WBEZ | Pop Culture http://www.wbez.org/tags/pop-culture Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Meet the Star Trek-loving meteorologist who named Winter Storm Khan http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range/meet-star-trek-loving-meteorologist-who-named-winter-storm-khan-105160 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/snow storm chicago AP.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="338" src="http://bcove.me/6norrxha" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>The first thing you should know about the man who named <a href="http://www.weather.com/news/weather-winter/why-we-named-khan-20130125">Winter Storm Khan</a> &ndash; which is expected to leave<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/25/winter-storm-khan-wrath-video_n_2551143.html?utm_hp_ref=green">&nbsp;2 to 4 inches of snow between Ohio and the mid-Atlantic</a> this weekend &ndash; is that he lives in Miami Beach, Fla.</p><p>When I reached <a href="http://www.wunderground.com/blog/bnorcross/show.html">Bryan Norcross</a>, the Weather Channel&rsquo;s Senior Executive Director of Weather Content and Senior Hurricane Specialist, at home Friday afternoon, he cheerfully reported that the weather there was a sunny 77 degrees.</p><p>So while much of the rest of the country shivers through single-digit temperatures, the man who helped spark the controversy over <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-11-07/news/ct-talk-winter-storm-athena-1108-20121107_1_enterprise-products-and-services-opinion-about-private-weather-winter-storms">the Weather Channel&rsquo;s move to start naming winter storms this past fall</a> can walk around in shorts and flip-flops</p><p>If you&#39;ll recall, the cable channel&#39;s decision irritated critics who thought the task of naming storms should be reserved for some quasi-governmental agency, like the World Meteorological Organization, which names hurricanes in the Atlantic, or the National Weather Service, perhaps. Andrew Freiden, a Richmond, Va. meteorologist who was quoted in the <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/capital-weather-gang/post/weather-channel-to-name-winter-storms-a-publicity-and-power-play-with-possible-value/2012/10/02/efa49318-0c98-11e2-bb5e-492c0d30bff6_blog.html">Capital Weather Gang blog</a>, put it this way: &ldquo;Weather Channel to name Winter Storms! First Thought: &ldquo;Who died and made them King?!&rdquo;</p><p>Honestly, we here at the WBEZ web team weren&rsquo;t all that interested in the controversy. We just wanted to know: <a href="http://www.weather.com/news/winter-storm-names-20121001">Khan? Draco? <em>Gandolf?!</em></a> Who picked these names? And were they, like, mega sci-fi/fantasy buffs or what?</p><p>The answer, not surprisingly, is yes.</p><p>&ldquo;Meteorologists tend to be &ndash; what would you call it &ndash; <em>Star Trek</em>, <em>Star Wars</em>, <em>Lord of the Rings</em> enthusiasts,&rdquo; Norcross said. &ldquo;We&rsquo;re more inclined towards sci-fi than the general population.&rdquo; So much so that in addition to their choice of Khan, Norcross and company considered naming a storm after Lt. Uhura. &ldquo;We thought about a bunch of Star Trek names,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;But we didn&rsquo;t want words that were hard to say or funny to read. It was a trial-and-error process.&rdquo;</p><p>The Weather Channel considered superhero names, too. (My reaction: &ldquo;You mean like Winter Storm Spider-Man?!&rdquo; How amazing would that have been?) Their choice for &ldquo;J&rdquo; was almost Jor-El, Superman&rsquo;s father.</p><p>Ultimately Norcross steered his team away from those choices. &ldquo;I have a list of names that pulled directly out of popular culture in a variety of ways,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;Then we got to thinking, is this going to cause any issue?&rdquo; (You know, like, say, copyright infringement.) &ldquo;Then it occurred to me that many of these [pop-culture names] are derived from something else. Why not avoid the issue, and then it makes a better story anyway?&rdquo;</p><p>So those storm names that seem plucked directly from the comics? Draco may be Harry Potter&rsquo;s snide classmate, but he is also, apparently, &ldquo;the first legislator of Athens in Ancient Greece.&rdquo; Norcross and company settled on Greek and Roman mythology for the public face of their inspiration, picking names like Athena, Brutus and Helen. (There is a smattering of other weather-related gods in there, too, like Orko, the Basque god of thunder.) When explaining the double meanings of some other names, Norcross now points to the more old-school usages and derivations in order to avoid any controversy or unwanted business attention.</p><p>For example, Winter Storm Gandolf &ndash; which brought blizzard conditions to the Rockies in early January &ndash; is spelled with an &ldquo;o&rdquo; while Tolkien&rsquo;s gray wizard Gandalf spells his name with an &ldquo;a.&rdquo; Tolkien took inspiration for Gandalf&rsquo;s name from a character in William Morris&rsquo; 1896 novel <em>A Well at the World&rsquo;s End</em>; hence the Weather Channel&rsquo;s citation for its winter storm name: &ldquo;Gandolf:&nbsp;A character in a 1896 fantasy novel in a pseudo-medieval countryside.