Sunday, March 29, 2009

Highland Warrior

From this weekend's Camp Verde Highland Games:

All right, so I look more like a toy Highland soldier than a warrior.

Thanks to Paul B. for the photo!

Thursday, March 26, 2009


I've been waiting to hear what the Obama Administration will do about derivatives. Now the wait is over.

As the AP reports:
The proposal on credit default swaps and other derivatives would require the markets on which they are traded to be regulated for the first time, and for the buying and selling of these instruments to be conducted in ways that will foster greater oversight.

Credit default swaps, which trade in a $60 trillion global market without government oversight, are contracts to insure against the default of financial instruments like bonds and corporate debt. They played a prominent role in the credit crisis that brought the downfall of investment banking giant Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. last fall and nearly unraveled AIG, forcing the government to provide more than $180 billion in support.
As I said last year, derivatives are little more than bets with your broker about something in the financial world, like playing the field at the craps tables or sports books at Ceasar's Palace. The idea is to create the perfect investment that will not lose money. Oh, but they do.

Wall Street is not the Vegas strip. It's time to rein these exotic, incomprehensible investments in and stop treating debt like an investment. Debt is debt.

And whatever happened to collateral? A line from a cult-favorite movie of mine, How To Beat The High Co$t of Living, says: "You know how banks operate. They only lend money to people who don't need it."

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Belles In The Night

Take hands as we journey through Virginia's Shenandoah Valley at We Make History's Civil War Ball.

Adapted from the journal of Pvt. Christopher Francis of the 1st Virginia Volunteer Infantry
Daguerreotypes by Sgt. M. Cynecki

"The enemy has arrived!" a lady jests at the door, noticing the gray uniformed figure bowing to them as he enters.

He shyly greets her and a few guests before another lady in a green-and-gold gown approaches him.

"I came here because of you."

The young private stands in place, shocked and amazed. He knows her from a previous dance back home, when she spotted his 18th Century dress amongst the 21st Century attire and wondered about his place in history. The private extended an offer for her and her husband to join him one century later. Now they are here: a Belle and her Union officer. Gratitude washes over the private at seeing someone inspired, at last, to take the offer others passed up.

The eager private draws his own inspiration from the beauty of the satin and floral hoopskirts, the uniformed soldiers and the civilian gentlemen in tailcoats. Something wonderful shall happen here this evening.

A seasoned Colonel, the host and dancing master, greets all and invites them to step back through the years... 50... 100... 145 years... to 1864, the Shenandoah Valley and to the time of celebration and gentility Virginians once knew amid the horrors of war and bloodshed. Tonight, the commander declares, "there shall be a truce."

"What is the Blue and the Grey?" a lady asks.

"Union versus Confederate."

Now, however, all are one battalion on the ballroom floor, taking hands of the Belles and marching off to begin the campaign of glorious diversion accompanied by the music of "Scrub Oak," displaying Stonewall Jackson's famous flanking move along the road to the front.

The gathered form up for the "Franklin County Mixer," where the gentlemen and their Belles form a circle and take turns stepping in and out. The gentlemen step into the circle, turn to the ladies next to their partner, do-si-do, swing, and promenade them forward, time enough to exchange a few words or encouraging glances. All of it begins, however, with a touch of Virginia's colonial heritage.

"We always start with honors," the host reminds the assembly. Bows and curtsies are mandatory. A time will come for rebel yells and union huzzahs, but a dance shall never ever begin without a genteel courtly gesture. If one were not to give honors to a lady, the Colonel recollects, she would surely feel slighted. So might a gentlemen observing the lack of manners.

"There could be a duel."

"Practice your honors," the young private whispers to anyone in earshot, grinning at a sentiment he holds dear.

"Christopher's pistol is loaded," the host observes.

"It is?" the private responds.

