April 2003 Archives

"Hey, Perry," Dodgers announcer Ross

"Hey, Perry," Dodgers announcer Ross Porter called to me tonight as soon as I walked into the press box, "is it true that every time you come to a game the Dodgers win?"

I guess so. Second night in a row I'm there, second time in a row L.A. beats Philadelphia.

For the Phillies' sake, perhaps I should stay home Thursday night.



On the 110 freeway this

On the 110 freeway this afternoon, a motorcycle crash shut down the southbound lanes and stopped traffic for hours. It was a pretty bad wreck, so it's understandable that the freeway was at a standstill... southbound. Northbound, on the other hand, there was no excuse. No cops, no physical blockage. The northbound traffic was jammed nearly as badly as the southbound side, and it was from nothing but rubbernecking. Everybody loves a bloody wreck when they're not involved, sure, but there's no reason they can't keep it moving. Always happens, though.

But I believe I have the answer. Send an extra Traffic Control Officer to the scene with a rifle and have him POINT IT AT THE RUBBERNECKERS. Nothing says "keep your sorry Plymouth-driving ass moving NOW" than your basic Remington LTR with HS Precision Urban Police PST59 stock pointed directly at your forehead. Problem solved. Thank me by pressing the accelerator instead of the brake and getting the hell out of my way. I'm too important to slow down.

In last night's column, I

In last night's column, I neglected to mention one very important part of the baseball experience, one that represents a lost and dying art- the ballpark organ.

The Dodgers still have an organist, Nancy Bea Hefley, who's been playing the music you associate with ballparks since possibly before the park was built- I imagine her sitting amongst the squatters in Chavez Ravine circa 1953, playing "Mairzy Doats" on a Farfisa while immigrant kids played stickball nearby. Most parks- even the Dodgers, when each player comes to bat- play recorded music, usually pop and hip-hop picked by the players to accompany each at-bat (Shawn Green, for example, steps to the plate to the strains of Blur: "Woo-hoo!"), plus the requisite 2 Unlimited ("areyoureadyforthis?") or Pink or Gary Glitter or some other jock anthem. Few retain the tradition of our youth, when Jane Jarvis sat down at the Shea Stadium Hammond Organ to hammer out the "Mexican Hat Dance" or Paul Richardson ("You can see Paul nightly in the off-season at the Holiday Inn in Wilmington") in the booth at the Vet playing the hell out of "Take Me Out to the Ball Game." Eddie Layton played for the evil Yankees in the summer, the Knicks and Rangers in the winter in a little glassed-in booth way up above the green seats at the Garden, while everyone knew Nancy Faust brought the organ version of "Na Na Hey Hey (Kiss Him Goodbye)" to Comiskey and, by extension, the world.

Back then, they even had organ stores in the mall- the demo right up front was irresistable to kids like us, who couldn't pay actual songs but COULD do the ballpark thing: DAH-duh-dah-dah-DAH-duh-dah-dah... duh duh duh DAAAH ta-DAHHHH.... CHARRRRRGE! You don't find too many people playing the organ anymore, but I bet you could bring it back, even in the days of MIDI and synths and computer music. All you need to do is put an organ in the mall and let people play the ballpark Charge song. You'd sell a million- every home needs the ballpark Charge song. It's like penicillin- no matter how bad your day is going, do the Charge thing and you have to smile.

duh duh duh DAAAH ta-DAHHHH.... CHARRRRRGE!

Ah, yes. That feels good.



I didn't grow up with

I didn't grow up with Dodger Stadium. I grew up on the east coast, where "ballpark" meant Shea and Yankee Stadium and Connie Mack or the Vet. All I knew of Dodger Stadium was what I saw on TV- the zig-zag roof on the bleachers, the oddly-shaped scoreboards, the box seats with the low rail all the way past the foul poles, the mysterious "76" ball rotating off in the distance, all in black-and-white on channel 9. It didn't have the history of Wrigley or Fenway or the whiz-bang amenities of the new crop of parks in the 70's, Riverfront and the Vet and Three Rivers, all AstroTurf and exploding scoreboards. It was alien, distant, and the epicenter of evil for my Dad, who cursed O'Malley for moving his team 3,000 miles west of Flatbush.

Eventually, I did finally make it to Chavez Ravine and, well, if you've been there, you know it's quite nice and still, 41 years after its opening, one of the better ballparks in the country. But there was one moment tonight where I felt a mystical...

Stop right there.

I am not George Will or Bob Costas. I do not worship in the Temple of Baseball. It is not magical, it is not otherworldly. It is just a game played by very rich young men with numbers on their backs and customized H2s in the parking lot, and the stadium is merely a building, designed to maximize revenues.

And yet...

I stood in the press box this evening looking at the mountains beyond the outfield fence, Mount Wilson and Angeles Crest shrouded in a blue haze as the last vestiges of twilight lingered for a few more minutes. The lights in the park were finally taking full effect, and floodlights highlighted the tall palms swaying above the back of those zig-zag bleacher roofs and the hills just across the parking lot, "THINK BLUE" nestled on the hillside in left field. Green field, yellow, orange, blue, and red seats, about half empty, in layers surrounding the field and reaching skyward, a cold drink on a warm evening watching the Dodgers and Phillies work out the kinks in an early-season game...

Perfect. And that's when the ghosts came out to play, Kirk Gibson hobbling to the plate in the World Series, Koufax throwing that 2-2 pitch to Harvey Kuenn, Garvey-Lopes-Russell-Cey, Drysdale scowling and intimidating, Alston stoic and Lasorda manic.

I did snap out of it. It isn't mystical, there are no ghosts. But on a perfect springtime evening, you'll be forgiven for thinking it is and there are. Ultimately, if you're a real baseball fan, you sometimes get your George Will moment. In twilight tonight, I had mine.



This is why we learn

This is why we learn history, and this is why I sometimes despair for society:

In a Los Angeles Times review of a blacklisted Hollywood writer's book, there's this passage:

    Some will doubtlessly charge Barzman with a failure to apologize for her "blindness" to "the evils of Stalinism." But this ongoing demand for apologies is simply the latest chapter in the thought-control process that the Barzmans escaped by fleeing to Europe.

Setting aside the second part's attempt to equate the simple expectation of an apology for supporting a murderous dictator to "thought control," the part that fairly jumps off the page for me is where the phrase "the evils of Stalinism" is framed in quotes, indicating that ironic detachment where the writer is telling you there really wasn't anything evil about Stalinism. There wasn't? At least 20 million and as many as 66 million people murdered- that's not evil? Total disregard for individual freedom and human rights- that's not evil?

At what point will people like this reviewer admit that someone's evil? Oh, right, they think George W. Bush is evil. Never mind.

So, then, who is this reviewer, Larry Ceplair, and how can he be so blind to history? I looked him up- turns out he's a... drumroll, please...

...history professor at Santa Monica College.

No, really.

I fear for his students, and I fear for those they in turn influence. But we already live in a time when many people- maybe a majority in the world- won't accept the existence of good and bad, black and white, day and night. History may be written by the winners, but the losers are doing their damndest to rewrite it.



By the way, here's a

By the way, here's a What Would You Do? situation: there's a guy who I've given a lot of publicity to, a guy whose business has gotten no small credit in my other column because of stuff I've written. The reward- he wrote an article for another publication about the best show prep resources for talk radio hosts, and one of the few resources he DOESN'T mention is- naturally- my column. Should I be pissed off? Should I say anything? Should I mention it in the column? Should I mention it here? (Whoops- already did) Could he have written something that got edited out by the rival publication? Am I getting too agitated over this? Should I just go to sleep now and forget about it? What's sleep? Am I going to be thiking about this perceived slight all night, alternating with thinking about Kevin Millwood's no-hitter, the Lakers-Wolves game, the ache in my left hip and right ankle, the refinancing paperwork I have to get done this week, and the cat vomit left by Ella on the (washable!) throw rug? (I'm leaning towards Depends, No, No, Too Late, Maybe, Yes, Yes, What I Used to Get More Of Before I Became a Working Adult, and Yes.)



Among the things I've done

Among the things I've done in what passes for my career, the primary area of work has been in the talk radio industry. Talk radio gets no respect from people outside the field, and a good example of this is in an article featured in the latest issue of another magazine, which never credits All Access with anything they use from us so it shall remain nameless here. The article- right in the middle of the front page- is a three-paragraph piece about Henry Rollins, the singer/poet/actor/publisher/tattooed guy who fronted Black Flag (v. 2.0), and that's OK, if a little tangential- Rollins has done a couple of try-outs on KFI in Los Angeles, so there's a small talk radio connection there. But the article doesn't stop there. The interviewer, someone from something called "Young American Broadcasters," actually writes this:

    During his recent visit to Washington, DC we asked Rollins if he has any advice for radio talk show hosts. His answer: "It takes a lot of..."

Stop right there.

She asked Henry Rollins if he has any advice for talk radio hosts? Henry Rollins?

Since when has Henry Rollins been an expert on talk radio?

People think they can do our job better than we can- if that guy can do it, it must be easy! How hard can it be to talk for a couple of hours a day? In some cases, they're right, but in most cases- and, believe me, I've tried out countless people for talk jobs, including big names who decided they'd like to go slumming in radio for a while- they quickly discover just how hard it is to entertain without a script for three or four hours. To the rest of the world, all Howard Stern does is talk dirty, all Rush Limbaugh does is spout right-wing talking points, all Dr. Laura does is trash gays. If it were that easy, more people would be that successful. It isn't that easy. But everyone thinks it is.

And that's how you get Henry Rollins asked by some magazine to give advice to talk radio hosts. You know what? I think I'll give some advice to Henry Rollins on how to sing, write, act, publish books, and get tats. How hard could it be?


I don't know the specific

I don't know the specific circumstances behind Jamie Foxx and his sister getting arrested at a New Orleans casino- something about breezing past security at 4 am and refusing to show ID, which I'm not sure I've ever seen required of anyone in any casino. Nevertheless, I can imagine that at some point, someone pulled the celebrity card, which is:

"Do you know who I am?"

