Pop Culture with Paul Farhi: Michael Steele, Fox News, Nathan's hotdog-eating contest, Bristol Palin, paperless concert tickets, more

Paul Farhi
Tuesday, July 6, 2010; 1:00 PM

Paul Farhi explores the latest in the world of pop culture, trends and daily news.<br><br>Interesting: Michael Steele make a boo-boo, and Republicans are calling for his head. More interesting: How Fox News is fanning the insurgency against Steele. Meanwhile: Controversy stalks Nathan's longrunning hotdog-eating contest. Plus: Bristol Palin makes her acting debut. Plus plus: Are "paperless tickets" just the ticket? <br><br>

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Paul Farhi: Hope you had a safe and/or sane July Fourth and that you're returning with all body parts and faculties intact...So, let's duck the question of whether Michael Steele should resign as a result of his comments about President Obama and Afghanistan and consider the question of whether Fox News thinks he should resign.

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Rocci Fisch: of course, it didn't have to. All you had to do was go back to Observation No. 1. The weight of the coverage created its own sense of crisis, or at least of a problem that needed to be "addressed." I'm really not picking on Fox News in particular here. It's just an example of the way the media, by setting an agenda, creates its own self-fulfilling prophecies. If you cover it (a lot), "they" will do something about it. In this case, FNC sent a message without spelling the message out. It didn't have to.In other news: Did you catch the other much-overcovered weekend story, about this fellow Kobayashi trying to "crash" Nathan's annual hot dog eating contest? Seems Kobi didn't want to sign a contract to eat exclusively for something amazingly called Major League Eating but wanted to participate in the annual gorge-a-thon, anyway. Several issues here: 1) Why ARE there hot dog eating contests in the first place? They're utterly hideous. 2) Major League Eating? Who knew the sideshow to the sideshow was more interesting than the sideshow itself?And in still other news: Bristol Palin made her debut yesterday on ABC Family channel's "Secret Life of the American Teenager" (a show I know I watch devotedly). I saw the clips on her cameo. Let me just say this: Acting requires talent.And lastly: "Paperless tickets." Wave of the future? Great idea? A solution in search of a problem? You make the call.Okay, let's go to the phones...

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Au Contraire, Mein Herr: Cinderella 1965: Paul, my man:You mentioned last week that the Cinderella special shown in 1965 starred a very young Julie Andrews. Sorry. I remember this very clearly because it 1) was the first show I had seen on the TV in color and 2) My mom had to drive to my uncle's house to watch because he was the only one we knew who owned a color TV --with a remote control! The 1965 Cinderella starred Leslie Ann Warren as Cinderella.

Paul Farhi: Well, I didn't mention the 1965 version because that's not the one I meant. There were THREE versions of "Cinderella" shown on tv, and indeed Leslie Ann Warren was in one of 'em (the second? the third? I dunno..). But Julie Andrews was the star of the first, shown in 1957.

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Byrd funeral: Paul -- not sure who to ask this, but maybe you know: why is Sen. Byrd being buried in northern Virginia and not in his home state of West Virginia. I could see if it was Arlington National Cemetary, but it's not.

Paul Farhi: Good question. No idea. Anyone want to tackle this one?

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Surest sign of the apocalypse: The sour economy? Global warming? The Gulf oil spill? Or the fact that Jake and Vienna, two bugs on the windshield of human existence, get as much airtime as they do?Discuss, please.

Paul Farhi: Maybe these stories are just a mirror of ourselves--we see something of our own life in them. Maybe there's a relatively constant need to see these stories. In other words, we need to keep manufacturing them...It's always bewildering, by the way, to go to another country and realize they have a parallel universe of useless celebrities, too. You wonder why anyone cares about those no-names. But they're just like our no-names. I guess there's a worldwide demand.

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Senator Byrd being buried in Arlington, Va.: His wife was buried in Arlington several years ago, and he will be buried with her. I believe the family will eventually make arrangements to have them transferred to West Va.No idea why they put off selecting a West Va. site years ago.

