adventures


16
Mar 18

No wendigos allowed

Here is today’s podcast. And if you’re hungry before you listen, we’ll either solve that problem or give you some ideas. It seems there’s a new kind of meat that may be making its way into your grocery shopping list. I doubt, very seriously, that it will happen, but it is fun to contemplate, as you will soon see.

I went for a run after work, sneaking in a quick four miles around the neighborhood before our dinner with friends. And I told them about this episode. Everyone agrees it is an unusual one, even the guy sitting at the table next to us.

We were at an upscale fancy kind of place, our friend who suggested it promised the best burgers in town. And that’s always one of those things you should follow up on. Because it would be a shame to not know where the best burger in town is, first of all. Plus, the previously nominated best burger in town was merely pretty decent. There was nothing wrong with it, but we went the one time and haven’t been back in 15 months, for whatever reason.

But this place, maybe we’d go back. The burgers were certainly good, if a bit overpriced. But you’re paying, you see, for the pleasure of sitting quite close to the next table over. And those people are paying for that same privilege. So it only seemed right that I should talk about recording a podcast where we discussed what is called clean human meat.

The guy at the next table was a little put off by this. Probably because I was talking about it. Definitely because I was talking about it with a little volume. Hey, these podcasts don’t publicize themselves, you know.

Anyway, we probably stayed at that places for about three hours, on the strength of burgers and fish. And everyone had a lovely meal and time. Our dinner dates work in the library and the art museum, so they have plenty of interesting things to tell us about. And we decided in the course of all of that that there are movies we all haven’t seen, but should.

How do you know which movies those are? It seems like we’d all need the input of someone else on this. But who knows all of the movies you’ve seen? No one, really. So it is down to self reporting. And so we decided on a methodology — because this is what you do on a Friday night in a college town. After much debate and thought, we figured we would self-nominate five films each from the Oscar nominated Best Screenplay and Best Film categories dating back to 1980. So you have to go over those and find five movies per. Mine were:

Her
Grand Budapest Hotel
Lady Bird
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri
The Savages

Elizabeth
In The Bedroom
The Theory of Everything
Get Out
The Post

Next, someone is going to gather all of those in a spreadsheet and we’re going to start watching the common overlaps. There will be popcorn and merriment and, I’m sure, endless critiques.

There will be no human meat.

Happy weekend!

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2
Mar 18

On the road again

On the podcast I talked with Ken Booth, a man who used to be my boss a few jobs ago. I have always enjoyed chewing the fat with him. He’s a clever and well-read person, so it was only a matter of time before he was on the show. Also he let me work for him for four-and-a-half years, so he’s clearly very smart.

Actually, he took a chance on me. I was leaving broadcasting and he was running what was then a news site that was something between a startup and a mainstay. They were making money and hiring and I was a journalist who could code a little and do some other things and we found ways to make it work and it became one of those things that led to other things and turned out to be pretty important, that job and the things I did and learned there. So I was clearly very smart to take the job.

And now here we are today, about 14 years since he hired me and nine-and-a-half years since I left — it seems like two lifetimes ago – talking about the success of the young craft brewing industry:

Also, most of today was spent in the car. Allie came along. She’s a great traveler, but we think she might not like the leather interior of my car. She spent most of the trip in the floorboard:

We drove for about seven hours — which is about four more hours than anyone should ever be in a car, but the cat was fine — and finally made it through a land where they now advertise on buses:

And now we have arrived, for a quick family trip and a birthday and more time in the car. And that’s the weekend. How’s your weekend shaping up?

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14
Feb 18

As it turns out, I know precisely what I was doing in 2005

My friend Zach Osterman, who is a sportswriter for the Indianapolis Star, a Georgia boy and a lover of Publix, came back on to to my little podcast today. We talked about sports, the Indianapolis Colts, specifically, and the coach that wasn’t the piece itself is a little older than I’d prefer, but its a good piece, and Zach is a thoughtful journalist and I like how he approaches the stories and especially how he wants to talk about the craft. I have always enjoyed that myself. So that’s fun.

And this episode is already one of the most popular ones of the show, so you should download it, or just use the player below, to see what all the cool kids are listening to:

I got home at a decent time tonight, because it is Wednesday and I can do that on Wednesdays. So I went to Menard’s, because you can buy anything there. I got a little paint and some lumber and now I have a weekend project. I’ll show it to you when I’m finished, provided it resembles my grand vision.

So as not to build any suspense, it is a small weekend type project. It’ll be put to use around the house, and it probably won’t be nearly as cool as some of the other projects. It’ll be utilitarian. But it might also look nice. Or the plan could go awry in any one of four or five different ways.

All of those outcomes will be fine, if I all of my fingers stay attached to my body.

We went out for Valentine’s dinner. We usually don’t do this, because we prefer to avoid all of the various amateur nights throughout the year. Usually we are celebrating our first officially unofficial official date this week.

[There was a group of six of us in graduate school, The Chess Club, and we’d all been running around together for several months by then. I just checked in on them all and they’re all doing great, by the way … And I still have my chess piece.]

[So on Feb. 13 there was a dinner party. I remember the date. We had something called excited chicken, which was tasty, and there was an ultra-competitive Trivial Pursuit game. The specific game and meal I recall from old blog posts. (And, reading things I was writing, you could really tell I was in graduate school at the time.) I also recall Los Lonely Boys was playing on our hostess’ stereo that night. But what was most important was the group figured us out before we had. Someone, or maybe several or all of them, decided The Yankee and I might actually be a couple, rather than two people. And we came to realize, hey, you know, they might be right. We’d arrived at that party together, rather than separately. And that’s how we come to find ourselves at the Japanese steakhouse tonight, give or take 13 years.]