There should be a brochure, a pamphlet handed to every celebrity at the moment they become a celebrity. It should contain the rules for being famous, one of the most important of which is that "Do you know who I am?" never works. Let's go over some of the rules right here, in case any celebrities are reading (hey, could happen):

    You are not still just Jenny from the Block. You are rich and famous, and your old friends and neighbors aren't. In fact, they resent your success and will hate you for having left whether you pull star trips or come back often to hang with the old crew. You are Jenny Who Used to Be From The Block But Now Rides Limos and Doesn't Remember the People Who Helped Her to Get Where She Is, whether you're like that or not, so get used to it.
    Celebrities are not immune from practicing personal hygiene. Take a shower, Keanu. Please. That goes for all of you, male and female. Cologne does not compensate for body odor, it just makes matters more intense. Soap is not for decoration. Use it. Brush your teeth, too- just because you got them whitened doesn't meen they're perpetually clean and your breath isn't bad.
    You know nothing about politics. If you have an opinion (any opinion, left or right), you lose the fans who disagree with your position. If you don't have an opinion, you don't lose any fans. So don't have an opinion. You'll only embarrass yourself, anyway. ("I have questions," the Natalie Maines cop-out, is not an alternative. Shutting up is.)
    The amount of stalking and weird fan behavior you'll experience is in inverse proportion to your personal security measures. The more bodyguards you have, the more armored H2s you drive, the taller the wall you put around your Malibu Colony home, the more harassment and weird behavior to which you'll be subjected. Go to Ralphs yourself, without a bodyguard, all the time, and you'll be able to cruise the cookie aisle without anyone saying anything. Show up with five Vin Diesel lookalikes- hell, show up with Vin himself- and people will try stuff.
    Nobody cares that you recycle or drive a Prius. It's done wonders for Ed Begley Jr.'s career, hasn't it?
    When you get in trouble, "do you know who I am?" will only make matters worse. "Do you know who I am?" gets three possible responses: a) "Yes, but I don't care." b) "No." c) "Hello, Enquirer? Guess who I just arrested? And if you get a photographer here fast, you'lll have a great cover for next week." It's an invitation for bad things to happen.


I'm sure there are more rules you can add. These should help for now. They may cut down on what Page Six and the Globe can print, but it's the least we can do for the people who bring entertainment into our lives.



About half of my daily

About half of my daily mail delivery usually consists of trade magazines I didn't order from industries in which I've never worked- meeting organization, network maintenance, Reform Judiasm. It's gotten to the point where I assume that if a piece of mail is larger than a number 10 envelope, it's either bad news or an unwanted trade magazine. Today, I got something else- an alumni fundraising brochure.

If you went to college or grad school, you know what this is- it's not the alumni magazine, which is glossy and has articles about alums doing better than you and class notes that you read to see if anyone's doing worse than you. No, this is a thick booklet that resembles a mid-sized company's annual report, with a handy donation envelope instead of a proxy ballot. I get them from my college, and, as was the case today, I get them from my law school, which was Villanova. I went to Villanova because a) Penn wouldn't have me, and b) it was a 5 minute train ride from my apartment to the school, except when SEPTA was on strike, in which case it was the Bataan Death March uphill with a backpack full of thick hardcover books about four steep miles.

My three years at Villanova were distinguished only by my undistinguished performance, primarily because I hated 95% of the people there, was bored by the curriculum, and spent virtually every class in the back row where I did the Inquirer crossword and Wonderword and Jumble while praying that the professor wouldn't call on me. That I got my degree was miraculous; that I'm still a bar member is incomprehensible.

But that's not the point. (There IS a point. Sort of.) About half of this fundraising thing consists of a list of everyone who donated in the last year, arranged by class. I have never donated to the school, and will not in the future- I normally scrawl obscenities on the donation form and send it back via the magic of Business Reply Mail, their dime. The school did nothing for me, and does nothing for society other than produce lawyers, for which they should be punished. My feelings are not shared by my classmates. James C. Ackerman gave. Kevin R. Boyle did, too, as did John W. Buttrick, Ellen G. Casey, Georgette E. David, John C. Dodds, and a long list of people with middle initials. And as I scanned the list, I realized something that surprised me.

I have no idea who any of these people are.

I spent three years in close quarters with these people. I was in their classes. I was in the same lunchroom, the same library, the same halls. I saw their faces, heard their names called out by professors doing their best John Houseman Socratic method acting. And I cannot remember a single one of them.

I amaze myself with the way I've blocked out the memory of law school. I've forgotten my fellow students (except, it should be noted, for a couple of them- hi, Joe and Jennifer! Hi, Donna and Dennis!) with whom I've remained friends. I've forgotten the professors, the administrators, the way the place looked and smelled and sounded. I don't remember a thing.

I see these names and I imagine they've gone on to practice at some medium-sized Philadelphia law firms. They're all married, on their second, a couple of kids at home. They wear suits all day, maybe loosen the tie when they stop for a drink on the way home, late, of course. They take work home. All their friends are lawyers, everything they do is about the law- in the luxury suite at the Sixers game, on the golf course, in a hotel room with an escort arranged through the knowing concierge, all they talk about, all they think about is work. They make good money, really good money, they're downright wealthy, but they're still severely disappointed that Dylan wasn't accepted into the "right" preschool- when people at work ask about the kids, they change the subject. Their kids will resent them, rebel, but eventually become lawyers, too. They will work into their 70s and then they will die. The end.

Or not. I wouldn't know. I'm the guy in the back doing the crossword, staring out the window, not talking to anybody. And I've been doing that for a long, long time.



It dawned on me this

It dawned on me this evening that we have three times as many TVs as we have human members of our family. We have one PVR for each of us and a microwave for each of us. Microwave popcorn? We can do two bags at once without doubling the time.

Damn, life is good.



Attention, people of Georgia:

Nobody cares what's on your flag but you. Stars 'n' Bars, a picture of Lester Maddox wielding an axhandle, a Krystal slider and fries- if this wasn't splashed across the Journal-Constitution every morning and on TV every night, you wouldn't even know WHAT the damn thing looked like. I barely know what my state's flag looks like- there's a bear, and it says something under it, can't recall what it is. I lived in Pennsylvania and New Jersey for most of the rest of my life and I swear I couldn't pick their flags out of a lineup. It doesn't matter. State flags are irrelevant.

You know what? Borrow some other state's flag- nobody'll notice. Or put someone nobody'll dare argue over on there- Vince Dooley? Michael Vick? Or leave it blank. Yeah, that works. And while you do that, I'm gonna raise my flag. Plain white, naturally. Isn't that France's?



I won't spend many more

I won't spend many more words or brain cells on the Dixie Chicks and celebrity politics. I guess people are still exercised over the whole thing, but I've run out of interest. Just one more note: at some point in recent months, getting naked has returned as a means of protest. "Peace" protestors have been doing it all over the world, and the Dixie Chicks have inadvisedly done it on a magazine cover. Insofar as the protestors are at least reasonably attractive females with freely available professional airbrushing, I wholeheartedly endorse the concept even if I don't agree with the protest. Unfortunately, most naked protestors are closer in appearance to your mother's annoying yenta friends. There should be an arbiter, a referee who tells protestors who should get naked and who should leave the peasant blouse and Birkenstocks on. I hereby volunteer for the job.

No, I have no idea what getting naked has to do with peace, either. Probably nothing. DEFINITELY nothing. But it beats whatever they charge for "Naughty Lesbian Reform School Girls Gone Wild XIV" on the Exxtasy Channel. Free porn? I'm for it. And that, in a nutshell, is my political philosophy. Free porn. And beer. Maybe some peanuts to go with the beer. I know I can count on your vote.



Memo to TV sports directors:

Memo to TV sports directors: I do not care whether your network has a policy of always popping up a crawl at the bottom of the screen at certain times, to give other scores and to plug an upcoming telecast. When it's a key moment in the game, turn it off. Don't do it.

In tonight's Nets-Bucks playoff game, the Bucks were about to tie the game with 30 seconds left and as Toni Kukoc started his move and stumbled into a walk that the refs chose to allow, that annoying TNT duh-de-duh-DEE-dahhh tone comes up, a banner scrolls across the bottom with the earth-shaking and highly time-sensitive information that the Minnesota-Lakers game would be next. Then, with 27 seconds left, they put it up again and LEFT IT THERE, cutting off the bottom of the screen, staying there as Rodney Rogers blew two free throws, still there as Kenyon Martin slapped the rebound back to Rogers at the top of the key, still there when Rogers did his Robert Horry imitation, and blessedly off for the final two seconds, but the second Gary Payton's three clanked off the rim, duh-de-duh-DEE-dahhh and that banner again.

I know, I know, this is not of great importance. It's no Iraq, it's no Wall Street, it's not even the Dixie Chicks naked on the cover of Entertainment Weekly. It just bothers me, that's all. Someone tell them to stop doing it. Thanks. I'll go now.



There's an item I wrote

There's an item I wrote at AllAccess.com about the enduring popularity of Monty Python among pimply pocket-protector-anorak-trainspotter types who insist on quoting lines from the show and movies out of context, using embarrassingly broad accents and generally making everyone else move to the opposite side of the room. But I liked Monty Python.

And you know what comes to mind when you think of Philadelphia sports fans: pot-bellied, violent, brain-dead droolers who cheer head injuries and boo all that is good in the world. Naturally, I am a Philadelphia sports fan.

So it goes with pretty much everything I like. The music I tend to prefer is either the kind favored by angry, bored Orange County adolescents with tattoos creeping along their bodies and skateboards ready to ride the handrail down the steps at some Irvine office tower or the kind enjoyed by pretentious 30-something Silver Lake hipsters or westside leftists while perusing their Utne Readers at the Coffee Bean. I go to restaurants filled with fabulously wealthy and completely vacuous WASP matrons/ex-trophy wives lunching over barely-picked-over salads or the kind filled with seniors gumming their Chicken Pot Pie special while complaining to the waitress that the food is no good and the portions too small.

I hate the people who like what I like.

That's not to say that it's a hard-fast rule. Every once in a while, someone sheepishly admits that he, too, likes, say, MST3K but isn't obsessive (for some reason, many of these people come from St. Louis. I don't know why, but I think I'd like it there), or says he always roots for the Eagles but wouldn't ever go to a game for fear of being urinated on in the 700 level by a fellow fan. I know these people exist- I've met them, and some of them are people I count as friends. But I have to set forth a few rules, and I hope you're not offended.

