Kenny Smith | blog

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Ahh, Halloween. The day on which I oversleep, make my friend wait half-an-hour by mistake, get buzzed by a pair of F-14s, still make it to Auburn in time for the game, get buzzed by the F-14s again and, finally, the day where Ole Miss dresses up and pretends they are a football team. Tweet away!

Happy Halloween, from me and the Bear!

Sweet Auburn! Loveliest village on the plain!

Late start this morning, but made into Jordan-Hare just in time. We were buzzed by the fighters on I-85 and again just now.

Walk through the concourse portal and the crowd roars. For me? Aww. Oh, not for me.

Opening kickoff, Ole Miss fumbles! Tigers are in business at the Rebel 6.

@BrianMcAlister: First 7 seconds won by Auburn. End the game now!

They gave it back to Ole Miss. Official conspiracy!

Ole Miss has figured out that the AU linebackers can't guard the flat. Ole Miss at the Auburn 41.

Plenty of seats still available Tiger fans. Even in the student section. Loud crowd though.

They let fans wear Halloween costumes into the stadium. A few did. Best so far: Wonderbread NASCAR driver.

Ole Miss marches (March -- to strut defiantly with little resistance) 94 yards for a score. 0-7.

Carnell Williams and Carlos Rogers are here today. Rogers should suit up. The Redskins don't really need him ...

Ole Miss' kicker hits the ball like me -- with a five iron -- 45 yards out of bounds.

Evil (and by evil I mean pass completing) Chris Todd took the first snap, found @SupurMario27 for a big gain.

Auburn's marching! Penalty flag. To be fair they missed, badly, a late hit against Auburn's defense

Oh my Todd! He scrambles for 10.

Drive stalls when Todd can't hit Eric Smith. Byrum hits a 36 yard field goal. 3-7

Guy nearby: "Who invented the field goal?" Let me Google that for you ... (and by Google I mean I won't.)

Neiko Thorpe almost snags an interception. Almost. Need a third and long stop

Evil Jevan Snead (and by evil I mean can't see the LB falling into coverage) throws his second consecutive almost-pick.

This drive brought to you by a gentle and welcome gentle westerly wind.

Todd misses a wide open and streaking Terrell Zachery. Hits Ben Tate for a big first down.

Oh my Todd! He's not an especially good backfield dancer. The ladies love him anyway.

For the first time in weeks Auburn runs a bit of Malzahn's hustle up. Works some, too!

Tigers go for it on fourth, Ole Miss stops em, takes over at their 41. DaCoachO recruited good tacklers and Nutt coached 'em.

Kudos to @AUHD. Crazy Train plus manic Bart Simpson mask equals TERROR.

Injury timeout. Scaryish moment at midfield.

Injury upgraded to really frightening moment at midfield.

Crowd chanting for Zac Etheridge, the injured Tiger defender. They boarded him and cart him. He thumbs up. Get well big guy.

Evil Snead throws his third almost-pick. Tigers dodge a roughing the passer call.

Ole Miss is French for field goal miss. Auburn takes over at their 25; 3-7.

Todd finds Tommy Trott for the first time in ages, but they can't connect.

Good pass defense from Ole Miss holds Auburn. Tigers will begin the second quarter with a punt.

OK Tigers. We know there's depth issues, but we can coach walk-ons on the intricacies of pursuit angles.

Eltoro! The number 21 Tiger on the field, the number one bull in your heart

I like me some Craig Stevens too.

Ole Miss goes for it on fourth and one. Houston Nutt remembers he's, well, Houston Nutt and calls a reverse. Rebels convert.

If I may be literary for a moment: There's a gentleman in Section 50 who wants you to rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Word from the press box is that Zac Etheridge has movement in his extremities at EAMC. War. Health.

HOT! Antoine Carter reminds Jevan Snead that he plays for Ole Miss and that his best role is as a spread for Pat Dye Field.

@AUHD, in this part of the world, if it isn't country or rock, what is "mainstream music?" #uselesspoll

Auburn starts at their own 44. From the 'cat the Tigers lose four on first down. Know what we're not good at? Second and long.

See? Interception. And not a deep downfield pick, but one at the line of stinking scrimmage. (It will be overturned.)

Never before have the Auburn faithful so lustily cheered a Tiger incompletion.

(Told you it would be overturned.)

Third and long gets a draw out to midfield. Not enough to move the chains, but maybe to flip the field. Rebels start at their 13.

Navy Nightmare? Not feeling it. While I prefer blue to the orange as the dominant color, I have to say Tuberville got that right.

Kimbo Slice is here. His costumed impersonator is, also, not a good cage fighter.

Dexter McCluster is amazing. The 10th guy tackled him. At least it wasn't the 11th guy.

Give obnoxious Auburn fan this: He's calling Ole Miss' plays like gangbusters.

Ole Miss' center remembers he's Ole Miss' center and snaps this at an unsuspecting Snead. Rebels to punt.

I like the Ole Miss band, really -- from Dixie with love is stirring -- but they should know you don't play music over BO JACKSON.

Todd to T-Zach, pickup of 32 yards. Mighty fine.

This settles it, the Malzahn ludicrous speed is only used when the opponents are rattled.

TOUCHDOWN AUBURN! (It has been almost a month since we said that in earnest.) Todd to Darvin Adams, 28 yards. 10-7

Again, acknowledging that depth is an issue on special teams tackling techniques CAN BE TAUGHT to walk-ons.

The Auburn linebackers are now here to play. I hope they are here to stay.

This may be the loudest Jordan-Hare stadium has been for a morning kickoff in memory.

Obnoxious fan: "Send the house!" @BrianMcAlister: "Keep the play in front of you, then I'm not a coach." Me: "That's OK, neither is he."

On third-and-Opelika Jevan "Pocket passer" Snead scrambles for a first.

The first question on the call in show today should be "War Eagle and all, Coach, but why can't our corners get off blocks?"

The second question should be "How is our defensive line so well manhandled?"

(Upon reflection I retract this question. The first one has some merit, however.)

War slick turf! It tackles as well as anyone.

Ref blew the fumble or incomplete call. The SEC crews this year are of ACC quality.

(Oooh. I'm getting one of those letters from the office. I can already tell...)

@AUHD shows Paul Skeleton Bear Bryant. Nice.

Ole Miss turns it over on downs with time for one Tiger play. AU goes to the kneeldown. 10-7 Tigers at the half.

I've just received a WDE from my father-in-law in Connecticut. Very nice!

The AU University Marching Band (see, they're priceless, yo) is playing a Halloween theme. The flag corps has jack-o-lantern flags.

Thriller! (But no Michael Jackson. This, in fact, Is NOT It.)

Haunted halftime they call it. The Shining, Halloween and Phantom. Second best halftime (non-Earth, Wind and Fire division) ever.

A sprinkle moved in just before the half and brought a chill with it.

Telestration, there's an app for that.

