Saturday, June 13, 2009

Miracle Ball

Brooklyn Dodgers left fielder Andy Pafko watches as "The Giants win the pennant!"

There’s a million dollar bounty on a baseball - the one that’s been missing ever since New York Giant legend Bobby Thomson hit it out of the Polo Grounds in 1951 to beat the Brooklyn Dodgers in a winner-take-all playoff game.

Brian Biegel says he knows where the ball is and he tells his part baseball, part detective story in a new book and a documentary film called “Miracle Ball: My Hunt for the Shot Heard ‘Round the World.”

Here & Now talked with Biegel and the man who hit that famous home run, Bobby Thomson.

Audio: BBC, PRI & WBUR's Here & Now, July 12th. Host: Robin Young.

I Really Don't Know Clouds At All

Willie's Week In Review

Continuing Daytime Drama

Flight Attendant

While Gov. Palin got all jacked up about something David Letterman didn't say, she seemed to let what he did say slide when he characterized her look as a "slutty flight attendant."

Let me tell you a story.

25 years ago I was working at a Los Angeles radio station and I took my station tour jacket with me on vacation. And because it didn't pack very well, I was wearing it as I boarded a flight back to LAX at TWA's hub in St. Louis.

An attractive flight attendant tapped me on the shoulder, saying "We've got to talk." It wasn't one of those "your relationship's in trouble" situations, so I thought a conversation would be welcome.

She didn't wait, dropping into the seat next to me for takeoff. "Your jacket... those are my initials!" When I said, "You're kidding," she pulled out her airline ID. It read "Karen Louise Olsen-Salisbury."

She was based in L.A. and my station was close to the airport. I gave her my card and suggested she come by for a nickel tour and some station promotional gear with our shared letters on it. She said that'd be fun but for now she had to work, getting up to resume her duties.

Later in the flight, when the refreshments had been served and the cabin darkened, she came back without her blazer, sat down and said "I want to show you something," as she began unbuttoning.

It was truly a "Holy Crap" moment... But only a moment as she pulled open her blouse to reveal an "I survived 'Kids Fly Free'" t-shirt.

I went back to my job, making a living by making fun things happen on the radio... But realizing that sometimes the best fun turns out to be something spontaneous you never expected.

Thanks, Karen.

Crossing The Line

This line was drawn AFTER the fact... Post roadkill.

Have I ever crossed the line? Sure.

In 30 years in front of live microphones, I've left my footprints on the line, on the other side of the line and even tracked the yellow paint right to where the offended parties hunted me down to dump all kinds of real and imagined grievances on me.

I say imagined grievances, because so often we react not to the literal words or the real intent of the speaker, but to "dog whistles," things that trigger alert, alarm and reflexive retaliatory response... Often overkill.

But it's good to remember that the freedom that allows us to draw our own lines, doesn't guarantee we'll all draw them in the same locations... And not everyone who crosses a line we've drawn in our minds does so with malicious intent.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Election Day (Iran style)

While western observers look to see if Iran echoes the pattern of moderation shown in Lebanon's recent elections, Conan says it might go the other way:

The World's Laura Lynch reports on the power shift happening in Iran thirty years after the Islamic Revolution. Iranians head to the polls today for a hotly contested presidential election.

Audio: BBC, PRI & WGBH's The World, July 11th. Host: Lisa Mullins.

Palin vs Letterman (Round 2)

If you hear Dave joke about Palin's daughter getting knocked up by A-Rod, does your mind go to the daughter with the history of being knocked up, or into some darker place?

It should be noted that Alaska has more per-capita sex crime than any other state.

Bright Lights, Deeper Darkness

It takes longer if it's not on TV.

Forty days after the death of long-time Las Vegas headliner Danny Gans, the coroner's report was made public. The beloved (read "monstrously high grossing") impressionist Gans died because of toxic levels of hydromorphone — best known as Dilaudid — in conjunction with other medical conditions. The coroner termed it an accidental death with no indication of drug abuse.

One pain control specialist interviewed by the Las Vegas Sun said: "The bottom line is the guy died of an overdose." Another doctor stated: "Either he took more than was prescribed, in which case it’s an accidental overdose, or it was prescribed in an inappropriate dose, and that makes it potential malpractice.”

Neither is rare in Las Vegas, where ads for tort lawyers blare from every TV channel every hour of every day... And more deaths are associated with prescription drugs — at least 258 in 2007 — than street drugs or automobile crashes. The rate of fatal prescription drug overdoses more than doubled between 1998 and 2007.

Article: Las Vegas Sun, June 11th.

Chaz, nee Chastity

CNN reports Chastity Bono, gay-rights activist and child of Cher and the late entertainer and politician Sonny Bono, transitioning from a female to a male to be known as "Chaz."

An estimated one-quarter to one-half percent of the American population is transsexual, said Mara Keisling, executive director of the Washington-based National Center for Transgender Equality.

Now 40, Bono as a little girl made regular appearances on her parents' show, "The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour." As an adult in 20 years of publicly identifying as a lesbian, Chaz has been a longtime gay-rights advocate and been closely associated with the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.

