Mixed salad, today.

My life is even more boring than usual, so it’s all-bloggage Thursday:

Watching online video journalism find its footing is fascinating. I’ve said before I live in one of the worst markets for TV news — big and prosperous, but fully in the grasp of people who are squeezing it for every dime they can, while they still can — but this stuff is giving me hope.

I stumbled across this in my work last night, an index page for a video series on entrepreneurs produced by Crain’s Chicago Business. There are only two stories up, and both are good, but the one on the bike messenger is great. I’ve messed around a bit with digital video, so I have an idea what went into making it, and the answer is: A lot of work, and not a lot of money. They attached a POV (point of view) camera to the messenger and let him do his thing, then sat him down and had him talk about it a little bit, which they added as a voiceover. The video is nerve-wracking — I kept wanting to scream, “watch out!” — but his voice is calm, talking about finding the natural flow of the traffic and being like a river running through the rocks (rocks = cars). The reporting happens almost by accident. We learn that the messenger is a co-owner of his business, the Four Star Courier Collective, that it runs by “commie ideals” and that it makes for a unique niche of the profit-making community. There are a few facts about the messenger industry in general — it’s in decline — and the daily grind of getting from the Sears to the Hancock tower in five minutes, but then having to spend far more time being vetted by security.

If this were on one of my local newscasts, we would have seen the reporter’s face at least six times. There would have been silly wordplay and a question about firm thighs. The cuts would have come at a 3X pace, because people get so bored if they have to look at the same thing for longer than four seconds. And then there would have been the chuckling handoff to the anchors, who would say stupid things, and then on to the animal story.

I suppose, in the interest of transparency, I should admit that I sometimes indulge in a brief fantasy of being a bike messenger myself. Alan’s getaway-career fantasy is boatbuilding; mine is hangin’ with the dreadlocked boys down in the Messenger Center, comparing scars. This may have colored my opinion.

Why should the nation rebuild New Orleans? To give the world more fertile ground for the production of whorehouse proprietors who give good quote, that’s why:

“I know he’s not a drug addict,” she said. “I know he’s not a person that would down talk a woman. I know that he’s respectful. I know from what I’ve seen that he is honorable, that he’s a good man. His wife should be very proud of her husband irregardless of what he’s done. He was not a freak. He was not into anything unusual or kinky or weird.”

What a heart of gold that girl has!

I knew, sooner or later, Bigfoot would turn up in Michigan.

Today’s dirty-joke thrill: Unintentionally sexual comics covers/panels. You’ll feel so ashamed for giggling.

Have you noticed the amount of random b.s. that goes around the conversational circuit during your average day? A few months ago we discussed the “every meat eater has several pounds of undigested hot dogs in their bowel” meme, which I was astonished to read not long ago in, no kidding, a health magazine. It was a first-person piece on getting a colon cleanse; I guess someone drank the Kool-Aid.

One of the neighborhood kids is a veritable font of this stuff. “Did you know that you swallow, on average, eight spiders a night?” she told Kate the other day. This was followed by the news that “some ring of rocks” was “put there by aliens.” Kate, bless her heart, said, “the asteroid belt?” No. Further questioning revealed she was talking about Stonehenge. I tried to correct her, but I doubt it sunk in.

Today I read in the New York Times that someone is pushing a $25,000 genuine horsehair mattress with claims that it “breathes,” useful in that “the average person sweats about a pint a night.” Yes, a pint. Yes, “average.” Does anyone ever dare to say, “Um, that’s a load of crap” to people like this?

Anyway, I’m of two minds. I’ve introduced Kate to Snopes and their valuable service, so that’s one. The other is to fight fire with fire, to make up my own counter “facts,” a la John Hodgman. Next time I’ll tell that kid that you not only swallow eight spiders a night, but usually at least one millipede, and, while camping, two earthworms.

That’s it for me, folks. Discuss.