Paul Farhi: Wait. He's going to be buried in Arlington and THEN moved to W. Va? Why not cut out the middle man, er, cemetary, and just go straight to W.Va.?

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Hot dog eating contest: I thought the guy didn't try and get on-stage until after the contest. I avoid watching contests like that. I think the contests like that are horrible.

Paul Farhi: But this tells us a couple of interesting things, no? 1) That hotdog eating contests are now professionalized (the winner this year is supposed to make something like $200,000 in other contests and promotions--and promoting what? Alka Seltzer?)...and 2) that there's a hot dog eating "circuit." Good lawd. Bread (or at least buns) and circuses....

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Journalism at its finest: Paul, I spent a fair amount of time reviewing the coverage in print, on air and online about the Russian spy scandal and came away with one key fact: Dude, one of those spies is totally HOT!!!!I guess I shouldn't be surprised at this stage of my life, but would you agree that even some serious media outlets (such as this one) went a little overboard in their focus?

Paul Farhi: Of course they did. Mainly, I think because the media (and the people who consume the media) always like a pretty face. But we also like an unusual story, which Anna Chapman's certainly is. Besides, the "spying" in this case seems to involve so little, state secret-wise, that there's not a lot else to hang the stories on.

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Channel Nine 5:00 Newscast: Do you know why Leslie Foster and Anita Brickman yell the news? Can't they just, I don't know, read it the way the rest of the anchors do. I'm thinking Wendy Reiger, for instance. She doesn't yell.

Paul Farhi: I'm having a serious flashback to Garrett Morris' News for the Hearing Impaired (jeez, that's gotta be a 30-plus-year-old memory now). And you could, you know, turn the sound down...

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Paul Farhi: And here's something to make you feel old: Ringo Starr turns 70 tomorrow.

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RE: Jake and Vienna: I think it's even less interesting that that: the cable nets that used to show programming or music are still trying to find something to fill their hours for essentially no overhead. So these people are available, to say the least, and they build shows around them. And the "Entertainment News" shows cover them, because they have barter time to fulfill, and the enemy wins when we discuss them here.

Paul Farhi: Yes, good point. There seems to be ever-expanding demand for would-be celebrity news these days. So many outlets chasing so little news. The temptation to manufacture new "celebrities" has been around for a while. Warning: It'll get worse before it ever gets better.

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Hot Dog Eating: I have to ask: what happens to these guys a few hours later? I know what happens if I eat a couple dogs, so it's unpleasant to imagine...

Paul Farhi: I saw a hot dog-eating contest a few years ago (not the Nathan's coney Island thing), and it is one of the most revolting things you can ever watch. Maybe that's why it exists in the first place. Everyone eats to the point of explosion. Everyone turns blue. Everyone ends up with completely (if temporarily) impaired motor functions. And some (not all) don't keep everything down.

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Kobayashi : Every time I hear this name I think of the Usual Suspects.

Paul Farhi: Wasn't that the name of a pro wrestler, too?

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"promoting what? Alka Seltzer?": Close - Pepto Bismol was a sponsor of the Coney Island competition.Ain't America great?

Paul Farhi: Seriously?! Man. This country is so totally beyond parody...

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Or the fact that Jake and Vienna, two bugs on the windshield of human existence, get as much airtime as they do?: The other stuff is so depressing. At least we can laugh at these idiot "celebrities."

Paul Farhi: Oh, sure. We all need schaedenfruede (I think I may have added an extra vowel or two there, but whatever...). It's interesting, though, to think about what we get our schaedenfruede (or possibly shade-n-freud) from.

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Au Contraire, Mein herr (con't): Cinderella (1957) Julie Andrews.Well, I'm sheepish. Sorry. I was thinking about that all week. I might have saved myself some stress if I'd looked it up on the Internet, huh? I didn't see that version because it predated me by 6 months.

Paul Farhi: I've never seen it. But I see that there are clips of it on YouTube. The internet: She will always provide.