Article:, June 11th.

Another Kind Of Switch

Digital TV conversion day. Broadcast stations have shut off the old signals we grew up with, and some have even changed channel numbers.

On Wednesday, the Los Angeles Times estimated that despite a massive advertising campaign and multi-month delay of the deadline, a quarter-million homes in that supposedly media savvy city lost all their antenna powered signals today.

Other media sources have indicated the national total was about 3 million, which would mean LA has a far greater than average concentration of the oblivious.

This is NOT news.

Thursday, June 11, 2009


"Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” -- Jedi Grand Master Yoda

Reviewing the Ruling

While nominee Sonia Sotomayor's record and rulings are under review by the Senate, the current edition of the Supreme Court is examining a case which she and her colleagues effectively kicked upstairs. It involves firefighters from New Haven, Connecticut, home of Slate's Legal Affairs Editor and Yale Law School fellow Emily Bazelon.

Audio: BBC, PRI & WBUR's Here & Now, June 10th. Host: Robin Young.


39 year old Heather Graham at London premiere of 'The Hangover' opening tomorrow in the US
This week, while promoting “The Hangover,” Heather Graham, in the ultimate non sequitur, talked about tantric sex. “I first got into it when I was filming ‘The Guru’ in 2002 and I haven’t looked back,” she says. “[It’s] not having sex continually...The idea is that you let the whole thing build very slowly until finally you merge with your partner. It works for me.” -- Huffington Post

Hollywood actress Heather Graham's repeated comments on "tantric sex" has offended a section of Hindus in the US who say she has misinterpreted the ritual of tantra "as just sex".

Reacting to this, Rajan Zed, an Indian American Hindu priest in Nevada, said Graham and other Hollywood celebrities were misinterpreting the meaning of tantric sex.

"Tantrism was a major channel in Indian religious traditions and, besides Hinduism, it also exerted considerable influence on Buddhism and Jainism," said Zed, president of the Universal Society of Hinduism.

Zed said tantra was a conscious approach to self-discovery which directed the seeker to prepare the mind and body to a level where it could withstand any turbulence - inner as well as outer.

"Tantras noted three unique states of sadhana (spiritual endeavour) - purification, illumination and unification," he said. -- The Times of India

Trash or Treasure?

Hunting Dogs of the South

Hunting Dogs of the South (email attachment)

Going, Going, Gone

Trump: You're fired"This was a decision based solely on contract violations including Ms. Prejean's unwillingness to make appearances on behalf of the Miss California USA organization," Miss California USA Executive Director, Keith Lewis says in a statement. "After our press conference in New York we had hoped we would be able to forge a better working relationship. However, since that time it has become abundantly clear that Carrie is unwilling to fulfill her obligations under our contract and work together."

... Which sounds exactly what Shana Moakler said about her when Trump rescued her ass last time.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Baghdad Buzz

Photo: Charles Sykes / AP
"By the power vested in me by basic cable, I officially declare we have won the Iraq war." -- Stephen Colbert

Colbert returns to New York June 15th, his hair returns to its former length somewhat later.

War of Words

From Comedy Central's Colbert Report, January, 2008

Drive Through

After a 24 hour delay, the U.S. Supreme Court shifted Chrysler's bankruptcy plan back into drive, opening the way for the automaker's sale to Fiat. Bond holders' argument that their supposedly "secured" debts had not been fairly compensated were rejected.

Caitlan Carroll reports.

Reliving Cactus 1549

Monkey Business

The Remix:

The orginal:

Free Range Kids

It's not as scary out there as you think. That's the message Lenore Skenazy wants to bring to media-saturated Moms & Dads. Her book “Free Range Kids: Giving Our Children the Freedom We Had, Without Going Nuts With Worry,” says declining crime statistics support her premise that kids are actually safer today than when their parents were kids. Rampant parental paranoia is misplaced... Kids need a bit more freedom... Adults need to relearn trust.

Audio: BBC, PRI & WBUR's Here & Now. Host: Robin Young.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Everything Must Go

It's the last chance for closing Chrysler Dealers to move their remaining inventory, but three bond-holding Indiana pension funds got Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader-Ginsburg to say not so fast on the proposed transfer of corporate assets to Italian car maker Fiat. Here's how it played in Indianapolis, home of the plaintiffs:

Decoding the Alhambra

Investigators are trying to catalog the thousands of Arabic inscriptions that cover the walls and columns of the Alhambra in Granada, Spain. The Alhambra, home to the Muslim rulers of Al Andalus (Andalucia), was the last Moorish fort to fall to the Christians during the Spanish conquest. Its inscriptions shed light on its history. The World's Gerry Hadden reports from Granada.

Audio: BBC, PRI & WGBH's The World, June 8th. Host: Lisa Mullins.

Touring the Alhambra

Chickenfoot - A Work In Progress

Josh Bell of the Las Vegas Weekly said: Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Van Halen in a review of the record.

