was like to have his father in the audience for one concert (the first and only rock concert his dad had been to). Bob also told a heart-wrenching tale about the after-effects of Jan Berry's car accident and how it forced him to re-learn his own songs every day on tour.

Listen, then get your own copy of "When We Get To Surf City."

Click here to subscribe to all of my podcasts via iTunes!


My favorite previous interviews with Bob Greene:
  • May 2006 for "And You Know You Should Be Glad"
  • November 2004 for "Fraternity: A Journey In Search of Five Presidents"
  • November 1997 for "Chevrolet Summers, Dairy Queen Nights"

Friday, August 29, 2008

Sarah Veep In The House?


You've got to give John McCain credit. Who would have thought that he'd choose the star of "30 Rock" as his running mate?

Britney Spears Solo Sound

Ever wonder how some of these pop performers can sing while they're dancing all over the stage? Simple answer: they lip-sync to pre-recorded tracks. In the case of Britney Spears, here's what it sounded like when someone isolated the feed from her microphone and caught the unvarnished, not-so-melodic noise coming out of her mouth during a concert (the audience didn't hear this, they heard the polished sing-a-long track instead)...

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Knuckleheads In The News ®

Today's stories include a hubcap-loving bear, a man testing windows with a rock, and a woman going down an airport luggage chute.

Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

This podcast is made possible by Champion Windows Siding & Patio Rooms.
They've done great work for me, and I recommend them to you!
For factory-direct savings, call 314-692-7300 or visit their showroom.

Roeper Reviews "Medellin"

When "Entourage" returns to HBO on September 7th, it will open with Richard Roeper and Michael Phillips (from the now-canceled "At The Movies") tearing into Vince's movie bomb, "Medellin," while Eric watches...

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Knuckleheads In The News ®

Today's stories include police breaking up another wedding reception, a man who couldn't admit his casino losses to his wife, and the downside of meeting someone in a bar.

Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

This podcast is made possible by Champion Windows Siding & Patio Rooms.
They've done great work for me, and I recommend them to you!
For factory-direct savings, call 314-692-7300 or visit their showroom.

Wind...Sand...Wall!!!!

Here's another lesson in why Mother Nature is not your friend. It's video of a kite-surfer trying to take advantage of the breeze on the beach in Miami. Unfortunately, that gust of wind is from Tropical Storm Fay...


[thanks to Todd Biske for the link, and this addition: " I just watched a video podcast of the interview Robin Roberts did with him on Good Morning America, and the knucklehead actually said he'd go out kite surfing in a tropical storm again, only he'd pack it in earlier. Needless to say, Robin was left speechless.]

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Conventional TV

In the last day or two, I've seen several people whining about the ABC, NBC, FOX, and CBS networks not offering gavel-to-gavel coverage of the Democratic and Republican Conventions.

Boo freaking hoo. They stopped that practice a long time ago, choosing instead to offer an hour of primetime to allow the parties a chance to spew their propaganda, promote their candidate and message, and give their biggest stars some TV time.

Anyone who decries the lack of more coverage is either being disingenuous or not bothering to look. We're long past the time when those were the only places to go to see the conventions.

PBS, CNN, FNC, and MSNBC are all offering extended coverage. They don't show you every speaker at the podium -- their anchors are too busy chatting with pundits, correspondents, delegates, protestors, and anyone in a funny hat -- but they carry most of the big speeches. There's also this little thing called the internet, where you can watch streaming video or get analysis from just about any agenda-angle you like.

If you can't do without a second of this political pablum, C-SPAN gives it to you unedited and uninterruped. Dish Network is devoting one channel (211) to a live feed from the convention in Denver, provided by the DNC, and will do the same next week for the GOP in Minneapolis. Watch it to see how stage-managed and over-produced the event is inside the Pepsi Center, and how the organizers built in three-to-four-minute breaks between speakers to allow the TV outlets a chance to squeeze in more commercials and give their talking heads more airtime. Meanwhile, an off-screen band plays bad Stevie Wonder and Lenny Kravitz covers.

While we're likely to get some interesting oratory from Barack Obama and The Clintons, the vast majority of convention speakers offer very little worth seeing and hearing. Great speeches are few and far between, so instead you get party hacks praising their candidate and repeating the convention mantra or cross-party hacks like Jim Leach boring the hell out of everyone.

The too-little-coverage complaint reminds me of the old joke about customers complaining at a restaurant that the food is inedible and the portions too small. Why would you possibly want more?

Update: With their one hour of primetime convention coverage, the big nets combined to pull in 12.15 million viewers. That's less than "Deal Or No Deal" got earlier in the evening in one hour on NBC alone (12.3 million).

Update 2: Aaron Barnhart wonders why TV news outlets spend so much time and energy on covering the conventions when all they do is talk over what's happening at the podium

Jon Stewart vs. Political Press


At a breakfast for a couple dozen mostly-print political reporters Monday in Denver, Jon Stewart criticized the press for the way it covers politics. There's no video, unfortunately, but here's Howard Kurtz's take on the get-together, and some perspective from a Comedy Central blogger.

This is not the first time Stewart has lambasted press outlets for their coziness with politicians and the lack of depth in their coverage. Here he is 4 years ago on CNN, telling Tucker Carlson and Paul Begala that their show, "Crossfire," was "hurting America" (it was canceled a few months later)...

Dial A Human

If you're sick of getting an automated phone tree everytime you call a company, and can never get through to a human being, check this list of access codes that will get you through the tree to a living, breathing person. Whether or not that human will be helpful is up in the air.

Knuckleheads In The News ®

Today's stories include handcuffed actors, a refund refused, and a man stabbing a tree.

Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

This podcast is made possible by Champion Windows Siding & Patio Rooms.
They've done great work for me, and I recommend them to you!
For factory-direct savings, call 314-692-7300 or visit their showroom.

