Friday, February 26, 2010

Larceny Friday (Stuff I Stole From The Internet)

Misplaced isn't in the mood to come up with anything insightful today.

Mainly because I spent an hour this afternoon arguing with a crew of what appeared to be homeless derelicts from the Minneapolis Streets Department. (More on that Monday)

Instead, I'll share some content hijacked from my interweb roaming.

The first is this delightful video that I first saw on my friend John Payne's blog The Painful Happenings. John and I met about twenty years ago when we were both employed at the Schoellkopf Scout Reservation in Cowlesville, NY. John is a family man these days, living with his wife and a whole passel o' kids out in Provo, Utah. After seeing this video on his blog, I knew I had to share it with my readers at some point:
Pure genius, in my opinion.

This guy had me convinced he knew what he was doing for about 15 seconds:
Definitely NOT a genius.

He sort of reminded me of this guy:
That's just embarrassing.

Not as embarrassing as having your failure become part of a "South Park" episode:
Oh well... at least he's famous for something.

Here are several idiots lumped together:
Darwin Awards anyone?

Finally, one of the cooler time-lapse videos I've seen on Vimeo:


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See you Monday.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

NBC's Olympic Failure

Ah, the dawn of a fresh new day, with lots of exciting Olympics events that we and other Americans won't be able to watch LIVE because NBC controls the rights and NBC is the network that prevents us from watching the Olympics.

Instead of ranting again about this, however, we'll just direct some questions to NBC.

As a preface, we should make clear that these are real questions. We don't know the answers. We can't understand why NBC would damage its brand and infuriate sports fans from coast to coast by doing this, so we're really curious about the logic here. We would also be happy to publish the responses.

Six Questions For NBC

1. Why do you delay events that are much more exciting to watch live? Presumably the answer here is "money," but please explain that answer in detail. Please don't say, "to appeal to a wider audience," because no one is arguing that you should be prohibited from putting on your big general interest highlight-reel evening shows. We just want to watch the events live, too.

2. Is the evening audience much bigger than it would be if you showed the events live during the day? How much bigger? Wouldn't you be able to make up the difference by showing the event live on one of your other networks during the day and then showing highlights on NBC at night? Wouldn't you be able to show more targeted advertising (and charge higher CPMs) to audiences for specific events?

3. How much money would you lose (or do you think you would lose) if you showed the events live on a subsidiary network and then showed highlights again in your prime time broadcast? To us, this seems like the best solution. If you did this, sports fans could get their fix, and the "general audience" you're obviously trying to appeal to in prime time with segments on polar bears can watch the "Olympics Show" you put on every night without wanting to throw their remote controls through the TV.

4. Do you expect people to avoid the news all day until you show the events in primetime, or do you not care that everyone knows who won? Is it really realistic/fair to think that, in the era of Twitter, omnimedia, and email alerts that people will be able to go into media blackouts for 8 hours?

5. Is the decision to show events on tape-delay a relic of the days when the Big Three networks ruled the world? Is there some acknowledgment internally that the world has changed a bit since 1976? Does Dick Ebersol watch the Olympics on 8-hour tape-delayed highlight reels?

6. Do you care that sports fans from coast to coast are furious at you? How do you factor this into your long-term brand-value calculations? We, personally, hate you for this. It's possible that we're alone, but based on the feedback we've received, we doubt it. That can't be good for the value of the company, can it? Especially when you make no effort to explain to people like us why you're doing this.

As an additional question, we doubt that there's unanimity within NBC on this decision. We imagine, in fact, that there are hundreds of employees who are appalled by NBC's decision to wreck the Olympics for millions of sports fans, along with its refusal to directly explain to Americans why they may be the only country on earth forced to watch the Olympics on tape delay. If so, we would love to hear from some of the dissenters, as well as from those who can explain the real logic here (because whatever NBC says publicly almost certainly won't).

Thanks in advance.

Yes, we'll watch some of it anyway, which is no doubt what NBC is counting on. But we promise you this. We are going to be cursing NBC all night and for the rest of the Olympics. And in the hope of appealing to something NBC does apparently care about, we're also going to be cursing NBC's advertisers.

Coke? Screw you. I hold you responsible for this, too.

VISA? Go to hell.

Procter & Gamble? I'll do everything I can to avoid buying Tide for the next four years.

10 Reasons Why NBC Should Lose Its Olympic Broadcast Rights:

(Adapted from Bloggapalooza - Original Copyright 2010 by the Queen Cunt of the Universe, Lynn Christiansen Esquer... who might actually have a chance at being hot if she'd carve a few inches off that monstrosity she calls a nose.)

1. The commercials are absolutely relentless. Coverage of actual sporting events are given slots of between 3 and 9 minutes at a time, however long it takes one or two athletes to compete. Then we go to 3 to 4 minutes of commercials. Throw in time for the talking heads and insipid featurettes, and only half of every hour turns out to be actual Olympic footage.

