ALISON STEWART, host:
Hey, welcome back to the Bryant Park Project from NPR News. Thank you so much for listening. We are online all the time at npr.org/bryantpark. I could Ramble alone, but you know, it's kind of like playing solitaire, kind of fun for awhile, but wouldn't you like to be in a really good game of gin rummy or poker?
PATRICIA MCKINNEY: No. I like to stay up all night and play solitaire obsessively.
STEWART: Oh. Then I could leave, and editor of the BPP, you could do this by yourself, if you like.
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MCKINNEY: No, no, no! Let's hold hands. Let's Ramble.
STEWART: Come on.
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STEWART: Yes. That is the Bryant Park Project editor, Tricia McKinney. I'm going to go first, OK?
STEWART: All right. A new angle on the mortgage meltdown. We've seen all kinds of stories about abandoned pets, so sad, about families can't pay their mortgages. This one involves bugs. Apparently, in several countries in Florida, there has been a mosquito outbreak, enormous amounts of mosquitoes, because there are all these abandoned swimming pools...
STEWART: Because of foreclosures. Nobody is taking care of the pools, rainwater collecting in them...
MCKINNEY: That's a nasty mess.
STEWART: That's a nasty mess and voila! A new breeding ground for mosquitoes.
MCKINNEY: I'm going to call that one insult to injury.
STEWART: I would agree.
STEWART: And scratching it and scratching it. It's making me itchy already.
MCKINNEY: And, you know, possible West Nile.
STEWART: Yeah. Exactly. A University of Florida professor said that's actually one of the biggest issues. Also, what's happening is these abandoned homes, people are leaving boxes, you know, kids' wagons out, anything that can collect water, those little mosquitoes, they love it.
STEWART: So, unintended consequences.
MCKINNEY: Yeah. That's not good.
MCKINNEY: I have another home-problem-in-Florida story. I think this one came from Manoli. I don't know why she's finding little stories like this, but so, this guy in Silver Spring Shores has been paying rent to somebody who, turns out, is not his landlord.
STEWART: Oh no, really?
MCKINNEY: And it's not like he was illegally subletting from this guy. He just - this guy was a tenant, and they paid, like, 800 bucks a month to this guy named Tyrone. Tyrone would come by at the beginning of every month and collect, in cash only. Apparently, Tyrone's story to these people was that he had been ripped off in the past, so he had to get his money in cash. But, in fact, he did not own the place. The real owner lives in New York, and he told authorities. Now, they are on the hunt for this Tyrone. I wonder if that's his real name.
STEWART: You know, there was a movie about this called "The Visitor." Do you remember?
STEWART: It was a really - it came out a couple of months ago, and it was - Daniel Holloway said it was a really fine, small, indie flick.
MCKINNEY: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah.
STEWART: You remember?
MCKINNEY: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
STEWART: So, there you go.
MCKINNEY: I actually listen to the show. I really do. It just didn't ring a bell, the name.
STEWART: All right. Product placement in movies, we have gotten kind of used to it, even though it's a little bit annoying.
MCKINNEY: Yeah. Especially the movies that, like, go, oh, look, we're doing product placement, and then they collect the money anyway. It's annoying.
STEWART: I can't go a day without this Coca-Cola. It's very obnoxious. We've seen it in TV shows. Now, it's starting to appear on some morning news shows.
MCKINNEY: Yeah. This is disturbing.
STEWART: This is a slippery slope. It is. Anchors on the Fox affiliates in Vegas, KVVU, apparently, if you tune into KVVU in the morning, you will see the anchor sitting there with large coffees, iced coffees, from McDonalds.
STEWART: And it's on their desk during the lifestyle segments, and apparently, people have noticed that nobody ever drinks the coffee. They just sit there, and the executives say it's part of a six-month promotion to shore up ad money. We've been talking about the economy not being so great. The ad agency involved said the cups will disappear if KVVU reports something negative about Mickey Ds, should something bad happen to McDonalds. Other stations owned by Meredith Broadcasting, there's a CBS affiliate in Hartford doing it, the CBS affiliate in Atlanta, as well, you know, and this is a big issue. The FCC is looking into it anyway. You know, I...
MCKINNEY: Well, you're a broadcast-news professional.
STEWART: Do you know where my mind went?
STEWART: You can tell I've been thinking about money a lot lately. My mind went, well, then why can't I do a commercial? Why is there a middle man? Why is the station getting the money from McDonalds? You know, there is a reason that these people do not do commercials.
MCKINNEY: Yeah. There is.
STEWART: There are many reasons, but if you're going to sit there with some sort of product sitting in front of you, why should the station get the money? What about Alison Stewart?
MCKINNEY: Well, but I remember - you know, we worked together at MSNBC.
MCKINNEY: And there, you know, a lot of the writers and producer types, the non-aired talent, were actually on the set. And I used to joke, oh, hey, I'm going to go get some Dunkin' Donuts coffee and put it on my desk, and I remember making that joke to a news executive, who gave me such a look. Like, I was like, I'm just kidding. I'm just kidding.
STEWART: At MTV, we used to have to - you know, all the rappers wear whoever is sponsoring them, and we would have to blur it out every time we did, like, the big swooshes by that certain company.
STEWART: You want to do this one quickly?
STEWART: Go for it.
MCKINNEY: This is a tough one to do quick, but I will. A California woman has come up with a novel solution to a really awful problem in Nepal, because in parts of that country, families are so poor they try to actually bring in money by selling their daughters as domestic slaves. OK, that's awful. So, an 83-year-old woman who had spent five years in Nepal and got to know the culture pretty well has come up with a way to rescue some of these girls. She's trying to convince families to raise and sell pigs. And so, I'm not quite sure how the money works, but if these families will raise and sell pigs, this woman agrees to pay for girls to go to school.
STEWART: Oh, my gosh.
MCKINNEY: She started the nonprofit called the Nepalese Youth Opportunity Foundation. She also offers families kerosene lamps and kerosene, and apparently about 3,000 Nepalese girls have gotten an education because of this woman. And she's 83-years-old. She keeps going strong. She has no plans to stop.
STEWART: And she is my favorite person today.
MCKINNEY: I know, great way to end the Ramble.
STEWART: My favorite person next to you, Tricia.
MCKINNEY: You go, Olga Murray of California.
STEWART: Go Olga. Go Olga. Hey, that's the Ramble.