December 13, 2005 |

Wacky video Wednesday (Keith Olbermann)

NEW YORK - Wednesday is a big night for all of us here at MSNBC, but for the cast and crew of Countdown it's going to be Extra Special.  Why?  Because I get to put my feet up for the last eight minutes of the show and watch along with you as we take our nightly "Oddball" feature and pump it full of steroids.

It's The Year in Weird. Everything you love about Oddball, now in a "family size" serving. All the strangest video, craziest stunts, dumbest criminals, strangest video, weirdest animals, drunkest idiots and strangest video!

If it was weird, and caught on tape in 2005, you'll see it Wednesday night at 8 p.m. ET in a very special expanded edition of Oddball.  Want a little preview?  Check out this gem.

Video: Underwear Triathlon

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December 5, 2005 |

Here's the situation: Overturned on the topsy-turvy tree (Monica Novotny)

MSNBC Cable; NBC News; Monica Novotny

Tonight, we're being scooped by our own primetime partners, the good folks at Tucker Carlson's show.

The story - Christmas trees. Not the debate over what we should call them. That's already been discussed ad nauseum this holiday season. No, we're talking about Christmas trees that cost hundreds of dollars yet do not stand upright. On purpose.

About a month ago (November 10th, according to my email records) I heard about the "hot" new tree this year. The upside-down tree. An artificial tree intentionally assembled bottoms up. Made to fit in a stand or hang from the ceiling. Some said it harkened back to a 12th-century Video: Bottoms Up! tradition in Central Europe. Others simply called it a way to fit more gifts underneath. Either way, I didn't get it, but it sounded perfect for Countdown.

I contacted the folks at Hammacher Schlemmer to see if they could lend us one of theirs. I was hoping to show up in Rockefeller Plaza with my producer and a camera crew and set it up for a few hours next to The Tree. We wanted to show it to passers-by, compare it to the king of all traditional trees, and ask them if this could be true. Could this  inverted fake greenery actually be the hottest selling decorative item this holiday season? Why? And would people really pay hundreds of dollars to have one of these in their homes?

Apparently they do, or they did. Because before we could ask anybody anything, my contact at the store informed me they were completely sold out. Of course.

But after a couple weeks - yes, weeks - they were finally able to find one and deliver one to our studios here in Secaucus, New Jersey. Then we started the ball rolling with our contacts in New York who handle all things that relate to The Tree. Turns out they didn't think our little upside-down number should get too close to The Tree. (And who can blame them? I don't think they get it any more than I do.)

So intense negotiations began as to where, exactly, on the island of Manhattan, we could assemble this thing. Emails flying back and forth. Until it all came to a crashing halt today. My producer, Judy Chung, was putting in a request for a camera crew for another one of  our shoots when she saw it. The crew request for a segment titled "Upside-Down Christmas Trees." Not for Countdown. For Tucker.

Scooped by our own primetime partners.  Overturned on the topsy-turvy tree. 

But we're not bitter. Not at all. Rest assured we'll be watching tonight. Hoping they'll be able to answer the question that lingers... where does the star go?

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