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Monday, August 6

Radioblogger is moving...sorta

At long last, the transfer of Radioblogger is almost complete. After being absorbed by the folks at Townhall.com, it's taken a little longer than expected to relaunch RB under the new Townhall umbrella. But the wait is almost over. Sometime in the next few days, the same Radioblogger URL will move over to the new site. Until then, if you want to see the new digs, you can go here.

Even though it may look like I've sold out to the man, which of course, I have, the content of Radioblogger 2.0 will still be entirely me. So if you've enjoyed the content up to now, you'll still enjoy it on the new site, and you'll be able to weigh in with comments and feedback.

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, July 18

Disneyland, Fastpass style...or Hugh Hewitt wears Prada.

Another year has passed, and the annual Disneyland broadcast ensued. If you've visited this blog frequently over the years, you are no stranger to the Disneyland antics. But for those new readers, as the producer of the Hugh Hewitt Show, I've evolved into the backdrop to whatever normally airs on the show. For instance, one year, when Disney's California Adventure Park premiered their Tower of Terror ride, I got to wear a microphone/headphone vest and ride the elevator shaft on a pogo stick attraction 29 consecutive times in 3 hours. Another year, we rode Pirates of the Caribbean 36 times over the course of 10 hours or so.

But the day that will live in infamy took place on May 5th, 2005, the beginning of Disneyland's 50th anniversary celebration, when Hugh made me ride It's a Small World fifty consecutive times. The story about that is here.

Yesterday was much more of a physical challenge. There are 12 Fastpass attractions between the two parks, Disneyland and Disney's California Adventure. Having been issued a Fastpass universal pass for the day, the challenge was to make it on all 12 rides and be back to the booth in three hours.

If you ask Hugh Hewitt what the challenge was, it would depend on the minute, because it kept evolving, even after we were on the air. At first, he wanted to make me park hop every ride, which means a nice 1/2 mile run between the two parks, after ever ride. Even TriGeekDreams, the so-called triathlon aficionado, would sit down, eat a donut, and take a pass on that. Then it was agreed that I would dictate the order of the rides. Or so I thought. By the time we went on the air, Hugh had added two more attractions, and some bizarre notion that I would magically be able to find fifteen Disney characters on the path between the rides, and that I had to be photographed either kissing or being kissed by said characters. I'm not sure that I've even kissed my own family members fifteen times. Anyway, without further ado, here is Fastpass Disney.

Hugh naturally didn't let us start on a ride. Instead, we got to start from the booth as Hugh immediately launched into Disney trivia with his sherpa at these broadcasts, Stacia Martin. When we finally were dismissed to start the quest, it was a race off the balcony of the Innoventions building to the beginning of Sapce Mountain in Tomorrowland.

My partner in crime today is Richard Blythe, Disney expert and KRLA engineer extraordinaire. This is finishing up the first ride, the newly tracked Space Mountain. Same course, but a much smoother ride than it used to be, and with a new digital soundtrack through the ride. A fine way to start. By the way, Hugh sent along a spy to make sure we did, in fact, do all the rides and document it. This picture was taken by Andy the Intern, who hadn't quite figured out how the flash worked yet. But it could have been worse.

This was his second attempt. After a quick call into Hugh, it was on to the next attraction, Autopia.

We're already looking at the time, calculating how screwed we are, and trying to decide how many seconds we save if we go in one car instead of two.

"I'll drive." "No, I'll drive." Remember, we're arguing now about who's going to drive a car that at full speed is still slower than we're walking from attraction to attraction.

Fine, you drive. Just remember, this is NASCAR. Don't let off the gas.

This anklebiter is who we got stuck behind. Needless to say, much to my frustration, Richard did let off the gas. I wanted to ram him and push him through the ride.

After another call into the show with an update, and having not found any Disney character to kiss and contract a communicable disease left by a four year old yet, we had to skirt around the Main Street parade and go hit Toon Town, home of Roger Rabbit's Cartoon Spin.

After his miserable performance on Autopia, it was my turn to drive. This attraction is a combination of Mr. Toad's Wild Ride and the Teacups.

