Thursday, April 30, 2009

American Snowmobiler

Here's Sarah Palin talking to the "American Chopper" guys on the episode that debuts tonight on TLC. I think that's the couch she shot from the plane...

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Exclusivity

In the last 30 hours, I have seen and heard seven different media outlets -- radio and TV -- tout their "exclusive" interviews with Sen. Arlen Spector about his party switch.

There was a time when "exclusive" meant "we were the only ones to get this, and boy, are the others jealous of us." Now it means "we were the only ones with cameras and microphones pointed at him while he said this, while the other reporters waited in the hall, but after we left, they came in and recorded him saying the exact same things."

By the way, this blog entry was an exclusive. No one else thought to mention this. On this site. Tonight.

Final Table #14: Jamie Gold

We had a great show last night on The Final Table. I was in St. Louis while Dennis Phillips was in Monte Carlo, playing in the EPT Grand Final.

We talked about a couple of hands he played yesterday on Day 1A on his way to a stack of about 70,000 chips (from 30,000 to start), which puts Dennis in the middle of the pack right now. Then we were joined by Jamie Gold for an extended and very frank conversation about:

  • how he changed his style after winning the 2006 WSOP Main Event, and what he didn't change;
  • what it was like playing earlier this month at the Irish Open, where he made the final table;
  • the difference in playing Europeans vs. Americans (and Dennis chimed in on his recent experiences at the table with Latin Americans);
  • why he loved playing heads-up with Mike Sexton on "Poker After Dark";
  • why Doyle Brunson laid down a higher flush to Jamie on a classic episode of "High Stakes Poker";
  • tournaments imposing the "Jamie Gold Rule," prohibiting players from talking about their hands and trying to psych out their opponents (one of his specialties).
We also had Joe "The Poker Coach" McGowan explaining how he made the final table at the Main Event of the Venetian Deep Stack Tournament this weekend and managed to move up the payout ladder, even when he was short-stacked.

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

Another Movie You Might Not Know

I'm adding a comedy about Watergate to my Movies You Might Not Know list.

It's called "Dick," and stars Kirsten Dunst and Michele Williams as teenagers living in an apartment at the Watergate who sneak out one night to mail a letter, leaving tape over the latch of a door so they can get back in. It just so happens that this is the same night G. Gordon Liddy and his Plumbers were breaking into Democratic National Headquarters in the same complex. Pretty soon, the girls are ensnared in the cover up when President Nixon invites them to be his official White House dog walkers, and they witness the bumbling and corruption unraveling from the inside.

Look at this cast: Dan Hedaya as Nixon, Harry Shearer as Liddy, Will Farrell as Bob Woodward, Dave Foley as Bob Haldeman, Ana Gasteyer as Rosemary Woods, Jim Breuer as John Dean, and Saul Rubinek as Henry Kissinger. Writer/director Andrew Fleming keeps "Dick" silly but clever. Here's the trailer...


Got a movie you think should be on the Movies You Might Not Know list? Add it to the comments.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

There's No "I" In Team...

...but there's supposed to be an "o" in Nationals.



This photo inspired Fred Jacobs to blog about a pet peeve we share -- people who don't check their spelling and grammar before letting the rest of the world see their work. BTW, it wasn't just one player -- two members of the Washington baseball club had the team name spelled incorrectly on their jerseys.

Update: They only wore them for the first three innings before someone noticed, then went into the locker room and changed into jerseys with the correct spelling. The President of Majestic Athletic, which makes the shirts, apologized and took responsibility.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Two Weird Things, One Cool Thing

1) I just turned on NBC to see how Jimmy Fallon's new "Late Night" show is doing, and they're having a major sound problem -- his mike doesn't seem to be on. The studio audience can apparently hear him, because they're reacting as usual, and we can hear them (and the band), but not one word of Fallon's monologue is making it to my TV's speakers.

Update at 11:50pm: after a commercial break, Fallon's back, his mike is on, and Regis Philbin is in the guest chair, carrying the show by telling classic Regis stories. But it turns out that this is a rerun from March 23rd. Why would NBC rerun a show with a gaping technical problem? More importantly, since Fallon starting doing "Late Night" less than two months ago, why is he already taking a vacation week?

2) I had some free time this afternoon, so I went to see "I Love You, Man." Paul Rudd is always enjoyable, Jason Segal's funny, JK Simmons and Jane Curtin play Rudd's parents, Jaime Pressly and Jon Favreau steal a few scenes as a married couple that shouldn't be married, and Lou Ferrigno's in there, too. The weird part: the movie is about a guy (Rudd) who is getting married, but has no male friends he can ask to be his best man. And there I was sitting alone in the theater -- except for one other guy, several rows away.

