Offbeat

Offbeat
1:31 pm
Wed May 4, 2011

'The Book of Mormon' gets 14 Tony Award nominations

"The Book of Mormon" official website

The broadway musical "The Book of Mormon" led the field of Tony Award nominees with 14 nominations.

The musical, written by "South Park" creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker, may seem like a surprising choice, considering its liberal use of profanity and controversial religious content.

The Associated Press (via MLive) reports:

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Offbeat
3:24 pm
Fri April 29, 2011

In case you missed it...

User cccpstorm Flickr

There's no way to catch everything that Michigan Radio airs during the week.

Here are some highlights from this week's shows, in case you missed them!

“The Fed: Policy and Transparency”

On Wednesday, Chairman of the Federal Reserve Ben Bernanke held the first news conference in the Fed’s 98-year history.

On Thursday, Diane Rehm spoke to a panel about the conference’s contents, its historical significance, and the effectiveness of the Fed’s recent economic policy decisions.

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What's Working
7:40 am
Mon April 25, 2011

Trying to improve Detroit's grocery stores

The Green Grocers Project is trying to improve the way food is sold in Detroit
Pneedham Flickr

All this year, Michigan Radio has been taking a weekly look at things that are working to improve the state. Today: we take a look at food and Detroit. The city has been called a “food desert,” because of its lack of grocery stores. One group has been trying to change that. Sarah Fleming is the program manager of the Green Grocer Project. It was launched a year ago by the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation, and we asked her how it's going.

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Offbeat
1:01 am
Sun April 24, 2011

Michigan grocery stores can now give free samples of wine and beer

Stores that sell beer and wine for take-out can now give free samples
mconnors MorgueFile

Free wine and beer samples may soon be regular features at Michigan grocery stores. A law passed last November allows businesses already licensed to sell wine and beer for take-out to apply for an additional license to distribute free samples. This includes supermarkets and party stores.

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Offbeat
2:22 pm
Tue April 19, 2011

Graduation "Flash Mob" on the University of Michigan's Diag

The "mob" builds on the front steps of the Hatcher Graduate Library at the University of Michigan.
screen grab of YouTube video

flash mob - n - a group of people who organize on the Internet and then quickly assemble in a public place, do something bizarre, and disperse; also called inexplicable mob

Cindy Heflin at AnnArbor.com spotted this one - a "flash mob" performance on the University of Michigan's Diag:

The performance was coordinated by students and sponsored by online graduation announcement company GoEnnounce.com.

About 70 students danced to Rusted Roots' "Send me on my way," GoEnnounce said in an e-mail...The performance was choreographed by Erik Heitz, a musical theater major.

Hard to say whether 70 dancers constitutes a "mob" - which according to Websters is a crowd "bent on riotous or destructive action."

Seems more like a "flash dance" to me, but that name's been taken.

Offbeat
5:50 pm
Mon April 18, 2011

Citizen gun advocates host "open carry" dinner in Detroit

"Open carry" dinner held in Detroit
user westsideshooter Flickr

Gun rights advocates will gather at a Detroit restaurant Monday night for an “open carry” dinner.

Organizer Rick Ector runs Rick’s Firearm Academy in Detroit and the blog Legally Armed in Detroit.

Ector says the dinner is a “family-oriented” event meant to make “law-abiding” Detroiters aware of their right to openly carry guns in many public places.

“There’s a significant percentage of people that do open carry in Detroit. But primarily when you hear about open carry, it’s done outside of the city limits. And for those individuals who are really specifically inside of Detroit proper, I wanted to be the voice out there sharing this information.”

Michigan law doesn’t explicitly permit open carry, but doesn’t forbid it either. Those carrying openly must have a registered weapon “clearly displayed,” be at least 18 years old, and stay out of designated “pistol-free zones.”

The Bluepointe restaurant on Detroit’s east side is hosting the dinner, which Ector says he initially thought would draw about 50 people.

But he says the event has gotten so much attention he now has “no idea how many people will show up.”

