A Dimm View of Life

Location: Illinois, United States

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Don Imus and mediamatter.org

Don Imus has been a regular topic since he uttered a sophomoric description of the Rutgers Women’s Basketball team. It was horrible and stupid and, as I have written here before, he should have been fired.

My wife offered me the April 23, 2007 issue of Newsweek magazine. Keep in mind that Newsweek is a “strategic partner” to NBC, who was one of Imus’ employers.

The article “The Power That Was”, written by Weston Kosova, was mostly a recap of what happened recently regarding Imus’ idiotic attempt at humor and the wrath that poured down upon him afterward.

Kosova makes one point that I did not realize until I read the article. On Wednesday, April 4, 2007, the day of the incident, millions of people listened on the radio and watched on MSNBC. Nobody flinched at the remark.

Okay, maybe somebody flinched, but nothing was said. It was just the I-Man doing his schtick. Imus makes fun of people. It is what he gets paid to do.

It was not until later that things boiled over. An employee of Media Matters, Ryan Chiachiere, watched the show on tape and brought the comment (among others) to his employers. His employers then began make the statement available at their website, but more importantly, added the clip on YouTube.

It was then that the controversy sparked and caught fire. Hours after the program had ended; people had the comment pointed out to them and became incensed.

Think about this for a moment. People who normally do not watch or listen to Don Imus became aware of the comment and became upset. Within a week, Don Imus was out of work.

Even I, who did not watch or listen to Imus regularly, became caught up in the discussion, and I have always stated that I enjoyed Imus when I could listen.

If I run a stop sign, and there are no cars or pedestrians in the area, but a local television crew accidental, but clearly, tape my car running through the intersection, can I get a ticket a week later? I clearly violated the law. Would it be right if the news crew ran a story on the late news that Alexander Dimm ran a stop sign and then the police ticketed me because they heard about the story on the news?

Somehow understanding that the Imus controversy did not spring up from the initial statement bothers me. The fact that his firing was generated, not by regular listeners, but by people who look to the internet for issues they can champion colors the whole affair.

At the core, should Imus have been fired for his statement? Of course. As it states in the Newsweek article, Imus normally saves those kinds of remarks for newsmen, writers and politicians. Still, he should not be making these kinds of remarks about anyone.

Should Media Matters have spread the word once Chiachiere made them aware? Of course. Media Matters is a great organization who works hard to point out the misinformation being spread in the world of news today. Everyday they point out errors by people you would expect and people you would not. If you have not seen it, I urge you to visit their website at http://mediamatters.org/.

Imus was not considered by Media Matters to be a frequent offender. People do not get upset about offensive statements by Howard Stern and/or Glenn Beck because these people, and others like them, are consistent. Everyday they utter things that are offensive and stupid.

Imus did not take a step “over the line”. He took a step “over his own line”. He made a statement he would not normally make. He offended a group of people he would not normally offend. He did it and he paid the price.

There are many others getting paid today who frequently step over the “Imus line” but not over their own line. They are still working, and will likely continue to work. That is the saddest statement about this affair.

Imus, who understood the workings of Washington, did not hold with a political party, and was willing to puncture a republican as easily as a democrat, no longer has a voice. Many others who spew misinformation and venom like it is the weather report will continue to go merrily on their way. They do because their statements are not out of character for them.

If you are unhappy with comments made by any news reporter or political commentator, speak up. Be specific. Tell them what you heard and how you felt. Do not make it a personality issue. Write down what was said and when. Then let those in charge know.

I have already written that I feel Glenn Beck should be removed from his nightly program at CNN Headline News. If you agree and want an opportunity to be heard, contact CNN at this link, http://www.cnn.com/feedback/. You may be surprised what can happen.

Thank you for reading. We’ll talk again soon.

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Friday, April 27, 2007

Presidential Debate

The next presidential election is still about nineteen months away. Apparently the Democrats believe they had better get started.

Last night MSNBC broadcast a debate between the democrats. My wife and I would have loved to have watched, but I was unaware of the program and my wife forgot until after it had ended. I assured her that the network would rerun the debate, and then promptly forgot to look for it again.

On one hand, the election is nineteen months away. There will be many, many more debates and speeches in the meantime. On the other hand, I love this stuff and it would have been fun to watch.

It has been awhile since I have written about the candidates. I still encourage everyone to read as much as you can and listen and find your candidate. I have not yet solidified my choice for next fall. We do not have to vote until the spring 2008 primaries, so I am taking my time.

I am keeping my eye on the obvious contenders, including Barack Obama, John Edwards (who gave a great speech recently that is available as a podcast from www.johnedwards.com) and Christopher Dodd on the democrats’ side. I am also keeping my ears open to Sam Brownback, Rudy Giuliani and John McCain among the republicans.

