Monday, May 28, 2007

Week in review 7

  • ABC announces its fall lineup will include the sitcom "Cavemen," based on the cavemen from the Geico commercials, leaving Americans to ask the question they never thought they'd ask: "Whatever happened to good ol' reality TV?"
  • The start of the Stanley Cup Finals is delayed when the Ottawa Senators can't get their puck out of a subcommittee.
  • Gas prices soar over $3, meaning the poor, helpless oil companies who are merely at the mercy of world markets will likely suffer another quarter of record profits, much to their great dismay.
  • The Internal Revenue Service does a poor job in identifying tax-exempt groups that may have links to terrorists, according to a report released Friday. However, researchers are relieved to find that the IRS has no problem whatsoever in tracking down hard-working members of the middle class over "questionable" $12 deductions.
  • Ratings fall 19 percent over the previous year for the "American Idol" finale, in which Jordin Sparks (Who was Carl Weathers' stunt double in "Rocky II") won the title. This gives hope that America's long, national nightmare may soon be over.
  • Florida moves up its primary to Jan. 29, bypassing other states who've moved up to Feb. 5. However, Florida is then trumped by Ohio, which decides to hold its primary five minutes from now.
  • Dario Franchitti wins a rain-shortened Indy 500, the highlight of which was seeing his rain-soaked and barefoot wife Ashley Judd in the winner's circle. Driving about 40 mph on the final lap, Franchitti and the other drivers are passed on the final lap by 95-year-old Wanda Mae Perkins, who was on her way to the grocery store. Perkins is disqualified for making an obscene gesture at the slow Indy drivers.
  • On a weekend traditionally reserved for marking the sacrifices of our nation's fallen military heroes, Americans unite to pray for two lost whales in the Sacramento River. Fortunately, the two whales are supplanted by "The View's" Rosie O'Donnell and Elisabeth Hasselbeck as the two dumbest mammals on the planet.
  • In a video posted on YouTube, Hillary Rodham Clinton asks viewers to pick her campaign theme song. Options range from U2's "Beautiful Day" to Smash Mouth's version of "I'm a Believer" to Celine Dion's "You and I." Tammy Wynette's "Stand by Your Man" is not an option.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

A transportation alternative

Are you sick of high gas prices? Of course you are, unless your name is Fred Mobil or Sam Citgo. I've got a local solution to at least cut down on using motorized vehicles in Columbus ... a lazy river. All we've got to do is build a 20-or-so-miles-long lazy river that winds its way through Columbus. Everyone grabs an inner tube and cruises to their destination at a leisurely 3 or 4 miles an hour. I'm sure the city will seize upon this idea, and when they do, since it was my idea, I'd really appreciate it if they'd have the lazy river run down the median of Broadway, so I can hop out right by the paper at 12th Street.

Granted, I'm not sure this plan will go over quite as well in winter. Then again, we can heat the water. And the lazy river may get a little rough as it tumbles over the Fall Line from the north side of Columbus where I live. And we may have to ban extremely unattractive people in skimpy swimsuits. But no transportation system is perfect. I also wouldn't mind a larger-scale lazy river that round-trips between Columbus and Atlanta -- we just might have to speed the river up a little. Then again, who's ever in a hurry to get to Atlanta?

It's just a thought. I'm sure you might have other ideas, but I'm sort of partial to lazy rivers, as you can read about in this coming Sunday's column.

Plains speak

When Jimmy Carter ran for re-election in 1980, I rooted for Ronald Reagan. It should be noted I was 10 and thought Iran was something I did after stealing a piece of bubble gum from the Suwanee Swifty. I probably only rooted for Reagan to aggravate my parents, both of whom supported Carter at the time.

And I still think Reagan was a good man, and I think he was the right president at the right time. However, as the years went on, I developed a lot more respect for Carter, who I think is probably one of the more honorable men to hold the Oval Office. I worked with his niece, Billy Carter's daughter, who is one of the nicest and smartest people I've ever worked with. And Mr. Jimmy is the only president I've actually met ... while we both played at a "celebrity" softball game in Plains. I didn't know who the guy in a plaid shirt and blue jeans was who was walking up to me from the side until he said, "Hi, I'm Jimmy Carter." The Braves were in the playoffs, and he was heading to the game later, so all we talked about was baseball. Fortunately, we didn't talk foreign policy, which seems to get the guy in trouble a lot.