2. Who at the network decided there would be no live coverage? There is hardly any Olympic coverage at all during the day. No coverage is live on the U.S. West Coast, which is in the same time zone as Vancouver. I watched part of the broadcast of women’s downhill skiing hours after it actually happened. Not only did I already know the outcome (thanks to the internet and the Minneapolis NBC affiliate), but I also knew in advance who took crashed and who took the lead and lost it. There’s no "Thrill of Victory or "Agony of Defeat". Boooorrring.

3. Kids can’t watch the Olympics. NBC insists on showing the Olympics during prime time, delaying all coverage for hours. When prime time starts at 8 p.m., young kids are in bed. It would be nice to inspire American children, teach them about sports, teamwork, excellence and the wider world — but NBC doesn’t make it easy.

4. Forget the kids — I can’t stay up! I’d have loved to have seen Shaun White and Lindsay Vonn receive their gold medals, but I couldn’t keep my eyes open until midnight, when the award ceremonies were broadcast.

5. NBC can't sit still. If they're going to cram a whole day of Olympic coverage into a 4-hour highlight reel, why can't they cover one event completely before launching into the next one? It's ridiculous, they show three skaters compete, then switch to snowboarding, then back again, throwing a few interviews, soundtrack highlights and features in between. This is not live coverage. NBC can’t seem to find its own editing room.

6. The America-centric attitude. Go USA. I feel it. But since it's the Olympics, let us hear about people from around the globe, not just Americans. Isn’t the international coming together of the athletes and the ensuing drama the real thrill of the Olympics? You wouldn’t know it from watching this network.

7. NBC is obsessed with a select few athletes. Shaun White. Lindsey Vonn. Apolo Ohno. Don't get me wrong, they’re great. But Team USA has 212 other athletes also competing in Vancouver, not to mention the thousands of other Olympians gathered in the Olympic Village in Vancouver. Another blogger came up with a new drinking game: anytime the camera rested on Shaun or Lindsey, take a drink! I guarantee a roomful of passed-out drunks in less than 20 minutes.

8. Insipid stories. Sure, I want to hear about the athletes and what their story is. That’s part of the fun and it brings the human aspect to the Games. But I learned, courtesy of a quite detailed and long feature by the overly masculine Mary Carillo, more than anyone needs to know about polar bears and ecotourism in Manitoba. Now, Churchill, Manitoba is more than 2,000 miles from Vancouver. What did this have to do with the Olympics? Sadly, this is the kind of “coverage” we’re getting every night on NBC.

9. The "interviews" are horrendous. Pedantic, stilted, amateurish.

10. There are no viable alternatives! My friends back home in New York are able to watch CTV live via cable, but that does nothing for those of us who don't live close to the Canadian border. Exhaustive searches have revealed no other alternatives for Americans with the exception of those that live in cities and towns within fifty or so miles of the Canadian border. In those places, most cable companies offer CTV (Canadian Television Network) as part of their basic package, and failing that, a good old-fashioned antenna will pull in CTV's far superior coverage with ease.

The basic problem with NBC's coverage is that they haven't improved the fundamentals of the coverage in spite of massive changes in the way people take in content. The prime-time coverage is largely as it's always been, a few events are heavily showcased, a few other events are shown in an abbreviated format regular viewers instantly recognize as "USA-Plus" (meaning you see the Americans, plus a few other people who are relevant because they either do very well or wipe out spectacularly), and two events - hockey and curling - are shown as complete events, but they're shoved off to cable.

West-coast residents have been incensed that they wait an additional three hours after the East coast gets whatever "live" coverage there actually is in prime time, even though they are in the time zone where the Olympics actually are. What this means is that even if NBC is showing "live" coverage of its big events in New York, which is across the continent from Vancouver, it delays them three hours for Seattle, which is less than three hours south of Vancouver.

Because what NBC perceives to be the high-profile events are frequently shoved into the evening, the ones that happen earlier in the day are dealt a particular blow. This has particularly plagued some of the skiing events, where NBC chooses to sit on the tape of the events for hours and hours, during which time other news outlets inevitably report on them.

This just isn't the way people follow... anything, really, at this point. At one time, you could broadcast events hours after they happened, and you'd have a reasonable chance that people could live in a bubble while they were waiting. That is not the world we live in anymore. The fantasy that is indulged when Bob Costas speaks breathlessly about an upcoming ski race where he already knows exactly what happened is no longer even a fragile fantasy; it's a blatant fiction that everyone knows about.

Naturally, NBC wants to kick the big events into prime-time for ratings reasons, and it's hard to argue with their ratings successes for these Olympics, which have been massive. Nevertheless, they're clinging to a broadcast model that's not only on its last legs - it's on the last toe of the last leg. This isn't Wide World Of Sports - people don't want to wait around for when your big sports show happens to take place.

Self-scheduling is the rule, at this point. It's harder and harder to tell people when they will watch things, and in what form. I can't prove it, but my sense is that part of the reason so many of us have taken to watching curling is that you can see entire matches, without the break-ins from Costas and the cutaways to other sports.