Posted at 9:47 am in Current events, Media, Popculch |

24 responses to “Mixed salad, today.”

  1. Danny said on July 12, 2007 at 10:13 am

    Wow, here was a story that caught my eye.Huckabee: Filmmaker Moore an example of health care problems

    A quote from the article:

    “Frankly, Michael Moore is an example of why the health care system costs so much in this country. He clearly is one of the reasons that we have a very expensive system. I know that from my own personal experience,” said Huckabee, who lost more than 110 pounds and became an avid runner after he was diagnosed with diabetes.

    “I know how much more my health care cost when I didn’t take care of myself than when I do take care of myself, not only in terms of doctor visits but regular diseases, illnesses, chronic things that come up, monthly prescription bills,” Huckabee said. “All of those things have gone dramatically down since I’ve taken care of myself and worked to live a healthier lifestyle.”

    I won’t vote for this guy, but word brotha.

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  2. brian stouder said on July 12, 2007 at 10:47 am

    One small thing I learned, way back in high school newspaper days, is that almost no one is more subversive than a cartoonist.

    By way of saying that I don’t believe there’s any such thing as “unintentionally sexual comics”. Sorta like the problem with news photographs (what is the saying? – all photos lie?) – except that cartoons are 100% fabricated – and 100% for effect

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  3. ashley said on July 12, 2007 at 10:56 am

    In the madame’s opinion, I guess wearing diapers isn’t “anything weird”.

    Yep. Vitty-cent has a diaper fetish.

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  4. nancy said on July 12, 2007 at 10:59 am

    Man, you’d think having four kids would have cured him of THAT.

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  5. Danny said on July 12, 2007 at 11:09 am

    Say, I know an ex-astronaut chick that he should meet.

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  6. Jolene said on July 12, 2007 at 11:16 am

    Huckabee’s point re Michael Moore is fair. It deals with the cost of health care. But, elsewhere, Moore has been challenged on his facts because he is fat. Not fair.

    Moore behaved hideously on Larry King the other night, interrupting and insulting Sanjay Gupta, who had presented CNN’s “fact-checking” report. But, really, the report was absurd. About the best Gupta could do was to point out that Moore was off by about 25 bucks in terms of what annual per capita costs are in Cuba.

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  7. Danny said on July 12, 2007 at 11:19 am

    OK, this isn’t on Mary’s scale of brushes with celebrity, but I have a connection with the DC Madam … in a six-degrees-of-separation sorta way.

    One of my very good friends is a general contractor. He did work for Deborah Palfrey here in San Diego, right before she got sent to prison. Well, she stiffed him for the work to the tune of over $1500. At the time (circa 1988, I think), he had no idea who she was or where she had disappeared to.

    Then, a couple of months ago, he and his wife are over for dinner and we had the news on and he announces, “Hey, I know that woman,” and tells the story … rather quickly too, probably to quell his wife’s raised eyebrow.


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  8. Dave said on July 12, 2007 at 11:57 am

    Didn’t Huckabee get an intestinal bypass? It seems like anyone who has doesn’t have a whole lot to say to anyone else about taking care of themselves. He has no intestinal fortitude, he just has no intestines.

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  9. Danny said on July 12, 2007 at 12:51 pm

    Yeah, like I hinted at, I really don’t care much for Huckabee and I agree that Moore has some valid points on healthcare. I just thought it was a particularly good comment that Huckabee made because he actually had some personal experience to draw upon.

    It hasn’t reached the level of pet peeve with me yet, but it seems obvious from the number of drug commercials on TV that as a society we must be tending more towards heavy reliance on prescription medication versus common sense. Too fat? Take a pill. Too awake? Take a pill. Too limp? Take a pill. The list goes on.