3) Dish Network has something new on Channel 212. It's a live shot of Earth from a camera on one of their satellites. Not exactly something I'm going to watch often (or record on the DVR), but pretty cool nonetheless.

Worth A Link

Frozen Explanation

On Friday, I posted the video of a short by Adam Berg of an action movie sequence frozen in time. Here's his explanation of how they did it, including the stunt guys who really did stand that still through the shot.

High School Reunion

Andrea Wachner wasn't excited about going to her 10-year high school reunion in Palos Verdes, California. She never liked the fact that the upper-class community was so snobby, and those years were hell for her. She also knew that the night would be about everyone trying to show off how well they'd turned out and how their life was better than everyone else's.

But then she hit on a clever idea.

Andrea hired a stripper named Cricket to play her at the party, while she watched and listened from a room above the hotel ballroom where the reunion took place, feeding info to Cricket about her classmates and telling he what to say. The stripper told anyone who asked that she was Andrea, but looked different because of reconstructive surgery after a car crash she'd been in after high school. At the end of the evening, Andrea even had Cricket do what she does best -- strip.

As for the video crew, Cricket told everyone it was for a documentary she was doing about artists called "Work to Live, Live to Work." In reality, it was for a movie that Andrea is trying to sell in Hollywood about the experience, called "I Remember Andrea."

Here's some of what happened that night...

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Where's Mommy?

Several e-mailers were taken with the 911 audio I played on WLS/Chicago this morning. It's a 6-year-old boy who woke up at 1:30am and went looking for his mother. When he couldn't find her anywhere in the house, he called the cops.

As you listen to this, note how well the 911 operator handles this situation. She's no doubt hardened by years of middle-of-the-night calls of crimes in progress, domestic violence, automobile accidents, etc. But she uses just the right tone with this little boy, who is living a child's nightmare, and gets a patrol car over there to see what's going on. When they arrived, they found the boy with the phone in one hand and his blanket in the other, with his little sister at his side, crying.

It turned out that the mother, Rene Hester, had gone to a convenience store to fill her gas tank. Why she had to do that at 1:30am, or what else she was up to before returning a half-hour later, is still under investigation. However, there were no other adults in the house, there's no father around, and Rene is only 23 years old -- meaning she had her son at 17 and her daughter at 19. Not a prescription for parental success.

Listen.

Pakistan

Aryn Baker joined me again today on WLS/Chicago. She's the Time magazine correspondent who's been writing about the advance of the Taliban in Pakistan.

I asked her why the government was so impotent in fighting the Taliban, whether this is about fundamentalism or simply a power grab, and how the Taliban is taking over the country one town at a time. Since Pakistan is a nuclear nation with a fragile government, we also discussed the threat to the world of a country that's falling apart, and what the US and other western countries can do about it.

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

Friday, April 24, 2009

Freeze!

Take an entire action movie sequence, stop it, then do a tracking shot thru the scene in a frozen combination of live action and special effects, and you end up with this remarkable short by Adam Berg...


[thanks to Peter Ball for the link]

Putting the Poke in Cow Poke

Scott Rodgers plays and sings the Social Media Blues...


[thanks to Stuart Snyder for the link]

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Palindrome Video

You could watch this video forwards or backwards, and it would look just like this:


[thanks to Marco B for the link]

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Irreconcilable Differences


When I started the Movies You Might Not Know list, I vowed that it would only include movies that had been released on DVD. That meant leaving off films I enjoyed in the theater, like "Carny" and "Wrestling Ernest Hemingway," which have yet to become available.

That can't-list group also included "Irreconcilable Differences," but I'm happy to say I can now add it to the list because it's finally available for home viewing, 25 years after its release.

The movie stars a very young Drew Barrymore as a 9-year-old girl who wants to divorce her parents, Ryan O'Neal and Shelley Long. But it's less about Barrymore's character than it is about the relationship between the adults, beginning when he's a film professor hitchhiking across country to a new job at UCLA when she picks him up in her fiancee's car on her way to getting married in San Diego. Before long, their meet-cute scenario evolves into a funny satire of the moviemaking business, with Sharon Stone (in her pre-diva nearly-unknown days), Sam Wanamaker, and a short funny sequence with Stuart Pankin (remember him from "Not Necessarily The News," which is also not yet on DVD?) as an assistant director trying to keep O'Neal sane during the filming of a musical version of "Gone With The Wind."

O'Neal gives a comic performance on par with his work in "Paper Moon" and "What's Up Doc?" (observant viewers may note a similarity in O'Neal luggage, too). As for Long, she matches him every step of the way, doing her best work outside of "Cheers." The movie devolves into a little bit of family-drama treacle towards the end, but now that "Irreconcilable Differences" is on DVD, it's more than worth your time.

