Listen to me on KTRS/St. Louis Mondays and Fridays, 3-6pm CT

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Knuckleheads In The News ®

Today's stories include a gas can scam, a naked woman on a bus, and a bad block for parked cars.

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

This podcast is made possible by Champion Windows Siding & Patio Rooms.
They've done great work for me, and I recommend them to you!
For factory-direct savings, call 314-692-7300 or visit their showroom.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Just Curious

Can anyone cite a single psychic, medium, or published horoscope that predicted yesterday's earthquake in Los Angeles? I didn't think so.

Knuckleheads In The News ®

Today's stories include a guy who didn't like his neighbors trampling his garden, a speeder who left his pregnant girlfriend behind, and why you should check the pump before stealing gas.

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

This podcast is made possible by Champion Windows Siding & Patio Rooms.
They've done great work for me, and I recommend them to you!
For factory-direct savings, call 314-692-7300 or visit their showroom.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Where Will You Plug In Your Car?

With GM's recent announcement that it has partnered with electric utilities to help bring plug-in electric vehicles to market, Joel Makower asks some important questions and sees some problems:

First of all, not everyone has a socket — a secure place to park their car and recharge it. Those living in apartment buildings, for example, lack this ability. Even where a plug exists, it may not have sufficient amperage to handle the load. (I'm a good example: I have a socket in my garage, but it's on the same circuit as my bedroom. If you plug in a power-hungry appliance in the garage, TiVo gets grumpy.) But that's the least of it. Building the plug-in infrastructure involves a mind-numbing array of technical challenges.
Read the whole thing here.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Knuckleheads In The News ®

Today's stories include a shotgun lawnmower start, a drunk with a bottle of Wite-Out, and a guy who licked a cop.

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

This podcast is made possible by Champion Windows Siding & Patio Rooms.
They've done great work for me, and I recommend them to you!
For factory-direct savings, call 314-692-7300 or visit their showroom.

Your Tax Dollars In Action

You paid for a $40 million prison in Iraq that has no prisoners, and never will. It's part of the more than $4 BILLION that's been wasted on construction projects, thanks to misguided planning and short cuts, according to Stuart Bowen, the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction.

Regardless of what you think about the war, this should piss you off, because the contractors are still getting paid -- by you -- even for projects that were never finished. Details here.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Judge Of The Day

In New Zealand, Judge Rob Murfitt told a couple they should not have named their daughter Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii. The government there has also rejected Fish & Chips, Sex Fruit, and Violence as names for kids.

Knuckleheads In The News ®

Today's stories include a hailstorm in the toilet, a shoplifter who left something important behind, and thieves who should've filled the gas tank before committing a crime.

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

This podcast is made possible by Champion Windows Siding & Patio Rooms.
They've done great work for me, and I recommend them to you!
For factory-direct savings, call 314-692-7300 or visit their showroom.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Dennis Meets Frank

My friend Dennis Phillips -- who will be chip leader when he plays at the final table of the World Series of Poker Main Event -- will be on the 4pm hour of Frank O. Pinion's show this afternoon on The Big 550 KTRS/St. Louis. There might be another special guest with him.

Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman, Still Busting Myths


I have raved about Discovery Channel's "Mythbusters" for years, and am always happy to talk to its stars, Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman. They joined me to promote the two-hour special they've done to kick off Shark Week this Sunday night.

In the show, they'll bust a few myths regarding sharks, including one they built themselves, which Jamie controls while Adam is stuck in its jaws. Unfortunately, you won't see them blow one up, but we did talk about one of the most explosive episodes they did -- involving a water heater under pressure, which shot up through the roof of a house and continued several hundred feet into the air.

I also asked why they're not doing any more special effects work for movies and commercials, and the role of the fan base in contributing myths to test.

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

Ich Bin Obama


ABC's Jake Tapper is traveling with Barack Obama on his world tour and joined me this morning on WLS/Chicago to talk about today's speech in Berlin.

After teaching Jake how to be Kennedy-esque by saying "ich bin ein kugelschreiber," I asked why Obama is giving a speech to hundreds of thousands of people who can't vote for him, what message the campaign is trying to send back home to Americans, and whether his popularity in Europe could be a liability with some independents here. We also talked about Obama's visit to Israel and whether there's anything he (or other US politicians, for that matter) can do to solve the lingering problems there.