&rdquo;</p><p>Norcross said he likes the alternative spelling because it gets people talking. &ldquo;I&rsquo;ve seen it on tweets &ndash; &lsquo;Oh, they&rsquo;ve misspelled Gandalf!&rsquo;&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;Then I tell them the story behind the name and they say, &lsquo;Oh, that&rsquo;s interesting.&rsquo; Now we&rsquo;ve told a story that makes people have some kind of identification with the name.&rdquo;</p><p>That desire for social media engagement, Norcross said, was ultimately the final motivation for the whole naming enterprise anyway. &ldquo;The thing that ticked us over was Twitter, and the need for a hashtag for a storm,&rdquo; he explained. &ldquo;Anything of any consequence needs a hashtag. So what are you going to put? #Snow?&rdquo;</p><p>Whatever names they choose down the road &ndash; they&#39;ve yet to choose next year&#39;s names &ndash; they&#39;ll have their work cut out for them. Climatologists, including Norcross&#39; former Weather Channel colleague Heidi Cullen, predict that global warming will increase the frequency and intensity of&nbsp; storms, including the snowy kind. That means Norcross and his colleagues have a lot of new names to pick out.</p><p>You can check out more of what Cullen has to say about the impact of climate change on weather in the audio below.</p><p>Then, if you want to help the Weather Channel out, you can submit your suggestions for winter storm names at feedback.weather.com. Me? I suggest that in keeping with tradition, they name one of next year&rsquo;s storms <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Storm_(Marvel_Comics)">Storm</a>. You know, like, &quot;a disturbance of the normal condition of the atmosphere.&quot;</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F76466723" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range">Dynamic Range</a></em>&nbsp;<em>showcases hidden gems unearthed from Chicago Amplified&rsquo;s vast archive of public events and appears on weekends. Heidi Cullen spoke at an event presented by Elmhurst College in March of 2012 Click</em>&nbsp;<em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/heidi-cullen-weather-future-96942">here</a>&nbsp;to hear the event in its entirety.</em></p></p> Sat, 26 Jan 2013 08:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range/meet-star-trek-loving-meteorologist-who-named-winter-storm-khan-105160 List: Rough drafts of the acronym YOLO http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2012-09/list-rough-drafts-acronym-yolo-102339 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center; "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/7462489158_97735c14a4.jpg" title="(Flickr/Vandalog)" /></div></div><p>The origins of the acronym &quot;YOLO&quot; <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/arts-post/post/yolo-the-newest-abbreviation-youll-love-to-hate/2012/04/06/gIQA3QE2zS_blog.html">have been well documented</a>. But do you know what preceded the final version of the phrase?</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p style="text-align: center; ">You occasionally live once</p><p style="text-align: center; ">You only limbo once</p><p style="text-align: center; ">Yolks only like ovums</p><p style="text-align: center; ">You ogle ladies ooh<br /><br />Yaks once liked Ontario<br /><br />Yams obliterate loose orthotics<br /><br />Youth organizes lonely Oreos<br /><br />Yummy octagons liberate orneriness<br /><br />Young opthamologists lactate occasionally &nbsp;<br /><br />Yemeni obliterates Libya&rsquo;s opulence<br /><br />Yesterday&rsquo;s oak lichen obfuscates<br /><br />Yell &ldquo;otter&#39;s liver!&rdquo; often<br /><br />Yawn, odd lights out.<br /><br />Yay! Octopus limerick omnibus!</p><p style="text-align: center; ">Yo-yo or light orange?<br /><br />Yodel odely lo o</p></p> Tue, 11 Sep 2012 09:43:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2012-09/list-rough-drafts-acronym-yolo-102339 Comic Con 2012 Chicago: Where popular culture, art and costumery meet commerce http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-08/comic-con-2012-chicago-where-popular-culture-art-and-costumery-meet-commerce <p><p>To enter the Comic Con 2012 Wizard World convention in Chicago, you must first line up with hundreds, if not thousands, of people sporting an array of popular culture costumery spanning decades.</p><div class="image-insert-image ">From Catwoman to Minecraft, Captain America, and Spider-Man to zombies, there&#39;s a good chance you&#39;ll also see at least one character from every television show on AMC&#39;s roster.</div><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/comic1.jpg" style="float: left;" title="The Welcoming Committee (WBEZ/Tim Akimoff)" />When they let you into the convention, you pass through a tunnel of Stormtroopers and into the fantasy world of every 10-year-old who ever peeled back the plastic on his or her favorite comic book, trading card or action figure.</p><p>On one end of the massive Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, you can rifle through stacks of new and aging comic books selling for $2 each. Look up and you&#39;ll see framed classics for upwards of $60,000 or more. Collectors hold notepads or printouts of their wishlists in one hand and stacks of comics in their other.