Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Shenanigans..Now This Is Real Reporting!

Shenanigans: Begala's book

Begala, he’s got another book

One thing’s for sure: You can hand it to the Dems for showing support. What in the world was Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid doing at professional Democratic pundit Paul Begala’s book party Tuesday night during such trying and truculent times as these? For Begala’s sixth book, at that?

But there he was, showing his support at 101 Constitution Ave. — location, location, location — for Begala’s latest, “Third Term.” As you might have guessed, the 288 pages expand upon the book’s subtitle, “Why George W. Bush John McCain.”

Jampacked with Bill Clinton Democrats, the gathering was described by one attendee as “the 1992 War Room.” The crowd included Mandy Grunwald, Donna Brazile, John Podesta, a handful of CNN-ers, Bob Barnett, Bill Press, Jonathan Capehart, Walter Shapiro, Michael Meehan, Jake Perry and former Carville-ite Todd DeLorenzo.

We thought we were talking to Top Dog Reid about the bailout when we asked, “Is it going to pass this week, sir?” “What?” he shrugged in response.

Meanwhile, Begala kindly answered Shenanigans’ burning questions.

Q: Top five favorite people on Capitol Hill?

A: Nonelected officials only:

1. The ladies at the Senate reception desk

2. The Capitol Police

3. Harry Reid’s staff

4. Everyone in Hillaryland

5. The poor people on Rahm Emanuel’s staff

Q: Most influential TV host?

A: You mean, besides Stephen Colbert?

Q: Finish this sentence, “If I had a minute with Rush Limbaugh, I’d _________.”

A: Dump a bottle of OxyContin on the floor and watch him dive for ’em.

Q: Most inaccurate thing ever said about you?

A: “You should be on ‘Dancing With the Stars.’”

Q: Most inaccurate thing ever said about Bush?

A: “He’s not as dumb as they say.”

Q: Most accurate thing ever said about McCain?

A: “His suffering and service in Vietnam were truly heroic.”

Q: Most accurate ever said about Obama?

A: “He married well.”

Q: Finish this sentence, “The last time I saw John McCain, I _________.”

: “Was at a GOP primary debate. Couldn’t get close to McCain, however. He was surrounded by lobbyists.”

: Plans for Nov. 5?

: “I will be in New York, on CNN, covering the election returns with the Best Political Team in Television and the Best Bottle of Tequila in New York.”

Happy Birthday Carly!!

It is not the Richer way to half ass anything - particularly on birthday salutations. So when I called my sister at 9:30AM EST (3:30AM Hawaii time) to sing her happy birthday ... we got the whole newsroom involved. Given her sleep interruption she was not impressed.

As I wrapped up singing the second and third verses of the Richer Happy Birthday tune, I was surprised to find the version used on the masses actually has a copyright .  Hmmm. Good thing us Richers went Vanilla Ice on Mildred Hill and dropped our own version back in the day.

Take that USPTO! (United States Paton and Trademark Office).

PS. Feel free to send carly your very own bday wishes: richer@hawaii.edu

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A Living Classic

Half a century ago, Nigerian writer Chinua Achebe published a novel about a proud Ibo man. In just fifty years his mere 200 pages established a voice for African writers and transformed the literary world.

Thousands of high schoolers read Things Fall Apart every year as required reading. I have to admit, I read it for my senior AP English seminar because it was one of the shorter options on the list. I have always been deeply fascinated with everything African, but lets be honest, I was a busy girl looking down the tunnel of a 30 pager to follow the reading so I opted to keep it short.

It is one of the few books that changed my point of view. As Achebe said Monday, "You can read it a several times and find something new...and I wrote it."

Written in 1958 he was the first published African author to become an international bestseller. With his writings he provided a window into the continent.

When asked why he started writing he said,"I tried to answer Conrad's criticism [in Heart of Darkness] that Africans don't have a language... that was not Africa." Achebe carries the weight of meaning not in the obscure assemblage of letters - like some overly grasping poets, but in his simplicity. Like a reporter he tells the story by describing chosen details; perhaps why I find his work so attractive.

I obviously am not the only one. Fans lined up gripping books, I had my second copy in my hand (I had to buy a hardback edition because my  first copy is in an embarrassing state) at the reception before his awarding of the Patriot Award. Originally set up to host light conversation became a mob scene as attendees pressed in on the authors wheel chair. Some wanting signitures, others just a handshake and a few words.