The journey through time and dance takes the Belles and the Beaus to another fond landmark of Virginia history: "A Visit To Rockbridge." If one looks in the right spot, one might see General George Washington's initials carved in the stone. On this night, an observer shall see a parade of ladies and gentlemen passing through the arches of hands made by the head couple of a set between sashays and swings and laughter all around.

After some refreshments and conversation, a special group of young Belles eagerly await their moment of presentation, when the Colonel shall introduce them and a gentleman of the 1st Virginia Volunteer Infantry shall escort them before the assembly to a designated spot for a daguerreotype. The host explains the ceremony and the order of motions for stepping forward, receiving a floral honor and letting the gentlemen lead them on.

"Shouldn't there be a bow?" a young Belle suggests. Indeed, she is correct, and the appropriate courtesy is added to the pageantry. The young lady has practiced her honors, the private thinks.

He bows to a Belle at his turn and leads her in a stately fashion: eyes forward, steps modest.

"You can let go here," the hostess injects as he approaches the arbor for the picture.

Abandon a lady before the end of her journey? The soldier puzzles, but the hostess gives reassurance all is proper and no slight will be marked against him. As for the ladies, all are told of their high character and expectations so that those traits may flourish for many years to come. They are indeed capable of standing on their own after an escort through the early years of their lives.

Moments later, the young private hears a jingle to his side. Another familiar Belle greets him -- a Belle with bells, jingling all around the hoops of her lavish forest green skirt. She does not delay in asking for a dance. He immediately accepts, offering to lead her through "Luray Caverns." They are not partners for long, as the dance begins in sets of circles before forming into stars where gentlemen pull new partners from across the clump of couples and promenade them about like the twists of the cave. New and bigger circles form, new partners pull through. The gentlemen tread lightly as the right-hand stars bunch up hoops and leave little room to walk save for a tiptoe around. By the end, all escape, mixed up but safe.

"Ladies and Gentlemen!" the Colonel calls. "Find your partner for the Old Virginia Reel!"

The soldier sprints across the room to find his partner. "I would not want to dance this with anyone else," he says with a bow to his chosen one, the Belle dressed in a black gown. She is not in mourning but in fashion, years ahead of her time, when the oracles of design shall liberate the color of darkness from funerals.

The host explains the origins of the reel from England, where it was known as "Sir Roger de Coverley."

"They danced it in A Christmas Carol," the private notes to his partner. Now, with her and the young private heading a set, she learns.

Both lines forward and back! Do it Again! Top man, bottom lady, give honors! Top lady, bottom man, give honors! Top man, bottom lady, right hand turn! Top lady, bottom man, right hand turn! Top man, bottom lady, left hand turn! Top lady, bottom man, left hand turn! Top man, bottom lady, two hand turn! Top lady, bottom man, two hand turn! Top man, bottom lady, do-si-do! Top man, bottom lady, do-si-do! Top couple sashay down and back! Now, reel that set!

Not everyone grasps the concept right away -- swinging a partner, then swinging the opposite gender, then swinging the partner again and working down the opposite gender's line. Errant swings arise, but the dancers correct themselves. In the young soldier's set, the dancers move faster than the caller, preferring to move at their own faster pace with the dance now familiar to anyone with doubts. The players accelerate the pace, but the Belles and Beaus keep up without faltering until a dramatic finale of swinging leaves the dancers triumphantly exhausted.

"For how many people," the Colonel asks, "was this your first Virginia Reel?"

The stylish lady in black raises her hand, still catching her breath.

The hosts award prizes, and by that time, the assembled are ready for the beloved Pineapple Dance.

And still, they have enough within them for "Jackson's Pursuit," where the ladies and gentlemen chase each other about before sashaying up and down the set and casting off to the bottom. The young private takes the hands of the Belle with bells, prancing with caution as he notices her hindered by the weight of her dress. No bell shall toll for her in a hoopskirt emergency. The guests proceed to the "Battle Of New Market," where the Belles and Beaus both practice their charge to victory down the lines of dancers, free hands held up like a rifle bayonet as they honor the heroic cadets of Virginia Military Institute. With Sigel's men forced out of the Shenandoah, the guests proceed on to "The Valley Pike."