</p><p>Eventually you&#39;ll find rows of people sitting at tables drawing on large and small pieces of paper. They are the artists. Some are well known and popular for their art or their collaborations with writers or other artists. Some have Marvel and D.C. on their calling cards. And some have their own private booths where fans stand in long lines to get their favorite comic books signed. Popular superhero co-creator Stan Lee tends to fit this description, and fans young and old line up holding Hulk, Spider-Man and X-Men comics for the mustachioed patriarch of comic books to sign.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/lou.jpg" style="float: right;" title="Lou Ferrigno (WBEZ/Tim Akimoff)" />Behind Lee&#39;s private booth is a row of tables where Rodney Ramos sketches some dark lines on a postcard-sized piece of paper.</div><p>He says he&#39;s an inker.</p><p>&quot;It&#39;s enhancing pencils and giving it a style and a look,&quot; Ramos said of being an inker. &quot;Think of it as a cinematographer in film, he brings life to the scene in color and texture.&quot;</p><p>Ramos has worked for Marvel and D.C. comics for 25 years. He&#39;s been attending Comic Con events for most of those 25 years as well.</p><p>Ronnie Dukes, who uses quill and ink on hand-made paper from Nepal, is attending his first ever Comic Con. He draws a series called the <em>Vitruvian Hero</em>, based on Leonardo da Vinci&#39;s Vitruvian Man.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/comic2.jpg" style="float: left;" title="The Reason (WBEZ/Tim Akimoff)" />&quot;I decided after 10 years of exhibiting work that I wanted to tell a complete story and have it out there,&quot; Dukes told me. &quot;I really need to take this seriously.&quot;</div><p>Beyond the artists and the sci-fi celebrities, you&#39;ll find find the kitsch. The Gandalf keychains, Tron-style plates and Uruk-Hai scimitars are available along with gaming dice, plush toys and life-size action figures.</p><p>Comic Con is at once entirely familiar and at times a double-take in terms of costumed conference-goers. A winged creature flutters by followed by a black-suited woman and characters I can only assume are still imaginary, just waiting for their turn as art on the pages of a comic book or a screenplay and a show.</p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/takimoff" rel="author">Tim Akimoff</a> is the digital content editor at WBEZ. You can follow him on <a href="https://twitter.com/timakimoff"> Twitter </a> and <a href="https://www.facebook.com/timakimoff"> Facebook </a></p> Fri, 10 Aug 2012 16:14:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-08/comic-con-2012-chicago-where-popular-culture-art-and-costumery-meet-commerce An addiction to pop culture is actually a sign of depression http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-08/addiction-pop-culture-actually-sign-depression-101537 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/katherine%20jackson.jpg" style="height: 401px; width: 300px; float: left; " title="" />You spend all your days on the Internet. And you might think you&#39;re just normal. But comedian Katie Rich thinks you might have a real problem -- because she does. With that, Rich brings her take on the latest news in celebrity pop culture, featuring the likes of&nbsp;Stevie Wonder, Jenna Jameson and Taylor Swift. Oh, and if you know all this stuff already, &quot;then you and I should probably go out for brunch as soon as possible,&quot; she says.&nbsp;Read an excerpt below or listen above:</p><p><em>&nbsp;The other day my boyfriend came home from work and started to ask how my day was and I just screamed, &quot;Katherine Jackson is missing!&quot;</em></p><p><em>And he asked me, &quot;Is that a relative or good friend of yours?&quot; and I replied, disgusted, &quot;No you f***ing idiot; it&#39;s the matriarch of the Jackson clan.&quot; Like he had just asked me if I&#39;d hadn&#39;t seen </em>Can&#39;t Hardly Wait<em> more than 11 times.&nbsp;</em></p><p><em>Then I went on to explain that she had been missing for 10 days and her grandchildren, Prince, Paris and Blanket of whom she has sole custody of were desperately trying to reach her and I wondered if maybe the father, Joe Jackson had killed her or if Conrad Murray was involved and what would LaToya think and where&#39;s Tito and here&#39;s the thing: she is in poor health and has very weak kidneys so this could be like the old Osama bin Laden theory maybe she&#39;s already dead and her kids have just been releasing old pictures and videos of her this whole time and he just stopped me and goes, &quot;Why do you know all this?&quot;</em></p><p><em>And I said, &quot;Because I&#39;m depressed!&quot;</em></p><p><em>Which I didn&#39;t know before I said it, but then I thought about it and it made sense. As some of you may know I used to have a pretty sweet substance abuse problem. And I wish I could tell you it was something subversive and sexy, but really it was nothing more exciting than copious amounts of booze mixed with some very entertaining prescription drugs, which is due to the fact that I have fantastic health insurance. A visit to my GP and a Ritalin/Clonopin speed ball costs me less than going to a movie. Once I started to look like Carnie Wilson after she got the gastric bypass AND became an alcoholic, my pals were like &quot;Hey do you think you might be depressed?