2005-05-27



OK, so here's the guy that claims he had an affair with Paula Abdul during the 2003 American Idol.

He was mad when Abdul went on Saturday Night Live and made light of his accusation, and now he's mad because American Idol, on their own show, similarly poked fun at him. And ... that's pretty much the gist of it. He's mad. Pouting. "I've got proof you know!" No one cares.

I guess my thought is, "Dude! It's really hard to take anyone serious when they're wearing a matching teal turtleneck and toboggan. You need to lose those, or in ten years you're Michael Jackson."

|



Unbelievably, Atlanta Crane Man is still at it! Despite yesterday's police claims that they would end the affair "soon," he's over 40 hours and counting.

Btw ... I erroneously reported that this was happening in Florida. The guy is wanted in Florida, but he's in, or rather above Atlanta, GA. So, forget the police and the murdered girlfriend, this is now a bona fide world record attempt. Actually he's got several possibilities:

Staying awake: current record, 11 days

Going without food: 44 or 49 days depending on who you believe

Going without water: I couldn't find a clear existing record, but three days is generally held as the limit, so he's more than halfway there

Crane sitting: There isn't a record, but the pole-sitting record is 196 days and nights, so he'd have to go at least that long to make it respectable.

Luckily for Atlanta Crane Man, one record has already fallen ...

Longest time continuously on the front page without being assigned a nickname by the press. Previous record - 2 hours 28 minutes. By still being "the guy on the crane in Atlanta" after 40 hours, he's shattered that one!

|

2005-05-26



I learned yesterday afternoon that sometimes justice can make sense. Runaway Bride, Jennifer Wilbanks will be prosecuted for her false statements to the police. Kudos to the Grand Jury in Gwinnet County, Georgia. And since it appears that taking responsibility for her own actions has never been a part of Wilbanks' agenda, I hope she serves every day that she has coming to her.

I still don't understand making her pay for the search, however. It's not against the law to run away. How was she to know that Fox and CNN, without a leg to stand on, would turn this into a kidnap/rape/homicide before she hit the state line? Do we really want people hesitating and checking their bank account before calling the police?

-- B --



OK, so we've got this guy in Florida who climbed a crane to escape, or, ummm ... OK, I'm not really sure what climbing a crane accomplishes. It's like being in a car chase and turning down a dead end street. Anyway, the guy is wanted for killing his former girlfriend - and now he's made it pretty clear to the world that he's guilty. He's in his 22nd hour up there. Police are trying to talk him down, but that's got to be a pretty hard sell - "You've got a long life without the possibility of parole ahead of you!"

-- B --



Oh! I almost forgot American Idol! Or, wait. No I didn't.

-- B --



Good news! They're starting on a movie about the life of Edgar Allen Poe. As a lifelong Poe fan, I was really psyched about this. Then I discovered that Robert Downey, Jr. is slated to play the lead. Then after that I discovered that it was written and will be directed by Sylvester Stallone. So already I'm pining for the re-make even though the make hasn't happened yet.

-- B --



With what is reported to be the last chapter in George Lucas' Star Wars saga that will be committed to film out, I've been thinking how fun it would be to watch the whole series in its intended order: Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, Revenge of the Stith, Star Wars, Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi. You've probabably already spotted the problem. This grand, six film marathon would conclude with Jedi, easily the cheeziest of the six without a close second. Instead of a flourish, you'd finish with a grand fizzle. My guess is that at the time Lucas didn't figure on doing any more films from the saga, so he totally sold out and created battle of the cute and cuddly Teddy Bears.

|

2005-05-25



To hear everyone talk about the McCain gang's big compromise, you'd think this was the second coming of Jefferson, Jay and Hamilton. I don't see it, unless there is something they aren't telling us. Something a little more clear than "extraordinary circumstances."

Have you been on Mars for the past ten years? Everything is an extraordinary circumstance to today's partisan politician. Fine. So in the future (and the very near future at that!) the new debate will be the "is not extraordinary circumstances!" / "is so!" debate.

The ink wasn't even dry before the party leaders started making it clear that their playbooks hadn't changed one bit. The Dems still claim the right to filibuster unless the President starts asking them who he can nominate to federal benches. And the GOP declares that the nuclear option is still on the table if the Dems continue their wholesale stonewalling.

So, we get to proceed with three justices and then, I predict, we'll be right back to business as usual. This agreement certainly won't survive a Supreme Court nomination.

Good job, John. Just in case some had forgotten what a screwball you are, thanks for the reminder.

|

2005-05-20




Well, this finale didn't have quite the fanfare and star power of Apprentice 2, and I for one was thankful.

Instead the third season finale was really a live board room with clips from the season and some fluff interspersed throughout.

In the battle between Kendra and Tana, Trump and Co. went to great lengths to make this appear close ... a tough call right down to the wire. My gut tells me Trump came into tonight knowing he was going to hire Kendra.

