Friday, September 15, 2006

 

Open Thread

Have at it, folks! The floor is yours (when is it ever anyone else's?)!

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Comedy Friday: Colbert Shows Allen's "Ethnicity"

The Colbert Report focuses on George Allen's recent "ethnic rally" -- and gives the senator tips for future events!





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Comedy Friday: Funniest Reporter Wrap-up


Well, your humble blogger was only the third-funniest reporter in New York last night!

However, that result was assuaged by the fact that my colleague Mandy Stadtmiller was deemed the funniest! Yep, two Posties finished in the money (rhetorically speaking).

I taped the show, but the audience noise may make it unplayable for podcasting purposes. I'll have to take the weekend to see if it can be cleaned up. In the meantime, here's a story about the show, with some of the participating journalist from
local 24-hour news station, New York 1.

UPDATE: In photo above, silver medalist Nikki Egan of MSNBC, winner Mandy Stadtmiller and yours truly.

UPDATE II: Below, the Funniest Reporters in New York group photo (with emcee Brian McKim, publisher of Shecky's comedy magazine, in the center.



UPDATE III: RAG onstage!



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Thursday, September 14, 2006

 

NY'S "FUNNIEST REPORTER"


If you're around New York this evening, I'll be appearing at the Gotham Comedy Club's "New York's Funniest Reporter" show, 7 p.m.
The address is 208 West 23rd St. (bet. 7th. & 8th Aves.) Call:212-367-9000 for reservations.
$12 admission and two-drink minimum.
The show also features my New York Post colleague, the statuesque Mandy Stadtmiller, Mike Trainor of New York1, Peter Kramer of Journal News, Meredith Daniels of Newsday, and Nikki Egan of MSNBC. All proceeds go to the Veterans of Foreign Wars Operation Uplink program that keeps military personnel and hospitalized veterans in touch with their families and loved ones by providing them with free phone cards.
Drop by, have a laugh and a good time -- all for a great cause!





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Wednesday, September 13, 2006

 

Not So Fast, Democratic Friends

So, with about $1 million in ads and boots on the ground from the National Republican Senate Committee, Sen. Lincoln Chafee pulls out the primary win. That gives the GOP some reason to breathe, given that Club For Growth-supported candidate Steve Laffey would have been completely slaughtered by Democratic nominee Steve Whitehouse. Chafee still trails in polls, but he has a fighting chance to retain his seat.

Meanwhile, Bush's approval rating, as determined by Rasmussen, is at 45 percent -- his best
numbers since the spring.

Is this just a post-9/11 anniversary bounce?

If so, it is likely to fade quickly in the next few weeks.

However, if, as many have suspected, that a significant factor in Bush's low poll ratings are gas prices, then Democrats may have a serious structural problem on their hands. While not as publicized as the spiraling prices this summer, oil prices have
plunged in recent weeks. Cheaper gas means more take-home pay. More take-home pay gives Americans a more optimistic feeling about the broader economy. That sentiment might make it harder for Democrats to tie in Bush's unpopularity and economic unrest as they mount their challenge to the Republican majority.

Meanwhile, as Chris Clizza points out in his "Winners & Losers" segment in the Washington Post, the GOP still has a potent fastball when it comes to Get Out The Vote operations:


But once again, Republicans showed they know how to turn out the voters they need to win elections. They made nearly 200,000 voter contacts in the final 11 days of the Rhode Island Senate campaign and the state was flooded with staff from around the country. For all the criticism -- much of it spot-on -- that the National Republican Senatorial Committee has received this cycle, the organization deserve major kudos for its work here.
The upshot of all of this?

Don't start penciling in those Democratic names on the committee chairs just yet.

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Tuesday, September 12, 2006

 

Election Day

These are my personal observations and choices -- not connected with my position at the New York Post. The Post's official endorsements can be found here.

Here in New York, there's not a lot of competitive primary contests.

I'm a registered Republican, so the only opportunity for me to vote is in the U.S. Senate primary. I'm thrilled by neither candidate but I will be voting for former Yonkers Mayor
John Spencer over ex-DOD aide Kathleen "KT" McFarland to be the GOP's sacrificial lamb against Hillary Rodham Clinton in November.

Were I a Democrat, I would vote for
Tom Suozzi in the Democratic primary for governor -- though he is going to be completely swamped by Attorney General Eliot Spitzer (who is likely to do the same in November to GOP official candidate John Faso).

In the attorney general race, being totally tired of having to deal with
Cuomos (Andrew, this time) and Mark Green (perpetually), I'd vote for new kid on the block, Sean Patrick Maloney. Andrew Cuomo is going to win handily, but Maloney is a good, smart guy who one hopes will be around for a while. If he'd been able to raise more money, he might have been able to make more of a race of this.

In Congressional District 11 (where I live), one of the ugliest primaries in recent memory is coming to an end, in the contest to replace Rep. Major Owens. I refuse to endorse either the
inherent nepotism of Chris Owens (Major's son) or the corrupt Brooklyn-machine created and supported state Sen. Carl Andrews. So, it becomes a coin flip between two council members -- Yvette Clarke (the forgetful black woman) and David Yassky (the opportunistic white guy).