The Maverick's Ball

Apparently, she did show up.

Liars Poker author Michael Lewis

Monday, June 8, 2009

They Liked Ike

Mister Mulligan

Author Robin Hemley revisited kindergarten at age 48 in an effort to redress past failures. Photo: Alex SheshunoffEver dream you could go back and do it again... Knowing what you know now to remake an awkward memory?

That's the premise of Robin Hemley's "Do-Over!" The author relives his youth trying to modify unpleasant memories.

Audio: NPR's Weekend Edition Sunday, June 7th. Host: Liane Hansen

Ears To You Kid

Will Smith has already cast himself to play the title role in Obama's story... because of the ears.

Statistically Speaking

The Red Wings Hendrik Zetterberg, poised to take the cup in game 6.
One of the conundrums of listening to Dodgers games in the years before complete season TV coverage (the Tommy LaSorda, Fernandomania, Kirk Gibson era) was the announcing crew. While national treasure Vin Scully would regale you with baseball legends, Ross Porter would clobber you over the head with every conceivable statistic. And baseball, of all sports, has stats.

Hockey moves too fast for stat ridden broadcasts, but that doesn't mean the stats aren't there. Former NHL player-coach-manager Mike Smith now he has a company that analyzes hockey statistics and advises clubs. Some of his stats are surprising, as are his results and the sport's resistance.

Audio: NPR's Weekend Edition Saturday, June 6th.
Host: Blackhawk's fan Scott Simon.

Vanity Plate

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Try one on for size, or make major mischief..

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MBA Oath

Does the term "business ethics" sound oxymoronic? You know, inherently contradictory and nonsensical... like jumbo shrimp.

Recent graduates of Harvard Business School, a virtual seminary for the high priests of capitalism, thought there should be another gospel beyond Gordon Gekko's "Greed is good." They campaigned for their fellow grads to take what they call the "MBA Oath." It's modeled after the medicine's Hippocratic oath of ethics.

Good luck with that

Audio: NPR's Weekend Edition Sunday, June 7th. Host: Liane Hansen

Sunday, June 7, 2009

War & Rememberance

Not Whoopi Goldberg

Photo: Al Behrman/Associated PressA new kind of Jew.

Forty-five years ago, Alyssa Stanton was born into an African-American, Pentecostal family in Cleveland. On Saturday, at the Cincinnati campus of Hebrew Union College, she became a rabbi — the first African-American woman to be ordained by a mainstream Jewish seminary.

Ms. Stanton is scheduled to assume the leadership of an overwhelmingly white synagogue in Greenville, N.C., in August.

Article: New York Times, June 5th.

Editorial Choice

click to playAs various media and sites marked the 65th anniversary of D-Day yesterday, Google went younger... choosing instead to observe the 25th anniversary of Tetris.

Flushed With Embarassment

Boston Globe Staff Photo / Joan McLaughlin
Boston became infamous for the costly "Big Dig" to put I-93 underground. Now, the city is preparing for the latest addition to its pantheon of construction marvels, the opening of a waterfront coin-operated toilet that took more than two years and $300,000 to bring from drawing board to reality. A year ago the project was having problems:
By Matt Viser, Boston Globe | June 8, 2007

Marisa Shea had been on the field trip for hours, and now her high school classmates were boarding the bus for home in the suburbs. But first she needed to take care of a basic human need.

She made a beeline to the only restroom in sight, a futuristic contraption with double doors and a computer screen displaying the words, "Please Insert $0.25."

She slid a quarter in the slot. Instead of activating the restroom's doors and letting her in, however, the coin passed through the machine and clinked without effect into the coin return. She tried again. And again. Seeing her distress, some friends gathered around, offering their own quarters. None worked. The bus was leaving.

"I'll just have to wait," Shea said, "and hold it the hour back to Walpole."

Buck up Bostonians! Even the rocket scientists at NASA had problems:

Barack Slept Here

Entertainment reporter Doug Elfman of the Las Vegas Review Journal got a look at the Presidential Suite at Caesar's Palace, as it was being cleaned after President Obama's recent stay. He took along his video camera so you too can say OMG!

It was the hotel's idea to upgrade, at no cost to taxpayers.

Phony Toni

Trina Johnson-Finn - publicity photo.Here in Vegas celebrity immitation is par for the course... And big business.

Along the strip there are attractions featuring everyone from the "Rat Pack" to "ABBA." Heck, I even saw two Elvi during my trip to the DMV last week. The point is playing along... In a town where an Egyptian pyramid is just a few blocks away from the Eiffel Tower, disbelief has been officially suspended... If not by an act of the Legislature, then by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Bureau (which is more powerful anyway.)

Not so in Suriname, where Trina Johnson-Finn was released from jail after three months, and a promoter's admission that she hadn't been aware that the audience who greeted her last performance prior to arrest with boos, bottles and beer cans had been sold a lie. It wasn't so much that she was bad, she just wasn't the real Toni Braxton.

Here in Las Vegas those kind of people are called a "tribute artist." Elsewhere the term is "fraud."