Thursday, March 20, 2003


Today's top story on WRBL's 5:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. news was, of course - a deadly tornado in southwest Georgia, about 100 miles away from Columbus. Perhaps that station really DOES think the fighting in Iraq is a video game.

Perhaps WRBL figured viewers had their fill of warfare-related news, and needed something different. But I can't help wondering about this station. Sunday night at 11:00 p.m., after the Azores summit and the Presidential "moment of truth" announcement, WRBL led with the NCAA basketball pairings. [True!]

Our station had a "war plan," with my job (naturally) being to update the web site as warranted. I hurried in with a big bag of oranges I bought the other day, to share with the crew. Little did I know nobody else brought anything. The management didn't even open the stashed boxes of Meals-Ready-to-Eat.

I posted on a TV news message board how "Entertainment Tonight" might be covering the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom:

+ Jann Carl: "We are FIRST in our PRIME position on the Iraqi side of the border - and here comes Tommy Franks! EWWWWW!"

+ Maria Menounos: "While the soldiers prepared for battle, we watched how they prepared their outfits. We're counting down the five best-dressed battalions!"

+ Paula Abdul: "Oh-oh - NOW Simon's done it! Blair-bashing is coming up!"

Other thoughts on the beginning of the bombing of Baghdad:

+ Have you seen CBS's spinning of reporters' faces on the Evening News? Every time I see it, I want to add merry-go-round calliope music to it.

(Either that, or I wait for one of this squares to say "Bankrupt.")

+ If a reporter is going to do a live report wearing a gas mask at an "undisclosed location," why do we even bother to name him? Shouldn't we call him "Reporter X" like pro wrestlers?

+ Is it really a good idea for President Bush to call his allies a "Coalition of the Willing?" Those initials spell C-O-W.

+ A war protester in New York's Times Square was heard on ABC News shouting, "This war will be the last." Just wait till that person see what could be planned for North Korea....

Monday, March 17, 2003


President Bush gave his final ultimatum to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein tonight. It was such a Texan moment - about the only thing missing was someone singing the theme from the movie "High Noon."

(OK, CBS - if there's a 48-hour deadline on Saddam Hussein, why don't you suspend all programming and show "48 Hours" for awhile?)

I personally take no pleasure in seeing war come. I'm a Christian, who believes in Jesus Christ as "Prince of Peace." It gets confusing when my Pastor goes to other Bible verses, where God calls Himself a "Man of War." Is this a "good cop - bad cop" thing?

The church I attend loves to look forward to Christ's return, bringing 1,000 years of peace on earth. Yet my Pastor lately has been criticizing anti-war protesters as "nambies." He's stopped short of saying they're "namby-pamby" - which is strange, since no one in our congregation is named Pam.

The last few days have marked a different sort of end for me. I filed the city papers to close the LaughLine web site. They decided NOT to refund the 82 cents in property tax I had coming back.

(It's not easy to sit in the property tax office and tell the man, "I am a dot-com failure." But at least I didn't tell him I'm a failure in romance, too.)

As I walked through the Government Center basement parking lot, I couldn't help noticing a spot marked for a "Treasure Vehicle." [True!] This was news to me - that pirates dumped buried treasure in the Chattahoochee River years ago.

I've also been looking back a bit recently, as last week marked ten years since the blizzard of 1993. I'll always remember it for several reasons:

+ A former roommate trudging through the piles of snow from across the street, bundled up so much I almost didn't recognize him - all to borrow a cup of flour.

+ The exercise I received at sunset shoveling away show on my sidewalk and around my tires with a snow shovel SO BIG it probably will pick up half of the next snow in Columbus at one time.

+ Driving in the snow to Atlanta's Hartsfield Airport - and going jogging that evening IN MY SHORTS inside the long underground Transportation Mall. After the last couple of years, that's probably impossible now. Security guards would be waiting at every other door to ask questions.

