Sunday, October 29, 2006

Potpourri for 200, Alex

Hi everyone. I thought I'd do a post that includes a little bit of everything. Just because. First off, there will be no review of Friday's show. I know, bad blogger. But I have a good excuse. I was watching the St. Louis Cardinals WIN THE WORLD SERIES!!! Woo hoo!

Actually that picture's from a playoff game, but the sentiments the same. It's funny because I'm not a sports person. At all. But it was quite the game. My mom is probably one of the Cardinal's biggest fans (and I'm not just saying that-she's crazy) and she and I will be going to the parade downtown on Sunday.

Moving on now to something totally different. If you haven't met him already, I'd like to introduce you fair readers to Richard Engel:

I had been watching him on NBC for a while and thought he was a great reporter, but knew nothing about his back story. Then I saw him on a talk show and learned that he and a certain silver haired reporter have a lot in common. Howard Kurtz breaks it down for us in a Washington Post profile:

Few would have predicted that Engel would become an intrepid war correspondent when he was growing up on Manhattan's East 86th Street. He suffered from dyslexia and struggled in school.

"He was down in the mouth and low on self-confidence," says his mother, Nina Engel. "He lived in the shadow of his older brother, Mr. Perfect," who is now a cardiologist. In fact, she had only "a very faint hope" that he would be able to go to college.

When he was 13, Engel asked his parents to send him to a wilderness survival program in Wyoming. Frustrated by his learning disabilities, he was eager to escape the comforts of Upper East Side life and try a tougher environment.


At 16, Engel spent a year as an exchange student in Sicily. After graduating from Stanford in 1996 with a degree in international relations, Engel says, he decided that "the Middle East would be the story of my generation." He announced to his parents that he was moving to Cairo, where the family had once taken a trip.

"Are you insane?" Nina Engel recalls asking him. "Do you remember what a hellhole it was?" When her son said he was also considering Damascus, she allowed as how Cairo was not really that bad.

The aspiring reporter took his $2,000 in savings, moved to Cairo, enrolled in Arabic classes and found an apartment in a neighborhood where donkeys and dogs roamed the dirt roads.


In 1999, Agence France-Presse hired Engel to go to Jerusalem and cover the Palestinians. As the intifada protests against Israel turned violent, he says, "I spent the next three years on my stomach, getting tear-gassed and shot at with rubber bullets."

Most people might consider that a miserable existence. But Engel brightens at the thought: "I was lucky enough to be on the fault line as history shifts and moves."

Friends were not surprised at his constant need for an adrenaline fix. "He has no interest in a 9-to-5 job," Peet says. "He's very much into living on the edge. I don't think he has much interest in having a normal life."

By late 2002, as war with Iraq loomed, ABC News and the BBC had hired Engel as a freelancer. But even though he spoke Arabic, Engel wasn't on anyone's list to get an Iraqi visa. The networks were concentrating their efforts on their bigger stars.

Undeterred, Engel took $20,000, went to Jordan and bought a human shield visa, meaning that he was pledging to chain himself to an Iraqi facility as a deterrent against U.S. bombing. Engel got the visa from an Iraqi official who knew full well he was a journalist but was swayed by a few hundred dollars and some baby clothing that Engel had bought for extra persuasion.

He's a younger Anderson! Go read the whole profile. I'm pushing fair use as it is. Anyway, I thought it was bizarre how two stories can be so similar like that. If you guys can't check Richard out on NBC, you can read his blog posts here. You know, just in case you needed another person to worry about over there.

And while I'm pimping, I'd like to urge you guys to check out my cousin's band Panic Attack . You might have noticed the link on the right side of the page.

