Friday, July 27, 2007

Story of the Week -- July 23-27

Welcome, readers of! And thanks for including me as the second "E" in that impeachment acrostic and for spreading that all over.

Welcome to The Full Circle. Stay a while, read some stuff, write some comments, offer me a column or a book deal. You know, whatever you want...

Here's the story of the week.

Stop Everything! Beyonce fell down!

This is not news. It's a non-story. It will make you a more informed citizen. This is not something you need to know.

But it's fuckin' hilarious.

"Beyonce falls down at concert in Orlando." This headline garners two reactions:

1. So what?

2. Can I see?

And thanks to cell phone cameras, YouTube and the 24 Hour news beast (including my esteemed employer), you can see it over and over and over and over again, and laugh and laugh and laugh.

Well, at least until Beyonce's peeps figured out a way to get it off the web. and they did, citing copyright restrictions and cruelty to really hot pop divas.

This is how the story should have been told: "Oh my God, yo, my friend was at the Beyonce concert last night, and so dude, he said she was doin' some song and wearin' these ridiculous shoes and she trips and totally eats it, like a freakin' forward roll. Dude I heard it was hilarious." Because essentially, the mainstream news media was just helping to spread gossip. It's not a story.

The only reason it even makes the news is because some shlub who was recording the Beyonce concert on his cell phone so he could go home and relive the experience in poor quality on a one inch screen was at the right place at the right time, with the camera just high enough above the crowd to catch a glimpse of Beyonce when she suddenly took a remarkable tumble. And that same shlub went home and put the thing on YouTube.

We need new rules about YouTube (somebody call Bill Maher). The first should be: It's not important just because a million people watch it. And the second: It's not a phenomenon anymore when somebody "happens to catch something on his cell phone camera" and then it goes viral on the Internet.

It doesn't mean I didn't watch the video six or seven times. I mean, it was funny. She's dancing, head-banging and stuff and then she catches a heel, does a full flip down six or seven steps. Then..then! She begs her fans NOT to post it on YouTube. Hahahahahahaha! Yeah, right! Like that's gonna happen.

Without video like this, there probably wouldn't be a YouTube, or it wouldn't be as successful. Late night talk show hosts would have a little less material to work with. And America's Funniest Home Videos wouldn't exist.

But we'd still have news. Beyonce falling down is not news. Well, unless you're a chiropractor, apparently:

"It's been said that it's all fun and games until someone
gets hurt, and then it's hysterical. There's nothing funny about having symptoms
and conditions that could have possibly been avoided with a thorough
chiropractic checkup and a follow-up with the appropriate chiropractic

Hey! Put down your cell phone and get that poor diva a chiropractor!

Two other stories that are better and more newsworthy than Beyonce falling down:

First, Ok, well this isn't news yet but it could be. And before I go on...I hate the Yankees.

There. Now, Alex Rodriguez hit his 499th career home run this week in Kansas City. But it could have been his 500th home run.

Tonight, the Yankees will play the remainder of a game against the Baltimore Orioles that was suspended on June 28th due to rain. They will restart the game in the 8th inning, with Derek Jeter on second base, Hideki Matsui at bat and A-Rod on deck.

All stats recorded will count for June 28th. So if A-Rod homers, technically, that home run is #493 and the one he hit on Wednesday is #500.

This same bizarre technicality affected Barry Bonds in his rookie season. The Pirates played the conclusion of a suspended game in August. Barry made his ML debut in May of that season, but he won the suspended game with an RBI single. So, technically, Barry Bonds got his first major league hit before he was called up to the major leagues. Or, he got it after he already had 50 ML hits and 10 home runs.

Confused?? Read this:

And perhaps the most important story this week, they have finally chosen a successor for Bob Barker, and it's Drew Carey. Not sure how I feel, in a "could be good, could be bad" sort of way.

When Rod Roddy died, I thought I'd never get used to another announcer's voice, but the new guy (whose name I don't know) is pretty good. I'm not expecting Drew to be exactly like Bob. They're definitely different people. But if Carey is light on shtick and just hosts the show and interacts with people and tries to be himself, he could be a good fit.