I would love to consider people like Joe Biden and Tommy Thompson, but both have let themselves down by uttering foolishness. Biden attempted to praise Obama and ended up offending previous African-American candidates. Thompson recently offended people of the Jewish faith while attempting to compliment them. If they cannot properly offer words of simple praise to the people of our country, in relatively non-stressful circumstances, are we going to allow them to speak to the leaders of the world?

Then there is Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich (who hasn’t officially announced but acts like he has). These two continue to spout statements that in my mind fuel the fires of hate within this country. Romney has made clear his beliefs regarding the rights of those wishing same-sex marriages. Gingrich is notorious for his attitudes toward women. Neither is worth our time.

Have the candidates I have mentioned favoring uttered foolishness? Occasionally they have, but they have not taken positions that fall totally in my disfavor, although McCain does support the war, and their statements have not done undo harm to their campaign. In the cases of Biden, Thompson, Romney and Gingrich, their past statements will make them easy targets as the months fly by.

I love a good presidential campaign. There is a lot of good information on the internet and some bad information. Never take what I say as gospel. Take what the candidates say and scrutinize it carefully. Understand what they stand for and decide who you would like to see as our next president. If you can choose soon enough, consider volunteering for a campaign, even if typing a few words of support on someone’s blog is all you can afford.

If there is anything you disagree with here, let me know. I would love to hear what you think.

Thank you for reading. We will talk again soon.

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Thursday, April 26, 2007

The Return of Roger Ebert

Back in the 1970s, WTTW, the public broadcasting channel in Chicago experimented with a program they called “Coming to a Theatre Near You”. The project involved two men who wrote movie reviews for the local newspapers.

The program received local praise and the network decided to take in national. They renamed the show “Sneak Previews”. The set was the seating section of a movie theatre. On one side sat Gene Siskel, who played the snooty, white collar, classy, opinionated critic. On the other side sat Roger Ebert, who played the everyman. He was maybe a little more blue collar, but appreciated film from more of the “regular joe” perspective.

Both men knew movies. Once they did a show debating whether Woody Allen or Mel Brooks were funnier. You can guess which critic took up which case. Each had an angle that was special, but if there was a bad movie out there, both knew it. If there was a great movie out there, both knew it. The biggest arguments were about the movies “in the middle”. Listening to the two men debate was fun.

Through the 80’s and 90’s, the show went commercial and elements changed. Occasionally the two men were asked to do prime time network specials. They were frequent guests of Johnny Carson and David Letterman. Both were excellent spokespeople for the city of Chicago.

Then we lost Gene Siskel. He seemed too young at the time and he is sadly missed.

Roger Ebert seemed to transform through the years. He became less blue collar and more like a college professor. Each year he hosts a film festival weekend in his hometown Champaign, Illinois. The ninth annual event began last night. He often has big names appear on stage with him to discuss their work and film in general.

Ebert has been fighting cancer in recent years. Last night in Champaign, he made a public return after a long absence. There were no speeches and there won’t be for awhile. Still it is good to see him up and around and able to appear before a crowd.

Roger Ebert has become a part of the family through the years. Most of Illinois, if not the world, hopes he can get past this and continue to teach us about great film for years to come.

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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

In the Doghouse

My usual pithy comments have been missing for the past few days. I certainly apologize, but I have been busier than normal since Friday.

We have a new arrival at our home. It weighs about eight or nine pounds and is cute as a button. Without holding you in too much suspense, our new family member is a ten-month old Lhasa Apso. We brought the boy home from a shelter on Saturday and he has fit right in with most of us.

My wife is head over heels in love with the puppy. She gave it a bath last night and is taking it to be neutered today. If the last is not a sign of affection I do not know what is. She spent two weeks searching local shelters and not so local shelters trying to find a dog that would fit our family. Since we brought him home she is studying the computer and checking out library books in an effort to make the transition smooth and understand how best to take care of the pooch.

My sixteen year old daughter loves the dog too, but is careful not to let it interfere with her social life. My eight year old son loves the dog, but is also careful not to let it interfere with video games and other pastimes. Our five year old cat is still clinging to the hope that if it hisses enough it will go away.

My wife is the best pet owner in Central Illinois. She loves the dog, which is the most important step. I am probably a poor pet owner. The old school pet-owner approach fits me better. Give it a place to stay and some food and it should be fine. I like to take it outside and go for walks, but I try to solve other issues on my own.

Here is an example of my goofy way of pet care compared to my wife’s thoughtful approach. Since bringing the dog home Saturday, we set him up in a small room for bed time. The first night, the dog pawed at the door and whined, but eventually slept. The next night was more of the same.