Worth A Link

  • Good Magazine has an interactive site showing some historic voyages, including Jack Kerouac's "On The Road," Columbus' trip to America, Charles Lindbergh's transatlantic flight, the Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, and the Journey To The Center Of The Earth
  • Bill Carter on how NBC's Dick Ebersol convinced the IOC to schedule swimming and gymnastics in the morning in Beijing so they'd be live in primetime in the US (at least in two time zones)
  • Alan Sepinwall's thorough analysis of Sunday's episode of "Mad Man," one of the best of the series
  • Fred Jacobs, the radio consultant who gave my career a huge boost in 1986, on why classic rock still rules

Glow Sticks in a Blender

The company that makes an industrial-commercial blender has produced some videos of the blender in action, whipping up all sorts of things you'll never suck through a straw -- an iPhone, golf balls, a video camera, a Nike sneaker, and a bunch of fluorescent glow sticks...

Monday, August 25, 2008

Joe Biden By The Book

A year ago, Joe Biden was on my show to talk about his book, "Promises To Keep." It wasn't a best-seller then, but his elevation to vice-presidential candidate has put it near the top of the sales lists, and with renewed interest in him, here's that interview.

We didn't talk much about the book, instead discussing the war in Iraq, low approval ratings for Congress, the conviction of Jose Padilla, and more.

Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

Knuckleheads In The News ®

Today's stories include a woman arrested for overdue library books, a convict who just couldn't stay out of jail, and a Pizza Hut extortionist.

Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

This podcast is made possible by Champion Windows Siding & Patio Rooms.
They've done great work for me, and I recommend them to you!
For factory-direct savings, call 314-692-7300 or visit their showroom.

Waffle House Wedding


If you were asked to do a fictional photo shoot about a white trash wedding, it would probably look like this one, complete with the groom's grooming, the classy guests, the dangling cigarettes, the beer cans tied to the bumper, and the location. Here it is -- your real-life Waffle House Wedding slide show.

[thanks to Matt Burrows for the contribution]

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Interview Oddities

Digging into my archives again, here are interview transcripts from some of the odder guests who appeared on my radio show a decade ago:

  • In August, 1997, after Marv Albert's name appeared in a book about a dead dominatrix, I wondered on the air what it was like for a woman to play that role. One of my producers looked through the City Paper (the alternative weekly in DC) and found the number for Mistress Rebecca, who was more than happy to come on the air and talk about her occupation
  • Also that year, I spoke to Scott Kerman, who had written "No Ticket, No Problem" about his exploits getting into any sporting event or concert he wanted to attend without a ticket. During that conversation, he mentioned that he was going to try to get into the Academy Awards, as he had done the year before. Unfortunately, they were expecting him and he got caught, but that didn't stop him from returning to my show to tell all about it
  • In January, 1998, I talked with Jack Lufkin, a curator at the Iowa Historical Building, about a very popular exhibit of Things People Have Gagged On

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Biden Bites

America Moves Forward: Not only do we have the first African-American with a real chance to become President but, in Joe Biden, we may also elect the first Vice President with hair plugs.

Is Obama's choice of Biden a replay of JFK making LBJ his running mate? In both cases, you have a young, charismatic, energetic presidential candidate who needs a veteran legislator to give the ticket some gravitas. Or is it Dubya choosing Cheney (make that "Cheney choosing Cheney").

When the Obama campaign sent out the Biden text message, did they choose to do it at 3am as a jab at those Hillary Clinton "...a phone rings at 3am..." commercials?

Chuck Hagel, the anti-war Republican Senator from Nebraska, said, "An Obama-Biden ticket is a very impressive and strong team. Biden's selection is good news for Obama and America." Will the Dems use him as a counterbalance to Joe Lieberman and invite him to speak at their convention?

It was funny to see the news networks scrambling to cover the Biden story late last night after the AP broke it. All the star anchors, reporters, and pundits had gone home, and had to resort to calling in and expressing their opinions while the control room put up their head shots and endless video loops of previous occasions where Obama and Biden had appeared together. Give CNN credit for dragging Larry King into the studio at midnight central time to do an hour, while Fox got Shepard Smith behind the anchor desk, and MSNBC had to resort to Keith Olbermann and Chuck Todd on the phone.

In all but one presidential election, Delaware has voted for the winner. Does the country follow the state, or vice versa?

Friday, August 22, 2008

Knuckleheads In The News ®

Today's stories include a bacon bomb at the airport, a bad burglar at a restaurant, and a man locked out of his house while the cops had his keys.

Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

This podcast is made possible by Champion Windows Siding & Patio Rooms.
They've done great work for me, and I recommend them to you!
For factory-direct savings, call 314-692-7300 or visit their showroom.

The Next Olympics, Eh?

As the 2008 Summer Olympics wind down, here's a Canadian commercial for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver (love those curling kids!)...


[thanks to Aaron Barnhart for the link]

Thursday, August 21, 2008

More Movies You Might Not Know

I'm adding two titles to my Movies You Might Not Know list, both of which are playing on cable this week.

First is Paul Mazursky's "Moon Over Parador," a comedy with Richard Dreyfuss as actor Jack Noah, who looks just like Alfonse Simms, the dictator of a Central-American nation. When Simms dies, the dictator's Macheavellian number two man (Raul Julia) puts Noah in his place, complete with a semi-Hispanic accent even worse than Al Pacino's in "Scarface." If the plot sounds like Ivan Reitman's "Dave" in a banana republic, it is, but this one was five years earlier. "Parador" features Sonia Braga as the dictator's mistress and cameo appearances by Sammy Davis Jr., Dick Cavett, Ed Asner, Ike Pappas, and Jonathan Winters -- plus Mazursky as the dictator's mother, of all things.