It seems simple from Section 50 Obnoxious Fan: "We get the ball back to start the half, let's go score and get up by 10."

Tigers start the second half with the lead and on their own 24. Eric Smith helps the refs discover their penalty flags.

So after an egalitarian exchange of penalties the Tigers benefit. And promptly commit another foul.

54 yard punt. Welcome back to productivity. Ole Miss from their 16.

The other Ole Miss thing I like: The red cap with the simple blue M on the front.

Big third down here for the Auburn defense. And they hold!

The naval aviators -- Auburn men -- who buzzed the field and gave us all thrills in the pre-game ceremonies were just introduced.

Todd to T-Zach, who makes an improbable catch for a gain of 41 to the Rebel 20. Tate inside the 10.

The coaches, at some point, need to say that the false starts have to go, or they are a byproduct of this offense.

TOUCHDOWN AUBURN! Kodi Burns to Tommy Trott, 17-7.

They announced the attendance at 84,000plus. They did not show a closeup of the empty eastern upper deck.

Most bizarre interception EVER. Walt McFadden says TOUCHDOWN AUBURN!

I've said it before, I'll say it again: Walt McFadden for HERO.

If Auburn's safety wishes to call himself "Darren Receiver Eater Bates" we should call his teammate "Walt Demoralizer McFadden."

Antonio Coleman, my favorite modern Tiger, stops the Rebel drive.

You've never seen such a chess match as just took place in that punt formation.

TOUCHDOWN AUBURN! Ben Tate shows the speed on a 52-yard sprint. 31-7, Tigers.

Tate got to the end zone, turned around and checked his watch. His watch!

Seems like forever since I've heard Tiger Rag. Thanks guys!

I like the kicking it deep better. Please make a note of it Mr. Boulware.

Ole Miss returns our traditionally non-productive short kick yields into a Rebel score. 31-14.

Mr. Boulware something is wrong. You are forcing me, forcing me sir, to agree with Section 50's Obnoxious Fan. No short kicks!

The student body has a new cheer. It involves telling folks to "shove it (SHOVE IT!) shove that ball across the line."

Dexter McCluster's still fast. 79 yard touchdown for the Rebs. We are in a track meet.

PAT blocked! Demond Washington returns it for the two point conversion! 33-20.

On behalf of Demond Washington and blocked PAT returners everywhere I ask "I only get two points for all that running!?!?"

Me: "What was the over/under for this game?" @brianmcalister: "I'll take the over."

By the way Auburn, Ole Miss is still in this game.

The referees missed three separate penalties on this punt return, against each team. Rogers Redding, you should check on this.

McCluster is a man. Unfortunately he is hurt.

RT @wennybrown Just an FYI, arm tackles don't work.

Rebels fumble! Tigers take over. Darren Receiver Eater Bates fell on the ball. We are criticizing the review officials.

And by "WE" I mean obnoxious fan, who is embarrassing his friends. Fortunately I believe he left his kids at home this week.

Todd throws an almost-pick. Darvin Adams snags it anyway and gains 18.

(The law of averages dictate the ball has to bounce the Tigers way sometimes, no?)

Me: "Why can't Todd deliver a better ball to @SupurMario27?" @brianmcalister: "Because Mario transcends reality."

(Sometimes I'd buy that. Other times I'd like to see him secure the ball tighter.)

Oh my Todd! Pooch punt to the one yard line. Question the shoulder if you must, but the foot is fine.

Live by the freshman, die by the freshman.

@brianmcalister: New AU cheer: 2 bits! 4 bits! 6 bits! A dollar! All for Auburn, stand up and come play some defense, please.

I've had enough of Obnoxious Fan. He is talking smack, instructing Auburn's players to not talk smack. Maroon.

@AUHD and Academy Sports asked fans for their favorite music. Results: Country, 40%. Rock, 47%. Mainstream 13%. Que?

The weather is taking cues from this game. One moment it is warm, one moment it is cold. Strange.

Obnoxious Fan does not enjoy his life. He has three kids and I can only hope he isn't this way at their games. Sad.

Dr. Malzahn, never call that slow (as the restroom line) reverse pass play again. Kthxbye.

Auburn's defense, Shug bless 'em, is gassed.

Antonio Coleman, still your favorite. They're a tough bunch, these Tigers. Now if we can only shore up the technique.

I'm torn. The Ole Miss pep band is playing Dixie, which I like, but I would also like them to look away. Torn!

For Obnoxious Fan offense is simple: Don't let the defense "adjust to it." Somebody muzzle this guy.

@BrianMcAlister has figured out the weather mystery. It gets cold when Ole Miss gets the ball. Houston Nutt is smesmerizing us.

Fourth and the ball game for the Rebs. Let's go Tigers!

Interference. And by interference I mean the referee.

Here's a frightening thought: IF Ole Miss scores they line up for an onside kick. What does Auburn do?

Never mind. Interception. Walt McFadden, HERO, brings the ball out to the 35. Tigers win!

Someone just did a "Hey Houston (Nutt) we have a problem." I like a good pun, but jeesum crow.

Livin' on a prayer! And backups. But winning with heart again. Life is good.

Our Tigers are bowl eligible! And Georgia looks, again, like we might have a good shot.

I believe in Auburn and love it. And it has nothing to do with athletics.

33 War Eagles to 20 Giggities. 6-3 and waiting for Furman and Georgia.
Niffers for lunch, where costumed folk brought us our undisguised and delicious food. We drove home, intent to get Brian back in time to go trick-or-treating with his daughter.

We had no young ghouls, spooks or pirates, so we sat on the sofa, pet the cats, ate our candy and watched football and the World Series.

It was a wonderful, quiet Saturday evening. How about you?

Friday, October 30, 2009

Don't you wish you could take naps like a cat?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Today I freed myself from the Wall of Fame project. I thought. Seems, at the last minute, there is a last-minute complication. (Is there any other kind?) Only a minor delay, it seems the place doesn't make the right size plaque. We'll get it fixed. Otherwise, handsome individual plaques are ordered, the language has been selected and proofs are forthcoming. Attractive frames are in hand, headshots have been taken and the presentation is being prepared. The journalism department will put on a fine show at homecoming next week.

Got some work done today, too. We had a very nice newspaper meeting. I was able to see a few students. The lunch I thought of yesterday was on the menu today. I celebrated the small victories.

I spent part of the day writing on research about gender equality in campus outlets' sports coverage. The highlight was in creating first-class marginalia. The Yankee and I are writing this paper together and these notes will inform, correct, suggest and, most importantly, entertain. It helps when you know your co-author.

Somehow that took up the biggest chunk of the day. There are other projects. They were glanced at. Some more than others, but none in a complete way. They'll have to wait for another time.

I did manage to get dinner tonight, which was an improvement over Tuesday. When I finally made it home Tuesday night Wednesday morning I sat down on the sofa for a soup and sandwich, woofed them without a thought and woke up a few hours later. Apparently I'd eaten, blinked and leaned to the left. When I woke up it was still dark, so I took my dishes into the kitchen and went to bed. When I came down later that morning I noticed a nearly full drink sitting on a coaster. This is how exhausted I was; I never leave a full glass.