Monday, March 10, 2003

10 MAR 03: UG-HHHHH!-A

Couldn't help noticing tonight that members of the University of Georgia Alumni Association answered phones during GPTV pledge breaks. How many Georgia Tech grads called just to say two words: "Jim Harrick" ?!

(And they were answering phones during lectures on money by Suzie Orman. What was her first law again - to be TRUTHFUL about your finances?!?!)

The University of Georgia men's basketball team disqualified itself from all post-season tournaments, amid allegations that coach Jim Harrick paid money to players. Well, maybe we shouldn't say ALL post-season tournaments. They could get together with St. Bonaventure and Michigan....

Curiously, Jim Harrick's son was fired from the UGA staff a few days ago - but the head coach officially is "suspended" for now. Some alums probably are ready to suspend him, too. From the highest tree in Athens....

Jim Harrick's main accuser is former Georgia basketball player Tony Cole. Cole was charged with rape, but was acquitted. Now a Georgia judge has an arrest warrant out, because Cole may have bounced a rent check. So?! Basketball players bounce things all the time....

But wait, there's more! Three Georgia basketball players reportedly took a "phony class." For most college students in good shape, this could have been any physical education course.

Great basketball trivia question: who did Jim Harrick replace at Georgia? The answer is the forgettable Ron Jirsa - who was fired after two winning seasons, and two appearances in the N.I.T. Maybe UGA now will return to an old, washed-up concept: winning, but NOT at any cost.

Thankfully, the Columbus State men's basketball team is above board. It won the Peach Belt conference title, and now hopes to host a Division Two regional. Coach Herb Greene said his team was "ready for the next level...." So when are they playing the N.B.D.L. Riverdragons?

Sunday, March 09, 2003


We may finally have resolved the issue of what a "hemi" is. [14 Jan] At church this weekend, two men explained it was a metal rod Dodge put in the engine years ago to increase compression, so drivers would have more power With my humble Honda, "increased compression" means you move the seat closer to the steering wheel.

The issue came up as several men at church were discussing a "concept motorcycle" they saw in the newspaper. It has two wheels in front, two in back, with the seat on a hump in the middle. Didn't they call this years ago a convertible?

This weekend marks the start of spring cleaning for me -- a process I allocate five-and-a-half weeks to do. Now if Saddam Hussein will kindly cooperate and resign, so I don't lose any days to a war....

(Which reminds me: was it Britain's idea to set the deadline for Iraq at March 17 - Saint Patrick's Day? Where is the outrage from the Irish at this? Civil rights groups protested at the Kuwait deadline of January 15, 1991 being Martin Luther King's birthday.)

My cleaning traditionally begins in the bathroom -- with an hour spent last night simply on the bathtub area. It takes so long because I keep dreaming the shower water somehow will rinse all the soap scum away.

I took a Sunday drive to Auburn-Opelika today, because that area has Kroger stores while Columbus does not. But you'd better carry a "Kroger Plus" card, or you'll pay about 30 percent more for everything. It's sort of like Sam's Club, only without screeners at the door.

Sometimes the spelling errors at Kroger amaze me. The sign in the produce section said "Hokay Tomatoes" - even though the label clearly says "Hokee." Maybe this is why Kroger doesn't sell eyeglasses.

On the way home, I passed the Denny's restaurant in Opelika - well, it was. It's now closed, even though a district manager told me weeks ago at the TV station a closing was a false rumor spread by a "disgruntled employee." Maybe that employee knew three-fourths of the customers.

To top off the afternoon, my old alma mater Kansas came from behind in the last two minutes to beat Missouri, and win the Big XII Championship! It makes me want to sing: "Oh, Columbia's the GERM of Missouri...."

Wednesday, March 05, 2003


The letters section of today's Ledge-Enquirer confirmed what I'd suspected for more than a week - I wrote a question for my TV station's "Viewer Line" which offended some people. The strange thing is, the question had nothing to do with the Georgia flag....