The private and his young dancing companion find themselves on the wrong side of the road at times, swinging by left hands when right is called, or the other way around. The journey has wearied them, but they dance on, knowing all is well in the end.

Scrub Oak plays one final waltz, and the young soldier saunters over to the lady in black once more. Knowing her affinity for fancy dance, he attempts a progressive step but finds she is unsure of how to proceed.

"We will keep it simple," he says as they settle into a two-step and quietly proceed to a last stop...


More from the Belles and Beaus of the Ball here.

NEXT: The Battle Of Payson

Friday, March 20, 2009

Keep It Reel

Ladies and Gentlemen anticipating the Civil War Ball... find your partner for the Old Virginia Reel!

Here is another example from the Victorian era:

And another from the Colonial Era:

Dearest Readers, it is a dance so enjoyable that it finds its way into our modern era:

The kids love it... especially in this variation where everybody along the line gets to dance instead of just the top and bottom couples:

In fact, you can dance a Virginia Reel to just about any kind of music with a good beat... or venture your best effort:

Dance on!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Going Gothic

Dearest Readers, here is a dance that is pleasing to both the observer and participant alike!

This is the "Gothic Dance" set to the tune of "Arkansas Traveler" and performed at the Civil War Jubilee Ball (where, I know not).

I remember doing this dance at a previous Civil War Ball. A word of caution: one must make plenty way for those beautiful hoopskirts.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

All The News That's Fit For Hyperbole

I read a gnawing article today in The New York Times that shows why people love to hate it.

In a story on technology interfering with jury trials, John Schwartz writes:
The use of BlackBerrys and iPhones by jurors gathering and sending out information about cases is wreaking havoc on trials around the country, upending deliberations and infuriating judges.
But a few paragraphs later, we see a problem with that assertion...
There appears to be no official tally of cases disrupted by Internet research, but with the increasing adoption of Web technology in cellphones, the numbers are sure to grow.
I would think this sort of self-contradiction wouldn't happen in a heavily-edited paper like the Times, but because the Old Grey Lady has acted as its own voice of authority for so long, it's nothing unusual. Note to reporters: be careful with your blanket statements. I've goofed here, and others will too.

And Now, Presented Live... Uncanny Encounters

Cue the music sting...

...and then the theme from The Twilight Zone.

A tip of my kepi for permission to use this daguerreotypical humor!

Playing Pattycake

One thing you will notice, Dearest Readers, is that as we move from the 18th Century into the 19th Century, dances take on less stateliness and more liveliness. Such is demonstrated here from a Civil War Ball at Ft. Pierce, Florida.

Notice the outdoor setting, which wasn't unusual at all for an impromptu dance. I have taken part in many an outdoor dance between battles.

I'm not sure what this dance is called, but I'm figuring it's the "Pattycake Polka," which reminds me of a certain dance enjoyed by Captain Bartholomew Burgundy.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Baile antiguo, As The Spaniards Say

A favorite 19th Century dance of mine reminds me more of the 18th Century: the Spanish Waltz. I danced it at last year's Victorian Christmas Ball and perhaps I shall again at the upcoming Civil War Ball.

Until then, enjoy this version as performed at the Mid-Winter Civil War Ball hosted by the 8th Arkansas Regiment:

Monday, March 16, 2009

We Could Be Heroes, For Just One Night

Dearest Readers, the Civil War Ball is less than a week away. So once again, let me give you a taste of my dearest diversion, just a century after the Revolution, and a few years after the War Between The States.