I don't always agree with the guy. I don't think we should have boycotted the 1980 Summer Games. And I don't think we should tread as lightly with militant Muslims as he does. And I think he loves the limelight more than a good ol' Georgia boy should. He wanted that Nobel Peace Prize. I think a lot of the Carter Center's wonderful efforts over the years have been geared to winning that award, rather than the intrinsic value of the work itself.

But I will say this for the man: As bad as the Middle East is right now, it would be exponentially worse had Carter not brokered peace between Israel and Egypt. I remember watching Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian prime minister Anwar Sadat shake hands while sitting in my grandfather's lap. He was usually a bitter man, having lost both his legs in World War II, but he became emotional that day. Peace really meant something to him, and that day made an impression on me forever.

And I don't think there's anything wrong with Carter saying that President Bush's foreign policy has been the worst of any presidential administration in history. Really, why bother to state the obvious?

And, oh yeah, Carter talks like me, so he gets extra credit for that.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Same ol' Braves

I can't believe my Atlanta Braves have lost 6 out of 8 games, just as I was starting to become a believer again. Oh well, I loved them when they were the lovable losers of the 1980s, so I guess being two games out of first place in the NL East is hardly the end of the world.

And there's a part of me that kind of misses those lovable losers of the 80s, when poor Dale Murphy had to carry the whole team on his back while Claudell Washington was snorting the outfield lines, Dion James was killing birds and Bob Horner was nursing hangnails on the DL. Lovable losers like me have gotta have heroes too, you know. Plus, when you were 30 games out of first place, any win was cause for celebration.

But I know the Braves are gonna be in it all year. And you've gotta believe in a team that truly feels like your local team with so many Georgia and Alabama boys on it. It's like having a local American Legion team in the Major Leagues.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Week in Review 6

  • Famous for being famous Paris Hilton has her sentenced reduced from 45 to 23 days for a probation violation, with jail officials giving her credit for good behavior (Paris Hilton?) and the fact that she actually showed up for her latest court date (impressive). She will be in a "special needs housing unit" with her special need being unwarranted attention. She will also be separated from the "general inmate population" in a move hailed by ... the "general inmate population."
  • Abraham Lincoln might have survived being shot if today's medical technology had existed in 1865 -- that's what the annual University of Maryland School of Medicine conference determined this week. They also decided that if a frog had wings, he wouldn't bump his rear end every time he jumped.
  • Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., jumps his motorcycle over a pool of sharks in what the White House decries as an obvious political stunt.
  • Presidential candidates revealed their earnings and assets this week. Republican Rudy Giuliani reported $16.1 million in earned income over the past 16 months, while Democratic hopeful John Edwards and his wife reported $29.5 million in assets. Libertarian presidential contender Chris Johnson reported assets of $12.75 and a 15-percent-off coupon for Captain D's.
  • Outspoken evangelist Jerry Falwell dies at age 73. Teletubby Tinky Winky, reached for comment during a Barbra Striesand concert, says "Ooooo, man say mean things."
  • The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service considers creating a trust fund of up to $100 million for grizzly bear and gray wolf populations in parts of the Northern Rockies, but some express concern that the wolves will blow it all on whisky and women.
  • In another brilliant move, Washington announces that the new U.S. Embassy in Baghdad -- set to open in September in what is now a war zone -- will be the world's largest at 104 acres and most expensive at $592 million ... because what the insurgents in Iraq need is a really, really big target.
  • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is expected to announce approval for Lybrel, an oral contraceptive that would end women's periods. New drugs are expected soon that would help them end their semicolons.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Cheesebuger in Paradise

Boy did I commit a little mortal sin this weekend. No, nothing like that. Get your mind out of the gutter. In my Sunday column about newspaper songs, I had a major typo: "Cheesebuger in Paradise."