In the 6:00 a.m. newscast I've been producing, I showed an ABC report on a U.S. air base in Saudi Arabia. This base has a Burger King, a Pizza Inn and a Baskin-Robbins on site. If some of those were covertly set up inside Baghdad, Saddam Hussein might have died from obesity by now.

After the report, I asked the viewers in a script to call with their thoughts about an overseas air base with so many perks. "Do they help boost morale?" I asked. But then I added: "Are today's armed forces spoiled?" Uh oh - the way some people are reacting to that, I might as well have changed all the "Veterans Parkway" signs in town back to 4th Avenue.

One letter writer in the newspaper declared the second question, "The most ignorant question ever." Apparently that's even worse than a single guy asking online, "Am I hot or not?"

Several people apparently felt personally insulted by a question asking if the armed forces are spoiled - when my point really was to bring calls to the "Viewer Line." Trouble is, none of the calls have been played on the air yet. What was that Watergate line - "twisting slowly, slowly in the wind" ?!

We're down a bit in staffing at the TV station right now, which may explain why the Viewer Line calls have not been aired yet. But based on the letters in the paper, I think I can fairly guess the answer to the spoiled military question. "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO."

I first suspected the question touched a nerve when I received e-mail from my supervisor the next night. It says from now on, all Viewer Line 9 questions must have her approval. For an all-nighter like me, it's a no-win situation. Either my question makes her angry - or I call her at midnight for approval of the question, and she gets angry for waking her up.

(It should be noted my TV station's web site has had a poll question posted about a war with Iraq for more than three weeks. I don't dare touch that one now, either -- but then, I'm the only one who still remembers it enough to post results on the air.)

Perhaps it's just me, but the focus in our station's evening news lately has been on flag-waving and soldier support. Local people against a war with Iraq don't seem to get much air time - perhaps out of fear someone from Fort Benning will hold a live-fire exercise on their block.

If any reader here is offended that I posted a question asking if the armed forces are spoiled, I apologize. This issue apparently proves when people say, "There are no stupid questions," other people consider that a stupid answer.

Monday, March 03, 2003


Today officially has been declared by Columbus Council "News Three On Your Side Day." I think I can understand why - but keep one thing in mind. 3 + 03 + 03 = 9.

I wrapped up work on the overnight shift so quickly that I was home by 7:50 a.m., and in bed a touch after 8:00. But at 11:55 a.m., a sudden rattling awakened me. Oh, no! The Iraqi invaders have drooped paratroopers, to launch the pre-emptive strike....

No wait, that's not what the noise was. Another bird was in the house -- and this time took up position at my bedroom window sill. If this keeps up, I may have to rent that Alfred Hitchcock movie to learn how to keep them out.

Unlike last week, this bird apparently got in the house through a vent tube over the kitchen stove. I'd heard a noise from that area Sunday - but how can you really tell a bird's rattle from a rat's noise?

(Two vent drops in one week - do these birds think I run a theme park or something?)

I hurried out of bird - er, bed - and persuaded the bird to head out the front door to freedom. Then it was 12:05 p.m., and I struggled to get back to sleep. Perhaps it was because my anxiety about that bird reminded me too much of my romantic relationships.

I awakened officially about 2:30 p.m. - and found the kitchen in a bit of disarray. Apparently the bird searched for a way out there, before deciding to explore my sleeping quarters. I had a cat like that years ago - and it grew so desperate it started ripping my running shoes for attention.

A review of the bird's damage found some coupons off the kitchen table and on the floor. Some aluminum foil I use for wrapping meat and heating burritos had a hole in it. And yes, there WERE a couple of "spots" to give the bird away.

Later in the afternoon, I went for a jog. And on the way home, I found Carver and Spencer high school's teams playing at the Golden Park baseball stadium. It was hard to believe - a crowd of fans even smaller than the RedStixx used to draw.