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And here's something to make you feel old: Ringo Starr turns 70 tomorrow.: Thanks Paul. I've been looking for more stuff to make me feel old. This is helpful.

Paul Farhi: Oh, sorry. Me, too. And darn if they don't tell you when you're going to pass that invisible line when stuff starts to make you feel old.

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Byrd burial: A service was held today at a Baptist church on N. Glebe Road in Arlington, and then the body was taken to Columbia Gardens which is on Route 50 in Arlington.I assume he attended church there. It doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me either to eventually move the remains, but apparently that is what the family plans to do. I'm sure they can cover the expense.

Paul Farhi: Next question: Doesn't Arlington mind that people are burying and digging up people that way? Does that happen often?

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Explosion: Would the Internet just explode if Megan Fox started dating Robert Pattinson?

Paul Farhi: I think even mentioning that could cause a BP-style gusher that would take many, many Googles to plug.

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Paperless tickets: I would be all for paperless tickets if the ticket companies provided a space for swapping or re-selling (at face cost). They went paperless for a bunch of the shows during the last Springsteen tour, and fans who would normally swap amongst themselves as scheduling conflicts came up (NOT resell for higher price, but trade or sell at face or less) were left high and dry. Just a way to transfer tickets to other people that prevented scalping would be good.

Paul Farhi: I don't know why Ticketmaster can't enable transfers; they should, as a matter of consumer "convenience." And by the way, Ticketmaster: Terrible name.

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Speaking of Garrett Morris: ...is that him I recognize on that Orbit gum commercial? "News for the Hearing-Impaired" was HILARIOUS

Paul Farhi: I believe I saw him in a commercial recently. Not sure it was that one. He looks like a kindly grandpa these days.

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Radio in VA: What should we expect from the new 105.9 morning show? I was excited to learn Mike O'Meara would be on, but without his usual cast, the show will probably be markedly different from the afternoon program he had on 106.7. Kirk McEwan is a good deejay, but I don't know how he works as a comic straight man or second banana. Which leads me to think maybe the show won't emphasize comedy at all. Will it be more news-talk driven?

Paul Farhi: It would be a mistake, I think, NOT to do comedy, or at least light banter. Mike O'M. does hilarious impressions. And Kirk, who does stand-up himself, is an excellent set-up guy. On paper, seems like a pretty good team to me.

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"This country is so totally beyond parody...": Did you see the Marist College poll out last weekend, which found that 26 percent of Americans didn't know which country America gained its independence from?If we didn't laugh, we would all go insane.

Paul Farhi: It is a companion to a collection of stories headed, "How Much Weight Are We Gaining Now."

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the nation's major legal issues: How much coverage will be devoted to the Kagan confirmation and how much to Lindsay Lohan's latest date before the judge?

Paul Farhi: I'd rather read about the Kagan hearing than watch it, frankly. It's important and all, but it's pretty dull TV...And speaking of Lohan: I watched an entire Larry King show a few weeks ago where he went on and on with his panel about Lohan's troubles. Remarkable that there was so much to discuss, and that Larry actually seemed to care.

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Would the Internet just explode if Megan Fox started dating Robert Pattinson?: Yes, especially since she just married Brian Austin Green of 90210 fame.

Paul Farhi: Well, then. Let's just keep Megan and Bob apart then. I kinda like this whole internet thing; I'd hate to see it explode.

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Julie Andrews "Cinderella": It's available on DVD, with lots of interesting extras. Did you know that the Prince was played by Jon Cypher, who later went on to play Chief of Police Daniels in "Hill Street Blues"?

Paul Farhi: Apart from Julie Andrews being in it, I don't know a thing about it. But I love those, "Hey, isn't that..." moments in old TV shows and movies. "Twilight Zone" is the greatest for that kind of thing. Apparently, everyone who ever became famous started by doing a "TZ" episode, up to and including several future Popes.

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Ticketmaster: Terrible name: Not really--it's pretty descriptive of the relationship, except that you have the choice whether to become their slave.

