Saturday, June 26, 2004

Putting The U-R-I-N-A-L Back In Journalism

Say what you want about the supermarket tabloid Weekly World News, but there's not a media outlet on this planet (or any other for that matter) that consistently breaks more news stories than the WWN. Just yesterday, I was shocked to learn of the Pope's near-death experience after being hit by a falling meteor. Did "fair and balanced" Fox News bother to share this with the American people? You decide. All I know is WWN not only had this exclusive bombshell, amazingly one of their intrepid photogs actually captured this horrifying moment on film! What luck!

Having worked in both local and national newsrooms, I can report to you with some authority that the only real difference between outlets such as CNN and the WWNs of the world is the number of credible sources needed to verify a story and put it on the air. CNN's minimum number is zero; Weekly World News' is slightly lower.

The truth is, nothing in Weekly World News is any goofier than the stuff of my dreams. For years, I've had this recurring quasi-nightmare that the light goes on in a radio studio signaling the beginning of my sportscast, and I'm dashing in at the last minute...without my script. So I stumble through 60 seconds of ad-lib audio gobbledygook. (Some of you who've actually heard me on the air are saying, "How does this differ from his real sportscasts?" To you I say, "Gobbledygook!")

Seriously, what is that all about? Does anyone else dream such things? My dad has led worship in churches for 50 years. He says he still dreams he's on stage ready to begin when he looks down at his book only to find a song he's never seen before.

I've even heard of a particular pontiff who kept dreaming a large object would come crashing down on him from the heavens. You would've heard about it, too, if the mainstream media would've done its job for once and actually reported the news. Maybe they couldn't find their scripts.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Leaving No Oliver Stone Unturned


It finally hit me yesterday. How could I have missed it all these years? It took columns by "Molly Ivins" and "Cal Thomas" appearing on the same editorial page for me to wake up and smell the newspaper ink...hang on, I'm still smelling. Mmmmm...okay, here it is:

These two are the same person!

Can you honestly say you've ever seen these two in the same room? Of course you can't. It's actually quite clear after even a cursory examination of the evidence. Exchange Cal's carefully-lacquered coiff and cheesy 'stache for Ivins' eyeliner and Shaggy Doo and...ZOIKS!!! We might all need a Scooby snack after this revelation.

Even if you don't see the proof in the polaroid, check the fine print. Both use a poorly-disguised vehicle to spew their own personal, political venom: Thomas takes the religion route; Ivins prefers humor. And each, in a weird way, keeps the other in business. It's a schizophrenic he said/she said. (Or would that be I said/I said?)

If you're still not convinced, you need look no further than their noms de plume. Rearrange the names "Molly Ivins" and "Cal Thomas" and you get - what else? -

Mostly Macho Villains.

I rest my case. As the great Johnnie Cochran would say, "That'll be $10,000 an hour." Also, "If the names can be rearranged, they must be the same."

You don't need to thank me. Just know I'd have figured it out sooner if it hadn't-a been for these meddlin' kids...

Monday, June 14, 2004

Son Of Butt Darts

In loo of anything meaningful to write and based on the whelming response to my "butt darts" post, I can only assume that you're about to burst in anticipation of more hidden bathroom humor from the Golf Channel archives. Well, America, urine luck!

Last June, a couple of hours prior to our Friday broadcast of the Club Professional Championship north of Albuquerque, I was tooling around the near-vacuous Twin Warriors Golf Club, stopping at the par 3 15th hole. Spotting the tower cameraman in his perch high above the green, I figured it was high time for some high jinks. I waited for him to see me, then stepped behind a large immobile tumbleweed and pretended to, as the French say, "whiz." The act was caught on tape, and the crew had a hearty laugh. (Remember, we're the same people who play butt darts at the Glory Hole.)