Do not ever in my presence sing the Spam song, or the Lumberjack song, or refer to the Knights Who Say "Ni" or dead parrots or Dinsdale Piranha. Do not run around in green face paint whipping off your McNabb jersey on a Sunday screaming "Igggggglesssss!" and exposing the "G" painted on your pot belly, the result of your participation as the third letter of a human "E-A-G-L-E-S-!" chain, in my presence. Do not stare contemptiously at me and other shoppers at the Virgin Megastore on Sunset, whispering "he can't possibly like that" when I pick up a CD you'd approve of or "he has no taste" when I pick up one you wouldn't. Do not make eye contact with me. Do not try to talk to me. Leave me alone.

Other than that, let's be friends.

I was about to write

I was about to write something really nasty about someone I know, and then the little angel on my right shoulder told me "no, you don't want to do that, you never know when you might have to work with that person," and I said "if I have to work with that person again, I will tie myself to the Metrorail tracks and wait for the express from Riverside." And the angel said "you never know what that person is saying about you, or might say to someone about you that could affect your job prospects," and I said "there's little chance that this person will ever be able to affect anything I ever do besides create an involuntary vomit reflex, but you may be right."

So I didn't.

The YMCA I use has

The YMCA I use has a counter with hand-held hair dryers in the men's locker room. I occasionally see guys using them, no big deal, barely notice them, don't use them. And that's a good thing, based on what I saw today. I was changing back into street clothes and turned to see an older gentleman drying his hair.

Not the hair on his head.

There is a very short list of things you can safely do with your most intimate of areas. Placing an electrical appliance with hot coils blowing very hot air at it would not be on that list. It would be on another list, the one with "inserting it into a food processor" and "sticking it into a meat grinder" and "Courtney Love." The guy using the thing didn't seem happy about it, either- his face was contorted into a serious grimace, and he was making low grunting noises.

On behalf of most guys who use health club locker rooms, I am issuing this open plea: do not do that. Not where someone else can see you, not with a shared appliance, not in our presence. You want to set that thing on fire, do it at home. Or on "Fear Factor." Thank you.



Golfers have to make the

Golfers have to make the 3 foot putt. Kickers have to hit those red zone gimme field goals. Hockey and soccer players have to drill penalty shots into the back of the net.

Basketball players have to hit their free throws.

In the New Jersey-Milwaukee game tonight, all the Bucks' Tim Thomas had to do to put the game away with 10.4 seconds left was to hit two free throws. He missed both. All Desmond Mason had to do was hit two free throws. He missed one, hit the second. It was by the grace of God that the Bucks escaped with the win anyway.

This usually comes up in the Shaq context, with crotchety old Jack Ramsay types grumbling that the kids don't know how to hit their free throws and don't care. But it's true- they can't and they don't. I don't understand it. How many times in sports do you get a totally free, undefended gimme point all yours for the taking? It's not hard- guys playing pickup at the Y can do it. 9 year olds can do it. Back in the day, if you couldn't do it more than 70% of the time, you were suspect. Now, guys survive in the league who haven't hit 70% of free throws, ever.

When old school guys like me talk about this, it's because we've seen the world be a different place. We know the days when you didn't make the major leagues without learning how to bunt or how to slide without breaking your leg. We know the days when kickers spent whole careers with one club instead of teams changing kickers each quarter, when a guy like Jan Stenerud or Garo Yepremian would come in and you knew he'd nail the sucker right down the middle. We held certain truths to be self-evident, and now they've all gone by the boards. Decrying the lack of fundamentals in the NBA sounds like sour old-fart noise- say, old man, surely you don't think Elgin Baylor and Bob Cousy could possibly keep up with Kobe and KG and T-Mac, do you?- but I do know this: if you're Shaq, you can be forgiven, maybe, but if you're Tim Freakin' Thomas and you can't hit your free throws, what the hell good are you?



You know how you hear

You know how you hear a song and you can't get it unstuck from your mind, and it starts interfering with everything you try to do?

The hold music on the All Access Malibu phone system is stuck in my head. I hear it every day, multiple times a day, and it burrows right through my brain.

Justin Timberlake's "Rock Your Body."

Take me now, Lord.

"So go ahead, girl, just do that ass shaking thing you do." I feel ill.



So I read about the

So I read about the guy near Syracuse that maintained a dungeon where he imprisoned women as sex slaves/rape victims, and how, as always, the neighbors neither saw nor suspected anything. They say they rarely saw the guy, period. The inclination is to say they all just chose not to see anything out of the ordinary, because you'd assume someone saw SOMETHING weird, like a girl being dragged into the house. But I believe them, because, well, my neighbors...

Let me ask you this- how well do you know your neighbors? ALL of your neighbors? Because I don't know virtually any of ours. Oh, sure, we know our immediate next door neighbor, but we really don't know a whole lot of detail about her. We've met the other next-door neighbors once. We say hi to the people across the street.

Don't ask me their names. I don't know.

What I'm saying here is that any and all of these people could be doing anything in their houses and I wouldn't know. One house could be cooking up meth. Another could be a major West Coast kiddie porn distribution center. Another could be a discreet swingers' club. Any and all could have dungeons. How do you know?

    Knock knock Hello? Hi, I'm your neighbor- are you by chance doing anything illegal in there? Yes? OK, just checking.

But what would you say if I told you that we once had a major scandal story right across the street, we saw odd things going on, and didn't do anything? True story: in our previous house, we lived in a gated community of ridiculously expensive estates (we rented, of course). During that year, we noticed that the guy across the street always had a lot of cars outside, and teenage boys milling around, skateboarding and talking and horsing around in the driveway and on the lawn. We didn't think anything of it- maybe he has a teenaged son and the kid has friends over all the time- until we picked up the Daily Breeze shortly after we moved and discovered that the guy, a doctor and Pete Sampras' former tennis coach, allegedly was having sex parties with underaged boys, got arrested on several child molestation charges, and went to prison for it. Right across the street. And we had no idea.

So I'm warning you- that Syracuse situation could happen to you, and it did to us. Best advice: don't talk to the neighbors. Keep your doors shut and your windows drawn. Make no eye contact. Don't acknowledge anything. You're better off not knowing. Of course, the neighbors will think YOU'RE up to something, but you're not. Or are you?



I looked at the picture

I looked at the picture of Scott Peterson in the paper, read the accounts of his behavior since Laci's disappearance, read how his father says he's a prince. I looked at the picture- the badly dyed hair, the goatee- and I thought, geez, I know this guy.

I don't mean that literally. I never met the guy. But I know who he is, what he's all about, and when I hear anyone say "they seemed so happy" and "he was a loving husband," I cringe.

Scott Peterson is this kind of guy: think of a foursome on a muni golf course, four thirty-something guys in Ping caps and golf togs, dipping into the cooler for another Coors Light. Mid-level white-collar guys, suburban, married, living for golf every Saturday and football every Sunday. They tell their families and co-workers how happy they are, but when they're out on the golf course, loosened by a few morning beers, they tell a different story- the wife doesn't understand, they say, she spends too much, wants to redecorate the spare bedroom for the baby. Oh, man, say the other three, your life's gonna change with the kid, you know. No more time for yourself. We won't even see you here for a while. Pretty soon, the four are alternately complaining about domestic life and fantasizing about the girl in marketing in a Maxim/FHM kind of way (Dude, if I wasn't married, I could get her, no problem), and life with the wife and impending kid seems more and more a life sentence. The guys feed each other, and feed on each other, and they think that maybe getting married so young wasn't such a good idea. They may make the jump to cheating- probably will, maybe on a solo business trip, maybe with an administrative assistant in the stairwell back where nobody ever goes. But it's mostly beer and golf and my-wife-doesn't-understand-me, just like their fathers and grandfathers and probably cro-magnon guys and neanderthal guys too.

That's Scott Peterson, and that's why I shook my head sadly when his dad went to the media to say that the cops botched the case, that there are other leads, that Scott LOVED Laci and LOVED his unborn child and would NEVER have killed them EVER. He doesn't know his son. Parents rarely do.



This has been an interesting

This has been an interesting opening weekend for the NBA Playoffs- Iverson's 55, Marbury's prayer, Milwaukee getting annihilated and arraigned, the Lakers blowing out KG on the road. That last one will fuel more talk about something that's going to be trouble for the league- if the Lakers breeze through Minnesota, then continue the run all the way to another title, you'll have the final nail in the coffin for the NBA regular season.

It's true that, to some extent, the regular season was killed off last year, when the Lakers played uninspired ball before waking up in time, but at least they were in a playoff slot all the way through. This year, they waited until it was almost too late, then won just enough to get in. Shaq once again let himself Goodyear up, then, after injury time and a few months of "playing into shape," finally lost the poundage and took over. It's the clearest signal yet from the defending champions: The regular season is our exhibition season. We can turn it on whenever we want to.

So, why pay hundreds of dollars for a regular season game ticket, or $150. for the cable package?

(crickets)

I saw two NBA games in person this year, both decent games, but I also had the League Pass package and watched a lot of uninspired play. Everybody knows that the Lakers walked through half the season, but so did a lot of less talented teams, including most of the Eastern Conference. I'm an old school basketball fan- I go back to the Knicks of Reed-DeBusschere-Bradley-Frazier-Barnett and the ABA of Hawkins-Daniels-Levern "Jelly" Tart, and I will watch practically any basketball game. But there were times during the season when I wondered if the $150. I spent on the TV package was worth it, and when I see a team like the Lakers save themselves for "when it matters," I wonder why I should bother spending money on games that don't matter to the players.

So much of pro sports depends on the fans' willingness to pay and watch. I don't know if the fans will ever stop paying and watching, so maybe they deserve what they get. But if the Lakers don't think November through February are worth their time and effort, they shouldn't expect me to pay and watch until they decide to start showing up.

Tally so far: no fish

Tally so far: no fish jell-o, no horseradish, no salty parsley. Surprisingly, no bread, either, not by design. One charoset on matzoh, hold the horseradish. One box of Joyva Ring Jells, half a box of Joyva Marshmallow Twists. One See's Easter Bunny (they're kosher!). Two small bags of Cadbury's Mini Eggs. Two Snickers Eggs. A handful of Hershey's Eggs.