Then there's "Talk To Me," with Don Cheadle as ex-con Petey Greene, who was one of the top radio personalities in Washington, DC, from the late 60s through the early 80s. Greene was more than just a disc jockey -- he was one of the first to incorporate comedy, commentary about social issues, and listener phone calls in a style that later influenced Howard Stern, among others. Greene became the voice of the black community in DC, the man they turned to during traumatic occasions like the assassination of Martin Luther King. Cheadle is flat-out terrific in the role, with strong support from Chiwetel Ejiofor as Dewey Hughes, the program director who put Greene on the air at WOL-AM (where the Hughes family empire began, eventually becoming Radio One, the top black-owned radio broadcaster in the country). There's nice supporting work from Martin Sheen and Cedric The Entertainer, too.

See my whole Movies You Might Not Know List for more.

Knuckleheads In The News ®

Today's stories include a man returning from vacation to find he's dead, an overzealous traffic cop, and a man who's getting just a little more modern.

Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

This podcast is made possible by Champion Windows Siding & Patio Rooms.
They've done great work for me, and I recommend them to you!
For factory-direct savings, call 314-692-7300 or visit their showroom.

Debate Debutt

Earlier this week in Knuckleheads In The News®, I had a story about two debate coaches getting into a screaming argument during an intercollegiate match, which included one of the coaches mooning the other. Now, here's the video...

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Mindset List, Class of 2012

Beloit College has come out with this year's Mindset List of cultural references common to the incoming class of freshman. Since Beloit is in Wisconsin, one of the items on the list is "the Green Bay Packers (almost) always had the same starting quarterback."

Also on the list...

  • GPS satellite navigation systems have always been available
  • Gas stations have never fixed flats, but most serve cappuccino
  • WWW has never stood for World Wide Wrestling
  • Films have never been X rated, only NC-17
  • There have always been gay rabbis
  • They have never been able to color a tree using a raw umber Crayola
  • The Tonight Show has always been hosted by Jay Leno and started at 11:35 EST
  • Authorities have always been building a wall across the Mexican border
  • Lenin’s name has never been on a major city in Russia
  • Personal privacy has always been threatened
  • Caller ID has always been available on phones
  • They never heard a gas station attendant ask “Want me to check under the hood?”
  • 98.6 F or otherwise has always been confirmed in the ear

The complete list is here.

Knuckleheads In The News ®

Today's stories include the wrong way to kill spiders, a laundry burglar, and a mom with the wrong chauffeur.

Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

This podcast is made possible by Champion Windows Siding & Patio Rooms.
They've done great work for me, and I recommend them to you!
For factory-direct savings, call 314-692-7300 or visit their showroom.

Borgnine & Friend

Ernest Borgnine was promoting his autobiography on Fox & Friends the other morning when one of the pinheads asked him what the key to his longevity is. The 91-year-old actor told them -- and instantly became a viral video. Now we know what "Marty" wants to do tonight...

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Bronze Fonz


Several cities have put up a statue to honor a classic TV character who lived there. There's Mary Tyler Moore as Mary Richards in Minneapolis, Bob Newhart as Bob Hartley in Chicago, Andy Griffith as Andy Taylor in Raleigh, Jackie Gleason as Ralph Kramden in Brooklyn, and Elizabeth Montgomery as Samantha Stevens in Salem (!).

Today, Milwaukee immortalized Henry Winkler as Fonzie from "Happy Days." Nice to see they didn't put him in the tan windbreaker that ABC made him wear for the first season. Winkler explained that decision by the network -- and how showrunner Garry Marshall got around it -- when he guested on my show in 2003...

Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

Roasted


I don't know why I watch the Comedy Central Roasts, the routinely unfunny raunchfests that pop-up annually to target some has-been or semi-celebrity. But I just watched the latest one, where Bob Saget was the victim.

As usual, the jokes were mean and lame, thoroughly lacking any cleverness. Most of the roasters tried to fill that void by making more references to genitalia and sexual proclivities, which is not the same as being funny. And then there was Norm McDonald, who set a new standard for least-humorous TV appearance, surpassing the previous "when were you ever funny?" record-holder, Andy Dick.

However, three lines from the night stood out. One was from Jeffrey Ross, the comedian who's the driving force behind these roasts, a guy who loves old-time comics and the Friars Club and works to keep that spirit alive. He's also a pretty good standup (with a new special this Friday night on Comedy Central) whose attack humor comes with both edge and wit.

On this roast, he closed by reminding the crowd that, although Saget is notorious for being absolutely filthy on stage, Ross hadn't used a single raunchy word while at the podium. Then he added: "But as a tribute to the late great George Carlin, I would like to say seven more words you'll never hear on television -- 'and the Emmy goes to Bob Saget.'"

Then there was Cloris Leachman, who entered the comedy pantheon with her Emmy-winning performances on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" and her role as Frau Blucher in "Young Frankenstein." Surprised to find herself sharing a stage with such non-entities as Greg Giraldo, Jim Norton, and John Stamos, Leachman quipped, "I don't know who any of you are, but that's probably because I watch TV, go to the movies, and read the trades." Then, for good measure, she added, "Please, someone punch me in the face, so I can see some stars!!"

Leachman was the only roaster to get a standing ovation.

Knuckleheads In The News ®

Today's stories include a knife-wielding party game, the world's fastest office chair, and a case of mistaken fugitive identity.

Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

This podcast is made possible by Champion Windows Siding & Patio Rooms.
They've done great work for me, and I recommend them to you!
For factory-direct savings, call 314-692-7300 or visit their showroom.

Laughing At Agnew

The American Museum of the Moving Image has posted a collection of classic campaign commercials in an online exhibition called The Living Room Candidate.

