Hurricanes make great television. You see a reporter tied to a tree in hundred mile-an-hour winds, high waves smashing against the coastline, a downed tree here and there, and the obligatory multi-colored Doppler map indicating the varying degrees of heavy rainfall. I watched the NBC Nightly News Thursday night, ahead of Hurricane Irene's arrival on America's East Coast. Anchor Brian Williams had segments with two reporters and three meteorologists, and all of them were making very dire predictions of what the Northeast had in store. They never used the 'K Word' (Katrina), but they made it sound like Irene was going to be really really bad.
Fortunately for everyone, Irene was not nearly as bad as those meteorologists predicted, but it did alter my Sunday. From the sound of the forecast, I expected to turn on the television Sunday morning to find the only thing left of Manhattan was the top of the Empire State building sticking out from about 800 feet of water, or that the Statue of Liberty was now located in Pennsylvania, or something like that. I watched a little bit of the coverage, and then switched over to baseball. I know there are a lot of people out there now who are criticizing the weather forecasters, but by and large they were right. New York City took a direct hit, just not quite as hard as was forecast. Washington and Boston not so much, but still had power outages and flooding. Kudos to all the emergency personnel, and to the residents for taking the threat seriously. It didn't end up making great television, but it saved lives.
You know you're getting old when someone half your age wins a lifetime achievement award. Actually, Britney Spears is more like two-thirds my age (she turns 30 in December), but she was the recipient of the Michael Jackson Vanguard Award at Sunday's MTV Video Music Awards in Los Angeles. Spears was presented the award by Lady Gaga, who was dressed as her male alter-ego Jo Calderone (I have no idea). Gaga/Calderon gave Spears the award, then stood there hoping to kiss Britney, like Madonna and Spears did at the VMAs in 2003. Spears, acting like the bit was unrehearsed, looked at her/him, then said “I've done that already”, said some quick thank yous, and presented the next performer, Beyonce.
Beyonce made some news of her own. At the conclusion of her number, she rubbed her belly, signifying to the world the announcement that she is pregnant. The camera then cut to a jubilant husband Jay-Z jumping around (I think he knew already, but that wasn't the point)... Will Farrell, Jack Black, and Seth Rogan did an impersonation of the Beastie Boys. It was a small bit, but it made me laugh...Former Rhianna-hitter Chris Brown showed off some pretty good dance moves during his performance, but I'm not sure why he wore a microphone. He really didn't sing... I'm not quite sure the significance or fashion statement, but singer Katy Perry was wearing a yellow cube on her head. Perry won Video of the Year for “Firework”...I think I'm too old for the VMAs. I don't know most of the artists, but I watch anyway. I guess because something outrageous usually happens... Rapper “Tyler the Creator” won for Best New Artist, then in his speech said, “to all the kids watching, you can do this (bleep) yourself, because (bleep bleep bleep).” Cut to his proud mother in the audience. Yikes...I found out I like the band Young the Giant...Lady Gaga won Best Female Video for “Born This Way”, which could turn out to be the number one song of 2011. Gaga, who was still dressed as Calderone, began her acceptance speech as Jo, referring to “her” in the third person. She switched to “I” when the thank yous got more personal, including to her “little monsters”.
I didn't know much about Amy Winehouse, other than she was a singer with big hair and a drug problem, who not ironically had a hit song called “Rehab”. In a tribute to her during last night's Video Music Awards, comedian Russell Brand seriously compared her voice to Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holliday. The 27 year-old Winehouse, who died last month of a suspected drug overdose, recently recorded a jazz duet with Tony Bennett. Bennett appeared on stage and played a clip of the song. The tribute concluded with singer Bruno Mars performing “Valerie” from one of Winehouse's albums. Mars changed “Valerie” to “Amy” in the final chorus, with many of the artists in the audience singing along. The whole performance was by far the best segment of the night.
Fans of the Los Angeles Dodgers may not get a trip to the playoffs, a winning season, or even owner Frank McCourt leaving town any time soon, but they did get some fantastic news. Vin Scully will be back next year. Scully, 83, and a deeply religious man, told his television audience Friday night, “God’s been awfully good to me, allowing me to do the things I love to do. I asked him one more year, at least, and He said, ‘OK.’” With the losing, the team in bankruptcy, the McCourt divorce, and everything else, I think a lot of fans were thinking that Scully would be disgusted and would quit. He does seem to have a friendship with McCourt, though. I don't know if that played any part in his decision, but at least Scully is staying. Next year will be the Hall of Famer's 63rd with the franchise.