Picture yourself in post-war Virginia -- or Massachusetts as you see here, with the Commonwealth Vintage Dancers at the Returning Heroes Ball:

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Having Your Pork And Eating It Too

Everybody's favorite RINO-rabblerouser Ron Paul straddles the earmarks debate by supporting them in principle but rejecting them in practice, as the L.A. Times Reports:
"The principle of the earmark is our responsibility. We're supposed to -- it's like a -- a tax credit. And I vote for all tax credits, no matter how silly they might seem. If I can give you any of your money back, I vote for it. So if I can give my district any money back, I encourage that. But because the budget is out of control, I haven't voted for an appropriation in years -- if ever. . . .

"I don't think the federal government should be doing it. But if they're going to allot the money, I have a responsibility to represent my people. If they say, Hey, look, put in a highway for the district, I put it in.

"I put in all their requests, because I'm their representative."
Yes, you are. But this is also a republic. And you also have a responsibility to say, as somebody who's elected and paid to do their homework and understand the issues, "We can't afford it," which you said -- sorta. Why not just say that in the first place, rather than putting the earmark in anyway?
Paul suggested that doing away with earmarks was a back-door way for the executive branch to gain power over the legislative branch: "The whole idea that you vote against an earmark, you don't save a penny. That just goes to the administration and they get to allocate the funds. . . .

"If you don't earmark something, then somebody else spends it and there's no transparency."
Rep. Paul never gives examples of this in action, or how much money has been spent in this way. And frankly, the "if we don't spend it, somebody else will" philosophy doesn't hit me as sound financial policy.

Somebody Had To Say It

Two words hardly mentioned in Pima County politics: growth control. 'Tis not good for the economy. Really? Today's Arizona Daily Star talks about growth control in the context of preventing another housing bust.
We remain too dependent on population growth to sustain our economic growth, some local officials say. This downturn could help us in the long run, they say, if it persuades us — at last — to diversify our economy.

"We're hooked on a drug right now," said Joe Snell, president and CEO of Tucson Regional Economic Opportunities Inc., the regional economic-development agency. "We're going to have to go through detox."
This isn't just an environmental question, although preserving the desert is part of it -- people live here for the natural beauty, but we won't have it if we keep blading over it.

I have a hard time understanding the obsession with economic growth, or more precisely, the amount of growth. We can all agree that we don't want our economy to contract -- like it's doing now. However, when times are good, and the economy is growing, why should it make a difference if it's growing at 3% or 30%? It's still growing! And if it doesn't grow in one year? That's better than contracting.

Let me put it another way. Say you run a business which makes $5 million in profit one year. The next year, you run into trouble, and you only make $500,000. A lot of people would call that a bad year. Yes, it's bad, if you define "bad" by not making a lot of money every year, or not making more than you did the previous year. We all know many businesses depend on large amounts of income to pay off loans and carry them through the tough times. But remember, income and profit are not the same. Making money to support yourself, your employees and your infrastructure is not the issue here; the problem is agonizing about how much is left over at the bottom of the balance sheet rather than being thankful the number is above zero.

Nobody should be content with a lousy economy, and nobody in their right mind is. However, when we turn the corner and recover, I hope we'll all learn more contentment -- that's another word you don't hear a lot, either.

UPDATE: After a Facebook debate over profits, let me clarify something: I'm not opposed to businesses making a profit or people getting rich. I am opposed to over-defining of success, in which modest and reasonable amounts of profit are classified as failure.

Some see the American Dream as making enough to retire early. Others see it as loving their work so much they don't see it as work anymore. I see it as living in a country blessed with the freedom to allow us to have it either way.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Royal Treatment

Who should step into the KOLD newsroom today but the King of the Renaissance Festival -- fashionably portly, in full regal regalia: brown robes, gold chains, and a modest but authoritative crown.

“You have a visitor,” Mindy Blake says to me with a smile just before he steps into our workspace without fanfare. No trumpets sound, no herald proclaims his presence other than a gregarious member of our Sales staff. His Majesty is accompanied by two lady handlers in modern-day dress.

