Listen to me on KTRS/St. Louis Mondays and Fridays, 3-6pm CT

Monday, June 30, 2008

Knuckleheads In The News ®

Today's stories include a man unhappy with his wife's doctor, a gas station clerk you shouldn't drive away from, and an armpit sniffer.

Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

This podcast is made possible by Champion Windows Siding & Patio Rooms.
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Friday, June 27, 2008

Robert Meets Sylvia

 

I've written before about Robert Lancaster, the skeptic who publishes the StopSylvia.com site about the horrid self-proclaimed psychic, Sylvia Browne.

Last weekend, while Robert and I were at James Randi's Amazing Meeting, Browne just happened to be in town doing one of her shows.  Thanks to another skeptic buying tickets, Robert and his wife went to the show, where he not only observed the proceedings, but also got to ask Browne a question, which drew a harsh response from her and, after the show, led to Robert being escorted off the premises.  As you read his account, note that Robert remained polite and non-confrontational at all times, yet she snarled and called security on him.

Here's my conversation with Robert last year, shortly after Browne took some serious hits for her horribly wrong predictions about Shawn Hornbeck.  Now that Montel Williams is off the air, she has lost her biggest TV enabler, and she's having trouble even filling a small theatre in Vegas, so perhaps America is finally getting the message about her evil work.

Knuckleheads In The News ®

Today's stories include a son who really wanted his father's job, an Alzheimer's bus to nowhere, and an election where no one voted.

Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

This podcast is made possible by Champion Windows Siding & Patio Rooms.
They've done great work for me, and I recommend them to you!
For factory-direct savings, call 314-692-7300 or visit their showroom.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Vegas Notes


Even though the average temperature in Las Vegas this week is 105, the town is absolutely packed. Few tourists are willing to walk the strip in the midday sun -- you can easily spot those that do, as their skin is the color of Carrot Top's hair -- so the sidewalks are a swarm of humanity all evening long, and its seems like every third person is carrying either a beer or a yard-long drink of one kind or another.

Strolling along the strip, it's impossible to avoid The Slappers. These are the guys who try to hand you a small credit-card-sized booklet advertising women who will come to your hotel room and do the sort of things that supposedly stay in Vegas. I call them The Slappers because, before handing you the booklet, they always slap it against their other hand, hoping that the noise will get your attention and you'll take one as you pass.

The Slappers seem to all be Latino, likely illegal, and they work in packs. If I hired them to hand out my propaganda, I'd want them to spread out all over The Strip, but these guys tend to huddle together, accosting every passing tourist ten times in a row. Seems like a bad business plan, but then I have no idea how they're paid in the first place. It can't be based on the amount of pamphlets they disperse, because The Slappers could simply throw them in a dumpster and report that they were all gone. Could it be a bonus for every trick turned by the women they're advertising? They must be doing something right, because The Slappers are on that sidewalk every evening, regardless of season.

Their competition is the big rolling billboard truck advertising "Hot Babes To Your Room." Under the phone number, you're promised "Girls who want to meet you!" Translation: women who would never talk to you under any circumstance, unless you have a wad of hundred dollar bills you're willing to part with in exchange for a complete demonstration of her affection for tattoos, tobacco breath, and far-too-brief sex acts. Only then does she want to meet you.

That same deceptive advertising goes on at all the big hotels that now offer topless pools. Women are allowed in for free, but guys have to pay anywhere from $10 to $25. There are tall hedges to keep gawkers away, but here's the kicker -- according to a couple of hotel employees I spoke to, there aren't that many women inside with their tops off, so the guys are getting very little entertainment for their entry fee. Besides, the Flamingo (where we stayed) is not exactly a destination for young, hot, single women. They're over at The Palms, hoping to be discovered for the next season of MTV's "Real World."

I was reminded of the time my wife and I were somewhere in the Caribbean and went for a walk up the beach. Before we knew it, we had walked onto a "European-style" topless beach, where there were plenty of women with nothing on above the waist. The problem was that very few of them were young and perky. It wasn't like we'd stumbled onto a photo shoot for the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition. It was more like seeing the cast of "The View" taking a group shower.