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  10. MichaelG said on July 12, 2007 at 1:11 pm

    Apropos of nothing: I was in Pelican Bay the last two days. I’ve got a little job up there. On Tuesday there were several of us standing around watching one guy, the excavator operator, work. There was me (the project manager), the inspector, a guy from the Department of Corrections, the county guy and one of the contractor’s guys who was leaning on a shovel. Across the road there was a level one (minimum security) yard. Of course there was a multitude of blue uniformed sidewalk superintendents over there supervising the job. Out of the crowd, seeing five guys standing around watching one guy work, came a voice: “Hey, are you guys a CalTrans crew?” What a trip. I was at the airport at 5:30 in the morning on my way up there, ready to board the plane when I suddenly realized I was wearing Levis. Blue jeans are a no no at a prison. As many times as I have been to prisons I should know better but I sort of dressed in a fog that morning. As soon as I landed at Crescent City and picked up my rental car, I headed straight to Wal-Mart. I found a pair of khaki wash pants for $9.86. I paid, then started to explain to the lady that I wanted to wear them because I had to go to the prison and . . . She interrupted me before I could finish and pointed me to a changing booth, “Happens all the time, Honey. We get several guys a week in here need pants to go to the prison.” A little comfort. I guess I’m not the only dummy.

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  11. LA mary said on July 12, 2007 at 1:18 pm

    A local newscast here the other night had me throwing stuff at the TV. First story: some middle eastern looking guys took a helicopter tour of LA. Someone on the ground thought this was suspicious and had their license plate run. The number didn’t match the car, so the cops and homeland security were called. When the helicopter landed the guys were taken in for questioning. They were Saudi military types, here for training from the US Gov, and the idiot who ran their plate was one digit off, hence the mismatch. The local anhcorman who reported the story was very serious and intense about this, talking about a security threat etc. No one mentioned the paranoia, the mistakes, none of that.
    Next story, some local in Las Vegas shoots up a casino. No one is killed, but five people are injured. He’s a crazy local, not a terrorist. The local news people question the security head at the casino about possilbly installing metal detectors because some terrorist could come in and shoot the place up, and he says,”That’s not necessary. We don’t want to inconvenience our guests.”
    Last story: someone has sent letters to executives at Goldman Sachs reading, “We are inside. People will die, you can’t stop us.” It’s signed AQ USA. The anchor, being very serious and scary and all talks about Al Qaeda, the recent London stuff, and then says, “The letter is signed AG USA. We don’t know what that stands for.” It’s a Q, idiot. As in QAEDA.
    Lots of furrowed brows follow.
    The anchorman was Paul Moyers, for anyone who cares.

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  12. brian stouder said on July 12, 2007 at 1:30 pm

    Well – speaking of prisons – when we were in Mechanicsburg PA, I overheard this snippet of conversation in the hotel lobby:

    Guy One – I got re-hired at the prison last week

    Guy Two – But you don’t want to work at the prison do you? I can get you a job right here

    Guy One – The prison pays $37/hour

    Guy Two – Well, can you get me in there?

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  13. nancy said on July 12, 2007 at 1:35 pm

    I’m sure Moyers got a phone call right after the credits rolled, from Osama bin Laden: Do I have to spell out EVERYTHING for you people?!

    Michael, I assume blue jeans are no-nos in prison because of their resemblance to what the inmates wear? I’d figure, at Pelican Bay, they’d be wearing orange jumpsuits 24-7.

    That Wal-Mart should hang out a sign: PANTS FOR PRISON, UNDER TEN BUCKS.

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  14. Jolene said on July 12, 2007 at 1:48 pm

    Re Huckabee and gastric bypass: No, he did it the hard way–less food, more exercise, with help from the University of Arkansas Medical Sciences weight loss program.

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  15. Dorothy said on July 12, 2007 at 2:00 pm

    THIRTY SEVEN dollars an hour?!

    Brian that reminded me of one of my favorite websites – http://www.overheardinnewyork.com/

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  16. Jolene said on July 12, 2007 at 2:01 pm

    Yeah, like I hinted at, I really don’t care much for Huckabee . . .