Nutrition be damned, it's a holiday. Leave the healthy stuff for Elijah.

Tonight, I received unexpected good

Tonight, I received unexpected good news. K-Happy was back.

You'll recall a few weeks back when I rhapsodized about the cheesy, less-than-major-market sound of an AM radio station out in Moreno Valley, CA called KHPY ("K-Happy"), 1670 on your dial. Since then, every time I checked that station, it was in the midst of anything BUT the Worst Oldies Ever format I'd heard whenever I listened before that. Spanish religion recorded under what sounds like 20 feet of water. English-language religion. East African Click Language religion. But no awful oldies, no embarrassing talk-ups, none of the small-time, small-market radio that reminded me of the local-yokel stations which fascinated me in my youth. I was about to give up hope.

A few minutes ago, we finished watching a DVD ("Femme Fatale"- the usual Brian dePalma Hitchcock knock-off with some Rebecca Romijn-Stamos lap dancing and lesbian stuff, which I suppose could easily be construed as a recommendation. Skip the plot- you want the bathroom stall scene in the beginning and the bar backroom strip scene about 15 minutes before the end, nothing else) and I volunteered to take it back to Blockbuster so we wouldn't have to rush it back in the morning. While I was driving up the hill, I decided to see if I could find the Sacramento-Utah game on the radio. While I was scanning, I hit 1670, and the game was there on a station from up north, but it was buried under this:

    "Hey, here's 'Hooked on a Feeling,' and we're hooked on the feeling of giving you the best oldies on the radio, K-H-P-Y AM 1670, K-Happy."

It lives.

"Hooked on a Feeling," the original and not, sadly, the Ouga Chaka version. "Stoned Soul Picnic"- red yellow honey, sassafrass and moonshine. "Love Can Make You Happy." (It CAN? Well, THANK YOU for pointing this out! I was under the mistaken impression that it CAN'T.) Pure sing-along schlock, and I will admit that I knew every damn word. The signal was fading in and out, mixing with Gary Gerould calling the playoff game and the buzz of power lines and my transmission, but I could not be happier. All the aggravation of the week drained away for a few blissful minutes.

If there's a cheesy local AM station near you, a daytimer with a midday Tradio show, perhaps, or a country station that still plays Hank Sr., or one that still does its music rotations on index cards that the jocks shuffle so that the songs they hate mysteriously keep appearing at the back of the pile, do yourself a favor and listen to it for a while. It's like a time-traveling vacation, and there are worse things you can do than spending a few hours in 1969 every once in a while.



I'm not boycotting French stuff.

I'm not boycotting French stuff. This is not because I'm not annoyed by the French non-cooperation with the American-British war effort, their tight connection to Saddam, their increasing hatred of all things American, their tradition of anti-Semitism... well, OK, I'm annoyed by all of those things, plus the rudeness we've encountered in Paris and much more. But I'm not boycotting France for a much more practical reason.

I can't think of anything I buy that's French.

I'm fully aware that French bread sold in a Ralphs in Los Angeles isn't baked by French people in France. I know French fries here aren't from France. I even know that a French bistro in, say, Studio City isn't likely to be sending its profits back via wire to Marseilles. So what else from France is there for an American to boycott? I don't drink French wine- I don't really drink Napa wine, either- so that won't work. I don't even know if they sell Peugeots or Citroens here anymore- I haven't seen a Citroen since I saw a vintage 2CV jammed almost sideways between two trucks in London- and I wouldn't buy one anyway, so that isn't it either. Music? Haven't purchased a French record since Fran bought a Guesch Patti tape on our honeymoon. Beer? Now, there's something I could actively boycott. I support our allies by buying Newcastle Brown Ale, and I'll be sure not to buy... not to buy... um... someone help me here, name a French beer...

Aha. Suddenly, I have a theory.

Look at the stereotypes, because that's the kind of analysis we do. American guys: Budweiser, the Raiders, aggressive. British guys: A pint or twelve at the local, Chelsea, aggressive. Australian guys: Carlton or Foster's, that brutal Aussie Rules Football where you kick the crap out of the guy with the ball, aggressive. French guys... there it is. No beer. Not much sports- a little soccer, tennis, that's all. Submissive.

French people and their sympathizers would tell you this is a good thing. But it's the kind of passivity that leads directly to "Yes, sir, Mr. Hitler, right this way. Would you like some Jews to take home with you?" and "If you don't hurt us, Saddam ol' buddy, we'll do whatever you want. Arms? Cash? Ignoring sanctions? Sure, love to, just don't tell the other guys, OK?" Beer drinking sports fans aren't like that. Hitler comes around, we yell "Nazis suck!" with the same gusto as the blue-seaters at the Garden used on Denis Potvin back in the day. Saddam causes trouble, we go over there and kick some Republican Guard ass. You hit us, we hit back. You hit France, they do the rope-a-dope without the part where you hit Foreman back after he tires out.

Stop calling the French "Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys." That's wrong. It's "Cheese-Eating Wine-Sipping Non-Sports-Fan Surrender Monkeys." It's all about the beer. If they had any, I'd boycott it. If they had any, they wouldn't roll over for dictators. Someone send that weasel Chirac a case of PBR.



I made it to the

I made it to the end of the week without major incident. That's an achievement. Between the workload and the taxes and some other aggravations I won't get into now, I was extremely irritated all week.

This is one of the many reasons I'm grateful Fran's around. I rant and rave with steam coming out of my ears and eyes bulging and tongue flapping wildly like a Tex Avery cartoon, and she calmly listens, offers words of wisdom and encouragement, and brings me back to equilibrium. If she wasn't here to keep me restrained, I'd be unemployed, friendless, and most probably roaming the streets haranguing passers-by with a clipboard.

But with Fran's help and the arrival of Friday afternoon, I'm still here and feeling much better now. In fact, I think I'm gonna go get a burrito and celebrate. I'll be back to post something more topical and brilliant later. Feel free to check back in- I'll be here.



Tonight at ALL ACCESS TALK

Tonight at ALL ACCESS TALK TOPICS: duct tape discipline, another reason to hate Al Davis, a condom with interesting properties, and my final word on Marshmallow Peeps.

Don't forget to go here.

There are few things more

There are few things more difficult in a career than when you're failing. It's worse when you know it, know you're going to get the blame for it, and can't really do anything to save yourself.

The other night, after the last game of a really bad season, Toronto Raptors GM Glen Grunwald took to the PA at Air Canada Centre to apologize to fans for the team's performance. He was booed.

I learned in the course of my star-crossed radio career that whether you apologize or not, there are some people who'll catch all the blame whether they're responsible or not, and others who skate right through even if they leave a trail of destruction in their wake. I won't bore you with details (nor will I burn any bridges here), but I've been in situations where I was the only management figure you could reasonably say did not cause the troubles the station was happening, yet I was the sacrifice. I could have pulled a Grunwald- I could have gone on the air and said "you know what? We suck. But we'll fix it. And, oh, by the way, it wasn't my fault." It wouldn't have mattered. Some people get to fail upward- they're usually called "radio general managers"- and some don't. It can make those who don't- like me- bitter as hell.

But you can't let that happen to yourself. Better to cultivate an "I don't care" image than keep complaining and lose all your friends- failure, or the impression of failure, is as contagious as cooties, and nobody wants cooties. Save the apologies, Grunwald. Just stay quiet, do your job until they tell you to collect your personal effects and leave, and keep the sour feelings to yourself. If you can't fail upward, at least LOOK like you failed upward, or at least fail sideways. And save the angry stories for your book. That's what I'm doing. If you were lousy towards me in the past, now would be a good time to start sucking up to me. You can be the Dudley Do-Right of my book, or the Snidely Whiplash. The choice is yours, Snidely.



True Confessions:





Wait, I can explain.

I was in Washington. A friend was opening for her. It was about 2 blocks from my hotel. I got in free. I went backstage. I met Janeane. She was nice. There were many promotional packets of Listerine Breath Strips. I left. The end.

Can't agree with her on practically anything, but I can't rail against her, either. Drum me out of the Rabid Foaming Hawk Society if you must. Sorry.



Tonight at ALL ACCESS TALK

Tonight at ALL ACCESS TALK TOPICS: Why getting your kiddie porn developed at the Rite Aid might not be a good idea, why you should drop the knife when the cops tell you to drop the knife, and many other obvious things, plus Hootie 'n' Cooties, a probably phony but nevertheless entertaining item about an S&M exercise class, and other stuff I can't remember.

Go and learn something.



Michael Jordan's done. Didn't it

Michael Jordan's done. Didn't it all seem, I dunno, anticlimactic? I expected a lot more pageantry, ceremony, you know, bringing out all of his old teammates, a "This Is Your Life" kind of thing. Instead, he got a video montage accompanied by Boyz II Men. Boyz II Men? Were the Five Stairsteps and Cubie unavailable?

A blowout loss, long stretches on the bench, his last points coming on free throws from a gift foul in garbage time... it's the kind of sendoff you give a Bill Cartwright or Charles Oakley, not Michael F'in' Jordan himself. No matter how well he played with the Wizards, he should have gone out with The Shot against Utah in the finals. It would have been perfect. It WAS perfect. I expected this one would be something I'd never forget. I got something I'm already hazy on.

Michael who? Can't quite place the name. Was he as good as Kobe?



The Australian Foreign Affairs Department is warning Australians that travel to the Middle East- Syria, Kuwait, Iran, Lebanon- should be deferred unless essential.

I would think most folks would know to cross Syria, Kuwait, Iran, and Lebanon off their vacation lists. Or maybe not. You get so little time off, and when money's tight, you're going to look for a deal: The Park Hotel in Shiraz, Iran has rooms for $45. a night (single)- you're in a historic hotel (built in 1920) in the middle of a city of great antiquity, 2,500 years old, and you get elevators, a gift shop, fax service, a car rental desk, dry cleaning service, and 24 hour security.

Not vacationy enough for you? The Sheraton Damascus has a pool, tennis, a restaurant, TV with cable, and, most importantly, a mini-bar. Plus, you might be staying next to a celebrity, like one of the Husseins or someone else you've seen on the TV news- there's 24 hour service to Damascus International Airport, for when the paperwork comes through and you have to make the next flight to Paris. $132. for a single- more expensive than Shiraz, sure, but if you want the pool and tennis and Iraqi fugitives, you have to expect to pay for it.