There's probably too much action in a set of Olympics for absolutely everything to be shown top-to-bottom, and perhaps that would be boring, anyway. But if the broadcast networks who cover this stuff don't find a way to stop pretending it's still 1976, where an event happens when the person who owns the broadcast rights tells you it happens, they're going to wind up being left in the dust by whatever manipulator of technology figures out how to do it better.

NBC isn’t the network that is bringing Americans the Olympics. It’s the network that’s preventing us from watching them — from really participating in this two-week period of international goodwill and athletic exhibition that happens only every four years.
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See you tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Evil Corporations - The Dark Side Of Disney

In January, Misplaced In The Midwest published the first "Evil Corporations" expose shining a light on the Monsanto Corporation. That series of articles did not go unnoticed by the corporate giant, as it turned out that a significant amount of my web traffic that month could be traced back to an IP address belonging to - you guessed it - Monsanto's legal department.

No worries.

Misplaced ain't afraid of Big Business and to continue in that tradition, this month I'm poking the bear known as Disney with a pointy stick.

Read on...

The Magic Kingdom Is Born

Back in the 60's when Disney began buying up 24,000 acres of land quietly, legislators who were in on the plan gave Disney whatever he wanted. The plan was to turn 43 square miles of orange groves and homes into a money making machine for the state - so of course it was a good deal. He'd make the state piles of money and they'd give him anything he needed to pull it off. What he asked for was total autonomy; the right to have his own private government to run his park with. No outside interference. And this is exactly what he got.

The Disneyland Park and the two towns of Lake Buena Vista and Bay Lake Communities. The two "towns" have a permanent population of about 65 people - mostly all Disney executives and family. The towns, and Disneyland, are under the government of the Reedy Creek Improvement District. Reedy Creek's board are elected land owners; people who own land in one of the two 'towns'. Who are mostly all Disney executives and/or their families.

See how nicely this works?

Disney denies any connection to Reedy Creek. The reason they fib is because Florida Law requires municipal governments to conduct business in public. Just like any town or city. Disney doesn't want to have to conduct it's business out in public with the Great Unwashed. (YOU)

So to solve this little problem, Disney got permission long ago to make itself it's own government. Even though it's a private corporation. Disney runs all utilities in the Lake Buena Vista and Bay Lake Communities, does all the planning and zoning, makes it's own building codes, has it's own building inspectors. They build their own schools, levy their own taxes. They even have permission to build their own nuclear power plant if they want, or their own international airport, or cemeteries! Reedy Creek "contracts" with Disney for an 880 member security force that patrols EPCOT, Magic Kingdom - all the shops, restaurants, roads. They wear blue uniforms and wear badges just like real cops, only they're not. They have no legal authority whatsoever in the Real Outside World. All they really are is a type of "mall" cop or security guard. Any and all crimes are supposed to be reported and handled at once to the Actual Florida Law Officers. They don't of course, because Disney has a fanatical obsession with privacy and preserving their safe, clean image.

And covering their butts.

The way Disney has it all set up, they are the 'law' there. If something happens on Disney grounds, those Security minions are the first and possibly all you're going to see. If you get seriously hurt, it's the Disney emergency people who will come to your aid first and they will decide if any outside help will be called. And the kicker is when something goes wrong - and it does - Disney will refuse to cooperate or turn over witnesses, information or records because guess what?

They're a private government, and they don't have to turn over private records. Welcome to the Magic Kingdom.

Disney - The Kingdom of Child Labor Violations

If you own anything "Disney", you own something made in a Disney sweatshop.

Yes, sweatshop. Even now, this is how Disney does business.

Included in the Happy Meals sold at McDonalds are small toys based on characters from Disney films. According to McDonald's senior vice-president Brad Ball, the Happy Meals characters from the "101 Dalmatians" movie were the most successful in McDonald's history. Ball said, "As we embark on our new global alliance, we anticipate ten great years of unbeatable family fun as customers enjoy 'the magic of Disney' only at McDonald's"

Seventeen year old women are forced to work up to 19 hours a day, seven days a week, earning as little as six cents an hour in the Keyhinge factory in Da Nang City, Vietnam making popular giveaway promotional toys - many of which are Disney characters for McDonald's Happy Meals. Overtime is mandatory. And no, six cents an hour isn't a fortune there - it's well below subsistence levels. The most basic meal in Vietnam - rice, vegetables, and tofu - costs 70 cents. Three meals would cost $2.10. Wages do not even cover 20 per cent of the daily food and travel costs for a single worker, let alone her family. We're not doing them any favors, nor even helping then in a basic human way by trading hard work for a better quality of life.

Acute or prolonged exposure to acetone, a chemical solvent used to make and paint plastic toys, can cause dizziness, unconsciousness, damage to the liver and kidneys and chronic eye, nose, throat and skin irritation. After working a 70 hour week, some of the teenage women take home a salary of only $4.20. Many are made ill by constant chemical exposure. All appeals from local human and labor rights groups continue to be rejected by Keyhinge management which refuses to improve the ventilation system in the factory or remedy other unsafe working conditions. Along with demanding forced overtime, Keyhinge management has not made legally required payments for health insurance coverage for its employees, who now receive no compensation for injury or sickness.

