winded-intellectual property

Dec 21

1,400 words for a Tuesday

The Yankee’s car is in the shop. It’s a radiator issue. Easily fixed, after a time. Which means she has my car. Meaning I have no car. Her car needs repairs and I need a ride. Weird how that works.

So she’s taking me back and forth to work, which is what I do, while she goes to physical therapy or athletic massage or to a dive meet or to buy a present or get the groceries. I’m not sure how I can get any present shopping done this way. But at least I didn’t have to get the groceries.

Tomorrow, on the way into the office, I’ll go to the grocery store for the third time this week anyway, just to stare at the empty shelves. It’s a hobby, I guess.

I was going to take part in some binge watching of television this evening, just to clean some things off the DVR. There’s a little meter on the side of the screen that shows the percentage of the DVR’s space still available, and I pay far too much attention to things like that. We were down to 28 percent, which is pretty low since the memory is large enough to store all of the images we’ve ever captured of space and every movie that’s ever been set in space and every television show that’s used the word “space” in any context.

But I was able to delete some accidental recordings instead. A few buttons on the remote control and 36 hours of content no one wanted disappeared, never to be seen again, or for the first time. Thirty-six hours. After that, the DVR’s little meter told me 46 percent of its memory was now available. That oughta hold through the holidays!

Speaking of things to watch, I just discovered some early 1990s television programs are on NBC’s streaming app, Peacock. It’s made for good doing-other-stuff listening, because a lot of the early episodes are of the “Why did I watch this again?” genre.

It’s Highlander. I’m talking about Highlander. The universe that’s so poorly conceived that there are two different universes. The universe so poorly conceived that in the third movie (of the first universe) they retconned the second movie and called it a dream. And the bad guy in that third movie, to bring a little gravitas to the franchise, was Mario Van Peebles. And, for the fourth movie, they started making movies in the second universe, where the first universe intervened, sort of. Which brings us to the fifth movie. It was supposed to be the first installment in a trilogy, but the movie was so bad they released it not in theaters, but on the SciFi channel.

On iMDB, which frequently has a very forgiving scoring system, that last movie earned 3.1 out of 10.

The movies are a mess, is what I’m saying. They always will be. The series, though, was better. Well, it gets better. Skimming through a few of the first season’s episodes … woof.

What’s better? Dopesick.

Recently finished this show, which I tried after a few random suggestions. Michael Keaton stars as a country doctor in the middle of the OxyContin epidemic. You know where this is going, even if you only vaguely know and you’re guessing. And then this show, based on Beth Macy’s best-selling book of the same name, comes along. It’s an eight-part series, filled with great character actors and a slow, tense build.

It’s something of a composite of recent history, and so you have the gift of hindsight. You know what’s happening, so you find yourself saying “Use your brain!” But scruples and good sense are sometimes thwarted by trust. And you want to have a word with the intransigent people at Purdue Pharma. But sometimes deserve doesn’t have anything to do with it.

That’s what the show is ultimately about, trust, searching for a way out of a hopeless situation and, now, how the people at the top of the food chain at Purdue Pharma are squirming out of this in perhaps the most frustrating way possible. It isn’t a happy show, but it is an important one. And while the show ends just before all of these please and settlements and immunities, if you watch this those recent stories will play a bit differently.

Also today, I updated some of the images on the blog. There are now 113 new images for the top and bottom of the page. Click refresh a bunch and you’ll see them all. Buried on the back of the site is a page with all of those banners, now loading 226 images. Each has a little cutline, just so I can keep all of the memories and locations straight. So I had to update that page. Then I went through that whole page updating changes to the style. Because, every so often, the Associated Press makes updates and, yes, I have to make corrections on a page no one will ever see.

Ed Williams would be proud.

Williams was our Journalism 101 professor. He called the class Newspaper Style and that class was the weed out course in our curriculum. Four exams. Score below an 86 on any of them and you failed the class. A lot of people failed the class. He drilled us for an entire quarter on the “AP Stylebook” and Strunk and White’s “Elements of Style” …

… which, as you can tell, is still an influential text. I paid $5.95 for that book. It was the least expensive, and most important, textbook in the entirety of my college career.

People that survived Williams’s class could still complete this Strunk and White quote: Vigorous writing is concise.

He was also the adviser of the campus newspaper. We were all required to spend a semester there as a part of the formal curriculum. That one credit hour requirement worked it’s magic, as it was intended, and I stayed at the paper for a few years. We won two Pacemakers — essentially the collegiate Pulitzer — while I was there. And somewhere along the way Williams told us his first name, King. He disliked that and we were sworn to secrecy, or to never use it, or both, under pain of newsprint paper cuts.