We're three rides down and it's just before the end of the first hour, and we're both working up a pretty good sweat.

Thunder Mountain Railroad, after a brisk walk, since there's no running at Disneyland. The magic fastpass cuts most of the lines down to about 5-10 minutes, which is a whole lot better than some of the lines which can take 2 1/2 hours.

Another call into the program, and then onto the ride. At this point, Hugh is now wanting pictures of interns with characters to get them dates. So Hugh has now turned into Chuck Woolery.

 

Richard shot some video of me perspiring on Thunder Mountain. I'd say he didn't shoot my good side, but that would of course mean I have a good side.

The fastpass entrance to Splash Mountain, home of many of the characters from the old America Sings attraction that was housed in the building that Hugh is broadcating from. It's hot, the normal line is 2 hours plus.

At this point, even with the fastpass, it took longer than expected to get on the ride. It's hot, I'm soaking wet, and thinking there's no way I can get wetter than I currently am, even on a water ride.

Wrong again. I made it until the very last part of the final drop. Once the boat settled back down, I got swamped with cold water. Refreshing, but soggy feet was not what I was looking for as we were about ready to make the trek to the other park.

Another Andy photo. He thought it would be nice to take a picture of the picture they take on Splash Mountain as you're cascading down the big slide to your impending demise.

The Tarzan Treehouse - one of the extra time-wasting additions Hugh added to the already impossible challenge. Lots of kids, all of them looking at me real funny.

Feeling somewhat mummified already, Richard and I are about to do Indiana Jones, the last of the requisite fastpass attractions on the Disneyland side. It's still before the end of the second hour, but it's going to be real tight from here on in. We passed right by the Jungle Cruise, the other time-waster Hugh threw in. It's a 13 minute ride, no fastpass, some line, and no time to do it. On to California Adventure.

One of my favorite attractions, Soaring Over California. You can smell what you are flying over in this glider/simulator attraction.

Just when I thought I was drying off from Splash Mountain, here comes Grizzly Rapids, the second scheduled water ride of the day.

Not sure if these shorts are going to make it again.

This is Mulholland Madness, a small roller coaster that simulates the experience of driving down Mulholland Blvd.

 

Bonus video number two. At this point, I've lost all dignity. This is what it was like riding Mulholland Madness.

Coming off of California Screamin', the only looping coaster in the two parks. We've lost Andy somewhere. Hugh's accusing me of having him disappeared. At this point, I'm too tired to have him whacked.

The opening room into the Tower of Terror, a place with which I'm well acquainted.

Right before we go into the elevator shaft on Tower of Terror. At this point, it's about 5:30, half an hour to go, and we still have to cross the parks again and pick up one more ride.

Buzz Lightyear's Buzz Blasters, the last scheduled ride of the day...except that I've just been informed that there's one more ride to do...It's a Small World. You can understand the look I have.

My 51st It's a Small World Ride. Back to the booth from there, where Hugh managed to acknowledge my alleged failure with a minute to go.

Thanks go to Cindy, T.C. and all the Disney folks who made this workable, Richard Blythe, Ish running the board at the booth, Adam back at home base, Andy for not being too bad a spy, and Darin screening calls back at home base. I'm tired. It's hot tub thirty.

 

Monday, July 16

Jay Larson, PETA's worst nightmare.


I bring you the latest in my summer investigation into the bizarre case surrounding one Jay Larson, former promotions director for our Twin Cities affiliate, AM1280 The Patriot, current corpse chauffer for one of Minnesota's leading cemetaries, fugitive of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and now, I'm afraid to report, the new number one enemy of the People For The Ethical Treatment of Animals.

In case you are new to Jay's questionable saga into the swan-napping of two Iowan prize swans across state lines without a permit, clipping their wings in order to keep them captive, and perching them like two elegant vultures, as the centerpiece of the cemetary, you need to go here and catch up.

For the rest of you, I spoke with Jay this afternoon, practically on my knees, pleading with Jay to lift his suspension of Hugh and I so that we can come back to the State Fair this summer. While not having much luck convincing him that having Hugh back there would give The Patriot, of which Jay still helps out part time, I asked him a simple question, just as an ice-breaker. "How's the swans, Jay," I asked innocently enough.