As you would expect, I waste no time stepping up to him and giving honors.

“Your majesty,” I greet, bowing and bending at the knee in the best show of reverence possible with slacks and a polo shirt.

“Cover yourself,” he says as I rise.

Cover what? My head? My elbows? I'm not wearing a hat -- not even a tricorn. I offer bows to the ladies in turn, who seem much more appreciative.

His Royal Majesty has no time for small talk with the newsroom peasants, as he proceeds to the studio for an interview on KOLD News 13’s “Business File” segment, obviously plugging the Festival or perhaps his view on taxation without representation.

He slips out before I can offer him a fare-thee-well. Perhaps he found out I was a soldier in George Wasington’s Army and fears he might be mistaken for King George III. Those studio cameras shoot only pictures, don’t they?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

It Sure Beats Foster Care

California's notorious Octomom is getting either (a) the care she and her children desperately deserve or (b) a postnatal bailout, depending on your perspective.

As Reuters tells us:
California's octuplets mom has agreed to allow a foster nursing charity to provide care for her eight newborns and six older children for at least six months, television therapist Dr. Phil McGraw said on Monday.

Under the agreement between the mother, Nadya Suleman, and the philanthropic foundation Angels in Waiting, she and all 14 children will live together in a new home found for the family near her current neighborhood in suburban Los Angeles, a spokeswoman for McGraw said.
And about that house...
According to the news website, a four-bedroom, three-bathroom house with a large backyard is being purchased for the family by her father, with a "substantial down payment" coming from money Suleman has amassed in recent weeks, much of it presumably from donations.
Dr. Phil gives me a rash, and I cringe at the celebritization of this dysfunctional delivery. What is Nadya Suleman doing on Entertainment Tonight, fercryinoutloud? However, if this new arrangement keeps the children in something resembling a normal family life (and I know that term has more stretch marks than the mother at this point) and out of state custody, then more power to them. I don't want to see these children treated as charity cases, but none of us want them on public assistance, either.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Reel To Reel: Watchmen

Superfriends it ain't.

Going Rate: Worth full-price admission if you're a comic-book geek, otherwise wait for the dollar show.
Starring: Billy Crudup, Malin Akerman, Jackie Earle Haley
Rated: R
Red Flags: Graphic, Bloody, Often Sadistic Violence. One Strong Sex Scene. One scene of Sexual Assault. Language. LEAVE THE KIDS AT HOME. THIS PICTURE IS RATED R FOR GOOD REASON!

(Dearest Readers, beginning with this edition of Reel To Reel, I'm doing away with the star rating. My screening habits weed out most movies below two stars, and it's rare for me to see anything that gets the full four. Another reality is this: some of my favorite films are cheesy, low-budget laughers like Any Which Way You Can and How To Beat The High Cost Of Living, which don't rate very high on the technical merit scale. Either a film works for you or it doesn't, but I'll try to split the difference with at least a recommendation on how much you should pay to get in the door.)

I wonder if part of The Incredibles was inspired by the universe of Watchmen, the comic book -- ahem, graphic novel -- where superheroes exist but are forced into retirement after they get out of control and generate a congressional ban called the Keene Act. It's the most intriguing part of a film that works when it deals with these people trying to live normal lives haunted by their alter egos. When this film strays from that thread, things cloud up or shed blood -- lots of it -- or turn pornographic. I must tell you all that nowadays I avert my gaze from any explicit sex scene that comes up in a movie, editing the film with my eyes. Out of sight, out of mind.

The film rewrites history to open in an alternate 1985 and the fifth term of Richard Nixon. Nope, term limits don't exist in this country, and neither does the stain of Watergate or the mess of Vietnam. Rest assured the Cold War survives, and we're still in danger of a nuclear holocaust. We don't have SDI to protect us, but we do have Dr. Manhattan (Crudup), a human-formed mass of atomic particles who talks like HAL 9000 and glistens like a member of Blue Man Group who swallowed a neon fixture. He started out human until a nuclear test-lab accident turned him into pure energy. Now he can teleport anywhere and vaporize anything with his bare hands. He also works mostly in the nude, so avert your eyes again.