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Offbeat
5:09 pm
Mon April 18, 2011

Airport in Sturgis, Michigan flooded by callers seeking tax advice

Search for IRS in Google Maps and you find the airport in Sturgis, Michigan.
Google Maps

Don't have the phone number? Just Google it.

That modern day phenomenon led callers seeking information from the Internal Revenue Service to accidentally dial a small airport in Sturgis, Michigan.

The FAA airport code for Kirsch Municipal Airport in Sturgis is "IRS."

If you type in a search for IRS on Google Maps, you'll get the airport's phone number.

Andrian Chen wrote about the mix-up on Gawker.com:

"The phone calls started two months ago, and it was just a trickle at first. Since then it's grown to a deluge of "20 to 50 calls a day" from people with tax questions, according to a weary-sounding office manager named Becky who took the time to talk to us this afternoon...

The calls haven't been a huge issue, Becky says, but she's getting sick of them. "It's just irritating," she said. "Most of them calling aren't the most intelligent, calling us at 7pm on the weekends. And it's like, do you seriously think the IRS is going to answer their phone at 7 on a Sunday?"

Becky will be glad when tax day ends at midnight tonight.

She may, or may not know, that if you need to file an extension, form 4868 is the paperwork you seek.

Offbeat
4:07 pm
Fri April 8, 2011

In case you missed it...Government Shutdown Edition!

User cccpstorm Flickr

Here's our wrap-up of great stories and shows you may have missed this week on Michigan Radio.

Diane Rehm had a great show on Tuesday on "Slashing the Federal Budget."

The show covered Paul Ryan's 2012 budget proposal as well as addressing some of the issues surrounding federal budgets issues that have lead to an imminent government shutdown.

For more coverage of the government shutdown, check out the "Domestic News Roundup" from Diane Rehm's Friday show as well as Laura Weber's coverage of Governor Snyder's comments about the effects of a potential shutdown on Michigan. 

Over at WHYY's Fresh Air, Terry Gross talked with David Dow (original airdate 2/8/10), a texas attorney who has defended death row inmates for over two decades.

Dow's comments about the failures and triumphs of the criminal justice system, and his thoughts on the nature of evil, are definite highlights.

Dow's book, Autobiography of an Execution, has been released in paperback.

-Brian Short, Michigan Radio Newsroom

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Offbeat
1:48 pm
Wed April 6, 2011

Kidney donor discovered on Facebook

User apoxapox Flickr

A Michigan man was told he could wait five years for a kidney transplant that matched his blood type.

But then he found one on Facebook.

ABC News reports:

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Offbeat
3:03 pm
Mon April 4, 2011

Update: Charlie Sheen receives standing ovation in Chicago

The Charlie Sheen show comes to Detroit
user justaufo Flickr

Update:

Charlie Sheen might be #winning after all.

After a universally panned show at the Detroit Fox Theatre on Saturday, Sheen has apparently retooled his "Violent Torpedo of Truth" tour, earning him a standing ovation from a Chicago audience.

From the Huffington Post:

After being heckled and booed in Detroit, Charlie Sheen made some changes to his road show Sunday night – and this time, it ended with a standing ovation.

Sheen used a talk show-style format at his Chicago show, with a master of ceremonies asking the actor questions. The interviewer, who didn't identify himself, kept Sheen on track and gave the actor a chance to make some snarky comments.

Some audience members said the second performance on Sheen's "My Violent Torpedo of Truth/Defeat is Not an Option" tour wasn't outstanding, but at least it had amusing moments. And Sheen drew cheers throughout the show, which began and ended with a standing ovation.

Mackenzie Barth, 19, said it was a "weird" show. "At least no one was booing," she added.

One commenter on Huffpost said, "I can only conclude that the people of Detroit have better taste than those in Chicago."

What do you think?

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Offbeat
2:03 pm
Mon April 4, 2011

Aborted takeoff attributed to wind-shear fears

User dsleeter_2000 Flickr

And you thought flying with a hole punched in the roof of your plane was scary.