For years, Disney was one of the most active members in UNICEF, an organization dedicated to the protection of children's rights including protection from sexual exploitation and child labor, specifically. Disney is well aware of all the violations and conditions of all their factories. The organizations listed in this article have made them aware. Yet they continue to use them to make their stuff.

In 1995 Federal Agents raided 2 sweat shops in Los Angeles which manufactured Disney stuff. Yes, L.A. We're not talking Viet Nam, thousands of miles away anymore... we're talking Los Angeles!

One was the Nathan J. Co. who was using kids as young as 12 to make Disney Apparel. The other was the "Too Cute' Disney Label which, on top of using kids for workers, owed a lot of money in back wages. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, most of the folks working in the "Too Cute" factory were Thai Nationals working off debts to professional smugglers who got them into the country. Only it was a debt that never got paid because it turned into a slavery kind of situation.

The truth of the matter is that Disney licensees have been caught using Child labor on three continents and the National Labor Committee in New York, whose job it is to track the labor force hiring of U.S. Corporations, considers Disney one of 'the worst offenders". And this has gone on for years and years. And you'd think Disney would be extra extra careful about it, wouldn't you? I guess it's easier to just blow it off, cover it up and continue using kids to make your shit for you.

Charles Kernaghan of the National Labor Committee said: "People who are making Disney shirts are living in utter misery". Those are made in Burma, by the way, where 80% of our heroin also comes from, according to the U.S. State Department. That's basically what the line of thought is: the profits not going to the workers making the Disney stuff is going to the drug lords. Seriously. In Haiti they make all the "Hunchback of Notre Dame", "Pohahontas", Mickey Mouse" and "Lion King" garments. The "Mickey for Kids" and "Classic Apparel", too. Children in Hong Kong and Vietnam make the Happy Meal toys. Chinese child labor make the "Little Mermaid", "Toy Story" and "Minnie Mouse" items. Recently, three workers died there after inhaling fumes from solvents.

Joe Allen went undercover for NBC News to investigate the sweat shops that make Disney items and said: "In some cases kids have hands eaten away by solvents". In Indonesia he found kids as young as 12 sewing Disney stuffed/plush toys. The owner proudly told him he prefers to use kids as his work force because they're "easier to control".

Remember this next time you take a cruise through McDonald's and just have to have that new Disney Happy Meal action figure.

Yet Another Warm Fuzzy Tale

Everyone knows lemmings commit suicide by throwing themselves off of cliffs, right? We have the expression "lead astray like lemmings to the sea".."followed like lemmings", "like lemmings off a cliff"..used to describe stupid acts by several people. Thing is, Lemmings don't behave that way - Walt Disney made the whole thing up. All of it. You'd be surprized how many people believe this as fact; go ask a few. Maybe you do, too, till right now.

It all started when the nature documentary 'White Wilderness' was filmed in 1958 in the arctic wilds of Alberta, Canada. It was a massive undertaking that took 3 years. No one has yet to figure out why - and Disney never explained - why they got it in their heads to film a "real lemming migration" complete with rare, never-before-seen footage of the critters drowning themselves in the sea. This was never-before-seen because lemmings don't do this. Population explosions sometimes happen and lemmings do migrate and maybe a few will accidentally fall off a cliff or tumble down some rocks and fall in a stream or something and drown. Sucks to be them, then, but it's not a habit they all get into as some wise form of population control. You could just as easily say ants migrate and commit suicide by throwing themselves off curbs and drowning themselves in puddles. Apparently The Disney Documentary Braintrust neglected, in researching their Wildlife documentary, to find any actual desire to document the wildlife accurately. Not to fear! The head photographer and crew decided to take the liberty of bullshitting. They paid Inuit kids 25 cents for every lemming they brought in and they got a few dozen.

They put the critters on a huge, snow-covered "Lazy Susan" turntable and spun it, then filmed from various angles as the critters ran, fell and slid into each other. This pretty much made it look like a "migration" sequence showing a bunch of spinning, running, sliding lemmings with snow flying all over. Voila! Lemming migration! Afterwards, instead of just letting the things go with a few dollars and some Mickey Mouse ears, then they were all taken to where there was a cliff overlooking a river and herded over the edge, down into the water, where they drowned. For real. For no reason except to be filmed. Cut and Wrap! Disney got his footage and the myth of the Lemming Hurling Off Cliffs To Commit Suicide was born.

This is how much people trusted Uncle Walt and the stuff that came out of Disney Studios back then. A Disney documentary was as good as God's Honest Wholesome Truth. People to this day will still believe this story is Nature Wilderness fact when in fact it's made up Disney bull and proof of how much trust people put into the clean, honest "image" of Disney.

