This tree sheds them all at once. This morning there were only two leaves left. I watched one of them fall away, like Leonardo DiCaprio in so many nautical films.
Last year this tree dropped leaves almost overnight. I thought I’d killed it somehow. But, you never know and it doesn’t take up that much space. So I watered the soil and stared at the branches and then, this spring, the leaves came back even larger than they were the year before. At this rate we’ll have to buy a new house just to support this tree within six years.
So I thought I better document the strongest of them all. I’ll keep you updated.
Caught a late showing of the new Hunger Games movie this evening:
The movie is pretty good. The Yankee says it was a consistent adaption from the book. I’m sure fans will love it. I have a problem getting past a nation willing to allow themselves to digress to a situation like that. I’m told that is never really explained, which is a great way to escape a difficult theme for the author, who can then launch into a social commentary on whatever she likes. And then I read about it:
Collins says the idea for the brutal nation of Panem came one evening when she was channel-surfing between a reality show competition and war coverage. “I was tired, and the lines began to blur in this very unsettling way.”
On Saturday, the national disaster agency said the death toll from Haiyan had risen to 5,235 from 5,209, with more than 1,600 still missing and over 4 million displaced people.
Apart from the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank also pledged a $523 million loan and grant package to the Philippines, as foreign governments and international aid agencies committed about $344 million in cash and relief goods.
The government initially estimated the reconstruction cost to reach as much as $5.8 billion, with more than 1 million houses totally or partly destroyed.
Auburn University’s Southeastern Raptor Center is offering Tiger fans a piece of Iron Bowl history. On Friday, the center opened a live auction for the handcrafted lures and jesses that will be worn during the eagle’s pre-game flight before Auburn and Alabama face off Nov. 30.
‟There’s a misconception that just because someone has Internet access, the digital divide,” the gap between those with Internet access and those without, “has been eliminated,” charges Ortega, who heads a chapter of the digital literacy group One Million New Internet Users.
The problem, Ortega argues, is that large swaths of the population, groups that are predominantly poor and non-white, are largely relying solely on smartphones for Internet access. It’s created a two-tiered system where the rich have access to expensive, high-speed broadband Internet at home and everyone else is relegated to slower connections on mobile devices that seriously limit users’ ability to contribute to the digital conversation.
Ortega views this emerging digital divide as one between “digital consumers” on one hand and “digital contributors” on the other.
This is, in this story, a socioeconomic issue. That’s an interesting, and perhaps overlooked, perspective.
One of those stories every reporter should keep close, because there’s always going to be another one you can write just like it, and it might be as good as this one, What Became of JFK’s Gravedigger?
In 1980, Pollard suffered a stroke that left him partially paralyzed. He retired and sat at home in his home on one of Washington’s more modest streets with a box of mementos that included a clipping of the famed gravedigger column. He had hanging on the wall by the television a commendation from the Army for his service to the president on that November day in 1963.
Pollard also had on display the text of Kennedy’s inaugural address and its call to “ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your county.” Pollard had gone straight from serving in the Army in World War II to spending more than three decades digging graves in Arlington with quiet care and unwavering dignity. He had demonstrated that person can give full measure to America’s greatness by imparting nobility to a humble task.
And he had already made sure that he and his wife would be buried in Section 31, just a short ways from the Kennedy memorial.
That line in the second paragraph there, that’s magic.
The neighboring yard has a red maple. Shot this this evening:
Had the opportunity to ride a few hills before it got dark today. It was misting and sprinkling a bit, a few hours before the meteorologists said it should. Perhaps this kept away the early trick-or-treaters. I didn’t see any while I was riding. I was the only person in a costume, a sorry cyclist huffing up little hills. The trick was on me.
Watched Oz the Great and Powerful, where James Franco was dressed up as an actor.
Because Time Warner owns the rights to iconic elements of the 1939 MGM film, including the ruby slippers worn by Judy Garland, Disney was unable to use them nor any character likenesses from that particular film. This extended to the green of the Wicked Witch’s skin, for which Disney used what its legal department considered a sufficiently different shade called “theostein” (a portmanteau of “Theodora” and “Frankenstein”). The studio could not, however, use the signature chin mole of Margaret Hamilton’s portrayal of the Wicked Witch of the West.
It was a fine movie. You can see the 3D elements, even on your TV, which is to say the many obligatory things that are rushing out of the screen to “immerse” you into the film. The poster probably read “Some of the effects are better than others.” It was a kids’ film, and it plays that way. But it was humorous if you’re in a light mood, and Franco inhabited the role, as they might say. He’s laughing all the way to the bank.