What an undertaking, I have seen the author introduced twice now, both times by amazing literary academics, and I have to ask how do you describe exactly what Achebe has contributed in under 10 minutes. 
Well the mayor of Fairfax clearly did not take the same considerations as he introduced the author  he plowed through his last name, to the shock and offense of the audience.

The spectrum in attendance Monday was as varied as the publication covers. From high school students, cliquey college kids to middle aged business men, 2,000 turned out at George Mason's Patriot Center to see the living legend.
Achebe read from a selection of poems including The Explorer as well as his Things Fall Apart. Having missed to opportunity to get his signature at the Washington Post reading last April, I was determined this go around. Mid reading I jumped up and jetted to the signing line. Surprisingly I was the first this time. VICTORY!

As I shared with Dr. Achebe - looking at the diversity of the 2,000 fans lined up for a signature was truly a testament to the impact of his work.

Game of cat and mouse

This is for the cat ladies of the group

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A NEW Hottie on Grey's Anatomy!

So I saw a special sneak preview about a new doctor on Grey's Anatomy that will really get you wet...

Sunday, September 21, 2008

This Just In: All Bullies Ordered to Back Off Palin in the Schoolyard

What a bunch of bullshit. Palin, why don't you grow a pair and step up. If you really want to be Vice President of the most powerful country in the world, perhaps you should have a little debate experience... and if you don't, then perhaps this job isn't for you.

September 21, 2008

Pact on Debates Will Let McCain and Obama Spar

The Obama and McCain campaigns have agreed to an unusual free-flowing format for the three televised presidential debates, which begin Friday, but the McCain camp fought for and won a much more structured approach for the questioning at the vice-presidential debate, advisers to both campaigns said Saturday.

At the insistence of the McCain campaign, the Oct. 2 debate between the Republican nominee for vice president, Gov. Sarah Palin, and her Democratic rival, Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr., will have shorter question-and-answer segments than those for the presidential nominees, the advisers said. There will also be much less opportunity for free-wheeling, direct exchanges between the running mates.

McCain advisers said they had been concerned that a loose format could leave Ms. Palin, a relatively inexperienced debater, at a disadvantage and largely on the defensive.

The wrangling was chiefly between the McCain-Palin camp and the nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates, which is sponsoring the forums.

Commission members wanted a relaxed format that included time for unpredictable questioning and challenges between the two vice-presidential candidates. On Wednesday, the commission unanimously rejected a proposal sought by advisers to Ms. Palin and Senator John McCain of Arizona, the Republican presidential nominee, to have the moderator ask questions and the candidates answer, with no time for unfettered exchanges. Advisers to Mr. Biden say they were comfortable with either format.

Both campaigns see the four debates as pivotal moments in a presidential race that is not only extraordinarily close but also drawing intense interest from voters; roughly 40 million viewers watched the major speeches at the two parties’ conventions. The upheaval in the financial markets has recast the race in recent days, moreover, which both sides believe will only heighten attention for the debates.

A commission member said that the new agreement on the vice-presidential debate was reached late Saturday morning. It calls for shorter blocks of candidate statements and open discussion than at the presidential debates.

McCain advisers said they were only somewhat concerned about Ms. Palin’s debating skills compared with those of Mr. Biden, who has served six terms in the Senate, or about his chances of tripping her up. Instead, they say, they wanted Ms. Palin to have opportunities to present Mr. McCain’s positions, rather than spending time talking about her experience or playing defense.

While the debates between presidential nominees are traditionally the main events in the fall election season, the public interest in Ms. Palin has proved extraordinary, and a large audience is expected for her national debate debut.

Indeed, both the McCain and Obama campaigns have similar concerns about the vice-presidential matchup in St. Louis: that Ms. Palin, of Alaska, as a new player in national politics, or Mr. Biden, of Delaware, as a loquacious and gaffe-prone speaker, could commit a momentum-changing misstep in their debate.

The negotiations for the three 90-minute debates between the men at the top of the tickets were largely free of brinksmanship. Neither side threatened to pull out, and concerns about camera angles and stagecraft were minor.

Senator Barack Obama of Illinois, the Democratic nominee for president, and Mr. McCain did not intercede personally to settle any disputes. They agreed to one substantive change to the format originally proposed by the debate commission, giving them two minutes apiece to make a statement at the beginning of each segment on a new topic.

Mr. Obama successfully sought to flip the proposed topics for the first and third debates, so foreign policy is now coming first and economic and other domestic issues come last. There is a second debate, in the format of a town hall meeting, in which the candidates will sit on director’s chairs and take questions from the audience and Internet users on any topic.

