Sunday, August 31, 2008
I'm not saying I'll vote for her, or predict that her surprise selection will push John McCain over the top, but Alaska Governor Sarah Palin's arrival at the GOP VP nominee will no DOUBT make the rest of the Presidential race far more interesting that the selection of Mitt Romney or Tim Pawlenty would have been!
I can say as an old white guy myself that another old white guy in the number two chair (such as the -ahem- other VP candidate) would have been pretty dull, and left millions of more Americans sitting on the sidelines disengaged from the battle the rest of the way. I know that's what I had been planning to do, anyway!
I think Governor Palin handled herself extremely well in her introduction to the national stage, and I think she has at least caught the attention of blind Obama loyalists who were hoping that his acceptance speech Thursday night would effectively end the race.
Give the old guy credit... He had an ace up his sleeve, and he played it at a perfect time to steal the news cycle away from Obama... The people who say John McCain's selection of Sarah Palin was a desperation move may very well be right... But that doesn't mean it wasn't the right move at the right time... And I can GUARANTEE you that McCain/Palin will get far more attention from the media and the nation over the next two months than McCain/Romney ever would have!
Let the Games begin!
Oh - and if I'm not mistaken (I havent done the homework on this), Palin would be the first major candidate for President or Vice President to have a background in sports broadcasting since Ronald Reagan... Enjoy!
Friday, August 29, 2008
The legend of Barack Obama sets a standard that the man who is Barack Obama cannot possibly live up to. And Obama supporters should be worried about this. Assuming Obama wins in November, he may find expectations set so high that he won't possibly be able to meet them, and the Democrat-controlled Congress could see the circle of life coming around to bite it in the ass in 2010!
I do think the huge stadium thing worked for Barack Obama. I do think he gave a good speech. I DO kind of resent that every Barack Obama appearance is treated as though he has already been anointed President, and I hope that does not come back and bite him in the ass. I also hope the November election is not particularly close (like Bush/Gore in 2000), because if it is, and Obama is on the short end of the stick, there will literally be violence in the streets.
Here's one possible source of Obama backlash - Oprah Winfrey was still in the throes of orgasm when Entertainment Tonight caught up with her at Invesco Field after the speech. I don't hate Oprah, but I do hate her influence... Her opinion should not count more than anyone else's but you know damn well it does.
And in closing, I will also say this... Love him or hate him, you have to give Obama this... He outscored the Redskins by a lot last night!
Thursday, August 28, 2008
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
I have developed over the years a certain reputation as a Disney nut. Yes, I have been to Disney World 54 times. Yes, I have been to Disneyland at least 20 times. Yes, my entire house is an homage to Disneydom, and at Christmastime, I do have a half dozen sets of Mickey Ears illuminating my house. My Disney devotion has even landed my on TV. BUT - I have never built a Disney attraction in my own backyard, like this guy in Minnesota did... And let me tell you - he did a damn good job! Color me jealous!
If you haven't seen Soarin', make sure you do the next time you're at Epcot or at Disney's California Adventure... The real thing is the best ride Disney has built in at least a decade! Have a Disney day!
Saturday, August 23, 2008
Friday, August 22, 2008
Now, mind you - when I say "good stories", I don't necessarily mean "good news" news stories. In fact, it's fair to say that, from a story-telling perspective, really good stories usually constitute "BAD news". Michael Phelps is a very good "good news" story, but when I'm writing a newscast, I'll take a good compelling bizarre BAD news story any day of the week!
Here are some of the compelling stories I had the pleasure of writing today...
- We had the guy in the Baltimore County jail who was found tied up in his cell with the word "rat" scratched onto his back, a towel stuffed in his mouth and a spoon with a note attached to it shoved up his rectum. The victim had recently been caught wearing a wire in the jail, but corrections officials won't tell us why he was wearing a wire.
- We found out that the guy who drowned his three children in a Baltimore hotel room last spring had told investigators after his arrest that he is evil and should be put to death. We also found out that he had timed his children's drownings with a stopwatch.
- We had an actress from HBO's "The Wire" being arrested for marijuana possession at her home in Baltimore. The cops forced themselves into the woman's home and found a bunch of pot, including two blunts. They were under court order to drag the woman to court to be a hostile witness in a murder trial.
