Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Wacko Coverage

Is it safe to turn on the 24-hour "news" channels now? I officially stopped caring about the death of Michael Jackson about ten minutes after news "broke" of his death last Thursday. I am apparently in the minority--as round the clock coverage has continued on all of the news channels--and the main networks as well.

If we didn't have "breaking news coverage" of the body being taken to the morgue--we had "team coverage" of fan reaction outside the Neverland Ranch. And once we got tired of the people who showed in hopes of being interviewed by a TV reporter--we had more "breaking news" of a press conference featuring Jackson's father--or attorney--or Al Sharpton. Has there ever been any high profile incident involving an African American that didn't result in Al Sharpton standing behind a microphone?

Even the local channels got in on the act--sending reporters to Waterfest here in Oshkosh--or to some music store to get "local reaction" to Jackson's death. It's too bad I wasn't asked about that because it would have been "I don't give a shit." And you can quote me on that.

In his Sunday column on the electronic media in the "Chicago Tribune", Phil Rosenthal points out that the death of Elvis--a far more iconic and culturally influential artist than Michael Jackson--wasn't even the top story on the CBS Evening News on August 16th, 1977. CBS--the top rated news program at the time--led with President Gerald Ford's support for returning the Panama Canal zone back to Panamanian control by the end of the century. In fact, Elvis's death wasn't mentioned for three more stories on CBS. Rosenthal points out that CBS was pilloried for this "error in editorial judgement"--NBC and ABC led with Elvis's death that night--but just the fact that a major news operation would even consider a celebrities' death to be less than life-shattering would be refreshing today.

Another thing that gets my goat is the sycophantic coverage provided to Jackson. Respected journalists are using the title Jackson gave to himself "The King of Pop" like it was something he had been granted by the US government. The man gave himself the name people!!! He's not the king of anything.

Glenn Beck on Fox News always talks about his 9-12 initiative--where he wants people to return to the feelings of resolve, anger and determination we felt the day after the 9-11 attacks. I just wish the national media would return to the 9-12 attitude of returning to coverage of what's really important in life. You know, on the same day Michael Jackson died, an Army soldier from Peshtigo, Wisconsin was fighting for his life at a hospital in Germany--after coming under attack by the Taliban in Afghanistan. Did you hear anything about Private Steven Drees that day--or any day until his death was confirmed by the Pentagon yesterday? I know I could have lived with 24-hour coverage of his life and accomplishments.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Signs, Signs Everwhere a Sign

Why do so many people think the rules don't apply to them? I ask this after playing in a golf tournament this weekend--and seeing guys chipping onto the practice green--which was surrounded by signs that said "NO CHIPPING". I could understand if there was just one sign facing the opposite direction from where these guys were chipping--but there were at least five signs covering every direction around the green. And I swear one guy was literally chipping balls over one of the signs itself.

I notice this sort of thing all over the place. I make several trips to the grocery store every week to pick up a few fresh things each time. That means I usually go through the Express Lane. In many cases there is someone with a suspiciously large number of items in their carts ahead of me. Since the sign at the register clearly says "15 Items or Less"--I count the number of items that person puts on the conveyor. You would be surprised how many times its more than 15. In many cases its more than 20. Maybe we have some mathmatically-challenged people here in Oshkosh--but 23 is not even close to 15. It's more likely that those people think the rules don't apply to them.

Smokers are good ones for ignoring signs as well. We have a sign on the door behind our building telling smokers to put their butts in the ashcan provided for them outside. Do you know what is littering the ground right underneath that sign? That's right, cigarette butts. Some are literally lying less than six inches from the ashcan. Another of my favorites is the the group of smokers huddled outside the building where they work smoking right in front of the "NO SMOKING IN THIS AREA" signs. Maybe they think the rule doesn't apply in cold or rainy weather.

So why do people routinely ignore warning signs and so many rules? Maybe it's because there is no repercussions for breaking them. Do you think anyone would have been chipping on the practice green this weekend if a tournament official came over and told one person they were disqualified? Or if a course worker had taken the chipped balls off the green and threw them in the woods? Would Miss 24-items in the Express Lane delay things for the rest of us if she was made to decide which nine items she would not be allowed to buy? Or if she had to take the extra items back and return them to the shelves herself? And how many smokers would throw their butts on the ground if they had to pick them up with their teeth?

You may think that this is all small beans and who cares if someone ignores a sign or a rule? But this is just another symptom of the lack of personal accountability in our society today. If we don't care about the "small stuff" we will eventually not care about the big stuff--like paying your debts, taking care of yourself and making sound business decisions so you don't need a big government bailout. Oops, looks like we may have moved past caring about those as well.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Personal Ads

Craigslist has a personals section that allows people who may not know each other to post messages with hopes the other person might see it. Today, I have some messages for some of the people at Waterfest last night.