Since this was my wife's first extended trip to Vegas, I showed her the town, from the coolest resorts to the sleazy wedding chapels to the Fremont Street Experience to the never-ending construction sites to In-N-Out Burger, always a mandatory stop during my visits. At the other end of the spectrum, we also had dinner at Prime, the steakhouse at Bellagio. When you go, ask for a table by the windows, so you have a good view of the dancing waters out front. You should also remember to bring gift certificates that someone else gave you, because this is one expensive restaurant (thanks again to my brother, who treated us for my 50th birthday).

The Flamingo may not be as huge as some of the newer resorts on the strip, but it's still plenty big. Even after several days, I was still unsure which way to turn to get where I wanted to go. But wherever I went, there was someone offering me free tickets to shows I had no interest in seeing, if only I'd listen to a spiel about time-shares. Hey, if I wanted that, I'd be at Tahiti Village looking for Tanya Roberts.

Speaking of shows, Penn & Teller have added several new bits to their show at the Rio. Teller has a solo spot involving a red ball that moves at his command (untouched), and they've added a typically P&T twist to sawing-a-woman-in-half. They've also brought back some classics, including Penn eating fire and Teller's "Shadows." I've seen him do this over a dozen times, but still notice nuances he's added, tiny gestures that make the routine even more perfect. When you're in Vegas, put this on your must-see list.

The Rio is also home to the World Series of Poker, now past the half-way point in its six week run of some 55 different tournaments. The Amazon Room boasts more poker tables than you can imagine, and there are live games, satellites, and sit-and-go tourneys being played around the clock, too. Several players I've spoken to say it's better organized this year, but I'm not entering any of the events, because the Deep Stack Tournament at the Venetian and the Mega Stack Series at Caesar's Palace offer much better values than the WSOP events, even without the potential for a bracelet and being made fun of by Norman Chad. There are also cash games of every size at practically every major poker room in town, so there's no lack of good action.

One other recommendation for you. If you rent a car, make the drive about 20 miles west to Red Rock Canyon, with its 13-mile scenic drive amid breathtaking Mojave Desert beauty. There are trails to hike and rocks to climb, although that activity is probably kept to a minimum by the brochure warning about the large number of rattlesnakes in the park.

Apparently, they "really want to meet you," too.

Media Game Changer

Chrysler will announce today that it's going to offer wireless internet in some 2009 models. Other car makers will surely follow suit, allowing you to listen to any radio station (or other audio source) from anywhere, anytime.

So, why do so many radio stations pay no attention to the horrible quality of their live online streams, with poorly synchronized audio and endlessly repeating PSAs? Mostly, it's because they haven't found enough revenue online, but that's typically short-sighted. They should have read my column a few months ago regarding this coming wave of changing in-car tech.

Once wireless internet is available to drivers, there will be no need for the other extra hardware that no one is buying (yes, I'm talking about you, HD Radio!), and will force a change in how XM and Sirius do business. The two satellite services, whether they merge or not, will have to transform themselves into pure content providers, probably relying more on advertising than subscription fees. It will be interesting to see if many of their spoken-word channels continue to offer pass-thru programming (from Fox News, CNN, NPR, and others, all of whom could chose to stream it themselves), or will develop new original programming to fill the online void.

Knuckleheads In The News ®

Today's stories include a father-and-son burglars vs. a country club safe, and a fast-food thief vs. Bluetooth phones.

Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

This podcast is made possible by Champion Windows Siding & Patio Rooms.
They've done great work for me, and I recommend them to you!
For factory-direct savings, call 314-692-7300 or visit their showroom.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Randi Over The Falls

I'm still in Vegas after several days of James Randi's sixth annual Amazing Meeting, so here's some footage of him in 1975 doing the strait-jacket escape over Niagara Falls on a Canadian show called "World Of Wizards"...

Friday, June 20, 2008

Knuckleheads In The News ®

Today's stories include a nail in the head, a surprise in the easy chair, and a monkey god in the office.

Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

This podcast is made possible by Champion Windows Siding & Patio Rooms.
They've done great work for me, and I recommend them to you!
For factory-direct savings, call 314-692-7300 or visit their showroom.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Gambling Myths

As I leave this morning for several days in Las Vegas at James Randi's sixth annual Amazing Meeting and then the World Series Of Poker, here's a piece Randi wrote regarding The Four Most Pervasive Myths About Gambling.