My wife and I agreed that we should probably get a crate. We both work and the crate would keep the baby dog from destroying the little room bit by bit. My wife went out Monday night and found a great crate.

Just a side note, I don’t like crates. Crate is just a nicer name than cage. The whole point of giving the dog a home is so it does not have to live in a cage. You never see “Old Yeller” in a cage. “Lassie” is never seen in a cage. Still, after owning a basset hound for twelve years, I understand the value of a crate.

So Monday night was our dog’s first night in its crate. It was the first night I heard the boy bark repeatedly. Sure, there was the occasional yelp, but Monday night was a call for help. It did not want to spend the night in the crate.

What did Alex do? In my old school wisdom, I grabbed a pillow and slept on the floor outside the dog’s room, inches from the crate, where the dog could see me. Within minutes he settled down. After a half-hour or so, I moved so the dog could still see my feet, but not my head. The dog got up for a moment or two, but spun around and lay back down again.

An hour or so later, I moved to the living room couch, which was still within sight and sound of our new border. At first, he whined, but when I told him to go to sleep, he did.

I did not get much sleep that night, but it seemed like a victory. When morning came, I realized that, in some ways, I spent the night in the doghouse.

Yesterday, my wife combed the internet and learned that Lhaso Apsos hate to be left alone. The best thing would be to let the dog sleep in our room. The boy is not fully housebroken, so we were worried about doing such a thing. Now we had documented proof that it would be okay.

Last night, we slept nearly straight through the night. The boy got my wife up early to go outside, but otherwise it was a successful experience.

If my wife had not been looking for the best solutions, we would need to replace a door in our house, or I would have spent another night on the floor downstairs, if not for the next week or two.

Instead we have a living situation that is comfortable for all of our new family. My wife is wonderful. She found a new companion for us all, and knows how to use modern technology to make it work. I like the internet too, but my wife is more fun to be around. I am a lucky guy.

Now that I am rested, I can write again! Thank you for reading. We will talk again soon.


Thursday, April 19, 2007

Is Glenn Beck a Liberal?

If Don Imus is considered racist, sexist and a misogynist, how do you define Glenn Beck?

Remember when “conservative” meant being careful. Looking at a definition of the word conservative, it states:

1. Favoring traditional views and values; tending to oppose change.
2. Traditional or restrained in style: a conservative dark suit.
3. Moderate; cautious: a conservative estimate.

Think about this. It uses words like “cautious” and “restrained”. Yet I notice that many of those who describe themselves as conservative are anything but “cautions” and “restrained”.

Would someone described as “conservative” call anyone a “fat witch”? Glenn Beck does. March 21, 2007.

Would someone go on the radio and refer to a neighboring nation as a “dirtbag country”? Glenn Beck did. April 27, 2006.

On February 28, 2007, Glenn Beck was interviewing an American Idol contestant who had been scandalized by racy photos that had become public. Beck’s “conservative” response? “I’ve got some time and a camera. Why don’t you stop by?”

Is this an example of "traditional values"? Dr. Dobson, are you listening?

Are these types of barbs considered witty? None of this would be funny or thought-provoking if it were uttered by Larry the Cable Guy. Don Imus is a first cousin to Bob Hope compared to the “funny, conservative” humor of Glenn Beck.

How is this for a funny observation: On the August 24, 2006 broadcast of his program on CNN, Beck complained about hotels that put Braille markings next to the doors of the rooms. “Just to piss them [blind people] off, I'm going to put in Braille on the coffee pot ... 'Pot is hot.' "

I wrote recently that I believed a broadcaster I sometimes enjoyed, Don Imus, should have been fired for his recent remarks regarding the students and athletes of Rutgers. I stand by that statement.

The truth remains that if Imus deserves to be sent home, so do many other broadcasters. Glenn Beck is someone who liberally offends and openly hates people. That does not make Beck a liberal. In fact, he is far from being either a good conservative or a good liberal. He is far from being good at anything.

I hope CNN wakes up before he embarrasses their organization any more than he already has.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Jackie Robinson

Even though both Chicago teams lost on Sunday, it was still a great day. Three years ago, Major League Baseball declared that each April 15th would be Jackie Robinson day.

This year, different players on each team asked to wear the retired number of Robinson. Six Cubs wore the number while five Sox also took a turn. The Dodgers, for whom Robinson played, had all of their team where number 42.

Robinson was 28 years old when he broke in with the Brooklyn Dodgers. Over ten years, he played in nearly 1,400 games, batting .311 and hitting 137 home runs. The stats are not incredible, but very, very good. Robinson retired after being traded to the dreaded Giants. Seems he was more loyal to the Dodgers than they were to him.