"I can't tell you." Now I've known Jay for just about seven years, and if there's one thing I've learned about him, it's that when he says he can't tell me, he really can...and usually does.

"Jay," I said sternly, using my parental voice. He's never been able to resist that. "What's wrong with the swans? Did you feed them today?" I asked that because you have to constantly remind Jay to do normal, routine tasks. I know this from personal experience, waiting at the airport for hours, figuring that since Jay knew we were coming into town to do the Fair, he needed to come get us. So now we know to call him before the plane leaves and as soon as we hit the ground. That way it only takes him an hour instead of four. In fact, that's one of the reasons why is makes such a good driver for his new job at the cemetary. His passengers certainly aren't in a hurry to get anywhere, and don't mind much when he gets lost. But I digress. Back to whether or not Jay fed the swans today.

"I'm not in charge of feeding the swans anymore." Uh oh.

"And why is that, Jay?" I asked. "What have you done to them?"

"I really can't say." Again, he really can.

"Jay, is there something wrong with the swans? Have they joined their new neighbors at the cemetary as permanent residents?"

Jay replied with the first audible sigh of the conversation. "No, they're not dead. But I can't say what's going on."

A light went on. It might not be about the swans. Maybe the law has caught up with Jay. "Jay, are you in trouble?"

"All I can say is Ducks Unlimited is doing testing on Wednesday," Jay answered. Sometimes, it really is too easy with him.

"Are they testing the ducks, or are they testing the water?"

The first sign of concern is in Jay's voice. "They're testing the water. The swans aren't doing well."

"Jay, what's wrong with the water in the cemetary?" I was truly afraid to hear what he'd say, but I finally got him to open up.

"It's a big cemetary, and the lake is a long, long way away from the main buildings. I didn't think it would make any difference. They go in the water all the time, so I figured it wouldn't hurt anything if I peed in the water, too."

"Jay Larson," I exclaimed, "Do you mean to tell me that you got the swans sick because you've been using their home in captivity as your own personal toilet? Have you learned nothing from the lessons of Abu Ghraib? They're swans, Jay, helpless swans. How could you?"

"Maybe I could ask my boss if we could put an outhouse or something out there." Nice idea, Jay.

It would have been nice to come up with thought before you began your campaign of fowlicide. No wonder they're sick. I didn't even go into what was going to happen with the water test results came back. I'm afraid DU is going to have a field day with Jay when they get their test back from CSI Minneapolis.

While the investigation into Jay's hygeine practice continues to unfold, may I take this opportunity to offer a little subliminal suggestion to the owners of the cemetary Jay works for?

Monday, July 2

Another view of Mitch McConnell's week last week.

As one could probably predict, Beltway columnist Bob Novak wrote a scathing piece in Monday's Washington Post about how the death of the immigration bill in the Senate last week was Republican leader Mitch McConnell's failure. Citing an unnamed Republican Senator who supported the immigration bill to the very end, Novak writes, "If this were a war, Sen. McConnell should be relieved of command for dereliction of duty." Now Novak himself says he doesn't go that far in blaming McConnell for the bill's failure, but does rest blame with McConnell for cowering to the pressures of talk radio and being notably absent as the bill died last week.

If there really is a "war" here, as the unnamed Senator is quoted as saying, then I'm afraid it is a battle between the Beltway class and the rest of the country that actually wants to have a say in representative government.

There is a lot to be said about the events last week, but let's keep one thing in mind about Mitch McConnell. He literally saved the Republican Party from its own maniacally suicidal tendencies twice this year alone. First, he, along with Republican Whip Trent Lott, the man whose mouth we've seen is exactly the same size as his foot, united the weak-kneed Republicans in the upper chamber when Harry Reid was hell bent on passing a date certain resolution of surrender in Iraq. There were more than a couple of Senators on the GOP side who wanted to go along with the Democrats on that vote, and McConnell easily outmaneuvered Harry Reid on that cloture vote, giving birth to the phrase Mitchslapped.