Knuckleheads In The News ®

Today's stories include a gas thief, a stalker pervert, and a guy who stole a school bus because he lost his ride.

Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

This podcast is made possible by Champion Windows Siding & Patio Rooms.
They've done great work for me, and I recommend them to you!
For factory-direct savings, call 314-692-7300 or visit their showroom.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Where's Red Klotz When You Need Him?

Drubbing. That's the word to describe last night's Celtics rout of the Lakers to win the NBA Finals.

I'm not sure at what point it got out of control, but by the fourth quarter, it was ridiculous. The Celtics were draining threes from everywhere, while the Lakers looked like they were running through molasses.

Boston did get a little over-confident towards the end. It's one thing to execute underhand alley-oop reverse dunks like you're showing off on the playground. It's another thing to start cutting down the nets while there are still four minutes to go on the clock (the Lakers were playing so poorly, they couldn't even maneuver around the ladder under the rim!).

The Lakers should have switched to the Harlem Globetrotters offense. Run the weave. Take half-court hook shots. The old un-inflated ball trick. A bucket of confetti. Anything to spice things up and keep it interesting.

Either that, or change your name to the Washington Generals.

Knuckleheads In The News ®

Today's stories include a failed jail escape, a woman ID'd for buying barbecue sauce, and a case of mistaken mug shot identity.

Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

This podcast is made possible by Champion Windows Siding & Patio Rooms.
They've done great work for me, and I recommend them to you!
For factory-direct savings, call 314-692-7300 or visit their showroom.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Knuckleheads In The News ®

Today's stories include a man who really missed his girlfriend, a man who needed help getting handcuffs off, and a dead guy who won an election (no, he didn't beat John Ashcroft).

Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

This podcast is made possible by Champion Windows Siding & Patio Rooms.
They've done great work for me, and I recommend them to you!
For factory-direct savings, call 314-692-7300 or visit their showroom.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Knuckleheads In The News ®

Today's stories include a baby boy named Lego, a woman kept off a plane because of her necklace, and a naked guy eating pizza in the kitchen.

Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

This podcast is made possible by Champion Windows Siding & Patio Rooms.
They've done great work for me, and I recommend them to you!
For factory-direct savings, call 314-692-7300 or visit their showroom.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Tim Russert


I had the chance to talk with Tim Russert many times over the years, so in his memory, I dug up one of my favorite conversations with him from my archives.

This is from May, 2004, shortly after an incident on "Meet The Press" where a segment he was doing with Colin Powell was interrupted by a State Deparment press staffer. It was also just weeks before the US was supposedly going to "turn over" Iraq to its new government -- although no one knew who that would be -- and it's interesting to hear Russert's analysis with the hindsight of four years gone by.

We also talked about his appearance on "Jeopardy!" and Tim's book about his father, "Big Russ and Me." Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Knuckleheads In The News ®

Today's stories include a one-legged car thief, a woman who swallowed her engagement ring, and a very odd bank thief.

Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

This podcast is made possible by Champion Windows Siding & Patio Rooms.
They've done great work for me, and I recommend them to you!
For factory-direct savings, call 314-692-7300 or visit their showroom.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Knuckleheads In The News ®

Today's stories include a wedding where the bride fell in love with another man, a couple that paid their cable company with their right arm, and two teens who had to apologize for a prank on YouTube.

Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

This podcast is made possible by Champion Windows Siding & Patio Rooms.
They've done great work for me, and I recommend them to you!
For factory-direct savings, call 314-692-7300 or visit their showroom.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Sailor Zac

Most parents of a 16-year-old get nervous when the kid takes the car out for the evening. How would you feel if he wanted to take it for longer -- perhaps a trip across the country -- by himself?

Now imagine that your teenage son doesn't want to hit the road, but the high seas. And not for a day or two, but for a year.

Meet Zac Sunderland, who will leave California this Saturday for a historic sailboat adventure, attempting to be the youngest person to circumnavigate the globe solo. Zac, who grew up on his parents' boat, has been sailing for years, but has never done a solo voyage of even a week, let alone the 12-18 months this trip will consume.