So dinner, tonight, was a treat. I started reading Beth Novek's book, Wiki Government. She has a sit up straight and say "Wow!" paragraph on just the 12th page. Makes you wonder what else she'll write.

So I'm in this empty burger joint with a bunch of very nice employees -- they all wanted me to have a very nice weekend with just the right amount of enthusiasm. They were trying too hard and it seemed a good idea, so I think I will -- reading this important and intelligent book and Love Shack begins playing over the place's speakers.

Love Shack, of all things. Do you sit quietly and read? Do you stand up and dance and sing?

It was a tough decision to maintain my composure. Later I went back to campus and continued working, reading and writing. I listened to the Punch Brothers. Great song, that. Makes you want to see their show, just to see what else they do. Maybe one day we'll be able to catch them.

Tomorrow: A full day. A Friday.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

All that stuff I mentioned yesterday about today? All of it came true, in accordance with prophecy. You'd think I'd peered into a crystal ball or had a time machine or some other trick to let me know so much about today.

You'd be right.

The big news of the day was actually news. After eight days of testimony, and only six defense witnesses, the closing statements were issued this morning in Birmingham mayor Larry Langford's corruption trial. The judge gave the trial to the jurors and they gave it right back.

It took them less than two hours to find the man guilty on all 60 counts of bribery, corruption and so on. Langford, the jury decided, sold out a once promising political career with his own brand of crazy, a shopping weakness and a penchant for granting favors to old friends. Theoretically he could get 805 years in prison. He'll likely do 10-15.

These are charges stemming from Langford's time on the county commission. Now we must ask the questions: Are we better for the black eye? Are we better for having him removed? Can we overcome this in short order? Can we overcome his years of contribution to a city's decline? Will a leader with scruples finally emerge? Or does a swamp merely abhor a vacuum?

I knew Langford when he was the mayor of Fairfield -- the city in which he actually lives, not the one where he worked until this afternoon. Never mind the pesky details of residency law, if those other laws didn't matter no one minded that one. I met him just before he unveiled his grand idea of Visionland onto the region. I wrote a paper about him at the time when he was a rising political star. He seemed 12 feet tall.

I thought very highly of him then. Many people did. He said some very kind things about me. The next time I saw him he was newly elected to the county commission and he was starting to shrink a bit. Stature can be fleeting, and is inversely proportional to the way you see the people in the world around you. His ideas grew more outlandish, his imagery more cartoonish and his bony finger of blame grew longer. His has not been a happy story in recent years.

I critiqued the news coverage from talk radio -- the aftermath was breaking on my way home from the Alabama campus -- and remembered why I stopped listening to local talk radio. Horrid. Even worse: The now ex-mayor's press conference outside the courthouse will go down as an embarrassment to everyone involved.

At Samford the paper featured a front page story on the mayor. It is now dated. He is convicted and now, officially, the former mayor. The president of the city council will be sworn in tomorrow. In a few weeks a special election will be held.

Also in the paper, the Monday shooting on campus. It seems a shoplifter was caught mid-steal in the campus bookstore. He ran, the Campus Safety officers surrounded the getaway car. One of officers was struck by the car. He hit the hood and the ground and then fired two shots at the suspects. One round hit the tire, another a nearby sign. One guy was caught on campus, the other guy just a bit down the road after the tire went flat. The officer was bruised and sore, but OK. And, thank the good Lord, no students were hurt. All of this happened right below my office, but I wasn't on campus at the moment.


I found out today that the guy, who's been suspected of other shoplifting adventures on campus, was trying to walk out with a $200 textbook. That somehow doesn't seem worth hitting a man, getting shot at or going to jail, no matter his re-sale markup. The suspects are not Samford students or employees.

Happier news: there's a story on the Davis Lecture on the Age of Lincoln. I went to and wrote about that lecture last Thursday, you'll recall. Good stuff there. Also, a statue of an historic former president of Samford is coming back home, after a century of display in Washington D.C.

The paper looks good. We'll critique it tomorrow.

For the rest of the day I've spent with my nose in a book or a web browser. Papers and projects. Projects and papers. But I'm going to talk all about those tomorrow. And the next day, and the next day. And probably all through the next week.

So you've got that to look forward to. And so much more! I hope you feel that way, at least. I certainly do.

And now, back to the academic navel gazing.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

This day is bordering on longish. It is not over.

I'm still on campus, late at night, and hungry. There was one task, which found a chore, which yielded itself to an errand. One thing led to another and it became 10 p.m. Somewhere after that the idea to skip dinner and seemed like less and less of a good idea.

C'est la tummy grumbles.

Two classes today. In one I heard presentations on the body characteristics in Disney villains and the use of children in "global warming" PSAs. We watched this video. And I am certain that the presentation was terrific. The guy that did it happens to be one of the really brilliant members of our doctoral program. I had a hard time concentrating, though, because I found myself wondering, over and over again, about the carbon footprint of the train in that video.

But it doesn't effect him. And if he's heartless enough to leave the little blonde on the tracks ... well ... she should have heard the whistle, shouldn't she? Al Gore's been telling her to get off the tracks roughly all her life, after all. She could have at least watched as the commercial crew scattered in fear from the big, noisy, rumbling, earth-killing train.

Kids these days.

We talked about oral histories in research methods today. Somehow I became an expert on this subject. I'm working on one right now, have dabbled a bit elsewhere and read up on the art, but that hardly makes me the go-to guy.

I talked with my program adviser today. Leaving his office I bumped into a Pulitzer Prize winner. It happens.

Back at Samford (who's journalism department has its own Pulitzer ties, thank you very much) the paper is humming along. We'll have a big issue out tomorrow. Lots of news. News news. Our editors are growing away from all features, all event coverage, all the time. This is extremely promising.

There are computer issues, file format frustrations and various other tiny concerns to occupy the night. The scanner won't work. (Solution: Unplug it. Plug it back in.) How does one get in a computer lab when a computer lab is full? (Solution: Wait them out. Give them the evil eye.) How can we make a .wmv work on a iMac? (Solution: Go to the PC lab.)

One of those nights.

About half of the paper has been put to bed. The night continues.

Social media synergy: My friends at The War Eagle Reader have asked to compile my football gameday tweets into a column format. I'm not sure if it comes off as more, or less, angsty in a pure column presentation, but here's the running train of thought from last weekend's shellacking at the hands of LSU.

Since they are going to run these every week I'll have to put a little more thought, analysis and funny into them. Now if only everyone thought I was worth that much attention. Admittedly these are a bit dry because we were watching the away game at home -- but check out that multimedia set! I've also realized, in compiling eight weeks of these things, that the best notes aren't about the football games at all, but about the fans around me.