Earlier today, a plane had to abort its takeoff due to fears of wind-shear.

Wind-shear refers to a drastic change in wind direction over a relatively short distance, and can cause serious problems for airplanes taking of or landing.

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On the Radio
2:49 pm
Fri April 1, 2011

In case you missed it... April Fools Edition

user cpstorm Flickr

NPR has a tradition of releasing an April Fool's Day story every year.

They're not obvious about revealing the joke, so they end up fooling a fair number of people every year.

Morning Edition goes 3-D

Here's this morning story from "Jen Sands-Windsor" about people opting for eye surgery so they can improve their 3-D movie experience:

People were definitely fooled.

Michigan Radio's Rina Miller said she was "hollering while driving about that stupid woman risking her vision for the sake of 3-D movies. Got me!"

And Facebook fan Barb said, "Boy, am I gullible! I was complaining to my husband about this crazy surgery. Guess I gotta keep my radar on today. :)"

And Jim West wrote about it on his blog - telling people to check the story out as a sign of the times:

When NPR reported this today I thought for sure they would end it with ‘April Fools!’- but they didn’t.  Which can only mean that people are getting crazier by the minute...What craziness rules these days.

Someone let Jim know it was a joke to which he responded, "i had that feeling but since they never ended with ‘april fools’ …. well, it’s npr. i trust them. im gullible."

Marketplace gets in the game

Our Facebook fan Brian W. pointed out another April Fools story from the Marketplace Morning Report.

David Brancaccio brought us this report "France's new measure of well-being: Boredom."

Brancaccio reported:

In addition to new measures of well-being in his country, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said today there must be balance, calling for new, regular government surveys of public levels of "ennui," or boredom. Sarkozy said the intention is to "Keep France French" by insuring that Anglo-American-style happiness does not get out of hand.

Take a listen:

 

Here & Now producers get into the game with its Twitter Time story

The producers fooled host Robin Young with this fictitious story (it's wonderful to hear her surprise when she discovers the whole interview was a joke).

They set Young up to interview a radio station manager who was turning his airwaves over to Twitter as a way to attract a younger audience.

The Tweets, he tells Young, are converted to audio using special computer software.

Station Manager @smittyd tells Young it's "a world that is happening right now, Robin - not however many hours ago as the traditional media might report it."

From the Here & Now:

A small public radio station on the Eastern Shore of Maryland is taking social media to the next level. The station, WAFD-FM, in Pocomoke, Md. has turned over its airwaves to Twitter.

From 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on weekdays, listeners will hear a constant stream of “tweets” to the station.

I hear Pocomoke is lovely this time of year.

Listen to Tweets turned to audio here. "You gotta develop an ear for it."

You can also hear the bleeped out tweets. The offending words are replaced with "NPR News."

On Here & Now's comment section Jesse wrote:

I'm thinking, "this is the dumbest idea I have ever heard." Then, boom! Ya got me!

NPR's True Gem

While we're at it, don't forget to pick up the wonderful 40th Anniversary CD collection of NPR's best funding credits.

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Offbeat
4:31 pm
Mon March 28, 2011

Not fast enough: Drunk driver rams next car in Burger King drive-through line

Jeremy Brooks Flickr

When is fast food not fast enough?

Well, last night in Detroit, one unlucky drive-thru-er found out.

From the Free Press:

A drunk driver got so impatient in the all-night drive-through line at Burger King that she intentionally bashed into the car waiting for food in front of her, police said.

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Offbeat
2:06 pm
Mon March 28, 2011

Flying Dog sues state Liquor Control Commission over free speech

Not sold in Michigan. The label on Flying Dog's 20th Anniversary beer. Artwork by Ralph Steadman
flyingdogales.com

Flying Dog Brewery, a Maryland-based beer maker, is suing Michigan's Liquor Control Commission for violating its free speech rights.