I talked to Zac about everything from the equipment he's taking along to what he'll do to combat boredom to how he'll deal with the possibility of running into modern-day pirates (it's not Johnny Depp he has to avoid out there).

Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

Knuckleheads In The News ®

Today's stories include an apartment fire blamed on high gas prices, a man stuck in a port-a-potty, and a not-so-proud high school graduate.

Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

This podcast is made possible by Champion Windows Siding & Patio Rooms.
They've done great work for me, and I recommend them to you!
For factory-direct savings, call 314-692-7300 or visit their showroom.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Knuckleheads In The News ®

Today's stories include robbers disguised in thongs, a man fighting bees with gasoline, and a phone call from Zach The Weed Man.

Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

This podcast is made possible by Champion Windows Siding & Patio Rooms.
They've done great work for me, and I recommend them to you!
For factory-direct savings, call 314-692-7300 or visit their showroom.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

War Zone At Home

Tens of thousands of our soldiers are returning home from tours in Iraq and Afghanistan suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. So, how does the military treat them?

According to the Washington Post, many who are housed at Fort Benning, Georgia, are put up in barracks that are about 200 yards away from the main infantry firing range. So, soldiers who have been traumatized by war must endure the sound of rifle and machine gun fire several days a week. This caused at least one of them to end up in the emergency room with a severe anxiety attack. Others have complained about their proximity to the range, but no one seems to listening.

This is the best we can do for our wounded warriors? Veterans have a right to expect more from the Pentagon and the VA (whose Secretary doesn't think PTSD is that much of a problem), but despite the battles they endured in the middle east, the troops still lack the support they need when they come home.

Suppressing Science

Your tax dollars in action: NASA's inspector general released a report this week confirming that Bush administration appointees deliberately downplayed scientific evidence regarding global warming for political reasons. In addition to censoring the work of top climatologist James Hansen, the report concludes that these political appointees "managed the topic of climate change in a manner that reduced, marginalized, or mischaracterized climate change science made available to the general public" for over a year. Read more here.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Racism In Retreat

Here's my conversation with John McWhorter, who has written extensively on race, on whether Barack Obama becoming the Democratic presidential nominee means that we've become a "post-racist America."

We talked about the generational aspect of America accepting a non-white-man as the most powerful person in the world -- the younger you are, the more likely you are to see it as no problem -- and whether Obama will be able to convince those blue-collar Democrats who supported Hillary to vote for him (not to mention independents and Republicans).

We also discussed the idea that, in supporting Obama, America isn't voting for a black man, they're voting for this black man. Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and Alan Keyes never had a chance of winning but, like Jackie Robinson breaking baseball's color barrier, it may be a question of Obama being the right African-American. In that light, I asked McWhorter if the clips of Rev. Wright hurt Obama because they may have made the "too black" warning light go on for some voters, and whether he expects the issue to be revived as the campaign progresses.

It would be nice to see that, as a nation, we have moved forward as much as McWhorter believes.

Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

Knuckleheads In The News ®

Today's stories include a tumor that's not a tumor, a doctor who's not a doctor, and a convenience store fish-slapper.

Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

This podcast is made possible by Champion Windows Siding & Patio Rooms.
They've done great work for me, and I recommend them to you!
For factory-direct savings, call 314-692-7300 or visit their showroom.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Tim Weiner on CIA Failures


On KIRO/Seattle yesterday, I talked with Tim Weiner, author of "Legacy of Ashes: The History of The CIA." Weiner is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who spent 20 years sifting through CIA archives and talking with 10 CIA directors and hundreds of agents to document how the agency's failures have "profoundly jeopardized our national security."

In discussing those failures, we touched on everything from how the CIA got the WMD question wrong to the other false reasons for going to war with Iraq. We talked about how the CIA helped the Afghans fight the Soviets and then abandoned the country, thus allowing war lords and the Taliban to turn Afghanistan into a haven for terrorism.

I asked Weiner if the CIA really used poison toothpaste to kill Fidel Castro, whether divulging Valerie Plame's identity was such a big deal, and whether our spies are anything like Jason Bourne and James Bond.