So it is a good thing that Auburn is at home this weekend. And it'd be a better thing if they won. Let's see ... home underdog. Morning start. OK, next Saturday's effort could be grim.

Today is happy. Long, but happy. Hope you can say that. At least the good half.

Tomorrow: The paper, the library, a class, the World Series, the Langford trial goes to jury and loads of school work. Tomorrow is going to be another good day.

Monday, October 26, 2009

She's a brave one. She'll sit with me, but hides her face from X-Files.

Even the funny ones. I was watching the one with an early Luke Wilson and Patrick Renna (I had to look that up). They are part of a town full of vampires, but the episode is played for laughs. Suitable for my brand of Halloween.

The cat will have nothing to do with it.

What should you expect from a creature that sprints from the room at the slightest provocation? I used to think they had a guilty conscience when they did that type of thing. Really, they just have a touch of the fraidy.

Long, full, busy Monday, as will happen. And a moment to celebrate: I register today for next spring's classes, the last courses I'll take in the doctoral program.

At work I'm shopping for plaques, trying not to write the word "plague" by accident and arranging for some computer deliveries. Those words that give you pause -- Did I spell that right, or choose the wrong one ... again? -- are always a bit tougher when your audience is a room full of journalism professors. Oh, sure, I could make a mistake here and no one would notice. Send one work email with a poorly timed comma and I'll be kicking myself through Saturday.

I kick myself a lot.

This was the day of nonclasses. My information technology and society class gathered at Starbucks. This is a fine class, today's serving only to give those interested the chance for a mid-day brew and a brief discussion on field studies. I have a Starbucks bias, as I suggested it strives to be a mini-community center of microgroups, with few possibilities for small-group dynamics. The place exists for two purposes, to advertise itself and to stay in business.

Maybe if the casual atmosphere didn't always seem so carefully contrived, or if the burned coffee smell wasn't so burned, or if it didn't cost five bucks a cup I'd have a different opinion. Maybe if I drank coffee, I'd feel better about the place. As it stands I have no use for it.

My late evening class, then, was held in a restaurant. The professor had to leave town, leaving the clowns to run the circus. We are not as good at it as the ringmaster. But it gave us a chance to eat. Unfortunately we ate at some place called Buffalo Phil's, just another in the sad examples of places the students at Alabama have to endure.

I had the chicken mushroom sandwich because, really, how can you mess that up? I have had the world's best chicken mushroom sandwich (Niffers) and Buffalo Phil's -- after acknowledging that there's chicken, mushrooms and cheese -- does not compare.

The true upside, then, was that we dismissed ourselves a bit earlier. (Because it was a class in a restaurant with no real structure.)

That let me clean the garage. One box was filled with stuff and dedicated to garbage. Another box was filled and is destined to find a new home after a donation. A massive sort-and-shred mountain was built. A few office supplies were taken upstairs. A lot of photographs made the trip as well. When I don't count the boxes of books and the boxes of extra kitchen supplies (Need anything for your kitchen?) I am down to just a few more things to go through.

Which meant it was time to celebrate with the X-Files.

Fortunately there was no El Chupacabra to be found.

Tomorrow: More classes, more work, more stuff to try and get done. And the newspaper. Best night of the week, and this week's paper should be a solid one. You'll see why on Wednesday.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Habits are hard to break. When something prevents you from satisfying a particular tradition or system it can throw off your entire day. Or week, if you are especially bound into the routine. For lunch we stopped by Panera and I sought out the traditional soup and sandwich combo.

They had no soup.

So I had the sandwich and sandwich combo. I could have made this sandwich at home. I could have made the soup at home, as well, but there's less of a habit in your own kitchen, I think.

Dave left for Atlanta after lunch. We fed him coffee and sent him on us way. This was an improvement over his last visit, when no one thought to ask if he drank coffee and he was too kind to say anything. He started twitching late in the day and we felt like horrible hosts for a long time thereafter.

In the afternoon we thought we'd have more guests, but the plans did not firm up. Instead I spent the time writing "columns." My friends at The War Eagle Reader asked to pull all of my football twitterings into a column format. I'm not sure why, but they asked, and I'm always happy to do my part to clutter the Internet.

So I spent a good while digging through archives, cleaning up the grammar, removing the inane -- but only the overly inane bits -- and putting them in the proper sequence. This will, apparently, become a weekly feature, which means I must now write witty things and come up with secondarily witty things that I can include as parenthetical, retrospective observations. I am not that witty.

Just as I finished that -- How is it possible that yesterday was the eighth week of the season? Two thirds gone, already? -- Wendy came over for another try at getting spooked at a haunted house. You might recall that we went to Sloss Meh Furnace on Friday and came away unscared and unimpressed. We also journeyed out to Atrox that night, but they were closed.

We returned to Atrox earlier this evening, just as they were opening, and the line was around the corner and threatening to take over another block. The guy standing behind us in line was an armored truck driver. His friend was a hunter with the odd ability to remind us of several different people all at once. We jawed with them for an hour or so, observing the crowd, the nature of the haunted house industry and places to eat dinner.

This was all during the line to get your ticket. After that you had to float around for an hour or so and wait for your group to be called inside to your doom. We managed to get in the same group with our new friends and listened as they called each new set of poor, lost souls. At Sloss they called you by letters. At Atrox they summon you by body parts.

We were liver. The group that followed us were bile.

So we go in and ... well, I shouldn't spoil it. But it is dark, impossibly dark in spots. Some of the sight gags are obvious, others earnestly scared some of the victims. The classic big truck bit from the old Jaycee's haunted house is alive and well. The spookiest part is the place where you can actually see the environment around you the best, and yet very little happens.

We managed to scare one of the spooks as much as he scared anyone else. Lights flickered off and on in one room and he was moving around. When they came back on again he was nose to nose with one of our group and they both leaped for the ceiling.

It was a good haunted house, better than Sloss. Teenaged girls were emerging in tears, so they're doing something right.

We had a late dinner at Olive Garden, because it was one of the few things still opened. The Yankee had a gift card she'd received several years ago for a sister-store. We didn't know if it would work at Olive Garden since the original restaurant has long closed, but they took it without issue. Our dinner for three cost half the original price.

And now, back at home I'm stacking up the week's books and plotting out how to get things done. This is going to be a productive week, just you wait and see.

Hope yours is even better!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Lots of football today. That demands lots of company. And lots of televisions. Ripped directly from my Twitter feed:
Wow. Watching Arkansas@OleMiss. Better than I'd expected. 3rd-and15 for a tip-drill touchdown? Sooey.

My friend Dave can't view ESPN360 on his Mac because 360 doesn't like Snow Leopard. You'd think there would be a synergistic memo ...

We are divided ... I think the Direct TV spot with Spade and Farley is terrific, others at the party think it inappropriate?

Watching football with @Ren_ @BrianMcAlister, @WennyBrown and @davefranks22. Rocky top we're singing your song waaaay out of key ....

