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!

Jan 18

Things you write in and on

I bought some new notebooks the other night. I have many notebooks and notepads, you see. Some I use. At the office, I work from a stack of legal pads, with each one corresponding to a different role or set of running concerns. At home I have a nice stack of old notebooks and pads and things that I’ve accumulated over the years — and years isn’t overstating it. None of them are of an special high quality, they were meant to be scribbled and written on, but for whatever reason I find I seldom use them. And when I do find a need to write in one, I have the worst time deciding which one I’m going to mark up.

But when I’m on the go I’ve found that I enjoy the one-subject, 100-page, seven-inch by five-inch spiral notebook. They fit in my bag, they are inexpensive, they come in many colors and so I can use one for each subject and they are spiral bound, which is just easier somehow.

And so, having purchased a new handful of those to compliment the two older ones, I can pare some stuff down. I have lecture notes and interview notes and random notes to myself and scribbles between me and whoever I was sitting next to at the time and all kinds of things in those two notebooks. Some of that information is still useful. Some information really needs to be separated, which I spent a bit of this evening doing. (My life, now featuring a notebook of things that just needed to be separate unto itself, in a notebook that might one day see eight percent of its pages put into use.)

While I was leafing through the pages, trying to decide if I should keep this section, or tear it out or transcribe this specific page into a new book, I ran across this page:

I’ve no idea what I was going for here.

As ever, the web helped me figure it out:

I thought that, somehow, someone’s guess might jog my memory, but I’m still at a loss. Leave your theories on what this note could possibly mean in the comments!

I visited the surplus store this evening. This is where the entire university system sends its gently and heavily used products when they’ve reached the end of their time on campus. You can find deals on clothes to cleats to sheets to desks and chairs to high quality picture frames there. So it is good to visit every once in a while, and they have later hours on Wednesday, so I can stop in on the way home and, tonight I was going with a purpose. We basically needed a computer stand and I thought I’d start looking for something I could halfway modify.

And wouldn’t you know it, they were having a half off sale tonight. And wouldn’t you know it, right by the door:

So I consulted with HQ, we took some measurements both of this lectern and of where it might need to go and, long story short, we now have a lectern at home.

What, you don’t?

I was standing in line, beating out some random rhythm with my fingertips and the couple behind me called me out on it. I thought they were trying to get me to stop, but they were just making idle talk while they stood in line with me. They were a little surprised a random guy would purchase a lectern. And they were pretty close to buying my story that I wanted it so I could practice classroom lectures at home.

In retrospect, if I’d told them about the notebook thing they would have absolutely bought that story.