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Archive for July, 2008

Heroes and Zeros: Gender Confusion

I’ve been real busy with … um … stuff, the past few days (watching TV, sleeping, searching tirelessly for a quality burrito). Sorry about that.

Today’s HERO: We have multiple winners, thanks to the four folks in a San Leandro neighborhood who came to the rescue of a neighbor in a burning building Tuesday night by holding a blanket so she could jump out her second story window. That’s some quick thinking, and pretty cool to boot. I thought that only happened in movies.

Today’s ZERO: Apparently people show up for the Olympics without the proper genitalia. Well, at least they don’t have what they say they do. There’s been five documented cases, according to this story. So, just to get in the ol’ Olympic spirit, let’s not only call the five losers who already tried this today’s Zeros, let’s do a pre-emptive Zero strike for anyone showing up with the wrong kind of underwear this month in China. Not that there’s a darn thing wrong with that in your own home …

Posted on Wednesday, July 30th, 2008
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Heroes and Zeros: Brave kids, bad dogs and bullies in Sacramento

Today’s HERO: An 11-year-old boy in Sao Paulo, Brazil, was playing in his uncle’s backyard when a pit bull attacked him. So instead of run or submit, Gabriel Almeida boned up … and grabbed the dog by the neck and bit him so hard one of the dog’s teeth popped out.

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Posted on Thursday, July 24th, 2008
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Hero brain surgeon and Zero Bob Novak


Today’s HERO: Dr. Alfredo Quinones, brain surgeon at John Hopkins Medical Center in Baltimore, who two decades ago was a migrant worker in California, picking vegetables for $22 a day.

After climbing a fence from Mexico at age 19 to find a better life, he fought stereotypes, went to school, learned math and science (because it was easier than English, he says) and became one of the best brain surgeons in the world. did a nice story on him today.

Regardless of where one stands on immigration, it’s nice to hear a story like this, instead of all the anti-immigrant scare stories that keep spurting out of people’s mouths. The dream still works for some people coming to America. Oh, and he did become a citizen. Apparently we still need some illegal immigrants.

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Posted on Wednesday, July 23rd, 2008
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Looking for a Hero …

Wasn’t that a bad 80s song that had something to do with “Staying Alive,” “Flashdance”-ing or otherwise cutting loose with “Footloose” or some other awesome movie about a dancing underdog?

Anyway, unless someone can come with a good idea, I’m eliminating the hero side of Heroes and Zeros today. Simply put, I’m not finding anyone very heroic. I’d say Estelle Getty because she made my grandmother laugh so much, but let’s not get in the habit of making people heroes just because they manage to die. So, if you have an idea, e-mail me at or leave me a comment below.

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Posted on Tuesday, July 22nd, 2008
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Heroes and Zeros: Court and Spark edition

HEROES: How about we call the Third Circuit Court of Appeals our collective hero of the day? The court struck down the FCC’s $550,000 fine against CBS for accidentally showing Janet Jackson’s right boob for 1/164th of a millisecond during the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show.

This isn’t just a victory for right boobs everywhere; it’s a victory against the idiocy of a politically-charged FCC that has absorbed the ridiculous, so-called values of the Bush administration.

The court rightly called the FCC’s policy “arbitrary and capricious” and said CBS had no control over what that evil maniac Justin Timberlake plotted with Janet Jackson’s right boob before the show.

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Posted on Monday, July 21st, 2008
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Back with Heroes and Zeros

Sorry – it’s been a couple days since we did this. I’ve been busy chasing delusional people who think Simon Cowell will like how they sing.

HERO: This was a tough one today since, apparently, the human race has been short of good deeds the past couple days. Then again, I haven’t been paying much attention. But about the only heroes I can find today are Travis Gosa and his mother-in-law Carol Markin, a 60-year-old resident of South Beloit, Ill. She was cleaning an empty apartment for her employer when she found a speaker box. Apparently her employer gave her permission to take it home and give it to her son-in-law Travis Gosa. He noticed a rattle, opened it up, and found a bunch of money. And a gun. The coppers (that’s what they call the police in Illinois) say the money is from a June 2004 bank robbery, during which the coppers chased the robbers (that’s what they call people who rob banks in Illinois) to the area where Markin cleaned the apartment. They got the robber, but they never found the loot (that’s what they call money in Illinois). Apparently it was just short of $8,000 and, though the story doesn’t say so specifically, it sounds like Markin and her son-in-law (that’s what they call guys who marry your daughters in Illinois) gave back the money. Good for them.

