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.

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

A post shared by Kenny Smith (@kennydsmith) on

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

This update only seems skimpy

We placed second in a restaurant-wide trivia contest tonight. We were in fifth-place after the first two rounds, but then our table, The Yankee and two more sports media scholar friends — one a German visited the U.S. for the semester – rallied late. The final question was ranking four actors from oldest to youngest. We nailed it, finished just points behind the winner and claimed a $20 gift card.

That’s two times in a row we’ve finished as the runner-up. We’re just not going to acknowledge that it was a bunch of students that beat us – like, a bunch. We did alright despite our weaknesses in pop culture. I decided we should recruit experts in various fields from across the university and see how we did. If you can build a big enough team, you’re liable to get enough experts, right?

I had a burger, because the only thing I like at that place are the fries. They somehow manage to make a moist burger with no flavor. This is disguised

I did a monologue, of sorts, because I read this guy’s story in the local paper and it is a good one. This will take you about four minutes.

And I think I have finally run out of photos I took last weekend. So enjoy these, while I go think up some additional fresh content for the next few days.

Here’s a sunset picture with a dark, foreboding tree line in the foreground. You just don’t see those sorts of photos anywhere, do you?

Frost on things can make for some dramatic photography. I did these with my phone, which doesn’t exactly excel at macro photographs:

And, finally, here’s an accidental selfie. We’d been throwing rocks into the lake, or onto the lake, trying to bust the ice. My fingers got muddy, which is why I was holding my hand

Just kidding about the content thing, there’s always something new. Especially when the bar is a photo of muddy fingers. You’ll just have to come back to find it all.

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

Jan 18

A national news reporter joins our little program

Sometimes I have to give a tour of our building and so I talk about the journalism and the sports media and the research area and all of our cool classroom technology and so on. And then sometimes there’s a great flier up. Like this one which is up this week, that would let me tell someone more about the video game programs:

Come to college! Play games!

I wonder how hard a sell that on parents. But once they get here, they have a really great setup, and some incredibly talented peers. Someone is down in the game lab as I’m writing this and they’re making some impossibly cool game. It’s another one of those worlds that most of us don’t understand. Then they’ll launch the beginning of a career or create another gaming success and all of us will think “Well why didn’t I come up with that?” while we download it or go buy it or whatever you do your video game purchases these days.

They should come up with a cool little easter egg to drop in the background shots, so we all know when we run across an IU developer.

NBC correspondent Chris Pollone joined the podcast today. He’s a good get, and this is a pretty great story he’s talking about. A reporter found, perhaps, what is thought to be the last ship to deliver slaves into the United States.

Chris will be back on the show next week, too. And tomorrow, we may really hit the big time. And I have now shifted all of the latest episodes to Podbean for hosting purposes. It just seemed a good time to up the game a little bit. Now I just need to get the thing syndicated to streaming sites.

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

Jan 18

I’m warm on the inside, you see

This is a seventh floor window at the office:

And it has been like that for days. I keep hoping it will change into some really cool geometric pattern, maybe a plot of equipotential curves, or at least an alien language, but no.

Later this week, we’re getting some rain and a bit of a warming spell. The snow will start to melt and, I’m sure, for the first day or so it’ll seem odd to look out and see things again, just as it was odd to only see the sharp, muted whiteness for the first few hours. Funny how you can get used to both.

Sports reporter Zach Osterman, of the Indianapolis Star came on to my show today. We talked about the ongoing Larry Nassar trial. You’re going to be hearing a lot more about that, finally, in the coming days.

And I created a Twitter account for that program. You can follow Best Story and get all of the latest there. Or here, here’s fine too.

Also, check out my Twitter account. And my Instagram. And come back for more tomorrow. I’m sure I’ll have another winter weather photo! And more!