And one other thing: have you seen the latest Captain D's commercial, with the woman in the restaurant talking about all the ways they prepare fish? I'm sorry -- but I've never seen a Captain D's with THAT many white folks inside. Not in Columbus, at least....

Are you a reader of this blog? If you are, please e-mail me. It gets lonely doing this by myself.

Sunday, March 02, 2003


My Sunday schedule was filled with three-letter words. "TAX" for working on my taxes. "CUT" for my hair. "SEW" for buttons falling off shirts. "BRO" for calling my brother. And of course, "GAS" - because Rush Limbaugh just might be right about an Iraqi war starting.

I arose this morning to a big surprise - as AM radio's "Sports Monster" [WMLF 1270 AM] was broadcasting in Spanish. I knew ESPN Radio's Dan Le Betard liked salsa music, but THIS much?!

It turns out the sports-talk station is now presenting Spanish programs eight hours a weekend - as "Ritmo Latino Radio." At least they did one thing to satisfy the sports fans - by having someone yell, "GOOOOOOOOL!" at the top of their lungs.

Ever the journalist, I called Ritmo Latino Radio to get the scoop for you blog readers. The man at the other end said it's on from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon Saturday and Sunday - with hopes of expanding the hours soon. If I were the home-spun Coach B.R. Johnson who normally is on at noon, I'd be a little nervous....

(Ritmo Latino Radio IS a local show in Spanish -- which no doubt will scare all the conservatives in town, if they stumble on to it.)

Personally, I have no problem with radio stations broadcasting in Spanish. The music usually is nice and dancible. I understand the language well enough to keep up with some of the conversation. And I don't know the dirty words, to be offended by nasty stuff.

Some people have trouble with Spanish, of course. There's a TV ad in town, for instance, encouraging people to dine in non-smoking restaurants - and the announcer says at the end with no inflection at all, "Se habla Español." When I hear it said like that, I like to respond: "OK - Habla Español."

BLOG UPDATE: I promised to tell you more about the self-admitted "crazy man on the corner" who called the TV station the other night. (27 Feb) The caller's name was Michael, and he said he's a retired Army Sergeant with an "honorable discharge." Without my even asking, he defined "honorable" as, "to die for a cause." I wonder how many "honorable mentions" on sports teams would define it that way.

Michael offered a scattershot of thoughts -- including criticism of the weather announcer on NBC-38 (NOT my station) for "insulting children." I never had an opportunity to ask what the comment was. Did he encourage youngsters to jump in a rain puddle or something?

Michael says instead of going after Iraq, the U.S. should "clean up our own house" first - for instance, by taking shows such as Jerry Springer and "I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here" off the air. He'll he pleased to know the Celebrity show is only on 15 nights in a row. It just seems like months.

Michael called shortly before air time - so as he continued his diatribe at 5:56 a.m., I mentioned I was four minutes from the news. "You know what four means to me? Abraham Lincoln," he replied. Inflation HAS hit the nickel and the five-dollar bill, hasn't it?

But no, that's NOT what the caller meant. The Lincoln Memorial has four sides, he explained - while the Jefferson Memorial is round. I guess I was supposed to find some deep significance in that. Was Thomas Jefferson more well-rounded as a President?!

I tried to seek clarification on several points -- but was called a "smart**s" when I did. After all, we're told the customer IS always right. Get two customers with different opinions together, though, and they might forget that point.

By the way, not even I was immune from Michael's criticism. My first name "Richard" meant to him, "white man." Only too late did I think of Detroit Pistons basketball star Richard Hamilton....

E-MAIL UPDATE: A friend of ours in town offers this reply to what the morning Videographer said about the death of Mr. Rogers:

My daughter Olivia can top that.... We were watching the Obit on Peter Jennings, who was showing a clip of Mr. Rogers. Liv quipped, "That's right; he finished the show and died...." Not exactly honey.

Too bad it didn't happen that way -- with him getting one last word.