Jim Walsh's Big Hairy Weblog Thingy

Saturday, May 28, 2005

La Bamba

Los Angeles just elected a Hispanic mayor, their first in over a century. President Bush has given Spanish versions of his weekly radio address. And now, the New York mayoral candidates are all taking lessons in espanol.

I'm sure all the neo-knownothings are having a cow...

"If them thar immy-grant tacoheads wanna get along in this country, let 'em learn English, just like we made the Indians do... "

(Is "tacohead" offensive? Hey, he said it, I didn't...)

Here Comes Summer, Update

Indy 500 is Sunday. I must remember to set my VCR in case there's a big crash or that Danica chick wins and whips her shirt off or something really cool like that...

Then, sleep...

Here Comes Summer

My Memorial Day Weekend Itinerary:

Friday: Work

Saturday: Work

Sunday: Sleep

Monday: Sleep

Tuesday: Sleep

Wednesday: Back to work, half-day

My kinda holiday. Life is good...

Friday, May 27, 2005

The Food Of The Gods

God, I miss the beach.

Over in All Access today my pal Perry Simon linked to this Asbury Park Press story about Kohr Brothers Frozen Custard.

There is nothing on this planet that quite touches frozen custard. The Food of the Gods. Sorta like soft ice cream, but richer, creamier, egg-ier. Some people get their nostalgia rush from smells; I get mine from tastes. The flavor-memory of Kohr’s takes me to the summer of ’91 when I was the morning DJ at WMGM in Atlantic City, living in the basement of a friend’s house in nearby Ocean City, NJ. The place had a ceiling so low you had to stoop when you walked through the door, lest you hit your head on the pipes.

Air conditioning? Fuhgeddaboutit. Fortunately, we were a block from the ocean; the best available remedy for the heat was an afternoon stroll on the boards. Ah, the boardwalk: the steady white noise of the surf; the salty breeze with the occasional refreshing cool blast off the ocean; the scavenging seagulls that seemed to just get bolder as the season progressed; the smell of wet sand mixed with suntan lotion, and the mandatory stop at Kohr’s for a large custard cone topped with rainbow or chocolate jimmies (“sprinkles” for the uninitiated)...

...couldn’t beat it with a stick.

(It also tends to go through you like grease through a goose; that’s why the stop at Kohr’s was something you generally did on the way back to the house. Too much info?).

In certain parts of the country, frozen custard is a staple. It’s hard to imagine summer without it, not just at the Jersey shore, but places like St. Louis (Ted Drewes, anyone?).

Other places have never heard of it – like where I live now.

(We do have Dairy Queen, and Cold Stone Creamery, with ice-cream cones as big as your head that cost about as much as a thankful of gas. Not bad, mind you, but not the same.)

Perry, who lives in Malibu, has suggested someone open a custard stand near his home. I think he’s on to something. How about this: a stand that hawks all the stuff guys like Perry and I grew up on back East: frozen custard, Taylor Pork Roll, beach fries, scrapple and Tastykake Peanut Butter Kandy Kakes.

Call it Big Jim’s House Of Cholesterol.

I don’t know how it would play in Malibu, but here in North Dakota, they’d love it…

The Ole Gas Peddler

I can’t be the only person who has noticed this.

At many of the gas stations around the city where I live, I’ve noticed lately that the mid-range gasoline is actually a few pennies per gallon cheaper than the lower-grade stuff.

Now, if I were a conspiracy buff I might speculate that they’re doing that to get folks to fill up on the higher grade, get their cars used to it, so they have to keep using the higher grade, then somewhere down the line spike the price of the high grade through the roof. Sorta like the Old Dope Peddler (of Tom Lehrer fame) who hands out free samples...

Whew! Good thing I'm not paranoid…

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Questions, Questions

Coupla questions concerning this Newsweek/Gitmo thing.

First...from Yahoo News:

“U.S. officials have substantiated five cases in which military guards or interrogators mishandled the Quran of Muslim prisoners at Guantanamo Bay but found "no credible evidence" to confirm a prisoner's report that a holy book was flushed in a toilet…”

Second...from the Tarheel State:

"A Baptist minister in Forest City refuses to apologize for a church sign saying the Muslim holy book, the Quran, should be flushed."