To the people who rave about how great Three Beers 'til Dubuque is: GET YOUR HEARING CHECKED!!!!! That had to be the worst versions of Brown Eyed Girl and Come On Eileen that I have ever heard in my life.

To the person who decided to have Stella Artois and Rolling Rock on tap now at the Leach: Thank you for saving me from beer hell. Shows at the Leach just haven't been the same since I couldn't get Leinie's after the switch to Budweiser products a few years back.

To the people stuck behind me during the Gin Blossoms set: Sorry you couldn't see much. I've been 6'3" since I was 19-years old--and I don't feel like slouching all night. Believe it or not, I have been to a few concerts where the only guy taller than me in the entire arena was right in front of me.

To the two old guys who threatened to fight each other right in front of the stage: Settle down before you hurt yourselves. Yes the "Cocky Guy" did pull the hair of the other guy's wife--but if you two had actually squared off it would have been hilarious to watch.

To the "Cocky Guy" from the item above: Please save the make out session with your wife for someplace less public. I enjoy the occasional romantic public display of affection--but the way you two were going at it was just disgusting. Next time, just put a Gin Blossoms CD in the stereo and stay in your bedroom.

To the people who feel the need to film every concert they go to on their cell phone cameras: I hope you enjoy the jerky action and mono mp3 audio--I'm sure it will be just like you were there when you watch that back on the one-inch screen. Can't we just have memories of experiences anymore instead of having everything on digital media?

To the middle-aged blonde woman dressed like a teenager in the first row along the stage: Give up the "Rock Groupie" dream. I didn't enjoy seeing your "junk" on display--and I'm guessing the guys on stage weren't digging it either. At least she kept her stuff covered up--unlike the woman right in front of the stage a few years ago who enjoyed a couple of Bodeans songs with one of her breasts hanging out of her tank top.

And people wonder why I enjoy going out less every year.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

A Tough Day To Play

Usually, I would be giddy today as the US Open--my favorite golf tournament of the year--gets underway this morning at Bethpage Black in New York. But this year I am actually sort of dreading the tournament. Not because I worry about the best golfers in the world getting embarrassed by a nearly impossible layout (that is actually why I enjoy the Open so much)--but rather because my favorite golfer, Phil Mickelson, will be dealing with some really heavy emotions.

For those who don't follow golf closely, Phil's wife has been diagnosed with breast cancer and is scheduled to start chemotherapy in a few weeks. After the initial diagnosis, Phil took a few weeks off from the PGA tour to be with her. But Amy is insisting that her husband get back out there and to continue playing--especially this week--at the tournament where he has finished a heartbreaking second a record-tying four times.

This is beginning to sound like the script for your average Hollywood sports movie--the lovable golfer who is struck by personal tragedy rises above the pain and the distraction to win the big championship and be carried off by the crowd--with a cutaway to the ailing wife smiling, crying and cheering the loudest. Unfortunately, Bethpage Black is not a Hollywood sound stage and the outcome this week is not scripted. It is a layout that punishes even the least inaccurate of shots.

Because Phil is the second most popular golfer in the sport, we will get to see everyone of his shots as part of TV coverage of the Open. What I fear is that he will let the distraction get to him and that we will watch a meltdown of a world-class player over ten televised hours.

I imagine some of you are thinking "He's just playing golf"--but that Phil's job out there. And I know that people go to work every day dealing with tragedy in their lives--but how many do it in a theater where millions of people can watch their mistakes--and then replay them for hours on end on Sportscenter and another channel dedicated entirely to your career?

So good luck to Phil this week--and here's hoping that maybe Hollywood will come true just this one time.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Memories of the Flood

I'm sure everyone living in Oshkosh can remember what they were doing on this date a year ago. For many, it was watching in horror as their basements, their homes and their yards filled up with water--as it just would not stop raining hard that evening.

Some of the things I'll always remember from the flood of '08 include watching the water literally flowing into Oshkosh Lourdes High School through broken windows--flooding out lower level classrooms, locker rooms and both of the gymnasiums. I'll never forget what appeared to be a geyer shooting up from a drain hole in one guy's backyard not far from Lourdes--and people in that same neighborhood trying to help each other get vehicles or personal belongings to someplace that wasn't under water.

I still remember running into the band that was supposed to open for the BoDeans at Waterfest that night walking around the east side of town trying to find streets that weren't flooded out so they could get out of town. I still chuckle when I think of the Auxiliary Police officer who was directing traffic on 9th Avenue telling people that had just been detoured off of flooded Highway 41 that there was nowhere for them to go since the city streets were completely flooded out in both directions as well. And I can still recall the anger people living around the Ohio Street area felt as they saw their properties flood out for the second time in less than a week. Many of them are still angry--as they feel the city has done nothing to address the problem.