The Brewery applied for a license to sell its 20th anniversary commemorative beer "Raging Bitch" in 2009. The beer's label included the following text:

Two inflammatory words... one wild drink. Nectar imprisoned in a bottle. Let it out. It is cruel to keep a wild animal locked up. Uncap it. Release it....stand back!! Wallow in its golden glow in a glass beneath a white foaming head. Remember, enjoying a RAGING BITCH, unleashed, untamed, unbridled- and in heat- is pure GONZO!! It has taken 20 years to get from there to here. Enjoy!

According to Business Wire, the Michigan Liquor Commission barred the sale of the beer claiming the "beer's label — designed by renowned British artist Ralph Steadman — is 'detrimental to the public health, safety and welfare.'"

Michigan is the only state, of the more than 40 states where the beer is sold, to ban it.

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Offbeat
2:39 pm
Fri March 25, 2011

FYI... "OMG" is now in the Oxford Dictionary... LOL!

Texting is influencing our language.
user kamshots Flickr

The culture of texting is making its mark on our language. There are some surprising new entries in the latest edition of the Oxford English Dictionary.

From the Associated Press:

LONDON (AP) - OMG! The exclamatory online abbreviation has won the approval of the Oxford English Dictionary. The term - short for "Oh my God" - is one of dozens of new entries in the authoritative reference book's latest online update.

Other Internet-inspired expressions given the stamp of approval include LOL, "laughing out loud"; IMHO, "in my humble opinion"; and BFF, "best friends forever."

The dictionary says that although the terms are associated with modern electronic communications, some are surprisingly old. The first confirmed use of "OMG" was in 1917.

The new update, released Thursday, includes "flat white" - a type of milky coffee - and "muffin top," defined as "a protuberance of flesh above the waistband of a tight pair of trousers."

Some other gems making it into the dictionary include "FYI, and " WAG," according to CNN.com.

"WAG" is a new one to me, so I definitely fall outside of the Oxford English Dictionary's requirement "that the word is used and understood by a wide audience" requirement.

"WAG" is an abbreviation for "wives and girlfriends" used in reference to partners of soccer players - definitely a British thing.

It's a good thing LOL is now in the dictionary. Now confused parents can look up the meaning of the term before making a few glaring instant message faux pas.

For more on the confusion over "LOL," listen to the hilariously sweet story by Adam Gopnik from the Moth Radio Hour - you need to sign up for a free PRX membership to hear it, it's worth it! - the story comes at 13:08.

Offbeat
2:08 pm
Thu March 24, 2011

Take part in city-wide Grand Rapids ‘lip-dub’ video

This is part of the storyboard for Bliss' lip-dub video promoting Grand Rapids.
Rob Bliss Rob Bliss Events

A community organizer is asking tens of thousands of people to help him create a video promoting Grand Rapids. Rob Bliss is known around Grand Rapids for putting on one-of-a-kind, free events and he's announced his latest idea. He’s planning to make the video crazy enough that it’ll go viral.

Lip-dubs are like a music video featuring regular people lip-singing and dancing to a song they all know. They’re usually not edited – meaning they have to shoot the whole video in one take.

Bliss says lots of high schools and colleges have been putting together lip-dubs to promote their schools lately.

“But no one’s really made a truly city-wide professional level production like this kind of thing. And I think that’s really what’s exciting about this, is that it’s really attempting something that – at least to me – feels nearly impossible."

Which, to me, is sort of strange. Bliss has pulled off all kinds of crazy events. For ArtPrize once he made thousands of colored paper airplanes and flew them off skyscrapers downtown. He’s attracted thousands of people downtown for a massive pillow fight, a world-record-setting zombie walk, sidewalk chalk floods, and the ‘world’s largest inflatable waterslide’ which stretched two city-blocks down a steep street.

The nine minute long video (set to the tune of a live version of Don McClean’s “American Pie”) will be a continuous, single camera shot with no edits. Bliss says it’ll take a whole day and thousands of residents to set up and shoot. 