&quot; and I said, &quot;You know what, I might be.&quot; So I cleaned up and like a good addictive personality, I replaced one bad habit with something slightly more benign - which is celebrity gossip. So now, when I wake up to cans of Sprite littering my nightstand and I look at my Google search bar from last night and it just says, &quot;JC Chasez girlfriend?&quot; followed by &quot;JC Chasez Gay?&quot; followed by &quot;JC Chasez &quot;Blowing me up with her love&quot; free mp3 download&quot; I&#39;m like, &quot;Oh sh** I&#39;m depressed!&quot;</em></p><p><a href="http://thepapermacheteshow.com/" target="_blank">The Paper Machete</a><em>&nbsp;is a weekly live magazine at the Horseshoe in North Center. It&#39;s always at 3 p.m., it&#39;s always on Saturday, and it&#39;s always free. Get all your</em>&nbsp;The Paper Machete Radio Magazine&nbsp;<em>needs filled&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/tags/paper-machete" target="_blank">here</a>, or download the podcast from iTunes&nbsp;<a href="http://itunes.apple.com/podcast/the-paper-machete-radio-magazine/id450280345" target="_blank">here</a>.</em></p></p> Fri, 10 Aug 2012 09:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-08/addiction-pop-culture-actually-sign-depression-101537 The problem with pregnant women today is that their placentas don’t taste good http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2012-05/problem-pregnant-women-today-their-placentas-don%E2%80%99t-taste-good-99197 <p><p>Last night I reviewed the TV show <a href="http://www.avclub.com/articles/pregnant-in-heels,74037/"><em>Pregnant in Heels</em> for the <em>A.V. Clu</em></a><em>b</em>. As I mention in my review, there was a woman on the show who revealed a plan to eat her placenta after she gave birth to her baby.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/206930221_b60cbc3c04.jpg" style="float: right; height: 450px; width: 300px;" title="(Photo by karindalziel)"></div><p>I believe that it’s been well-established by this point that eating your placenta is standard practice. <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/health/2012/03/26/mad-mom-january-jones-eats-her-own-placenta/">January Jones did it</a>; <a href="http://nymag.com/news/features/placenta-2011-8/"><em>New York</em> magazine did an article on it</a>; Christine on <em>Pregnant In Heels</em> did it. So, basically, &nbsp;it's <em>de rigueur</em> at this point. If you have to ask why, I just feel embarrassed for you.<br><br>However, looking at Christine’s face as she choked down her placenta smoothie, I was struck by a problem that afflicts way too many pregnant women: We are growing gross-tasting placentas.<br><br>To address this problem, I have carefully developed a diet plan that will result in a tasty placenta that you will enjoy eating after you give birth. It goes a little something like this:</p><ul><li>Candy all day long</li><li>Occasional cake and cookie supplements</li><li>Pie for dessert</li><li>Ice cream snacks</li><li>Milkshakes for hydration</li><li>Fruit chew vitamins</li></ul><p>Now if you’re wondering whether this diet is approved by doctors, the answer is a resounding yes!! Just trust me on this though and don’t be uncool and go asking a doctor to back this up. She’s busy! Leave her alone.<br><br>If you stick to this plan, after you give birth, your placenta will come out looking something like <a href="http://pics.livejournal.com/gnine/pic/0003eg0s">this</a>. Meanwhile, your baby will look adorable, like <a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_XU9x8G7khv0/SmimwkJDPJI/AAAAAAAAHmc/Ly32dbIsWUE/s400/fatbaby.jpg">this</a>. Best of all, everyone will want a piece of your nutritious, healthful placenta, so not only will the father of your child adore you for bringing new life into the world, he’ll appreciate you “baking” him a tasty treat! (The placenta, not the baby. )</p></p> Wed, 16 May 2012 10:10:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2012-05/problem-pregnant-women-today-their-placentas-don%E2%80%99t-taste-good-99197 Beauty Shop: DSK, Kardashian, 'Colombiana' http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-08-23/beauty-shop-dsk-kardashian-colombiana-90923 <p></p> Tue, 23 Aug 2011 11:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-08-23/beauty-shop-dsk-kardashian-colombiana-90923 The First Lady's Calories ... Why Do They Count? http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-07-20/first-ladys-calories-why-do-they-count-89407 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//npr_story/photo/2011-July/2011-07-20/2011_07_20_obamas_table_getty.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The "Beauty Shop" women discuss Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony's divorce announcement, the criticism Michelle Obama received for eating a 1,700-calorie meal, and the merits of using an alleged rape victim's name in mainstream media. Host Michel Martin speaks with American Studies Associate Professor Duchess Harris, <em>Latina Magazine</em> Editorial Director Galina Espinoza, politics and pop culture blogger Danielle Belton; and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Connie Schultz. <div class="fullattribution">Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit <a href="http://www.npr.org/">http://www.npr.org/</a>.<img src="http://metrics.npr.org/b/ss/nprapidev/5/1311177768?&gn=The+First+Lady%27s+Calories+...+Why+Do+They+Count%3F&ev=event2&ch=1048&h1=Around+the+Nation,Commentary,Opinion,Food,Pop+Culture,Media,Politics,Arts+%26+Life,U.S.,News&c3=D%3Dgn&v3=D%3Dgn&c4=138540774&c7=1048&v7=D%3Dc7&c18=1048&v18=D%3Dc18&c19=20110720&v19=D%3Dc19&c20=1&v20=D%3Dc20&c21=46&v21=D%3Dc2&c45=MDA0OTc2MjAwMDEyNjk0NDE4OTI2NmUwNQ001"/></div></p></p> Wed, 20 Jul 2011 11:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-07-20/first-ladys-calories-why-do-they-count-89407 I Was Absent That Day http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-07-04/i-was-absent-day-88696 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//npr_story/photo/2011-July/2011-07-04/deco.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Perhaps you know that pickles come from cucumbers. That the Washington Redskins are in Washington, D.C. and not Washington state. And that Roy Orbison was not blind.</p><p>But all around you are intelligent, upstanding citizens who do not know these – and other — things.</p><p>Trust us.</p><p>Part of being an adult is finding out stuff you should have known for years but somehow didn't.</p><p>These are things we should have learned — not gaffes born of exhaustion or bumbling speechwriters, like we see in politicians who misspell potato, misstate the number of states or confuse John Wayne and John Wayne Gacy.</p><p>It could be something serious, like knowing never to mix ammonia and bleach. Or something trivial, like understanding which side the fork goes on in a place setting. It could be the chronic misuse of a word, such as "comprise" – as in "A baseball team comprises nine players."(Yes. That's really how you're supposed to use it.) It could be misheard song lyrics or a misinterpreted logo.</p><p>But it's pretty much inevitable that at some point each of us as an adult will slap our forehead and think, "Why didn't I know that? I must have been absent that day."</p><p>Often, it's something that if we had just stopped to think about it, to hold it up in the light for examination at an earlier time, it would have made more sense.</p><p>The problem, of course, is we don't stop.</p><p><strong>Sweet Potato Or Yam?</strong></p><p>Veteran cook Sarah Commerford, for instance, never knew the difference between a turnip and a rutabaga. A co-owner of an educational advocacy company in Holliston, Mass., Commerford has loved kitchen matters all her life. In 2010, she created a blog What's Cooking in Your World? One day a week she tries out a new recipe — from a different country — on her family.</p><p>Commerford is proceeding alphabetically, from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe. During the course of her culinary quest, she has served Namibian alligator and Mongolian dumplings.</p><p>Back in March, she set out to make Soul Soup, a Montenegro concoction. The recipe called for a rutabaga,</p><p>"My blog is all about exploring cultures and food, especially unusual things, as a way of connecting with the larger world around me," Commerford says. "I've always been an adventurous eater, and had eaten turnips many times, but don't think I'd ever had a rutabaga."</p><p>While she was at the store picking out ingredients, "I realized that these two vegetables, although somewhat similar in appearance, were really quite unique," she confesses. "How had I missed this? Of course, I bought both and tried them, actually preferring the rutabaga as it's sweeter, less bitter and turns a lovely shade of orange when cooked."</p><p>She adds, "Luckily, I have been spared root-vegetable humiliation and never served up one, claiming it was the other. The mere thought gives me chills."</p><p>Ask around and you will hear other such tales, like people who only learned late in life the difference between baking soda and baking powder. Or gumbo and etoufee.</p><p>"Up until last week," Kerry McCray, a food writer at the Sacramento Bee confessed recently to readers, "I didn't know the difference between sweet potatoes and yams."</p><p>She went on to explain that the skin of a sweet potato – which has pointed ends --ranges in color from yellow to orange to red, while a yam has brown or black skin and more rounded ends.</p><p>We all have misconceptions and misperceptions. A few years ago on This American Life, reporter Alex Blumberg admitted on air that it wasn't until he was in his mid 30s that he found out that the Nielsen families – the TV-watching people who volunteer to be monitored for statistical and marketing reasons – were not actually all families named Nielsen.</p><p>He found people – including his father – who mispronounced the word misled, believing it was the past tense of a nonexistent verb misle — meaning to deceive or, mislead. And another guy who thought the word quesadilla was Spanish for "What's the deal?"</p><p>Weren't we supposed to have learned all this stuff back in college? Judy Jones and William Wilson asked in their popular compendium of factoids, <em>An Incomplete Education</em>. "Sure you were, but then, as now, you had your good days and your bad days. Ditto your teachers. Maybe you were in the infirmary with the flu the week your Philosophy 101 class was slogging through Zarathustra. Maybe your poli-sci prof was served with divorce papers right about the time the class hit the nonaligned nations. Maybe you failed to see the relevance of subatomic particles given your desperate need to get a date for homecoming. Maybe you actually had all the answers — for a few glorious hours before the No-Doz (or whatever it was) wore off. No matter. The upshot is you've got some serious educational gaps."