So the Australian Foreign Affairs Department can warn people all they want, but bargain hunting vacationers know a deal when they see it. Besides, you could get hit by a cruise missile in other places, too. Could happen. Isn't Bermuda in the Axis of Evil?



Now on that which mortals

Now on that which mortals call ALL ACCESS TALK TOPICS: Beat the umpire, kick the Easter Bunny's ass, play ping-pong with Jose Canseco, take a call from Jacques Chirac, fall off a bridge, drive into a house with a drunk Rodney King, and run around naked on a freeway.

Obviously, you need to be here.



My mental fog hasn't lifted-

My mental fog hasn't lifted- work, taxes, refi, too much to handle at once. And a perfect example is this: until late this afternoon, I was totally unaware that, this season, the Phillies will be coming here not only to play the Dodgers, but will play a three game set against the Angels at Edison Field in June. Why wasn't I informed of this before now? Heads will roll!

Naturally, I immediately bought tickets. But I'm embarrassed- this is something I should have known. It's almost enough to get my Philadelphia sports fan credentials revoked. Almost. I'll have to go boo something to make up for this.



Scott Peterson is not Gary

Scott Peterson is not Gary Condit. The difference: timing. 9/11 took the heat off of Condit, and the lack of evidence for over a year allowed the case to fade into obscurity. Peterson had the war for public distraction, but the Republican Guard and the bodies didn't cooperate- the war ended sooner than Peterson needed, and the bodies, assuming they're Laci and the unborn child, turned up too soon.

There's no reason I should be paying any attention to the Laci Peterson case. I don't know the Petersons, I don't know what happened, and I can't think of a single way this case will impact my life. It's a tragedy, sure, but it isn't germane to anything beyond Modesto and Berkeley, beyond the families and friends. But here I am, listening to press conferences, passing judgement as if I was the jury foreman or the prosecutor.

We care about these high profile deaths because we always have. Trials were entertainment long before Court TV. For every trial that really does have an impact on people's lives- Scopes', maybe, or spy cases like the Rosenbergs', or police brutality cases like the Rodney King cops'- there are many more that the public follows for no other reason than that it's interesting, amusing, a break from the everyday. Whether Sam Sheppard got railroaded or not wouldn't have had any impact on anyone outside northeastern Ohio but for the intense news coverage. You can argue that the only impact the O.J. trials had were to prove that a court and prosecutors could completely fold under the scrutiny of a national audience. The Blake and Jayson Williams trials won't be relevant to most lives, either. You will, however, watch.

And so will I. It's like watching a ballgame, or war- you pick a side and root for them to win. I do, however, recognize the waste of time, the utter uselessness of paying attention to whether some guy in Modesto killed his wife, or some washed-up character actor is responsible for his wife's execution. It's going to be up to a higher authority to keep some perspective on this stuff, namely my wife. The night Princess Di died, we were watching the BBC coverage for hours when she turned the volume down, turned to me, and said "You know, this is sad and all, but it really doesn't have anything to do with my life." And she turned the channel to Nick at Nite.

Sometimes you watch the news, and sometimes you just have to change the channel to an Andy Griffith rerun. Now, that's philosophy.



Oh, yeah, you might want

Oh, yeah, you might want to pay a visit to ALL ACCESS TALK TOPICS, where the New York Yankees are trading with the enemy, we discover that there are Jews in Baghdad, live chickens are being dropped into woodchippers, and, my stars, there's so much more to experience.

The buck starts here.



Yeah, yeah, I know. Southern

Yeah, yeah, I know. Southern Californians can't handle rain, treat it like a blizzard, accidents in a light mist. I won't even argue whether the stereotypes are true. They are. Well, it's raining now in Southern California, raining hard. I'm sure people are sliding into each other on the 405, the TV reporters are standing along the 101 or by the Los Angeles "River" in comical yellow rain slickers and hip boots doing the "Storm Watch 2003" thing, people are standing 12 deep in the checkout line at Ralphs with carts full of milk and diapers. That's not what I'm doing.

I love the rain.

I should clarify that- I don't especially like being out IN the rain. I have, however, always liked the sound of the rain as it hits the roof, drips off the eaves, splashes in puddles on the driveway. When I was a kid (forgive me another nostalgia run), I used to stand by our house under an awning as thunderstorms approached, watching the lightning in the western sky and counting the seconds between flash and boom. I'd open the garage door, lean against the Corvair or Chevette and watch the rain come down, the street eerily quiet except for the woosh of the occasional car rushing up Greenrale Avenue. And in all the years I lived back east, there was the crackle of approaching storms on the AM radio, rain not yet in the neighborhood but coming attractions interfering with the ballgame: "pitch low and away, 2 and 2 to Bowa. Sunday is Bat Day at the Vet CCCCRRRRKKKKK on sale at CCCCRRRRKKK and at all Ticketron outlets. Koosman kicks and deals, fouled off CCCCCCCCRRRRRRKKKKK."

Now that I live in a place where rain is rare and thunderstorms come, briefly, once every few years, I miss the sounds, the thunder, the quiet. It's here now, however briefly, and if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go listen.



I will say this about

I will say this about the income tax process- when you're finished with the receipts and the cancelled checks and the invoices and the calculations and the fine print, you feel a great weight lifted from your back. And your wallet.

Feeding my masochism, I'm doing a refinance now. There's no rest for the weary.



The Phillies scored 13 runs

The Phillies scored 13 runs in one inning today.

It is my lot in life as a Philadelphia sports fan to note, sadly, that they did not score in any other inning.

Philadelphia sports fans do not accept success, because there's always failure right around the corner, and you have to be prepared to point fingers and curse the fates. The Whiz Kids' pennant? Swept in the Series, in the cellar for the next decade. Holding an almost insurmountable lead into the final weeks of the 1964 season? Chico Ruiz stole home, Gene Mauch burns out his starting pitching, the Cardinals win the pennant. Division champs in the 70's? Didn't beat the Dodgers. Pennants in '83 and '93? The Orioles won the '83 series, and need I mention Mitch Williams? And I can do the same for the Eagles (like for this season), the Sixers (they owed us more than one), the Flyers (what have they won lately?)...

Of course, you could bring up the 1980 Phillies, the '67 and '83 Sixers, the Flyers' cups in the 70's. But the true Philadelphia sports fan will point out that the '81 Phils got ripped off by the strike and forced playoff with the Expos, the Sixers crashed and burned in '68 and set an all-time worst-record mark within 5 years, and the Flyers got swept in '76 and have been to four more finals without a win since then. Every silver lining has a cloud. The glass is half empty and draining fast. We're always waiting for the other shoe to drop.

But that being said, I put $20. on the Phillies to win the NL pennant this year, so I must have some hope deep down. On the other hand, I don't expect to collect. Of course not. I'm a Philadelphia sports fan. What did you expect?



I was browsing in Borders

I was browsing in Borders this afternoon when I got panhandled. I wasn't walking in or out, and the beggar wasn't sitting outside by the door looking for change- I was all the way in the back of the store, and this guy, in dirty clothes and with an odor that preceded him, just walked right up to me and asked for money. I shook my head and he moved further into the store, latching onto someone in the DVD section while I moved in another direction.

The problem here is not a homeless guy's right to ask for change. If he wants to sit outside the store and beg, fine. And it's not that he was in the store- sometimes, when the staff is otherwise occupied, someone can slip past them. That happens. But this is not an isolated instance. This particular store, in Torrance, always seems to have a couple of homeless guys in the store asking shoppers for money. It may be the same two guys- one plops down in the magazine section, the other wanders the aisles. They're not shopping for books or CDs or DVDs, they're shopping for soft touches, guilty suburbanites with spare paper money overflowing from their pockets and purses.

Someone ought to throw them out.

Nobody does.

This is not a freedom issue. It's not a public library, it's a private business. They can throw anyone out. But think about the kind of people who work in bookstores- liberal, ultra-tolerant, peace-and-love people. They probably don't call the men "homeless" or "beggars"- I'm sure they use a more tolerant term. But it's evidently the policy of the manager of this store to allow the homeless guys to hang out and panhandle in the store, and I'm not comfortable with that. I want to feel safe in a store. I don't want someone to ask me for money when I'm just trying to check out a book. I don't want anyone doing the same to my wife. I certainly don't want to experience the smell of a guy whose clothes are caked in dirt and bodily emissions while I'm shopping.

No, I didn't complain. I should have- would have, if there was any manager at the information desk- but I've seen these guys at least the last three or four times I've walked into that store. I can only assume that the store's regular practice is to permit panhandling. It's nice that the manager of that store is so compassionate towards the less fortunate (or less willing to work, or more willing to fry their brains with drugs) among us. I'm sure he or she'll get extra points when competing to get into heaven. But they just lost themselves a customer.


This weekend is mostly a

This weekend is mostly a blur of taxes and receipts and more taxes. For some reason, I just didn't get around to the gruntwork of getting the taxes finished until the last minute. Maybe I suspected (rightly, it turns out) that I'm not gonna like what the bottom line shows this time. Maybe I assumed I'd get to it when I really wasn't going to have the time.


Maybe I'm just lazy.


I wish I had the kind of finances where I could take a box of receipts, dump them all on some accountant's desk, and say "here, you do it." But I have to do it myself, the curse of the small businessman, too small to hire someone to handle the finances, too big for the 1040-EZ. Usually, it's not too bad- between Quicken and Turbo Tax, a lot of the work's easier than it used to be. But this year, between the war and conventions and business, I've just about run out of time. I should be able to file on time- maybe a day early- because I've buckled down and I've been working for a few days to catch up, but I scared myself by waiting so long. I miss the days before I had to worry about income taxes and property taxes and mortgages and everything about adulthood. I close my eyes and it's a summer afternoon in 1969 again, out in the back yard on the wide expanse of grass with the soggy part out by the property line where the drainage is screwed up, and my dad's throwing a baseball WAAAAAY up in the air, yelling "major league pop-up!" as I circled under it, imagining myself to be the next Willie Mays or Tommie Agee, no responsibilities in sight. And then I wake up, and I'm just some guy who needs to pay the bills and file his 1040 and pick up the dry cleaning on his way back from the gym.