What I did not know about Robinson was that, during his career, he played every position except the battery positions, although he only played shortstop once. He spent the most time at second base, where he finished with a nice .983 fielding percentage.

To compare, former Cincinnati star and Hall of Famer Joe Morgan had a .981 fielding percentage after playing three times as many games at second base in twice as many years. Rogers Hornsby, Hall of Fame player who spent most of his career at second finished with .965. Hall of Famer Rod Carew split his career between second and first base, and finished at .973.

Oh yeah, Ryne Sandberg finished with .989 at second base. He played for the Cubs for a few years and entered the Hall awhile back. He was pretty good, but he did not have to battle the demons Jackie Robinson did.

Crossing to color barrier could not have been easy. He endured insult upon aggravation. Players and fans alike showed disrespect and in some cases, hatred. Jackie Robinson was a special man. He handled the entire ten years and more with class and dignity.

It is amazing that this year’s wonderful celebration had to be shadowed by the horrible comments made by an eccentric old man who has 1940s values in a 21st century world.

Jackie Robinson had a career that was relatively short and, although he put up good numbers, were hardly overwhelming. Still, he accomplished so much in such a short time.

I hope someday we forget about Jackie Robinson. I hope that the relationship between all people is such that we do not have to celebrate those who helped prove that we are all one people.

Until that day, I will look forward to each April 15th. Nice play, Jackie. Nice play.

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Monday, April 16, 2007

Let the Cry "Remember Virginia Tech" Ring Loud and Clear

This is the last thing I wanted to write about today.

There were other things I was had in mind. There is a book I am reading I wanted to discuss. There are thoughts about other radio and television performers who often make comments worse than those made by Don Imus last week that need to be shared. Yesterday, baseball celebrated Jackie Robinson day.

It all has to be set aside. Today, a man killed our children.

News reports differ. Some say thirty were killed. Others say thirty-three. Almost all use the words “at least”.

I heard about the first shooting of two people early this morning. The story at that time reminded us that on August 20, 2006 there was a shooting at Virginia Tech. At that time the campus was closed to protect the students.

At that time, it was the police doing the shooting. A convict, who escaped from Montgomery County Jail in nearby Christiansburg, close to eight miles away from Blacksburg, was suspected of killing a hospital guard and a sheriff’s deputy. The suspect was shot and killed just off the Virginia Tech campus.

Security was still working, even today, to protect the students of the University. Unfortunately, even with added protection, there were still two sets of shootings.

President George W. Bush got it right when he said today, “Schools should be places of safety and sanctuary and learning. When that sanctuary is violated, the impact is felt in every American classroom and every American community.”

Of course, schools are not the only places where there should not be guns and death. Churches, schools, government buildings, grocery stores, shopping malls, hardware stores, amusement parks, parks, parking garages, hospitals, restaurants and I could go on and on.

As citizens of this country, we have a right to protect ourselves, but we also have a right to expect to live our lives without the threat of being harmed at any time by any person. We need to rethink what is happening is this world today.

Today, our President is attempting to spread democracy overseas. It is a nice idea, but look for a moment at what democracy is giving us. There are individuals killing our children. There are no reasons. There are no excuses.

I do not care how today's killer was treated as a child. I do not care if he was abused. I do not want to know this man’s life story.

There are over thirty life stories that need to be celebrated and mourned. There are over thirty people whose promise-filled futures were cut short. Every life is precious. Every life is important.

Today, a co-worker made a joke. He referred to another co-worker as someone capable of pulling a “Virginia Tech” where we work. It was not funny. It will not be funny tomorrow or a month from now.

We need to find solutions. We need to reach out to each other in a spirit of love and friendship.

Instead of talk of weapons and wars, we need to be finding ways to make every citizen feel they count. That is what we all want. As a people, we want to feel we contribute.

Today, I bow my head and close my eyes for a moment for those children we have lost throughout the world. Tears fall for those students from Virginia Tech. Tears fall for those young men and women in Iraq and Afghanistan. Tears fall for those in Darfur.

For a middle-aged man from central Illinois, there is not much I can do. I can smile at everyone I see today. I can lend a hand where I see a hand is needed. I can write and hope that as you read this you will do the same.

Thank you for reading. We will talk again soon.

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Open Letter to Don Imus

Dear Don:

Hope this letter finds you feeling well. I know the past week has been hard on you. It has been hard on all of us.

I wrote a couple of posts about you last week. I tried to be as kind as possible, but I still had to admit that I would fire you under the same circumstances. What you and Bernard said was inexcusable. I was disappointed in the two week suspension, because it was such a slap on the wrist. When they finally spoke up to say you had been dismissed, it renewed my faith in organizations such as MSNBC and CBS. Now if CNN can follow suit.