Not long after returning to the television compound, our production manager approached and asked if I'd relieved myself in the bushes at 15. I said, "No, the first time I did that I was 22." She wasn't laughing. Turns out one of the volunteers working the tournament had spied my shenanigan and reported it to the PGA of America. They weren't laughing either. Apparently, they thought I'd really relieved myself and on sacred Native American soil, no less.

I quickly explained the situation, repeating every 10 seconds or so that I'm an idiot. They agreed and let me off the hook. Naturally, my fellow crew members immediately unzipped a steady stream of excretory one-liners at my expense. I was the butt of their darts, you might say...or not.

As we signed on and I began introducing the various announcers, I decided to fall on my own sword or, in this case, microphone and end this madness. After my buddy Jerry Foltz finished his remarks and tossed it back to me, I said, "Thanks, Jerry, we'll look forward to youranalysis today."

I hope that volunteer wasn't watching.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

No Weddings, Two Funerals

The longest funeral procession in American history is underway. Beginning in California and ultimately ending with his interment in Washington, D.C., Ronald Reagan's farewell tour has already and will continue to elicit an eclectic outpouring of mourners, from Bo Derek to Lech Walesa, all paying final respects to the 40th President of the United States.

Smack in the middle of those two geographical points and a world away from the international spotlight, a mother and two young children in suburban Dallas will say an unspeakably sad and sudden goodbye on Thursday to a man who meant more to them than any world leader ever could. Brad Byker dropped dead at home plate Tuesday night while coaching his 7-year-old son's Little League baseball game. His 3-year-old daughter, decked out in full cheerleader regalia, watched with her mother from the bleachers, first with uncertainty then horror, as the most important man in their lives lost consciousness then his life.

Ronald Reagan lived twice as long as Brad Byker. Depending on your point of view or political persuasion, Reagan saved the world from the threat of Communism, freed millions of oppressed people, and made Lee Greenwood forever famous by allowing a lot of ordinary folks to feel proud to be an American again.

And not one bit of that matters to Brad Byker's family. Who cares about world affairs when your own world is turned upside down? And what's a political crisis compared to personal tragedy?

Don't be misled. Nothing makes this okay. Nothing. At least not in this lifetime. No cliche, no grief strategy, no religion. Byker had given his life to Christ as an adult. He'd lived a little bit, heard the story of Jesus, counted the cost, and made the decision to accept God's ticket-punch into the kingdom of Heaven. His family is faithful, too. But this still makes no sense. Resolves no issues. Hurts no less.

In his book, Disappointment With God, Philip Yancey makes a fantastic (and accurate) claim: that those who ask "Why?" when life deals its most cruel blows don't really want an answer. What answer, Yancey writes, could possibly swallow up the pain? If God gave us an answer, would that really make it all better? Yancey suggests what we most desperately want is to know that someone is there, someone's in charge, and someone will hold us when we can't stand to go on. And for that, we can indeed look to the One who watched his own son absorb the most unjust penalty of all time. That still doesn't completely solve or salve. What it does mean, though, is that however good we may have had it here, the best is most certainly yet to come.

What a wonderful and awful life this is. So much blessing. So little we really have. Today. And nothing more.

Mourning has indeed broken. May we join this somber chorus and plead more earnestly than ever for the rapid return of the greatest leader any world has ever known.
"There's nothing wrong with long as it stays in the family." - billionaire Steven Forbes

Friday, June 04, 2004

Does It Depend On What Your Definition Of Would Would Be?

Once a year or so, I flip over to C-Span just to make sure our elected officials are all fully clothed and spewing their requisite vitriol.

Last night, they interrupted regularly scheduled programming to bring us Bill Clinton's address to BookExpo America in Chicago in anticipation of the release of his autobiography, My Life. The president of the company which published the book said in his introduction, "...this is a man who, if the laws of this country were changed and he were allowed to run again, would I dare say be a landslide winner."

Four years removed from his eight in office, I find Bill Clinton way too much like me to completely accept or categorically abhor. But the question had me wondering: would Bill Clinton be elected in November if he were allowed to run again?