See the entire Movies You Not Know list, and add your suggestions!

Final Table #13: Tournament Stories

We were forced to do a truncated version of my poker show, The Final Table, this week. So, Dennis Phillips told a couple of stories about his trip to Argentina to play another Latin American Poker Tour tournament, and then Dennis, Joe McGowan, and I discussed a couple of hands he played there, and a tournament hand that I played recently. He also told a story about a hand Chris Moneymaker lost when he and two other players got all their money in pre-flop, and Chris' pocket kings came in third.

Next week, we'll be back with a full hour-long show. Dennis will be at the EPT final event in Monte Carlo, but will join me by phone and we'll finally have that conversation with Jamie Gold that I promised you.

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

Super Slo-Mo

This is a sample reel for a super-slo-mo camera called the I-Movix SprintCam, which the company is showing off this week at the NAB convention. It shoots at 1,000 frames per second (as opposed to 24fps for film and 30fps for video). Enjoy the jiggling -- at the end...


[thanks to Jon Michelson for the link]

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

PPM


Tim Cavanaugh explains the controversy in the radio industry over the Personal People Meter, the device Arbitron came up with to replace the diary method of tracking who listens to what station -- technology that has forced some owners to flip formats after finding out how small their audience really was.

Larynx Of A Thousand Voices

Video of Mel Blanc's vocal chords as he does Bugs Bunny, Barney Rubble, Sylvester & Tweety, Porky Pig, Pepe Le Pew, and more...


[thanks to Boing Boing for the link]

Monday, April 20, 2009

Print Money

I have lamented the death of some daily newspapers in this country, and done shows about the dire straits the industry finds itself in. But the last thing we need is Congress stepping in to help save newspapers -- because this is not the role of government.

Next week, Senator John Kerry's commerce subcommittee will hold hearings on the financial problems of newspapers. To what end? A bailout for publishers whose bottom line has dropped even lower? Let's hope not.

As I have discussed before, journalists may have to develop a method by which their readers, both in print and online, pay for the privilege of being informed. In the changing media equation, each outlet must find its own way, without government intervention or subsidies.

The US Senate has as little to do with saving newspapers as it does with steroids in baseball. Not that that stopped them from sticking their noses where they don't belong.

We've heard this "newspapers are dying" cry before. Take a look at what Reason's Jesse Walker found in an essay about the newspaper industry from 1918...

Cuba Not So Gooding

Last week, the Obama administration loosened some of the restrictions on the US relationship with Cuba that his predecessor had put in place.

Cuban-Americans will be allowed to make more visits to their homeland and transfer money to family members still there, but you and I still can't go to Havana whenever we want. US telecommunications firms will be able to get licenses to provide cell phone and TV service to Cubans, but the economic embargo that's been in place for half a century has not been lifted.

Fifty years. That's how long Castro has been in power, and his reign over Cuba hasn't seemed affected by the US embargo. So, why continue it? Mostly because of the pressure from Cuban exiles who wield disproportionate political power in the swing state of Florida, particularly around Miami. And then there's that other important reason. We have to, er, wait a minute, um, I'm drawing a blank.

There is no reason to keep up the embargo on Cuba. I'm in no way defending the Castro regime, but how can we defend treating Cuba differently than we do other communist nations? We have normalized relations with Vietnam. It's been years since the US gave most favored nation status to China -- no matter what Castro has done to his people, it pales in comparison to the human rights violations that continue to this day in China.

We've changed our policies regarding those countries because we want to sell soda and computer chips there. China, with its 1.2 billion population, is a marketplace that big business drools over. So, our leadership looks the other way when it comes to human rights problems (plus, we're so far in debt to them that we have to be careful what we say -- you don't yell at your landlord when you're six months late with the rent!). But we should be philosophically consistent. If open trade and travel are good for China, they're good for Cuba, too.

I'm fifty years old. For my entire life, I've been swearing that I'd go on a diet and finally get in shape. But I know I'm just lying to myself. As long as there are still pizza and ice cream and Pepsi in the world, I'm going to be a fat guy.

The United States must recognize its own self-delusion. Now that we've had the Cuban embargo in effect for half a century -- and haven't been able to convince the rest of the world, which continues to trade with and travel to Cuba, to join us -- it's time to admit that nothing has changed, nor is it likely to, on that island nation.

Look in the mirror, America. You've been on the Castro diet for half a century, and you're still fat.