In Tana's favor, she had a tremendous run of success, was very creative and energetic. Up until the last two missions she really proved adept at motivating her team. To her detriment, she was a caustic wench during the final mission - denigrating her team at every turn. Trump had other practical matters; not giving the American flag to the Governor of NY, etc., but disloyalty was the fatal flaw.

The only rip they came up with on Kendra was that she stayed under the radar too long, being the last of the Candidates to step up to be Project Manager. Reiterating my point from early Apprentice posts - I think that was a wise strategy. This season featured more than its fair share of wild card personalities and styles. Each week PM's ran the risk of inadvertantly taking a bullet for one of their loose cannons.

Here's the surprise when it came to Tana: By the end of last week's episode, it was ultra-clear that her general weakness was her lack of professional demeanor, and a specific problem would be how she treated her team members during the final mission. Somehow Tana wasn't able to figure this out, and didn't get any solid advice because she did nothing to carry herself in such a way as to refute those liabilities. Heck, Chris figured it out, and knew to be professional in how he handled it, and he's a meathead! Instead it was almost as if Tana wanted to take one last opportunity to cement those perceptions in the minds of Trump, George and Carolyn. If that was the goal, it worked.

One point of contention arose over the Pontiac Solstace mission. The teams were tasked with developing a brochure for the hot, new car. In that mission the teams were stressed time-wise, being almost forced to pull an all-nighter. Yet there were Tana and Craig, calling it a night with the actual creation of the brochure barely started. Kendra soldiered on through the night, coming up with a creative piece that Pontiac is actually using to this day.

Last night as Trump was questioning why Kendra allowed her team to take credit and bringing up that Tana had slept through half of the task, Tana went myth-buster. Turns out Kendra didn't do it all. Tana was the one who came up with the idea to make the brochure round! And to see her carry on you'd have thought she came up with the cure for cancer. She was whooping and hollering, and pointing at Team Trump and ... like I said, pretty much confirming that she is classless.

Point is, round was nice. But if you put a picture of a turd on the front of it, round or not, the folks from Pontiac probably won't be very impressed. On that task, Kendra created an edgy, cool theme based on the emotions that the Solstace had inspired in their test group. Her creation stood in stark contrast to Net Worth's matter-of-fact presentation.

For all the talk of how well Tana did until late in the game, I believe one key fact was not brought. Tana's decline coincided with the mission in which she and Kendra were separated. For several missions prior to that point, Tana was riding Kendra's coat-tails.

In the end, Trump said that he couldn't stand disloyalty, and he hired Kendra as his first female Apprentice. The question that remains: will he ever hire a non college-degreed Apprentice?

It was also neat to see what Bill and Kelly, the two previous Apprentices, or would that be Apprenti?, have been up to. Bill was renewed for another year which is no surprise. IMHO he's been the biggest business stud of all three seasons.

Kendra will do well, but I think creativity is her game. She's less CEO, and more VP-Marketing. If they find the right niche for her, I could see her kicking butt at Trump International.

Overall, though, I think this season has to go down as a big disappointment. Kendra was quality, and Bren was quality, though not very skilled. Tana was interesting, but hardly awe-inspiring as a potential Apprentice. This was a far cry from season 1 when you had at least five candidates that you could reasonably hope for and picture doing great things for Trump. This time it seemed to take forever to weed out the dead weight.

Over at NBC they are promising a heavyweight group for the next season. I can't wait!

|

2005-05-19



Well, I thought I was done with this one. But, it just keeps getting better and better. And at the same time it becomes sadder as a picture of how some people live becomes increasingly more clear and depressing.

Now we find out that the person whose finger was used in the Wendy's fraud attempt, "gave it to the suspect's husband to settle a $50 debt."

"Hey. Got that $50 ya owe me?"

"Ummm, no. Will you take something for it?"

"Dunno. Whaddya got?"

"This watch?"

"Nah, that's not worth $10."

"Well, the only other thing I've got is this old section of my finger."

"Deal!"

Brenda Shouey, 9.5 Digits' Mom, "My son is a happy-go-lucky guy. He thought it was cute to show (the severed finger), ... It's like a man thing."

I know me and the fellas are always standing around comparing severed body parts.

The main question that remains ... Why didn't you go to the hospital and attempt to get the thing re-attached!!?

|



Who says the NBA is smart?

They were doing such a good job of maintaining a successful product and steering clear of the potholes that have marooned other leagues. While the dollars may not be following along, this has to be a great post-season for the NBA. There is no clear favorite to win the Championship, and fan-favorite Shaq figures to be around for a while yet.

And shortly after the playoffs end, the NBA draft is always an attention-getter. No doubt we'll soon be hearing about all of the big names on the block as the enthusiasm builds.