Chip break at the football party

Don't watch the Michigan highlights if you dislike joints bending in improper directions. Nasty knee for the punt returner.

Watching 5 games simultaneously

Our sports themed evening ... on

Clemson @ Miami has the hit of the week... Never leave your feet, number 86!

Tennessee gets shorted by the officials, but Kiffykins is dialing it up on the Tide just now.

On screen two (of five, because we are AWESOME) Miami scores to retake the lead.

Here comes Tennessee ... Oh my ...

I will sing Rocky Top correctly, if he kicks this field goal...

Blocked. Bama dodges a HUGE one today.

And I quote the Bama faithful: "Hey Vols, we just escaped with a victory from you..."
The more I think about this the more I think Tennessee's play calling at the end of the game was once again not exactly aspiring for victory.
Watching the Kentucky-ULM game on Fox Sports South, with all of the ESPN graphic treatments. Clemson@Miami in OT on screen two.

Football time. Tiger on Tiger violence.

Kodi Burns just ran north and south. Ben Tate is steadily being awesome. Now we're getting somewhere.

Kodi Burns, still can't find his man down the sideline. Sigh.

Well McClain has his false start in ... Ziemba, the next one is yours, let's go ahead and get it out of the way.

Dear SEC ... Suspend THESE officials.

We tackled someone, where is the penalty?

Dear SEC, you should never ask these officials to ever appear in Alabama ... I fear for their safety.

Penalty! Illegal interfering with the trajectory of the of the field goal attempt ...

War Eagle and all coach, but why does every team get healthy against us?

I have discovered that I hate agreeing with Bob Davie (this has never happened before) but AU does look a lot slower than LSU.

Somebody warm up Caudle.

So wait ... You're saying the other team can be penalized too?!?

I'd like to apologize to Antonio Coleman. His senior season, having put off the NFL, should be better and injury-free.

You know what else Auburn men don't do Chizik? Foul every third play. Get on it.

Remember the '94 LSU game when Auburn kept getting interceptions? Maybe the 2nd half will be like that. #wishfulthinking

37 yards total offense. 37!
I'd like to take this opportunity to apologize. Auburn's total yards of offense for the first half was, in fact, 42 yards. This was an unintentional error not meant to slight the effort and hard-earned yardage of a struggling team.
ESPN, which sometimes goes great lengths to protect against announcer bias, has a play-by-play guy wearing LSU beads.

Florida is in trouble at Starkville. #maroonistheonlycolorthatmatters

Points! We have points! 3-24

Eltoro, you shall not smack your chest when down by 21.

Is the lack of a Malzahn hurry up offense a concession to resting the defense?

Can I still blame Tubby et al?

Has Tebow ever had two pick-sixes in one game? Before tonight, I mean?
Remember: Five screens! (One more depressing than the rest at this point.)
Looking at the graphic ... We can't consider Ole Miss and Georgia as potential wins. 47 yards for Todd tonight. Yeesh.

Folks often talk of a signature win. This will be Chizik's signature loss.

Touchdown in garbage time. 9-31. Now let's line up at midfield for the 22 point conversion.

Auburn vs LSU: 194 total yards offense in 2009. 320 yards in 2008. Todd: 47 yards passing 2009, 250 in 2008.
To put those numbers together gives some perspective to the struggles those hardworking young men in orange and blue are enduring. Hopefully they'll get the ship righted for next week's visit by Ole Miss.

We can say this: If you must see a painful game by the team you love the best way to do it is at a terrific party. The Yankee threw one tonight. Everybody had a blast!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Campaigns that should not be: Everything about the current Windows 7 commercials. The marketing group wanted "That was my idea" and "I sent them a note and they made it" to sound like Microsoft was responsive to their customers. Both suggest that we're more thoughtful, and have figured out everything that's wrong with a long series of operating systems where the engineers and designers haven't.

The inevitable Apple reply will surely only hammer the point home.

The lesson, then, is that empowerment marketing will only get you so far. The answer would be to market the product away from the problem, rather than the customer toward the perceived solution.

Oh. Apple already has that rebuttal ready, too.

Maybe, then, the solution is to hire away the Apple marketers.

Here's an environmental video worth seeing. Be sure to watch it through to the end. (At the very least watch the video clip they show near the beginning and the last two minutes.)

It's amazing what you can't get from the traditional media.

At Pie Day we set a table for eight. The McAlisters were there, as was our friend Wendy. Holly and Doug stopped in as well. Really they wanted our Tennessee-Alabama tickets (they'll be cheering on the Vols tomorrow) but Holly says she's always been jealous of the Pie Day pics, and so tonight she had her chance.

I've briefly met Doug once before, but I've only known Holly through her web site and her brilliant work at Everday Should Be Saturday. So we're sitting there over dinner tonight and the Rutgers-Army game is on in the corner. Holly knows the names of the assistant coaches at Army.

These are the footballingest people you could meet.

So we talked football all night. All of the represented teams at the table have or will play each other this season. All three teams -- Tennessee, Georgia and Auburn -- are of course struggling this seaosn. We managed to solve most of the teams' problems, proving us smarter than the coaches paid millions to do the job.

After dinner Wendy, The Yankee and I journeyed out to Sloss Fright Furnace. Don't let the spooky sounds on the web site frighten you, little else there will.

So you go out to the old foundry and buy your ticket. You walk two feet from the ticket booth and exchange the ticket for a little slip of paper with a letter on it. They have this arranged in two stages so they can employ twice as many zombies. Paranormal job creation -- and when Joe Biden figures out how to count those lost souls to his stimulus dissonance the economy is going to zoom! -- at the expense of anything that makes sense.

You then wait around for a while. For fun you can watch the people tentatively unsure whether the port-a-potties are off limits to the spooks and specters. They probably wouldn't go in there, though. Ghosts have hygienic taste.

James Woods' epic tale, Vampires, was playing on a big screen as a time-killer. Go ahead and skip it.

When they finally call our group we all assemble to hear The Rules. No lights, no touching. With that you're on your way through the hillbilly horrors and the catatonic zombies and aggressive power tool users.

And while I'm hardly the haunted house's target demographic, the entire thing was a bit silly. Wendy, who was all worked up about a big, scary adventure, wound up pointing out all of the OSHA violations in the place. The two girls behind us were oddly panicked, turning the word "Chris" into a four syllable experience. Chris would not help them, and would not let them leave. And they needed too, because they could not breathe. Chris observed that the ability to talk and whine and complain meant they could breathe.

Before long I was just pointing out the overly anxious girls to the upcoming monsters. One of the girls even caught on to my deviousness, but that didn't lessen her oddly misplaced panic.

Sloss Furnace, by itself and even in daylight, is easily the spookiest place in town. The haunted house treatment has turned the place comical. From what we've heard the last few years haven't been their high water mark.

So we decided to drive out to Atrox, hopeful for a real fright. When we arrived the security folks told us they were already turning people away. They did this just after 11 p.m., even if they were still running scared customers through the joint past midnight.