You know, there are many adaptations of the Oz universe, but this one makes less sense than most. Some could exist in their own universe, like The Wiz, for example. Others, like the Muppets and animated versions, were just cashing in with other franchises or audiences. Great and Powerful, though, has allusions to the popular 1939 Judy Garland version (which was not the first Oz on screen) despite a different company owning the rights, as discussed above. So if you assume this one is referring to the Judy Garland-universe of Oz then it is something of a prequel. A prequel of her concussion-induced dreams about a place and people that didn’t exist.
OR DID THEY?
You’d think, more than 80 years on, we’d have some answer to that question.
And so it begins: the annual Parade of Sullen Ingratitude.
We didn’t do Halloween tonight. Singlehandedly we are responsible for the poor candy sales this year.
It is a good neighborhood, though, none of the little ghouls and princesses had to go without. Kids have their parents drive from the next town over to case this subdivision. Apparently all of the good candy comes from our nearby grocery store.
So we left off the lights and sat in the back of the house, hiding from the children, of whom we were not scared.
After an appropriate amount of time I went out to pick up some dinner at the Chinese restaurant of choice. The owner knows us by name now.
When I returned home there was a clutch — Or was it a gaggle? The costumes make it hard to tell. — patrolling down the street. I swept into the garage before the door was all the way up the rails. Waited until the kids were out of sight before I turned on the lights in the kitchen.
We’re not scared of those kids.
I got my fill of the costumed little ones on Facebook. This is, for my money, the best day of the year on that site. One guy has a boy and a girl. He posted their front door shot and their Halloween conversation.
“What do you want to dress up as for Halloween?”
“A fairy princess butterfly! … (Pause for dramatic effect.) And he could be a dead butterfly!”
So, he concluded, in the spirit of keeping his son alive, he went as a miniature John Wayne.
Another lady has two little boys, who dressed as Luke and Yoda — green knit cap with great ears, felt feet already rolling up on his shoes. The youngest said his “lightsaver” was the best part.
Now I feel like I have to go pick up candy to go give those children. But I saw the pictures. They cleaned up.
Just another fine day, where most people struggle with Mondays I can look at this one as one that just came my way, sailing through like a leaf on a calm, moving stream. The weather was delightful. Sunny and warm, a nice change after I had climbed off my bike last night, panting a little more than I should for the regular ride, walk out from under a dark sky into the chill borne of damp clothes and a tiny breeze. That was the first signal of the changing seasons. Today was the rebuttal.
And a fine one it was today, too. Sunny, with high skies. I don’t think that means anything, but I use it on days like today, when the sun is always out of the way of the direction you’re looking, you have just enough clouds to give some perspective and set off the cobalt blue sky.
I was enjoying myself well enough that I drove right past the exit where I occasionally pick up a Whataburger. No matter, there was another one a few stops down. The one I usually hit has great fries and the buns are perfect. And something on the burger there always falls onto my shirt, which I hate, but I can set my clock by it.
The one I visited today, the backup spot, has perfectly reasonable bread, which is to say like most places, but you don’t really talk about it. Now the first one has bread so good you say “Get a load of this bread! Taste the flour signature! Can you smell that baking!?” or whatever you say to your friends. And no one ever says those things, but they would there.
The one I visited today, the backup spot, did not have perfect french fries. And at my regular stop I have had near-perfection in a fried length of salted tuber. They were fine, today, but trending to old. The tea, however, was perfect. The preferred Whataburger has lousy tea.
So, would it be odd to order just the sandwich and fries at the one place and then stop again, later, to get a drink?
They are both owned by the same guy, I read today in that restaurant standard, the food review mounted on the wall. The reporter asked him what he’d have as his last meal. He said he’d have the number two. I prefer the single, myself.
In class today we worked on polishing and editing stories. And so students wrote and rewrote and we came up with new ways for them to see old things. Writing, I tell them constantly, is a process. And you have to love the process. If you become infatuated with what you think is your finished product you’re going to have a hard time in many respects.
I was talking with a glass blower a few years ago, and he said that about his craft. It takes about 10 years, he said, to master the art, and you have to love the work, because you will break your heart breaking glass for 10 years. When he said that I knew precisely what he meant. Though that gentleman, I’m sure, is a better writer than I am a glass blower. But we could relate. And he had huge furnaces.
