friends


6
Apr 18

Still conferencing in Nashville

Yesterday mass comm, today student work and poli comm. That’s the way of things, and so today I presented student work from The Media School, and from the programs at Middle Tennessee State and East Tennessee State University at the SSCA digital showcase.

And then we took a selfie:

Also, I responded to the top student papers in the political communication division. One of them was an analysis of the 2016 RNC speech. Another looked at the charisma in presidential campaign speeches. (It looked at the texts alone, which seemed a limited choice.) The third looked at the great Shirley Chisholm. These were graduate students and so you want to give them good feedback. I hope I did that.

And tonight I finally got a piece of Prince’s hot chicken. We went to a place that sold it as a part of their own menu. And the restaurant gave me one piece with my chicken and waffles. It was hot. And tasty!

(It’s the one on the right.) Now, it might not be the hottest. And I’m a spice wimp, but it was hot. And good. By the time I finished that piece I … I wasn’t used to it, but I’d come to terms with it, I guess. One of our friends said to me “Kenny, you’re glistening.”

At that precise moment I had started wondering whether I was perspiring or my eyes were watering.
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
It was hard to tell.

A sign we found in a restaurant at breakfast:

And now I want some more Prince’s hot chicken. Or barbecue.


5
Apr 18

We are at a conference in Nashville

This morning I responded to papers at the Southern States Communication Association. I listened to people talk about their work and then, having read their work, I asked them questions about it. You try to make a good point, share something interesting, maybe make a suggestion if something wise comes to mind. (Something wise always comes to mind.) And then, of course, you say nice things. It is important to be nice. But it is also easy, because I was responding to the top papers panel, which means that these were scored higher than all of the other academic submissions.

One paper was on the true crime niche of podcasts. Another paper was a content analysis of photos published after airplane crashes and the third paper had to do with co-parenting in the age of social media. It makes sense if you read the paper.

So I heard the 15-minutes each presentations and then responded in kind, because that’s the task of the respondent. And then I took a selfie, because that’s just du rigueur.

I was also on two panels today. The first was a media literacy panel. Spoiler: We still haven’t solved that problem, though we’d like to do so. And we seem to think that college courses on media literacy would do the trick. Hammer — nail, and all of that.

I think they would be helpful, but not everyone is going to college, or is going to come back to college for your new media literacy course. So it doesn’t completely solve the problem. No one has figured that out, yet, so we were only mildly disappointed that we didn’t resolve the problem during that 75 minute panel session.

But I did coin two phrases and drop some big names in media research!

Also, we had another panel about the midterm elections. I didn’t coin any phrases, but I talked about the unprecedented number of women who are running for congressional seats this time around. This is all taking place in Nashville, so I tried to mention one of the women in that race. A Republican congresswoman is vying for the retiring senator’s position. In a normal year in Tennessee this would seem to be an easy leap. Literally moments after the conclusion of that panel, however, new polling data was released that the leading Democrat has the upper hand in the fall vote. This is not a normal year. And maybe there will be fewer easy leaps.

This evening we got to see Bill Monroe’s statue. There’s a sign nearby noting that in 1945 the Father of Bluegrass took the stage at the Ryman with Lester Platt and Earl Scruggs and created the genre. There’s only so much you can put on a historical sign, I get that, and maybe that’s enough. Hey, there’s a statue, and you should take a picture of it on your way down to the more touristy areas.

We were in the pursuit of good barbecue and I do miss good barbecue. I mean, sure, you can get ice cream with your conference friends in any city that is big enough to hold a small conference:

But you have to be in the South to get barbecue that a group of Southerners from all parts of the South can agree is worthwhile.

Tomorrow: More conferencing! And probably more selfies. Maybe there will be more good food, too.


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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1
Mar 18

The bricks are now doing the talking

So last year, in a town that likes its bicycling, the city council decided to let bikes on sidewalks. Or, more accurately, they just legitimized something that was already happening and not being enforced. The biggest argument for it was “I’m scared to ride on the roads.” And that’s not an illegitimate concern – have you seen people that drive?

The biggest argument against was “Bicycles don’t belong on sidewalks.” I happen to like this argument, and I am not unsympathetic toward the elderly residents who complained about what changing the rules might mean for where they walk around.

Nevertheless, the city made it OK to ride your bikes on sidewalks. Except for a few high profile walkways, where these messages are now appearing:

In a perfect world, with unlimited resources and no lost days to weather or personnel or legal disputes, I’d build a secondary path that followed the primary roads. This would be for bikes. And I could drop this into place instantly and people would come up with interesting ways to break the rules set up for safety. Because that’s just what some people will do.

I bet I could go sit by that dismount notice for just a few minutes and manage to take a picture of someone riding or skating over it. That’s just what some people will do.

Today’s podcast was with my old friend Justin Thurman. The story we discussed has to do with how technology is hurting the youth, this time.

I used to work with him way back when. He may be one of the people that interviewed me, as I was leaving broadcasting. Super nice guy, just smart and thoughtful as can be. He’s one of those knows a lot about a lot kind of people. And he’s got this super cool kid and his wife is a wonderful human being. Now I think I’ve finally arranged this so that I can do a show with him on a regular basis, which was really the ultimate goal of the entire show, if you ask me on the right day.

(Tomorrow’s show will feature the guy who was our boss.)

(Tomorrow will also feature a road trip, so I must go pack a few things. Ta ta for now.)

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