Fresh Breath of Pine

Here's a story I did on my WLS/Chicago Saturday morning show, during Knuckleheads In The News®. It's about Artyom Sidorkin, a Russian guy who was diagnosed with cancer, but when surgeons operated on him, they found a tiny little pine tree in his lung...

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Your NPR Name

Liana Maeby writes:

I recently discovered a shared fascination with the slew of impossibly named NPR hosts we listen to every day: Renee Montagne, Steve Inskeep, Corey Flintoff, Korva Coleman, Kai Ryssdal, Dina Temple-Raston.

In fact, we’ve often wondered what it would be like to be one of them. A Nina Totenberg or a Renita Jablonski. A David Kestenbaum or a Lakshmi Singh. Even (on our most ambitious days) a Cherry Glaser or a Sylvia Poggioli.

So finally, after years of Fresh Air sign-off ambitions, we came up with a system for creating our own NPR Names. Here’s how it works: You take your middle initial and insert it somewhere into your first name. Then you add on the smallest foreign town you’ve ever visited.

So I’m Liarna Kassel. And Eric is Jeric Bath. I even have a new nickname for my little brother in Dylsan Rosarita.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Idol's Save & Susan's Song

This morning on WLS/Chicago, I talked with Dave Dellaterza of VoteForTheWorst.com about the "American Idol" judges using their first-ever save to keep Matt Giraud on the show. We also discussed the other contestants -- he wants you to vote for Lil Rounds to keep her around -- and the show's timing problems.

Then we got into a discussion of Susan Boyle, the English woman who became a YouTube sensation this week when the clip of her singing on "Britain's Got Talent" turned her into an instant star. Everyone's saying she is proof that you can't judge a book by its cover, but the fact is that if she couldn't sing, she would have been the target of derision because of the way she looks and her spinster-ish life story.

She wasn't up for this much praise when people couldn't see her a decade ago. That's when Boyle contributed a song to a British charity CD which only sold 1,000 copies (some of which are probably on eBay right now because of the "BGT" viral video). The Daily Record got a copy of her version of "Cry Me A River," which you can hear here.

Listen to my conversation with Dave, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Tom Davis

Al Franken and Tom Davis were among the original writers on "Saturday Night Live." While Franken has gone on to other successes, including an any-day-now seat in the US Senate, Davis has spent most of his life ingesting alcohol and narcotics. He's very frank about that in his new book, "39 Years of Short Term Memory Loss: The Early Days of SNL from Someone Who Was There."

Davis joined me today on WHAS/Louisville to reminisce about those experiences, from creating the Coneheads and Theodoric of York (Medieval Barber) to appearing as a talking mime in one of the show's classic sketches, "The Pepsi Syndrome." We also discussed the drug culture and what they got away with then that they couldn't do now, the disastrous "SNL in New Orleans" primetime show in 1977 that has never been rerun, and Franken & Davis' appearance in the movie "Trading Places."

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

The War in Afghanistan

Today on WHAS/Louisville, I talked with Time magazine writer Aryn Baker about her cover story on the US war in Afghanistan. She says the effort is muddled, and quotes an Army commander who says, "We are not going to kill our way out of this war."

Baker explained what has to be done in Afghanistan and how long it'll take to do it, how the people there view America, and how the real threat is next door in Pakistan, where a different branch of the Taliban is threatening the leadership of a nation that's a nuclear power. We also discussed the resurgence of women's rights issues in Afghanistan, where the religious extremists are oppressing women yet again, passing a new law that regulates when and why a wife may leave her home and must accede to her husband's sexual desires.

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

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Idol Time

Before giving birth to our daughter, my wife worked behind-the-scenes in the television news business. Along the way, one of her many responsbilities was making sure that everything ran on time. She spent a lot of time adding up segment lengths, double-checking the duration of pre-recorded packages, and then counting backwards to zero in the control room to ensure that the newscast ended when it was supposed to.

They could have used her at "American Idol."

Again last night, the show ran a couple of minutes over, and there's no excuse for it. They're down to seven contestants, who each sang a single song for about 90 seconds. Even with the Quentin Tarantino advice sessions, there's no reason that the show should have gone long, or been so hurried that only two of the judges got to speak after each performance.

That was a particularly bad decision, because without Simon's opinion, the judges panel is useless. Randy and Paula say essentially the same thing every week. As for Kara, last night she criticized Kris Allen for singing "Falling Slowly" from "Once" (the theme for the night was songs from movies) by wondering why he chose such an obscure song. Obscure? Not only was it the most contemporary of choices, but the tune won an Academy Award for Best Song! But I'm sure that in Kara's mind, it's obscure if it doesn't fit the power ballad roster of Bryan Adams and Whitney Houston dreck that the show is already too full of. I'd rather hear "Falling Slowly" than the 18,000,000,000th version of "I Will Always Love You" (surprisingly, no one chose that theme from "The Bodyguard" to over-sing).