Never mentioned that I finished reading Hello, Everybody a few days ago. I probably never mentioned I was reading it, either. It is a history of the rise of radio in the United States and the author has plenty of terrific personalities to illustrate his tale, which chronologically starts with KDKA, the famous and historic AM station in Pittsburgh and goes through the end of the Hoover administration. Like so many aspects of society, we find ourselves looking at FDR as a new chapter. In the story of radio, however, the story was prior to and during the Hoover years. He was, as secretary of commerce, the man instrumental in the early years. He played, as president, an active role during the maturation process. All of that is in Anthony Rudel’s book, which starts with the legendary tale of John Brinkley.
All Brinkley wanted to do was to put goat glands into men suffering from impotency and other maladies. And sell people miracle elixirs. And tell everyone about it on his huge transmitter. And get filthy rich doing it. His is a great tale, one of those that is probably slipping away into history, but is worth reading about. And when you read about him, the image you picture looks almost exactly like the man himself. It is uncanny.
That’s just one story. You’ll learn about evangelists, crime and entertainers, including Roxy Rothafel, who was perhaps the nation’s most famous performer during his run. Ever heard of him? Funny how that happens. Turns out, though, that Rothafel was the type that launched a thousand ships. He gave a lot of mid-20th century performers their start. He was an enduring influence on even more. So everyone that was old when I was young, they were young on his show once upon a time.
Also, and most interesting, you can take significant passages of this book detailing the growth of radio. Take out that word and put the words “world wide web” in those places and you’d see incredible parallels.
So I put that book down, which is great because I’ve been reading it forever. Today I picked up Rick Atkinson’s The Guns at Last Light. He’s finally finished his trilogy of the European Theater of World War II. They are heady books, filled with detail and insight and passages from three generations ago that feel like they are fresh today.
The books are fairly dense, but they are hardly complete. (Which is not a criticism.) The first thing I did when I picked this up today was to flip through the index. No one I’m related to is there. I looked up the regiment my great-grandfather was in. It is listed exactly twice, almost in passing. I’ve recently condensed that unit history into a chapter-sized file for family reading, and those troopers did stuff. (France’s highest award, the Legion of Honor, was given to 67 members of my great-grandfather’s division. His regiment alone earned 24 of those. The division scored 651 Silver Stars, 35 Distinguished Service Crosses and one Medal of Honor.) But they don’t even make it into Atkinson’s book. It is a telling example of how big the war was. Hard to wrap your mind around if you weren’t there. Probably impossible when you were in it.
And you’ll pardon me if I get nerdy here: Atkinson’s prologue is 41 pages. It starts, after a bit of scene-setting in Britain (and oh, how Atkinson can set a scene) with the famous meeting at St. Paul’s. It looked something like this:
Though I never bought Selleck as Ike.
Anyway, I made it 10 or so pages in to the Atkinson book over dinner tonight. Good book.
These two tortuous legal terms were used by the Alabama Supreme Court last month to deliver a devastating one-two punch to Alabama’s Open Meetings Act.
First the court proclaimed that our state legislators do not need to hold any of their meetings in public and do not even need to follow their own rules. Then the court placed severe limits on the qualifications of persons who can sue under the open meetings law, although the law plainly states that “any Alabama citizen” can bring such a suit.
Speaking of media and the law, Samford just announced a six-year journalism and mass communication-slash-law degree track. You can read about it here.
The Associated Press is planning to introduce sponsored articles into the stream of news stories on its mobile apps and hosted websites. The rollout is expected in early 2014, with potential sponsorship deals centered around major events the AP is planning to cover, such as the Super Bowl, the Winter Olympics and the Academy Awards.
The move to sponsored content is part of a broader effort to open a new line of revenue at the AP, where just 2% of total revenue comes from advertising, including mobile banner ads and units across a handful of websites populated with AP content. Another 13% of comes from services the AP offers media outlets. And 85% comes from licensing content to subscribers such as TV stations, newspapers and websites, where the AP is not hopeful about expanding income.
I fear they will all be even more 45- or 60-second spots in the style of television commercials that get in the way of some important story. The best video ads online are at YouTube, the ones that you can skip. Make a great ad and keep the audience, maybe even for your mini-opera. Can’t hold us after six seconds? Well, you tried. Sorta. Now we’re going to see what Lady Gaga is up to.
This is unfair, as AP’s video is usually quite good, but one of their lead pieces as I wrote this was “Sleeping Driver Wakes Up, Causes Atlanta Crash,” which is almost one of those “We have video, and so this is news stories.” I’d share it with you, but AP doesn’t allow for their videos to be embedded. Maybe they can work on that next.