Death And The Magic Kingdom

There is a guideline at Disney called the Operation Hourly Ride Capacity (OHRC) which dictates how many people should get on each ride per hour. Disney used to close the park when attendance hit 50,000. This was the number they found made things safe and enjoyable and was the maximum number of Guests the park employees and security guards could safely handle. But as more and more people came to the gates only to be turned away, Greed overruled Care. The OHRC was invented as a way to combat the long lines by creating an assembly-line quota to get those numbers, dollars and bodies through the park. Because of the pressure on the employees to meet the quota, accidents are on the rise. But the rule is: if there's an accident you call "Guest Services".

Spencer Craig worked for Disney for 10 years before becoming the Duty Manager of Magic Kingdom, which he said includes "knowing everything that happens in the park, every location, with every employee and every guest". He said Disney makes more money continuing to operate a ride they know is dangerous than shutting it down to fix the problem. The lengths and means that are gone to to keep Disney safety records from getting out is legendary. They are known to be continually way over industry standards for allowable accidents.

Since Disney has been downsizing and automating to save even more money, there are less people per given ride to assist with getting on or off it, navigating the walks, or even helping anyone having a problem. Spencer explains it this way - "If you had 8 people managing a ride and then you have 2, and something comes up, then you have one. Then things happen".

Some of the accidents that led to death or maiming were caused by the stupidity of the "guest" harmed; they didn't use safety equipment on the rides or did something asinine to endanger themselves, for instance. Some of the deaths and accidents were the fault of Disney, who according to OSHA, has violations heaped upon it at every OSHA inspection. However, the fines incurred are pocket change for Disney, who also find it cheaper to risk a possible injury or death down the line than lose money by shutting down a ride and spending the money to correct the violations.

Pat Shenck and her 8 year old son went on 'water sprite' jet skis on one of the park lagoons. One of their jet skis got stuck on the water when the shift wouldn't move out of neutral. A 23-year old inexperienced "captain' of the ferryboat "Kingdom Queen" hit them. Going against all park and safety regulations, he put the ferry into reverse, sucking Mrs. Shenck under the blades and boat, killing her. Before Disney called the "real" police and ambulance, they had divers in the water collecting evidence, looking for her body and pulling the bits of clothing and body from under the ferry. When they finally did find the body they tethered it to a buoy and left it in the lagoon for hours, refusing to let it be moved or let anyone to go out and attend to it until after nightfall when the visitors wouldn't see it and the ride wouldn't have to be shut down.

A piece of metal tore away from a dock as a Tall Ship was being tied to it, hitting visitors Luan Dawson and his wife Lieu Vuong. Luan died two days later in the hospital of a brain hemorrhage and skull fracture. His wife was in critical condition with facial disfigurements. Also injured was employee Christine Carpenter who underwent surgery on a badly lacerated foot and other leg injuries. Witnesses said the ship was going too fast and pulled the metal out of the dock as it was being tied, ricocheting it around and hitting the people. Which would be "neglect", except that Disney staff cleaned up all the blood and evidence fast as can be and the real police didn't even come out for three hours. Investigators in several cities with major amusement parks said the Anaheim police violated basic standards of police work when they didn't bother to go out to Disneyland immediately and look at the scene, long after park employees had cleaned things up and carted away the evidence. "You need to have an independent investigation that would be uninfluenced by Disney," said Santa Clara Sgt. Anton Morec Morec. "Maybe the worker was under the influence, maybe the maintenance records indicate this cleat was due for maintenance two weeks earlier. You treat it as a crime scene until you know otherwise."

Anaheim Police Chief Randall W. Gaston supported the actions of his detectives saying it is "usually counterproductive to rush directly to the scene."

Marcelo Torres, 22, was killed on Sept. 5, 2003 while riding the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. Ten other people were injured. The accident was caused when the locomotive derailed and disconnected from the rest of the train, which contains the passenger cars. Exactly what happened to Mr. Torres is unknown; he was hit in the chest with a blunt object that fractured his ribs, leading to the laceration of his lungs which caused "severe blood loss," according to an Orange County coroner's statement. He died at the scene.

Two boys running to be the first on Space Mountain found the escalator ablaze with fire. There was no Disney "Host" around and one of the boys, having the brains to know what to do, ran to find one while the other guarded the escalator to make sure no one went on it.

A girl lost a finger at It's A Small World when it got caught between the boat and the railing. Disney Claims people were there trying to get her mother to sign papers releasing them of responsibility before she was allowed to go to the ambulance.

In 1992, employee Dorian Weiss' hand was crushed by four hundred pounds of pressure when a gate closed on her.
When she became vocal about the serious safety problems at the park, Disney said it was just "union carping".

On Aug. 31, 1994, Disney security guards spotted two teens goofing around on a walkway of the Contemporary Resort. When spotted, they ran and were seen leaving in a pick up. A Disney guard pursued the truck at speeds of up to 80 mph even though they LEFT the park and were outside of Disney property and jurisdiction. The truck crashed, killing 18 year old Robb Sipkema. In Florida, highway deaths are investigated by the Highway Patrol. Disney refused to allow them to interview the woman "security hostess" who drove the van chasing the teens.

