Pardon me while I slip into my alter ego as Mr. Perspective. In that guise, I have no super powers other than the ability to apply rational thought to news stories that are otherwise swallowed whole by the media at large, and then blown way out of proportion.

Let’s start with this headline in today’s paper: “Study Ranks Area Among Worst For Road Congestion.”

It’s based on a new report from the Texas Transportation Institute about how much time we’re spending in our cars going to and from work everyday. According to this report, St. Louis is the 9th-worst metropolitan area for road congestion. You know it’s an important report because it’s not written in real, everyday English — they call us “motorists” instead of “drivers,” as in “motorists, use caution” rather than “drivers, be careful!”

The report says that St. Louis drivers lose an average of 44 hours a year to traffic delays — or “more than one workweek.” That sounds like a lot. Here’s where Mr. Perspective comes alive, applying simple math to the claim.

If you lose 44 hours a year on the road, that’s less than an hour a week. It actually works out to about 10 minutes a day. That’s five minutes in the morning, five minutes in the evening. Not so much anymore, is it?

But no one would print a headline based on the real story: “You Spend Less Time In Traffic Than You Do in Line Waiting For A Mocha Latte At Starbucks!”

Story number two for analysis by Mr. Perspective starts with this headline: “Space Tourists Are Lining Up To Follow Dennis Tito.”

They make it sound as if we’re just months away from you being able to book your very own trip to the International Space Station. All you have to do is get on the waiting list. Oh, and one other small thing — get ready to cough up $20,000,000!

In other words, your spot in line is somewhere behind Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, and Paul McCartney. Sure, Julia Roberts could buy herself a couple of orbits just off the paycheck from a single movie, but then who would buy dinner for Ben Bratt? Maybe he could use the frequent flyer miles Julia racks up.

Face it, by the time they’re ready to send the average person into space, they’ll also have the technology to accidentally send your luggage to Jupiter.

Next, Mr. Perspective goes to the movies.

Roger Moore was asked recently who he thinks should play James Bond when Pierce Brosnan gives it up. Moore, who was 007 for a dozen years, suggested Cuba Gooding, Jr.


Yes, Cuba’s a good actor. If you only know him from “Jerry Maguire,” you should rent “Men Of Honor,” where he holds his own very nicely opposite Robert DeNiro – not a small achievement.

Gooding is certainly talented. He’s also young enough to take over the role and run with it for several years. There’s only one problem: Cuba Gooding, Jr. is black. James Bond is not.

Does that mean that Gooding couldn’t play an international spy playboy? Of course not. In fact, that might make a pretty good movie, perhaps the first in a new series. But he can’t be Bond.

Bond can’t be an African-American. Bond can’t be a woman. Bond can’t be a midget. Bond can’t be bald, he can’t be fat, he can’t be blond. If he is, he’s not James Bond. You might as well make him a bad shot, a poor driver, and shy with the ladies. Would you cast Drew Carey as Bond? Of course not. No more than you’d cast Kevin Costner as Shaft.

Is Mr. Perspective being unreasonable? Hey, I’m not suggesting that we assign O.J. Simpson to find the real killer of Robert Blake’s wife. I’m just trying to bring some rationality into an otherwise irrational media world.

One final story. Sad to report that Cliff Hillegas died over the weekend. That name may not mean much to you until I tell you that he’s the guy who invented Cliff’s Notes — every literature student’s best friend. Cliff was buried earlier this week in a casket with yellow and black stripes on one side.

In his honor, the eulogy was just three sentences long.