- We had Tropical Storm Fay, which is now measuring its rainfall on Florida in feet instead of inches after 4 days of drifting over the Sunshine State.
- We had Barack Obama playing peek-a-boo with the media over his choice for Vice President.
- We had the guy in Western Maryland who is holed up with his pregnant girlfriend in a motel room. He's wanted for theft and burglary in four states and he's kept the cops at bay for two days now. The cops used a police robot to try and deliver a pizza to the guy last night... but the guy just threatened to shoot the robot.
- We also had a landlord in Carroll County who shot at, and then pistol-whipped, one of his tenants when the tenant showed up to pay his rent.
- We also had the federal government cancelling a program that was set up to encourage illegal immigrants facing deportation to turn themselves in. The Feds dumped the program when only 8 people out of an estimated 30,000 illegals in the test area signed up for the deal. The feds say their program of surprise raids on illegals while they sleep works better... uh, DUH!
Interestingly enough, with news like this, today was the first time in two weeks we did NOT do a single story on Michael Phelps... The newsroom I've been working in has not, to my knowledge, received a single e-mail raising or criticizing our coverage of the Phelps story... But in a period of two hours this morning, we received about 5 complaint emails on the stories I've listed above! This tells me that these stories - for better or worse - generate passion and capture the imagination of our audience. We are creating word pictures that our radio listeners can actually see... And what they see disturbs some of them. That's OK... Some of these stories were very disturbing. Disturbing and memorable. And they made for great radio!
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
I find this all very interesting, of course, because when my clock runs out (assuming my clock radio doesn't stop ticking first), I plan on being cremated, and my ashes will be surreptitiously scattered in the Seven Seas Lagoon at Walt Disney World. It will have to be surreptitious because if Disney let everyone who wanted to do this DO THIS, the lagoon in front of the Magic Kingdom would be one gross gray mess... and I DON'T think they'd get away with claiming it was pixie dust, either! For the record, dumping at Disney is pretty commonplace (here's one example), but you can't exactly expect the happiest place on Earth to condone it, either!
Of course, not every case of ash-scattering goes according to plan... Just a couple of weeks ago, a rocket carrying the ashes of Star Trek actor James Doohan to space exploded on take off. The reason is clear... Scotty was not around to make sure the ship was working properly!
Still, if Mrs. Matthews leaves me in the dust at Hines-Rinaldi, I'm gonna be pissed... or at least my ashes will! Dumping me in the lagoon was HER idea, after all!
Monday, August 18, 2008
Or think about letting Congress bring back the "Fairness" Doctrine...
Or become outraged that foul language and dirty music lyrics are ruining our children's minds...
Or you get pissed at anti-war protesters like Cindy Sheehan...
Or wish that transsexuals were locked up in mental hospitals instead of being allowed to walk free among the rest of us...
Just imagine a world where you had no right to free speech. A place where blogs like this one - in fact, most blogs, except for the ones written and approved by the State - were banned.
A place like China.
China 'yet to approve protests'
By Michael Bristow
BBC News, Beijing
China has received a total of 77 applications to stage protests during the Olympic Games period - but none has been approved.
Beijing's public security bureau said 74 applications were "withdrawn", two were "suspended" and one was "vetoed".
China was praised by the International Olympic Committee when it said protest areas would be set up for the Olympics.
But it appears no application has managed to meet China's strict rules on who can and cannot stage a protest.
The news came as the IOC called the Beijing Olympics a "success", even though the Games are only half-way through.
The protest applications involved a total of 149 people, including three foreigners, according to a spokesperson from Beijing's public security bureau.
The majority were withdrawn because the problems they raised could be better dealt with by "relevant authorities or departments through consultation".
State-run Xinhua news agency, which reported the spokesperson's comments, said these problems involved disputes about work, health and welfare issues.
Two applications were suspended because "their procedures were incomplete", the spokesperson said. "It doesn't mean their applications have been rejected," the spokesperson said. The vetoed application was turned down because it violated China's law on demonstrations and protests, Xinhua reported.
That law - brought in shortly after the Tiananmen killings in 1989 - requires applicants to provide a range of information about an intended protest.