As far as timing does, "American Idol" should either go back to three judges (get rid of Randy first, or make it Simon alone), cut out the other interstitial nonsense, or hire my wife and her stopwatch!

Tax Year 1913

Before you submit your tax return today, take a look at the 1040 form you had to fill out in 1913 -- it was all of three pages.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Final Table #12: Tournament vs. Cash Play

This week on my poker radio show, The Final Table, Dennis Phillips and I talked about Scotty Nguyen's guarantee that he'll make $4 million at this year's World Series Of Poker or he'll quit the game. Considering that only three people topped that figure last year (Dennis, Ivan Demidov, and Peter Eastgate), that's going to be a tall order for Scotty -- or anyone else.

Then Joe McGowan (The Poker Coach) went in-depth about a question we get from a lot of listeners -- what's the difference between playing in a tournament and playing in a live cash game? We also chatted with Kathy Raymond, who runs the big poker room at The Venetian (one of the nicest anywhere), where Dennis won a Deep Stack event last week.

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

House Fools

Two weeks ago, Hugh Laurie and his colleagues on "House" were shooting a scene at the elevators when the doors opened and they got a surprise entrance by members of the USC Trojans Marching Band, an acrobat, a ballerina, and a sumo wrestler. A little April Fool's joke from the producers...

Monday, April 13, 2009

Columbine


Next Monday marks the 10th anniversary of the deadliest high school shooting in US history. It was the massacre at Columbine, plotted and executed by Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold.

One of the first reporters on the scene was Dave Cullen, who has now put together the definitive book on the subject, simply entitled "Columbine." Over the last decade, he has done hundreds of interviews, read the killers' journals, talked with the FBI and local law enforcement, and looked at every detail of the story.

Today,I spent an hour with Dave talking about Columbine, particularly about the parts of the story which were wrong -- from the Trench Coat Mafia, to Harris and Klebold targeting jocks as revenge for being bullied, to the other scapegoats the media fed us. We discussed the mistakes made by the sheriff's department, how much blame should be placed on the boys' parents, and the zero-tolerance school security policies that cropped up in the wake of the shootings.

Cullen also debunked other myths, including the one about the girl who was turned into a martyr by evangelicals after Eric supposedly shot her because she said she believed in God. As Cullen points out, even calling this a "school shooting" is wrong, because that wasn't the plan. Harris and Klebold wanted to blow the place up and leave a lasting impression on the world.

If you think you know the story of Columbine, wait until you hear some of what Cullen uncovered. Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

Comedy In Black and White


You may know comedian Tom Dreesen from his dozens of appearances with Carson, Letterman, Leno, and other hosts, or his 14 years as Frank Sinatra's opening act. What you may not know is that he started his career as half of America's first (and last) black-and-white comedy team. His partner was Tim Reid -- best known for playing Venus Flytrap on "WKRP In Cincinnati" -- and their five years together are chronicled in "Tim & Tom: An American Comedy in Black and White."

Tom joined me today on WHAS/Louisville to talk about how the act started, how tough it was working at a time of racial and social upheaval (1969-74), whether they had more trouble with black or white audiences, how the Playboy clubs were an oasis that gave them venues to play across the country, and how a backstage fight led to their best show ever. He also explained why he thinks there hasn't been a black-and-white comedy team since, and why there's still a bias against the idea in show business.

I also talked to Tom about his friendship with David Letterman, his years touring with Sinatra, his time with Sammy Davis Jr., and his love of the Chicago Cubs (for whom he recently hosted an event at a funeral home, where all the Cubs curses were cremated).

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


Here's Tom's website.
Here's Tom's solo comedy album, "That White Boy's Crazy" from 1989.
Here's Tim Reid's solo comedy album from 1976.
Here's an album of Tim and Tom onstage in 1973.

Slydini

I can't embed this video, but it's a half-hour of amazing close-up magic by one of the greatest sleight-of-hand artists of all time, Tony Marucci, who used the stage name Slydini. In November, 1977, he appeared on Dick Cavett's PBS show and performed a half-hour of table tricks with cigarettes, coins, and a rope. Pure style in action.

Cavett writes about the experience here, and the video is about halfway down that page.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Anti-Theft Lunch Bag


The company that came up with this says,
"Tired of having your food stolen by sticky-fingered coworkers or roommates? Bullies taking your kid's lunch? Well, worry no more. Anti-Theft Lunch Bags are sandwich bags that have green splotches printed on both sides, making your freshly prepared lunch look spoiled. Don't suffer the injustice of having your sandwich stolen again! Protect your lunch with Anti-Theft Lunch Bags."