Paul Farhi: Yes. Exactly.

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And have a pleasant tomorrow: I think that was Yokozuna, a Samoan billed as an Okinawan and being a Grand Champion (he had a sumo background, but mostly did the pro wrasslin NWWA/WWF circuit). Deadspin had a piece on him a couple of months ago under the "Dead Wrestler of the Week" feature (poor taste? Maybe. But still, there's sort of a shocking amount of them).

Paul Farhi: I just saw "The Wrestler" (sorry, I'm slow) and I thought they got the whole vibe of pro wrestling (especially the low-rent circuit that Mickey Rourke's character was part of) exactly right. Terrible, terrible business. And, yes, many, many wrestlers have died young as a result of "heart attacks"--i.e., a combination of heavy drug use, extreme violence and awful lifestyles.

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Fox and Steele: I think the coverage blitz serves a dual purpose - even if the RNC doesn't cave into the heat and fire Steele, Fox is in effect serving notice that **they** are dumping him, and they will no longer feel obligated to defend every dumb thing he says (which is pretty much a weekly task, of course).

Paul Farhi: I think you're right about Fox News tacitly expressing its disapproval. But I think it's somewhat different--they will KEEP ON covering him, in order to highlight what they perceive as his embarrassing behavior.

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The Airless Cubicle: Kobayashi? Every time I think of the name I think of Star Trek. The Kobayashi Maru test was supposed to be a training scenario where there was no way to survive -- sort of like our fireworks display last night. It was a test of character. Kirk cheated to win it. Gack, the things we remember.

Paul Farhi: I just like the sound of it. Kobayashi. Cool name.

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Bazeball bin berry berry good to me: Somebody please start re-runs of the first two seasons of SNL!

Paul Farhi: or E! has been re-running those for years. They've become like "I Love Lucy" was to me--a show younger people only saw in re-runs, never in originals.

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It's Like Vegas ... Only in West Virginia: Did you see the Reliable Sources piece about the opening of gambling to guests at the Greenbrier Resort? It's good to see that Debbie Reynolds, Barbara Eden, Jessica Simpson, Brooke Shields, Jack Nicklaus, and Shaquille O'Neal are all united in their wilingness to show up anywhere for any purpose as long as someone cuts them a check. Then again, I think Charles Barkley was actually there for the gambling.

Paul Farhi: Wasn't that amazing? Does Nicklaus really need the money? Shaquille certainly doesn't. And Jessica and Brooke don't have more important photo opportunities? Maybe the checks were really, really large ones. Bizarre...

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Feeling older and now old: The first round for me was when I realized that sports stars were suddenly a lot younger than myself. When I was teen and learned that most players' careers were over by the time they turned 40 I thought, well, that's old isn't it? What's the big deal. And now the second round is every time a musician's birthday comes around and they're over 60 and I thought we were all going to be young forever. "Hope I die before I get old..." Yeah, right. Someone at the store just recently assumed my daughter was my granddaughter, so there's that as well.

Paul Farhi: Yes, sports stars being younger is a great tipoff. But a lot of great players are washed up at 30, 32. For me, it was cops and doctors. I always thought both were authority figures and thus had to be older. Now, most of 'em (especially the cops) are much younger than me.

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That would be more fodder for a collection of stories headed, "How Dumb Are We?" It is a companion to a collection of stories headed, "How Much Weight Are We Gaining Now.": Clearly what we need to do is feed kids properly at school so they can concentrate on learning. With the high calorie meals we serve that are empty of nutrition what do we expect? A country of obese dummies.

Paul Farhi: Oh, come on. We ate the same things at school a generation or more ago, and maybe even worse. And I don't remember the same number of overweight kids. There's more to it than that.