Disney also would not release the transcripts of the radio conversation taking place between this guard and the dispatcher during the chase. The parents of Robb Sipkema sued. Even though the 'security hostess' was not a law enforcement officer, Orange County Judge Belvin Perry, Jr. said Disney had a 'private security arrangement' - in essence a contract with itself - and the Highway Patrol would not be allowed access to "internal company documents". Appeals led to the State Attorney General who said that although Disney Security perform only 'basic night watchman duties', which would NOT include high speed chases off Disney property, the Sipkemas ended up dropping the lawsuit due to a lack of cooperation by Disney. Because of the suit, Disney Security Guard vans changed their Mars lights from red (like police) to amber; and they were no longer permitted to use "regular law enforcement" lingo and codes when talking to dispatchers. In other words, stop pretending they were actual police.

A man who got claustrophobic at Space ship Earth and could find no one to stop the ride jumped off and was literally torn to pieces in a motor. Before Disney called an ambulance, they blocked the view and sent Disney 'hosts' into the crowd to question witnesses to find out just how much they did see, taking names and personal information of those who might later turn up in any lawsuit testimony.

Think about that the next time you receive one of those "Disney Vacation" DVD's in the mail.
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See you tomorrow... Unless Disney decides otherwise.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Concert Review: Rickie Lee Jones

Monday night's Rickie Lee Jones concert at St. Paul's venerable Fitzgerald Theatre was a rare experience that Misplaced was pleased to be a part of.

With almost no fanfare, the house lights dimmed, Jones walked onstage, waved at the crowd, sat down at the drums (yes, drums) and launched into Traffic’s “Low Spark Of High Heeled Boys” to open the show, quipping after the song: "You didn't know I could play the drums, did you? Neither did I..."

The grind of a U.S. and European tour that began in October of 2009 and will not end until a final U.S. performance in Chicago in late March was evident when the 54 year-old Jones anounced “I’m off tonight,” several songs into her set. “So we’re going to explore the off-ness of Rickie.”

At one point, she sat with her electric guitar and declared that she was too “wiped out” to put the strap over her shoulder so she simply propped it on her lap and went about her business.

Ms. Jones on an off-night is still worlds better than most singer-songwriters when they’re hitting on all cylinders. Experiencing her two-hour performance in the intimacy of the Fitzgerald Theatre was not unlike witnessing a rehearsal before a tour, or being a fly on the wall at an impromptu jam session with the members of her band. It was a performance generous not only in length, but in content as well.

Early in the set she’d call out directions to her two sidemen, veteran bassist Joey Maramba (utilizing a violin bow on his electric bass on several occasions) and drummer/keyboardist/guitarist Lionel Cole, (the son of jazz vocalist Freddy Cole, and the nephew of the one and only Nat "King" Cole) arranging tunes on the fly.

Referring to her set as “a work in progress,” she even apologized to her players for doing a few songs they didn’t know. Witnessing what can only be described as an organic music-making process was a pleasure to witness, and made amusing by the fact that on several occasions, Cole had to scramble from his drum kit on the far left of the stage to his keyboard or guitar on the far right as Jones deviated from any semblence of a prepared setlist.

Because she felt she was off, Jones often turned to old material familiar to her fans, offering such early career faves as “We Belong Together,” “The Last Chance Texaco,” “Weasel and the White Boys Cool” and even a new arrangement of her best-known hit “Chuck E’s in Love”.

Jones of course offered selections from 2009's “Balm in Gilead,” including "Bonfires", and "The Gospel of Carlos, Norman, and Smith".

Jones finally announced that she was done for the night, and left the stage. The house lights immediately went to full brightness, indicating that there was no planned encore, and in true Minnesotan form, approximately 1/3 of the audience immediately left. I mentioned to my companion Tara that from my experience working concerts that it was unlikely that she would return to the stage, but the 2/3 of the audience that remained rallied around a lone woman at the front of the house who loudly demanded "C'mon! Just one more song!!!"

Jones was so moved by the insistent cheering that she returned to the stage alone for an unplanned encore, a solo acoustic version of “Danny’s All-Star Joint” which Misplaced surreptitiously recorded at great risk to his personal safety with a cell phone video camera and shares with you here:
For the one-third of you that left as soon as the lights came on, all I have to say is: Idiots.
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See you tomorrow.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Nothing For Monday

I got NOTHING for today.


Enjoy the puppies.

See you tomorrow... with a real entry.

Friday, February 19, 2010

NASCAR's Number 34

Like many of the early NASCAR drivers, Wendell Scott started out hauling moonshine in a souped up car he maintained himself. Scott was a clever entrepreneur, opening a taxi service in his native Danville, Virginia to shuttle the local residents around town by day, then using the cab under the cover of darkness to bring them the white lightning they were thirsty for.

With his popularity among the moonshiners growing as word of his driving ability spread through the mid Atlantic region, Scott began entering races at local dirt tracks throughout Virginia and North Carolina in 1952. He tasted success only one month into his driving career, winning his first race on the red clay half mile in Lynchburg, Virginia at the age of thirty.