They said the people at the back of that line wouldn't be leaving until about 3 a.m. And that the line just a bit earlier had been down the street and around the block. Slower nights are Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday. Wendy really wants to be scared -- and her perception of Birmingham hangs in the balance! -- so we'll be back. That place better be good.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

This morning I had a critique meeting with the editor and the managing editor of the Samford Crimson. The design has improved markedly in the last few weeks, now I'm challenging them to improve the writing and editing. Happily they're discussing doing a little more beyond the typical event coverage. Hopefully they'll stick with that, it would probably help a lot.

Also, we'll next week begin sitting down for more extensive meetings to work on some of the recurring trouble spots. This is a young staff, but so far they've been very intent on not making the same mistakes over and over. While that means we can find new and inventive ways to make mistakes, they learn how to be successful very quickly.

This afternoon we had a 90 minute sales meeting. Our ad manager sat down with a salesman I worked with at He's lately left there to star Red Arrow Interactive, where he's selling interactive advertising for companies. The guy is incredibly bright and a great salesman. Just how good I learned today.

We were talking about ideas and strategies for certain situations and he's just riffing off these ideas and conversations like they are second nature. Hopefully our ad manager got something out of the conversation. I took a lot away from it, but then I've never been a salesman.

I ran across, purely by chance, the Samford yearbook from 1971. This was one of the years that Dr. Richmond Brown was discussing yesterday. So I flipped through and there he was, much stronger and younger than he is today, but he already looked old. That could be a trick of the glasses and clothes of the early 1970s, but there was no mistaking the surety and confidence in his eyes.

Also in that yearbook was a picture of Paul Harvey. He spoke on campus that year. The yearbook described him as a "controversial radio host." It is hard to imagine the students of a Baptist college considering Harvey as controversial, but that will just be one more thing to seek out in the archives.

The history came alive on campus tonight at the Davis Lecture. Named in honor of a beloved dean, the lectures feature esteemed scholars on a variety of subjects in the humanities. Tonight, College of Charleston historian Dr. Orville Vernon Burton discussed his book, the Age of Lincoln.

Images of Lincoln are floating on the screen. Why is it always so stunning when you see a picture of him with which you're not familiar? Perhaps because we have discussed him so often, studied him so much and yet we feel there is a great deal we will never know of the man.

Burton has several terrific quotes, among them: "People get upset, now, when we talk about flip-floppers, but Lincoln was a flip-flopper in the best sense."

"Lincoln's generation knew history, and knew that young democracies failed when the people grew wealthy." And then the eminent historian quoted Stephen Colbert on rewriting history "because we can make it better." No one in the theater saw that one coming.

For a time Burton put his entire book on the site, but then "I learned it wasn't my book when my publisher threatened to sue me!"

However, his primary documents (the ones in the public domain) are all on his web site. Smart. You can read them yourself, which democratizes history a bit and allows readers to come to their own conclusions.

It sounds like a good book. I'll add it to the list of things to one day buy so that it may be placed in the stack of books to one day read.

But not today. It is getting late and I really should be in bed by now.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Retired journalist and journalism professor Richmond Brown, PhD

Samford is celebrating the 25th anniversary of the renewed journalism and mass communication department. Part of that is compiling an oral history of the now infamous period when it was shut down in the 1970s.

Today Dr. Richmond Brown, the man who ran the program in those turbulent times, came back to campus and allowed us to conduct a long interview documenting his time at the university.

Dr. Brown is the gentleman on the left, this is just after our interview, handled most capably by the gentleman on the right. I had the good fortune to spend some time with Dr. Brown before and after the interview, in which he talked about administrative resistance and journalism censorship. These were reckless once upon a times.

I knew the story, but he provided more detail of the situation. It is hard to imagine something like that happening today, but it is just as difficult to conceive of that having taken place just a few decades ago. Others from that period will also be interviewed, hopefully we can get a much richer picture of the period in the coming weeks.

Spent the afternoon wrapping up projects, chasing people on the phone, polishing memos and setting up the next round of meetings with people who need to meet. Life is full of those foundational tasks if you look hard enough. Lately I find them a lot; maybe that means I'm getting stuff done.

A terrific meme erupted on Twitter today. I'll blame the thoughtful mind of Ike Pigott for the idea that clogged the Internet today. The idea was the tweets of 1999, if only we'd had Twitter back then. This was great fun. Here are the best ones I dreamed up:
I wonder how many times we'll have to hear that Prince song on New Year's Eve ...

Just give him time: Mike Dubose will get things turned around at Alabama. He'll win and do it clean.

Enron, now there's a company with a solid investing future. HealthSouth isn't too bad either.

Nothing will ever slow down the growth of newspapers in the next century. (Someone actually said this I bet.)

Al Gore is going to be a great president.

Susan Lucci is finally going to win the big one! (This actually happened.)

No way reality television gets more useless than "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?"

Next year Visionland gets the better of Six Flags.

The next prequel is going to rock! Lucas for leader of the Galactic Senate!

After six LONG years the new GnR is almost here! Can't wait!

No way airport travel can get more frustrating or demeaning.

Too many people have cell phones now. Do we really need to stay that in touch?

Football experts agree: Tommy Bowden will outlast his father in major college football.

The Simpsons just aren't funny anymore. They'll be off the air soon.

Mark McGwire, first ballot hall of famer.

I can't see a day when California elects another actor to to be governor.

Surely Mtv can't play fewer videos ...
The Internet was made for just such uselessness.

My program chair, Dr. Wilson Lowery, was in the prosem class tonight, discussing his research. He, of course, talked of his journalism and org comm and online research. It must have been journalism day since the other speaker in this getting-to-know-you class was Dr. Matthew Bunker, one of the school's first amendment scholars. He talked about copyright, parody and JibJab.

He played This Land as an example of a potential copyright versus satirical parody case. That video is still fantastic in ways that JibJab, sadly, hasn't been able to reproduce. Apparently the Guthrie estate threatened to sue and Bunker, says, they would have likely won the case since it wasn't a parody of the Guthrie song but rather just borrowing liberally from the original creation.

Now, for its entertainment value you get all the cartoonish stereotypes, divisiveness and a little come-togetherness possible in a two-and-a-half-minute video. (Oh, and Dick Cheney too.) Brilliant.

Later in the evening as I was working on this or that (or, actually, this entry) I found Footloose on television. Unfortunately it was almost over. And the movie about rock 'n' roll, rebellion, angst and dancing, was on CMT. Bizarre.

Tomorrow: two newspaper meetings, a lecture on Abraham Lincoln and all of the other little details of life that get sorted into a Thursday. It will be a great one, make sure yours is too!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Started the day with a meeting at Samford. Tuesdays are usually upside down days, but this particular one stretches in three directions. There's nothing wrong with that. In fact there's a wonderful, hectic freedom to it. The routine, which has a fair amount of variation in it anyway, gets a little shakeup.