When the immigration bill made its first attempt at passage, Harry Reid was trying to push it through with virtually no sunshine to see what was actually in the bill, attempting a cloture vote twice in one day. Again, politically, there were several GOP Senators that were caught somewhat flat-footed, and intended on voting for cloture, and a bill that everyone following the issue knew they hadn't read. But credit talk radio for digesting the bill, pointing out exactly what the flaws were in it, and credit Mitch McConnell for making sure minority rights were preserved in being able to offer amendments to the bill.

Now fast forward to last week. McConnell, as did many of the Senators that voted for the initial vote to take the bill back up, was in a faily tight position. He knew that the base hated the idea of the bill, and didn't even want it considered. He also knew that the White House was leaning hard to get this bill passed. He also had a considerable presence within the Senate GOP conference, most notably Arizona's Jon Kyl, also number three in leadership, who had a lot invested in making sure this got passed. If McConnell were to take sides on the issue, he instantly alienates half of the people he is trying to lead. Instead, he helps ensure the bill gets taken up for discussion. He then, like a good goalie, stayed out of the picture until the ball got close to his end of the field.

Wednesday was simply fascinating, if you like to study how politics works. There were a handful of amendments that both sides considered to be poison pill amendments, deal breakers to both sides if they got adopted. Harry Reid arranged to bring up these poison pill amendments, motion to table them, and kill them off, one at a time. There was little or no debate about each amendment. In fact, the amendment language that had been released the night before to the public had already been changed again, with the only working copy of the current amendment language at the clerk's desk for each Senator to review. In short, the appearance on C-SPAN Wednesday was one of the 'big fix' being in. Louisiana's David Vitter tried all day to get recognized, but Harry Reid continually shut him down. The theater on the Senate floor, along with Ohio GOP Senator George Voinovich's theatrics on the Sean Hannity show, gave the conservatives across America the impression that the freight train had left the station, and was out of control.

Here's where the leadership failure occurred on the bill. Even if the cloture vote on Thursday would have passed, there was still going to be another vote requiring 60 Senators before final passage. There would have been the Thursday vote, there would have been consideration of the rest of the amendments that would have improved the bill somewhat, although debatable on if it would have been enough to make the bill a net positive, and then another 60 vote procedural vote, then final passage. All Harry Reid or Bob Novak, or Morton Kondracke, or any of the other Beltway pundits or proponents of the immigration bill on the Hill needed to do was to communicate how the process was going to unfold. The failure of the bill can simply be boiled down to it being perceived to be non-transparent from its inception to the vote Thursday to kill it.

I'm actually in the camp that I wanted to see if Kyl's amendment package, and some of the other ones, would have made the bill much more agreeable. But as Wednesday events transpired the way they did, it seemed very evident that those amendments weren't ever going to get a chance. Thus, you had the talk radio and internet 24 hour melee of phone calls to the Senate to get the bill killed Thursday. Mitch McConnell could have done the radio circuit to try and explain the process and attempt to give the bill life for a few more days, but when all is said and done, this was still a Democrat bill, written by Ted Kennedy, and managed by Harry Reid. By sitting back and letting the bill die, McConnell showed he did and does listen to his base, and let anyone watching see that Harry Reid as majority leader can't manage his own backside with both hands. I think most conservatives can look at how McConnell played this and see that he wasn't a huge fan of the bill as it was.

Democrats, shell-shocked at the impact of talk radio in this debate, are going back to their only play in the playbook that deals with talk radio - the Fairness Doctrine. McConnell, in a very brilliant move, recorded a fifteen second video in his office after the Thursday cloture vote failed, to address the Fairness Doctrine for the consumption of talk radio and the internet. Here it is:

 

 

McConnell is telegraphing that he isn't going to throw the base under the bus with the Fairness Doctrine, and he's starting to make noise about how unacceptable it is that the slow walk of judicial nominations by Judiciary Committee Chairman Pat Leahy is. McConnell is threatening that he may move to stop any and all action in the Senate until the logjam starts breaking free on nominations, as he should.

I think McConnell has stated, as is felt by most serious conservatives, that the immigration system is currently broken, and needs to be overhauled. But I also think he recognized that the bill wasn't politically viable in its present form, and it wasn't worth destroying the Republican base to help force it through. Republicans would be smart to offer an enforcement first bill, making it very public, and force the Democrats to kill it. Then, they'll have the issue back on their side in '08.