 “We stuff it full of all of this crazy, crazy, crazy stuff. Weddings, marching bands, motorcades with police officers hanging out the windows singing the songs, pillow fights, kayakers in the grand river, lighting parts of Pearl Street Bridge on fire, helicopter take-off out of downtown; ridiculousness really.”

Bliss has hired a professional production company for the video shoot. He expects to spend between $25,000 and $35,000 on it. He’s now hiring some part-time staff and looking for volunteers to help with and be in the video.

The big day for the video shoot is Sunday May 15th with a rain date the following weekend.

Offbeat
4:19 pm
Wed March 23, 2011

Detroit guard held bomb for three weeks

User Gini Flickr

A package containing a bomb was held for three weeks at the McNamara Federal Building in downtown Detroit. From the Detroit News:

A security officer at the McNamara Federal Building stored a suspicious package that turned out to contain a bomb for three weeks before alerting authorities, said a spokesman for a union that represents guards at the site, who called the incident "a total embarrassment."

"He apparently set it aside," said David Wright, president of the American Federation of Government Employees Local 918, which represents the Federal Protective Service (FPS) employees, who guard the McNamara and other federal buildings around the country.

"It should have been left in place and he should have called in a canine detection unit to see if they could make a determination about it," he said Tuesday.

The package was eventually placed behind two dumpsters behind the McNamara Building on Michigan Avenue downtown around 10 a.m. Friday. The Detroit Police Department's bomb squad collected the device from there and moved it to Belle Isle, where it was detonated.

An FBI official said yesterday that the device had gone to FBI headquarters in Virginia for additional testing.

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Commentary
2:52 pm
Wed March 23, 2011

Devastation

Hilary Flickr

Detroit expected to get grim news from the U.S. Census bureau. But the results are, in fact, far worse than expected. They paint a picture of urban devastation unlike any in our nation’s history, a snapshot of the depopulation of a major American city.

Consider this: Since the Republican National Convention in 1980, Detroit has lost half a million people. In the thirty years before that, it lost even more -- another seven hundred thousand.

For years, the term “white flight” had been synonymous with what was happening.  Today, it’s mostly about black flight. The black population of Detroit declined by more than one hundred and eighty-five thousand people during the last decade.

What that indicates is that the middle class of both races has given up on the city, in large part because the schools are perceived as being so bad. There have been a number of stories in recent months speculating that, for the first time, the census would find that the percentage of Detroiters who are white was increasing.

Optimists believed that the city was attracting a new generation of young urban pioneers, who were returning to Detroit from the suburbs, living in lofts and creating an artistic and urbane lifetstyle.

The census shows that this was a complete fantasy. Sure, there may be a few kids doing those things. There are also a few people who vote for the Socialist Workers’ party. But both groups are statistically insignificant. Nearly half of what white population remained in Detroit in 2000 vanished over the next decade.

There are now only about fifty-five thousand people in Detroit who identify themselves as white. Sixty years ago, when the city celebrated its 250th anniversary, that figure was one point six million.

That means that more than ninety-five percent of the white population has disappeared.  That’s not to say that Detroit’s troubles are solely due to the fact that the whites left. In fact, one-quarter of the black population left over the last decade as well.

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Offbeat
5:26 pm
Fri March 18, 2011

Detroit cops banned from posting crime photos to Facebook

Detroit police officers are being told to exercise caution when it comes to social media.

Police have to follow the Department's Code of Conduct policy, which forbids officers to share transcripts, records or photos tied to an ongoing investigation, but the current police doesn't explicitly discuss sharing those items on social media.

That will soon change  after a Detroit police officer posted a crime-scene photo to his personal Facebook account last month.

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Offbeat
5:06 pm
Fri March 18, 2011

Four Loko for sale again in Michigan

Four Loko makes a return to Michigan

Michigan residents can once again buy flavored malt beverages like Four Loko. The caffeine infused alcoholic drink was banned by many states and by the Food and Drug Administration last year. Caffeine can make it difficult for consumers to realize just how much alcohol they’ve consumed.

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