So with all of this going for them, three days after the draft, while all the pundits are still analyzing how each team did ...

Lockout! The surest way to bring the league's momentum to a grinding halt. How quickly they have forgotten the Who?HL.

Granted, the NBA is not the NHL. They can probably have a lockout, and even miss part of a season and their fans will still return ... eventually.

That's not the point. No one wins in these cases. Part of their loyal audience will be alienated at least temporarily. Money will be lost. People will simply never understand, nor sympathize with millionaires fighting over dollars.

|

2005-05-17



You know, each day I wonder more and more why those who pass along information to us get to keep their jobs.

Newsweek circled their wagons today, saying that their wild and, as it turns out, groundless accusations were made in "good faith." What the heck is that? " ' Oh, sorry we falsely accused you of flushing the Koran down the toilet, but at least our hearts were in the right place.' " I guess it's the "so unbelievable you just my buy it" strategy.

And with spring football in the books, the pre-est of the pre-season rankings are out. Try not to be overwhelmed with shock when you discover that Texas is #2 or #3 in all five of the ESPN guru's rankings. Yes, that's Texas. If only we didn't have to play the games ... Texas would be the most successful team of the past decade. But just as surely as they'll be ranked in the top 5 before the season starts, they'll lose to Oklahoma and be an after-thought come December.

|

2005-05-16



... attached to a co-worker of Anna Ayala's husband (story here). Apparently it became detached in an industrial accident last December.

So the Ayalas must have kept it on ice for four months before Anna decided to spring it on Wendy's!

This is another one of those stories that just makes you wonder how some people live. Four months with a finger in the freezer.

"Mommy, what's that thing in the freezer that looks like a finger?"

"Well, with any luck dear, that's your College Fund."

And how did that initial incident work? Guy's in the plant and gets part of his finger hacked off. If they took him to the hospital, why didn't they take the rest of his finger so they could try to re-attach it?

And if he didn't go to the hospital, why not?

And how do you ask someone for their finger? Guy's scurrying around trying to stop the bleeding and you say, "Hey, mind if I keep this?" Or maybe you could be a little more subtle ... "You done with this?"

|



OK. On the surface, this contest belongs to Kendra, hands down.

As the final tasks unfolded, we saw Kendra's team rally around her and put together a bang-up Video Game Championship. Michael salvaged the dirty basement and Sony didn't pull out after all. Several of the execs who worked with Kendra had words of praise and offers to hire her!

Over at Chelsea Piers things were not so smooth for the Olympic Promo. Tana denigrated, and condescended to her team throughout this event; to their face, behind their backs, from the line staff all the way up to the Governor of New York; everyone got a helping of Tana's disrespect. In some of the asides Tana often had little "This is a what a leader does in putting up with the little pee-ons," comments that betrayed a very immature way of thinking about leadership.

With the events in the books, the tired girls returned to the Suite one last time and Tana was surprised to discover that Kendra had actually worked with her team. It was a totally foreign idea. What's more, Tana came away thinking that she had gotten the upper hand in pulling of her task nearly single-handedly. Again, this totally misses the point of a task designed to find out how the candidates lead others.

Still, in the little snippet of boardroom, after the girls had stepped out; Carolyn, George and Trump, despite what they showed during the final tasks, gave us a lame, "Boy this sure is a close one." The last thing we saw was Brian, Kristen, Chris, Danny, Erin and Michael stepping into the boardroom to give their opinions. If it really was close up to this point, that session ought to seal the deal for Kendra.

But, what should be and what will be are two different things, and there are too many variables to say how this will turn out.

Variable 1 - the Selective Editing: Throughout this run of the Apprentice, the producers have been rather transparent in how they edit for dramatic effect. When we see some from a team say something like, "We totally won this task!" you could count on that team losing. The problem is, in the final challenge, the producers don't know who will win. We had Tana turning to the person next to her and saying, "You're looking at the next Apprentice!" Was this included because they're pretty sure Kendra is going to win and they are adding drama? Or was it just a compelling bite? Which leads us to ...

Variable 2 - the Decision Process: We found out after the fact that during Season 1, the Donald had had a pretty good idea that Bill Rancick would win long before the final challenge. In season two we were led to believe that the decision was still up in the air heading into the live final boardroom. This leads us to more variables.

Variable 3 - Guest opinions: On last season's finale, Trump solicited opinions from guests in the audience. If this was designed to create drama, it backfired. By the end, Trump was desperate to find someone besides Amarosa who would back Jennifer. The question is, do these opinions really count, or is that element added purely for show?

Variable 4 - Other factors: During the last mission prior to the interviews, Tana was very nearly fired because Trump and Co. had determined that she didn't have the juice to lead in an organization like Trump, Int'l. This fear was echoed by two of the four executive interviewers. Throughout the final task, Tana demonstrated the lack of refinement, well-roundedness and understanding and respect for others that comes with college.