Oh here’s the actual raw footage, sans the carefully re-enacted emergency phone call that they put into the AP package:
Something the video is strange. It feels incomplete, somehow. Particularly when you read WSB’s accompanying story. Weird scene, bad wreck. But you would have never heard about it if not for the videographer who was already there.
The nice people at Verge Pipe Media asked me to visit with them today to talk about storytelling and multimedia tools. I had a nice time. I hope they did.
I’d built an entire slideshow presentation, complete with silly and memorable clip art. Didn’t use it. Did talk about finding the real story in the story and the value of knowing which tool to use to tell the story. We talked about writing and, for the interns, the skill set that the job market is looking for today.
I was asked about the need for quality, which was a great topic in the slideshow that we didn’t get to. I used this example:
No video so far of tonight’s 8:30p CT bright fireball/meteor that streaked over the southern sky. Hundreds of reports from 5 states
Those two words “so far” are an important illustration of where we are. We have gone from “Oh wow, there’s video!?” to “Of course there’s video” in just a few years.
I used my wild west metaphor. I used the industry standards example. I was able to quote author Rick Atkinson’s great analytical line about “a great sorting out.” (Only he was discussing World War II in North Africa.) That let me suggest that we are in, or are approaching, the end of the beginning. And to stand out, the quality now matters because the expectation is that it will exist. Most everything is documented in some way these days. “Good enough” is close to becoming outmoded. How we tell stories now makes all the difference.
The owner gave me some very nice compliments.
Great day @VergePipe_Media started with @kennysmith speaking to the team. Made me miss Lewis Grizzard. That's the best compliment I have.
Physical therapy after that. The therapist got almost all of the problems out of the right shoulder, which were really about my neck. We did the suddenly familiar exercises for the left side to deal with the actual and persistent problem.
You know how the Internet has given us the movie re-cut art form? We can close the genre:
Which is the same as asking ‘Why not anywhere else?’
I have a theory, he said to the surprise of no one. Look at this map:
Think of all of the music that has come from the rough diamond of Memphis, New Orleans, Atlanta and Nashville. All of these places are where the Mississippi basin, the Delta, the Smoky Mountains, countless churches and a wide rural storytelling tradition meet. Inside the diamond is much of Mississippi, Birmingham and, right there, Muscle Shoals. There’s a lot of lyrical fertility in there.
Music comes from all over, but there’s a timeless quality — as pop culture goes — to a lot of the things produced in and around that little diagram.
Rode a bit this afternoon, just spinning little circles with my feet over to the bike shop. Bought new tubes and some drink supplements.
The nice thing is you can go over there in spandex and they don’t even blink. They get you in and out real quick. Can’t have you scaring everyone off.
I hit the last hill, the one we live on, and topped it in one gear. Usually it takes a third of the cassette. And I did it at a speed I can’t even average and that’s going uphill.
So, naturally, I’m going to choose to believe that means I’m improving. But we all know better.
I visited a physical therapist today. He wanted to test out my shoulder. The first thing he did was jab his massive, muscular finger right down onto the tops of the screws in my shoulder.
I do not like him very much.
But he says there are problems I shouldn’t have a year-plus later, so he’s sending me to a nationally renowned orthopedic guy. If I see that person next week as planned that’ll make my third ortho.
I’m starting to wish I’d noticed that chunk of wood that I hit last summer.
In 2008 Jeff Zucker, then the president of NBCUniversal, a big entertainment group, lamented the trend of “trading analogue dollars for digital pennies”. But those pennies are starting to add up. And even Mr Zucker, now boss of CNN Worldwide, a TV news channel, has changed his tune. Old media is “well, well beyond digital pennies,” he says.
What has changed his mind? The surge in smartphones, tablet computers and broadband speeds has encouraged more people to pay for content they can carry around with them. According to eMarketer, a research firm, this year Americans will spend more time online or using computerised media than watching television.
According to McCay, until recently, Alabama was seen as a “pass-through” state. Traffickers from other states take their “workers” and travel through Alabama to get to another state.
“Now that you see a Memphis girl being brought to Huntsville or Madison, you begin to think, ‘Ok, maybe we’re not just a pass-through state anymore,’ and we’re seeing more and more reports over the last several years that trafficking is in Alabama,” McCay said.
“It is happening,” McCay said, “and the thing that our task force is really trying to do is just raise the awareness primarily, just let people know that it is happening, get it on their radar. If you don’t know something is happening, how do you fix it?”
And I have to go to bed early tonight because I have to get up early tomorrow. Naturally I’ll be awake most of the evening. But I must try … Tomorrow, we race.