Much of what Weiner told me -- and writes about -- shows the disconnect that has long existed between the White House and the folks at Langley, particularly in the Clinton and Bush administrations. In the end, he esplained what needs to be done to restore (or build) an intelligence agency we can trust.

Listen, then get Weiner's book, which is now in paperback.

Suspense Night


I'm emceeing the third annual Suspense Night at the St. Louis County Library tonight at 7. Authors Reed Farrell Coleman, Susan McBride, Scott Phillips, and Megan Abbott will be there to read some of their recent work and then we'll do a panel discussion and take questions from the audience.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Knuckleheads In The News ®

Today's stories include the consequences of mooning, a shopper with a stain in his pants, and the effect of a spell-checker on a high school yearbook.

Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

This podcast is made possible by Champion Windows Siding & Patio Rooms.
They've done great work for me, and I recommend them to you!
For factory-direct savings, call 314-692-7300 or visit their showroom.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Hey, Bo Diddley


On hearing of the death of Bo Diddley, I'm reminded of an unfortunate story.

I was on vacation in Philadelphia with my wife and daughter around July 4th, 2003, just as the new Constitution Center was about to open its doors. There were several events going on to celebrate our nation's birthday, and one of them was a big outdoor concert with Bo as the headliner.

He performed several of his signature songs, but in the middle of the fourth or fifth song, he stopped the band and pointed at a man in the audience with a small video camera pointed at the stage. Bo shouted, "Turn off that camera!!" The guy in the crowd turned around, thinking Bo must be talking to some commercial video crew behind him, not to a tourist with the family's vidcam shooting some casual footage of a rock legend. Diddley's voice and tone grew louder and more urgent as he repeatedly yelled at the guy to turn the camera off -- even after the guy clearly wasn't shooting anymore -- until Bo finally called for security to "Get that guy out of here, or this show is over!!"

At this point, Bo was in his mid-seventies and, let's face it, hadn't had a hit in a very long time (Joel Whitburn's book lists "Hey Man" in 1959 as the last time Diddley made the Top 40 on the Billboard charts). Sure, he was a rock pioneer along with Chuck Berry and Little Richard, a Hall Of Famer whose sound influenced many others -- listen to The Who's "Magic Bus" or Springsteen's "She's The One" and you'll hear echoes of Diddley's classic riffs -- but it's not like he was at the pinnacle of his career and could afford to make a lot of ugly demands.

Whatever good will there was in the crowd evaporated instantly under Diddley's withering excoriation of this man, who had come only to enjoy some music at a free outdoor festival. What harm could he have done with his video camera? At best, he might have posted on YouTube some video of Diddley singing and playing, which could only accrue to the benefit of the performer's image.

Maybe he was having a bad day. Maybe it was a case of Grumpy Old Man-itis. Whatever it was, the guy with the camera didn't deserve to be a victim of a Bo Diddley Beat.

Knuckleheads In The News ®

Today's stories include assault by hedgehog, littering by balloon, and a man with a surprise in his closet.

Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

This podcast is made possible by Champion Windows Siding & Patio Rooms.
They've done great work for me, and I recommend them to you!
For factory-direct savings, call 314-692-7300 or visit their showroom.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Knuckleheads In The News ®

Today's stories include a woman with an unusual excuse for having booze on her breath, a soda machine standing where it didn't belong, and a firefighter who just had to have a hamburger.

Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

This podcast is made possible by Champion Windows Siding & Patio Rooms.
They've done great work for me, and I recommend them to you!
For factory-direct savings, call 314-692-7300 or visit their showroom.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Mr. Spaceman


Roger McGuinn, a member of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, is also a longtime science and techonology geek. So it seemed natural that he was asked to perform for the new class of inductees of the Astronauts Hall of Fame last month.

His wife, Camilla, wrote up the adventure for their blog, including Roger performing the Byrds classic "Mr. Spaceman" (of course), plus "Mr. Tambourine Man" and "Turn Turn Turn." They also joined several NASA heroes for a tour of the Discovery Shuttle on the launch pad at the Kennedy Space Center.

Here's one of Roger's many appearances on my radio show over the years.