I had his class almost halfway through his 30-year teaching career, and I saw him in the newsroom thereafter, of course. He always wore a tight, closed-up smile, and an air of knowing things we weren’t allowed to understand yet. Eight years or so into my career I started thinking a lot about all of that, and my student media experience and the impact all of it had on my own career. It’d be gratifying to be a small part of doing that for others one day, I thought. Soon after I had the opportunity to do that same sort of work, and now I’ve been doing that for going on 14 years.

The last time I saw him he still had that same expression. It was heartening. I was a decade or so into my career and there was still much to learn. There always is.

And a quarter of a century (good grief) or so after his class, I’m still thinking about Associated Press style.

Thanks for that, Ed.

When I was advising a campus newspaper I told students that, at the very very least, we were going to change the way they read everything, but it was likely they were going to get much more out of it. And today, at the TV station, I say the same thing. We’re going to reshape the way you consume video as you learn how to produce works of your own. We’re making critical observers. That’s the lesson and the gift.

Ed retired a few years back, and established a scholarship to honor his former students. It fits him.

Which is what I was thinking about while updating the style on a page that even the search engine spiders don’t crawl. Which is what I was doing while waiting for my lovely bride to pick me up. In my own car. While her’s is in the shop.

Maybe we’ll get it back tomorrow.

We better. I’ll soon run out of basic things to clean or update on the website while I wait to be taken from the house to the office and back, over and over.

Oct 20

A fancy item, a fancy idea

Homemade pocket square achievement badge unlocked:

No one said a thing. No one noticed it was homemade. Given the few people I see, and how focused they are, probably no one noticed. But the color adds a nice touch, and I got spend part of an afternoon making three of these. I’ll have to make a few more. Perhaps next week.

Today, at the office, and this evening, in the television studio. The sports gang produced two sports shows. They’ll be online tomorrow and over the weekend.

On one show they showed off the university’s new golf course. It was due to open this year but, then, you know, Covid. But they are apparently taking reservations from the public right now. And in the program you can see some of our broadcasters play the course. They really bragged about the experience. I guess I’ll have to dust off my sticks.

My clubs are dusty.

The second show was the talk show, and they discussed the best college sports traditions. Things to do, mascots, music, experiences, and so on.

And it brought to mind a good idea for a class on sports culture. Here’s the short version: You feature guests from various other college programs, athletic directors, ambassador types, foundation people. You research the fan experience to get an overview of the atmosphere of the place. And then you go take part in the game day experience, not as a fan, but as an observer of the operation.

Think of it. We go to see the same show every time. The tailgate. The souvenir place. The must-have restaurant or bar. The game, and all the attendant ceremonies before-during-and-after the game. And you go back, again and again. The only thing that changes are the players and the game itself.

You may argue that that is why you spend the money and go and do all of those things, and you’re right! But you also go for the other things, too. The whole experience is part of your personal cultural journey into the collective experience. It’s all a part of the pageantry, brought on when ol’ State U comes to town. Universities put on a great show. The band has to be over here by this time, the other thing starts precisely 10 minutes later and then you’re in your seats for the precisely worded announcement from the PA, it’s all a part of your scheduled program. It’s all a part of the culture. I’ve seen enough, and worked in a few, to know a good show when I see one. And the ones that keep bringing you back those are good shows. And they all feature a “if it ain’t broke” mentality. We like that sameness, that familiarity, that timely link to a timeless time that we’re all trying to cling to.

So what if you did an examination of your own school’s setup? And then did the same with two or three geographically close programs to see how the other guys do it? What a class experience that would be. The guys tonight were talking about this and that, and it’s all a surface-level appreciation. Some of it they have maybe experienced, or only read about or watched on TV. But they don’t know what prompted that song to be a thing, or how it came to be there, and who really deserves the credit.

And, as college sports are grounded in that sameness, the tradition of it all, you need to be able to appreciate those things to know what you’re taking part in. Here’s my forever question: when does something contrived become a tradition? We’d like to think our favorite elements of this sort of pageantry evolved organically, on our own fan terms, but you’re mistaken. They started deliberately from somewhere. The selectivity wasn’t necessarily ours. It’s a great way to see it, and it’s a clever way to sell it to us, as appreciators of the old ways and all that. When does something contrived become a tradition? To answer that you have to ask: does anyone really remember, and do we individually know? And from the program’s standpoint, why is it this way? Because it works and the people want it that way. The entire experience would be thinner if you took away those favored elements. The whole trip is the experience, then, not just the game.

So, from the perspective of students of sociology or anthropology or people who want to go into sports administration or operations, this is a solid idea.

It will never go anywhere.

Anyway, the TV shows they produced tonight should be fun. I’ll put them here when they get them online.

