Monday, April 28, 2008

Tomorrow, Tomorrow ...

No editorial content to back this up, other than I saw this comic and laughed out loud. I don't know who the artists is, but it was on a site called Enjoy.


Saturday, April 26, 2008

Hillary the Plagiarist

Obama campaign, 2007-2008:
"Yes, we can!"
Clinton campaign, 2008:
"Yes, we will!"

U.S. Sen. John Edwards, various speeches and debates, 2007-2008:
"This is personal for me." 
Hillary Clinton, on the brink of 'tears,' Jan. 23, 2008:
"This is personal to me."

U.S. Sen. John Edwards, Jan. 3, 2008:
"With Elizabeth, with my family, with my friends, with all of you and all of your support, this son of a millworker's gonna be just fine. Our job now is to make certain that America will be fine."
Hillary Clinton, Feb. 21, 2008:
"Whatever happens, we're going to be fine. We have strong support from our families and our friends. I just hope that we'll be able to say the same thing about the American people."

U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, Jan. 21, 2008:
"We've got a formidable opponent -- actually two formidable opponents at this point -- between Senator Clinton and President Clinton.'
Hillary Clinton, April 22, 2008:
"We were up against a formidable opponent, who outspent us three-to-one."

And, not even her husband is safe from her pillaging:

Gov. Bill Clinton, 1992:
"The hits I took in this election are nothing compared to the hits the people of this state and this country have been taking for a long time."
Candidate Hillary Clinton, Feb. 21, 2008:
"You know, the hits I've taken in life are nothing compared to what goes on every single day in the lives of people across our country."

Or the dead:

Charlie Chaplin, (a long time ago):
"Words are cheap."
Hillary Clinton, Feb. 15, 2008:
"Words are cheap."

Especially when you seem to buy them in bulk, Senator.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Jay Jay French and Friends - I Want Barack!

This video is made by one of the guys from Twisted Sister, who wasn't Dee Snider. Suffice it to say, this rocks.
Turn it up to 11!

Friday, April 18, 2008

"The Tower"

There's something about Chicago that lends itself to movies and TV shows about newspaper reporters. From "Call NORthside 777" to "His Girl Friday/The Front Page" and "Never Been Kissed," to the laughable "My Boys" to the Canadian-made "Early Edition," it seems that whenever Hollywood makes a picture or show involving reporters, chances are it'll be set in Chicago (the exceptions being "Lou Grant" and the final season of "The Wire," but "The Wire" was already set in Baltimore).  It could be the city's legacy of hard-nosed reporting, stemming from the time when there were a dozen or so daily papers and the assembly line of great reporters turned out by the City News Bureau of Chicago (I was one of the last ones there, from the Class of '99).

The latest addition to this list is a CBS pilot called "The Tower." I don't know if it will be set at a tabloid or a broadsheet, but with a name like "The Tower," it seems it may be set in some imposing ivory structure more fit for a "Lord of the Rings" movie than a gritty urban newspaper.  

According to a couple accounts [zaptoit, afterelton], the show "focuses on a group of reporters who try to solve the crimes they're supposed to be investigating." Um, where'd the police go? Isn't that their job?  Anyway, CCH Pounder plays the paper's editor, Cole Hauser is a crime reporter, and Denis (one N) O'Hare will also play an editor. O'Hare was in "Michael Clayton" and won a Tony for the show "Take Me Out." 

Of course I'll watch the show (hell, I even watched one episode of "The Boys") but I don't know if the show will resonate with people under 40, since they may have to explain what a "newspaper" is. But then again it will be on CBS. And instead of a plot device like "crime reporters who solve crimes," why can't they just present a drama about reporters and what they deal with day to day (and of course what happens outside the newsroom), just like when you have a cop show? I guess it  takes an ex-reporter, like "The Wire's" creators, to realize you don't need these phony devices to make the story interesting. 

And I worry about  the precedent this show will set. Not only have newspaper reporters, in recent years, been expected to report, write, edit and analyze the news, they've also been asked to start taking photos, blog for the company, "do more with less," and now they'll be expected to solve crimes. Sheesh.   

(The picture accompanying this post is of Kyle Chandler, star of "Early Edition." In that series, he was a guy who lived in a rough around the edges loft who found a copy of the next day's Chicago Sun-Times outside his door each morning. The paper was left there by a cat. hey, don't ask me; I didn't write the show. Anyway, each day the paper had some story about a terrible event that had befallen someone and Kyle had 24 hours from the time he picked up that copy of the Sun-Times to try to prevent the terrible thing from happening. Gosh, I miss that show.) 

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Greatest Blogger on Earth

No, I'm not talking about myself -- it's much too soon to accept such accolades, even if I'm the one handing them out. Nope, today the Best Blogger on Earth Award goes to Jonathan Messinger, of Shoot the Messinger, of Time Out Chicago magazine and of course, the sometimes Partly Dave Show.