Here's one of the ads from 40 years ago, with Hubert Humphrey's campaign laughing at Richard Nixon's choice of Spiro Agnew as his running mate. The laugh was on Humphrey at first, as he lost the election. Then the laugh was on all of America, when both Agnew and Nixon resigned in disgrace...

Monday, August 18, 2008

Knuckleheads In The News ®

Today's stories include debate coaches showing how not to debate, neighbors complaining about noisy sex, and a cop who pulled over a woman just to give her his phone number.

Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

This podcast is made possible by Champion Windows Siding & Patio Rooms.
They've done great work for me, and I recommend them to you!
For factory-direct savings, call 314-692-7300 or visit their showroom.

Corn Is Food, Not Fuel

Reason's Nick Gillespie and Ron Bailey on the ethanol subsidy boondoggle...

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Worth A Link

  • Michael Russnow on Donald Trump bailing out Ed McMahon ("Even with all the money thrown his way, his profligate spending style and assorted alimony payments put him in the financial position he is in today -- he should be condemned, not pitied, and not catered to by an admitted non-acquaintance such as Trump")
  • Beer Goggles are for real: people do look better when you're drunk
  • A company claims its product is "100% chemical free" (an impossibility) and the British government decides it's okay to allow that lie in its ads
  • Paul Reickhoff on the brain-dead bureaucrats at the VA banning voter registration from veterans hospitals
  • Mike Riggs on a Utah town that banned visible tattoos and piercings
  • Michael Phelps, famous Olympic champion, vs. Michael Jacobson, notorious food cop

Phelps & Spitz


Michael Phelps deserves all the acclaim for his remarkable achievement, but Mark Spitz still holds the record for most Olympic gold medals won by a guy with a mustache. No coach would ever allow modern swimmer to have that hydrodynamic drag-inducer on their lip, not to mention that mop on his head. As a man who's had facial hair since the age of 18, I still consider Spitz the ultimate Olympian.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Worth A Link

  • Thomas L. Friedman on John McCain telling Congress to get back to work to vote on oil drilling, while he has missed eight consecutive votes on renewable energy legislation
  • Jeff Jarvis thinks covering the political convention is a huge waste of time and effort
  • Jerry Wexler, who coined the phrase "Rhythm and Blues" and produced seminal albums by Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett, and others, is dead at 91
  • Dick Cavett on why anyone would want to be a comedian ("the thrill is one you don’t get in the pants business")
  • Ken Levine on comedians transitioning from stand-up to sitcom ("if you’re good, and funny, and your name isn’t Gallagher you’ve probably got a good shot")

TV Interview Transcripts

Here are even more interview transcripts from my Washington, DC, radio shows in the 1990s. These are all television celebrities who either had new shows to promote or were making one of their regular appearances with me...

Friday, August 15, 2008

Spy Chips

On KIRO/Seattle this morning, I had an interesting discussion with consumer and privacy advocate Katherine Albrecht about her attempts to stop the spread of RFID tags.

They're a hot issue in Washington state, which now has "enhanced drivers licenses" with the RFID chip embedded, supposedly to make it easier to cross the border with Canada. RFID, which were once limited to use as an inventory control device in warehouses, is also in many clothing items and other products you buy and wear, without your knowledge (she led a protest rally against RFID in fashion earlier this week). Albrecht is worried about protecting privacy and personal identity info that can be scanned from these chips from as much as 20 feet away, and raises concerns about implanting RFID chips in humans, as we already do with dogs and cats.

Listen, then click here to subscribe to all my podcasts via iTunes!


For more info, see Albrecht's site and read her book, "Spychips: How Major Corporations and Government Plan to Track Your Every Purchase and Watch Your Every Move."

Knuckleheads In The News ®

Today's stories include a wife selling proof of her husband's cheating, marital problems caused by sleep-talking, and a man from the police age verification unit.

Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

This podcast is made possible by Champion Windows Siding & Patio Rooms.
They've done great work for me, and I recommend them to you!
For factory-direct savings, call 314-692-7300 or visit their showroom.

Phelps Phood


I finally have something in common with an Olympic gold medalist.

The photo above of Michael Phelps is (for me) like looking in the mirror. But it got even better when I read that (just like me) Phelps consumes an incredible amount of food every day -- about 12,000 calories.

Okay, he burns off all those pancakes and pizzas and omelets and pasta, breathing through his gills as his half-dolphin body goes turbo through the water to capture more gold, while I sit on my butt waiting for any one of NBC's 209 Olympic channels to show the Brazilian women's beach volleyball team in slow motion.

I wonder if Phelps' trainer ever yells at him for falling off his carbo-loading wagon: "Michael, if I've told you once, I've told you a thousand times -- do not fill up on salad! You have a race to win!"

Throughout America, there are now kids who see Phelps as a role model. Not for his swimming ability, but because he empowers them to argue with Mom every time she tells them to eat more fruits and vegetables: "Mom, don't you want me to win a gold medal?"

One other note about Phelps. Even in the races where he doesn't take the lead and hold it from the start, he has the amazing ability to come from behind, almost as if he's baiting the other swimmers as suckers. The other night, when he was a full body length behind as they made the final turn, I swore I heard him say to the guy in front, "Do you want to double the bet?" Then he passed him faster than a Chinese censor shutting down a Tienanmen Square tribute website.

Western Spaghetti

Here's a phenomenal piece of stop-motion animation about making a bowl of spaghetti using some unusual everyday ingredients...


[thanks to Cecelia Lopes for the contribution]

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Worth A Link

  • Aaron Sorkin says he was too angry when he wrote "Studio 60"
  • Erik Ose thinks Democrats should say, "Thank you, John Edwards"
  • Jere Longman explains how technology is enabling all those broken records in the Olympic pool
  • Paul Farhi is getting sick of NBC acting like the Chinese Chamber of Commerce

Knuckleheads In The News ®

Today's stories include a two-dimensional coyote scare, a theft foiled by a broom, and how many coins does it take to buy a truck?

Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

This podcast is made possible by Champion Windows Siding & Patio Rooms.
They've done great work for me, and I recommend them to you!
For factory-direct savings, call 314-692-7300 or visit their showroom.

The French Chef

With the news today that before becoming TV's "The French Chef," Julia Child was part of an international spy ring under the auspices of the OSS (a precursor to the CIA), it's the perfect time to look back at a classic SNL sketch about her.

From December 9, 1978, here's Dan Aykroyd as The French Chef with some tips on how to prepare a holiday bird: remember to use a very sharp knife and, whatever you do, save the liver for its coagulant qualities.

This one sticks in my memory because I saw it live in NBC's Studio 8H -- or rather at the dress rehearsal earlier that evening, when they had a mechanical malfunction and the liquid spurt even more wildly than in this clip. Off-camera, host Eric Idle was in hysterics as Aykroyd went on and on...

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Flying Without A Wallet

Will the TSA let you on an airplane if you don't produce identification? This woman managed to get on board in Boston -- one of the airports the 9/11 hijackers used -- and blogs about her experience.

Knuckleheads In The News ®

Today's stories include a man having sex with a park bench, Winnie The Pooh beating up an innocent bystander, and a Burger King employee who celebrated his birthday by taking a bubble bath in the stainless steel sink in the restaurant's kitchen during breakfast.

Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

This podcast is made possible by Champion Windows Siding & Patio Rooms.
They've done great work for me, and I recommend them to you!
For factory-direct savings, call 314-692-7300 or visit their showroom.

As for Burger King Bath Boy, who calls himself "Mr. Unstable," he was completely naked, leaving plenty of opportunity for your "whopper" and "hold the pickle" jokes. Naturally, another employee videotaped and posted it online, which got everyone involved fired. The one thing I'm certain of is that I wouldn't want this guy touching my food under any circumstances, with or without the bath...


[Thanks to Matt Burrows for his contributions]

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

More Movies You Might Not Know

My Movies You Might Not Know list now includes 191 titles, with these new additions:

  • "Indian In The Cupboard," about a boy who brings his plastic toys to life, beginning with an Iroquois warrior who then has adventures in the kid's room, even though he's only a couple of inches tall. Toss in David Keith as a enlivened plastic cowboy and direction by Frank Oz and you have a nice, heartwarming family story.
  • At the opposite end of the movie spectrum, there's "Before The Devil Knows You're Dead." Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Ethan Hawke are brothers who plot to rob a mom-and-pop jewelry store, but things don't go well at all. With Albert Finney as their father, a very hot supporting performance by Marisa Tomei, and the gritty realism he's brought to the screen for five decades, director Sidney Lumet is back at the top of his game.

Knuckleheads In The News ®

Today's stories include a woman's dream meal served by a man in a transparent apron, a fix-it man with zoning problems, and a thief with breasts in his pants.

Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

This podcast is made possible by Champion Windows Siding & Patio Rooms.
They've done great work for me, and I recommend them to you!
For factory-direct savings, call 314-692-7300 or visit their showroom.

Bowling Ball Stunt

The concept: set up a ramp in the middle of the road. Then drive towards it at high speed, hold a bowling ball out the window, and roll it up the ramp as the car continues down the road.

The execution: not thought out completely.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Worth A Link

The Great Eight

As the Olympics got underway Friday, every media outlet made a point of noting that the Chinese had specifically chosen 8/8/08 as the date for the Opening Ceremonies because it would be good luck.

In Chinese culture, the number 8 is supposedly magical -- simply having it in your house number or address means prosperity. A Chinese citizen once paid over $270,000 to buy the right to use the phone number 8888-8888.

It's all superstitious nonsense, and it's about time someone said so. To quote statistician Chip Denman, "Luck is probability taken personally."

When the MGM Grand opened in Las Vegas, they used the lion from their famous logo as the entranceway. You would walk through the lion's mouth to enter the casino from The Strip. After being in business for a few months, management noticed that they weren't getting as many Asian gamblers as the other casinos nearby. It turned out that, in many Asian cultures, walking into the mouth of a lion was "bad luck," so they avoided the place like the plague. At a cost of millions, MGM rebuilt the entrance, removing the giant lion mouth. Soon, the MGM had its share of Asian gamblers.

If only someone had taken them aside and pointed out that they were still losing at the tables and slot machines just like everywhere else in town, despite entering through a luckier doorway. I doubt many of them became rich by betting on the number 8.

I'm not laying all of this at the non-eight-toed feet of the Chinese. Here in the US Friday, news people at hospitals reported "lucky" babies being born, including many who were induced or mothers who had c-sections so the child would have a "lucky" birthday.

Unfortunately, none of the media outlets that report this garbage ever goes back to check and see if it leads to anything. Was Thursday an unlucky day? How about today?

In a nation that boasts 20% of the world's population, I'm sure that on Friday there were plenty of Chinese people who were injured, got fired, went hungry, broke up with their boyfriends, got divorced, lost their keys, missed their train, got a flat tire, stubbed their toe, failed an exam, or even died -- all on their "luckiest day of the year."

The numbers on the calendar had no relation to the reality of their lives, but being skeptical and reasonable doesn't make as good a story as the tens of thousands of couples that chose 8/8/08 as their wedding day.

It's this half-cocked media mentality that continues to breed superstitious flummery everywhere. What's the last time you were in a building with a 13th floor? From the signs on the doors to the buttons in the elevator, the number 13 is missing. If the building was more than a dozen stories high, then it must have had a 13th floor, but it's unlikely anyone acknowledged it.