But those are some pretty big shoes to fill. Just like no Denver Broncos quarterback will ever measure up to John Elway, and no Chicago Bull can ever be Michael Jordan, etc etc, for millions of people, nobody can be the next Bob Barker.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Why you might not see Dubya at Killington anytime soon

The following is a list of cities and towns across the U.S. that have passed resolutions calling for the impeachment of President Bush and Vice President Cheney:

Amherst, MA
Arcata, CA
Ashfield, MA
Berkeley, CA
Brattleboro, VT
Bristol, VT
Brookfield, VT
Brookline, MA
Buckland, MA
Burke, VT
Calais, VT
Cambridge, MA
Carrboro, NC
Colrain, MA
Craftsbury, VT
Chapel Hill, NC
Detroit, MI
Dummerston, VT
East Montpelier, VT
Fairfax, CA
Ferndale, MI
Grafton, VT
Great Barrington, MA
Greensboro, VT
Guilford, VT
Hanover, NH
Hartland, VT
Heath, MA
Ithaca, NY
Jamaica, VT
Jericho, VT
Johnson, VT
Lanesborough, MA
Leverett, MA
Leyden, MA
Marlboro, VT
Middlebury, VT
Middletown, NY
Montague, MA
Montpelier, VT
Montgomery, VT
Morristown, VT
Newbury, VT
Newfane, VT
New Paltz, NY
Northampton, MA
Nyack, NY
Oberlin, OH
Olympia, WA
Peru, VT
Plainfield, VT
Plattsburg, NY
Putney, VT
Richmond, VT
Rochester, VT
Rockingham, VT
Rowe, MA
Roxbury, VT
San Francisco, CA
Santa Cruz, CA (twice)
Sebastopol, CA
Shutesbury, MA
Springfield, VT
Stannard, VT
Stockbridge, MA
Sunderland, VT
Takoma Park, MD
Telluride, CO
Tompkins County, NY
Townshend, VT
Tunbridge, VT
Urbana, IL
Vershire, VT
Warwick, MA
Wendell, MA
West Hollywood, CA
Westminster, VT
Whately, MA
Wilmington, VT
Woodbury, VT
Woodstock, NY

In the interest of being fair and balanced: you may notice a disproportionate number of towns in Vermont on this list. That might be because Vermont is the only state whose state legislature has passed a resolution of its own (several other states have introduced resolutions that did not pass) And this list comes from predominately democratic places. Fair enough, but these resolutions shouldn't be about partisanship. They are about removing from office the worst administration we've ever had. And actually, it would only make more sense if Republicans would be working to oust Bush in order to restore the integrity of their party, which at this point has none.

The most recent city to pass a resolution is West Hollywood, CA, which did so unanimously.

The list is encouraging, but it should be 2 or 3 or 8 times as long. Maybe then, Congress will take a cue from the Vermont State Legislature.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Story of the Week -- July 16-20


It's 6am and I'm standing in the middle of an empty trading floor at the New York Stock Exchange. And that's just weird. I have nothing to do, either. I mean, I am supposed to be setting up a live shot for the morning show, but I already did that, so I'm just standing around trying not to touch anything and I dont know start another Great Depression or something.

And all because of a number. That's why I'm here. I'm here because, psychologically, we're obsessed with numbers with lots of zeros, and no threes or sixes. I'll explain.

Last Thursday, the Dow Jones Industrial average gained 283 points, to close at 13,861.73, a new record. Friday, the Dow closed at 13,907.25, another new record. Monday, it closed at 13,950 (say it with me now...) another new record. And what was the story? "Well, we're almost at 14,000. We're flirting with 14,000. OOh boy, here comes the next set of 3 zeros!"

Then came Tuesday, when we hit 14,000 sometime in the middle of the day, and there was no party, no ball dropping, no fireworks. Nothing. And then it went back below 14,000. Then back above. Then back below. And the people at my esteemed network went nuts. "If it closes above, it's a huge story! We need lots of live shots from the floor." And that's when they asked me if I could be on Wall Street in time for a 6 am update on Wednesday. Which would mean a 3:30 am wake up.

So I began mentally preparing myself for Wednesday morning, working with an anchor who barely knows me, doing things I've mostly never done before, in a setting that is intimidating to say the least. And they set it up for me, made all of the preliminary arrangements, told me where to be and when. And then it was 3:30, and the Dow was at 13,970 or something and I said "hey, do they still want all this if we don't hit 14,000?" Good question.

The answer? No. When the market closed at 4, the Dow was at 13, 971. And I was off the hook.