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Jack Webb's Sermons: A couple of weeks ago, you were ragging on Jack Webb and the way he basically used "Dragnet" as a pulpit to preach "kids these days are going to hell in a handbasket" lessons, and how hard it is to imagine anybody finding that entertaining, or it being aired today. I agree; even when I watched the afternoon reruns as a kid not long after the episodes originally aired, I found it all campily amusing more than anything else. (The cut to the guy high on LSD with half his face painted blue, with a Dramatic! Orchestral! Chord! telling you how horrible that was will never leave my nightmares.) But I learned since then that Webb was such a big jazz fan that he directed and acted in a number of jazz-related dramas, hung out with musicians, and even married Julie London. All of that was when heroin was running rampant in the jazz world and ruining a lot of lives and careers. Which doesn't make those anti-drug screeds on "Dragnet" any more effective, but it does kind of explain where Webb was coming from--it was personal with him.

Paul Farhi: Interesting connection! Never thought of it that way. Thanks....And, by the way, the worst thing about any Webb screed was the way he would look smugly at Harry Morgan after making his speech. Both of them would nod grimly at each other, as if to say, "Right you are, Jack!"

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Pepto Bismol: I caught the tail end of a CNN interview on Sat. night that featured Sonya "Black Widow" Thomas and some other competitive eater. Apparently Pepto Bismol is a trade secret according to them; they guzzle it immediately after the contest. Sonya even had her bottle sitting with her on the table during the interview.

Paul Farhi:

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Megan Fox and Robert Pattinson: I don't know if we in pop culture observation decks would be able to survive the dating of Megan Fox and Robert Pattinson and the constant waiting for that stomach baby bumb on Fox.Too bad this isn't the Big Studio Days of 1930s and 1940s where the PR dept. would just force Megan Fox and Robert Pattinson to get married in all that gossip column glory. It would have to be tied into their last film premiere though.

Paul Farhi: Career-wise (if you want to be that cynical, and we are), Brian Austin Greene made a good choice with Megan. He could use the publicity these days...And speaking of arranged Hollywood marriages, I just read something about one of Rock Hudson's. He used to come home at night and ignore his wife and go into his private screening room to watch some of his movies with Doris Day. And he'd just swear at himself the whole time. I have no idea if this is true, but it seems so, so sad.

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Julie's Cinderella: I actually saw that on channel 13 (PBS) in NY a few years ago. I tried to interest my nieces in it, but they were unimpressed, I think due to the lack of color. I enjoyed it, though. I think the actor who played the prince in the Leslie Ann Warren version went on to play Alan Quartermaine in General Hospital.

Paul Farhi: Repeat after me: Kids will NOT watch black-and-white movies. Poor dears.

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sort of like our fireworks display last night: Speaking of fireworks, why do people still insist on doing stupid things that makes them lose a body part? That guy in NY blew his entire arm off because he was trying to use a commercial grade fireworks launcher at his house.

Paul Farhi: Commercial grade fireworks launcher! That reminds me of something Chris Rock said about fireworks in his neighborhood in Brooklyn: "There was always some guy who had an actual stick of dynamite." Having grown up in Brooklyn, this rings basically true to me.

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Dead Wrestler of the Week: It's on Deadspin, the site (and the comments) are usually very NSFW, but the stories about the wrestlers (and one on an old wrestling league, the ECW), are horribly compelling, even if, like me, you have never had an interest in wrestling. The one on Andre the Giant, in particular, is depressing.

Paul Farhi: I did a story on the death of Eddie ("Latino Heat") Guerrero a few years ago. ALL of those stories are depressing.

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Kevin James: I really wish SNL was on right now and they brought in Kevin James to play Elena Kagan.She'd be pretty funny.Also, they need to bit the bullet and realize Fred Armisen is awful as Barack Obama.I recommend you google "Trevor Noah" since I saw his routine in Johannesburg and he does great impressions including Barack Obama.

Paul Farhi: Agree on Armisen. The tipoff on any impression is whether you're laughing at the impression or the material. Darrell Hammond could make any impression wonderful, no matter how lame the writing. Armisen only really gets by on the strength of the material.