Not that I'm complaining. But it would be nice to take a vacation from adulthood for a little while. You know, I think my baseball glove's in the garage, and I have an old National League baseball on the top shelf in my office. Maybe when I finish the taxes I'll throw myself some major league pop-ups, close my eyes, and be Willie Mays all over again.



Movie Review I'm angry. I'm

Movie Review


I'm angry. I'm so angry. We saw a crappy movie and it wasn't merely bad in the "aah, I just wasted money on this crap" way, it was bad in the "how could anyone in Hollywood have read this script and thought it would make a good movie" way.


Do yourself a favor. Skip "Anger Management."


OK, so I shouldn't expect a movie with Adam Sandler to be good. I'm not a 13 year old boy anymore. (13 year old boys love Adam Sandler- the theater was packed with them) And the trailers should have been ample warning, too. But I needed an escape from tax forms and receipts, and it was either that or "Head of State." It was a coin flip. The coin flipped wrong, so we saw "Anger Management."


I'll spare you a lot of the details and skip to why I got upset. I guess it's the Writer's Curse: if you write for a living, and you see lazy or just plain bad writing hit the jackpot, there's a certain amount of jealousy/resentment that wells up in your chest. How the hell can something this bad make money while I, great undiscovered talent that I am, toil away in the obscurity of the freelance life? But I don't think this one's bad just because of jealousy. I don't begrudge people success, even people who might uncharitably be termed hacks- hey, I've cranked out stuff I thought was crap to make money (I have integrity, but sometimes I gotta pay the mortgage). This one was worse- a combination of a few stock plots and hammy acting by a cast of big names slumming for a friend. Here's how you could tell this wasn't going to be a good movie:


    Celebrity cameos. When athletes and actors show up in tiny walk-ons just because, well, just because, you know there's a problem. It's the Simpsons Guest Star Rule: when a celebrity guest voice is on the Simpsons, the episode will be subpar, and when the celebrities play themselves ("Hey, you're Tony Hawk, the famous skateboarder!" "That's right, Bart!"), the episode will REALLY stink out loud. "Anger Management" has Rudy Giuliani embarrassing himself, Woody Harrelson REALLY embarrassing himself in drag, John C. Reilly in a bad bald wig and robe, Luis Guzman as an effeminate stereotype, Heather Graham in Red Sox underwear stuffing her face with brownies, and Roger Clemens and Derek Jeter as themselves. The movie had no chance.


    Hammy acting. Jack Nicholson's worst instincts are all over this one- after one of his best, most understated performances ever in "About Schmidt," he does the eye-rolling wack job thing in this one. And then there's Sandler and Marisa Tomei, which should be enough for anyone to stay away, but in case that's not enough, there's John Turturro as a psycho. Not good.


    Weird obsession. Some scripts have an inexplicable focus on something that's clearly a problem for someone who made the movie. This one's homosexuality- there's the stereotype mincer, the crazed lesbians, the two-guys-in-a-bed scene, the staring-at-the-penis-of-the-guy-at-the-next-urinal gag... someone who made this movie's uncomfortable with his own gender preference, or he's a real homophobe, or both.


    Adam Sandler's in it.



So I sat through it wondering how anyone could think this was funny or entertaining, and when the movie was over, I looked at Fran and we said the same thing in unison- "that really sucked." Then we walked out and I heard a bunch of teenaged girls give their verdict: "that was SOOO funny!"


Clearly, I'm not in the target audience for this movie. Then again, it could just be that I have no taste and it really WAS funny. And the Tigers could win the pennant this season.



OK, so I can post

OK, so I can post from my cell phone. Here's what was going on at the time:



I was in a movie theater at the time, killing time during "The Twenty," the cavalcade of promos and ads 20 minutes before the 20 minutes of ads and trailers that start when the movie's scheduled to start. I have one o' them Handspring Treos with net access, so I was trying to see if I could post from it. Evidently, I can post to the queue, but not directly publish to the site- it can't handle the FTP function.



Ah, gadgets. What would life be like without them?



This is a little test-

This is a little test- if you're able to read this, I have successfully figured ouy a way to post from my cell phone. Because I can, that's why.

This is how travel affects

This is how travel affects me: I am at a loss to figure out what day this is. I thought this was Thursday all day. I thought yesterday felt like Friday.



And when I went to the Y for a workout, I opened my gym bag to discover I'd packed one sneaker, three shower shoes, and no brush.



What day is this again?



Ah, yes, I'll never forget

Ah, yes, I'll never forget the NAB2003 convention. What an amazing time- while Baghdad was falling and the world watched with jaws dropping, I was watching the foreign press corps attack a tray of sandwiches and my jaw was dropping, too.



The convention was, as usual, big and tech-heavy and exhausting, and there was a reasonable amount of news to report, so I was busy throughout the week. But the most lasting impression I took from the event was about the behavior of the foreign press. This year, the NAB thoughfully provided Ethernet connections for high speed Net access so people like me could file reports and check e-mail- you know, work. And when I could grab a Cat-5 cord and hook it into my computer, it was great. Getting a free cord, on the other hand, took some work, because the connections seemed to be constantly occupied by people whose badges indicated that they a) were from another continent, which in and of itself isn't a problem, but b) they weren't writers. No, they were photographers, or assistants, or anything but actual reporters. They had the Net hookup, and they were using them for...



...for what? For reading web pages, for checking friends' e-mail messages, for watching videos. I needed to get in there, and they would not budge. Most, in fact, feigned inability to understand English. There was one thing they understood, however, and it was the only way I got to use the Net hookup.



Lunch time.



The NAB provides a small amount of food so reporters can grab a bite while continuing to work. That's not who ate the food. The foreign press, the non-reporters, the photographers, the ones hogging the Net- those were the ones who ate the food. And they got all of it. I walked into the press room, checked and saw that the food hadn't arrived, found a free Net connection, used it for 3 minutes to file a report, got up, walked around the corner to check on the food, and it was all gone, snarfed up in seconds. I saw a guy carrying four sandwiches- two in each hand- away from the table. It was carnage. But at least I could console myself in that the sandwiches looked horrible.



Anyway, I came away from the convention remembering not what happened in the sessions or on the exhibit floor, but what happened in the press room. Next time, I'm brown-bagging it. And if the non-reporters take up all the Net connections, I'll just rip the cord from their computers. I'll bet they'll suddenly understand plenty English.



One of the striking things

One of the striking things about what's happening in Baghdad was noted by WKLS/Atlanta "Regular Guy" Larry Wachs, who e-mailed me noting that the Iraqi looters, freed of inhibition and rule of law, went right for the electronic stuff- stereos, TVs, VCRs. It was like Everything Must Go at the Baghdad Best Buy.



This is interesting, because you didn't see women running around looting. If women were involved, they'd be going for boring things like food, medical supplies, personal hygiene products, things for the children. Men go for TVs. That's what they did when South Central caught fire in the Rodney King riots, it's what happens any time law and order break down- guys make a bee line for electronic stuff. Think about it- when the L.A. rioters were shown emerging from a liquor or convenience store, what were they carrying? A 40 and the surveillance monitor and a cash register with drawer flapping open, cashless, worthless, but, hey, it's electronic.



So the Baghdad looters lug the TVs home and plug 'em in. What are they gonna see? You know, I STILL haven't been able to find any information about what Iraq TV airs, except that it tends to air Saddam speeches and Hollywood movies of a few years back, preferably with Bill Paxton or Bill Pullman or someone else named Bill. Is that worth stealing a TV to watch? They're probably going to have to sit there watching snow and test patterns until the new government gets its act together and signs on with the new Fall season, which I'm willing to bet will look suspiciously like last season, because they can't afford anything good and the Bill movies are just sitting there on what's left of the shelf and they do fill up time. Replace the Saddam speeches with Bush and Blair speeches and you got yourself a schedule, don't you?



But it doesn't matter. Guys are guys. Iraqi guys may worship in a different religion, live in a different culture, believe in a different value system, but they're guys, which means that they want big-screen TVs. And porn. But I don't think there was any porn to loot.



Yet. There will be, soon, because they will be free and guys are guys.



Back from Vegas, digging out

Back from Vegas, digging out from under- much work, no time, but safely back home. The drive was, for the Vegas run, quick and uneventful. The highlight, such as it was, had to be the stop for lunch at the Mad Greek, which, along with Bun Boy, is the Wall Drug/South of the Border equivalent here- the billboards spread up and down the 15 for miles, and the restaurants are across the street from each other in the only commercial area- the only area inhabited by more than 1 or 2 people- between Yermo and the Nevada line, in the middle of the Mojave Desert conveniently located adjacent to... nothing. (OK, there's a Del Taco and an Arby's and a couple of little convenience stores and the Alien Jerky stand, but that's it)



Sub-highlight- I'm eating my sandwich at the Mad Greek when one of the many celebrity pictures on the wall catches my eye. No, not the Nic Cage head shot, the one two pictures over to the left, the one with the curly-haired guy with the puffy, grinning face. Could it be?



Yes.



Eddie Mekka.



Carmine Ragusa.



The Big Ragu.



From "Laverne and Shirley."



The Big Ragu lives, and he eats at the Mad Greek in Baker, California.



Today, Vegas, one last tour

Today, Vegas, one last tour of the NAB and RTNDA shows. Tomorrow, it's the long drive back, the Bun Boy, the World's Tallest Thermometer, the Highway Stations, Turn Off Your Air Conditioner Next 16 Miles, the Cajon Pass, and, eventually, home. And Ella.



I wonder if she'll recognize us.



On one side of the

On one side of the world, a tyrant is overthrown, the oppressed are free, the world watches in true shock and awe.



On the other side of the world, Danny Gans is king.



Danny Gans, for those who have never been to Las Vegas, is an entertainer who... oh, sorry, he's not merely an entertainer. No, he's ENTERTAINER OF THE YEAR, writ large on countless billboards, bus cards, taxi roof ads, and, for all I know, on tattoos placed on each cheek of the Mayor's butt. The moment you deplane at McCarran and go to get your bags, there's the grinning face of the ENTERTAINER OF THE YEAR, looming over the baggage claim, perched atop his customary black turtleneck. Here in our hotel room- a hotel right across the street from the Official Hotel of Danny Gans- there's a copy of a tourist magazine, and right on the cover, crouching and gazing from in front of the publication's logo with a please-love-me expression, is the ENTERTAINER OF THE YEAR himself. Why not? He's the ENTERTAINER OF THE YEAR.