Kendra claimed, correctly IMO, that she has the total package; Talent, Intelligence and Education. I'm at a loss to think of something Tana brings to the table that Kendra doesn't.

To the very end, Trump has paid lip service to the idea that education doesn't matter. After all, in the final boardroom you have one street-smart and one book-smart member. Yet, circumstances and results have contradicted this more and more as the season wore on, and very clearly so in the final tasks.

I'm sticking with my pick from last week: Kendra.

|



Coming into the playoff wars, when many were doting on the Miami Heat, others were quick to point out the teams down the road that would surely slow down Shaq's new juggernaut. But, while the Heat rest after dispatching the Wizards in four games, every other series is deadlocked at two games.

Defending champion, Detroit, would teach the Heat a little something about experience in the Eastern finals. Problem is, the Pistons are struggling with the Pacers, and neither team appears to have enough game to be much more than a bump on Miami's road.

The supposedly superior West has turned into one big bowl of mediocre soup. The "best" team Phoenix has become the Steve Nash and Absolutely no one else Show, and has its hands full with Dallas. Remember, a star can twinkle during the regular season, but playoff success requires two keys. Phoenix is one short and in danger of falling to Nash's former team.

And, while many still recognize San Antonio as the league's true best team, the Spurs have their hands full with Seattle?

Shaq and the Heat are resting, yo! Someone needs to step up and at least pretend they want to move on, or this could be the slickest playoff run since Moses Malone led the 76ers on their "Fo', fo', fo'," jaunt (although they did actually drop one game) in the 80's.

|



Well, this one just keeps getting better and better.

Long story short: It appears that Jennifer Wilbanks, a.k.a. Runaway Bride, had contacted one old flame in the weeks prior to her planned wedding and may have been seeking another in New Mexico. And another name is added to the long line of people who have complimentary things like, "She's crazy," and "Who knows what's going on inside her head?" to say about Wilbanks.

So, let me update two previous thoughts.

Way to go media. With each passing story, Wilbanks drifts further and further from being the princess bride-to-be that we were presented during her run.

If John Mason still marries this girl anytime in the near future, he deserves whatever he gets. Few people are afforded this kind of a clear and powerful warning.

|

2005-05-13





Dixie celebrated her first birthday yesterday! Lori gave her a new toy; a large tennis ball with a furry tail attached; and some peanut butter stuff for her Kong. I got her a couple toys last week when we went shopping for her first bag of dog (vice puppy) food.

Birthday highlights: She got to go along with the youth on our fund-raiser - everyone loves her so that was tooooo much attention! Later that night, after cleaning the peanut butter out of her Kong, Dixie settled down and chewed the furry tail off of her new toy. A difference of opinion ensued over whether or not she should keep and eat the tail. She may be the birthday girl, but I'm the alpha male - the tail is history. The tennis ball will probably last for a while.

|



OK ... so far no hockey masks or axe murders, but it has been a treacherous day ...

- I was behind every cell phone talker-driver on the road this morning.
- 2 cans of diet Coke, and both exploded on opening. Not a lot, just enough to be annoying.
- Email server is screwing up big time.
- Accounting server is screwing up big time.
- Announcement: "They have re-started the servers, you can get back on." Hurray! Now we can get back to ...
- Email server is screwing up big time.
- Accounting server is screwing up big time.
- I'm just ready to head out for lunch when I have to stop and immeditately enter a couple of reports because the dipstick who processes them let them sit on her desk for a week.
- I've got just enough time for a quick run to McD's. At McD's today the only people who can hear and speak English are brand new employees. Great if I want the bathroom stall cleaned. Bad if I want a Filet-o-Fish and Double Cheeseburger.

So, watch out for big janitor-looking dudes shambling through the woods with a bum leg, yet able to catch up to nubile teeny-boppers.

|



Fox has a couple of good pieces out on their site today ...

1. CATO: No Federalism on the Right: I always enjoy the things that come out of CATO. This one is a right on the money analysis that illustrates why I'm a Christian first, a Conservative second, and a Republican third and fading fast.

What is going on in Washington right now brings to light the folly of unconditionally hitching your wagon to a political party. There was a time when my world view would have lined up much better with the Democratic Party. The problem with parties is that they're driven by career politicians who are more focused on beating the other "team" and getting reelection than a stable ideology and the good of the nation.

This situation is kind of unique in that government is the problem, and yet it is also the means to fix the problem. Back during the Shiavo case, amide the outcries against "unelected judges" I realized that the problem isn't the Constitution. The problem is that the Constitution seems to assume two things which can no longer be assumed: 1. That men will act with integrity, and 2. That citizens will take seriously and use their role as electors as a check on the elected.