Listen, then read Jake's blog, Political Punch.

Dominique Dawes


Here's my conversation with Olympics hall-of-famer Dominique Dawes, one of only three female US gymnasts to compete in three different Olympics. She's off to China in a couple of weeks to cover the summer games for Yahoo Sports. We talked about the pollution problem, the continuing controversy over the use of performance-enhancing drugs, the athletes she thinks we should keep an eye on in Beijing, and more.

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

Knuckleheads In The News ®

Today's stories include a Wiccan ceremony gone wrong, an IT worker's revenge, and a man who super-glued himself to a world leader.

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

This podcast is made possible by Champion Windows Siding & Patio Rooms.
They've done great work for me, and I recommend them to you!
For factory-direct savings, call 314-692-7300 or visit their showroom.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Gold, Silver, and Bronchitis

The Wall Street Journal reports that US athletes may wear high-tech masks because of the horribly polluted air in Beijing when the Summer Olympics start in two weeks.

Considering China's involvement in the genocide in Darfur, their violence against Tibetans, their continuing human rights violations, and their hacking into Congressional computers -- plus the health problems the pollution will cause for athletes from all nations -- the IOC should never have chosen Beijing as the host city and given them what is sure to be a huge public relations coup.

Think NBC will show us any of those negative stories amid their hundreds of hours of Olympics coverage next month? Don't hold your breath.

Knuckleheads In The News ®

Today's stories include sleeping shoplifters, an easily-caught bank robber, and convict with a weight-loss scheme.

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

This podcast is made possible by Champion Windows Siding & Patio Rooms.
They've done great work for me, and I recommend them to you!
For factory-direct savings, call 314-692-7300 or visit their showroom.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Dave Stewart


Today on WLS/Chicago, I talked with Dave Stewart, who you may know as Annie Lennox's partner in The Eurythmics. We discussed how they met and the songs he's done with Bono, Mick Jagger, Jon Bon Jovi, Celine Dion, Beyonce, and many more. I also asked Stewart if it's true that the Traveling Wilburys band (Tom Petty, Roy Orbison, George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Jeff Lynne) formed in his back yard.

Stewart has a new CD, "The Dave Stewart Songbook," a compilation of music from his career that he has re-recorded with his 30-piece Rock Fabulous Orchestra, which goes on tour in a couple of weeks.

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

The McCain/Times Flap


I had an interesting discussion on WLS/Chicago this morning with Joe Strupp of Editor & Publisher about the NY Times turning down an op-ed from John McCain one week after it published a similar piece by Barack Obama.

This is accruing to McCain's benefit. It was good that the Times printed his op-eds in the past, but at this point in the campaign, it's even better for McCain that they refused it. Of course, if this were reversed -- the Wall Street Journal refusing to print an Obama op-ed -- the politics would flip completely.

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

Knuckleheads In The News ®

Today's stories include a thump on a truck, cologne on a crotch, and a wife who didn't know her husband had divorced her.

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

This podcast is made possible by Champion Windows Siding & Patio Rooms.
They've done great work for me, and I recommend them to you!
For factory-direct savings, call 314-692-7300 or visit their showroom.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Ken Levine


Ken Levine is one of the most successful sitcom writers of all-time. He and partner David Isaacs have worked on such classics as "M*A*S*H," "Cheers," "The Simpsons," "Frasier," and many more -- not to mention his career as a baseball broadcaster.

Today on KSTP/Minneapolis, I spent an hour talking with Ken about his career, from the lows of working on Mary Tyler Moore's comeback vehicle in 1985 to getting Tom Hanks to star in a movie they wrote, from how they handled the transition from Shelley Long to Kirstie Alley on "Cheers" to why David Hyde Pierce is such a good indicator of what's funny.

Listen, then read Ken's blog.

Knuckleheads In The News ®

Today's stories include a guy who spent $1,000/week on beer, a cop with an unlucky first day on the job, and a skydiver who couldn't nail a two-point landing.

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

This podcast is made possible by Champion Windows Siding & Patio Rooms.
They've done great work for me, and I recommend them to you!
For factory-direct savings, call 314-692-7300 or visit their showroom.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Economic Cavity

You don't have to be an economist to know when things have gone south in your town.

When we lived in Alexandria, Virginia, a decade ago, we noticed signs of a changing neighborhood economy when a "Checks Cashed" storefront opened. A few months later, a pawn shop moved into a nearby strip mall.