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Defining "entertainment": down--and who's dumber?: Have you noticed how Entertainment Tonight and Access Hollywood have become video tabloids? On The Soup a week ago, they played Mary Hart's intro to a recent ET which included, "We go inside Joren Vander Sloot's Peruvian hotel room." Joel McHale responded, "Yes, I guess that's entertainment. If you're Charles Manson."As for people not knowing history, the London Telegraph reported on a survey of English first year university students. A huge percentage of them could not name one 19th Century British prime minister. Considering that two men, Gladstone and Disraeli, traded the office back and for decades, that's pretty scary. Wonder how many of our college freshmen couldn't name Lincoln as a 19th century President.

Paul Farhi: It's the TMZ effect, I think. Or maybe they just learned during the O.J. trial that they've got to do more than just flak some star's latest movie or TV show to get viewers.

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School lunches: "We ate the same things at school a generation or more ago, and maybe even worse. "Actually, possibly not. Used to be a can of soda came in 8 oz. instead of 16. And 20 oz. wasn't the norm at all, but it is now. Not to mention the difference in food manufacture these days--not just the farming, but also production of goods to include tons of sodium and HFCS (instead of real sugar). The food may *look* the same, or even better, but it's not really.

Paul Farhi: Fair enough. That's former FDA commissioner David Kessler's premise in his recent book about food processing. His point is that food today contains far higher percentages of fat, sugar and sodium than a generation or two ago, and that we've "learned" to want more fat, sugar and salt as a result. But I'd also add, it's more than even that. Sedentary lifestyles are not conducive to maintaining a healthy weight.

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Kobayashi: I think it's a great name for a hot-dog eater: "Honey, let's grill some hot dogs on the Kobayshi." He could become the George Foreman of the wiener world.

Paul Farhi: Brilliant! You ought to tell, or be, his agent.

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Favorite new commercial: Danica Patrick's race car being serviced by men in heels and mini-skirts - hilarious and memorable.Second favorite is the kid in denim diapers - also funny.

Paul Farhi: Yes, she's attractive, but it's a pretty tiresome act.

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Jack Webb movie roles : A few years back I watched Sunset Boulevard straight through for the first time and was stunned when I saw Jack Webb playing William Holden's buddy who can't figure out why Holden is hanging out with a washed up movie star like Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson). The thing is, Webb is a bohemian party guy in the film. It's hard to deal with.

Paul Farhi: Webb was like John Wayne; no matter what character he played, he always played the same character. I mean, I LIKED John Wayne, but he never seemed to try that hard to, you know, act.

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I'm older than dirt, so . . . . . . . : ...........who are Jake and Vienna, or am I just hopelessly interested in "old" people/topics?

Paul Farhi: We serve all demographics here. You can sit out on the Jack and Vienna parts. We'll call you back when we do some more old people stuff.

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Fireworks: Why can't you buy good fireworks around here anymore? Sparklers and fountains are lame lame lame. Give me some good old roman candles and bottle rockets for a war! Can't even buy firecrackers.

Paul Farhi: Personally, I was a firecrackers, cherry bombs and M-80s guy myself. Liked the heavy artillery...

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Pepto Bismol couldn't possibly deal with the stress on the body caused by such sudden massive consumption. : The competitors train their bodies to handle the food, just like an athlete trains his body for his sport. So they are better off than the average person who might decide to eat 66 hotdogs at once. But they do admit to feeling sick for several days afterwards. I think the whole thing is disgusting. Even though they do all the training, I imagine that year after year of this takes a bad toll on the body.

Paul Farhi: I guess it's like boxing, mixed-martial arts or football. All of those sports hurt people, or put them at a high risk of injury. But we tolerate them, even celebrate them. Wonder if there's any way to preserve the "sport" without putting people's health so much at risk.

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The Airless Cubicle: Would you like some Kobyashi on your Schadenfreude?

Paul Farhi: ThreadWeaver(TM) of the day. Thanks, AC...

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We ate the same things at school a generation or more ago: I don't think so. Schools these days are going into contracts with more fast food and vending machine options because they don't get enough money to put out a decent meal.