I know, I know. You do not work for CNN. I just mean there are people in that organization who say things as bad as, if not worse than, your little joke about the Rutgers basketball team. This letter is not about them. It is about you.

You are a free agent now. So what are you going to do?

Doing commercials is not out of the question. I am not certain who would hire a racist, sexist, misogynist to represent their company. You never know. There may be someone out there ready to capitalize on your recent celebrity.

There may even be another radio station willing to give you a try. They will probably make you and Bernard promise not to talk bad about women, but will also be willing to promote someone who has been all over the news and internet recently.

Satellite radio is probably not the way to go. Howard Stern still accuses you of copying him. He probably thinks this whole scuttle over Rutgers is your way of copying him. As bad as things are you do not want to do anything that would compare you to Stern.

How is this for an idea? You are in your sixties. You have opinions. Why not write a newspaper column? That way, your name is out there. You can be your witty self. If you cross any borders there are editors who will keep you in check. It is a perfect fit!

Who would place your column? Lots of papers will take a column with your name. Just follow this path: Write a book (either you or a ghost). Tell your side of the story and how bad you feel. Also write about the kids in New Mexico and anything else that strikes your fancy.

Then you will do the book tour. You will do some public speaking and book signings. People will begin to warm up to your crusty image again. Do a fund-raiser or two as well. Just be certain not to use any of the slurs in public, okay? If you learned anything from this it is that there are things you and Charles and Bernard can say at the bar that you cannot say in public. Keep that in mind when you roam around the country.

Then start the weekly column. It will grab a lot of attention at first. People may complain, but who cares, right?

A column is ten times easier than a four hour radio show. You will still be making money. It is a great fit.

Give it some thought. In the meantime, relax a bit. Enjoy the summer. Maybe jot down some ideas for the book. Let me know if you need someone to bounce some thoughts.

Anyway, I miss the show already. Good luck to you. Talk to you soon.

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Friday, April 13, 2007

Jenny O'Hara on House M.D.

Doctor shows, whether comedies or dramas, are fun because they allow guest appearances from people you may not see much otherwise. “House M.D.”, over the past three years of existence, has had a variety of patients, from Michelle Trachtenberg to Howard Hessman to L.L. Cool J. Recently they had an excellent appearance by Dave Matthews of the Dave Matthews band.

This past Tuesday, the show featured Jenny O’Hara as the victim who had the mysterious malady. I recognized her immediately because she did a lot of work as a character actress since the mid-seventies. As a teenager, she appeared on the soap opera “As the World Turns”. During the seventies and eighties she made appearances on shows like “The Rockford Files”, “Charlie’s Angels”, “Barney Miller” and “CHiPs”. Often she played vulnerable, insipid women. Her characters often lacked confidence in themselves.

At the start of the series “Facts of Life”, O’Hara was given a similar role as a teacher chasing after another male teacher at the school. It was a “Our Miss Brooks” kind of role which she did well, but the show cut the part after four episodes.

Most recently, she has played a recurring role on the “King of Queens” as Janet Heffernan. Unfortunately, I admit I rarely watch the Kevin James show so I do not know how the character relates to the plot, other than she is a family member.

Watching her on “House, M.D.”, I was amazed at O’Hara’s performance. She was still her trademark vulnerable character, but she was able to exhibit so much with just a handful of lines. She was able to show bravery in the face of fear. Her character, Fran, was afraid of growing older and letting life pass her by, so she decided to do things she would never have done as a younger woman. When telling her story, she was able to exhibit that bravery mixed with embarrassment and anger with herself.

O’Hara has grown much as an actress through the years. The part on the hospital drama was complicated and she was able to communicate to the audience exactly what the character was feeling each step of the way.

The television landscape is littered with programs, like "House, M.D.", that are so-called “dramadies”. I hope someone can offer Jenny O’Hara a part of an aunt or supervisor on one of these shows and allow audiences to see her on a regular basis. She can only make such a show better.

Thank you for reading. We will talk again soon.

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Thursday, April 12, 2007

Kurt Vonnegut

The master has slipped away.


Kurt Vonnegut was an exceptional novelist. He had a view of life that has gone missing in much of today’s modern literature. To say he wrote science fiction is to say that Ernest Hemmingway was a reporter. Vonnegut wrote about life.


He appeared on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart within the past year. Stewart was great with what was obviously an older, slightly befuddled man. He was not the great wit and intellectual that we will remember, but he did have his moments. Stewart made him look good.


Recently Mr. Vonnegut took a fall. The reports are that his death was due to the injuries. Maybe that is befitting of a man whose characters rarely just passed on quietly.


