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.
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
"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
"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
"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
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
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?
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
"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.
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.