I'll never forget the sick feeling I had in my stomach when I tried calling home that night and my wife wasn't answering. I was imagining her using a bucket trying to keep up with the water overflowing from the sump pit or leaching through the basement walls. We actually caught a break--because the weekend before the heavy rains caused an overflow of the sump pit and we found a problem with the pump. We got that fixed just in time for the Big One a few days later.

I'm sure several of my co-workers will remember having to sleep on the couches in our sales office because there was no way for them to get back home that night. One former co-worker still recalls the sight of fish swimming in the hallway of his apartment building. And we have a couple of new station vehicles thanks to our parking lot flooding out.

While the signs of damage may be gone, those memories will live on. Along with the pride we should feel for bouncing back from that disaster--with neighbor helping neighbor--showing why we like living here in Oshkosh.

Monday, June 8, 2009

More Quick Hits

Get ready to buy your purple Number Four jersey. ESPN is reporting that Brett Favre had surgery on his injured right shoulder last week. Since that really wasn't necessary to throw the ball in his Wrangler Jeans commercials, you can only assume that his most recent "retirement" will be for four months again.

What do you think people living in the Dakotas think about global warming? A half-foot of snow in June? Makes the rain and 50's that we "enjoyed" this weekend seem balmy by comparison.

Why do the Tony Awards continue to get prime-time coverage on network TV? Outside of those living in the Northeast US, how many people actually attend first-run Broadway shows every year? Even I saw two of the Best Picture nominees for the Oscars this year. Of course, the fact the Tony's are held in the ratings dead period of June reflects just how important CBS believes them to be.

Can someone other than the Detroit Red Wings win the Stanley Cup please? How about a team full of hard-hitting, young Canadian and American players that play "Old Time Hockey" instead of the overpaid, Euro-born, smooth skating fossils that the Wings employ.

Here's a suggestion for punishment if police ever catch the vandals who keep damaging the Winagamie Golf Course: trim all of the 27 greens by hand with one of those rounded, plastic kids' scissors. Those morons have damaged greens and golf carts at a course I enjoy playing. I don't enjoy being a victim of crime like that--so I would take some pleasure seeing those idiots hunched over the burning sun of a July afternoon clipping the grass until their hands are so sore they would never consider vandalizing the place again. We should probably invite all their friends over to watch their punishment as well.

Take this one to the bank: Tiger Woods will win the US Open in two weeks. He looked to be in peak form Sunday winning the Memorial at Jack's house on Sunday--and he has won at Bethpage Black before. The only question is how dramatic he will make it this time around.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Our New Hero

We have a new hero today. Bill Vandenburgh is a town of Ripon homeowner who awoke to find a burglar trying to steal his guns and his cash last month. Bill decided he was not going to take that lying down--so he grabbed his shotgun and decided to confront the burglar. Now bill is likely to become a national figure as the "drive-by national media" picks up on his story.

This morning, we are airing the 911 tapes of the incident where Bill is asking the Fond du Lac County Sheriff's Department to send deputies quick--because he might shoot the guy who was trying to rob him. In the background you can hear the gutless thief begging for mercy--probably filling his pants and wishing that he had never hatched the idea of robbing the place. I guess picking on a 68-year old man wasn't such a good idea after all.

I'll be interested to see what the public reaction will be--especially if Bill's story does go national--and the 911 tapes are played ad nauseum on the 24-hour news channels. To me, Bill Vandenburgh is a real American hero. Someone who exercised his rights to protect his life and his property--and didn't accept being a victim. This incident is one of the two reasons I believe the Founding Fathers included a right to bear arms provision in the Constitution--and why they made it the second of our guaranteed rights--behind only free speech.

Of course, we also have law enforcement today telling us that you shouldn't confront thieves and criminals like that--because things could escalate and someone could end up dead. Better to accept being on the end of the gun fearing for your own life. Just give us a call when its over--and maybe we'll be able to track down the burglar. Well, I'm guessing deputies had no trouble finding the meathead who broke into Bill Vandenburgh's house. He was the guy lying on the floor weeping like a little girl.

Speaking of that, I'd be willing to bet there is a personal injury attorney or two who are thinking right now "That poor burglar should not have been made to suffer like that!! He has a right to sue that mean old man with the gun for emotional distress!!" Fortunately, there are dozens of gunowner groups who would be more than happy to pick up Bill's legal fees.

So good on ya Bill Vandenburgh you are our new American Hero.