So while the next several hours will be swift. This morning I learned we're shooting an oral history with the near-legendary Dr. Richmond Brown. He is the former head of the journalism program at Samford University during very turbulent times. The university ultimately fired him over a long-running controversy -- The nerve of journalists behaving like journalists! He moved over to UAB and started the program there.

He's long since retired, but still writing. He's spent a life time sharing others' stories and teaching the craft. Tomorrow we're going to get his story. I had the chance to speak with him briefly today; he seems a very nice old man.

At Alabama I caught presentations concentrating on the birthers and some unique aspects of globalization.

And then I literally bumped into one of the more prominent media historians you might ever have the chance to meet. I'm taking a class with him next semester and he invited me to his office for a quick chat.

This is probably the height of geekery, breathlessly going on about a media historian of all people, but David Sloan has an incredible lifetime of work behind him and plenty of insight to give. As I said on Twitter, he probably blinked and filtered out more information than I've ever taken in.

His class in the spring will be on the future of journalism. He told me today that we'll basically build proposed models to fix the various problems vexing the news business. This is not unlike the work that Jay Rosen and Jeff Jarvis have been doing at CUNY.

I take it back, dropping three names is the height of geekery. Clearly all of this is rubbing off on me in unexpected ways.

Dr. Sloan also made an appearance in our research methods class this afternoon. He talked, of course, about doing historical research. I learned a lot, but was also surprised by how much I already know about this brand of research, despite not having done any myself.

Last week's exam was returned. I somehow received an A. One half of that exam will go toward my dissertation, so I'll be sure to keep those notes.

Back at Samford for the long evening with the newspaper. Sunlight is taking low angles through the trees a bit earlier; the shade under their canopy is growing a bit chill. Dusk drifted into a murky evening and, finally, a night of thick autumn darkness. The crickets were singing a ballad. I think they know.

There was a fair amount of rewriting going on at the paper, this evening. We'll have a few stories with some fairly hard news tomorrow. It is too early to think of it as a trend, but I hope they're going that way. There's only so much "This week in Greek Life" anyone should have to write. Not to worry: Hanson will save the day. They're apparently making the front page.

When was the last time those two sentences were uttered?

Back to work, then. Here's to hoping the late night is both short-lived and trouble-free.

Tomorrow: The Richmond Brown oral history project and a handful of other projects will be put to bed as well. It is going to be a productive Wednesday. Hopefully yours will be as well.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Took a little light reading to bed last night. Quantum mechanics. Never do this.

I’m not normally a reader of quantum physics – I struggle with any of the math or sciences that have to be more conceptualized than physically identified. All of the quantum stuff qualifies, here, especially the ultra-futuristic quantum computer conversation really hurts a feeble little mind like mine.

Even better it does something to you in your sleep. Crazy, unsettling things. I woke up with a painful shoulder and collarbone. I did a little too much with it and it just deteriorated as the day moved along. That means you up the ante a bit. What was I’ll give it three days to feel better and then I’ll go see someone. has become a I’ll come someone first thing Wednesday.

God does not role dice. Unless, of course, God does role dice. That’s Stephen Hawking. And, what I’m reading is probably what Hawking would wind down with, but somehow it managed to strain my cerebrum and various muscles, joints, bones and ligaments.

I mean this hurts.

Just one class today. Technology and society met this afternoon – odd, I had a tech and civ series in undergrad, a decade ago, and sometimes I want to call this class by that name; they couldn’t be more different, the former was about history, this class is about the future.

We talked about small worlds theory – basically your average six degrees of separation, the small groups with which we find ourselves orbiting. I shared the story in the video below this post, which is a variation on that theory.

The social movements class did not meet this evening, which means I made it home by a reasonable time for the first time since, call it August. What to do with all of that extra time? Make holiday travel plans, of course.

That’s one of my least favorite activities, roughly ever, but at least their done. Having this done before October has expired is a great treat. I can buy airplane tickets and tell everyone where I will and won’t be. They can expect me or be disappointed much earlier. Efficiency at its logical conclusion!

The difference between that process and quantum computing, I learned last night, would be the instantaneous ability to reach the correct answer. We move a bit slower, it turns out.

Read the news that the New York Times will be making more job cuts. As it happens I found that on a Times blog.. How sad that must be, to find yourself writing about your colleagues, your institution and wondering if you might even be writing about yourself.

At the same time comes the highly touted Downie-Schudson Reconstructing Journalism report. I made up my mind to read that tomorrow, until I read Steve Outing tonight.

We’re all batting around these questions, some folks have been doing so for quite some time now. The art of journalism -- or the industry, if you like -- could certainly benefit from quick and correct solutions, to say nothing of how that might indirectly help the greater society at large. No one has yet figured out those answers. No one will have them in the next report either, since we have no quantum computer to press into service. Not that a quantum computer could come up with the answer, either. Interesting times.

My shoulder hurts. My head too, maybe. It is hard to tell from here.

Tomorrow: this will be less scattered, there will be more classes, another paper and more.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

I've mentioned it here once or twice recently, but I'm going to have the opportunity to conduct an oral history with a World War II and Korean War pilot. I spent yesterday morning with him, doing a pre-interview. He talked for two hours, great stories, finely detailed anecdotes and absolutely worth documenting it all. The finished product will be a video, but I recorded a little of our conversation and took a few photographs to include here.

This story, joined in progress, is about a night training exercise, a small world and 30-plus years. Ed Congden was scheduled to drop the Pathfinders, the first of the first, to invade Japan. At the end of this particular training mission the runway where he was to land was afraid of enemy bombers. They'd turn the lights on only briefly and then go dark before Americans could land or Japanese could get a fix on the facilities.

He had already made three passes, but he couldn't land. He called down to the tower and said "I'm low on fuel and can't make another pass. If you don't turn on those lights and keep them on I'm going to point this plane right at the tower and we'll all die together."

The people on the ground, he says, turned on the lights. He landed, and then ...

We'll do the first part of the oral history in two weeks. Can't wait.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The first part of today will be written here tomorrow. For now, there's football highlights from my Twitter feed. It got fairly detailed as the game grew tight and since many of my fellow Auburn men and women at home did not have the television feed. This one is all football.
On our way to see the Tigers play!

Colonial Bank's offices in east Montgomery now have BB&T signs.

Auburn to receive. I'll take off a layer if they score on the opening drive.
(They did not, I stayed warmish.)
The UK fan near us - who in the alumni section sold their tix to visitors? - is not a fan of Auburn's success on reverses.

Chris Todd has all day to throw, but can't convert on third. Auburn punts. UK takes over at the 20. The UK freshman starts at QB.

Correction. WR Cobb took the first snap, the UK freshman the second.

Takes three plays for UK to cross midfield. Eltoro Freeman Adam Herring whiffed badly there.