Vonnegut has been welcome on my bookshelf since I discovered “Slapstick” in the mid-seventies. He retired from writing only to publish twice more. It is possible we may hear about one more unfinished manuscript. Somehow I hope so.


Thank you, Mr. Vonnegut for Kilgore Trout and your messages of the painfulness and pointlessness of war. Thank you for introducing us to twisted people and their twisted lives and reminding us that we are a little twisted ourselves.


God Bless You, Mr. Vonnegut. May you rest in the peace you sought.

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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Guns and Schools

During the film “Apollo 13” you see how the average United States citizen developed apathy toward the space program. By the time Apollo 13 was launched, space travel was not new and exciting anymore. Networks were happier to run “I Dream of Jeannie” rather than footage of these heroes in space.

It was not until there was trouble that anyone paid attention.

I worry that the same thing is going to happen with shootings in schools. Yesterday, a student was able to bring a 9 mm handgun into a Chicago school. He was showing it off to friends when it discharged by accident, wounding its owner and another boy.

Both are expected to recover and there is no evidence that there was a planned attack. That said, we still have the issue that the boy BROUGHT A GUN TO SCHOOL!!!

The south side of Chicago is a rough place. There have been plenty of songs written about organized crime, gangs and disorganized crime in the area. At the school in question yesterday, there were security officers and metal detectors due to a previous shooting.

Still, someone was able to bring a gun into the school.

That begs the next questions: How does a fifteen year old boy get his hands on a 9mm handgun? The first look is toward the parents. Then you look for older siblings. Then you look to where he spends his time. This boy did not build this gun in metal shop. He either purchased it somehow or, knowingly or unknowingly, borrowed it from someone.

I am not a big believer in gun control. I feel that gun control tends to control those people who are already responsible with their firearms. They are not the ones who need controlling. There does not need to be an outright ban on firearms in this country.

Still, laws can be tightened. You can make statistics say anything, but there are statistics that show that in areas with tougher laws, the number of homicides, crimes involving handguns and/or fatal accidents have declined.

Guns do not belong in schools, shopping malls or anywhere there are crowds of people. Guns belong on firing ranges and in marked hunting territories. Guns also belong with people licensed to protect us.

The story about the fifteen year old boy yesterday was front page news relegated to the inside pages because his name was not famous and his intent was not malicious. Still, there was a gun inside a school. People were hurt.

Can we not stop this?

Thank you for reading. We will talk again soon.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

"Imus In The Morning" will be right back after this!

Yesterday morning, prior to his suspension from both radio station WFAN and cable television offering MSNBC, Don Imus said, "Here's what I've learned: that you can't make fun of everybody, because some people don't deserve it," he said. "And because the climate on this program has been what it's been for 30 years doesn't mean it's going to be what it's been for the next five years or whatever."

Is this an apology?

The suspension is for two weeks. Management is gambling that those unhappy with Imus will have their attention diverted in two weeks time. Those who have enjoyed Imus in the past and have moved to other programs will return to see if he says anything else outrageous. Despite his hinting, Imus will continue to toss out his cranky opinions about everybody.

As I said in this space yesterday, Imus has not changed that much in forty years. The attitude is that he is smarter than everyone else. He is the “I-Man”. At the beginning of his career, he made prank phone calls because he was smarter. From that he segued into character-driven satire. Today, he makes fun of people during interviews. More often he puts down people who are not in the room to defend themselves.

Don Imus is like Gregory House without the stethoscope.

Yesterday, he spoke on Rev. Al Sharpton’s radio program. He said, “Our agenda is to be funny and sometimes we go too far. And this time we went way too far.” Again, this sounds more like a explanation than an apology.

So has Imus apologized? Yes he has. Is he truly repentant? Hard to say because he never truly lets you see inside, but probably not. Has he been punished? He has been given a two week vacation.

Is this the end of it? Probably. Rev. Jesse Jackson and Sharpton can boast they fought for a suspension. CBS radio and MSNBC can boast they punished their star. Imus can host another telethon and relax for a bit.

People like Imus do not get fired. Advertisers love controversy. They will pay top dollar for ads because people will be listening. Firing Imus will cost the stations money.

Yesterday I suggested that smaller market announcers would be fired for such comments and that Imus should be held to the same standard. Unfortunately, in the twenty-first century, business does not work that way.

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Monday, April 09, 2007

Don Imus

Don Imus did something wrong. You could put that sentence in any month during any year over the past forty years and you would likely be correct. Don Imus continually does things and says things that people do not like.

Imus started out in 1968 in Sacramento, California doing on-air pranks. It became so popular, he moved to Cleveland (no joke). From there he moved to WNBC in New York where be became a national star. He began to do stand-up comedy and created a character named Rev. Dr. Billy Sol Hargis, which was a satirical slap at the bible thumpers everywhere.