Now, two questions:

1) Does it really matter how the Quran was mishandled?

2) Seeing as how the Church Sign story has received some major media coverage, I’m just wondering: if there’s another riot in Afghanistan, who will get the blame? The preacher? The news source? Newsweek?


The Winnah, and Cham-peen of da Woild...

At one of the message board sites I frequent, there's a (naturally) anonymous poster who does little more than try and pick fights with people. No matter what anyone says about anything, if he's up (or down) to it, he'll use it as an excuse to sling a cheap shot. His comebacks are generally pretty lame, but that's not really the point.

The point is the guy's been at it for, as far as I can tell, over three years. Three years of haunting one website, looking for any excuse to start a pissing match and fighting a never-ending battle to get the last word in.

Whatever floats your boat, I suppose. I stopped letting the guy bug me long ago. One thing I've learned as I've begun my slide into the abyss of middle age is this: life goes a lot smoother when you learn to pick your battles.

So keep on postin', mystery dude. If taking cheap shots at people while hiding behind a pseudonym is how you justify your existence, fine. If winning to you means getting in the last word and showing all the viewers of said site (all twelve of them) just what a clever guy you really are, if that's your standard of winning, then congratulations...you're the winner.

Enjoy the victory party...

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

We Are Devo

In Kansas, they're ready to party like it's 1699:

"Evolution has been proven false. ID (Intelligent Design) is science-based and strong in facts."
-Kathy Martin, board member, Kansas Board Of Education

Intelligent Design my ass; it just the creationists’ sneaky way of making an end run around the separation of church and state (which as we all know is just one of those wacky ideas dreamed up by America-hating radicals like this guy and this guy).

The creationists have an simple strategy: they have about half a dozen basic "arguments," among them the "Blind Watchmaker" argument, the "What Good Is Half An Eye" argument, the "It's Just A Theory" argument, the "Second Law Of Thermodynamics" argument and a couple of others. By the time you get around to debunking all of the arguments (and they're all easily debunkable), they just start all over again with slightly re-worded versions of the same arguments.

Such is the state of discourse in the Sunflower State and elsewhere.

If I was Dorothy, I'd have stayed in Oz...

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Profiles In Courage

Sunday afternoon, went out for brunch with my ladyfriend. Waiting for a table at the restaurant (which will remain nameless) we overheard a waitress crowing to a customer about how great it's gonna be when the smoking ban goes into effect.

My GF, a smoker and no wallflower, chimed in: "Well, what about those of us who smoke? Where are we gonna eat?"

"Try the Surgeon's General's house," snapped back the nice waitress.

GF went straight to the manager. The manager, to her credit, agreed it was way out of line. We left after that; we don't know what happened to the waitress. Maybe she got fired. One can hope. Let her go work at Hooter's or something.

It reminded me of something similiar that happened a couple of years ago when I was hosting a talk show in my home state. My father and I were visiting a local hardware store, and to make a long story short, the staff was super rude. So I went on the air and talked about it (and got a bunch of folks calling in to say, "Yeah, they're that way with everybody.").

Well, you'll never guess what happened: yep...the manager of the store called in to bitch; turns out they advertised on the station. They pulled their account (which amounted to about twenty thousand a year, a pretty small figure by radio advertising standards, trust me). I got canned. (Should have seen it coming; a friend in the biz warned me going in that "doing good radio at that place will get you fired.")

I lost my gig but I regret nothing. I stand by my statement. Rude service is inexcusable. And given the circumstances, I don't think that radio station will be up for the "Profiles In Courage" award any time soon. Not much I can do about that, except to say this: if anyone I knew was to consider working for, or advertising at said station, I would tell them my story and let them decide for themselves.

And hell, it's not like they can fire me or anything...

Monday, May 23, 2005

Brian And Me

I've come to the conclusion that I'm a lousy salesman of myself. How else can I explain the fact that up and down the dial I hear talk hosts who I know are not as talented or experienced as I am. Yet they're working and I'm not.