Before Novak writes a hissy fit about who is mistakenly to be blamed for the immigration bill not passing, maybe he ought to look at the performance of the people actually running the Senate. But even more important, maybe Mr. Novak should perhaps read the bill, or some of the serious commentary by people who did read and write, oh, 10,000 words or so about the national security flaws in it. He might just come to the conclusion that once again, maybe Mitch McConnell did the Republican Party a favor by helping save it from itself once again.

June 29

Just a bit outside?

Producing talk radio is a job where you never can quite predict what you are going to get into from day to day. I mean, take this last week, for example. While Hugh Hewitt was off sailing around the Mediterranean, I and a lot of my colleagues in talk radio and the blogosphere, were feverishly trying to make our case to the United States Senate that passing the immigration bill as is was not only not a good idea, but one that flew in the face of the will of a good majority of Americans. Yesterday and today was a day to sort of wipe our collective brow, survey the damage to the Republican Party, and start to look forward to the next battle on the horizon.

Now in my case, what do you suppose that battle might be? The Fairness Doctrine? The new attempt at declaring defeat in Iraq?

Nope. I get to work on my fastball. Due to a reoccurrence of jockophobia which strikes Hugh whenever a face to face encounter with a group of athletes is imminent, I have been informed that early in August, Hugh and I will be flying to Philadelphia in order to broadcast a couple of shows from our fine affiliate there, WNTP 990AM, watch Hugh give a speech or two, and then go to Citizen Banks Park to watch the Phillies take on the Atlanta Braves.

Why does this involve me, you ask? Because Hugh was asked to go down on the field and throw out the first pitch. Did Hugh smile? Was Hugh excited? Did he say of course I'll do it? No. Jockophobia, that dreaded fear that causes hives at the mere thought of having to do something athletic in public, set in.

Hugh didn't freeze long, however. Keep in mind, this is the same man who sadistically arranged for me to celebrate Disneyland's 50th anniversary by riding It's a Small World back to back 50 times. Hugh graciously volunteered me to go with him and throw out the first pitch, and practically promised that I would bounce the pitch in, a la someone we all know and loved to beat in 2004. In case you forgot, here is what happened when John Kerry tried his weak hand at first pitch tossing.

 

Now that the trip is on, Hugh is going to try and psyche me out, turning up the pressure, hoping fervently that I blow it. Well, I'm here to say publicly that I'm not caving. The pitch will be straight, the pitch will be true.

I know all about the legend of Philadelphia fans. I remember the story about the poor sap who fell out of the second deck at Veterans Stadium and got booed. Baseball is my game. Give me the rock, and I'll get it across the plate. I am not going to pull a John Kerry. I'm envisioning something more like this.

 

Friday, May 25

The Swan Whisperer?

 

Many of you may remember me talking before about a very good friend of mine, Jay Larson, who up until very recently was the so-called promotions guy at our fine affiliate in the Twin Cities, AM1280 the Patriot. Jay is one of those friends who is always there for you...unless he is supposed to pick you up at the airport. Then he is nowhere to be found. But I digress.

Jay has moved on to greener pastures, however, and is now in the business of planting some of Minnesota's former finest into Jay's new greener pastures. While I still remain morbidly curious about Jay switching careers from the world of entertainment to interment, I have supported Jay in all of his ventures. That is, until some disturbing developments this week that I feel is my duty to report to you.

Jay and I have this good natured relationship where we can kid around about sports. He's always been a closet Anaheim Ducks fan, and has had to keep that kind of under his hat, living in Minnesota and all, where the state loves their home town hockey, even when they have to watch other teams play for the championship. I called him this week to congratulate him on his Ducks making the Stanley Cup series, but instead of him thanking me, he replied, with a level of paranoia normally only seen lately by John McCain, by saying, "Who told you to call me? Why does something tell me I don't want to talk to you?"

Naturally, my concern for his well-being overtook my initial reaction of being taken aback. "Jay, what's wrong? Where are you?