People will point to the last election to dispute the 2nd item. There certainly was a massive turnout. But when I look at all the Congressional pork-slingers who returned to their seats this year, I have to wonder. There were some noteworhty changes, but the bulk of Congress remained the same, so should we be surprised that the bulk of the results have also remained the same? I'm waiting to see if, during the next election, Republicans will be held accountable for nervously frittering away the advantage they've been given.

I'm not happy just to be a member of the party in power if it doesn't make any difference. I would be happy to be a citizen of a country that was making serious strides toward MUCH smaller government, less waste, and states' rights.

2. Runaway bride lost in junk journalism: Hmmm. I agree with the editor if ifeminist.com. Who'd have thought?

The author is out for the media, but doesn't spare Wilbanks. What surprised me was this being featured on Fox's site since they were among the most egregious in their wild speculation on this case.

My comment in an e-mail to Fox: "Without accuracy and responsibility, I don't give a rat's behind about 'fair and balanced.'"

|

2005-05-12



I'm sick of stories like the Zion, IL double murder. Just the other week I was lamenting the fact that often a woman who knows full well that she is likely to become a victim of domestic violence has to wait until she actually becomes a victim before she can get any kind of reasonable protection.

The other side of the coin is a woman who has more than enough evidence and history and ignores it to the detriment of herself and her family. There is no doubt that Jerry Hobbs bears full blame for murdering his daughter and her friend.

But, I was dismayed to learn that Sheila Hollabaugh had, at one point, been pursuing a restraining order against Hobbs. Then, mysteriously, after he gets out of prison (for his assault with a chainsaw rampage), he's invited right back into the home.

Hmmm. Let's make sure we've got this right. Violent man + Situation which has stimulated violence in the past = Violent result. And, I'm told, match + gasoline = fire! It's weird how you just can't seem to escape the fact that actions lead to consequences. And sometimes, if you turn your little brain on, you can anticipate some of those consequences! And just to bring it full circle, if you don't like some of the expected consequences, you are allowed to try to avoid them by avoiding the action that will cause them. This concludes, apparently, Rocket Science 101!

I don't want to hear about syndromes and tendencies and all that other babble. When little girls are repeatedly stabbed in the throat they tend to die. That's the operative thing here. When you have kids you need to protect them from, among other things, wild animals. The day a shovel to the back of the head is needed to stop a man from attacking someone with a McCullough is the day you stop sharing the home and children with him.

Then there is the media that covers everything for shock value. How many major stories have we had lately that were presented as surprising and mysterious. "Man!" the viewer is left to think, "What a crazy random world we live in where screwed up stuff like this just happens for no apparent reason." But then when you follow on for a couple of days after the thing has retreated from the headlines you pick up bits and pieces of information that take all the mystery out of it. Unfortunately, by then many have moved on to the next sensational story, meanwhile making stupid decisions and being amazed at how crap always seems to happen to them.

One interesting side-note that was brought to light during this case. Little Zion, IL is home to 85 convicted sex offenders. Welcome to Florida-North!

|

2005-05-10



I don't know if Jerry Hobbs killed his daughter and her friend in Zion, IL, but one thing is for sure. The guy is a real piece of work:
"Hobbs had been arrested on Aug. 4, 2001, after arguing with Laura's mother, Sheila Hollabaugh, in a trailer park. Hobbs had grabbed a chainsaw and begun chasing other residents around the area, Mahler said. No one was hurt, and Hobbs was subdued when someone hit him in the back with a shovel, Mahler said."


I've never understood why people find Jeff Foxworthy so funny, when reality is this freaking hilarious! He started chasing people around with a chainsaw and was subdued only after someone hit him in the back with a shovel!

It doesn't say if the chainsaw was running, but we can only assume it was. I mean, how scary is a guy running around with a dead chainsaw? What's he going to do, drop it on your toes?

So, the assault aside, they probably should have invoked the lesser-used corollary to the "don't run with scissors" maxim - "don't run with a chainsaw!" Of course if you find that you must run, so you can catch people before they get to their own trailers for example, always carry the chainsaw with the chain pointing down. You don't want to fall and slice your own head in half in the event that someone hits you in the back with a shovel!

Addition:

It is official: this guy will be charged. Now it's time for the stupid family quotes, and you know this gang will be good for a bunch of them. Here's the first: "Hobbs' family said police were unfairly narrowing their focus on him because of his lengthy criminal past."

IMHO ... when you've got a "lengthy criminal past," especially one that includes chasing people around with a chainsaw until you are subdued with a shovel, there is no such thing as unfair.

What is unfair is that one girl is dead because the adults in her life have terrible judgment and no self-control, and another is dead because she was a friend of the first girl.

If the police hassle you a little extra because of your checkered past, you suck it up, cooperate and then walk away thinking how glad you are that you don't live that kind of life anymore.