Thanks for the link to Jeff Olsen, who asks, "Wouldn't the thief still take your lunch, and then throw it away?"

If you do buy this product, you'll have to stop cutting your sandwich, or you'll ruin the effect when the thief sees mold in the gap between the two halves.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Billy Bob's Attitude Problem

Billy Bob Thornton appeared on a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation radio show this week to promote the new CD by his band, The Boxmasters. But after CBC host Jian Ghomeshi mentioned Thornton's movie career in the introduction, Billy Bob got so surly that he refused to answer questions with anything more than "I don't know what you're talking about" or similar nonsense.

I've encountered this a few times with guests. Sometimes publicists have asked me not to make an entire interview about something other than the guest's current project, but often it's imperative to mention previous work to offer the audience some perspective while still discussing what they're there to promote. Sometimes guests are having a bad day, sometimes they've been forced to run the gauntlet of media interviews for several hours, sometimes they just have a bad attitude. In any of those cases, they should cancel the interview instead of dragging the host -- and the audience -- through this boring, condescending dreck.

Years ago, I had a comedian (I won't name her, but you probably don't know her anyway) show up to do my morning show in Washington, DC. During a commercial break, I went out to greet her and bring her into the studio. On the way down the hall, she uttered, "I really don't want to do this right now. I hate this crap."

I stopped her right there, before we even got to the studio door, and told her, "Well, then, don't do my show today. Believe me, we'll have enough to talk about to keep my audience entertained without you coming in and being a jerk. On the other hand, if you can suck it up for long enough to go in there and have fun and be funny and sell some tickets to your comedy club appearance, which is why you're here in the first place, then let's go. Otherwise, no thanks. There's the door out of the building."

She looked at me, could see that I wasn't kidding, turned on her heels, and left in a huff. I proceeded into the studio and shared the whole incident with my audience. Later that day, the club owner -- with whom I had a great working relationship because the vast majority of his acts came on my show, had a great time, and sold a lot more tickets -- called to apologize and say he'd never had a comedian act that way before. It turned out that she was a pain all weekend, and the club never booked her again.

I'm surprised that Ghomeshi didn't say something similar to Thornton. I don't care how big a star he is, or thinks he is. There's no reason to ruin what could have been an interesting, and potentially profitable, interview over something as trivial as this. Even if Thornton's publicists asked Ghomeshi (or his producer) not to talk about acting and writing, a skillful guest could still have turned the interview into good promotion for his music.

Billy Bob doesn't have to worry about his career on the whole. He's been terrific in more movies than I can count, but if he really thinks that people are going to listen to him (on the radio or in a nightclub) because of his music, with no regard for that "other" career, he's sorely mistaken.

As you watch this, note how the other two members of Thornton's trio react. I'm sure it's not the first time they've encountered this behavior, and perhaps they've learned to put up with it. They shouldn't have to, and Thornton is way out of line with the way he treats Ghomeshi.


[thanks to Alison Heavener for the link]

Worth A Link

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Final Table #11: Poker Strategies

Last night on my poker radio show, The Final Table, Dennis Phillips and I talked about his recent win in the Venetian Deep Stack Tournament and some news about Texas Hold'em possibly becoming legal in, of all places, Texas.

Then we spent quite a bit of time with The Poker Coach, Joe McGowan, answering listener questions about various strategies like:

  • how to extract the most money when you flop four-of-a-kind;
  • why you should be careful about overplaying aces after the flop;
  • the concepts of "pot odds" and being "pot committed" for beginning players.
The Poker Lawyer, Josh Schindler, added a caveat for players who walk away a big winner and then go to the cashier only to discover that the casino wants some information they may not want to provide.

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

Recession As Entertainment

Tough economic times call for some compassionate television. Marc Berman, who writes The Programming Insider column for MediaWeek, reports:

Fox has ordered a new reality/competition called Someone's Gotta Go, which will feature employees at a downsizing firm competing to see who is fired. They will be given access to salaries, budgets and HR files, and each episode will focus on one small company.
In the second episode, it's revealed that the employees all work in the primetime programming division of Fox.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Meat House


Last night's guest star on "House" was billed as Meat Loaf Aday. Yes, that's the same guy who did "Paradise By The Dashboard Light," although he didn't look anything like the big, sweaty rock star waiting to score on the "Bat Out Of Hell" album.

As Meat Loaf, he never used his real name (Marvin Lee Aday) during his rock or acting careers, but I remember one other instance where a reference to his name made me smile. It was in 1980, a couple of years after he had burst on the scene, when he starred in "Roadie" (a movie that lasted in theaters for about one weekend).