And lucky me, I only have to get up at 4:30. And I'm excited, because maybe we'll hit 14,000 while I'm actually there, and I'll get to hear all the cheers and see the inane excitement first hand.

Um...nope. Dow dropped 53, and I went home.

Fast forward to 4pm Thursday, the closing bell rings and the Dow is at 13,999. So close! And as the numbers settle, us business dorks are staring at the ticker like it's an odometer waiting for those nines to rollover. And then they do! And we close at 14,000.41. We close over 14,000 for the first time, and in dramatic, pallindromic fashion. Amazing.

The phone call I get on my way home is inevitable. Wheels in motion, 3:30 wake up. Be on Wall Street by 5:45. Updates at 6, 6:30, 7, etc. For what? 3 zeros. Big story.

As a baseball fan, I understand the numbers obsession. The 3,000th hit is bigger than the 2,999th. Because they are benchmarks. On the other hand, the 756th home run is a bigger deal because it breaks a record. So why didn't we do extra stuff last Thursday, when the Dow broke a record and went up almost 300 points? Where was the 3 am wake up call then?

No, instead, the big story comes, and it's me, getting a crash course in, I don't know, organized chaos or something, making sure my anchor gets seen around the world, so that everyone can watch us get all excited over a few zeros on the big board.

The real kick in the head, of course, is that the minute the market opened, the Dow went down 50 points and 14,000 was gone. So what's the moral of the story?

I don't know.

Dow Schmow. I'm tired.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Story of the Week -- July 9-13

Toilet Talk

The news is awash with stories of washrooms this week, flush with joy over a throng of throne innovations and the latest in toilet technology, and of course - crappy puns.

The barrage of bathroom briefs began when health products giant Kimberly-Clark announced it was entering the "final frontier" of public restroom innovation:

Richard Thorne grins as he waves his hand under a toilet paper dispenser in a women's restroom. The machine spits five sheets of tissue into his grasp.
A year in the works, the electronic tissue dispenser is being rolled out to the masses by Kimberly-Clark Professional as it seeks to capture more of the $1 billion away-from-home toilet paper market. The company believes most people will be satisfied with five sheets -- and use 20 percent less toilet paper.

A $1 Billion away-from-home toilet paper market? THAT is some serious shit. Kimberly Clark is offering a completely touchless experience while at the same time cheating you out of toilet paper and paper towels and probably water and soap as well. Though, if you don't really touch anything, how much soap do you really need?
Richard Thorne also philosophized that people "take what they are given," so they'll be satisfied with 5 sheets. How do they know this? Well, through extensive market research of course. Man, where was I when they were signing up volunteers for that study? "Here, go do your thing, come back and tell us how much paper you used."
It's likely that on your next trip to the airport you'll come face to face with the washroom's final frontier. And hopefully all will go smoothly.
But if it doesn't, or if you don't trust the new machines, and if you just happen to be flying on Japan Airlines or All Nippon Airways (i know, it's a stretch - work with me here, I'm going for the transition) , you can hold it in and wait for the experience awaits you in the lavatory of a brand new Boeing 787 Dreamliner!
All Nippon Airways has teamed up with Boeing and TOTO Ltd of Japan to develop a brand new in-flight amenity - bidet toilets. TOTO adapted its trademark Washlet to withstand the rigors of long international flights while still providing the comforts of an at-home bidet (2/3 of Japanese households have bidet toilets, apparently they like a little extra over there...) The Washlet is operated by a side control panel that, according to ANA's executive VP, is "very accurate" and sprays in a number of different directions.
Just look how happy you can be when you use a bidet! I defer to a fellow blogger for more on this silly ass story.
(go ahead, look at the happy asses)
Are you back?
Ok, good, because I've got one more. See, maybe the bidet experience isn't quite what it's cracked up to be. Well, then, on your continued search for lavatorial nirvana, you should hop a flight to....Chonqing, China!
(I think I have a future writing Price is Right Showcases...)

That's right, Chonqing, where they are flush with pride over the opening of their new "porcelain palace" a garden of over 1,000 toilets and urinals spread out over 4 stories and 30,000 square feet.
"We are spreading toilet culture. People can listen to gentle music and watch TV," said Lu Xiaoqing, an official with the Yangrenjie, or "Foreigners Street," tourist area where the bathroom is. "After they use the bathroom they will be very, very happy."