What I'm waiting for is "why?" and how much "the family should have known" material is going to come out. I'm just guessing there will be some, because here they are in the wake of the shocking death of their daughter / granddaughter, and they're worried about how the police are treating their live-in psychopath.

|



As time goes on, and more and more little morsels of information about the famed "Runaway Bride's" past slip out, the whole story becomes less and less dramatic and more and more annoying.

Turns out that running and backing out of marriages is nothing new for Wilbanks, nor is felony theft. And, it now appears that she may re-visit her knack for not suffering the consequences of her actions. We can only hope we don't have to listen to the voices of surprise and pity when she once again screws up big further on down the line.

Since her flight to Austin, or rather Dallas, or rather Vegas, or rather Albuquerque, we've learned that Wilbanks is not a horrible person, but also not the fairy tale princess she was made out to be for four days. Memo to John Mason: she's probably not marriage material either. I know, I know. "Ain't we all messed up?" Ain't we all stolen $1,700 worth of merchandise? Or, wait. No. Scratch that last one.

And that's the rub. In order to keep a story going much longer than is necessary, everyone involved must be either pristine or evil incarnate. Everything else just muddies the water. For example, children are always accomplished students who were no doubt on their way to curing AIDS and becoming president. Bad stuff never seems to happen to kids who get bad grades, don't do their homework and watch too much TV.

The story was really starting to crank when we were able to suspect John Mason, her WASP of a husband-to-be. Sure he was a nice guy ... almost toooo nice. The level of tragedy meter was pegging high.

Then we find out that she's just a confused young woman who makes bad decisions from time to time. Well that's just too real. That's not dramatic at all. And this is why I hate the media sooooo much, with their subliminal judgments about what kind of life is worthwhile, and what kind of person deserves attention and pity. Simply by looking at what is covered and how it is covered we unearth a completely screwed up value system!

The fact is, there are more murders than we'd care to know about, every single day. And on both ends of the gun they involve real people; some who are divorced and have no romantic prospects in sight, some who do drugs, some who aren't terribly smart and will be fortunate to live out their life making right around minimum wage, and some who don't have perfect teeth and pretty eyes. Every life is precious and every murder is tragic, even if Sam Donaldson or Bill O'Reilly (no, this isn't a rip or endorsement of any particular agenda) can't muster a good head of sympathy for it.

Shame on them. They can never seem to uncover enough useless crap to make their story more interesting; endless neighbors talking about how nice the killer was, how he kept to himself except when he was playing out in the yard with his puppies, what the victim had for supper, an essay the victim wrote in 5th grade, etc., etc.

How come they never come up with anything to make their story more accurate? In Wilbanks' case they had three whole days with nothing new to report and yet we never heard word one about her shoplifting habit, and the previous engagements and evasions were downplayed. Basically anything that would lead one to the less dramatic but more accurate conclusion that, "Hey! Maybe this chick just bolted," was squelched in favor of the groundless speculation regarding a kidnapping/homicide with the possible involvement of her fiance.

And have they learned? Nope. In Zion, IL, same circus, different tent. Last night, what we lacked in hard evidence, the talking heads more than made up for in wild speculation. So, while the NY Times has at least made overtures about becoming more "balanced," will any of them ever give consideration to becoming more reasonable, accurate or fair?

|

2005-05-06



It turns out that way back in week 3, when Verna, despite the Magna group love-in, decided to leave the game, the real victim was Alex.

I had been wondering why the producers decided to wait until there were only three candidates to do the interviews this time. The thing is, almost all of the tasks in this season featured a prominent corporate sponsor. Plus, I'm sure that NBC has other advertisers on the line for each show as well. So, contractually, Trump was probably not at liberty to cancel one of tasks, even after losing a player out of turn.

Trump has fostered this image that there isn't anything he won't do. But it seems that he won't fire more than one person at a time, even though there have been times where that would have been fitting. On the body wash task, for example, where both teams did a horrendous job, I was wondering why he didn't can one member from each team. The Donald knows that it is never smart to abandon all that advertising jack.

So, here's how Alex was victimized in a big way by Verna. If Verna doesn't leave, the interviews would have occurred with four players remaining and Alex still in play. I have no doubt that Alex would have fared very well in the interview process, especially after seeing snippets from the other three. The execs were unanimous in rejecting Craig, but were split on Tana and Kendra. I believe Alex could very easily have been the favorite of those execs and found himself in the final two. Once there, faced with a task that is management and leadership driven and light on marketing and creativity, who knows what might have been?

Enough speculation, on to this week:

This episode opened with interviews of the candidates by four highly-placed corporate executives.

As I had anticipated, Craig's poor communication skills came back to haunt him. The one thing that all four interviewers could agree on was that they wouldn't hire Criag. No depth was the common complaint. The four were pretty evenly split on Tana and Kendra. A couple questioned Kendra's depth, and the other two were wary of Tana's lack of education and experience in a high power environment.