A more blatant example: a couple of years ago when I was between gigs, I contacted an acquaintence who runs a news/talk operation in my home town, and offered my services.

"We can't use you as a talk host," he said. "However, we can use you as an anchor and producer."

Producer as in glorified call screener. I was at the end of my financial rope. I took the gig.

So there I was, a trained talk host with years of experience (including major market work) screening calls for someone whose level of skill could be charitably described as entry level...

What's wrong with this picture?

Truth is, I've never been good at pitching myself. Realizing that, when I was younger I adopted the strategy of busting my ass. The idea was to become so good that my talent would sell itself.

Obviously, it didn't work.

The bottome line is I blew it; I bet the house on the wrong horse. Or the right horse with the wrong jockey. Whatever...

It's a little late in the game for me, but there is a lesson here for you younger guys on the make. I think it's this:

Hard work is not enough. Sometimes it's not even necessary.

You need a promoter.

Or to put it another way: if you're a budding John Lennon, you gotta find a Brian Epstein...

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Kibbles 'n' Bits

Just a few musings for your dancing and listening pleasure...

Regarding Mary Kay Letourneau and her new hubby: she paid her debt to society, the groom is now of age, fine, let 'em get married. Beyond that, I couldn't care less...

Star Wars has run its course. So has Star Trek. All in the same month. Picture hordes of nerds plunging lemming-like over a cliff...

Richard Pryor is in the advanced stage of MS. It's heartbreaking to look at him.

Nicole Ritchie, on the other hand, is anorexic. I don't feel sorry for her one damn bit.

I'm sorry Laura Ingraham has breast cancer and I wish her a speedy recovery, but I won't retract my previous statement that she's one of the worst talk hosts in the biz...

I'm sorry Kylie Minogue has breast cancer and I wish her a speedy recovery, but I never really cared for her music, at least not since her cover of The Locomotion...

One person I genuinely admire is Jessica Lynch. Almost two years since all the brouhaha, and you've barely heard a thing about her. She seems to be primarily interested in getting on with her life - that's refreshing...

One of the worst jobs I ever had was Nightclub DJ; in essence, you're baby-sitting a roomful of drunks...

The great thing about jazz concerts is that the people actually come to hear the music...

Tonya Harding always reminded me way too much of my first wife...

You know what I don't get? Storm-chasing. I guess it's one thing if you do it for a living, but amateur storm-chasing?!? I don't know about you, but if there's even the hint of a funnel cloud, I plan to get as far away from it as possible...

When I go for walks now I take along my portable compact disc player. Not music - books on CD...

While we're on the subject: I've come to believe that abridged books on tape are a ripoff...

Is it just me, or does it seem like the new pope is keeping a very low profile?

The Muppets were on last night. Surely I can't be the only one who finds Miss Piggy excruciatingly unamusing...

Desperate Housewives? I caught it twice and suspect I've seen everything there is to see...

I would think being married to Britney Spears would be great for about a month...

Lisa Marie Presley must be really hard up for work; she has to know that singing, for her, is a bad idea...

My current favorite Guilty Pleasure: the Mexi-Rolls at Taco John's. None of the fancy dipping stuff, just the basic taco sauce and plenty of it. Love 'em!

What I'd be thinking if I were serving in Iraq: I'm over here getting my ass shot at for God knows what, and the best they can send me is Nick and Jessica?!?

The Ultimate Scam Artists: people who run pet cemetaries. If you feel the need to fork over several hundred (or several thousand?) dollars of your hard-earned dough to throw a funeral for your dog, you really need to break into the savings account and buy some perspective...

The newest Law & Order series has been cancelled. I suspect that franchise has been played out as well...

My advice for the day: Trust no man over forty with a full head of hair...

Talk, Talk

Virginia Postrel, a very nice lady with a great weblog, has an interesting take in the New York Times on the "media bias" question (registration firewall). I've been dealing with my own version of the bias question, albeit from the opposite end of the spectrum: as a radio talk host who is not a die-hard conservative, pro-war, onward-Christian-soldiers, Bush-can-do-no-wrong Republican, I'm frustrated that I and talented hosts I know who share my, er, non-conformity, have had trouble finding work in recent years...while many mediocre hosts (whose apparent idea of show preperation is to regurgitate the GOP platform wholesale) are gainfully employed and high on the hog.