The choice is yours, fellow Brooklynites!

Go to it -- you have my sympathy.


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Probst Keeps His Chin Up

I've avoided the Survivor: Race Wars bandwagon, mainly because I go out of my way to avoid making unfounded charges of racism.

However, it becomes impossible when you realize how stunningly
stupid Survivor's host, Jeff Probst is:

Probst could say, however, that working on this edition of "Survivor" has changed his life.

The other day, he told the reporters, he went to his dentist, who is white, and the dentist brought in another dentist, who is Asian. "And I found myself saying to the Asian doctor, 'Where in Asia is your family from?' " The dentist said he was Korean. "The only reason I had the courage to even ask that question or the knowledge to ask that question was I'd just spent 39 days with people from Korea," Probst said.

Yes, he really did.

Asians, he explained, include Chinese and Japanese and Koreans and "they don't necessarily get along," adding, "This is stuff maybe I should know."

Having gone ethnic, "Survivor" will never again be lily white, Probst promised. That Probst is so sweet. And trusting. So naive.

"For me, as a white guy from Wichita who hosts the show I love . . . the minute everything was a go, I felt in my heart we'll never go backwards. We can't. . . .

"It wouldn't surprise me if a few years from now people looked back and said, 'Remember when "Survivor" did that and all the hoopla and now it's more commonplace?' That wouldn't surprise me at all. It would make me real happy."

He sees the stunt casting as nothing but good.

"This is such a positive idea because you're going to see more ethnicities represented, certainly on our show from this point forward. . . . You know, a young Hispanic kid now gets turned on to 'Survivor' because there's somebody he can relate to and it opens up a world to him. Maybe he decides to travel as a result of seeing the show or maybe he sees something . . . in this Hispanic [contestant] that he can connect with and he decides to go do what that guy does.

"The possibilities of what could happen from this, to me, are endless, really."
Now, this isn't the first time that a Mark Burnett-produced series has been charged with having racist overtones. Indeed, "The Apprentice" has managed to produce more "mad black women" than the average Tyler Perry production. And that's not even bringing up "should-Randal-share-the-prize" stuff.

But this one takes the cake. First, the concept of breaking the "tribes" into separate races is offensive on its, uh, face.

But then, Probst has the nerve to talk about the "educational" value that the show might have -- showing dumb white guys like him that there are different types of Asians -- and they don't all get along with one another!?!? Wow! I am so damn shocked & surprised!

And, golly, some poor Hispanic kid may realize -- by watching Survivor -- that there's more to the world than just America! Geez, if only that Hispanic kid might realize that there are other cultures -- and countries out there.

Maybe the Caucasianally-challenged Mr. Probst will advocate that they do a special edition of the show called, oh, say, Survivor:Panama or Guatemala, so Hispanics can get some interesting insights on a strange, foreign land where they might wish to sometime...

Oh, the places they might go!

And, no, Burnett and his crew don't get excused from this abomination by having a host that makes white people look really, really stupid.

What's particularly despicable is that Burnett reportedly came up with this concept in retaliation for the show having been criticized for its overly-white previous cast(e)s. This is the reality show producer version of throwing a temper tantrum. But, according to Burnett, it's America that has a
problem with race.

Now, the Washington Post columnist notes that the real reason behind this may be that Survivor's ratings have fallen; Survivor has almost a non-existent black audience -- especially in comparison to the diverse American Idol.

However, a point that could -- and should -- have been made is that Survivor's claim about how difficult it was in previous editions to have diverse contestants is belied by the arguably better The Amazing Race (winner of three Emmys for Best Reality Series) which manages to have a truly diverse assortment of teams -- old, young, male, female, black, white, Asian, Hispanic, gay, married, single, siblings, frat boys and various other combinations.

Yet, they allowed the duos just to compete -- and win -- as what they were, individual teams.

Too bad Survivor didn't think of that.


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Monday, September 11, 2006

 

Still Standing

At one time, at night -- when I turned my head just right at my apartment window -- I could see the lights of the of the World Trade Center.

Five years ago, primary day in New York, I was still lounging in bed. The day before, my boss had told us to come in a bit later, since there was anticipation that it would be a late evening.

I had the television on -- NBC, I believe -- and suddenly noticed someone having called in and talking to the anchor about a plane crashing into one of the Twin Towers. I immediately started channel-surfing and saw the same scene on all stations -- trained on the north tower, as black smoke came out of a hole in the side.

From that angle, the hole didn't seem that large. Like many people, I thought -- was this a Payne Stewart-situation, a small plane that had somehow flown off course and crashed into the building?

At this point, I was watching local 24-hour news station, New York 1. At around 9:00 a.m, anchor Pat Kiernan was speaking by phone to report Kristen Shaugnessey who was downtown, just a few blocks away, setting up to do primary-day stories.