Paul Farhi: Yes, I think that's part of the story. Schools have to do what they can afford. That's not always the same thing as doing what's right.

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Did you see the Marist College poll out last weekend, which found that 26 percent of Americans didn't know which country America gained its independence from?: Isn't the "from" in the wrong place? And my guess is Mexico.

Paul Farhi: Right, on at least one count (possibly two).

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Old Folks: Phil Lesh of the Grateful Dead is also 70. And John Lennon would have turned 70 in October. Sigh.

Paul Farhi: And as long as we're playing this game: Chuck Berry will be 84 in October.

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Paperless tickets: I hold in my hand a membership card, sort of like a Metro SmarTrip, for the Arsenal Football Club in London. This card, when it's activated (by me buying a ticket for the game) opens a turnstile at the stadium. If I buy an individual ticket, I cannot transfer it to anyone else's card. If I were to be lucky enough to get a season ticket (tougher than the Redskins, and besides, I live in Rockville), I can sell my ticket for a game back to the team and get a refund. No scalpers. A few paper tickets are allowed for each game, but I'd say there's maybe 1,000 for a 62,000-seat stadium. (They go to out of town supporters and are sold through the club, as well as a few ticket brokers that hike the price 300 percent.)

Paul Farhi: But you could sell the activated card, no? If so, that wouldn't stop scalping (and I'm not entirely convinced that scalping is a real problem, but I digress...). I agree with you on one thing: Teams and event promoters don't make it all that easy to sell your tickets back to them. Too much of a hassle, I guess. Plus, they have your money and really would prefer not to give it back.

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Feeling old: Presidents! I and two of my siblings are older than our president. Yikes!

Paul Farhi: Presidents, yes! Obama is the first one younger than me. Never thought of that until now!

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Old Folks, Again: The tipping point for me was when my health-care providers when from being older than me to being younger than me.

Paul Farhi: Sure. I could two ways on this one. I like a younger doctor who's up on all the latest cures and technologies. On the other hand, I like a doctor who has enough experience not to have to worry about all the latest cures and technologies.

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John Wayne: This weekend, AMC had a John Wayne All-American marathon. I thought it was great and probably introduced this genre to people who didn't stop and ever watch westerns.

Paul Farhi: There have been a few westerns (movies, not TV shows) in the last 10, 20 years. But it's really a dead genre, isn't it? I can't think of another than has faded quite as much.

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Brush Fire, FL: Down here you have to sign an affadavit that the fireworks you buy will be used only for agricultural purposes. Good thing I have a bunch of avocado and mango trees on my city lot...

Paul Farhi: Agricultural purposes? What is the agricultural purpose for a roman candle?

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Speaking of Fireworks....: That reminds that even though WETA-26 is the producer on the National Symphony's Concert on the Mall + Fireworks TV show, they broadcast it in stereo, while Maryland Public Television does it in full 5.1 Surround Sound! How in the world can that be? That's why I am an MPT member, and not a WETA member nowadays. (Or is it my FiOS provider messing with WETA's broadcast?)

Paul Farhi: Whoa. Kinda technical question there. I dunno. But maybe someone else does.

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Lessons from my Father: At my father's funeral, I'll be able to say two things he taught me, hand on heart: 1. You cool off quicker and stay cool longer if you take a tepid shower instead of a cold one.2. The Roman candle shoots further is hold it in your hand, away from your body, and give it a constant gentle shake after lighting. (Can I pass that lesson on to anybody? Noooo! I swear, kids these days....!)

Paul Farhi: Those are excellent life lessons. Thank you for sharing them, and thank your dad for his wise advice.

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Jake and Vienna: I asked because I wanted to know ....... jeez! Little did I know that two goodled names would yield so much info about one reality show. Sorry about that, Paul.

Paul Farhi: Aye. Some things are better left unasked...

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And as long as we're playing this game: Chuck Berry will be 84 in October.: I'm okay with that one. I always thought of Chuck Berry as my dad's music. But the Beatles? Even though they were a lot older than me, well, I still thought of them as current when I was getting into music.