While the Doctor builds particle reactors, somebody's killing off ex-superhero The Comedian (Jeffrey Dean Morgan). He's the one who wears that blotched smiley-face you see in the posters. We don't know how he got the name other than his sick sense of humor. Word of his death spreads faster than The Flash on performance-enhancers to his old pal Rorschach (Haley), whose only superpower is a really cool shape-shifting mask. Soon other retired supers find out including Nite Owl (Patrick Wilson), Silk Spectre (Malin Akerman) and Ozymandias (Matthew Goode). Rorschach is the only one still fighting crime on an active basis, in a shadowy Dashiell Hammett mode. He suspects more supers are on the death list and starts running down leads in his gravelly take-no-prisoners style.

Ozymandias heads a global conglomerate and is supposedly smarter than anybody else on the planet. Spectre is playing it straight, although she's romantically involved with the Doctor, as involved as one can be with a blob of detached philosophical matter. You wonder if they kissed on the first date and what it felt like. It's not easy loving somebody who speaks to you with the emotion of a voice mail system, so she ends up in the arms of Owl, who still has a mask and super-gadgets in the basement gathering dust. The two find they both share a desire to be heroes again and team up with Rorschach to find The Comedian's killer.

Watchmen reveals a sinister side of superheroes, people with moral deficiencies who explode into violent acts like Superman with road rage. These heroes are not role models, nor do most of them have any super powers save for the ones they've bought or invented. Unfortunately, the movie loses its most appealing elements for regular audiences and geeks out on its aforementioned excesses and a dose of existentialism. The ending will leave more than a few people saying, "Huh?" Like last summer's The Dark Knight, this is a film people feel like studying and analyzing instead of merely watching, although nothing in the trailers would lead you to believe that.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Rushing Offense

The White House thinks it has a great strategy in going after Rush Limbaugh. It's either working or it's giving the GOP a second wind.

Let me offer another strategy. Why not offer Limbaugh a job in the Obama Administration? Make him a communications director. Make him some undersecretary in Commerce. Invent a position if you have to -- just make him an offer. Yeah, it's nuts. But Barack Obama has nominated other Republicans, so why not throw some love to the so-called voice of the party?

We know Rush will never take the job. He has too much fun behind the mic, and he's in no mood to let the government shackle his mouth.

His refusal of the offer would give Team Obama another weapon: they can now say they offered the olive branch in the spirit of bipartisanship and saw themselves rejected. They can now boldly call Rush what he is: not some partisan figurehead or policy specialist but merely a guy who's paid to say things on the radio. His status as opposition leader comes from a listenership that wishes to elevate him above his level of accountability. Nobody voted to put Rush on the air. Nobody will vote him off. He has one job: make money for his affiliates and advertisers.

Rush knows the game and plays it: say things that get picked up on the cable news outlets and then milk the moment. For all his complaining about the "drive-by media," it's that drive-by tactic that brings him the ears. Off the dial, he's secretly kissing the feet of the networks. They feed his machine.

So does the Obama administration by targeting him. President Bill Clinton's 1994 "no truth detector" hissy fit on St. Louis powerhouse KMOX inflated Rush's ratings. It's happening again.

The best response, in my independent opinion as a former Rush listener, is to ignore him. If his name comes up during the daily White House presser, the response should be: "We think Rush does a great job talking on the radio, but he's not an elected official. He's a radio entertainer. You don't ask us questions about what Jay Leno said last night, do you?"

So what if Limbaugh claims to speak for conservatives? He's still one guy. Conservatives have their representatives in Congress. They have their voters spread out through this nation. Conservatives are more than capable of using phones, e-mail, Blackberries, Twitter, Qik or whatever to reach out to their representatives. They don't need Rush to be heard. They can talk for themselves. After all, a core plank of the conservative philosophy is taking individual responsibility and initiative and not relying on others to do it for you.