Oct 15

Now fully in recovery mode

You have a lot of time to think when you’re trying to actively not think about how you’re torturing your body for 70.3 miles. Somewhere along the way you can give up thinking about times. For most of us they are just arbitrary goals anyway. And pretty quickly I got down to the “Next power pole — next shade on the asphalt — next step” mantra. Breaking things down into increasingly smaller goals works for a while. After that I just start noticing things. And then my brain turns into what I can only describe most closely as that fuzzy world between being awake and being asleep. Oh, the things you think on your pillowcase. Or on a warm race day.

I was jogging through a wooded exurban landscape and looking at the trees, this was probably around mile nine or so, and thinking Why is the phrase ‘You can’t see the forest for the trees’?


Shouldn’t it be forest for the leaves?

When we came through the finish line the announcer reads off your name and your hometown and cheers you on. it is a nice little touch. “You haven’t been forgotten out there for the better part of eight hours!”

We went back to the finish line for that traditional photograph and the guy says “Hey, weren’t y’all from Auburn? Did you hear about Nick Chubb?”

Dude, we’ve been dragging it up and down this course. And at mile 10 of my run was when the Georgia game was getting ready to start. I know this because they were packing up the aid stations to go inside and watch. So, no, I didn’t hear. But what about him?

He just thought we’d like to know. Not that it will matter in the larger scheme of things. He’s a great running back. Hope he heals up nicely. But it is interesting how football just weaves itself into everything.

Still so tired. But at least I’m not eating everything in site today. Maybe I’ll do something tomorrow. I’ll go run. Yeah. That’ll be good.

May 13

Green, light green and brown

So I downloaded Vine. I haven’t done anything with it yet. I’m waiting to see something amazing and use it one time, and then walk away. (At some point you have plenty of ways to capture atmosphere, after all.)

But, if you’re interested in Vine, here are some tips from Poynter: How journalists ‘can get serious content’ from Vine:

Like other newsrooms, KSDK uses Vine to show the personalities and the processes behind the curtain, but Anselm says the tool is also useful for finding stories.

She suggests searching local hashtags, like #STL in her area, and #breaking. “A lot of people think it’s a really lighthearted, fun thing, but you can get serious content from it,” Anselm says.

There is a video, which is useful. Just like Vine, it is 9:13 long.

The next video is more entertaining. Someone mentioned the Golden Trailer Awards earlier this semester. Those are the awards given for best movie trailers. The Golden Trailers began in 1999. That’s because in 1989 they saw the best trailer ever, recovered for a decade and then started judging every other inferior product.

This being the best one ever:

This movie, Captain Phillips, is coming out in October:

You might remember the circumstance behind it in 2009.

This part better be in the story. They downplay it here, but this an impressive series of shots by the SEALs:

But here’s the movie you’ll really want to see this year, Yuck: A 4th Grader’s Short Documentary About School Lunch:

Zachary is a fourth grader at a large New York City public elementary school. Each day he reads the Department of Education lunch menu online to see what is being served. The menu describes delicious and nutritious cuisine that reads as if it came from the finest restaurants. However, when Zachary gets to school, he finds a very different reality. Armed with a concealed video camera and a healthy dose of rebellious courage, Zachary embarks on a six month covert mission to collect video footage of his lunch and expose the truth about the City’s school food service program.

Here’s the trailer:

The guy is hysterical. Here’s another clip, which is the direct inspiration for this post.

Of course the New York City school system doesn’t believe him:

A spokeswoman for the Education Department, Marge Feinberg, said in an e-mail that vegetables and fruit were served daily and she suggested that Zachary must have chosen not to take the vegetables served in his cafeteria.

“It would not be the first time a youngster would find a way to get out of eating vegetables,” she wrote. Zachary responded that he always took every item he was offered.

And then:

On Monday, Zachary thought he was in trouble again when he was sent to the principal’s office and found two men in black suits waiting for him.

They turned out to be representatives from the Education Department’s Office of School Food, he said, who complimented him on his movie, asked for feedback on some new menu choices, and took him on a tour of the cafeteria kitchen.


Then he sat down for lunch with the officials. The adults ate the cafeteria lunch of chicken nuggets, carrots and salad.

Zachary had pork and vegetable dumplings – brought from home.

Went running tonight. We realized that the trail near our home is measured out perfectly, so I can say that, this evening, I shuffled along a 5K, here:


It is blurry because, when my feet are pounding and I have no breath and the blood is flowing everything sort of looks that way. But at least there was honeysuckle:


So there we were this evening beside the green leaves, the light green weeds, over the brown runoff dirt and through the honeysuckle, running and walking and shuffling five kilometers. I do not know what is happening.

(This phrase is now protected as winded-intellectual property. It will probably be used quite often.)

(So is the expression “winded-intellectual property.”)