The debate commission had proposed that the first debate be on economic issues and the third on foreign policy — in part, people involved in the process said, because the first debate is usually the most watched, and many voters rank the economy as their top concern.

Mr. Obama wanted foreign policy first to show viewers that he could provide depth, strength and intelligence on those issues, his advisers said, given that Mr. McCain consistently wins higher ratings in opinion polls as a potential commander in chief.

Mr. Obama wanted domestic issues to come last; advisers said that they believed even before the start of the financial crisis that the election was most likely to turn on the state of the economy and that he wanted the final televised exchange to focus on those concerns. He has argued that Mr. McCain would continue the economic policies of President Bush.

Mr. McCain also wanted foreign policy topics to come first in the debates, his aides said, in the hope of capitalizing on his positive reputation on national security issues across party lines.

He wanted limits on the original format for the first and third debates, which had been nine topics with nine minutes of free-flowing debate on each one. Mr. Obama went along, though his aides did insist that at least several minutes of open-ended debate occur in each block of questioning, because they believe he does well in that format.

Now the candidates will be asked a question, each will give an answer of two minutes or less, and then they will mix it up for five additional minutes before moving on to the next question in the same format.

Obama aides also agreed to use lecterns at the first event, which Mr. McCain preferred; at the third debate, the two men will be seated at a round table, in the 10 o’clock and 2 o’clock positions, with the moderator at 6 o’clock.

McCain aides said that they were conscious of the fact that Mr. McCain has a prominent scar on one side of his face, and that they could not predict how prominent it would appear with the camera angles, lighting and make-up.

The debate formats were negotiated by Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, representing the McCain campaign, and Representative Rahm Emanuel, Democrat of Illinois, for the Obama camp. A handful of aides from both camps were also involved, hammering out issues between themselves and then holding conference calls with members of the commission to reach final agreements, people involved in the process said.

Mr. Obama plans to begin debate camp on Tuesday with a tight circle of advisers at a site in the Tampa Bay area of Florida, his aides say, with a prominent Democratic lawyer, Greg Craig, playing the part of Mr. McCain in mock debates.

The Obama campaign has been studying Mr. McCain’s debate performances from the Republican primary as well as in his 2000 race for president. Each debate has been rated and scored, with briefing points and highlights sent to Mr. Obama.

Mr. Obama’s advisers have been studying in particular Mr. McCain’s temperament and mood and looking for potential flash points of anger.

Mr. McCain, his advisers say, has yet to spend much time watching the dozens of primary debate performances of Mr. Obama over the last two years. But they said that a small staff of aides had been reviewing them and that Mr. McCain would see some highlights next week.

McCain aides refused to say when his debate camp would be or where, or who was playing Mr. Obama or Mr. Biden. (Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm, Democrat of Michigan, is playing Ms. Palin for Mr. Biden’s preparations.)

Mr. Obama plans to sequester himself and a few advisers at his debate camp. The attendance is limited to a small group of foreign policy advisers, each rotating in for separate sessions with Mr. Obama and Mr. Craig.

The choice of Florida, particularly the politically critical region near Tampa, was selected with a dual purpose in mind. While Mr. Obama will have few public events from Tuesday through Friday, aides said, his presence could draw considerable local news media attention in a state where he hopes to fiercely challenge Mr. McCain.

While the intense portion of debate training begins on Tuesday, Mr. Obama has been preparing for weeks, in part by drawing upon his experience debating Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York in the Democratic primaries. His aides have been studying those debate performances to address one of his biggest shortcomings: his ability to deliver a tight answer. Already, his campaign is trying to diminish expectations for Mr. Obama’s performance.

“Despite the fact that we got the chance to do this a lot during the primaries, these debates are not by any stretch of the imagination his strong suit,” said Robert Gibbs, a senior strategist to Mr. Obama. “He likes to talk about a problem, give some examples that addresses some solutions and oftentimes that doesn’t fit into the moderator’s allotted time.”

The campaigns had no say over the choice of moderators — Jim Lehrer of PBS, Tom Brokaw of NBC and Bob Schieffer of CBS for the presidential debates, and Gwen Ifill of PBS for the vice-presidential debate.

