Dispatches from the Control Room – February 19

* We held a birthday celebration for Kim Vatis today in the newsroom. It involved food, which, predictably, made me happy. After walking a mile to work with a 20 m.p.h. wind in my face the whole way, I needed something to look forward to. Something tells me the wind will have changed direction to blast me in the face going home. I want to hit winter upside the face with a shovel.

* Old man Castro gave up the presidency today. I can see it now: a crowd of Cubans at gunpoint, chanting “49 more years! 49 more years!”

* Speaking of Spanish-speakers, I need to address a late-night infomercial that runs every single night on our sister station, Telemundo. It’s a bizarre advertisement for a car dealership that features three lovely Latin ladies and three larger gentlemen. They all board a school bus and the video freezes while odd nicknames are put underneath their faces. One guy is nicknamed “El Conejo,” which means “The Rabbit.” Señor Rabbit and his chums ride the bus to a school, where a buxom teacher points to a dry erase board. Meanwhile, the adults dressed as children, including the Rabbit-Man, fling paper airplanes around the room. One of the girls wears a viking hat. Huh? This sells cars how, exactly?

* One of the guys in that informercial has the dreaded “chinstrap beard.” It looks like someone drew a single line with a Sharpie from one ear to the other, under his chin. All beards should resemble either Chuck Norris’ or Gandalf’s. Other beards are null and void.

* While on the subject of facial hair, I grew a mighty beard last year during the NHL and NBA playoffs. People in the newsroom refused to acknowledge the grand tradition of the playoff beard, but I think they were just jealous that a flood of testosterone coursing beneath my face was shoving hair out so quickly. After I attended a Pistons-Bulls game where my Pistons lost, I sent my whiskers off to Beard Valhalla.

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