The NY Times wrote a review and referred to him as Mr. Loaf.

Flutter

Who has time for a 140-character Tweet? Not the users of Flutter...

Monday, April 06, 2009

Another Movie You Might Not Know

I'm adding "Shattered Glass" to my Movies You Might Not Know list.

It's the story of Stephen Glass, a star writer for The New Republic in the mid-90s, famous for weaving fantastic stories of excess and insider access. It all came crashing down when some reporters from Forbes Digital uncovered falsehoods in a story Glass had written about online hackers. TNR had already been getting complaints from the subjects of previous Glass pieces that they, too, were more fiction than fact. In the end, TNR discovered that at least 27 of 41 pieces Glass had authored for the magazine were partially or wholly fabricated, and he was fired.

Hayden Christensen plays Glass as a young guy willing to do anything to get ahead and impress his colleagues and editors. Chloe Sevigny is a fellow reporter who believes Glass can do no wrong, Hank Azaria plays TNR editor Michael Kelly, and Peter Saarsgard gives a very solid performance as the new editor who uncovers Glass' deception. With just enough inside-journalism scenes to move the plot along, "Shattered Glass" tells the tale better than Glass did later in his (naturally) fictionalized account.

For more titles worth your time, see my entire Movies You Might Not Know list.

Pigasus Awards


Each year on April Fool's day, the James Randi Educational Foundation hands out its Pigasus Awards to people who have done their best to snuff out science and promote irrationality. Here's Randi congratulating the winners, including Ben Stein, Jenny McCarthy, Kevin Trudeau, and the learned scientist who believes he can shoot electromagnetic beams out of his eyes...

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Locked In Car

Several people have e-mailed asking to hear some audio I played on the air yesterday. It's the 911 call from a woman in Orlando who is locked in her car and can't get out because of an electrical failure, so the electric locks didn't work -- until the dispatcher tells her to try pulling up the button on the door manually.

It reminds me of the story my brother told me about his sons and the windows in their car, which led me to put together the list of things my daughter's life won't include as she grows up (now one of the most popular things on this site).

Here's the audio.

Google Twitting

I don't Twitter. I don't send Tweets, and I don't receive them, although I know plenty of people who do. I use this blog to share information with you, and can update it whenever I feel there's something worth posting, but the fact that I'm going to the supermarket for more milk doesn't qualify as share-worthy.

Still, Twitter is incredibly popular. There are stories every day about politicians, movie stars, and everyday folks sharing their every thought with their legions of followers.

And it makes absolutely no money. Twitter has no income stream whatsoever. So, naturally, Google is thinking about buying it. Probably for a check with three commas in it. But how will they monetize it? Will an ad appear with every 140-character Tweet you receive? Will Twitter consumers like that?

Here's my goal for the rest of this year: come up with something that becomes The Next Big Thing, give it away for free to everyone who wants it, generate no money from the Thing, and wait until Google calls with a billion-dollar offer.

When that happens, you'll read about it here.

Too Much Medicine


As a physician on the front line's of healthcare, Dennis Gottfried knows how screwed up the system is. He joined me yesterday on WLS/Chicago to talk about how doctors give patients what they want, even when they don't need it, because they want to satisfy them as customers. He explained that people really do "ask your doctor" about pharmaceuticals they see advertised, and doctors prescribe them, just like they order up unnecessary tests and treatments.

Dr. Gottfried explained why there's been a rise in cardiac catheterization and heart surgeries, why strep throat is over-diagnosed, and why over-testing does not lead to better healthcare. All of that is what's causing the cost of healthcare to explode, and is part of why the World Health Organization ranks the US only 37th when it comes to the quality of that care.

There's more in his book, "Too Much Medicine."

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

Blago's Indictment

Now that Rod Blagojevich has been officially indicted, will prosecutors file charges against his wife, Patti? Will some of the ex-governor's colleagues, who have also been indicted, turn against him in an effort to avoid jail? Yesterday on WLS/Chicago, I discussed the possibilities with Bernie Schoenberg, the columnist for the State Journal-Register, who has been following the Blago story and the legislature's reaction since last fall.

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

Megan's Gone, Who's Next?

With Megan Joy gone from "American Idol," who will VoteForTheWorst.com support now? I talked it over with Dave Dellaterza yesterday on WLS/Chicago. He sounds like he's leaning towards Scott The Blind Guy, although he holds out hope for a couple of the other contestants. And Dave doesn't hold back on his dislike of New Judge Kara.

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

Who Do You Sell Schools To?