One of the interviewers complained that Kendra's answers seemed scripted. Granted, making a scripted answer seem not scripted is one of the interviewing keys. But, this is to be expected from a college grad and corporate experienced candidate. It is as much a fault of the interviewer for asking the usual questions as it is of the candidate.

Trump dispatched Craig with little preliminary discussion, and Kendra and Tana were on to the finals!

They returned to the suite for one last night before the battle, and found champagne and a photo album with pics of the other contestants waiting for them. Note to the producers: Two women looking through a photo album is not good TV. Way too much shrieking and squeeking.

Even funnier: As they looked throught the album, the two gushed over and seemed to deeply cherish and miss every one of their former teammates or opponents. The next morning however, when they were each given three of these ex-candidates to assist them with their final task, the two were less than thrilled. Tana went so far as to refer to her crew as the "Three Stooges." Perhaps someone should have told them that this is television and the "stooges" in question will see it eventually.

The two finalists' apprehension is understandable however, as Trump and Co. were particularly diabolical in how they went about manning the teams. In past seasons they mainly brought back the last six players to be fired, or close to it. This time, they brought back the three biggest hotheads (Brian, Chris and Kristen) from the Street-Smart team to help Tana, and the three most unpredictable and useless slugs (Michael, Erin and Danny) from the Book-Smart team to help Kendra. These teams had to have been hand-picked. There is no way both teams wind up being the worst conceivable combination of incompetence by chance!

Tana has been assigned to run an Olympic promo event and Kendra a Play Station tournament. As in previous seasons, both tasks are logistically giant and will require great coordination among a team half the size of what would normally be assigned to such events.

How are the teams managing? When we left them, Chris and Kristen were begining their second hour of driving around looking for a parking spot. Over at Magna, Danny had pulled the Best Buy and EA Sports execs aside and, lacking anything of substance to contribute, instead shared an updated version of his Team Magna song. The execs were non-plussed, even after he included the names of their corporations in the song. Yo. Danny. Down on the corner that may impress people enough to get them to throw a couple quarters in your hat, but this is the kind of thing that got you fired in week three.

Meanwhile, the Sony Kiosks arrived while Kendra had her hands full. Michael assured her that he had it under control. Indeed, he oversaw the moving of the kiosks into the basement area ... a dirty, dingy, disgusting basement area. And now, with the kiosks in place, Michael is nowhere to be found. Hey! He's already done more than he did in his entire five weeks as a candidate. For one cliffhanger, we are left with the possibility that Sony may pull out of the Video Game Championship if Kendra doesn't exact a serious overnight spruce up.

And, both teams have already had their, "Hey! It doesn't matter how this turns out - we've already been fired and have nothing to gain," moment.

Now this is one place where I don't like the Apprentice formula. Granted, as George pointed out last night when Tana asked if they could rearrange the teams, working with difficult employees is part of business. But, working with an entire team of incompetent employees who have absolutely no stake in succeeding and who would be unaffected by being fired is not realistic.

If they want to make sure that the teams throw a few wrenches in the works, they needn't worry. The groups they've assembled this time will screw up plenty even when they are trying. I think that it would actually make things more interesting if Trump and Co. would incentive-ize this last task for the teams. $10K for each member of the winning team might light a fire under them.

Outlook:

It's anybody's guess. If it is Tana vs. Kendra straight up, it's a close race. Tana got better praise from the execs on the interviews. On the other hand, she was also a whisker away from being fired because Trump, Carolyn and George had decided that she didn't have the juice for an organization like Trump, Int'l. And, I'm still convinced that Kendra's education edge is a factor. Trump may be willing to overlook that, but I don't think he can forget it completely. In previous seasons he has expressed how important he thinks education is.

If this last task is going to decide everything, I'd hate to be either one of these girls. It won't come down to their performance or ability, it will come down to which team of yahoos burns their leader by screwing up more.

Tana's team seems to be working harder for her than Kendra's. The irony is, Kendra would be better off if her team were making an effort, Tana would be better off if her team weren't!

At the outset, Tana gave her team much more free reign to take action. In fact, in my opinion given her team, I think she gave them way too much liberty. If Brian, Chris or Kristen were actually listening, she will live to regret this. Not that what either leader says is going to harness their team all that much, but Kendra is at least trying to keep a reasonable grasp on things.

I'm sticking with my pick from last week, Kendra. At the rate they are going, neither team is going to perform so overwhelmingly that this task will sway Trump's decision much. As mentioned above, I believe that Kendra will begin the final board room with a slight edge, and will fare better in the ensuing battle.

|



I've podcasted a rant on the Runaway Bride. I had to fire it off in a hurry this morning. Somehow the file is half as long as my previous cast, but twice the size. I'll have to look into that tonight. Anyway ...