This includes the type of posters and slogans to be used, how many people intend to take part, and the names and addresses of protest organisers.
A demonstration can be turned down if it could harm national sovereignty or unity, or even if the police suspect it will "undermine public order". Protesters were supposed to be able to demonstrate in Shijie, Zizhuyuan and Ritan parks during the Olympics.
But no areas appear to have been set up for protesters inside the parks, which are being heavily policed during the Olympics. Some would-be protesters even appear to have been arrested after making applications to stage demonstrations.
Just before the announcement by the public security bureau, IOC spokeswoman Giselle Davies praised China for the smooth running of the Games.
Things were going so well that a key meeting between the Chinese Olympic organisers and senior IOC officials had been postponed until Saturday, she said.
The Co-ordination Commission usually met every day during the Olympics but at these Games there had been little for them to discuss, Ms Davies said.
"It very much reflects the very relaxed and happy position the IOC is in, in terms of how it views the success of these Games," she added.
Freedom isn't free, people! God Bless America - and God Bless The First Amendment!
Sunday, August 17, 2008
For some reason, the sporting Gods decided to plant two of the all-time greatest athletes in their respective sports right in Charm City... Cal Ripken grew up just north of Baltimore, in Harford County, and spent his entire career with the Orioles. And now, Towson's own Michael Phelps, who spent the past four years away at school in Michigan, is coming back home to live and train!
Michael is probably going to get to enjoy his achievements a LOT more in the short term than Mark Spitz did back in 1972. I remember watching his races from our family's rented beach cottage in Ocean City on something called CATV. It was an early generation version of Cable TV... Ocean City was too far away from Salisbury to reliably get reception via rabbit ears, so the whole town was hooked up to cable, which still only got you the three major networks... But anyway, I digress...
Mark Spitz won his medals in the first week of Olympics competition in Munich, and he became the toast of the sports world. - And then, tragedy struck. A terrorist group called "Black September", stormed a dormitory in the Olympic village, and took several members of the Israeli Olympic team hostage. The two-day ordeal ended with 11 Israelis and five terrorists dead, and Spitz being whisked out of Munich for fear, that he, as a Jewish athlete, would be a major kidnapping target.
Anyway... Michael Phelps will hopefully not have that kind of distraction as the Team Phelps marketing machine kicks into another gear. Michael has been clear in saying his goal in chasing all of that gold is not money, but a desire to raise the profile of swimming to make it more than a once-every-four-years sport in the eyes of the world. He'll be facing mighty long odds to do that. Mark Spitz didn't. Neither did Mary Lou Retton for gymnastics, or Carl Lewis for Track and Field. The closest any classic Olympic sport has come to raising its profile as a continuing sport has probably been figure skating, but even then, pro skating is seen more as theater than as sport.
If Michael is going to raise swimming's profile, there's no better place to do it than in his own hometown. As I mentioned, Baltimore loves its heroes. Tens of thousands of Ravens fans stuck around M&T Bank Stadium after the Ravens lost to the Vikings last night to watch Phelps win his 8th Gold Medal on the big screen... Maybe some of them would join a Michael Phelps swim league and compete in a Michael Phelps-brand aquatic center? Hell, you could even throw in fellow Baltimorean Katie Hoff as a guest instructor!
Don't be surprised if a BUNCH of the US swimmers in London in 2012 are crab-eaters, hon!
Thursday, August 14, 2008
Here's the story in a nutshell. Abrahamian lost a wrestling match that he felt was unfairly judged. The winner of the match ultimately went on to win the Gold medal, and Abrahamian had to be talked into wrestling in the bronze medal match, which he won. At the medal ceremony, after receiving his bronze medal, Abrahamian walked off the podium, dropped his medal on the wrestling mat, and walked off, declaring he will never wrestle again. Let's go to the videotape:
Now, I don't condone what this jackass did for a minute, but it's compelling television - and it should have been shown on NBC. Instead, NBC never even mentioned it! Why? Because NBC is protecting the Olympics brand, which it has spent billions and billions of dollars to market.
The Peacock network is running a poor fourth in ratings outside of its NFL and Olympics brands, and it doesn't want to do anything to piss off the International Olympics Committee. NBC has spent so much money to air the games that its sole mission is to spin its coverage with one and only one strategy in mind - to maximize ratings at all costs so it can charge a higher rate for its commercials.