Paul Farhi: Okay, that's right--it's all about the music you/one grows up with. If you grew up with the Beatles, Ringo turning 70 does raise more eyebrows than Chuck Berry turning 84.

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Old people stuff: Jack and Vienna are, in fact, "old people stuff.".Jack: the movie in which Jack Webb actually did some impressive acting was the 1950 drama "The Men", in which Webb and Marlin Brando (in his film debut) play young wounded Korean War vets who are coming to grips with their paraplegic status. Webb matches brando, if you can imagine that,. Vienna: 70-year-old Ringo Starr's fourth album was "Goodnight, Vienna". The album cover featured Starr re-inacting the role of the alien "Klaatu" in the sci-fi classic "The Day the Earth Stood Still" (a D.C.-based film classic, with Gort the Robot). Over a year later a Toronto-based band called themselves "Klaatu", and it let to all sorts of rumors filling the radio waves that they were really the Beatles, back for a re-union. They weren't.

Paul Farhi: Special ThreadWeave(TM) citation to you! That's some impressive work. Kudos!

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Surplus Tickets: I used to know a guy who worked for UNLV during the post-Tark down years. Among his jobs was buying back and then reselling unused tickets, to make sure concession sales were strong.

Paul Farhi: Let's not even get started on the manipulation inherent in all even tticket sales. Concert promoters regularly hold back tickets. Teams regularly jack with the reported attendance figures. Thing is, it's an unlevel playing field. The ticket issuers always know far more than you do about the supply and demand of any event, and can work the market to their advantage.

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Danica Patrick: Mmm, I don't know, dude. Do you also respect Bob Dole less for his commercials? None of them had anything to do with politics, and there were at least 3--a Got Milk? ad he shared with Clinton during the '96 campaign, a Pepsi ad with Britney Spears, and the other one which may be censored by WP's technical whatsits but you know what I'm talking about.

Paul Farhi: But in every one of those cases, Dole was selling his credibility as a politician. In Danica's case, she's not really selling her credibility as a driver. Well, that's where her fame initially comes from, but she's selling much, much more.

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There have been a few westerns (movies, not TV shows) in the last 10, 20 years. But it's really a dead genre, isn't it? : Deadwood. (HBO)

Paul Farhi: Ah, yes. Forgot that one. Rare example proving larger point.

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"What is the agricultural purpose for a roman candle?": In theory: scaring little critters away from the fruit. No joke.

Paul Farhi: But you need colorful exploding stuff for that? Wouldn't a good cap gun serve the same purpose?

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Jack Webb: Caught a few reruns of Mad Men last night (really looking forward to the new season) and realized something: client-meeting Don Draper is modeled after Jack Webb! He delivered a great lecture to a recalcitrant tobacco client last night, and it was brilliant...and he even wore the same gray suit.

Paul Farhi: Naw. Jack was asexual. Don is anything but. Jack had no personal life; Don has way too much of it. Jack/Joe Friday was a wooden crypto-fascist; Don actually seems to have a few identifiable human emotions.

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Harrisburg, Pa.: KOTH had a GREAT episode about the pro eating circuit, and how Bill had an innate gift for consumption (Kid Rock was a big supporter of the scene). Best part: Mustard-yellow championship belts, like in pro-wrasslin'.

Paul Farhi: Oh, must see, must see! But wouldn't Dale be better than Bill in that role? All these eating pros seem to be skinny dudes.

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On its Web site, Ticketmaster tells would-be gift givers to buy paperless tickets "on the credit card of the person attending the event and [then] reimburse them." : Surprise! I stole your credit card number and bought you some Metallica tickets for your birthday. Enjoy! Love, Grandma.

Paul Farhi: Thanks! Metallica = Great American export to the world. (I have "Enter Sandman" on my iPod. I love doing that head bob thing to it...)

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Paul Farhi: Hope to hear from y'all after I get back. In the meantimes, as always, regards to all!...Paul.


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