These businesses don't pop up in a well-off community when people have money. They move in when families are having trouble making mortgage payments, when white-collar jobs are disappearing, when the locals find themselves living paycheck to paycheck. It was uncomfortable to see the community roll towards the bottom of an economic cycle.

Today in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, there are three different full page ads that give me that same queasy feeling. They may not call themselves pawn shops, but the impression is the same.

The first asks you to "bring in those valuables you no longer want or need." It implores you to sell old paintings, watches, diamonds, and antiques. The second ad is for a business that wants your jewelry, collectibles, silverware, and coins. The third is devoted to scrap gold (which has hit record highs lately), offering to buy your gold earrings, watches, cufflinks, necklaces, and -- wait for it -- your dental gold.

That's the definition of desperate: selling your fillings to put food on the table.

True, people have long been posting items like these on eBay, and this is not to derogate these businesses, which have all been around for a long time. Years ago, I even went to one of them to get an appraisal on some old coins my grandfather left me. But when they can afford to take out full-page ads in the newspaper, it says something bad about the financial condition of a region.

Ironically, with the continuing downturn in the newspaper business, many of the customers who may be hocking their lives may be former employees of the very paper those ads appear in.

Quick Question

Regarding the withdrawal of our troops from Iraq, can anyone explain to me the distinction between a "timeline," a "timetable," and a "time horizon"?

Friday, July 18, 2008

Lawsuit of the Day

After Elizabeth Mateo had back surgery, she discovered that the doctor had left her a little something to cheer her up.

Knuckleheads In The News ®

Today's stories include a suspect the cops wouldn't pick up, a woman who really didn't want to do jury duty, and a surprise during a robbery at a pizza place.

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

This podcast is made possible by Champion Windows Siding & Patio Rooms.
They've done great work for me, and I recommend them to you!
For factory-direct savings, call 314-692-7300 or visit their showroom.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Mitchell and Murray


My favorite stories are told first-person by people who explain the process behind what they do. That's why I'm enjoying Elvis Mitchell's new TCM show, "Under The Influence."

Unlike other interview shows, this one isn't focused on the latest project the interviewee is promoting, nor does it go through their entire career a la James Lipton. These conversations are about the movies and actors that the guest enjoyed and learned from, and their observations about how the people in those movies did what they did so well.

Mitchell got the series off to a good start last week with one of Sydney Pollack's last interviews, and continued it on Monday night with Bill Murray. There's real insight into Murray as both a movie fan and a comedic actor.

They talked about William Holden in "Stalag 17," the way Cary Grant helped his co-stars' performances even while off camera, the way Murray's physicality on screen mirrored that of Groucho Marx, and why Murray wishes he'd said yes when Clint Eastwood offered him a role 20 years ago. He explains how much he admired Margaret Sullavan's work opposite Henry Fonda in "The Moon's Our Home," and how funny women have always turned him on (from Elaine May to Gilda Radner, but not Lucille Ball).

He also tells a great story about how he got his supporting role in "Tootsie," and what it was like on the set with Pollack and Dustin Hoffman constantly at odds.

The Bill Murray episode will rerun Saturday at 11am CT on TCM, and then there are new episodes for the next few Mondays at 7pm CT.

The Science Of Fear

This morning on WLS/Chicago, I talked with Daniel Gardner about his new book, "The Science of Fear: Why We Fear The Things We Shouldn't -- And Put Ourselves In Greater Danger."

From tomatoes with salmonella to crime in our cities, avian flu to airline crashes, there's a lack of perspective on what matters and what we really should worry about. The media and various government agencies share responsibility for exploiting those fears, along with Americans who know nothing about statistics and how they can be exaggerated.

Listen, then get the book.

Knuckleheads In The News ®

Today's stories include too many people mooning a train, a bad giveaway at the lake, and a manhole problem in Michigan.

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

This podcast is made possible by Champion Windows Siding & Patio Rooms.
They've done great work for me, and I recommend them to you!
For factory-direct savings, call 314-692-7300 or visit their showroom.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Dennis Leads Final Nine


As of minutes ago, the World Series Of Poker Main Event Final Table is set, and Dennis Phillips will have one of the nine seats. Not only that, he'll start as the chip leader! He has beaten 6,836 people, and has only 8 more before he wins the $9.1 million top prize. But first, he'll have to wait four months before play resumes on November 9th (time to sign up some sponsors!).