At last! Bathroom bliss, and in a public restroom, no less, with a thousand of my very happy friends.
Ah.....many toilet stories, so little time to wonder why. But allow me for a minute. Why on earth does one need so much love in the loo? I mean, music, TV, how much time am I really going to be spending in the bathroom in China?
Then I found this: there's WHAT in these dumpings?? ohhhhh.....
How many channels does this crapper get?

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Fox Bashing!

I started this blog last December, which means my readers have yet to experience an October with me. However, those readers who know me know that October means time to bash Fox's baseball coverage!

This includes everything from cursing out Tim McCarver every time he squeezes a not-so-subtle Yankees reference into a game that doesn't involve the Yankees AT ALL, to calling for Jeannie Zelasko's death and dismemberment every time she makes a bad pun or offers an ill-informed and totally obvious "update". (You're gonna love October...)

Luckily (or not), October came early this year and Fox's All Star coverage was as sucky as ever. Here are just a few examples:

Eric Byrnes
The Diamondback's outfielder didn't make the All-Star roster, so instead he joined the Fox follies and took his spot in a kayak in McCovey Cove along with his glove and his bulldog. A seat in the cove seemed as hard to come by as a seat in the ballpark. Harder maybe. And that was funny to me, since not one baseball landed in the Cove during the game or during Monday's Home Run Derby. Maybe that's why Byrnes got out of the water around the 4th inning (perhaps suddenly realizing that AT&T Park is a pitcher's park, hmm?). Maybe he figured that if he's going to contribute zero substance to the game, he might as well be dry.
Not even the bulldog wanted to be out in the Cove with Byrnes. When Eric tossed a ball out into the water for the dog to fetch, the dog made a beeline for the Pacific Ocean.
Next year, I'm voting as many times as I can for Eric Byrnes to be an All-Star.

Information Overload
I understand that numbers are a huge part of baseball, and so I had certain expectations when I turned on the broadcast. It didn't bother me to hear how many all star games each player played in, what their stats were this year, etc. It's the unnecessary and/or painfully obvious offerings from Fox that irk me the most.
First came the graphic about Ken Griffey, Jr's standing on the all-time HR list. He has 586 career HR, so does Frank Robinson. What was the graphic? a picture of Griffey and a picture of Robinson. Under each: "586 HR, T-6th all time." Who's 5th? Don't know. Who's 7th? No idea.

Then, when Barry Bonds came to the plate for his second at bat, Fox decided to scroll his entire career underneath the score bar at the top of the screen. All you people talk about is Barry Bonds! This whole All Star Break has been about Barry Bonds! So now I finally get to see him up at bat, but I can't, cause all I can see is this stupid crawl about his lifetime on base percentage. Goddammit, Fox, is it so hard to talk about his numbers, or is McCarver too busy talking about how great Derek Jeter is at getting into ready position?

Stupid prepared packages
I don't mind so much that you have stuff prepared to introduce us to players we may not know, like Chase Utley and Prince Fielder. That's fine. EXCEPT -- show them while the players are still in the game! TWICE this happened:

"Orlando Hudson bats for the first time. The D-Back's second baseman came into the game for Chase Utley. And let's show you Utley's HP Dumbass Bio thingie. OOH! He likes to dance at weddings. Do you like to dance at weddings, Tim?"

(I was paraphrasing)

And Tim, I get it, you used to be a catcher. And catchers are Jesus.


And then, in the 9th Inning, Joe Buck forgot where he was: "...on this beautiful night in San Diego..."


Ready for October?

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Story of the Week - July 2-6

Posting early this week, because I'm going away for a long weekend at camp.

Happy Birthday, USA

On this July 4th, I think it's time for Congress to do the patriotic thing. It's time to come together to draft articles of impeachment and remove President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney.

For their utter disregard for the other branches of government, system of checks and balances, criminal justice system, laws and Constitution of this country, they have to go. Time to have our first woman president, 18 months early. Time to restore America's faith in itself, and the world's faith in America.

That's all I can say. I can't remember getting more angry over a newspaper headline than when I saw "Bush Commutes Libby Sentence, Saying 30 Months ‘Is Excessive’" on the front of Tuesday's New York Times. I'm appalled, disgusted, and embarrassed to be sharing this national holiday with a leader like this.

When I called camp last week to tell them I was coming for the holiday weekend, I was warned, "no fireworks this year." Maybe that's fitting, because I'm in no mood to celebrate my country right now.