He wasn't budging yet. "Why are you calling me? Who put you up to this?"

Now at this point, I'm beginning to wonder if Jay has a back tax problem. But then again, he did work for a radio station in Minnesota for many years, so I know that too much income isn't the problem. I tried again. "Jay, are you all right? Where are you."

"You're serious? Nobody told you to call me?

"No, Jay. I was just going to congratulate you about your Ducks," I replied.

Finally, he cracked. "I'm in Iowa."

Now why would he be in Iowa, I wondered? I've been in the minivan with Jay when he got lost about an hour south of Minneapolis. That's as Iowa as anybody needs. So I asked him why.

"I'm here because of my work."

I tried to stop myself, but I couldn't resist. "Is business so slow in the Twin Cities that you are now having to import people from neighboring states? Did they outlaw all food at the Minnesota State Fair? Has Richard Simmons become the Governor of the state while the rest of us have been focused on national politics?"

"No, I'm not bringing back people. I've got to transport something."

Now is where the fun begins. Jay obviously has a secret, is not supposed to say, but can't help himself. I'm thinking coffins, I'm thinking urns, I'm thinking headstones, gargoyles, statues, anything but what I'm about to hear.

"I'm bringing two live swans to the cemetary."

I'm in the communications business, and for the first time in recent memory, I'm at a loss for words. "Swans?"

Jay sighed. "Yes, swans. My cemetary has a pond, and my bosses thought it would be a good thing to have a couple of swans on the pond for people to see when they come by."

The damage was done. "Jay, where did you get the swans?"

"Who told you to call? I thought you said no one was putting you up to this?

My worst fears were confirmed. Jay Larson: Swan-napper. "Jay, where did you get the swans?"

"I've got a friend who knows somebody who gave me the number of a guy he knows that hooked me up with somebody in Iowa who told me a place where I might see someone that could deliver two swans," Jay said.

"Jay," I replied, trying to use my intervention voice, "where are the swans now?"

"They're right behind me in the minivan staring at me."

I tried not to laugh. Honestly, I did. "Are they at least seat belted?"

"No, you dope," Jay said. "I've got them in two dog kennels."

Okay, time for a little summary before we press on. "So let me get this straight. Your bosses at the cemetary have sent you south of the border to be a coyote and smuggle in two illegal, exotic fowl?" Jay sighed again. I continued. "And Six Feet Under gets cancelled because their critics said it was getting a little bit too weird to be believable."

Jay tried to defend his actions at this point. "They are kind of cute."

"Cute? Jay, are you out of your mind? What happens if you miraculously get these poor birds on the water? Might they want to fly south for the winter?"

Jay didn't miss a beat. "No, I've had their wings clipped."

"Again, Jay, when winter hits, they can't fly. What's going to keep them from turning into swancycles?" I asked.

"They're staying at my house," Jay said, with a growing degree of exasperation in his voice.

Now I'm not sure exactly what the legal implications are for smuggling undocumented fowl across state lines, but there's one thing I do know. The good people of Minnesota are blessed to have Tim Pawlenty as their Governor, because he is one of very few governors in the Union who have taken steps to prepare a response for the potential outbreak of the H5N1 virus. I fear greatly that Jay Larson may single-handedly have been responsible for bringing the Bird Flu to the States, and its beachhead may be the Gopher State. If so, it's going to take all the Tamaflu Governor Pawlenty can get his hands on to keep the rest of the Union from getting infected.

In the time since I learned of Jay's intent to re-christen his cemetary's "dead pool" to "Swan Lake," I've done a little further investigation, and there may be future updates to this story as I learn about some of the off-shoot illegal gaming activities Jay may be involved in. There has been a major police crackdown on illegal cockfighting all over the country, and while that is a good thing, it doesn't exactly solve the the problem at its core. You can take the man, and the roosters for that matter, out of gambling, but you can't just take the gambling out of the man. Apparently, there are internet references to an outbreak of swan fighting rings being staged in the Upper Midwest, and I'm afraid our friend Jay may be mixed up in it. We'll continue our reporting, and regardless of how it may affect our friendship, interventions almost invariably require tough love.

 

 

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