“Everything matters and issues can always come up, such as the size of podiums — like for Carter and Ford in 1976 — to the timer lights if the candidate doesn’t like them,” said Tad Devine, a Democratic strategist who advised Al Gore in 2000 and John Kerry in 2004. “There hasn’t really been a ‘debate about the debates’ this year, but that can change in a minute.”

Jeff Zeleny contributed reporting from Miami.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Our Little Boy is Growing Up

Hey McFly: Tommy McFly of Mix 107.3 and Improv 5-6-7-8
Photo by: Aaron Clamage
Mix 107.3's Tommy McFly is one of the hottest radio personalities around.
written by
Marlene Hall
Local radio personality Tommy McFly lives by Abraham Lincoln’s adage that “It’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.”

If that’s the case, 22-year-old McFly should be about 80.

McFly recently sat down with On Tap at Murky Coffee in Arlington to discuss his varied talents, interests and experiences, ranging from being a radio disc jockey on a top-rated radio show to mixing mojitos to being a key member in a local improv troupe.

McFly is originally from Scranton, PA, and is an only child, or as he puts it, “God only gives you what you can handle.” At the age of 15, he got his start at the radio station Froggy 101 in Scranton.

“A friend of our family who worked at the radio station said, ‘When you turn 15, I’m going to get you a job,’” said McFly. “So I turned 15 and I called him every day for three months until he finally got me an interview with the program director . . . I started out actually wearing the Mr. Froggy suit at events and things like that.”

Eventually, McFly was able to persuade the boss to give him his own show on overnights, which eventually lead to co-hosting the morning show.

One of McFly’s most memorable gigs happened off the air. While working at Froggy, he helped a flooded Pennsylvania town, upstaging the Red Cross by soliciting supplies first.

“We ran to Sam’s Club and bought supplies and rented a U-Haul,” said McFly. “We had an army of volunteers, took a caravan to Bloomsburg, and we shoveled out an entire neighborhood. It was awesome, unbelievable.”

McFly also sent the hit TV show “The Office,” based in Scranton, tons of Scranton paraphernalia, including Froggy 101 bumper stickers. The bumper stickers are displayed prominently in Dwight’s cubicle on the show.

When his contract at Froggy ended, McFly started fielding offers in major cities like San Diego, Atlanta and Dallas. D.C.’s own Jack Diamond came calling, asking him to join his longtime show, “The Jack Diamond Morning Show,” on Mix 107.3. McFly joined the team at the age of 20.

“I’m the young, kind of na├»ve, metrosexual trying to make my way in the city, learning about life, learning about myself, just starting out, and kind of a smartass,” McFly said in describing his role.

Some of the perks of working for the “Jack Diamond Morning Show” include: hanging out with Duran Duran, being called “hot” by Tyra Banks, taking a trip with loyal listeners to Iceland, interviewing Vanessa Williams and Marcia Cross, and attending exclusive parties.

He usually hits about four parties per week and still manages to get up at 4 a.m. every morning. As for any groupies, “No, unfortunately, I wish, but here is hoping.”

McFly’s dream girl is Meghan McCain, daughter of presidential candidate John McCain, and his dream guest is Carrie Underwood. McFly saw her perform at a showcase in NYC and was sitting in the front row while she was performing the song “Before He Cheats.” During the line “thinking he is going to get lucky,” he claims she winked at him.

McFly not only stays busy as a radio DJ, but also lends his talents to the improv troupe 5-6-7-8. He got involved in improv to meet people as he had “just moved from a small town in Pennsylvania, just broken up with his girlfriend, you know, a basic country song,” as he describes it. He loves performing improv because he “will do anything for a laugh, and you never know what will happen next.” 5-6-7-8 sold out their first four shows at the DC Improv, and the group has additional shows scheduled in August and September.

In his spare time, McFly partakes in bartending classes and fixes a mean Mike Collins Jameson Sour Mix Club Soda, or Vodka Mojito, joking that he is ‘“trying to be trendy and difficult.”

McFly also dispenses some advice about what to do in D.C., which he describes as young and vibrant. He recommends bike riding the city, seeing the monuments at night; and visiting the Spy Museum, the Newseum and the National Museum of Crime and Punishment.

For more info on the various lives of Tommy McFly:
Mix 107.3, visit www.mix1073fm.com
Improv Troupe 5-6-7-8, www.5678improv.com

Improv Troupe 5-6-7-8’s “Things That Happen In Attics”
Friday, Aug. 22, 8 p.m.
Saturday, Aug. 23, 7:30 p.m.
At the Comedy Spot (Ballston Common Mall)
4238 Wilson Blvd, Arlington, VA

Improv Troupe 5-6-7-8 Benefit Performance for Luke’s Wings
Saturday, September 13, 7 p.m.
Bethesda Theater: 7719 Wisconsin Ave, Bethesda, MD
Info: www.lukeswings.org

Friday, September 12, 2008

Monday, September 8, 2008

Britney's Back!!!