Words Of Glass

President Obama is trying to kick the cigarette habit. It seems he also needs to kick the teleprompter habit, as Politico reports:
Obama’s reliance on the teleprompter is unusual — not only because he is famous for his oratory, but because no other president has used one so consistently and at so many events, large and small.

After the teleprompter malfunctioned a few times last summer and Obama delivered some less-than-soaring speeches, reports surfaced that he was training to wean himself off of the device while on vacation in Hawaii. But no such luck.
In TV news, good anchors never use the prompter as a crutch. They know when to go to the script, and they know the stories well enough to wing it. I think President Obama's good enough to do the same -- yes he can!

But honestly, do the rest of us really mind? To the contrary, I think we're just glad to have a chief executive who doesn't mangle the English language, and if that takes an electronic device, so be it.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Caught In The Act Of Making Merry

Dearest Readers, I have shown you many examples of others engaged in my dearest diversion of historic dance. Now, finally, I can show you some of my own footwork.

Thanks to Lady Barbara and her camera, here is a montage of my capers with the Danseries at the Arizona Renaissance Festival this past weekend. I am unsure as to the names of the first two dances you see, but the last is the "Queen's Allemande," danced in honour of our Queen Mother who participated with us. You should have no problem spotting her... or me. I'm the one wearing the kilt.

If my steps appear a bit haphazard, realize that I was learning many of these dances on the fly. You cannot hear it, but in the Allemande, my gracious and charming lady was lightly calling the moves to me.

The Danseries are a group based out of Eastern Arizona College. They have let me join in with them -- in my full kilted regalia -- every time I have visited the Renaissance Festival for the past three years, dancing for the Queen and Lord Mayor as well as for our own pleasure. For this opportunity, I am most grateful! HUZZAH!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Paul Harvey... Good Night

Radio lost one of its biggest legends this past weekend when Paul Harvey passed away.

One of my college journalism professors urged us to listen to Harvey and hear what great radio storytelling sounded like. Above all, Harvey was more storyteller than commentator, delivering every item with that trademark cadence and drama, all those pregnant pauses and repeated phrases. He left you hanging on every word, and you wanted to hear more. Harvey never needed to tease anything after the commercials.

My earliest memory of him on the radio is during the late 1970's. I sat in the back seat of the family car, on vacation, somewhere in Kansas, captive to whatever station Dad found on the radio in an age before the Walkman or iPod.

"Why do the pigeons come home?" Harvey boomed through the speakers. "Scientists still aren't sure. But they've found a piece of matter in the brain. It is small... and magnetic."

I was too young to know if it was radio satire or radio news. Dad cracked the occasional laugh. Years later in my second producing job, I'd pick him up on the drive in to work. I caught his weekend edition a few times while ambling about in Texas. He never had a slow news day. And because Paul Harvey was Paul Harvey, you always knew where he stood. "Nothing encourages lawlessness... and discourages lawmen... as when the law is laughed at," I remember him saying about an armed robbery in the Midwest that had gone unpunished due to a legal technicality.

All radio talk show hosts on air today are somehow influenced by Paul Harvey. If they didn't learn from his style or his conservative leanings, their bosses learned from his ability to make a syndicated current-events show immensely profitable. Harvey never took callers or hosted guests in the studio. News was the star, but nobody delivered it with his kind of passion. His fill-ins like Doug Limerick and Gil Gross (I haven't ever heard Fred Thompson or even Paul Harvey, Jr.) have done their best to stay true to Harvey's format and ear for the unique, but replacing him is impossible. I'd rather listen to archive tapes of his broadcasts from the 1970's and 80's, when he was at his peak, and remember America the way he saw it, when every day was a "GOOOOOOOD DAY!"