Determined to move up in the sport of stock car racing, Wendell Scott traveled the south during segregation, showing up at NASCAR events with his number thirty four ready to race. He was turned away from many tracks, told by speedway personnel that he would not be able to compete due to the color of his skin. Encountering signs at restrooms, water fountains and restaurants that read "White Only" was a common occurence for Scott, who never seemed to let it bother him. "I expected all of that," he said of his trials to become a NASCAR driver in segregated America.

Wendell Scott was issued a NASCAR license for the first time and allowed to compete at the old Richmond Speedway in Virginia, either in 1952 or 1953. NASCAR is not certain of the exact date but believes it to be 1953. Record books indicate that Scott went on to compete in four hundred ninty five Grand National and Winston Cup - known today as the Sprint Cup Series - events over thirteen seasons and collected $180,814 in purse winnings.

He is credited with one NASCAR win, a controversial race held on December 1, 1963 in Jacksonville, Florida. Buck Baker was flagged the winner and celebrated in victory circle after Scott had passed Richard Petty, who was nursing a damaged car, for the lead with twenty five laps remaining. Scott was awarded the victory hours after the race was completed and left the track that day without the winners trophy.

NASCAR officials said a scoring error was responsible for allowing another driver to accept the winner's trophy. Scott doubted that explanation. "Everybody in the place knew I had won the race," he said years later, "but the promoters and NASCAR officials didn't want me out there kissing any beauty queens or accepting any awards."

Scott retired from NASCAR racing in 1973 and returned to driving the short tracks of Virginia and the Carolina's for a few more years, entering select events when circumstances would allow. Later in life he would become dissatisfied with his racing career, firmly believing he hadn't the opportunity to showcase his talent in competitive equipment. Scott worked diligently throughout his career, without success, to obtain factory support and major sponsorship for his racing efforts. Ned Jarrett and Richard Petty were among his strongest supporters

"I was a black man. They wasn't going to help a black man. That was all there was to it," Scott once said in summing up the prejudice his career suffered.

A hard working and humble man, Scott struggled tremendously to raise seven children while running the family auto repair business and pursuing his racing dream. He was popular among NASCAR race fans, taking the time one sunny afternoon in 1973 at the North Carolina Motor Speedway in Rockingham, North Carolina to accommodate a writers request for an autograph and conversation of the days events.

Greased Lightning, a movie detailing the history of Scott's career, was produced in 1977 and starred Richard Pryor as Wendell Scott. Scott worked with the producers and was promised royalties, but never received any.

Wendell Scott passed away on December 23, 1990 at the age of sixty nine.

A member of several state and regional halls of fame, Scott was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall Of Fame at Talledega in 1999 and the National Motorsports Press Association Hall Of Fame at Darlington in 2000.

Now of course, if you try to tell your average NASCAR fan any of the above they will most likely deny any of it ever happened. Many will tell you without a shadow of a doubt that there were NO African-American drivers prior to the present time.

Quite frankly your average NASCAR fan falls into the same category as this "gentleman".

(I know.. it's a long video, but listen to the whole thing. This guy is unbelieveable. The last two minutes are guaranteed to make your mouth drop open in shock as well as laugh your ass off.)

It is no doubt Wendell Scott was a genuine racer who accomplished great things in the face of adversity. He was a man ahead of his time, possessing a burning desire to succeed in the sport he dearly loved. Let his path and message serve as an example to us all.
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See you Monday.

Thursday, February 18, 2010


Random ramblings for a Thursday...

Patterns constantly shift into and out of chaotic turbulence. What, at any given moment, seems calm and orderly can, at the drop of a dime, or a hat, or any other clich├ęd reference, switch completely and become a terrible contralto of anarchy and confusion.

Ha! I love it. I yearn for these moments. I live for the times when wild experiences come rolling across the tide in huge crashing waves and slam into my psyche, causing all kinds of mass distortion. Yea, that’s when I like to turn up the volume and blast hysteria into my life.

And it is good. I dance through the madness, naked in the fields. I sing with the chaos and relish whatever new obstacle may befall me at any minute.

For I thrive when change is in the air. I succeed when progressive evolution makes itself fully apparent.

I spend my idle hours sitting in deep contemplation, waiting for psychic bursts of electricity to strike out at me from the random source of cosmic energy that underlies all existence.
Yes, I wait for these moments of change. I wait and when they come I am ready.

Thus do I usher in this new phase, this new cycle, this new spin around the loop of life.

It is here, and I must, like a leech or parasite, grasp onto it and suck out all the inspiration I possibly can so that new artistic visions flood my mind and send my heart and soul racing across the intangible lines of a new dawn.
Indeed, the sun is not even up as I string my body, mind and soul out on this early morning, free-wheeling kite and allow natural evolution to do with me what it will. I am thrilled. I get chills. I pop my pills. I sign my life over to the new deal. This is far beyond real. It is the absence of all denial. Only a positive, creative influx of energy matters now.