So we figured, why not? Well, because it is amateur night. But that could be part of the fun, we figured. And it was!

Also, it turns out the Japanese steakhouse in town has just relocated. They’ve gone from one of those little buildings that orbits a strip mall to the actual strip itself. And, also, most of the waitstaff was brand new tonight, except for our server, and she was happy to bag on the new people who were sitting people randomly and without communicating new store developments and spilling soups and forgetting salads and what not.

Valentine’s Day week is probably not the best night to start a new staff in your restaurant, to be fair to those people. But there we all were. Us and the strangers you sit with at a Japanese steakhouse, exchanging good natured small talk and sharing knowing glances about the guy who spilled the soup, but did not clean it up, and then the latecomers to the table who managed to sit in an awkward fashion around the chef, making him really change it up as he launched zucchini at us.

And now back home to watch more Olympics.

Fun as that is, for my money, the Trivial Pursuit was better.


9
Feb 18

King of the dairy section!

The only thing better than a Friday meeting is a Friday meeting to discuss the details of a Saturday you’ll soon work.

That’s a thing you’d say, but this particular upcoming Saturday that I’ll work is a program for incoming students. And the program looks pretty good, too. I’ll be in the television studio for an hour or so. There are worse ways to spend a Saturday.

Now the following Saturday, that might be a different thing.

Today I talked with Robert Quigley, a professor of journalism at the University of Texas. He brought us what is, I believe, the first profile we’ve ever discussed on the show.

Then I interviewed someone else, for something else, which was great. And I coughed through most of it. There’s nothing like working with a microphone when you’re sick. And I’ve been half-sick for a week. But I’ve held it together until today and my guest was kind enough to give me a piece of hard candy to help me through, because my cough drops were all in my office. The odd thing is that I am today actually starting to get better.

After that I spent the rest of the day in the other television studio — we have two, Studio 5 and Studio 7, and they are both incredible. In Studio 5 this afternoon we had some students taping the first episode of a new late night show. I sat in the back, in the dark and caught up emails and schedules and talked marketing and watched them shoot a few segments. It is a pretty clever show, even if they did have to explain one joke to me, and the host has the most ridiculous sports jacket you’ve ever seen. The show should be out next week.

And on our way home we went to the grocery store. We did the thing where one of you climbs on the front of the cart and the second person pushes. I did a lot of the pushing, because The Yankee was taking things off shelves and that let me get to the handle part of the cart. So I pushed her around the store a lot, which made everyone around us smile. I like to think we started a grocery store trend, and started people’s weekend off right. That’s what happens when you put me in charge of picking Saturday night’s dinner.


5
Feb 18

On the origins of nothing, and dogs

I tried an experiment this afternoon:

I also taught a class. I’m not sure which of the two worked out better, but I hope it was the class. I’ll go back and visit those students on Wednesday, though, and maybe the technical problems we had today will prove outweighed by the abundance of knowledge I attempted to bestow.

Bestow is an almost 800-year-old word. I bet you didn’t know that. In old English stow was a place. Then there was a “be” prefix and stow got an en on the end, somehow. And that’s probably a fascinating tale, but I don’t know it. I think it had something to do with a verb tense, though. You had “stow” as in a place, and then “to place,” it seems. And then someone misheard and miswrote and misread or found a better use and said “BESTOW!”

I had a professor who was a serious and legitimate etymologist. It was amazing the things he knew, the work he’d done or read. I wonder what he thinks of my ability to just Google that these days. I hope they’re all just glad we can look at things because the ease just, you know, might entice us to do so. Those etymology conferences, though, you just never know which way a committee is going to go. They could come out of those rooms at the Ramada and take an entirely different approach.

You know what’s hard? Googling things about the art and craft of etymology. You just get etymology links to the words you are co-searching. But I digress.

Digress is of 16th century latin origins, just so you know.

Anyway, that was a little experiment above, because John Curley was nice enough to talk to me last Friday. Funny story about that, I sent his station’s main account a note on Twitter and they sent me an email address and so I wrote to them. And then Curley wrote me right back as he was about to go on the air. He was very gracious with his time when we talked, and it was a most pleasant little conversation. The end of that piece is my favorite part, and the whole premise is sublimely funny anyway.

Pet poses from the weekend:

Sometimes you just have to reach out and touch someone’s big toe. That’s not my toe, of course, and here is a 90-degree angle.

We went to a Super Bowl party to not watch the game or commercials — there was something funny about Tide, and then Eli Manning did a thing and Dilly Dilly was disappointing and probably some other things, but I find it hard to follow along with the game or the spots in a crowd. Some people did seem to enjoy the halftime show and, for some reason, there was a single yelp when Jimmy Fallon appeared on the TV. But that’s small group dynamics for you. Nevertheless, a good time was had by all, as they say. And I got to play with a dog:

That is the preferred photographic style for the canine, a technique I settled on some 11 years ago now. (Time zooms.) That pose isn’t quite the perfect angle, but it was as close as this golden was going to let me get. He is a playful and loving dog, as just about ever golden ever gifted to humanity. And the outtakes are almost as fun as that pose:

More interesting material here tomorrow. I think the books section is going to finally make a comeback. There, I’ve said it out loud. Now it almost has to happen, maybe.

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