Knuckleheads In The News ®

Today's stories include a bee vs. a helicopter, a toilet seat attack, and a lesson in why you shouldn't steal from people you know.

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

This podcast is made possible by Champion Windows Siding & Patio Rooms.
They've done great work for me, and I recommend them to you!
For factory-direct savings, call 314-692-7300 or visit their showroom.

Monday, July 14, 2008

First of 27


I told you to keep your eye on him. Out of 6,844 people who entered the Main Event at the World Series of Poker, they're now down to 27 -- and my friend Dennis Phillips is the chip leader. The tournament resumes at 2pm CT today, when they'll play down to the final 9, who will then return to Vegas in November for the chance to win the $9.1 million first prize. Wow.

Knuckleheads In The News ®

Today's stories include an honor ceremony with no honorees, a little magic marker deception, and a guy who tried to sell his vote.

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

This podcast is made possible by Champion Windows Siding & Patio Rooms.
They've done great work for me, and I recommend them to you!
For factory-direct savings, call 314-692-7300 or visit their showroom.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Poker Natural

There's a wonderful moment in the movie "The Natural," when Roy Hobbs (Robert Redford) strikes out baseball legend The Whammer (Joe Don Baker) on three straight pitches. It doesn't happen in a game, but by some railroad tracks next to a carnival.

At the moment Hobbs strikes out the big guy, director Barry Levinson cuts to a quick shot of Barbara Hershey's character, who has her eyes on The Whammer, attracted to him for his stardom and with mischief on her mind. After The Whammer whiffs on strike three, we see Hershey turn her head away from The Whammer and fix her gaze on Hobbs. The shot is only two seconds long, but it's this turn of events that later leads to her going with Hobbs to his hotel room, where she fires the shot that propels the rest of the plot.


There was a similar moment during the final hand of Day 5 of the World Series of Poker tonight, involving my poker pal Dennis Phillips and Full Tilt Poker pro Mark Vos. Here's how PokerNews.com described it...

Dennis Phillips raised to 65,000 from middle position and Mark Vos reraised to 180,000 on the button. Phillips then made it 400,000 to go and Vos came over the top all in for 1.5 million. Phillips called and showed AA to Vos' AK. He had Mark covered by around 300,000 so this hand was for Vos' tournament life, and when the board ran out Q-9-3-10-2, Vos was eliminated just as Day 5 came to an end. When Day 6 begins tomorrow, Dennis Phillips will be sitting with a 3.4 million stack.

We were all buzzing about this in the Harrah's St. Louis poker room tonight, with one of the floor supervisors checking his progress online and then reporting it to us. We're not even there, but the excitement at our table was palpable.

Dennis has been quietly playing under the radar, making good decisions, playing very well, never going on tilt, and until now being pretty much ignored by the poker media. That has surely changed, as he's now one of 79 players left, and only 5 others have larger chip stacks than he does.

Because of Vos' renown in the poker world, I'm sure the ESPN cameras were there for that all-in moment. And when it was over, those cameras no doubt turned away from Vos and got a good shot of Dennis (we won't see this on TV for several months, but you get the visual metaphor nonetheless).

When I reached him on his cell phone a half-hour later, Dennis told me he was glad that was the last hand of the night, because his adrenaline was pumping so hard for the next 10 minutes that he couldn't think straight. He finally calmed down enough to go have a beer, and then was off to bed to get a good night's sleep before embarking on Day 6.

Let's hope he doesn't run into Barbara Hershey.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Dennis Stays Alive


Congratulations to my friend Dennis Phillips, who has made it through Day 4 of the Main Event at the World Series of Poker. From a starting roster of 6,844 players a week ago, they are down to 189, and he's hanging in there. Considering that at one point Dennis took a hit and dropped from 200,000 chips to only 22,000, he has rebounded nicely to just over 800,000 -- nowhere near the chip leader, but doing fine, right in the middle of the pack.

Dennis is well known in St. Louis as one of the best tournament players in town, who won his seat in the $10,000 main event via a qualifying tourney at Harrah's. While it'd be great to win the $9.1 million top prize, he's earned a huge return on the few hundred dollars he invested even if he's the next player eliminated.