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Posted on Thursday, July 17th, 2008
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American Idol: We’re done.

Just a reminder to read our incredibly exciting, blow-by-blow account of morning TWO of “American Idol” pre-registration Wednesday at the Cow Palace from the bottom post up. That way you get the feel of what it was like out there to slave for fame and fortune under foggy and cold San Francisco skies.

My friend Dan Honda is putting together the video as I write. Some of it is quite good, especially the stuff documenting our new friend Patricia’s painful, hour-long decision over whether to sing for our camera. Her agony and triumph will make you laugh, cry, and probably find another web site to look at before your boss catches you messing around on the Internet and fires you.

Dan’s footage should be up sometime after 3 p.m.

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Posted on Wednesday, July 16th, 2008
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American Idol: Today’s finale

It’s 10 a.m. and, possibly buoyed by the Fox News crew stealing our thunder by having applicants sing in the parking lot (an idea that was certainly ours and only ours) Patricia is almost ready to sing. She steps in front of the camera and the crowd (five people) who’s been waiting with great anticipation goes silent. Some stand on their toes …

“Wait Wait Wait,” Patricia says, falling out of camera range and holding up a hand to the camera. She says something about her bangs. She’s not ready.

What the heck – if you’re willing to wait an hour or so, what’s a few more minutes? There are a few groans. People relax. Then, without warning, Patricia steps up and starts singing “At Last.” This better be good, I think.

Surprisingly, it is. And she gets through … a lot of it. Right up to the part where she again jumps out of camera range and asks for a do-over.

No dice, Patricia. We got you, and it was almost worth the wait. 

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Posted on Wednesday, July 16th, 2008
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American Idol in the parking lot

Right now, it’s all about Patricia.

It’s 9:45 and, for about 40 minutes now, we’ve been waiting for 21-year-old Patricia Guillory of Napa to come out of her car and sing for us. Her mom, Kimberly Guillory of Vallejo, has promised us her daughter will come out and deliver a command performance. But first she had to get her make-up on; undersandable, since she wasn’t expecting to perform. Now she’s pondering what song to sing, requiring repeated trips to the car to consult with her advisors and/or iPod. Now she’s just walking back and forth, rolling her eyes. Clearly, she’s happy to see us.

The camera has become a magnet for people, who were otherwise just hustling in to pre-register and leave. There’s actually a small crowd of people who have already performed for us, waiting for the uber-shy Patricia. I’m not sure how’s she’s going to be able to handle Simon if she can’t first conquer Tony and Dan.

Meanwhile, things are getting weird. Patricia’s mother has become our PR person, flagging down singers left and right for our video camera. 

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Posted on Wednesday, July 16th, 2008
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American Idol: The wait continues

It’s now 8:20 and still no sign of the press person who’s supposed to tell us were we can stand and what questions we can ask. People continue to go in and come right back out; there’s a steady load of about a dozen cars in the lot. Apparently they turn in paperwork, get a wristband and a seat assignment for tomorrow’s audition, and hightail out of here as fast as possible. Which must’ve been disappointing to the family who only minutes ago piled out of a mini-van, surrounding a girl carrying a violin case.  

Today’s clearly straggler day. The parking lot attendant said yesterday’s line stretched all the way across the Cow Palace parking lot. Today’s there’s no line, unless you count the 14 Porta-Potties a couple rows in front of my car. Yes, this is the kind of exciting, dynamic reporting you’ll only get here at Insert Foot.

I’d try to pass myself off as a potential contestant to get inside and scope the situation, but contestants have to be between 16-28. Sadly, I look 29. Which makes me wonder how the hell Taylor Hicks ever got on this show, looking 67 years old. Maybe I’ll just stride up to the table and announce I’m T. Hicks and see what happens.

Posted on Wednesday, July 16th, 2008
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