During the seventies he developed a cocaine problem which got him fired from WNBC. Between drinking and drugs, he was nearly washed up, but his talent kept him going. He returned to New York radio and even developed a syndicated television series which was similar to early David Letterman shows.

During the late eighties, Imus slowly phased out satirical humor for more political talk and humor. His program has been simulcast on MSNBC since 1996. Strangely enough, it was in 1996 that he gave his most famous speech. He spoke before the Radio and Television Correspondents Dinner in Washington D.C. Bill and Hillary Clinton were in attendance.

Imus took the opportunity to skewer Hillary, who was deeply involved in the Whitewater scandal. Most speakers offer gentle, non-topical humor at these events. Imus went for the Clintons. The audience roared, but the Clintons sat silent.

Imus has been accused through the years of racism, misogyny and homophobia. Whether any of it is true is anyone’s guess. Remember that Imus got his start doing radio pranks. He knows what makes some people laugh and what gets everyone’s attention.

Imus has done some good things. During the nineties, he created the Imus Ranch in New Mexico. The ranch is a charitable organization for children with cancer, as well as siblings of SIDS victims. More recently, he attended the dedication of the Center for the Intrepid, a privately-built rehab center for wounded veterans. Imus helped the Center raise ten million and personally contributed over $300,000 himself.

Last week, Imus did something bad. He and his team used language that was racially charged. It was wrong. They were ignorant statements by people who do not understand the hard feelings such words create. These are not words I use in casual conversation, let alone on radio and cable television.

I like Don Imus. He is funny. He wants to see this world be a better place. He is a “cantankerous old fool” as a former employee once called him. He does not hold his feelings back, even when they are not in line with the rest of the country.

Should Imus resign or be fired? If I were to make a similar comment on the radio, if I had a radio show, I would be fired. Imus should be held to the same level. There is candor and there is hurtful. Once again, Imus has been hurtful and he must atone.

If he does quit or gets fired, two things will happen. Either he will retire to the Imus Ranch and continue with his wife to raise his son and do good work for the children of this world, or he will return on another station and be even bigger and stronger than before.

The second possibility has been his pattern in the past. After bad behavior, he returns to even greater results. The question is not should he quit. Of course, he should quit. The real question for Imus is whether he is ready to quit.

Only Imus knows that.

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Sunday, April 08, 2007

Easter Sunday

Both my son and daughter awoke before me this morning. My third grader had found his Easter basket and enjoyed its delights. My high school age daughter was surprised she still had to look to find her basket.

On a personal level, I am trying to avoid the candy until after brunch. I intend to consume mass quantities of barbeque chicken and ribs today, along with corn and other delights. There will be cake and pie, but I doubt I even bother.

Several years ago, my wife and I decided to start eating Easter brunch outside the home. It has been a good decision. I cannot see asking her to prepare a special feast on a holiday. She should enjoy the holiday the same way we do.

We found a place we truly love and although we consider going elsewhere, we find our way back to the barbeque brunch. Church will begin in awhile, and then it is off to an expensive, but wonderful meal. Somewhere in there I will take a moment to appreciate just how lucky we are.

Here is hoping you and your family are having a wonderful Easter Sunday. Thank you for reading. We will talk again soon.


Saturday, April 07, 2007

The Radio Adventures of Dr. Floyd

Imagine for a moment an older scientist with a freakishly small head. Give him a fairly normal sidekick and a walking computer companion. Are you with me so far?

Now consider that this scientist is the most intelligent person on the planet. He has designed, not one but two, “Time and Space Travel Devices”. Now one would be enough, but just like in the recent movie “Meet the Robinsons”, a second needed to be built in order for one to be stolen by an evil mastermind.

There you have the basic plot behind “The Radio Adventures of Dr. Floyd”. Grant Baciocco and Doug Price have brought back the imagination of radio that had faded years ago. The program is available by podcast at their website found off to the left, and at I-Tunes.

The program has been around now through five seasons. The most recent episodes are available at no cost. Otherwise, you can download the previous episodes for $0.99 at I-Tunes.

The program is reminiscent of “Beany and Cecil” and “Bullwinkle and Rocky” of years past. The writing is crisp and the voices are engaging. Even though the program is silly, you are pulled in and want more.

The program is billed as “family friendly” and there is no mistake about that. There is very little of the bathroom humor that I deplore. The humor is found within the characters and the situations that present themselves.

Without spoiling anything, the two leads, Dr. Floyd and Dr. Grant, are chasing Dr. Steve throughout time. Dr. Steve wants to steal historical artifacts to sell in our time on e-bay. Dr. Floyd and Dr. Grant are doing what they can to avoid Dr. Steve causing havoc with history.