</p><p><strong>Not Rocket Science</strong></p><p>Nowadays, of course, you can Google or Yahoo whatever you need to know. But it's quicker, and cooler, if you've got the knowledge in your own noggin. Still Johnny-come-lately knowledge is popular fodder for Internet forums. Often they are slugged something like: "Stuff You Can't Believe You Just Figured Out."</p><p>On Something Awful several years ago, people admitted that it took them years to decipher certain corporate logos. One person always thought the figure between the Good and the Year – which is actually a winged foot – is the depiction of an old woman. Others never realized that the logo for Saturn automobiles depicts a planet and is not just an X.</p><p>One 18-year-old wrote: "Until about six months ago, I honestly believed that 'character witnesses' were witnesses who were brought in to lend character to a trial, like a clown or an eccentric scientist."</p><p>Another poster followed suit: "I'm 21 and that just clicked. I thought the exact same thing you did because on the Law and Order channel the character witnesses are always crazy."</p><p>To bring the misconceptions — or perhaps mass-conceptions — up-to-date, we posted a query on the <a href="http://www.facebook.com/NPR?ref=ts#!/NPR/posts/10150286750781756" target="_blank">NPR Facebook page </a>recently asking our Friends to "tell us about something you were embarrassed to learn as an adult that you should have learned much earlier." More than 4,000 people responded.</p><p>"I am embarrassed by how much stuff I've learned reading these comments," wrote Azure Stephens. "LOL."</p><p>And Gin Peck added: "Thanks, all y'all for your confessions. I feel so much more human now."</p><p><strong>Look It Up</strong></p><p>Years ago the legendary writer George Plimpton was featured in an I Was Absent That Day magazine essay that was the inspiration for this article. A major corporation asked Plimpton to lay out instructions about how to give a speech. "In my first remarks on the dais," Plimpton confessed, "I used to thank people for their 'fulsome introduction,' until I discovered, to my dismay, that 'fulsome' means offensive and insincere."</p><p>He said, "Consult a dictionary for proper meanings and pronunciations."</p><p>It's never too late to learn the difference between enormousness (large) and enormity (outrageous or heinous). Or the meaning of nonplussed.</p><p>When Gene Weingarten, a Pulitzer Prize winning reporter at The Washington Post, discovered as an adult that he had been misusing a word, he was, well, nonplussed.</p><p>"Until incredibly late — maybe 25 years old — I used 'nonplussed' as incorrectly as possible," Weingarten says today. "I thought it meant 'unflustered,' basically, instead of what it means, which is, um, flustered."</p><p>He says, "If you look at my clips for the first few years, you'll probably find it wrong half a dozen times, because it was a word I liked to use. Wrongly."</p><p>In confessing knowledge gaps, Weingarten, Commerford, Plimpton and others remind us that we humans have limitations. And that to admit that we don't know the things that we should know takes a certain amount of humbleness.</p><p>Wait. Is humbleness even a word? <div class="fullattribution">Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit <a href="http://www.npr.org/">http://www.npr.org/</a>.<img src="http://metrics.npr.org/b/ss/nprapidev/5/1309786626?&gn=I+Was+Absent+That+Day&ev=event2&ch=1048&h1=Around+the+Nation,Pop+Culture,U.S.,Home+Page+Top+Stories,News&c3=D%3Dgn&v3=D%3Dgn&c4=137443123&c7=1048&v7=D%3Dc7&c18=1048&v18=D%3Dc18&c19=20110704&v19=D%3Dc19&c20=1&v20=D%3Dc20&c45=MDA0OTc2MjAwMDEyNjk0NDE4OTI2NmUwNQ001"/></div></p></p> Mon, 04 Jul 2011 08:32:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-07-04/i-was-absent-day-88696 Livelihood 'On The Line,' Anchor Reveals He's Gay http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-05-15/livelihood-line-anchor-reveals-hes-gay-86579 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//0" alt="" /><p><p>CNN weekend anchor Don Lemon is many things: A 45-year-old African-American native of Baton Rouge, La., he was raised Southern Baptist, attended Catholic schools and graduated from Brooklyn College in New York, and subsequently prospered in the competitive world of television news.</p><p>One more facet of his life that he reveals publicly for the first time today: He is gay.</p><p>"Do I want to be 'the gay anchor'?" Lemon said.</p><p>He said his mentors and agents challenged him to consider whether he was willing to wear that label throughout his career.</p><p>"And I'd have to say, at this point, why the hell not?"</p><p>American society has changed greatly in recent decades and the face of television news has changed a lot with it. Two women now occupy the nation's three network evening news anchor chairs, and the country's racial and ethnic diversity is reflected on the air as well. Yet Lemon says that change has not extended to sexual orientation — at least, not publicly.