Play resumes at 2pm CT on Saturday, and you can read all about it on PokerNews.com, which has reporters roaming the Amazon Room at The Rio for live reports on what's happening at many of the tables (particularly hands involving poker pros you may have seen on TV, including Phil Hellmuth, Mike Matusow, Allen Cunningham, Gus Hansen, and others).

Interestingly, PokerNews.com hasn't reported on a single hand Dennis has been involved in, probably because his table image is such that he's getting a lot of respect from the other players, who avoid getting into big pots with him. But if he can double up in the next round, and move up from there, he might even attract some attention from the ubiquitous ESPN cameras at the event.

By the way, ESPN will begin airing its WSOP coverage on June 22, with two hours every Tuesday night. The first six weeks will cover other events at the WSOP like the Pot Limit Omaha Championship and the $50,000 Horse Championship. Main Event coverage will begin September 2 and run through the final table on November 11.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Baby Talk

I couldn't care less about Jamie Lynn Spears and her baby, but I am bothered by the magazine that paid her a million bucks to put them on the cover and play up her "perfect pregnancy and perfect delivery."

This girl is 17 years old. She shouldn't be a mom at that age, and her motherhood is not something that should be portrayed by anyone as a positive. We don't need any of the girls who watched her on "Zoey 101" following her lead because they think it's cute and wonderful. What we need are more messages like NBC's "The Baby Borrowers," which shows that, while making babies is fun, parenting is tough, but it's even tougher when you're not through being a kid yet.

In the Spears' case, considering the family, reproduction should have been ruled out altogether -- just look at the job now-grandma Lynne did in raising Jamie Lynn and sister Britney. What a fine set of role models the three of them make.

Nuts on TV

The quickie controversy over Jesse Jackson's comments regarding Barack Obama can only accrue to Obama's benefit. The more he's seen as not being Jackson-like, the better for his image with most Americans. There's a reason they don't make joint campaign appearances.

It's clear that Jackson has become irrelevant. He's full of jealousy about Obama's success, and his "private" comments were more representative of how he feels than anything he says publicly. His statement of regret, in which he claimed his support for Obama's campaign is "wide, deep, and unequivocal" is simply a lie. If it were true, he would never have made the emasculation comment (and gesture) during that Fox News taping. Politicians always couch their public proclamations in a veneer of correctness, but betray their honest feelings in off-the-cuff private remarks that aren't intended for broader distribution.

As for Fox News, they held the story for more than three days and then played it up on O'Reilly's show. Criticize them if you want, but it's not like they withheld important breaking news. In fact, defining this story as "news" at all is a stretch. It is common practice among all media organizations to hang onto stories until they can exploit them (ever see "60 Minutes"?). The only problem is their claim that there is more to what Jackson said, but their refusal to show or share it. If it's as explosive as FNC is implying, they should let it out.

Jackson forgot a cardinal rule of being interviewed. From the time they clip that lavalier microphone on you to the time they remove it from your lapel, you must assume that someone is listening to (and/or recording) everything you say, whether you're on the air or not. Perhaps Jackson can attend a media training seminar on this topic.

They probably offer one in Hymietown.

Lesbian Fries With That?

A right-wing extremist group is trying to get people to boycott McDonald's because the burger chain was one of the sponsors of last year's gay pride parade in San Francisco.

The group claims it's not upset about McDonald's serving, hiring, or employing gays, but because "the company is refusing to remain neutral in the culture wars." The irony is that this group -- which lives for publicity, so I won't name them -- doesn't want McDonald's to be neutral at all. They want the company to proactively support the group's agenda, and if they don't.....well, we'll just see if Big Mac sales plummet in the coming months.

On the other hand, if they're so concerned about the "homosexual agenda," why aren't they making a stink about Burger King's Whopper?

Knuckleheads In The News ®

Today's stories include a friend who wouldn't shut up, a guy suing his church, and a man who discovered he had less money after visiting a strip club.

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

This podcast is made possible by Champion Windows Siding & Patio Rooms.
They've done great work for me, and I recommend them to you!
For factory-direct savings, call 314-692-7300 or visit their showroom.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Knuckleheads In The News ®

Today's stories include an Applebee's check that caused a heart attack, a dissatisfied drug consumer, and the wrong way to kill mice.