Not that I'm bitter or anything...

Seriously, I'm doing OK, I can't complain (but sometimes I still do), though I've wondered about this for a long time. Certainly you've noticed it as well: the plethora of hosts on radio and TV who are little more than Rush or Hannity clones (a Hannity clone essentially being a Rush clone with a New York accent).

I can tell you as an insider, that for all the lip-service paid to the notion of being an "entertainer" and a "passionate" performer, the talk industry is full of people who are neither. What they are, is conservative and Republican. Talent is incidental; conservative and Republican apparently is all they need to be.

I'll mull this one over and get back to you...

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Later, Vader or: Sith Happens

The new Star Wars flick is out. Whoop-de-frickin'-do.

There was a time when it would have been a big deal. No, I take that back: there was never a time when catching the latest George Lucas space opera was even on my top-ten list of priorities (In my view the best Lucas flick ever was American Graffiti). I did see the first three Star Wars installments and liked The Empire Strikes Back the best; it was certainly the darkest, the least pandering to the popcorn set, and the one that did the best job of tying in all the Joe Campbell mythological influences.

I'll see the new one when it comes out on DVD - maybe. In the meantime, one quick anecdote:

Spring, 1978 - I was in line to see the first Star Wars (yeah, it took me a year to get around to seeing it; I've always been a world-class procrastinator). A rather frail-looking youth a few steps ahead of me in line turned to the guy next to him with a major compost-eating grin on his face.

"This," he said, "is the seventeenth time I've seen this movie."

"This," the other guy said, "is my girlfriend."


Cuts Like A Knife

I caught a story on Tonight's Insider about a woman addicted to plastic surgery.

Screw her.

Are we really supposed to feel sorry for some self-indulgent little brat who's so screwed up that she feels the need to go under the knife repeatedly? I don't - any more than I feel sorry for anorexics. (I really don't get the idea behind addiction to surgery. Call me a coward but generally surgery is something I go out of my way to avoid, if at all possible.)

There's just something about the notion of having a guy slice you open and poke around in your innards for several hours while volatile gases keep you in a comatose state that's, well, unnatural.

However necessary surgery may be at times (and I'm certainly not totally adverse to elective or cosmetic surgery) , if you're addicted to it, then you've got some serious issues (and shame on the doctors who pander to these pathetic assholes).

If you've ever had an operation in your life (and I would guess that most of us have) consider the trauma to your system, the pre-op anxiety, the side effects of the anesthesia, the time lost at work/school, etc. Now consider that some people willingly go through that repeatedly just for minor cosmetic modifications. God - that is so wrong...

(You wanna know how screwed up Michael Jackson is? Get a load of that beezer. Get help, dude.)

And we're supposed to feel sorry for these people? I. Don't. Think. So.

If some spoiled, self-indulgent kid of mine got "addicted to surgery," trust me - I'd give 'em a reason to go to the hospital...

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Self-Important Rocker Walks Into A Bar...

There's an old joke from the Cold War: an American and a Cuban are arguing about who has the better system."In America we have freedom of speech," says the American. "Any American can stand on any Washington D.C. street corner in broad daylight and openly ridicule the President Of The United States."

"Big deal," shrugs the Cuban. "We can do the same thing. Any Cuban can stand on any Havana street corner in broad daylight and openly ridicule the President Of The United States..."

Recently Tom Morello, guitarist for the godawful commie-rock band Rage Against The Machine (and more recently the just-plain godawful band Audioslave) co-started a website for something called "The Axis Of Justice."

It's basically a place where Morello and his pals can politically enlighten the great unwashed. Pretty hilarious stuff, especially the following excerpt from a linked MTV puff piece about Audioslave's recent concert in Havana:

...the billboards the Cubans have erected in front of it give new meaning to in-your-face defiance. "Señores Imperialistas, no los tenemos absolutamente ningún miedo!" (Mr. Imperialists, we have absolutely no fear of you!). Scenes of Abu Ghraib, captioned simply "Fascistas." And just behind the stage, "Venceremos!" (We will win!).