Anyway, they're an alternative rock band from St. Louis and if they weren't really good I wouldn't be mentioning them. Their lyrics are clean and unspecific enough that everyone can relate to their songs. Oh, and here's the beauty part of this post, I can totally connect this to Anderson. While I was reading his book some of what he wrote reminded me of two of their songs. The first song is Down Below and the lyrics are as follows:
I lie awake in bed I can't sleep
Too much running through my head
Awake in a dream
You're always on my mind
What could have been
I've often asked myself, why?
Everyday I thought of how it could have went
I was so innocent
Maybe this will make me a better person
Here I am today on my own, surprise me now
I won't know your face in the crowd
It's been too long.
Gotta be on my way
Gotta be on my way now
Time will go on day by day
Still I wonder what would I say
If we were face to face
Time will go on day by day
Still I wonder what would you say
If you could see me from up above
Down here below
The song was written about my aunt (my cousin's mother) who died of MS when my cousin was only around two, but I think anyone who has experienced loss can relate. Another song that the book reminded me of, especially in reference to Anderson's shark analogy, is Driving Away and the chorus is as follows:
Driving away makes my troubles go far away
Seems to me it couldn't come at a better day
Some place different makes it all disappear
It's another day it's another day it's another day
You can listen to these songs on their website, which I linked to above. You won't be sorry! Well, that's it for now. Hopefully we'll see Anderson back on Monday, though I have to give it up to John King. Very nice job.


Anonymous Jennifer said...

I remember Richard from his short-lived ABC News days. He would show up on Good Morning America. He really stood out and caught my eye because he was so young and knew so much.

It's weird how I'm liking NBC News more and more. Brian Williams is my anchor of choice for the national networks. Now I have someone new to out Richard ;)

9:14 AM  
Anonymous Sharla said...

Well, this post was loaded with info :)

I hate sports. Excepting boxing, and I'm not really into that, either. It's just that it's the only sport I can actually watch.

The only problem with being second, is that you'll forever be compared to someone else. As in, you DID just compare Richard to Anderson. He does sound interesting though. Not all facinating like Anderson is, but interesting.

And I love those lyrics. I'm a killer for good lyrics (as, I write myself). It's just poetry to music if done correctly.... I checked Panic Attack out a long time ago when I first started reading your site :D

9:59 AM  
Blogger eliza said...

@jennifer-Brian Williams is my (network) anchor of choice too. It's hard to show it on a half hour news cast, but he's actually really funny and I love his blog posts.

@sharla-yeah, I guess I did compare Richard to Anderson. But the beauty is we don't have to choose. ;)

6:41 PM  
Anonymous ivy said...

eliza-- it's interesting you wrote about Richard Engel. I read that article few days ago and also could not believe how much similarities in his bio to Anderson --being from the same neighbourhood, dyslexia and how he landed a job with NBC ect. He always was one of my favourite reporters on network tv, he deffinately stands out. I did't see much of him lately cause I watch too much CNN now -)

10:53 AM  
Blogger xtina said...

I luv Richard! I started a thread on Hideaway w/ sev. pictures from his Iraq reports. He and Anderson look alike in one pic w/ the "army" helmet on. Richard has an interesting blog - sometimes he talks about his mom worrying about him.

1:19 PM  
Blogger eliza said...

@ivy-I watch too much news, period. I think I need to start a 12 step program or something. Since I watch Anderson and Keith during the week (and sometimes even Nightly News and a little of the Wolfbot) I don't have any time to watch normal tv, so I tape "my" shows and then try to squeeze them in on the weekend when I'm off work. This past weekend I was phonebanking for McCaskill and at the World Series parade, so, yeah, I failed miserably. Sigh. The perils of being a news junkie. I suppose there are worse things to be addicted to.

@xtina-Yeah, in the Kurtz profile it says that his mom contacts him everyday or something like that. I also like Laura Logan of CBS, though I only ever catch her on 60 minutes since I don't watch their newscast.

5:48 PM  
Blogger eliza said...

Ugh, that should be Lara Logan. I think.

5:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just threw my remote at the TV while watching Larry King... Anderson popped on and he was wearing that tie I think his mom gave him (the Young Republican tie). I swear.


9:58 PM  

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