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

This podcast is made possible by Champion Windows Siding & Patio Rooms.
They've done great work for me, and I recommend them to you!
For factory-direct savings, call 314-692-7300 or visit their showroom.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Knuckleheads In The News ®

Today's stories include a woman with a surprise in her bra, a unwanted living room dancer, and a gas tank driller.

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

This podcast is made possible by Champion Windows Siding & Patio Rooms.
They've done great work for me, and I recommend them to you!
For factory-direct savings, call 314-692-7300 or visit their showroom.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

The Gonzalez Maneuver

KC Chiefs pro bowl tight end Tony Gonzalez saved a man's life last week, but the story raises a disturbing question.

Gonzalez was having dinner with his family at Capone's restaurant in Huntington Beach, California, when a woman behind him started screaming. Her boyfriend, Ken Hunter, had a piece of meat stuck in his throat and couldn't breathe. No one else was doing anything to help, so Gonzalez got up and applied the Heimlich maneuver to Hunter. In a few seconds, the piece of meat popped out and Hunter could breathe again.

Now, the disturbing part: Diana Martin, a Capone's employee, said no one else seemed to know what to do. How is that possible? Of the entire wait staff, no one knew how to do the Heimlich? That's just wrong.

Every restaurant owner who reads this should immediately plan to train their employees in how to do the maneuver, just in case. I'm not talking about the guy washing dishes in the back of the kitchen, or the woman running the fries machine at Wendy's. I mean any staff that works the dining area, where you might encounter a choking customer. Waiters, waitresses, managers, the maitre d', hostesses, even the kid who refills the water glasses -- they should all be taught how to come to the aid of someone with a hunk of steak caught in their throat.

By the way, Gonzalez says he never had any formal instruction in the Heimlich maneuver. He'd just seen it done, so he did it. Is it too much to ask that the people who work in the restaurant be ready, just in case there isn't a life-saving nine-time NFL Pro Bowler around?

Mr. Extra Long Weekend

While I was on KMBZ/Kansas City today, their website's poll question was: "If your company offered you a four day work week, but you had to work 10 hours a day, would you take it?"

The question is based on the governor of Utah authorizing a yearlong experiment aimed at reducing the state's energy costs and gas expenses for employees, by having them go to the 4 days/10 hours plan, beginning next month. It doesn't affect cops, prison guards, or others who obviously have to be on the job every day, but about 17,000 state office workers will now get a lot of three day weekends.

Not surprisingly, nine out of ten respondents to the KMBZ poll said yes, they'd take that schedule. What isn't said is that a lot of Americans are already putting in ten-hour days on the job, five days a week, and taking work home or staying in touch with their business via e-mail and cell phones even when they're not at the office.

I'm reminded of a friend who put in more than 20 years with his company and earned 5 weeks of vacation per year. Instead of taking them as full weeks, he chose to break them up into 25 individual days. That allowed him to arrange an amazing schedule -- for ten weeks between Memorial Day and Labor Day, he took off every Monday and Friday. That gave him a three day work week and a four day weekend, all summer long. And he still had another week of vacation to use in the winter.

Bud Light should use him as one of their Real Men of Genius: "Mr. Extra Long Weekend."

Knuckleheads In The News ®

Today's stories include a father-and-son Taser team, a mistaken FedEx drug delivery, and a couple that chose the wrong place to skinny dip.

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

This podcast is made possible by Champion Windows Siding & Patio Rooms.
They've done great work for me, and I recommend them to you!
For factory-direct savings, call 314-692-7300 or visit their showroom.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Knuckleheads In The News ®

Today's stories include a man covered in barbecue sauce, a stench that didn't come from a meth lab, and a joy-riding boy in a police car.

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

This podcast is made possible by Champion Windows Siding & Patio Rooms.
They've done great work for me, and I recommend them to you!
For factory-direct savings, call 314-692-7300 or visit their showroom.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

A Will Ferrell Movie You Might Not Know

Newly added to my Movies You Might Not Know list:  Stranger Than Fiction.  It's the story of Harold Crick, an IRS auditor played by Will Ferrell, who wakes up one morning to hear the voice of a woman narrating his mundane life.  It turns out that the woman (Emma Thompson) is a real-life author writing a book in which Harold is a fictional character.  Crick goes to a university professor (Dustin Hoffman) for help and somehow gets involved with a quirky bakery owner (Maggie Gyllenhall), all the while living his life as the author describes it -- until she makes an editorial decision he can't live with.  Don't expect Ferrell to be the same goofball he plays in "Semi-Pro," "Anchorman," and "Talledega Nights."  This is a solid dramatic (though funny and touching) performance, similar to the break-out role Jim Carrey played in "The Truman Show."  Look for Queen Latifah and Linda Hunt in small supporting roles.  Stranger Than Fiction didn't do nearly as much box office business as it deserved, so I hope it finds an audience on DVD.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Waterboarding Hitchens