Along the way, they run into historical figures including Galileo, George Washington, Annie Oakley, etc. Just as Boris and Natasha were constantly foiled, so are Dr. Steve and his sidekick Fidgert.

The images conjured by Baciocco and Price and wonderful and they move at a swift pace. Each episode runs six to eight minutes so you do not get bored. Schoolteachers have begun to include Dr. Floyd in their curriculum to get students interested in history. I would believe that high school English teachers would include the program to give students an example of creative writing.

The program is winning awards throughout the podcasting world, including the Parsec award in 2006 and the Podcast Peer award two years running. It has attracted the attention of many people. Celebrities have begun lending their voices to the show, including the great and wonderful June Foray, Emmy award winner Jeffery Tambor, and Saturday Night Live veteran Don Novello.

If you have not heard of “The Radio Adventures of Dr. Floyd”, now is your chance to get acquainted. Click on the link and download one or two. Beware! If you are not immediately hooked, you may be accused of not having a sense of humor!

Thank you for reading. We’ll talk again soon.

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Friday, April 06, 2007

Iran and the U.K. Soldiers

This has been a strange week. Yesterday, I failed to get to the internet. I spent the time I would normally write trying to figure out what the problem was. In the end, my wife disconnected everything and reconnected and here we are. My wife is the greatest!

Earlier this week, I stayed up late writing an article for a local paper and spent the morning rewriting. There was nothing in the article that I would post here, so I missed another day. I only missed a couple days of posting, but it feels like it has been a week. There has been a lot happening and we need to talk.

Today is a good day because the sailors from the United Kingdom have been returned home from Iran. To be fair, I have not read so much as I would like about the situation, but it is still unclear to me what Iran would have gained by keeping the sailors. The decision to send them home was a fair and rational choice.

What about the initial taking of the soldiers? Was that rational? Prime Minister Tony Blair contends his people were not in Iranian waters. Iran maintains they were. If this was as simple an argument as it sounds, then it is just a playground territory fight that needed to be settled.

Unfortunately, because we are playing with people’s lives, the argument is not simple. Questions about the involvement of Iran in the Iraq disputes continue. Whether Iran is developing nuclear weapons is still a concern.

Of course, people forget that the United States already has nuclear weapons. Again, if we are on the playground and one side has a stick and the other does not, is it fair to tell the other side not to pick up a stick?

Again, the scenario is too simple because we are not talking about who can use the swings. The lives of people are at stake. At some point, someone needs to step forward and agree that we need to get along.

There was a time when the United States played that role. There was a time when we worked to solve wars with diplomacy. It would be nice to see us play that role again.

We have a rich history of successful wars, including World War II. What is going on overseas currently is not like World War II. We need to stop the so-called “War on Terror” and begin a “Pursuit of Peace”.

We need to drop the sticks in the playground and agree to share this world. We have a lot of issues to tackle that affect all of us. Why do we not stop the bickering and get to work.

Iran made a positive move. For whatever reason, they sent the sailors home. Let us rejoice and learn from their example.


Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Ahmad Jamal

“There is good and bad in every area of expertise,” so says Ahmad Jamal, one of our American treasures. He is an extraordinary piano player whose recordings have been enjoyed the world over for over fifty years.

Born in 1930 as Frederick Russell Jones, he converted to Islam in the early fifties, changing his name. His choice of style is distinctive. When you listen to plenty of jazz, you begin to recognize various artists’ styles as you would the voices of singers. Jamal has a style that invokes a mood that is identifiable as him alone.

I have written before about the website “All About Jazz”. Recently, I have found they have long form podcasts available. These usually consist of clips of radio broadcast interviews with various artists. Chris Comer, a host on WAIF in Cincinnati, did such an interview last fall before Jamal visited the city for a concert.

When Comer asked him his thoughts on the current state of music, and specifically the hip-hop sound, Jamal replied, “There is good and bad in hip-hop. There is good and bad in rap. There is good and bad in opera. There is good and bad in every genre, and in so-called jazz. The European body of classical, there is good and bad. Some of it is very boring and some of it is very stimulating.”

The interview is worth listening to, not only to hear the thoughts and ideas of a man who is older in number of years, but very young of heart, but to hear his thoughts on life. Jamal is clear that “ranking” is poor for the soul. As a country, we spend too much time considering which song, movie, etc. is the best. We need to adopt an attitude that art is what it is. Some will enjoy it. Others will not.

I enjoyed Ahmad Jamal when I played his records on the radio. His music is universally today. If you have the time, check out the interview and search your local music store. You will not be disappointed.

Thank you for reading. We will talk again soon.

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