If 8 is lucky and 13 is unlucky, let's see a study conducted to see if all the businesses on the 8th floor of a building were more successful than those on the 13th floor. Then try it with those numbers in an address. Then compare the lives of children born on those respective days.

Then remember that dates are arbitrary contrivances, depending on where you are and who set up the calendar. In fact, in China, this is the year 4706.

Funny, not an 8 in sight.

Knuckleheads In The News ®

Today's stories include a cheesecake bomb, a heist foiled by a passerby, and a man who woke up moments before his autopsy.

Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

This podcast is made possible by Champion Windows Siding & Patio Rooms.
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Cube Busters

Every time I mention The Mythbusters, I get a blast of e-mail from other fans of the show, so here are Adam and Jamie solving Rubik's Cube in a unique way...

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Poll Vault

Every day, media outlets report the latest horse-race polls from Gallup, Rasmussen, and others. What they don't say is how little it means that Obama leads McCain 47-43% in national polls, because we don't elect presidents that way. The popular vote -- as Al Gore well knows -- doesn't decide the race.

To be responsible, pollsters and the news media should only be reporting those percentages on a state-by-state basis, and concentrate more on what voter responses mean to the electoral college map. This site does just that, and has Obama leading McCain 289-213, more than enough to get him elected.

Speaking of pollsters, Paul Maslin and Jonathan Brown wonder if their industry is under-estimating support for Obama because they only poll people with listed landline numbers, and many of his supporters are younger, cell-phone-only users.

Let Becky Play And Get Paid


Amid all the Olympics hoopla, there's some controversy about an American basketball player named Becky Hammon. She's a four-time WNBA all-star who really wanted to play in the Olympics, but US coach Anne Donovan didn't choose her. So Hammon found another route.

In addition to being a point guard most of the year for San Antonio, Hammon also plays in a winter league for a team in Moscow (where's she's paid $500,000/year, not bad for a woman playing pro ball). Seeing an opportunity, she spoke with officials of the Russian Olympic squad who, recognizing her talents, gave her a spot on the team on the condition that she become a Russian citizen. When Hammon agreed, they promised her a $200,000 bonus if the team wins the gold.

Back home, Donovan wasn't happy to hear that Hammon would be playing for the Russians. With Cold War bitterness in her voice, she proclaimed Hammon a traitor: "If you play in this country, live in this country, and you grow up in the heartland, and you put on a Russian uniform, you are not a patriotic person, in my mind."

Hammon responded that she's playing well within the rules, that this happens all the time, and just wants to play basketball. Ironically, this is going down at the same time Russia is involved in an ugly real-world border war in Georgia, but don't lay that at Hammon's feet. She's right, and Donovan should be ashamed.

There are 39 foreign-born athletes on the US Olympic team. The man who carried the Stars & Stripes Friday night at the Opening Ceremonies was Lopez Lomong, who has been a US citizen for all of 13 months. As one of the Lost Boys of Sudan, his is an inspirational story, a kid whose family was torn apart by the violence in his homeland, who escaped confinement, made it to a refugee camp in Kenya, and finally to the US under a program to relocate children from his war-torn nation.

Eight years ago, Lomong didn't even know what the Olympics were until friends at the refugee camp ran five miles with him to watch the 2000 games on a black-and-white TV with a fuzzy picture. When he saw Michael Johnson win gold in the 400, Lomong decided he wanted to be an Olympic runner. Now he'll run the 1,500 meters for the US. The other two runners on that squad are also recently naturalized citizens on that squad -- Bernard Lagat of Kenya and Leo Manzano of Mexico.

We're a long way from Al Michaels asking, "Do you believe in miracles?" as the American hockey team beat the Soviets in 1980. Although websites and news outlets will continue to report the medal count by country, those international borders mean less than ever.

Will Houston Rockets fans root against Yao Ming just because he's the center of the Chinese team? Will Chinese fans boo Wang Chen, who was born in Beijing but now plays ping-pong for the US?

Aside from the highly partisan world of international soccer (where even David Beckham now plays for an American team), the same questions can be asked in other sports. Did it matter that Ichiro was from Japan, or Sammy Sosa from the Dominican Republic, or Wayne Gretzky was Canadian?

With her old-school notion of patriotic competition, the state of world sports has passed Anne Donovan by. These contests are about individual achievement, not nation vs. nation. Sure, they still play your national anthem and raise your flag when you win, but you don't have to be an American to recognize Michael Phelps' greatness in the pool, or that of other athletes at their best.

Of course, what the Olympic Games are really about is the bottom line -- for the advertisers, the broadcasters, the host city trying to drum up business and tourism, and yes, the participants who want lucrative endorsement deals and contracts.

There's the real international language: money.

Comedian Interviews

Here's another batch of interview transcripts from my radio show in Washington, DC, in the 1990s.


These are some of the comedians who were always money-in-the-bank guests. Aside from Penn Jillette and Bob Newhart, they were club comedians who came into the studio whenever they were in town to play The Improv or the Comedy Cafe. Many of them have gone on to play much bigger venues or gotten sitcoms. In the case of Jeni, Johannsen, and Regan, I have dug up transcripts from two of their visits...

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Bush Volleyball

Mr. President, be careful where you put your hands when you're hanging with the beach volleyballers...


Friday, August 08, 2008

Bernie Brillstein

Upon hearing the news that Hollywood legend Bernie Brillstein died last night, I remembered an interview I did with him in 1999, which I have dug out of my archives for you. Brillstein, one of the most powerful and best-liked talent managers in the business, had just published his autobiography, "Where Did I Go Right? You're No One In Hollywood Unless Someone Wants You Dead"

On the air, we talked about his role in the birth of "Saturday Night Live" and the death of John Belushi. He also worked with Jim Henson for some three decades and was full of Muppets stories. And we touched on how he helped guide "Ghostbusters" to the big screen and save Rob Lowe's career after two very public mistakes.

