Feb 18

There’s an 88-year-old jazz standard at the bottom

We talked for like 10 solid minutes and we never made a “braaaaains” joke.

We did talk about the Olympics, CTE, brain donation and the women who are offering theirs for chronic traumatic encephalopathy research. It is an interesting conversation, and a timely one. And of course I’ll be long-tailing this episode through the Winter Games.

I’m sure you saw the big rocket launch yesterday. It was of course terrific, but the booster landing was the best part. That was a somehow-inspiring bit of theater. Not the least of which for its economic impact, or the somehow nonsensical rockets descending visual, but the whole thing just looked like science fiction, but you watch that a few times and you have to come to realize that is our aeronautical reality.

Oh, the car was fun. It was a silly gimmick and a great because-we-can moment and apparently it was a placeholder for some actual payload or scientific effort. And the car won’t last terribly long in the harsh environment of space but —

Wait a minute … Oh this can’t be a good thing:

By now you know that #falconheavy sent a car into space yesterday. Welp … #tesla

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I have that car in my office. It was a stocking stuffer one Christmas from Santa and his helper, my mother-in-law. So I have four or five cars sitting on a shelf. That’s not exactly accurate. I found a chunk of broken asphalt outside the office one day and that seemed like a dangerous thing to leave in the road, so I picked it up. Before I could figure out what to do with it I took it inside. Since I have five Hot Wheels and they now park on the six-inch chunk of road on a bookshelf.

If anyone on my floor ever brings their children to work I’ll be able to offer them a toy. Maybe they’ll know what to do with the bit of road the cars sit on.

I’ve thought about getting a lot of that old orange car track and turning my little office into a racing wonderland, but then I’d spend days just trying to figure out which car is the fastest.

John Mahoney died a few days ago. He came to acting a bit later in life than most, having taught English for a time and then becoming the editor of a medical journal. But he built a remarkable career on stage and screen. I knew him as a college professor in Moonstruck, a manager for the White Sox in Eight Men Out and a copy in Striking Distance. He was a G-man in In The Line Of Fire. He was a newsman in Hudsucker Proxy and a lobbyist in The American President. Just recently we saw him playing a grieving character on E.R. But it was Frasier where I learned he had a gift for comedy.

This isn’t a strong Mahoney episode, but it is illustrative of one of the things he did, and remains my favorite episode:

What you see throughout the series, during the times when they wrote Niles as a cartoon and, later when they had to humanize him and, thus, made Frasier a more silly character, there was always their father, giving the show this terrific even keel. And then there were moments throughout the show that you found this thing had heart, this 11-year series had soul, which is a lot to say about a sitcom. And every time you had those scenes, every time you got that sense, it was because of Mahoney’s character and his portrayal. It is a remarkable thing.

Some Marty Crane scenes …

Sing us out, John Mahoney:

Jan 18

A podcast, a video and 11 photos in between

There’s a lot here, owing to catching up from a full weekend. And it doesn’t at all get into the three-hour tin whistle concert we performed on Saturday. There’s a lot here.

We’re all from somewhere is the general theme of the show we produced today. It’s about a reporter who is using public records to look up the immigration histories of people who are lately very much anti-immigration. But most of us have family that started somewhere else. My old friend and former co-worker Justin Thurman of the USA Today Network told us about the story:

What’s funny is that Justin and his wife, when they tell me stories about their families, they sound exactly like my family. Just good old fashioned country folks, salt of the earth types. So much so that I have made a joke with them that we will one day find out we are related. And then as I learned more about my family history, it turns out that at one point my family was just a town or two over from theirs.

My family has some English and some Dutch and a few other things. One branch can be traced back to the War of the Roses, another apparently back to the Mayflower and still another group seems to know its way back to the 16th century. We’re all from somewhere.

Here are some photos I took of a walk we took yesterday.

A duck out at a frozen Monroe Lake:

Ice on scrubby brush:

I like photos of people at a distance, in silhouette. Sometimes the angles are such that you can’t see what they are doing, and so I wonder. I wonder what they are thinking, where they were before they got there, and where they might be heading after this. And I wonder about my wondering from a distance:

You don’t often see fog hang around until afternoon on a sunny day:

And then the sun turns the frost to droplets:

I think the birds like that a bit better. Warmer feet:

Here’s a picture of a vine holding a stick:

And a video I made:

More on Twitter, check me out on Instagram and more podcasts on Podbean as well.

Jan 18

Our fingers walk somewhere else

This is new from earlier today. Indianapolis Star sports writer Zach Osterman joined me to talk about soccer, the nature of sports dynasties and a bit about how The New York Times is covering sports in Spain.

I don’t think I put this here last week. Here it is now:

‪Allie's snow video. #FamousOnTheInternet‬ #TheBlackCat

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This arrived today:

It has a lot of numbers, and a lot of information. It could use a few coupons. And I guess the time for spunky defiance has passed. The upper righthand corner is a sad concession to the times.

We didn’t get one last year. I’m not sure why we received one today, but I feel like I should hold on to it. One day the art inside will be humorous, at least. And we’ll be able to look back, in 30 or so years, at a few more industries that have disappeared. But maybe the phone book will make a comeback by then. Maybe

More on Twitter and check me out on Instagram, as well.

Someone is going to have to index our social and biomedia pages.

Jan 18

They’re good at taking care of the roads here

Look how pretty! Snow falling on our building on campus …

And from inside that building, from a corner window in an unused office on the fifth floor …

All of the schools and the city government closed down. We worked. And the road crews did too …

Sorta …

Happy weekend!

Jan 18

Monday onomatopoeia

One of my Christmas presents:

Oh, forgot to mention: Santa brought me a new car this year. And surf's up!

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I did very well with the presents, better than I should. Some nice clothes, a new car, a tin whistle and a harmonica and some other neat little things. Now I have a growing car collection in my office. (I’m thinking about making a track.) And I also have a new pen. But this is a special pen, a fancy pen, a philosophical truth-telling pen. If you press the button it gives you answers to your questions. It’s like a Magic 8-Ball, with ink.

Here, go ahead, think of a question. I’ll get you an answer …

No Brainer

Try it again with another question …

Dude, No Way

All of the answes are spinning around inside the pen and now I have a new think to keep my idle hands busy with. Click spin whir. Click spin-whir.

Anyway, the students are back today, and things are slowly getting back to normal. You ease into the first few days of classes, and then things will get quite busy. Indeed, before the end of the week we’ll be missing this pace, and by next week it’ll feel like a distant, happy memory.

Click-spin-whir. Clickspinwhirrrrrrr.

This evening, relaxing with Allie The Black Cat: