Monday, May 29, 2006

United 93.

My wife and I finally saw “United 93” on Sunday.

To be honest, we both had reservations about seeing the movie given the horrific events that took place on September 11, 2001. We have never forgotten what happened that day and, to be honest, weren’t all that thrilled to relive the myriad of emotions we felt.

Nonetheless, we felt it was an appropriate tribute to the passengers of United Airlines Flight 93.

Of the four hijacked planes on that fateful day, United 93 was the only flight which did not reach its destination. Despite the fact the movie was written and directed by Brit Paul Greengrass, a self-proclaimed liberal, the movie avoided any political overtures. Thankfully, there was no implied sympathy to the terrorists’ cause.

I thought the film brilliantly paid homage to the bravery of everyday citizens. Flight 93 was approximately twenty minutes away from its destination, the Capitol building in Washington, D.C., when the passengers decided to thwart the terrorists’ mission. The plane ultimately crashed into an open field in Shanksville, PA.

What made the film even more impactful was the fact we weren’t caught up in the aura of big-name Hollywood types playing key roles. In fact, the majority of people in the air traffic control centers and military command centers were portrayed by the actual individuals working there on 9/11/01.

On Memorial Day, we usually take the time to remember the American soldiers who fought and died to preserve the precious liberty we enjoy in the United States of America.

On September 11, 2001, the passengers of United Airlines Flight 93 fought and died to prevent further destruction to this nation’s Capitol.

They too should be remembered admirably.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

C'mon home, Jason!!

Minnesota's “Mr. Right” is returning!!

Jason (Lewis) opened his show on Tuesday, May 23rd, with the sad news that he and his family are going home to Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Well, sad news for Charlotte, NC anyways.

"...I guess it was a Biblical passage that said 'this too shall pass'." Jason started. "I've got an announcement today that is very difficult to utter...but I've reached the decision with my family that it's time to go home." Jason stressed that his decision was a personal one, and is not related to any perceived pressure from elected officials or station management. Jason will continue to work through the end of his contract, which ends in October, or until WBT management can identify the new host.

There was a story in the Star Tribune yesterday which indicated Jason will be working for Clear Channel at the new FM Talk Station, 100.3 KTLK. He was also seen looking for a home in the Woodbury area recently.

Welcome back, Jason!

Monday, May 22, 2006

Kids: A great cure for writer's block.

All the world’s a stage”.
-William Shakespeare

In the motif of Shakespeare, Katie @ “Yucky Salad” would concur that “All the world’s a blog post.”

The latest example is so brilliantly conveyed when Katie gives an account of the recent exploits of her 4-year old daughter.

Molly came running into the bathroom (while I was in there) the other day yelling in a panicky voice that she had to blow her nose. She blew 'n blew n' blew n' blew and then turned to me and shrieked, "Mommy it won't come out!"

I tilted her head back and sure enough, there was something in there...I closed her other nostril and barked "BLOW" and out flew a piece from the game "Battleship".

Why? Why?

I'll tell you why, it's simple really:

A) She's four

B) She had a small object in her possession and an empty hole in her face.

Speaking of something flying out of one’s nose, I happened to be drinking a cup of water when I read that particular excerpt.

Suffice it to say I then had to take a squeegee to my monitor.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

A Snow storm in the White House press room.

Former Fox News personality Tony Snow this past week conducted his first White House press briefing as new Press Secretary.

Attached is some entertaining video of Snow taking on long-time battle-axe member of the White House press corps, Helen Thomas.

No disrespect to past press secretaries Ari Fleischer and Scott McClellan, but Snow has already set himself apart. He looks to be a guy who will coherently present the administration’s policies, something that has been woefully lacking in the 5 ½ years of President Bush’s leadership.

Did you have a question, Mr. Gregory?

Chicks no longer rule.

"Just so you know, we're ashamed the President of the United States is from Texas."
-Natalie Maines, lead singer of the Dixie Chicks and Texas native, during a March 2003 concert in London.

Personally, I never got too outraged over Natalie's comments. In fact, I just rolled my eyes thinking "Nat, we don't give a squat what you think. Thanks for sharing though."

However, the country music scene itself did not take kindly to Maines' remarks. With their fan base primarily in states where President Bush's popularity is highest, people responded by destroying Dixie Chicks CDs and boycotting the concerts. Some radio stations even refused to play the Chicks' songs.

After a self-imposed three year exile, the Dixie Chicks are releasing a new CD this week. The first single off the album "Taking the Long Way" is a little ditty entitled "Not Ready to Make Nice." The song is essentially a response to what they say was the intolerance and hatred they faced for expressing their opinion.



Come on!

People trashed some of your CDs in their own expression of free speech. It's called a dissenting viewpoint. Radio stations refused to play your music. It's nothing personal, just business. Radio stations need listeners in order to stay afloat. So if the listeners demand to not hear the Dixie Chicks' music for whatever reason, the station will make a decision that will most benefit their bottom line.

Doug Powers nailed it in a column he wrote shortly after the March 2003 incident.

Bruce Springsteen has said that a radio station not playing a song because of the artists political views is "un-American," and that the Chicks were simply exercising their basic American right of free speech (exercising it in a gym on the other side of the Atlantic, but that's another story).

If the chairman of McDonalds came out and said "hamburgers suck," would Bruce Springsteen come and support his free-speech rights after he got fired? Doubtful. He'd probably agree that it was a dumb thing to say, given his position. For some reason, with musicians and actors, "artist" is the only career in which you should be allowed to open your blithering yapper free of consequence. "Free speech" is a two-way street, and if you use it, you'd better be prepared to dodge oncoming traffic.

Given the sharp decline in the Dixie Chicks' album sales, it appears they have become the entertainment version of road kill.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Lack of border security can lead to Social Security.

No wonder the Congressional Democrats applauded President Bush when in his January State of the Union address he stated “Congress did not act last year on my proposal to save Social Security…”

Apparently they had another idea on how to solve the crisis.

The Senate voted yesterday to allow illegal aliens to collect Social Security benefits based on past illegal employment -- even if the job was obtained through forged or stolen documents.

"There was a felony they were committing, and now they can't be prosecuted. That sounds like amnesty to me," said Sen. John Ensign, the Nevada Republican who offered the amendment yesterday to strip out those provisions of the immigration reform bill. "It just boggles the mind how people could be against this amendment."

The Ensign amendment was defeated on a 50-49 vote.

"We all know that millions of undocumented immigrants pay Social Security and Medicare taxes for years and sometimes decades while they work to contribute to our economy," said Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican.

Work to contribute to our economy? You mean by lowering the wage scale while the employers get wealthier and the middle class is slowly whittled away? That’s the equivalent of the “contribution” my neighbor’s dog left on my lawn the other night.

"The Ensign amendment would undermine the work of these people by preventing lawfully present immigrant workers from claiming Social Security benefits that they earned before they were authorized to work in our community," he said. "If this amendment were enacted, the nest egg that these immigrants have worked hard for would be taken from them and their families."

Part of the immigration reform would call for a substantial fine for those who came into this country illegally. Sounds to me like the “nest egg” could be used to pay those penalties.

Just a thought.

Mr. Ensign was among 44 Republicans and five Democrats who voted to block such payouts.

The 11 Republicans who voted against the Ensign amendment?

The usual suspects:

Brownback (R-KS)
Chafee (R-RI)
DeWine (R-OH)
Graham (R-SC)
Hagel (R-NE)
Lugar (R-IN)
Martinez (R-FL)
McCain (R-AZ)
Specter (R-PA)
Stevens (R-AK)
Voinovich (R-OH)

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Edit job has me seeing red.

One of my all time favorite 80s movies, “Back to the Future”, was being aired the other night on the ABC Family channel. Having seen the movie approximately 20-30 times beginning to end, I could practically quote every line.

That said, I noticed a very obvious edit job done in the scene near the end of the movie where Marty writes a warning letter to the Doc about events 30 years down the road.

TV versions (of “Back to the Future”) that aired shortly after the World Trade Center Attack in September 2001 featured certain alterations to the Libyan terrorists subplot. When Marty reads aloud his warning letter for Doc, he says "You will be shot," instead of "You will be shot by terrorists," and the "by terrorists" area of the letter is digitally erased.

Hey, why stop there? Why not make the terrorists into natives of Alabama or Kentucky. Better yet, dub the voices with Southern accents. Since the Southern states overwhelmingly voted for President Bush (who actually has the audacity to combat terrorism), they’re the real bad guys right?

Here’s a sample of the newly dubbed scene where Doc is shot:

Doc: Oh, my God, they found me, I don't know how, but they found me. Run for it Marty.

Marty: Who? Who?

Doc: Who do you think? The (dub word here) Rednecks!!

Terrorist (as he’s firing the machine gun at Doc from a van with a digitally added confederate flag decal): Praise the Lord, the South has risen again!!!

Howard Dean would give his shriek of approval.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Code Blue.

The film “The Da Vinci Code” is set to debut in theaters soon. With that come vigorous protests.

The Greek Orthodox church reportedly criticized the best selling "Da Vinci Code" thriller, the film of which comes out in the coming days, as offensive and mistaken.

The semi-official Ana news agency said that a leaflet to be distributed to churchgoers at all Orthodox churches next Sunday states "From a religious and historical point of view the content of the book is wholly false."

"The work attacks and undermines in a treacherous manner religious knowledge," said the leaflet, produced by the church's supreme body, the holy synod.

The thesis of the book, which has sold millions of copies, is that Jesus Christ married, and had a child by, Mary Magadalene.

Thus continues the double standard in Hollywood. There was no hesitation in making a movie that skewers the life of Christ. After all, the entertainment industry didn’t anticipate the kind of retribution like they feared would occur with mocking the Islamic prophet Mohammed. Who cares if a few “Jesus freaks” get all in a twist, right?

A cable station like Comedy Central will allow their show “South Park” to air an episode of Jesus Christ defecating on President Bush and the American flag. And during Holy Week, no less. Yet if that very same show entertains a thought of merely showing an image of Mohammed, it’s censorship city.

The Orthodox church, to which 97 percent of Greeks belong, "does not call on people either to see or not to see the film, or to read or not to read the book ... but it is sure that those who do will see the lies and reject its ridiculous content."

That’s a far cry from violent mobs burning things in the street.

UPDATE: Actor Tom Hanks hits back at the "Da Vinci" critics.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

A great champion mourns the loss of his Dad, friend and mentor.

Who could forget the big bear hug that Tiger Woods shared with his Dad after winning the 1997 Masters?

From the first time we heard the name Tiger Woods, it was so very apparent the pivotal role his Dad played in his life.

So it was with great sadness when Tiger announced the passing of his father, Earl, on Wednesday.

I’m very saddened to share the news of my father’s passing at home early this morning. My dad was my best friend and greatest role model, and I will miss him deeply. I’m overwhelmed when I think of all of the great things he accomplished in his life. He was an amazing dad, coach, mentor, soldier, husband and friend. I wouldn’t be where I am today without him, and I’m honored to continue his legacy of sharing and caring. Thank you to all who are sending condolences to my family and our Foundation. We are truly blessed to have so many who care during this difficult time.

December 2004 was the last time Mr. Woods attended a tournament involving his son. He was present in Augusta, GA in April 2005 when Tiger captured his fourth Masters title. However, unlike the three previous Masters titles when Mr. Woods and his son would embrace just off the edge of the 18th green, Tiger’s Pop couldn’t be at the golf course. But there was no doubt that Tiger was thinking of him. "I can't wait to get home to see him and give him a big bear hug", a misty-eyed Tiger said at the post-tournament news conference.

One would get the impression that Earl Woods was a dictatorial father who pushed his son into the game of golf, given the often cold-hearted precision & perfection with which Tiger pursues his craft.

The fact of the matter is the exact opposite was true as Mr. Woods explained in a 2001 interview with Rush Limbaugh:

Unequivocally I will deny that I ever pushed Tiger. Tiger came in the garage as company for me, and he entertained me and I entertained him while he learned the golf swing. Later, Tiger chose golf as the sport of his choice. I tried to get him to play baseball and he would tell me, “Daddy, it gets in the way of my golf.” At two years old he memorized my work phone number. He would call me each and everyday religiously, because he knew exactly what time I got off, at 4:12, and he would ask me if he could practice with me that day. I would hesitate until there was a doubt in his mind, and then I would say yes. Oh, he was so happy! He was so happy. This happened everyday. We would go to the driving range, where Tiger learned all the things that he displays now. I taught the value of hard work, the sheer joy of practicing.

It was very apparent the love and admiration Tiger Woods had for his Dad. It was equally obvious that the feeling was mutual.

I’m very proud of Tiger. Not as a golfer, but I’m proud because he’s a better person than he is a golfer.

In the last thirty of his 74 years on this planet, Earl Woods raised a champion on the PGA tour.

More importantly, he appeared prouder in the fact that he raised a champion in life.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Keep your Sox on, Doug's on his way.

So, how was your commute to your job today?

I bet it was nothing compared to that of baseball player Doug Mirabelli on Monday.

Mirabelli, a catcher, was traded by the San Diego Padres to the Boston Red Sox in the morning. Mirabelli promptly boarded a flight in San Diego in hopes of being in uniform Monday night in Boston.

He lands at Logan airport at 6:48 pm and gets to Fenway Park in 13 minutes, thanks to a police escort. Since he was changing into his uniform in the car on the way to the ballpark, Mirabelli was able to be behind home plate at 7:13 to catch the first pitch.

And here I had trouble opening my e-mail when I got to my desk barely on time this morning.