This is why you'll see every feel-good compelling story that NBC can muster... In fact, don't be surprised if NBC tries to get Michael Phelps to suit up and enter the track and field competition as a pole vaulter next week when swimming is done. The network has already been criticized (and rightly so) for soft-pedalling China's human rights record as it spins so many cotton candy stories of China coming out to the world. You should also note that NBC's corporate parent, General Electric, has been using the Olympics as an entree to line up all kinds of equipment contracts with the Chinese government... So don't expect NBC to screw up any deals for GE by showing something that might offend China's elite!
I have enjoyed what I've seen of the games so far - especially the excellent swimming coverage... and who wouldn't love the Michael Phelps story? But give me the WHOLE story, NBC - not just the one that meets your bottom line needs!
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Anyway... the producer (the guy who currently runs Criminal Minds) says he is not planning to re-invent the wheel... Someone will be cast to play Steve McGarrett's son, who now runs Five-O... and the classic TV theme song , ortiginally performed by the Ventures, will return with a 21st Century sound.
A couple of cool things you may or may not have known about the original Hawaii Five-O...
- There is no such police agency as "Five-O" in real life... It was a fictional state police investigative squad, named for Hawaii, the 50th state, or "five-o"... Hawaii, by the way, does not have a state police department.
- Hawaii Five-O is responsible for the creation of "Magnum, P.I.". When Five-O ran its course after many years on the air, CBS wanted another show based in Hawaii to replace it... Hence, the creation of Magnum. In "Magnum, P.I", Five-O and Steve McGarrett, Jack Lord's character, were mentioned on more than one occasion in tribute to the original show.
For you millennials too young to know from a REAL cop show... check out the greatest TV open and theme song of all time!
Book Em Danno!
Monday, August 11, 2008
Friday, August 8, 2008
I have never been a fan of John Edwards, and always pictured him as kind of a weak Vice Presidential candidate teamed with a weak Presidential candidate four years ago. But neither his politics nor his proclivity for extra-marital dalliances are what pisses me off about John Edwards.
We had big adventure yesterday afternoon at the Matthews house, as the skies turned black, the wind started howling, and quarter-sized hail fell from the sky... My sons and I were so entranced by what we saw banging against the windows at our front door that we completely missed the tree falling across the yard out our back door! I think the hail was making such a racket that I couldn't hear the 30-foot tall Bradford Pear crack and leave more than half of itself in the yard. The tree split apart at the crotch - the place where the main branches met about 5 feet off the ground, so that half of it fell and landed just a couple of feet from my deck, while the other half remains standing ... Thankfully, THAT part of the tree still screens us from Georgia Avenue, which runs next to the house!
Fate has a funny way of working sometimes... Months ago, there was an article in the Washington Post, that said Bradford Pear trees are basically "weed" trees... A hybrid piece of genetic crap that was bred to grow quickly (pleasing home builders), but which have terribly weak limbs. We have three of them in our backyard. Anyway... way back when this article was published, I clipped it and gave it to the wife to read, which of course she never did until - coincidentally - about 3 or 4 days ago, when she proclaimed, "Oh well, we just had the pear tree trimmed a few weeks ago, so I'm sure it will be fine".
This, my friends, is what we Yiddish speakers call a kaynahorah... Here is the Yiddish glossary definition:
Kaynahorah - Lit: the evil eye. Pronounced in order to ward of the evil eye, especially when speaking of one's good fortune.
In practical terms, whenever you declare something going well, you are giving yourself a kaynahorah - i.e., a guarantee that whatever you just declared to be going well is doomed to now be cursed. Common kaynahorahs include announcing that traffic is not so bad... there is bound to be a jam around the next corner... or saying that your car has been behaving well... Be prepared to drop a thousand bucks in the repair shop any minute now.
The tree guy was in the backyard hacking apart the tree when I got home from work today... Several hundred pounds of wood ended up in the chipper... and I ended up with the bill. How much the bill is, I don't know. Robin is afraid to tell me, although she assures me it is in the three, not four digit range.