This morning at work I heard some cop talk about a CTA train that was stuck in the subway downtown. I didn't think it was such a big deal, since being a Red/Brown Line rider myself, delays are now just part of the ride on CHICAGO 2016's public transit system. But one of the editors on the paper side said people on the trains weren't being told what was going on, so I called the masters of understatement at the CTA, who told me there was a bit of a mechanical problem with one train, and some inconveniences would be experienced and shuttle buses, complete with cotton candy machines and onboard entertainment were being provided for displaced riders.

Then the fire trucks and ambulances started to respond and I realized there was more, much more, to the story.

I bounced around to all the local Web sites/blogs which were not blocked by the Sun-Times dirty nasty Web site catchers, and found a few rather detailed comments and even some pictures, from people who had been right in the thick of it and who told a rather different story from that being told by the CTA. One of these was a blog entry on Time Out Chicago's site by Jonathan Messinger. I e-mailed him, told him who I was (did not mention how big a fan I was of his spoken word performances) and said, "hey, if you'd like to tell me about your trip in to work this morning, give me a call."

The result is my epic Blue Line disaster story.

He had what sounded like a horrible experience on the Blue Line this morning, he was two hours late for work, his clothes and hands were dirtied by having to crawl through the subway tunnels, but he was able to take a few minutes out of the day to call me and tell me what happened, which I really appreciate.

The pace of the day today was maddening, since I updated the original story eight times in the span of about six hours, including once to clarify a sub-headline which read, "Fire on the Scene," and which one of the STNG Wire's clients took to mean there was "a fire" in the subway, even though those words never appeared in the story nor were any words within the story constructed as such to suggest there was a fire in the subway. TV people, most likely.

In the meantime, in between time, I did some other stuff, like write a murder story, a couple death investigation stories, checked out a report of a bank robbery that was unfounded but talked to the FBI and did a brief story on the record-setting pace of this year's bank robberies in the five-county Chicago metropolitan area and re-wrote a press release story about Oprah presenting an award to Desmond Tutu next month in Chicago. Oh, and I followed up on the cop shooting the cougar story from Monday -- couldn't get anyone from the city's Animal Care and Control Department to return my two phone calls, but I did update it with a statement from the police superintendent.

It's days like today that make me feel like I was made to do this shit. It would be nice if I could get a "Hey, nice work" at some point, though.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Here Comes the Wine ...

This month I reached a professional milestone when a story I wrote for the food section of the Sun-Times was published. Even though I've had my name at the bottom of a story in the paper before, as a contributor (thanks to Steve Patterson), this was my first sole byline, which was kind of thrilling. The only bad thing about the whole experience was that the story (and accompanying sidebar) did not appear in the North Zone papers, just those that went to the (I presume) South Side and south suburbs. So none of my friends on the North Side or north burbs got to see my story in print, unless they happened to buy that day's paper down south. No matter, I got a few copies which I can photocopy and send to anyone who wants to see the story in all its glory.

Or you can just click on this!

The idea was to do something fun with the new NHL Alumni wines that have come out in six cities. I thought instead of having wine "experts" give their opinions, we'd get together some people who are more into hockey than wine or who like wine as well as hockey. Cook County Commissioner Mike Quigley, and CBS2 news anchor Rob Johnson, who both play hockey, graciously agreed to take part in the tasting, as did Tom Moro, who owns Johnny's Ice House, the Near West Side ice rink where recreational players play, in addition to where pro hockey teams practice. We weren't able to snag a sommelier, however, which I wasn't too disappointed by. I e-mailed a relatively well-known Chicago sommelier, who never got back to me. Little did we know, though, that Rob Johnson was actually quite the expert on wines, which was very cool. I worried though that the panel was a bit too male, so the editor, Janet, suggested we get Sun-Times sportswriter/columnist Carol Slezak to take part, suggesting she'd even twist Carol's arm if need be. Slezak, even though she apparently doesn't ever need to be in the office, agreed to be part of it and set aside time for my silly little wine tasting, on an otherwise busy Friday afternoon.

I was really nervous about the whole thing, especially since I was asking people who have some pretty important things to do in the late afternoons to take an hour out of their day to hang out and drink and talk about wine. If they were worried about missing some other appointment or being late for a meeting or a news broadcast or anything, none of them let on in the least bit. The panel may not have had a lot to say about the wines, but they all talked as if they had been pals for years and the hour was a pretty enjoyable experience for me, and I hope it was for them, as well. I just feel badly that the pictures that were taken weren't bigger in the paper, especially since Mike Quigley wore a Blackhawks jersey that the team had given him. Rob Johnson also gave the other panelists a mini lesson in how to hold your wine glass and how to get the full taste and aroma of the wine, which was way cool.

It's weird that the two stories I have so far written that have had a hockey angle to them -- this story about the NHL wines for the Sun-Times and the story I did a bunch of years ago for the Chicago Free Press on the Chicago Gay Hockey Association -- have kind of spotlighted stereotypes which are not necessarily true -- gays don't care for hockey, hockey fans would rather have a beer than a glass of wine -- but I really do love the sport and if I think there are any misconceptions about it or its fans, I don't mind being the one to have a part in dissolving those misconceptions, even if it people (or I) might want me to get to a point where I can just write about the sport without pondering the sociological aspects involved.