Towards the end, I asked Brillstein to name someone he was managing who wasn't famous then but soon would be. The name he offered: Wayne Brady, who has parlayed his role on "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" into a pretty successful TV-and-Vegas career.

Listen.

Knuckleheads In The News ®

Today's stories include a truck stolen from the guy who stole it, an exhibitionist with a hammer and motor oil, and an elevator full of cheerleaders.

Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

This podcast is made possible by Champion Windows Siding & Patio Rooms.
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For factory-direct savings, call 314-692-7300 or visit their showroom.

Cell-Free Subs

Seen in a Subway store in Idaho last week (as posted on Consumerist)...

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Knuckleheads In The News ®

Today's stories include a slot machine loser, the wrong place to ask directions, and a woman on a donkey vs. a lion.

Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

This podcast is made possible by Champion Windows Siding & Patio Rooms.
They've done great work for me, and I recommend them to you!
For factory-direct savings, call 314-692-7300 or visit their showroom.

Ray Charles & Jackie Mason

TV variety show history is full of odd musical pairings: Bing Crosby and David Bowie, Barbra Streisand and Don Johnson, and this one -- Ray Charles and Jackie Mason. It's from season three of the legendary CBS Smothers Brothers show, which will be on DVD in a couple of weeks...

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Mythbusters return

DVR Alert: after a long hiatus, "Mythbusters" returns to its regular slot on the Discovery Channel tonight for the first of eleven new shows. That special two-hour show Adam and Jamie did last week helped bring a record number of viewers to Shark Week.

Celeb-Response

I've never cared one bit about Paris Hilton or anything she's done, but this video in response to the McCain campaign ad that called Obama a celebrity like her is pretty clever.

Knuckleheads In The News ®

Today you get two stories about being on the wrong track and one story about assault by lasagna.

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This podcast is made possible by Champion Windows Siding & Patio Rooms.
They've done great work for me, and I recommend them to you!
For factory-direct savings, call 314-692-7300 or visit their showroom.

He'd Happily Give You The Finger


Meet Heramb Ashok Kumthekar, whose fingers you can't count on two hands, because he has 12. Not to mention 14 toes. You know what they say about men with extra appendages...they can't find gloves and shoes that fit.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Christine Brennan in Beijing

This morning on KIRO/Seattle, Christine Brennan joined me live from Beijing, where she's covering the Summer Olympics for USA Today (read her blog).

She told a great story about Dara Torres, the 41-year-old mother of two who is competing in the pool at her fifth Olympics (Christine first met her as a 17-year-old at the 1984 games). We also talked about Michael Phelps' chances to break Mark Spitz's record by winning 8 gold medals, and the controversies surrounding the US swimming team in the wake of Jessica Hardy's disqualification for drugs.

I also asked Christine about the pollution in Beijing and the masks some athletes are wearing to deal with it (the USOC has offered them to everyone on the team, but USA Today apparently hasn't), and whether she thinks we'll see any of them wearing the masks at the opening ceremonies on Friday.

Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!


As I've done before when Christine has been on my show, I'll recommend her book, "Best Seat In The House," about growing up with sports as a bond with her father, which led to her becoming one of the country's top sportswriters. It's a terrific read and shows why she's a role model to young women like my daughter.

What's a Windfall?

Quick question for Sen. Obama and anyone else who supports a windfall profits tax on the oil companies: How do you define "windfall"? Be specific in explaining at what point a company has made too much money, and in what other industry you would apply the same standard. Discuss.

Knuckleheads In The News ®

Today's stories include a horse that didn't want to go to the bathroom, a man who called 911 over a sandwich, and a doctor who can't upgrade to DSL because of his name.

Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

This podcast is made possible by Champion Windows Siding & Patio Rooms.
They've done great work for me, and I recommend them to you!
For factory-direct savings, call 314-692-7300 or visit their showroom.

Olympics Opening Ceremony Video

Every time the Olympics roll around, the host nation goes over the top with its opening ceremonies while viewers around the world watch and wonder "what the hell was that?"

Last week, a reporter and cameraman from a South Korean TV station got into the bird's nest stadium in Beijing and shot footage of a rehearsal for this Friday's big show.

The video quickly made it online, where the IOC has been forcing sites like YouTube to take it down and caused others to prohibit embedding of the clip. But here's one that's still up, on the site of the Australian newspaper The Daily Telegraph.

You'll have to sit through a :30 commercial first, and then it would help if you spoke Korean, but even so, you'll see the standard stuff which proves that glitzy pomp still doesn't work on a stadium-wide level.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Will NBC Show The Real China?

On KIRO/Seattle today, I talked with TV critic Aaron Barnhart about the upcoming coverage of the Summer Olympics, including whether NBC will show us the real China or the glossed-over public relations version Beijing is hoping for.

We also discussed his discovery that Oprah's ratings have fallen this summer to the point where, in some markets, she's now third or fourth in her time slot. Does this have anything to do with her very public support of Barack Obama?

Finally, we took some questions from listeners about what Aaron knows about returning shows like "24," "Lost," "Smallville," and more.

Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

Is Green Good Business?

Today on KIRO/Seattle, I spoke with Joel Makower about how more and more businesses are discovering that going green can be not just good for the environment, but good for the bottom line, too.

It's not just the auto companies, which have been late to that realization, but businesses of all sizes, from small local shops to multi-national corporations. Interestingly, Joel says that some companies have made positive progress but tried to keep it quiet for fear of being called out for not being green enough.

We also discussed the future of plug-in electric vehicles and the need for a whole new infrastructure to support them.