So, what does the ENTERTAINER OF THE YEAR do to become the ENTERTAINER OF THE YEAR? Well, he sings. He dances. He does impressions. He tells sincere stories about his family, his faith, his baseball career, his TV deals. And he does every single one of them poorly. Check that- not just poorly, but criminally bad. Awful. Sub-Star Search bad. Ted Mack's Original Amateur Hour bad. Cable access bad. None of his impressions are close. His claims to have been a heartbeat away from the majors- are of dubious veracity. The singing and dancing are karaoke-level. He's been telling the sitcom development story for years and nobody's seen a pilot. I've seen the ENTERTAINER OF THE YEAR perform live, and I can't remember a more cringe-inducing act, not even the Playboy Fantasy Revue at which I ended up, in an illness-and-alcohol-induced delerium, sitting ringside in Atlantic City inches from the Globe of Death and three male dancers in ape costumes miming to "Abba Dabba Honeymoon." The ENTERTAINER OF THE YEAR is horribly, mind-numbingly, incredibly awful.



Needless to say, he sells out every night.



That's because Las Vegas isn't of this earth. It's a parallel universe, with its own customs, own moral code, own celebrities. Ah, the celebrities. Your Jack Nicholsons and Shaqs and George W. Bushes can slide through a casino with no problem, can gamble and drink and dance relatively unmolested, noticed only in passing in Norm Clarke's column or Tim McDarrah's column in the next day's papers. But Danny Gans- the ENTERTAINER OF THE YEAR- will get mobbed. The Scintas are royalty on the Strip. Clint Holmes- "My name is Michael, I got a nickel..." Clint Holmes- is still a star here. Michael Flatley hops, Lance Burton makes magic, Rita Rudner slays 'em every night. There's even a Gallic imitation of the ENTERTAINER OF THE YEAR, a guy named Andre-Phillipe Gagnon who does impressions of singers that sound like the real thing if the real thing had a French accent and sounded nothing like themselves.



Have I mentioned that it's all great? Because it is. Nowhere else on the planet can you get ripped on paper-umbrella drinks and watch washed-up singers and unfunny comics and people you've never heard of and have no reason to have ever heard of sing and dance and joke their show-biz hearts out in a way that's like watching "World's Wildest Police Chases XIV"- you can't believe you're doing it, you're aware you're wasting time and brain cells, yet you're enjoying the spectacle. (Some of the acts are even- dare I say it- not bad: Clint Holmes does a surprisingly good version of the standard Vegas showroom act, and, yes, he's fully aware of his own comic washed-up-ness) Like the rest of Tourist Las Vegas, it's all tasteless, schlocky, over the top, and exactly what you want from Vegas.



Except the ENTERTAINER OF THE YEAR. Nobody should want that.



You wake up in the

You wake up in the morning. You find the switch on the alarm clock, you slide out of bed so as not to wake your wife, you stumble out of the room. Bathroom, brush teeth, stumble out. Feed the cat, scratch yourself, maybe start the coffeemaker or grab a bagel. Turn on the computer, switch on the radio, discover the world has changed again.



Dancing in the streets. Looting. Statues toppled, victory signs, celebration. Outpourings of emotion about the torture, the suffering, the indignity of life under the thumb of an evil man. You wonder what people who railed against the war are thinking now. Perhaps they don't believe it's true. But you hear the rumble of millions of people running to catch the bandwagon that left without them 22 days ago.



There will be a lot of bumps on the road ahead. The fighting's not even over, the country still not fully liberated, the "resistance" and the terrorism surely ready to keep killing. But right now, there are millions of people free today who weren't free yesterday, and that's worth some celebration.



Apologies for not posting too

Apologies for not posting too much this week- travel and news coverage duties (this week, I'm practically Jimmy Olsen, Cub Reporter) are taking up way too much time. The good thing is that there's a ton of material being harvested, so later this week, and maybe even by Thursday, there'll be so much you'll be screaming for mercy. There's My Lunch With Radio People, FCC Commissioners Run Amok, the Foreign Press and the Free Sandwiches, Why I Hate Photographers... maybe a repeat visit to the Special World of Danny Gans, too.



Meanwhile, I gotta run. Did I tell you I'm running in the black this time? Did I tell you Syracuse plus 5 1/2? Did I? Huh?



OK, I'll go.



And now, the results of

And now, the results of the exclusive Las Vegas Hotel Health Club Poll. Results are plus and minus 100 percent.



When we checked into the hotel, three of the four big-screen projection TVs over the cardio area of the hotel spa were tuned to war coverage on the cable news channels.



On Monday, it was down to two.



Today, the sets had a) Lakers-Dallas, b) Fox News, c) A&E Chuck Barris bio, and d) VH1's airing of "Beavis and Butt-Head Do America."



Our exclusive Insta-Fraud analysis: America is officially "over it."



We were heading for a

We were heading for a bite to eat when we walked by the Venetian sports book. On the assumption that being in Vegas during the Final Four and NOT betting on the game would be heresy, I went ahead and dropped $22. on Syracuse-plus-5 1/2 to win.



Good move.



So far this morning at

So far this morning at the NAB Convention: a bunch of Senators and Congressmen said nothing, then Cokie Roberts got an award for, apparently, being Cokie Roberts and Barry Diller told everyone their industry should be reregulated. Then I went to the Media Room and waited for an Ethernet port to open up while a bunch of the foreign press looked me over like I'm an alien.



Oh, yeah, traveling to Vegas conventions is a LOAD of fun, absolutely. I might as well be in Duluth- at least I wouldn't feel like I was missing anything.



I made the run to

I made the run to Vegas today- it takes about 5 hours, give or take and depending on how long you spend eating your burger and strawberry pie at the Bun Boy in Baker (under the World's Tallest and Least Accurate Thermometer). It's cool in Vegas at the moment- 60s and breezy for the high- but I found the one hot spot in town, which happened to be the Convention Center where the NAB and RTNDA conventions are being held. I had to run in, get my press credentials, grab the print materials, and get back out of there, which naturally required the World's Longest Walk in the World's Warmest Building. By the time I walked from the Hilton parking garage, through the Sports Book and casino, down the hall, through the entire RTNDA convention area, across the street, down the block, up the escalator, down a long, very warm hallway, down another hall to the press room, then reversed the process, I was schvitzing something fierce. Why is it that convention halls must always be at least 20 degrees warmer than the legal definition of "hot"? And why am I the only one who notices this?



So, I'm at the NAB. I'll be reporting on the show for AllAccess.com, and I'll post some of my impressions here. Fair enough? Good. Now, I've been driving all day, and writing all evening, so it's time to do what nobody's ever supposed to do in Vegas- sleep. See you tomorrow, and if you're at the NAB or RTNDA, stop by/say hi.



I'm not big on travel.

I'm not big on travel.

Oh, I LIKE to BE in different places. It's the hassle and time and expense of GETTING there and back I don't enjoy. I want to just snap my fingers and BANG, I'm in Vegas. No bumpy flight, no interminable drive across the desert, no stopping at the World's Largest Thermometer in the Bun Boy parking lot in Baker to hit the restroom. Just there. And I want to go home when I want to as well- minutes away, right down the hall, steps from the Strip, open a door and there's the familiar home and familiar cat and familiar everything.

Doesn't work that way. So we point the car north on the 15 and hit the road. See you in Vegas for the Guys in Suits convention.



Nice of Marquette to show

Nice of Marquette to show up today, huh?

They will be told upon their return to Milwaukee that they had a great season, that you can't forget the good stuff because of a bad finish. They, of course, will be wrong. You don't forget that last blowout. You spend the entire summer reliving it, wondering how you could have left everything at home when you went to play the biggest game of your young life so far. And you don't want to see Kansas- they ran it up, they were so unfair- go on and play Syracuse in the game you could have- no, SHOULD have- been playing in yourself.

And eventually you leave school and work in a beer distributorship in Racine. Occasionally, someone brings up that season. You smile, and nod, and it stings a little, and then you remember how cool it was, millions of eyes on you, for a brief shining moment the center of the known universe.

There are worse fates.



Tonight on ALL ACCESS TALK

Tonight on ALL ACCESS TALK TOPICS: Why "I heard a great racist joke. You all don't mind if I tell it" is something you don't want to hear coming from your own mouth, ever, plus violent customer service at JC Penney, female circumcision in Georgia, and the death of Perri the Drunk, Abusive, Homophobic Clown.

Your New York Timeses and Washington Posts were never like this.

For good reason.



This is going to sound

This is going to sound harsh. Sorry.

All I could think about when I heard Michael Kelly had died in Iraq is about his family. His loss is a shame on any level, a blow to journalism for sure, but all I could think about is the personal.

What the hell was he doing there?

I know, I know, he wanted it, he loved the excitement, he loved being there. He died while doing what he loved. Great. All I know is that a couple of small children just lost a father, and a woman just lost her husband.

Pointless.

I wonder about guys who go out and risk their lives when they have families back home terrified that they'll get The Call informing them of an unfortunate incident. When you get married, when you have children, you're no longer just living for yourself. You have obligations, and going to a war zone for work is antithetical to doing your duty at home.

At some point, work has to come second, or third. If you have a spouse, if you have kids, you just don't do things that put your life at extreme risk.

You owe it to them.



Tonight on ALL ACCESS TALK

Tonight on ALL ACCESS TALK TOPICS: Kirby Puckett, kids writing their names in wet cement, breast implants, the poetry of Donald Rumsfeld, and a cute widdle kitty.

They all went thataway.



When does the public's interest

When does the public's interest in a celebrity go away? For some, the answer is never. And then, there are acts that are riding high in April, shot down in May, so to speak. One day, they're all over the place, huge stars, and the next, they're done. Gone. Not retired, not on vacation, just... finished. How does that work?

I'm asking because, lately, after a number of years of peace and calm, my consciousness has been invaded by- wait for it...

Huey Lewis and the News.

Wait, let me explain.