As for food writing, if it's as much fun as this story was, I can't wait to do more of it.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Thank God For Baseball

There are many reasons I am happy baseball season is here, especially since my White Sox have gotten to a 5-2 start. But one thing that really made me happy last week, while watching the Sox play the Cleveland Indians on WGN TV, is that the game prevented the TV station from showing what regularly would have run in at least the first hour's time slot, the Maury Povich show. According to the onscreen TV Guide, Maury's show that day was to be something like "I'm not sleeping with him if he has sex with that drag queen!" Apparently Maury had run out of Baby Mamas and Daddies for the week. Like I said, Thank God for Baseball.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Wrighteous Indignation

Certain segments of the Italian-American community are up in arms over some statements that the Rev. Jeremiah Wright made in a eulogy he wrote in December of last year in Trumpet magazine [damn, I let my subscription lapse with the November issue!] in which he said, "(Jesus') enemies had their opinion about Him ... The Italians for the most part looked down their garlic noses at the Galileans." He also called Jesus's crucifixion "a public lynching Italian style."

Outrageous, yes. The man should be admonished publicly, privately and hopefully these misdirected statements can lead to some greater good, to some greater understanding between people, maybe a greater understanding by Americans and especially those who pay special heed to Rev. Wright's words, about the rough time that Italians have had in this country, how they have been mistreated, how they have been discriminated against and even killed just because of where they came from, what they looked like, how they spoke, etc. It could turn into a great learning opportunity.

But unfortunately those who seem to be the most incensed about this also are using it as an opportunity to bash Barack Obama, who goes to Wright's Chicago church and who has considered him to be one of his mentors. They want Obama to publicly denounce and renounce Wright (even though Obama has already done so, very publicly, after Wright's observation that America may not always have been the most hospitable place on earth for Blacks was shot out into the media and public consciousness recently).

And that's where I've got a problem with this indignation, these calls for denouncement and the cries that the media is ignoring the offensive comments by Obama's pastor (well, not all the media have ignored this outrage -- no less than Rush Limbaugh has loudly spread the word of this matter. Thank you very much, paisans, but when the only people heralding your cause of the day are the likes of Limbaugh, then maybe there's good reason not to join your bandwagon). Does anyone know what this "Trumpet" magazine is? Has anyone ever heard of it before? And if this article by Wright came out in December of last year, why is it just garnering the attention it has now, in late March/early April? I don't know for certain how it came to be, but I can only imagine that since Wright's anger at America was broadcast on YouTube earlier this year, Republicans, Clintonites, and those toiling at the Right Wing "think tanks" have been working overtime trying to find more "controversial" things Wright may have said, in order to keep the real issues people should be discussing -- an illegal war that is costing this country billions upon billions of dollars with no end in sight, the nearly 50 million Americans who do not have health insurance and the millions whose insurance is woefully inadequate, a crisis in the lending industry that is causing record numbers of home foreclosures, jobs that continue to be shipped overseas while CEOs rake in millions even as they run the companies they are at for only months or at the longest a few years into the ground, etc., etc.

So yes, Barack Obama should denounce and renounce his former pastor. And when he has finished renouncing Rev. Wright -- I’m thinking something along the lines of a scene from “The Passion of the Christ” might suffice -- Sen. Hillary Clinton should renounce her husband, the former President, Bill Clinton, for the comments he made in the early 1990s to one of his girlfriends, Gennifer Flowers, where he compared New York Gov. Mario Cuomo to a Mafioso. And Sen. John McCain should publicly renounce his supporter America’s Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who said, in a 2007 campaign appearance of his own in California, in his best Don Corleone voice, "Thank youse all very much for invitin' me here tuh-day, to this meeting of the families from different parts'a California.” Then McCain should renounce the support of his supporter, Rev. John Haggee, who has said Catholics conspired with Hitler to exterminate the Jews and that hurricanes are God’s way of showing his displeasure with sinful people. And Giuliani, though no longer a candidate, should, for his part, join in by renouncing his friend, the child molesting Monsignor Alan Placa, who performed the (civil) marriage ceremony for Rudy and his second (of three) wives.

I'm assuming that most of my fellow Italian-Americans who are so upset that Sen. Obama has not publicly whipped Rev. Wright are also Catholic. Well, where were they, and what did they do, who did they renounce, as priests were molesting young children over the past 30, 40, 50 or more years? Why didn't they speak out against a church or say, a Cardinal and Archbishop who protected those who molested children, against the criminal prosecution they deserved? Where is their outrage at the church for harboring criminals and obstructing law enforcement?

Rev. Wright’s words were disappointing, of course, but they seem more like what was said by the old curmudgeon Mr. Potter in the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life,” who spoke dismissively of some of the hard-working people of his town as “garlic eaters.” That comment hardly registered on our collective radar, as should be the case with these recently uncovered comments.