Listen, then read Joel's blog and visit his Greenbiz.com site, too. He has a new book due in October, "Strategies for a Green Economy," which you can pre-order now.

He'll Phil Randi's Shoes


That's a shot I took with my iPhone at The Amazing Meeting in June of Dr. Phil Plait making a presentation to James Randi -- a bowl full of envelopes containing messages from the 900+ attendees about how much Randi has meant to them and to skeptics everywhere.

Today, the James Randi Educational Foundation announced that Phil has been named President of the organization, as Randi steps up to Chairman of the Board of Directors. This is a perfect position for Phil, who gained renown as The Bad Astronomer and has, through his public appearances and his hugely-popular blog (now part of Discover Magazine), become one of the leading advocates for science and reason and the skeptics movement. He's also, as far as I know, the only person who has been on stage as a speaker at all six Amazing Meetings.

As a member of JREF who is proud to call both Randi and Phil my friend, I congratulate them both on helping to take the organization to the next level, giving a new generation of skeptics a role model of its own, and ensuring that the fight against frauds and fakers will continue.

Van Doren Speaks


For the first time, Charles Van Doren has written about the game show scandal he found himself in the midst of a half-century ago when "Twenty-One" made him a star (and later the central character in Robert Redford's movie, "Quiz Show," which I have just added to my Movies You Might Not Know list).

My personal connection to that scandal: my father was a contestant on another quiz show, "Tic Tac Dough," at about the same time. He won a little bit of money, went home, but because the shows were live, he never got to see himself, so that was that. Or so he thought, until he was subpoenaed by the New York District Attorney to explain what he knew about the producers supplying the contestants with answers. Dad was genuinely surprised to hear about this, since they hadn't given him an iota of information, so he simply relied on his own knowledge on the show.

He joked about it to me later, wondering why they hadn't chosen him to cheat, and how he could have been so naive as to be in the midst of a scandal without having any idea that some of his fellow contestants had been supplied the questions and answers ahead of time. On the other hand, it made his visit to the DA's office fairly short, as they quickly determined that he wasn't involved.

Knuckleheads In The News ®

Today's stories include a trucker who couldn't hold it, an escalator hurdler, and a fight that ended with a lost nose.

Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

This podcast is made possible by Champion Windows Siding & Patio Rooms.
They've done great work for me, and I recommend them to you!
For factory-direct savings, call 314-692-7300 or visit their showroom.

Senator Cockypants?

With this segment of "The Daily Show" from Thursday night, Jon Stewart and his writers again proved themselves the best quick response team in politics. Here's Stewart reacting to McCain's attack ad associating Obama with Britney Spears and Paris Hilton -- an ad that appeared far more on the 24-hour news networks blab-a-thons than it did in actual paid-commercial-time.

I can't help but think about the line that ends every commercial paid for by a candidate's campaign: "I'm so-and-so and I approved this message." Quite often in McCain's case, when a journalist later asks him about a controversial ad, he says he doesn't want his campaign to be about that, or disavows it in some other way. Unfortunately, the journalist never follows up with, "Then why did you approve that message?" The answer of course, is that he didn't. His campaign people didn't run it by him, and he didn't sign off on it. But if he can't control his own staff and the message they're sending on his behalf, what does that say about his leadership ability?

As for Stewart, while other TV hosts are doing your basic monologue jokes about the candidates, this piece is more than comedy. It's brilliant satire mixed with serious analysis of the mixed messages voters are getting in what was supposed to be a "different kind of campaign." It also says a lot about how American media outlets of all shapes and sizes are so easily turned into repeaters of bogus issues drummed up by the GOP hit squads...

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Classic Rock Interviews

I was digging around in my hard drive today and found a bunch of interviews from the 1990s, when I was on the air in Washington, DC. Back then, I didn't have a way to post the audio on this site, so our interns sat down and transcribed them for me. They remain the only record I have of those conversations, which I thought you might be interested in.

I'll post them a few at a time over the next few weeks, beginning with some well-known classic rockers, plus photographer Henry Diltz, who shot the cover photos for some famous classic rock albums

Worth A Link

  • Glenn Greenwald on the death of Bruce Ivins, the man apparently responsible for the 2001 anthrax attacks, the attempts to blame them on Saddam Hussein in post-9/11 America, and the role of ABC News in spreading misinformation about the story
  • Dan Rather on why summer polls on the presidential election are meaningless (in the summer of 1988, Michael Dukakis was up 17 points on George HW Bush)
  • The latest look-what-we-found item from the Beatles archives is a tape of the foursome recording the "Beatles For Sale" album in 1964 -- or trying to, anyway, when their session wasn't devolving into a giggling fit
  • Elizabeth Zierah on the misery of losing her sense of smell

Friday, August 01, 2008

Jamy Ian Swiss


The New Yorker recently ran an in-depth piece on magic and magicians, with a heavy emphasis on my friend Jamy Ian Swiss, who is widely acknowledged to be one of the best sleight-of-hand guys in the world. That's him in the picture above, not being David Blaine.

The story takes you from David Copperfield's massive magic warehouse in Las Vegas to Tannen's, a small store in New York where many young magicians bought and learned their first tricks. Also discussed in Adam Gopnik's piece: Penn & Teller, Dai Vernon, Blaine, and Houdini. But Jamy is the centerpiece of this magical tour, and I'm happy to see him get the attention he deserves.

For several years, he has been running Monday Night Magic, a stage show in Manhattan featuring magicians and carnival performers that changes every week. He is also a magic historian, columnist for magic magazines, and has helped create illusions for Penn & Teller and others. Now, Jamy is taking off for the west coast with his cards, cups, and balls -- plus his latest creation, the mentalism show "Heavy Mental" (there's a sample video here). If you ever hear that Jamy is performing anywhere near you, run to see him.

Read the entire New Yorker piece here.