I was running the other day, listening to the radio, going from station to station in your standard attention deficit disorderly manner, and there, on some AC station in Santa Barbara or San Diego or somewhere, was a Huey Lewis song. Not one of the most familiar hits, either, but another one- I think it was that cover of "But it's Alright" from about 10 years ago. And I filed that under Minor Annoyances, hit the button, changed the station... and on another station, a few minutes later, an ad for a summer concert series mentioned the lineup- LeAnn Rimes, Bill Cosby, Chris Isaak, Huey Lewis and the News, Rick Springfie...

Wait a minute.

Did he say...

Yes, yes, he did.

Huey Lewis and the News.

Now, here's the thing, and, kids, gather 'round the monitor while your kindly Uncle Perry tells you about a magical time when dinosaurs roamed the earth and people complained because the gas cost a dollar a gallon. 'Twas the eighties, and few musical acts were bigger than...

Huey Lewis and the News.

Now, this success was hard to explain. Back then, here's what I thought of Huey and his News:

    PROS: His old band Clover, WITHOUT HUEY, played on Elvis Costello's debut album, and he played harmonica on some Dave Edmunds/Rockpile songs.

    CONS: Everything else.

The banal lyrics, the bar band musicianship, the blandness of every song, the little I-need-a-urinal-and-I-need-it-NOW dance Huey did in that "Workin' for a Livin'" video:

    Workin' for a livin' (workin') Workin' for a livin' (workin') Workin' for a livin', livin' and workin' I'm taking what they giving 'cause I'm working for a livin'.

Uh, yeah.

But you know the song. Chances are, it's stuck in your head right now, and here comes "The Heart of Rock 'n' Roll" and "If This is It" and "Do You Believe in Love" and "HEart and Soul" and "I Want a New Drug" and you see what I'm talking about? When Huey Lewis and the News released a record back then, it was a hit. Period. Every radio station added it, MTV played it, you couldn't escape it.

And then it stopped.

It's not that Huey retired- no, he kept plugging away, touring, releasing albums. And it's not like they broke up- how could they? As long as you had Huey, you were complete. YOU try and name any of the News. No, it was one of those things where the public just decided that we'd had enough. No more hits, Huey. Sorry, News. It happened somewhere around 1987- in '86, they were riding as high as ever. "Stuck With You," "Doing It All For My Baby," and the ultimate Huey Lewis and the News song, the defining moment in the career- no, the life- of Huey Lewis and every individual member of the News, "Hip to Be Square." In 1988, they put out another album, and... nothing. No hit. Finished. There were albums after that- they're still recording today, still touring- but the days of number one hits were over.

Why?

It's not like the earlier music was better- it's Huey Lewis and the News, how good or bad or diferent can the songs be? It's not like Huey was caught up in a scandal, or there was a huge British Invasion-like change in pop music. No, the public just decided Huey Lewis and the News was over. And so they were, doomed to surface only as instant cornball nostalgia for people born in 1970.

I understand the one-hit wonders, and the disposable teen pop concept. They're built to be discarded. And I understand when someone falls due to scandal (Jacko) or artistic stubbornness (Prince) or both (George Michael). But to go from superstar to nonexistent for NO APPARENT REASON is a mystery to me. Who made that decision? Was there a meeting? A vote? What drove people away, never to return? Did they all come to the simultaneous realization that the band sucked?

I need to know. There has to be a way to get rid of Avril Lavigne.

Postscript: Hootie and the Blowfish- the Huey Lewis and the News of the nineties- are back on the charts. Can't have that.



It's interesting that anyone in

It's interesting that anyone in show business could look at what's happened to the Dixie Chicks lately and think "now, THERE's a great career move."

I guess if you're Pearl Jam, any publicity is good publicity these days.

I'm just surprised they still exist. But that's a topic I'll be addressing later, when I have a little more time.




U.S. troops have reportedly taken

U.S. troops have reportedly taken control of Saddam International Airport.

(Warning: Cheap Joke Ahead)

It's already easier to get in and out of than LAX.

(rimshot)

Coming soon: jokes about traffic in greater Baghdad compared to the 405. Topical AND funny!

Tonight on ALL ACCESS TALK

Tonight on ALL ACCESS TALK TOPICS: "Nuns Gone Wild," another reason to Blame Canada, and a fleeting reference to "Miami Vice," plus lots o' war stuff.

Mustn't tarry on your way to here.

TV Guide is celebrating its

TV Guide is celebrating its 50th anniversary, which is cool- in fact, I wish they'd reprint some of those 1950s editions. I like to look at old TV and radio listings. It's a way to visit the past- you can look at a typical Sunday night lineup and imagine Mom, Dad, Junior, Sis, and Grampa settling into their accustomed spots- Dad in his La-Z-Boy with the dad's-butt-shaped crater in the seat, Mom on a less comfortable, sensible chair next to him, the kids sprawled on the carpet, Grampa snoozing in a chair against the far wall, emitting Grampa odors (a peculiar mix of B.O., cigar smoke, bodily functions, and mildew) that will stay with the kids as they age into adulthood, haunting them, reminding them of their joy when he'd some over to the house and bring them Silly Putty and one of those things where you used a magnet to move the iron shavings into mustache position over a cartoon face, their horror when Mom and Dad would take them to the nursing home in Grampa's last days, when...

...what was I talking about?

Oh, right, TV Guide. Yes, well, you look at, say, this:



7:30:

(2)(10) GENTLE BEN- Drama (C)
The family is thrown into turmoil when
Ben mauls Mark (Clint Howard) and must
be shot by Tom (Dennis Weaver). Ellen:
Beth Brickell.

(3)(4) WONDERFUL WORLD OF COLOR (C)
"Mickey's Dark Side," a collection of
little seen early cartoons in which the
beloved mouse indulges in booze and loose
hamsters.

...and suddenly, it's 1967 all over again. You have a blond crew cut, a departure from the Beatle-like 'do you had when you were 4 or 5, and the term "Butch Wax" doesn't make you dissolve into peals of laughter, because there are still people named "Butch" and it hasn't yet come to connote anything besides tough. Dinner's long gone, and you're there in front of the big Capehart black-and-white console, waiting for it to warm up, waiting for "Gentle Ben" to end so you can see Ed Sullivan and maybe there'll be the Dave Clark Five or something, as long as it's not Wayne and Shuster or that embarrassing Topo Gigio- you're seven, and even so, you're way too old and sophisticated for a talking Italian mouse.

So I like to check out old TV Guides. But they still print the magazine, and I buy it every week. And I DON'T KNOW WHY. It's like Reader's Digest- people buy it, but nobody really reads it, do they? I don't need the listings- I have those on the Dish, in the PVR, in the Times and the Breeze, online, even in my PDA. Yet every Tuesday, when the new issue hits the checkout at Ralphs, I grab a copy and throw it on the checkout belt. I can't explain it. It just is. I don't ask questions. (I bought the new one today- by Saturday, when the listings start, it'll be under a pile of other magazines, catalogs, Pennysavers... gone until the next time Fran orders me to clean the office and I start the recycling pile)

I should save this week's TV Guide. In 30 years, should I still be around, I'll be able to wax nostalgic about the days when Fran and Ella and I would assume our positions on the old grey couch, fire up the dish and PVR, and fast-forward to the important parts of "American Idol." Those were... are... the days.



In memoriam: Edwin Starr. WAR!

In memoriam: Edwin Starr.

WAR! (huh) Good God, y'all! What is it good for?

Stopping Hitler from taking over the world, liberating countries from tyrannical rulers, establishing America as a free and independent nation, defending nations from imperialist invaders, saving people from torture and death.

But that doesn't have a good beat and you can't dance to it.



Nick at Nite has been

Nick at Nite has been running "Wings" marathons all this week.

It's nice to see TV exhibiting a healthy case of nostalgia for the golden age of USA Network.

(See, before it was whatever it is now and before it was the "WWF Raw" network, it ran "Wings" reruns over and over and... ah, forget it)



Tonight on the incredible vortex

Tonight on the incredible vortex of wow that we call ALL ACCESS TALK TOPICS: PETA tells students to ejaculate, how the "peace" movement drives away potential supporters, a really sick prank call, why people aren't going to the movies, and way too much about SARS, plus other crap.

Would it really be such a hardship to check it out?



I'm old. Not THAT old.

I'm old.

Not THAT old. I'm too old to be a real X-Games fan, too young to watch Pax TV. But I'm feeling a little TOO adult right now.

Evidence:



1. I'm filling out forms to refinance our house. Mortgages are not part of the Young Experience. People who guzzle Red Bull and know who Tony Hawk is do not have mortgages. Their parents have mortgages.



2. When I walk through the Young Men's department at Macy's, I realize that even if I could fit into those clothes, which I don't, I could not get away with it. I would be the embarrassing adult trying to act like The Youth of Today. I know the music, the style, the slang, but I will never let on that I do, much less dress the part. I may sometimes listen to Power 106 and KROQ, but I do it in a Volvo. Softly. With the windows rolled up. (It's getting hot in herre... so crank the a/c) (For further reference, please check my friend Greg Behrendt's website and standup act- he does some great material on this very topic)



3. I now own one of those plastic seven-day pill things. This is the first time in my life that I have enough pills and vitamins to fill one of those. This one- $4.99 at Ralphs- has compartments for am and pm, all of which are filled. This became necessary because I started to forget to take what I need to take when I needed to take it. That's memory loss, which is... which... what?

So I'm in that breach between sk8r boi and graying boomer, not old enough to join AARP but old enough to start getting the flyers about it. It's all OK with me, though, considering the alternatives- I wouldn't want to be starting out in this era of war and unemployment, I don't look forward to a future of Glucosamine/Chondroitin and working as a Wal-Mart greeter, and I sure don't want the only other possibility, which is why I'm taking all of those pills and vitamins.

No, I'm not ready for Leisure World yet. But that's me driving by in the Volvo, hip-hop on the radio (at a reasonable volume), a/c cranked. It's on the way to my mortgage broker's office.



This morning, Rush Limbaugh used

This morning, Rush Limbaugh used the term "madcap terrorists."

"Madcap"?

Isn't that like "wacky terrorists" or "goofy terrorists" or "Jerry Lewis-like terrorists"?

He did use it correctly, I suppose. But still- "madcap"? When was the last time you heard someone use the term "madcap"?

Zany.



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