Guess the joke is on them...

Saturday, May 14, 2005

The F!#$&% Playground In My Mind

Looks like the government bluenoses, and their supporters, are ready to ratchet it up a bit. In this story from the Boston Phoenix, media critic Dan Kennedy suggests how content regulation could be extended to cable TV, satellite TV and radio, and even the Internet.

OK, folks – let me run this by you one more time:

When I was a little kid there was no South Park. There was no gangsta rap. The closest we got to porn was the occasional glimpse at a dogeared Tijuana Bible or a copy of Playboy that some neighborhood kid appropriated from an older sibling. We came, without exception, from religious families.

And I can tell you, most of us cussed like stevedores. Were we like Stan, Kyle and Cartman? No...we were worse. The point is, we all turned out OK. The problems we had in our lives had nothing to do with exposure to naughty bits or violence on TV.

It all worked out. It will work out - so everybody lighten the fug up, OK?

Friday, May 13, 2005

Faces In The Crowd

Out this week on DVD: A Face In The Crowd, the Elia Kazan sleeper that lampooned the television industry with an effectiveness that Paddy Chayefsky could only dream of.

My mother, of all people, turned me on to this flick when I was a teenager. The Budd Schulberg-written parable of abused media power is a real eye opener that holds up as well as it did in 1957, when TV was still a novelty. Now, no less than in the not-so-Fabulous Fifties, the flick confirms your worst fears about the disasterous potentials in the great glowing glass teat.
If you've never seen it, trust me - you'll never think of Andy Griffith in the same way again. He infuses the character of Larry "Lonesome" Rhodes with an certain irresistible malevolence; imagine a cross between Elvis, Will Rogers, Ross Perot, Bill O'Reilly and Joseph Goebbels, and you begin to get the picture. The evolution of Griffith's character, from white-trash jailbird to country boy TV idol to populist philosopher to neo-fascist kingmaker will suck the breath out of you; betcha never though ol' Matlock had it in him.

Griffith is the centerpiece, but costars Walter Matthau, Lee Remick and Patricia Neal hold their own. Neal is especially effective as Rhodes's promoter/lover/crying towel, eventually forced to deal with her own dark impulses as her creation turns into a monster.

For folks who like bells and whistles, the DVD features recent interviews with Griffith, Neal and Schulberg. If you're looking for a movie that will rock your world, I give A Face In The Crowd the highest possible recommendation.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

But His Picture's On The Money...

So I stopped in my local public library this evening to take care of some library-type business, and there, as I entered was a display of books honoring The Presidents.

Included were pics of several of our nation's Chief Executives: Lincoln, JFK, George Washington, FDR, Alexander Hamilton...

...what's wrong with this picture?

As politely as possible, I pointed out to the very nice older lady at the information desk that Alexander Hamilton was never president (though he was, in the words of biographer Ron Chernow, "arguably the most important figure in American history who never attained the presidency").

To her credit , the nice older lady seemed to know that Hamilton was never president; she just didn't realize that it was Hamilton pictured on the display (who she thought it was supposed to be I don't know, but the portrait was clearly labeled: Alexander Hamilton: First Secretary Of The Treasury, killed in a duel with Aaron Burr, etc. She thanked me for bringing the discrepancy to her attention and promised that he would substitute another picture.

Ben Franklin, maybe (no, I'm kidding).

Friday, May 06, 2005

At Least I'm Not A Trekkie...

This is something I find mildly amusing in an "Only In Hollywood" kind of way:
Brandon Routh, star of the currently-in-production Superman Returns is 26. Smallville star Tom Welling just turned 28.
So the actor playing the "teenage" Superman is actually older than the actor playing the "adult" one...
Yeah, yeah, I know: too much free time...

Thursday, May 05, 2005

You Can't Fight In Here, This Is The War Room!

There's a new "movie" out dramatizing nuclear terrorism (starring one of my faves, Fred Dalton Thompson as the president) produced by an anti-nuke organization bankrolled in part by Ted Turner. It's available for free online here.

I've got mine on order; I'll let you know what I think. What the hell, it can't be any worse than The Day After Tommorow...