</p><p>"We live and die by people watching us," Lemon said. "If I give people another reason not to watch me, that is a concern for me and that's a concern for whoever I am working for.</p><p>"My livelihood is on the line," he said, "I don't know if people are going to accept me; if I will have a job. I don't know how people will feel about this."</p><p>Colleagues at work know about his four-year relationship with his boyfriend, a CNN producer. But until now, Lemon has been extremely guarded with the public. He said he was told that anchors do not talk about such things.</p><p>Lemon spoke with NPR, with CNN's approval, in anticipation of the release of his memoir, <em>Transparent</em>, later this spring. In some ways, the interview had an oddly retro feel. After all, Americans say they are accepting of homosexuality <a href="http://pewresearch.org/pubs/1994/poll-support-for-acceptance-of-homosexuality-gay-parenting-marriage" target="_blank">by nearly a two-to-one margin</a>. The Defense Department is lifting the ban on gays in the military. Former Vice President Dick Cheney — hardly a liberal — has embraced the idea of gay marriage.</p><p>Lemon was asked whether at this moment, why being gay would somehow detract from the perception of his performance.</p><p>"Most people would think if you're the prime news anchor, then you should sort of be this Edward R. Murrow, Clark Kent guy with the family and 2.5 kids — or the perky cute, yet smart Katie Couric," Lemon said. "Anyone would have to be naive to think that it wouldn't make a difference."</p><p>Others in the business say his concerns are reasonable. Former ABC News President David Westin said the question arose in the network's executive suites.</p><p>"Yeah, we would talk from time to time about the question of sexual orientation, and whether it would make a difference," Westin told NPR. "When you're talking about on-air personalities, and this is a problem with these jobs, you'd be shocked about what you talk about. You talk about hairstyles. You talk about accents. You talk about everything."</p><p>Westin said executives concluded that an anchor would not be disqualified by publicly acknowledging he or she was gay. But, he said, there was the real risk some viewers would turn away. Television news is journalism, Westin said, but it's still TV — and people project their fantasies on the people they rely on to present the news.</p><p>That's a concern at such a cutthroat time for the industry. TV news ratings, after all, are dropping. And there is a lot of money at stake: millions of dollars for top anchors such as Couric and hundreds of millions of dollars in profits for top TV news divisions.</p><p>"When you have that fine a margin — and you're fighting for every little competitive edge you can — then it's understandable people that would be afraid of the unknown," Westin said. "I personally think we will get through there, and we'll look back and say, 'What was the big deal?' I think. But until you've done it, you haven't done it."</p><p>Just two openly gay people hold prominent on-air roles in network or cable news at the national level. Both work at MSNBC: opinion host Rachel Maddow, who arrived at the cable news channel via liberal talk radio, and daytime anchor Thomas Roberts, who came out in 2006.</p><p>The conservative watchdog Media Research Center singled out MSNBC's Roberts for criticism for tweeting an appeal to the pro-gay-rights singer Lady Gaga to appear on his show, and noted that Roberts was openly gay. The Media Research Council <a href="http://www.mrc.org/biasalert/2010/20100920050520.aspx" target="_blank">blog entry wrote </a>that "MSNBC's daytime anchors, supposedly delivering objective news, have a history of arguing, on-air, for the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell."</p><p>In late April, Maddow told the British newspaper the <a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2011/apr/25/rachel-maddow-us-news-anchor" target="_blank"><em>Guardian </em>that closeted gay anchors </a>should acknowledge their sexual orientation. She later wrote on her own blog that she was not alluding to anyone in particular and said people should be able to pick their own moment to do so. A meaningful number of on-air television journalists are gay but do not explicitly acknowledge that fact to the public.</p><p>Lemon said his sexuality was particularly complicated to address among culturally conservative and religious blacks and that he sought therapy to help combat depression.</p><p>But he said that he also felt a dissonance in his professional life. Cable news have embraced edgy personal opinion. Morning news shows encourage hosts to share their personal travails — confronting illness; grieving a close relative, celebrating a child's birth. Lemon said he's not a point-of-view journalist, but wants to present the news without misleading viewers about who he is.</p><p>In <em>Transparent</em>, Lemon describes his upbringing, his discovery of the identity of his true father, and the sexual abuse he says he suffered as a child. Lemon first <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FB0Wy5N-2iA&feature=player_embedded" target="_blank">disclosed that trauma </a>on CNN last fall as he interviewed defenders of a prominent Atlanta minister accused of child abuse.