I stand under the black sky of night while staring at the stars above. I realize their full power; in that enlightened awareness I feel their love.

I have found purpose once again. I have a reason to move on. The steps I took that once felt weighed down in mud are now easily tread across freedom fields of inherent hope.

But what does all this babbling mean or signify? Will this rant take on any sense of meaning at some point? What am I rambling on about?

It is glorious destiny! It is sublime fate! The two have merged together at a nexus point and caused a nebular explosion to erupt in the seven corners of chaos, which in turn activates the six layers of heaven to initiate their own type of freefall frenzy.

And so, with chaos and heaven now in the mix, we get a bit of the demons and the angels.

Now my mouth really starts to salivate, for I’ve hit upon a point that brings tingles to my spine and sends electric flashes of amplified energy through my mind. Yes, by all the major, minor, higher and lesser gods, it is time to talk about the war between Good and Evil.

Though some brilliant men have had the courage to throw off the shackles of these moral and ethical dilemmas and simply move beyond them, I, for one, am still enthralled when it comes to discussing the pleasure and pain, the love and the hate, the peace and the rage, the death and the life, the war and the strife, the dark and the light, the hope and the fight.

To be more precise, I could simply say, I enjoy studying the different dogmatic rituals and codes of conduct that the many splintered factions of humanity have chosen to live by throughout the centuries.

Or is it eons? Or an eternity? Sweet God Almighty, how long have we been spinning in this cycle? How much longer can the center possibly hold before the axis breaks and the whole structural foundation explodes?

Not too long I hope! A bit of unmitigated madness and insanity amongst the masses might be a welcome change from the polluted sheep mentality that the flock of America currently prescribes to.

Yes, a new medication is needed. A perfumed potion that spoils the corrupted pollution. Sometimes you have to tear down what is in place in order to build back something better, or greater, or at least a little bit different in some ways.

Now I must return to my original point about offering sacrificial alms of gratitude and glorious affirmation to whatever has caused this new shift in the paradigm. This new wave, this higher crest, this tallest peak, this momentous moment of the ocean’s tide.

Yes, the moon must be strong tonight. The witches must be casting their spells outside. Pagan sorcery is causing natural spirits to emanate all over the area. I can sense magic, chakra energy, and the aura of something beyond the physical realm causing disturbances in the usual atmospheric flow.

O sweet Lord, everything is about to blow. Yes, ha-ha, there it goes.

Boom. Crash. Crunch. Up in smoke. No more jokes. Now we are dead serious about this game of life.

There is no more time for war and strife. This is our final chance to get peace right. There can be no other choice tonight. This could be what changes the guard by throwing away the shackles of the past and preparing for the future by being completely present in the moment.

We must learn from the past, live in the present, and plan for the future. These are ancient words in my heart, but they still ring true years after I first discovered them near the vegetative growth of a planetary habitation station. (House, that is.) They were just chilling out, hanging around, and when I touched them they sparked a spectacularly significant change into my life.

Indeed, it was like a sign. So I gave them a few names. The sign of Life, the sign of chaos, the sign of the spider, the sign of peace, love, truth and empathy, the sign of hope and freedom in America, the sign of constant evolution through progression at all times. As well as a million other titles that would take us away from the central theme of this rant, which is that change is necessary in the life of any artist.

Change breeds positive emotions and results.

Change bursts through dams of stagnation that hold inspiration behind brick walls.

Change is the highest trumpet call of the gods.

A thunderous racket that fills the atmosphere with deadly, poisonous, lethal fluids. But do not worry, for they can’t harm you if you dance right along with them as a remedy and spiritual cure.

Yet change offers even more. For sure! No doubt! It gets even cooler. Even when the inferno is red hot.

The dance is on. The early morning hours keep dragging along, but I will not be deterred. I will continue moving forward. Progression is all that matters. Even if it seems like incoherent nonsense, there is always order just around the corner ready to solve whatever the problem may be and stagger into a quantum leap.

So we jump forward into the past. Then we cycle back around. Thus we end up where we started. But that’s okay, for new beginnings are always just part of the constant continuation.

There is a line that stretches out for an infinitely long distance, immeasurable by human standards.





What has happened? Why am I suddenly drowning and becoming such a bummer? What has got me blue? Why this quick shift of attitude? I’ve got to get back up to a higher altitude!

Indeed, at the top of a mountain is where I should be standing. No longer looking down on what’s below, but visualizing ahead to what soon shall be.

So I climb. As I stand in the chilly heights of the mountainous regions, I realize that my heart is frozen and my spirit is ice-cold. How did I get in this state? Why can’t I seem to get warm when I shake?

I guess my fur just isn’t that thick. I suppose my skin is too easily pricked. And so, bleeding heart that I am, I pour forth the red fluid from my veins.

The change is now complete. It has been a grand, awesome feat. But now it’s time to leave. My path of destiny, here in this altered phase of new existence.
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That one actually made me physically tired.

See you tomorrow.