Lesson learned. Until I get my next full-time job, there shall be no more kaynahorahs in my house! This will hopefully have a secondary positive benefit when I do not declare that the Redskins will have a winning season!
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
I am enjoying being able to exercise my brain and creative talent by writing for newscasts and even anchoring a couple of them a day, however I must say that the daily 1:30am wake up calls are not my favorite part of the job. Sometimes when I get home, it's all I can do to keep my eyes open! Therefore, don't be surprised if you see me miss a couple of weekdays... I have fallen asleep while blogging a couple of times already!
The one thing I can honestly say about my work at WBAL is that there's no downtime... But here's a little gem of a video from an office worker who has too much time on his hands and who probably SHOULD be joining me (or better, replacing me )on the beach! Enjoy!
Touch Tone Phone Symphony - Watch more free videos
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
Since modems ran at 2300 baud (1/20th as fast as today's 56K modems), there was no way you could actually look at pictures online, let along hear audio, so Prodigy would, one line at a time, paint a drawing of, say a famous person to go along with a news story. Prodigy also offered my first version of e-mail, which was little used, except by fellow computer geeks.
Monday, August 4, 2008
I am happy to report the Skins gave Jim Zorn a nice gift - a 30 - 16 win for his first game as a head coach, even though the game itself was pretty meaningless. In fact, I did not watch even a second of it, as I am in the midst of 1:30am wake-up hell while working at WBAL. Besides, for pre-season games, the highlights on line always suffice:
For me, football IS the start of a new year. It is a joy to start reading ESPN.com again... and looking at the Redskins insider blog on the Washington Post website... and ordering the Redskins special at Papa John's (a free topping for every touchdown the Skins score, plus double toppings if they win... so that's EIGHT toppings for last night's game... )... and setting the TiVo for every game so I can watch the whole thing in 45 minutes and still not miss a play!
There is an enthusiasm for the Skins this season that is exciting to follow... Of course, in all fairness, the Redskins could be the worst team in football, and there would still be a certain enthusiasm for the team... that's what makes a fan a fan! I have no idea how well they'll do this season, but I do know I'll watch every game - at least once they start counting!
For me, the start of football means the end of summer is near, which is just fine by me. By the time the season starts after Labor Day, I'll be able to open the windows and enjoy the fall weather... before long, I'll be able to cook up a pot of chili to ward off the crisp cool evenings... and if the Skins are any good, I'll even be able to talk the missus into watching with me. I might even crack open a beer, which is something I pretty much only do when I'm watching football.
Are you ready for some football? Hell, yes I am!
Saturday, August 2, 2008
Members of the House of Representatives, most of whom board airplanes almost every week, traded horror stories Thursday about their worst experiences with annoying fellow passengers who talk loudly on cellphones before takeoff and after landing. One lawmaker said his wife sat next to a woman who loudly discussed her sex life on the phone.
Another House member topped that with the passenger sitting him behind on one flight who got a "dear John" phone call from either his wife or sweetheart just before takeoff. The begging and pleading was just terrible to listen to, he said. Finally, with the plane ready to take off, a flight attendant had to threaten to have U.S. Marshals drag the man off the plane before he finally put his phone away.
A third House member raised the specter of national security, saying she had witnessed one man use his cellphone camera to take pictures of sensitive parts of the airplane.
With that, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee approved by voice vote a bill that would make the current Federal Aviation Administration and Federal Communication Commission ban on cellphone use during flight permanent.
The committee's action comes as the European Union is moving to allow airline passengers to talk on their cellphones during flight. Some U.S. airlines are experimenting with in-flight Internet access. And some lawmakers worry that domestic airlines might try to get the cellphone ban lifted so they can charge passengers extra to sit in no-phone sections.
"I do believe this is important that we don't make what is already a crowded and difficult environment for the traveling public and flight attendants" worse by allowing cellphone use in-flight, said Rep. Peter DeFazio, a Democrat and sponsor of the Halting Airplane Noise to Give Us Peace (HANG UP) Act.
But Rep. John Mica, a Republican, said there are a lot of annoying things on airplanes, including children with dirty diapers and noisy MP3 players, but that does not mean they should be banned.
"You are trying to legislate courtesy, folks, and that just doesn't work," Mica said.