    I find Huckabee quite charming and somewhat witty–in real time, when his writers aren’t present. He’s also reported to be a decent guy who doesn’t have an enormous sense of his own importance. And, to his credit, he has focused on the teachings of Christianity often ignored by most of the religious right–helping the poor, for instance. As governor, he pushed a tax increase that was directed to education and has, apparently, produced some good results. In one of the debates, he said something along the lines of, “How can you call yourself a Christian if you’re not doing anything about the fact that we have children living in cars?”

    It’s just all that other stuff, such as his covenant marriage and his views on reproductive rights, gay rights, and evolution.

    Come to think of it, that last item kind of makes you wonder about the content of those efforts to improve education.

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  17. MichaelG said on July 12, 2007 at 2:29 pm

    That’s it precisely, Nance. Inmates wear blue shirts and blue pants. Orange is worn by newbys in reception centers. They want the cops to be able to instantly distinguish inmates from free folks. And, yeah, I laughingly told the pants story to my inspector and he replied that he had done the same thing just a month or so ago. He now carries the extra pants in his truck.

    Mary, amazingly enough (or not) I find the LA newscasts to be way inferior to KCRA 3 in Sacramento. Except for Rachael Whatshername, the AM weather person on Channel 4. And I never got the impression that Moyer was a genius.

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  18. Jolene said on July 12, 2007 at 2:38 pm

    LA mary, I have another story along those lines. On the Fourth of July, a young airman was shot outside his apartment by a guy who then killed himself. Later, a family member said that the shooter was “mad at the government and wanted to make a statement.” He left two rambling, incoherent suicide notes that, in the words of the county prosecutor, were “indicative of a person suffering from a mental health problem” and that he was “emotionally troubled”.

    Notwithstanding the prosecutor’s remarks, the absence of any mention of the military in the suicide notes or in any previous remarks, and the shooter’s age (he was 22; both schizophrenia and bipolar disorder most often become manifest in late adolescence or early adulthood), several right-wing bloggers jumped to the conclusion that the shooting must have been carried out by a hate-filled, anti-military, leftist–because, you know, that’s how leftists are.

    I don’t know why I read those things. I guess it’s because they remind me of what goes on in circles I’d never otherwise encounter.

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  19. Jolene said on July 12, 2007 at 2:40 pm

    Forgot to say that the airman lived and is recovering . . . just so you know. Also occurs to me now that, if the guy really wanted to kill the airman, he’d have made sure he was dead before killing himself. The gunman wasn’t armed.

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  20. Jolene said on July 12, 2007 at 2:41 pm

    Sheesh! The AIRMAN wasn’t armed.

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  21. Jolene said on July 12, 2007 at 3:14 pm

    In other news: It has been determined that Miss New Jersey will get to keep her crown, despite having been photographed drinking beer, kissing her boyfriend, and wearing an outfit that exposed her midriff.

    Our standards are slipping, people.

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  22. 4dbirds said on July 12, 2007 at 3:29 pm

    My mother’s neighbor who was a corrections officer, was shot dead by her boyfriend in the parking lot of the prison where they both worked after informing him she was breaking up with him. That’s my one and only prison story.

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  23. susan said on July 12, 2007 at 7:09 pm

    I loved the messenger video. Very neat! Do you have other favorites places to recommend for online video journalism?

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  24. brian stouder said on July 12, 2007 at 10:57 pm

    Dorothy – I enjoyed your link very much!

    Say, a day ago the subject was blanked-out cuss words and so on, and coincidentally my lovely wife got involved in a similar thread on one of her scrap-booking sites!! I asked her to post here, and she wouldn’t (although she reads this site regularly, and she’d fit right in)…so I thought I’d link it (which may land me in the spam folder)

    Of all things to see on a scrap-booking site, the F-bomb became the issue!!



    anyway, it stuck ME as funny!

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