Yeah, I know, that Jimmy Buffett song has nothing to do with newspapers other than the terrible dietary habits of print journalists, so you'll have to read the column to see how it relates. Fortunately, that typo won't be found online ... I fixed that. Unfortunately, I can't fix the tens of thousands of Sunday papers with the typo. I've already gotten in trouble with the Margaritaville police once this year. Even though I'm not fond of this Buffett song, this screw-up could very well result in capital punishment.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Week in Review 5

  • During a campaign speech in Virginia, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama says of the recent Kansas tornado: "In case you missed it, this week, there was a tragedy in Kansas. Ten thousand people died -- an entire town destroyed." Actually it was 12. An Obama spokesman says the senator later realized his gaffe and said: "My bad. Duh, there aren't even 10,000 people in Kansas. Man, I overstated that almost as much as people have overstated my qualifications to be president."
  • Republican presidential contenders Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney are each forced to clarify their positions on abortion. Clarifies Romney: "I'd like to make it clear that I stand, steadfastly, firmly, wholeheartedly, 100 percent behind whichever position will get me elected." Responds Giuliani: "Yeah, what he said."
  • Informed by his National Security Adviser that six men were arrested and charged with plotting to massacre U.S, soldiers at Fort Dix, President Bush responds, "Huh, huh, you said Dix."
  • The United States files charges of conspiracy and providing support for terrorism Thursday against a Guantanamo detainee who worked as a driver for Osama bin Laden.
    Salim Ahmed Hamdan also faces additional charges of failing to yield the right of way at a dangerous intersection in Kabul in 2001.
  • Congressional Democrats settle a major trade impasse with the Bush administration. The Democrats will get Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson in exchange for Rep. Sanford Bishop and a player to be named later.
  • Paris Hilton is dethroned as the most spoiled brat in America when Roger Clemens rejoins the New York Yankees for $18 million under the condition that he doesn't have to be, like, part of the team or anything.
  • BOSTON -- A fight in the balcony interrupts the opening night performance of the Boston Pops. In a statement, the symphony says that's the last time they'll have Lynyrd Skynyrd as their special guest.
  • A study finds that many thin people are actually fat on the inside. "Being thin doesn't automatically mean you're not fat," said Dr. Jimmy Bell, a professor of molecular imaging at Imperial College, London. According to the data, people who maintain their weight through diet rather than exercise are likely to have major deposits of internal fat, even if they are otherwise slim. In a related study, Ashley Judd is found to be extremely ugly beneath her skin.
  • FRAMINGHAM, Mass. -- Two female college students who bared their bellies at a Framingham State College lacrosse game couldn't stomach a front-page newspaper photo of their stunt and now are in trouble for swiping copies, campus officials said. They apparently felt the photo made them look fat, the paper's faculty adviser said. In a related story, Ledger-Enquirer columnist Chris Johnson sabotages Webcasts at in which he offered commentaries. "I thought the camera was supposed to add 5 pounds, not 30," he says.
  • Atlanta's Bobby Cox ties Sparky Anderson for fourth place in career managerial victories when the Braves beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 4-1 on Friday night, Cox's 2,194th victory in the majors. Cardinals manager Tony La Russa is third on the list, but Cox is the all-time leader in times being caught in the dugout picking his nose on camera.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Newspaper songs

Hey, in this Sunday's column in the Ledger-Enquirer, I'm going to write about some great newspaper songs, some obvious, some not so obvious. Although, unlike my colleague Brad Barnes, who's liable to throw some obscure bands at ya, I'm fairly mainstream outside of my religiously following Jimmy Buffett. So I'm sure you'll recognize all the songs I list, assuming you're over the age of 12. Allow me to go ahead and get one stuck in your head:

So while she lay there sleeping,

I read the paper in bed.

And in the personals column,

there was this letter I read:

"If you like Pina Coladas,

And getting caught in the rain.

If you're not into yoga,

if you have half-a-brain.

If you like making love at midnight,

In the dunes of the cape.

I'm the lady you've looked for,

Write to me and escape."

Sunday, May 6, 2007


I really hope I don't accidentally kick a dent in the Mercedes whose the-world-revolves-around-me driver double-parks it in the parking garage near work. I hope somebody else does it besides me because there are cameras in there, and I don't wanna get busted. Usually, when somebody does this, I be sure to double-park my vehicle right beside them, so close that it's hard for them to even enter their vehicle. But I usually only do this when driving the wife's car in case Mr. Toogood Foryou retaliates.