Christopher Hitchens once claimed that waterboarding isn't torture. Then he was challenged to try it himself, and came to a completely different conclusion. There's video of the demonstration he endured at the hands of some military professionals, and Hitchens writes about the experience in a Vanity Fair piece entitled "Believe Me, It's Torture." Here's an excerpt:

You may have read by now the official lie about this treatment, which is that it “simulates” the feeling of drowning. This is not the case. You feel that you are drowning because you are drowning—or, rather, being drowned, albeit slowly and under controlled conditions and at the mercy (or otherwise) of those who are applying the pressure. The “board” is the instrument, not the method. You are not being boarded. You are being watered. This was very rapidly brought home to me when, on top of the hood, which still admitted a few flashes of random and worrying strobe light to my vision, three layers of enveloping towel were added. In this pregnant darkness, head downward, I waited for a while until I abruptly felt a slow cascade of water going up my nose. Determined to resist if only for the honor of my navy ancestors who had so often been in peril on the sea, I held my breath for a while and then had to exhale and -- as you might expect -- inhale in turn. The inhalation brought the damp cloths tight against my nostrils, as if a huge, wet paw had been suddenly and annihilatingly clamped over my face. Unable to determine whether I was breathing in or out, and flooded more with sheer panic than with mere water, I triggered the pre-arranged signal and felt the unbelievable relief of being pulled upright and having the soaking and stifling layers pulled off me. I find I don’t want to tell you how little time I lasted.

Knuckleheads In The News ®

Today's stories include a man in women's shorts, a man with his pants undone, and a man with a very full Volvo.

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Vote For Independency

I have praised the movie "1776" many times here, urging schools all over the country to show it to their students as a wonderful history lesson about the birth of our nation. I even wrote a column several years ago about a school district in a DC suburb that stupidly banned the movie. With the recent HBO series on John Adams, perhaps there's enough renewed interest in the founding fathers of the USA. The 1972 film was a faithful adaptation of a show that debuted on Broadway in 1969 and ran for three years. I was lucky enough to see that original production with William Daniels as John Adams, Ken Howard as Thomas Jefferson, and Howard DaSilva as Benjamin Franklin (all three reprised their roles in the movie). Since my daughter grew old enough to understand it, watching the movie on July 4th has become a Harris Family tradition. I went back to see the revival in 1997, with Brent Spiner as Adams and Pat Hingle as Franklin, and was surprised to find myself as moved as I was the first time. That production was nominated for a Tony, and earned the show a slot on the Tonys telecast. Here's the rousing opening number, with Richard Poe as Adams (after Spiner left the show)...

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Byrds Beginnings

Roger McGuinn blogs about the founding of his rock and roll hall of game group The Byrds -- from writing his first songs with Gene Clark to the happy surprise of harmonizing with David Crosby to hiring Chris Hillman and Michael Clarke on a whim to fill out the band.  In those days, Roger was still known as Jim McGuinn, and was helping to bridge the gap between folk music and the early days of rock.

Roger appeared on my show in December, 2005, to talk about his Folk Den project -- listen here.

Knuckleheads In The News ®

Today's stories include a drunk and a dinghy, a guy who attacked his mother with a bag of meat, and a convenience store that suddenly had a drive-thru window.

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Tuesday, July 01, 2008

More Vegas Notes

The World Series of Poker is the big attraction for poker players, who have swarmed to Vegas this month from all over the world (if you want to see global diversity, this is the place), but I was stunned at the number of entrants in simultaneous tournaments elsewhere. The other day, while 2,800 were beginning a three-day WSOP event at the Rio, another 700 were playing in the Venetian's noon tournament, and another 600 or so were going at it in a tournament at Caesar's. Those numbers don't include hundreds playing in smaller tournaments in other poker rooms, or the thousands sitting in live cash games everywhere in town. If you couldn't find a game you like here, you just weren't looking.