How nice to have another finger in the food story in the news. This one is legit though.

It seems an employee lopped part of his finger off in a mixing machine. The sad thing is, neither the employees, nor a physician were able to convince the customer who got the finger in his custard to give it back so it could be re-attached!

Now, the first that strikes me is that apparently the store just kept moving right along. Employee loses part of his finger, and I can only assume that there was a lot of blood, and they just keep right on serving, even out of that batch! Common sense would tell you that the batch he was mixing probably shouldn't be served. But at very least, FIND THE FINGER!!!

So, while it shouldn't have come to that, the finger did wind up in someone's custard. So now our attention shifts. If you are the customer, you certainly have a legitimate beef with the store. I'd probably be in the bathroom puking. But at this point, the lawsuit is a secondary consideration. Priority one ought to be, REATTACH THE FINGER!!!

But no, this greedy pig is saving the finger to preserve his chances of a lawsuit. The sad thing is that while the court of public opinion is against the guy, he probably still has a case in the court of blind justice. If he still has the nerve to bring a lawsuit, I hope he catches so much crap that he never experiences another moment of peace.

|

2005-05-03



Entries have been kind of sparse lately, due to: 1. busy work schedule, and 2. I'm trying my hand at pod-casting. You can check out my re-pod-sitory over at BlogMatrix.

So far just one entry which I'm kind of proud of, as first tries go. I expect to be putting out a rant on this "Runaway Bride" thing shortly. My sympathy is dwindling as family members continue to make brash statements, and attribute all kinds of craziness to God. Family members, she's back. Now is the time to quiet down and work the rest of this out in private.

Anyway, when word of pod-casting first started going around, it was somewhat of a mystery to me, and I pretty much wrote it off since I don't have an iPod, and won't have one anytime soon - too pricey. Nothing against them ... they certainly feature superior functionality and technology. But in the end, it's still just an mp3 player.

And that's what was confusing to me. I didn't think iPod's had transmission capability, but I never really took the time to sort all of this out.

Then one day I was looking at the headphone/microphone combo from an old computer sitting in my drawer and decided to look into it. Turns out "Pod-casting" is a misnomer. It's like calling commercial music production "radio-casting."

All pod-casting is is producing and distributing an mp3 file via RSS. The production part is old hat. But it took the mainstream appeal of the iPod and potential of pod-casting to bring distribution within reach of a broader base.

For nothing or almost nothing, all of the necessary ingredients are available:

BlogMatrix is kind of like the "Blogger" of pod-casting. It's a free service. You sign up and you're free to upload your work and share it with others.

Audacity is a nifty, open-source audio recorder and editor. Don't let the fact that it's free fool you - Audacity has the functionality you would expect from commercial audio software.

One note: Audacity employs a utility called LAME to actually convert its audio files to mp3 format. I don't understand the nuts and bolts of it, and I don't have to. The two are linked in a simple step during Audacity setup, and that's the last you'll hear of LAME.

This page over at WindowsDevCenter is a great, basic presentation of how to get the software running and create an mp3 for distribution.

Beyond that, all you need is a mike for your machine, although headphones are also highly recommended to keep feedback down. If you bought a desktop system at any point in the last 8-10 years, chances are better than even that, like me, you've got a mike sitting around somewhere. For most machines the speaker jack is standard, so if you've got a walkman, you're hooked up there. And, if you don't have these items, they can be had for a song almost anywhere.

If you are simply interested in checking out pod-casting from the listener's perspective, the iPod is optional. In fact a portable mp3 player is optional. Anything that will play an mp3, which includes Windows Media Player, Real Player, WinAmp, etc., etc., and almost any 2-yr old or newer piece of consumer audio hardware.

Finally, as with blogging, availability will be enhanced by employing an aggregator. Here again, there are several no cost options available. From what I've read around the web, doppler radio seems to be among the best. It's wicked easy to install and use, and so far I've had no real issues with it.

Two others that show up on most lists are ... ipodder: I found it not horrible, but not quite as smooth as doppler; and PPR: save yourself while you can! Normally I don't even link things that I don't think are worthy of consideration, but the frustration was so swift and massive, that I quit in short order. On the odd chance that it might have been me or my computer and not the software ... try it at your own risk.

OK. With everything else in order, we just need some material. As with finding blogs, all you need are a few good starting places, and with a little bit of browsing, you'll have more podcasts than your hard drive will know what to do with. This is where ipodder (linked above) seems worth checking out. Even if you pass on their software, the site is loaded with links, news and information regarding podcasts.

If you don't necessarily want to download every data file that your casts are putting out, but just want to keep abreast of what's out there ... the aggregator that you use for news and blogs should have no problem subscribing to casts that interest you.

|

About me

Last posts

Archives

Categories

Links


ATOM 0.3
  • Creative Commons License
    This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs2.5 License.