She spoke about what she was seeing -- even as the television screen remained trained on the smoking tower. As she spoke to Kiernan, one could see a small shadow coming out of the right side of the screen. It seemed to disappear behind the smoking tower.

Suddenly, there was a huge explosion coming from the other side -- the other tower.

Amazingly, Kiernan, the anchor didn't see the other plane hitting the South tower. He seemed stunned by the sudden explosion.

Shaughnessey, of course, was speechless.

Like everyone else, I knew at that moment that a plane flying into one tower could be an accident. Not two.

Looking out my window, I could see black plumes of smoke coming from where the towers were.

And, the world began in a very different way.

Five years later, New York still stands. There remains a hole -- a physical one -- in the middle of city. For thousands, there remains an absence of a loved one.

For thousands more, there remains an emotional deprivation -- a loss of security, stability and a sense of self.

But, generally, New York still stands -- in all its quirky, self-confident, arrogant, funny, aggressive, ambitious, welcoming and affirming glory. All of its virtues and faults remain. Yes, elements of fear remain -- but not quite like in the days right after, when the looks of nervousness on subway riders were palpable, when a train would stop in a tunnel or on a bridge.

But, New Yorkers go on about their business now, as we did before.

As we will tomorrow.

And the next day.

And the next.

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Ten things from the opening NFL Sunday

1. I was over at my dad's house to see the games on NFL Sunday Ticket. They have a new "Superfan" package, which was free this weekend. I happened to watch the new "Redzone Channel"(RZC), which is included in "Superfan".

For the 1:00 games, RZC was PERFECT! It takes you to whatever game is having something interesting happen. It is a football junkie's dream come true! When Vince Young played his first series, I saw it. When teams were in the red zone, I saw it.

But then the 4:00 games happened. RZC was too caught up in the Jacksonville-Dallas game. Truth be told, the Arizona-San Francisco game was a LOT more fun to watch.

The lesson learned is that RZC is great when the NFL has a lot of games on, but not so good with fewer games.

2. Speaking of Arizona-San Francisco, that was the game of the day. Tons of offense with just a smattering of defense for dramatic effect.

Even though the 49ers lost, running back Frank Gore is one to watch. He looks a lot like Charlie Garner. The 49ers will be competitive this year just because of Gore.

Kurt Warner is back. He has not looked this good since his days with the Rams. He is a perfect fit for this offense. If he stays healthy, there is no quarterback controversy here. Matt Leinart will be holding the clipboard the rest of the year.

3. On the subject of quarterback controversies, hey Jake Plummer! You hear that sound? That is the growing chorus of Denver fans calling for Jay Cutler! Get used to it. You will be hearing it for the rest of the year.

Seriously, Denver-St. Louis was the second best game of the day (I am not counting the Indianapolis-N.Y. Giants game last night because I did not stay up and watch it, although it looked good from the highlights I saw).

The Broncos should have won it, except for Plummer, who kept giving the ball away. In Plummer's defense, his lone fumble could be partially blamed on having rookie running back Mike Bell try and pass block Rams defensive end Leonard Little. In a "Welcome to the NFL, rookie", Little flattened Bell on his way to Plummer. I wonder what genius thought of that pass blocking scheme? Hello, Mike Shanahan.

4. I think the ghost of Jerome Bettis has possessed Rams running back Steven Jackson. I am sure a few Bronco defenders were having nightmares about Jackson last night. It looked painful trying to tackle him.

5. Saints running back Reggie Bush looks like the second coming of Lenny Moore. Too bad Drew Brees is nowhere close to looking like Johnny Unitas.

That said, it is almost sinful for the Saints to be blessed with two running backs like Bush and Deuce McAllister. The last time the Saints had two running backs of this caliber was in the early 80's when they had George Rogers and Earl Campbell. But I would take Bush and McAllister over Rogers and Campbell any time.

6. QB Vince Young probably pulled off the fastest play-action pass I have ever seen. Unfortunately, that is NOT the purpose of a play-action pass. You have to SELL it. On the bright side for the Titans, the Jet defender did commit a pass interference in the end zone on that play.

Regardless, I still love Young's rocket release. The only other quarterback I ever saw with that fast a release was Dan Marino. It may take a few years for Young to reach Marino's level of competence, but when he does...

7. Speaking of releases, does any quarterback in the NFL have a slower release than Jaguars QB Byron Leftwich? You could eat a sandwich by the time he releases the ball. One of the announcers in the Jaguars game yesterday compared Leftwich's throwing motion to a "windmill". Quite appropriate.

8. Was the Seahawks-Lions game as dull as it looked? From what little I saw of it, it looked like an excuse for a Sunday afternoon nap.

9. Who would have thought the Texans would single-handedly outscore the Buccaneers and the Packers combined? (10-0)

10. Get well soon Trent Green! When a defensive lineman plays basketball with your head, a concussion is the safest injury you can have. Count your lucky stars! (pun intended)

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