You'll notice I didn't mention Bellagio, which used to be the place to go for serious poker players. No longer. It has become too crowded (the wait for a seat can be over 90 minutes), the games aren't as good, and the floor staff offers virtually no customer service without blatantly putting their hand out for a tip. I was treated much better, and found much more pleasant poker environments, in the newly expanded poker rooms at Caesar's, the Venetian, and the Wynn. Even the MGM Grand has increased its poker footprint, but the room is right next to a bar that blasts its music at such high volume you can barely hear the other players at your table (in fact, the dealers put out cards that say "all-in" and "call" so you know what's going on visually, since the aural component is overwhelming). Incidentally, you can call any of those rooms to get on the waiting list for a game, except for the Bellagio, which won't put you on the list until you show up in person. It's typical of a place that was number one for too long and forgot it was in the business of keeping customers happy.

While passing some slots players at the MGM Grand last night, I heard a woman exclaim, "I won, and I don't even know how!"

That must be a common occurrence. I challenge anyone to walk up to a modern slot machine, with its video screen full of animation instead of reels, and explain what you need to win. There's a fleet of programmers developing new software every day -- often tied to a movie, TV show, video game, or other product placement -- that includes so many lines, icons, graphics, and sound effects that it's impossible to understand what constitutes a positive outcome.

In essence, the machines work on one simple premise. You put your money in, push the button (there's no arm to pull anymore), and wait for it to tell you to play again. It never says you lost, only invites you to try again. Of course, even winners do play again, especially since there's no coin drop. Your rare winnings become new credits, which remain in the machine to be played until you print out a coupon for whatever money you have left. And they know what you're not going to print that coupon out right away -- you're going to keep pushing that button, thus keeping the lights on and the casino employees paid.

Best bathroom in town: under the gaming floor at Caesar's Palace, down the escalators opposite the doors of the Colosseum amphitheater. The bathroom was clearly built for the crowds who need to freshen up after being swathed in diva-ness by Cher or Bette Midler or Elton John. I found it during the day on a break from a tournament (the men's room nearest the poker room was far too crowded), and was surprised to be alone in a marble room surrounded by sculptures and murals of Roman gods on the walls and stall doors. It also has the nicest sink I've ever used in a public bathroom.

Worst bathroom in town: next to the Chinese restaurant slash donut place at the Four Queens. I took my wife downtown to show her the Fremont Street Experience and some of the oldtime Vegas casinos. Stepping one foot into this bathroom, I knew that leaving my waste there would be redundant.

Vegas Food & Drink

At the WSOP, they're serving a new energy drink called All-In, which poker legend Johnny Chan is associated with. Throughout the Amazon Room at the Rio, people are drinking the various flavors of All-In, including its bottled water. Now, I don't know if this is true, but two different people told me the following story independently, so it's at least going around.

Apparently, a waitress approached a tournament table in the midst of a hand and asked if anyone wanted something to drink. One of the players supposedly said, "Yeah, um, All-In." Unfortunately, the other player in the hand immediately said "Call!" The first player tried to explain that he was just ordering a beverage, but the dealer and a floor supervisor explained that the rule in a tournament -- as in most poker games -- is that verbal declarations are binding, and he had to put all of his chips at risk. That was his last hand in that tournament.

I don't know if he ever got his drink.

Food stuff...

While playing at The Venetian, I ordered a chicken caesar wrap from a waitress. When she brought it, the sandwich came with chips and a small cup of jelly beans. That's the first time I've been served jelly beans outside of a child's birthday party. Unfortunately, I don't like 'em, but they made a nice tip for the floor supervisor, who accepted them with a laugh.

If you like dim sum, try Ping Pang Pong at the Gold Coast. The food is good, inexpensive, and served for lunch seven days a week.

After mentioning that I always stop at In & Out Burger during my Vegas visits, I read an interview with Steve Carrell in which he said that, after attending the premiere of his new movies, he and his wife always stop at In & Out for a cheeseburger. I love the visual of a couple in a tux and gown waiting patiently for a double double.

Knuckleheads In The News ®

Today's stories include a fear of letterhead, a woman saved by her bra, and a man who wants to be an ex-Englishman.

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This podcast is made possible by Champion Windows Siding & Patio Rooms.
They've done great work for me, and I recommend them to you!
For factory-direct savings, call 314-692-7300 or visit their showroom.