St. Louis Public Schools are in trouble. Not only are they fighting to regain their accreditation from the state, but they have a deficit of $35 million and quite a few empty buildings on their hands because they've been forced to close schools. The district would like to sell them, and some charter school operators would like to buy them, but the school board says no -- it has put restrictions on those deeds (for 100 years!) prohibiting them from being purchased by anyone who will operate an educational institution.

Attorney Josh Schindler has filed a federal lawsuit against the SLPS over those deed restrictions. He joined me on KTRS/St. Louis to explain how, by narrowing the base of possible buyers, the district is making it harder to get a good deal on those buildings, and what effect that may have on taxpayers.

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

Saturday, April 04, 2009

TSA's Cash Problem

Steve Bierfeldt had a run-in with the TSA on Sunday night. He was leaving St. Louis after a weekend conference by the Campaign For Liberty (a Ron Paul group), where Steve is the Director of Development.

At Lambert Airport, he was pulled aside at the security checkpoint when an agent checked his luggage and found several thousand dollars in cash (proceeds from book sales and other items sold at the conference). That's not against the law, but the TSA agent either didn't know that or didn't like Steve, who was taken to a back room and questioned by several TSA personnel. Fortunately, Steve recorded the encounter on his iPhone, and when he joined me on KTRS/St. Louis, we played that audio and he explained everything that happened. You'll note that Steve stayed calm, while the officers got more and more upset.

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

Aaron Barnhart on TV

TV critic Aaron Barnhart joined me on KTRS/St. Louis yesterday to talk about how the season finale of "ER" meant the end of a nearly three-decade run of NBC's Must See TV on Thursday nights -- a run that included shows like "Hill Street Blues," "LA Law," "Seinfeld," "Cosby," "Cheers," and so many more. Aaron pointed out that not only is the run over, but there won't be any successors in that slot because of Jay Leno moving to primetime this fall (although at least one affiliate says it won't run the show, preferring to air an hourlong newscast in that slot).

We also talked about next week's debut of "Southland" and "The Unusuals," the return of "Rescue Me," the renewal of "Friday Night Lights," and more.

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


Aaron is the TV critic for the Kansas City Star and is online at TVBarn.com.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Aharr

Thanks to Mark Evanier, I just watched a short that made me laugh and cringe at the same time. It's an example of a commercial voiceover session nightmare, with a voice actor taking increasingly insipid direction from an ad agency guy.

Most of my cringing was because I have memories of many years ago in my own career doing sessions just like this , where I had to fight the urge to jump through the glass and kill the moron on the other side because I still wanted to get paid -- even if the final product was complete crap and my throat was red and raw from forcing 70 seconds of copy into a 30 second spot.

Watch it yourself here.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

TV Unguided

The TV Guide Channel, the one with the scrolling screens of listings of what's on the other channels, announced today that they're going to stop showing scrolling screens of listings of what's on the other channels. I'm guessing that they've discovered that most cable and satellite subscribers already have a channel or feature that gives us that information -- and in a searchable, easier-to-use format -- making TVGC redundant at best.

Instead of the listings, they're going to develop original programming, probably with a new name for the channel. I'd suggest Yet Another Channel You'll Never Watch.

Lewis Black vs. Buyout Barons

Here's Lewis Black ranting about the buyout barons and the bailouts. It was a promotional piece for a Service Employees International Union event last summer, but a lot more people share his sentiments today...

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Final Table #10: Gavin Griffin & Lisa Parsons

This week on my poker radio show, The Final Table, Dennis Phillips and I talked about playing in the Dream Team Poker event over the weekend at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas -- with Joe McGowan, the Poker Coach, the third member of our team -- including what it's like to have Phil Hellmuth at your table (I had the pleasure for a couple of hours).

While our team of guys didn't win, Lisa Parsons of our other team (three women who called themselves Lady Luck) made it all the way to 12th out of 444 entrants. Lisa joined us on the show to talk about the tournament, a big hand she played against Jamie Gold, and her deep run last summer in the WSOP Main Event, where she finished 76th and was the next-to-last woman eliminated.

Dennis and I also talked about the strategy he suggested I use on Sunday in a tournament at Bellagio, where I made the final table and needed some advice on how players should change their game at that point -- and in particular, as you get closer to the money bubble.

Joe McGowan chimed in on that strategy, too, and his Poker Coach tips for this week are for beginners who like to play any hand with an ace in it, and the problems that can cause in cash games in particular.

Our other guest was Gavin Griffin, who a few years ago became the youngest player to ever win a bracelet in the World Series Of Poker. He then went on to become the first player to win the trifecta of a WSOP bracelet, a WPT event, and an EPT (European Poker Tour) event in Monte Carlo.

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