I also want to make clear that I do not condone the following: When a driver tosses his cigarette butt out the window at a red light and you go retrieve it from the road and toss it back into their open window. I appreciate it, but I don't condone it.

I also do not condone playing Ernest Tubb songs at 200 decibels outside the home of the teenager who cruises by your house with his window-rattling stereo blasting inane rap songs.

All these things are very wrong. Really, don't do it. I mean it. Unless, you know, you get the urge or something.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Week in review 4

  • Asked his opinion on the fading secularization of Turkey, President Bush replies that it's none of his business because he prefers his deep-fried anyway.
  • Humiliated by a video made and circulated by his daughter of him falling-down drunk, David Hasselhoff defends his actions by explaining that he just been forced to watch himself in several episodes of "Baywatch."
  • Britney Spears returns to the stage at the House of Blues but is accused of lip-synching (What?! No way!). People are tipped off after seeing Britney's lips ... no, wait, that was another video.
  • Despite lackluster reviews and the leaked ending that sees Mary Jane Watson accidentally extinguish our hero with a giant can of Raid, "Spider-Man 3" makes $57 kajillion in its first five minutes of release.
  • Minutes into the Kentucky Derby, Brits are humiliated when a YouTube video surfaces shiowing a drunken Queen Elizabeth II rolling around drunk on the floor of her Churchill Downs suite with David Hasselhoff.
  • On "The Ellen DeGeneres Show," Lindsay Lohan announces that she's planning a Vegas-to-Malibu party trip to celebrate her 21st birthday. The Department of Homeland Security puts the states of Nevada and California on full red alert.
  • Folk singer and anti-war activist Joan Baez complains that she was not allowed to perform for recovering soldiers recently at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Officials say the wounded soldiers have been through enough pain.
  • In the wake of President Bush's veto of a bill calling for withdrawal of troops from I raq to begin in October, Republicans and Democrats come up with a compromise bill: U.S. troops will begin withdrawing in the year 2048. By that time, there should be no Iraqis left, and with alternatives to fossil fuels, we'll be a lot less interested in the Middle East.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Daddy's coming home!

For nearly 10 years, I worked until about midnight or 1 a.m. at the Ledger-Enquirer. I was on the news copy desk, which doesn't exactly lend itself to a good family life or much life at all outside of work without some creative scheduling. However, about a year and a half ago, I was fortunate enough to land a more normal schedule in the features department.

But last night I helped out a short-handed copy desk and realized how tough that can be on a parent. I managed to sneak out of the newsroom a little early and called to let the wife know I'd be home soon. In the background, I heard my 7-year-old son, Saylor, jumping up and down and yelling, "Daddy's coming home! Daddy's coming home!"

However, by the time I got there, the little fella had tuckered himself out waiting up for me and was asleep. I picked him up and carried him to his bed, kissed him on the cheek and told him I loved him, and he could barely mutter, "Love you too," before conking out for good. Sure makes me appreciate the flexibility I've got now.

Because I've got a flexible schedule, I was able to pick him up from day care and get him to his baseball game tonight. He's the 12th best hitter on a 13-member team but managed a couple of "hits" tonight and wound up with the game ball, which pretty much made his year. He said "I'm gonna call everybody I know," and proceeded to do just that after the game. The ball now sits on the mantle in our living room.

Had I still been on the news copy desk, I reckon I'd have missed that, too. So, the next time you spot a typo somewhere in the paper -- something that could never, ever happen on your watch, I'm sure -- cut them some slack. The words in one daily newspaper are enough to make a novel or two out of. It's a wonder there aren't far more errors in such a rushed product. Imagine if Mark Twain handed a rough draft of "Huckleberry Finn" to his editors at 2 p.m. and the book had to be edited, proofed, run on the press, out the door and hitting people's doorsteps in about 14 hours. That's pretty much what putting together a newspaper is like.

Perfection is every editor's goal and every reader's expectation, but it's not realistic. Just remember that there are a lot of folks giving up an awful lot to get that paper to you every day. Think about it while you're reading your kid to sleep.