With last night's VMAs, I think it's official... Britney is on a comeback!!!!!!

Britney steals show at drama-free VMAs

LOS ANGELES, California (AP) -- No Madonna kiss. No Michael Jackson cameo. No flying Howard Stern. Not even a Kanye tantrum.

MTV has set a high standard for the unexpected at its Video Music Awards, but on the show's 25th anniversary, the network instead settled for throwing its full support behind Britney Spears' comeback. Spears won a leading three awards, including video of the year for "Piece of Me."

Any spontaneity was left to host Russell Brand, the British comic whose rock star style and outlandish candor gave the Los Angeles show a pulse.

But at the end of the night Sunday, even the manic and mangy Brand -- a confessed former sex addict -- could only summon a comic semi-feud with the young Jonas Brothers over their premarital celibacy.

But while Brand was unpredictable, witty and offensive, Spears was resolutely careful, determined to set right her pop star image. VideoWatch Spears get a standing ovation »

She was, after all, returning to the scene of the crime, so to speak. At last year's VMAs -- Britney Comeback 1.0 -- her unpolished performance was roundly disparaged.

In each acceptance speech Sunday, Spears spoke briefly, thanked God and dedicated the awards to her fans. Even while opening the show, she was all business, zipping through her few lines of introduction.

"Thank you so much," she said flatly as the crowd greeted her with a standing ovation. "Thank you for all the love." VideoWatch red carpet highlights »

MTV has a habit of reengineering the VMAs every year, and, true to form, took this year's show to the Paramount Studios lot in Los Angeles. After last year's awards, splashed throughout a Las Vegas hotel, MTV re-centered the action to a more traditional main stage. People: Rock star style photo gallery

The performances, though, often traveled back into the reaches of the Paramount lot. The Jonas Brothers played their song "Lovebug" on a fake building's stoop, before the set fell away and throngs of screaming fans ran down fictional city streets to surround them.

Unwittingly, the Jonas Brothers -- one of the hottest young acts to the MTV audience -- became the night's biggest talking point. Brand repeatedly joked about their purity rings, which each wears as a symbol of their vow not to have premarital sex. At one point, Brand brandished one as if he had won it from a Jonas brother.

"American Idol" champ -- and fellow promise ring wearer -- Jordin Sparks defended the brothers while presenting an award: "I just wanna say, it's not bad to wear a promise ring because not every guy and a girl wants to be a slut, OK?"

Brand was happy to apologize for any hurt feelings, but only to such a degree. After the show, he told The Associated Press, "I feel a bit bad that I kept talking about their vows to chastity and I'd like to take this opportunity to say no one ever have sex again. It's a mad idea. What a way to spend an evening."

A celebrity in England but relatively unknown in the States, Brand proved an interesting mix with the VMA crowd, who seemed unsure of how to react to his lack of political correctness. In his opening monologue, he joked about Madonna, virgins and President Bush, whom he called "that retarded cowboy fellow."

He pleaded, "Please, America, elect Barack Obama. On behalf of the world." Some in the star-studded crowd cheered, while others -- like Spears -- sat quietly.

The rest of the evening was mostly given to performances, many of which paired performers in unusual combinations. The prim and proper Leona Lewis joined Lil' Wayne, who later joined Kid Rock. Lil' Wayne took home the best hip hop video for "Lollipop."

T.I., who is currently serving 1,000 hours of community service and will afterward serve a year in prison for federal weapons charges, performed with Rihanna.

Closing the night was Kanye West who, like Spears, was hoping for a second chance after a disappointing VMA experience last year. In Las Vegas, he had a Kanye-sized hissy fit backstage and vowed never to appear at the VMAs again after he didn't get a Moonman trophy despite several nominations.

West again went home without an award this year; there were only eight awards in total. Videos from Chris Brown ("With You"), Linkin Park ("Shadow of the Day") and the Pussycat Dolls ("When I Grow Up") took home awards for best male video, best rock video and best dancing in a video, respectively.

Best new artist went to Tokio Hotel, while Spears' "Piece of Me" won for best female video, best pop video and video of the year.