</p><p>Lemon already was in the process of writing <em>Transparent</em> at the time. He said it was cathartic to release secrets he had been holding so tight. And yet Lemon said he was scared — and remains fearful — that he will pay a professional price.</p><p>Look around, Lemon said. There are no openly gay U.S. senators, Supreme Court justices or current players in the National Football League or the National Basketball Association — and there are very few top-paid gay or lesbian Hollywood stars. (In recent days, Pheonix Suns President Rick Welts said he was gay.)</p><p>Lemon said he wants viewers to continue to accept him as a news anchor. Many stories currently touch on sexual orientation, such as gays in the military, the ordination of gay clergy and the question of gay marriage.</p><p>Lemon said he is concerned some viewers may not accept hearing about such stories from someone whom they know to be gay. He noted, with some frustration, that heterosexual anchors rarely confront that problem because of their sexuality. But Lemon said he hopes that difference evaporates in years to come. Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit <a href="http://www.npr.org/">http://www.npr.org/</a>.<img src="http://metrics.npr.org/b/ss/nprapidev/5/1305528435?&gn=Livelihood+%27On+The+Line%2C%27+Anchor+Reveals+He%27s+Gay&ev=event2&ch=1020&h1=Television,Around+the+Nation,Pop+Culture,Media,Business,U.S.,Home+Page+Top+Stories,News&c3=D%3Dgn&v3=D%3Dgn&c4=136338277&c7=1020&v7=D%3Dc7&c18=1020&v18=D%3Dc18&c19=20110516&v19=D%3Dc19&c20=1&v20=D%3Dc20&c21=3&v21=D%3Dc2&c45=MDA0OTc2MjAwMDEyNjk0NDE4OTI2NmUwNQ001"/></p></p> Sun, 15 May 2011 23:01:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-05-15/livelihood-line-anchor-reveals-hes-gay-86579 School Reunions? Nah, I've Got Facebook http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-05-15/school-reunions-nah-ive-got-facebook-86557 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//0" alt="" /><p><p>Facebook was created for college students to get in touch with each other. It has helped people stay in touch online so well, that it might be hurting attendance at real-world class reunions.</p><p>This means the excruciatingly awkward reunion scenes in movies — where the dorks and princesses get together to prove that either they've become cool or are still cool — don't have to happen in real life.</p><p>Consider a scene from the 1997 film <em>Romy and Michele's High School Reunion</em>. When Romy is asked if she has any kids, she says no, she's been too busy running her own business inventing Post-its.</p><p>Now you don't have to bother lying about how brilliant you are. Thanks to social networks, everyone already knows.</p><p><strong>'Unplug For A Night'</strong></p><p>Marc Gervase graduated from Philadelphia's Strath Haven High School in 2001. He has no plans to go to his 10-year reunion.</p><p>"I already know what everyone is doing," he says. "If I needed to find out I could contact them or stalk them through said stalking methods — the unsaid Facebook, Twitter updates."</p><p>It seems he's not the only one.</p><p>"Ten years ago, you would've gotten maybe 250 people at a 10-year reunion," says Joanna Erdos, vice president of the alumni association for L.A.'s John Marshall High School. "I recently attended a 10-year where there were 94 people. There was another one where I heard the attendance was 43."</p><p>Mark Silva, CEO of Great Unions, one of the nation's largest reunion planning companies, says attendance at 10-year reunions is declining across the country. More people are staying in touch, so Silva is changing his marketing pitch from "Find out what became of Sally" to "Unplug for a night."</p><p>"There are a lot of people who believe that Facebook is good enough, and they don't want to get together. Well, we try to educate them about, I guess you'd call it, real personal connections," Silva says.</p><p>He points out that Facebook could end up helping with those real personal connections. If you get past the "What are you doing?" formalities on a website, you can get to the more important business of telling people what you really think in person.</p><p><strong>Technology Vs. Reality</strong></p><p>In another scene from <em>Romy and Michele's High School Reunion</em>, the tormented Heather and the ditsy Romy reach an epiphany: "I really thought you guys had it made in high school, and the whole time you were making my life hell, the A-group was making your life hell. I didn't know," Heather says. "You know what? I bet in high school, everybody made somebody's life hell," Romy responds.</p><p>Reunion planners claim there's no substitute for that kind of face-to-face, grownup connection. Technology comes and goes, they point out, but reality stays. Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit <a href="http://www.npr.org/">http://www.npr.org/</a>.<img src="http://metrics.npr.org/b/ss/nprapidev/5/1305460521?&gn=School+Reunions%3F+Nah%2C+I%27ve+Got+Facebook&ev=event2&ch=1008&h1=Around+the+Nation,Pop+Culture,Movies,Arts+%26+Life,Business,U.S.,Home+Page+Top+Stories,News&c3=D%3Dgn&v3=D%3Dgn&c4=136209590&c7=1008&v7=D%3Dc7&c18=1008&v18=D%3Dc18&c19=20110515&v19=D%3Dc19&c20=1&v20=D%3Dc20&c21=10&v21=D%3Dc2&c45=MDA0OTc2MjAwMDEyNjk0NDE4OTI2NmUwNQ001"/></p></p> Sun, 15 May 2011 06:17:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-05-15/school-reunions-nah-ive-got-facebook-86557