UK attempts a 38-yard field goal, it is BLOCKED! Neiko Thorpe returns it and ... TOUCHDOWN AUBURN! 7-0

Reggie Torbor and Ronnie Brown are here. @Ren_ has Brown on her fantasy team and let him return since the Fins are on a bye.

Thought it'd been a while. @auburnbeat reports that the blocked FG for a TD was Auburn's first since 1981.

10 minutes in, Auburn looks shaky on run defense up the middle. Kickoff coverage is still very suspect. UK starts at their 45.

We must admit AU's defense, which bends (a great deal) can tighten up occasionally.

UK's pep band did not get the memo that the hey ho tune is not to be played when Bo Jackson is speaking. I fear for their safety.

Mario Fannin gets his first touch. A fallen Chris Todd stopped the play. Two plays later, interception. UK starts at their 35.

At the end of a sluggish 1st quarter Auburn leads UK 7-0 on a blocked FG returned for a TD. The Gus bus is not a cold starter.

At the concession stand someone saw an image of Shug Jordan in the popocorn. And he was smiling ...

Whatever Auburn person offended SEC officials, the rest of us would like you to APOLOGIZE NOW.

If you can run over center you will move the chains against the Tigers defense ...

UK on a quarterback option scores from the 5 yard line. We are tied at Jordan-Hare, 7-7. Time for the AU offense to play ...

RT @AU_Game_Update Through four possessions Auburn has one yard passing. (And 52 on the ground.)

It is 45 degrees at Jordan-Hare. The Gus Bus needs some antifreeze.

TOUCHDOWN AUBURN! Ben Tate scores, Auburn leads 14-0.

Auburn leads 14-7. Forgive my typos and wishful thinking, my fingers and brains are chilled.

The AU Band (and choir) is playing hymns! Cheery version of I'll Fly Away.

107 yards is not enough to keep us warm.

Video: War Eagle fly down the field ...

The men's NCAA and SEC champion swimming and diving team - and the late Coach Quick's wife - were just introduced.

Chizik's halftime speech: "This place was made great by people like this." He points to Ronnie Frickin Brown. Can I suit up?

Now is the time when the Wildcat defense gets worn down. And then Todd throws into obvious double coverage.

Did Tommy Trott somehow get on Chris Todd's bad side? No other way he can be that wide open and overlooked.

After two unfortunate throws AU turns it over on downs. UK is quickly out to midfield. And squanders it. Walt McFadden for Hero.

I don't know if punters get paid under the table by boosters, but if they do UK's deserves a bonus. Two inside the five tonight.

First down! Am I clapping? I can't feel my hands.

Shankapotamus punt sets UK up at their 31. How long was that punt? Not very. To be fair, the kid's feet are frozen. (Mine are.)

UK's 49-yard field goal attempt was no good. AU leads 14-7. (Funny: The holder lined up two yards too shallow and had to adjust.)

Hold up four fingers Tiger fans. We must protect (and/or heat) this house, etc.

Auburn. Foot. Gun. I think that's 40 yards of penalties ON THIS DRIVE.

And five more yards. Ye. Gods. Some of our friends in this section are shuddering at the Barfieldian approach currently in use ...

Kentucky's driving (at the AU 17) and we don't have answers right now, friends.

Touchdown Kentucky. 14-14 with 6:29 in regulation.

I have a freezing suspicion we're getting OT or something emotionally upending at the very end of the game.

AU's obnoxious fan of the season thus far doesn't want you booing Todd, but he complains about everyone else in blue.

So Auburn's thin defense has to be exhausted and nervous. Let's hope they hold up as Kentucky takes over at their 32.

Kentucky's Cobb darts for 62 yards. 1st and goal from the three.

Touchdown Kentucky. 21-14, 3:17 remaining.

UK has a late hit squad, the ref doesn't care. Todd and Tate rush us out to midfield.

False start. Right tackle. Bored with that.

Student body stupid ... (You will NOT see that on the review show.) Another false start.

Somewhere Tony Frankin is chortling in his milk.

Todd throws a duck into double coverage. Turnover on downs. Ball game. #brrreagle Someone better run for all the penalties.

See you in two weeks, Jordan-Hare. I'll wear navy. Maybe it won't be a nightmare.

315 yards total offense. Someone tell me the AU penalty yards. It HAD to be AT LEAST 75 yards in the second half alone.
It was 76. Horrible game. The defense tried, the special teams didn't lose the game (which is what we're asking of them this year) but the offense misfired the entire game.

If I may get presidential: Auburn hadn't lost to Vandy since Eisenhower until last year. AU hadn't lost to UK since LBJ.

Up next Auburn is on the road at LSU. War Eagle!

Friday, October 16, 2009

The campus bookstore held a big yard sale today, or the indoor equivalent at least.

There were deals aplenty! I bought two hoodies, two sweatshirts, one longsleeve t-shirt, two t-shirt, a pair of shorts and five books for $55.

Not all of that stuff is for me. Some is for The Yankee, others are gifts. Everyone will have more than their share of Samford gear now.

There were two full tables of books. Textbooks, that is. Paperbacks were a dollar, hardcovers were two. Here, at last, was an opportunity to make the bookshelf look diverse. "He knows the law and pharmacy!"

I picked up a few I may actually read, or at least skim one day:
Citizen Politics: Public Opinion and Political Parties in Advanced Industrial Democracies - a page-turner.

Exploring the Philosophy of Religion - the world's two most misunderstood topics in one book, no biggies.

Taking Sides Clashing views on controversial political issues - this is the 13th edition, so the refinements should be keen.

The Call to Write -- more textbook than I realized, but it was a buck.

Discovering the American Past: A Look at the Evidence -- though the link is the wrong volume, this text promises to make me an armchair historian, how can I go wrong?
Later in the day I made my way to the DMV where, among other things, I was subjected to a woman without the burden of a mental filter. Oh, the many things I had to hear fall out of her mouth.

If only they were interesting. If only the line moved faster.

Jefferson County -- which only recently was able to find the requisite funds to reopen these satellite offices -- charges you a "convenience fee" to renew online. The county, in their wisdom neglected to send out the little renewal card.

So instead of validating their backwards business model of paying the "convenience fee" I had the great mispleasure of standing in line next to non sequitur Nancy for more than two hours. Demonstrable proof that their presumably backwards business model works? No. Proof that government realizes you'd rather not have to deal with them.

And yet we seem to want more of it in our lives.

It isn't the standing in line, mind you; that's great people watching. It is the little things: the absence of that important little green renewal card, the snobbish doing-you-a-favor attitude, the bankruptcy of funds and scruples within the local government and how much you have to pay for it all.

So I'm sending the county an invoice of my own, this one for their inefficiency and my inconvenience. That'll be $177.80.

Pie Day for five, but it was adults only. So naturally a table full of middle school soccer players sat down next to us. They were from Athens and were in town playing in a tournament. They held Hoover to a draw and will face a club from Huntsville tomorrow.

They were very sarcastic and giggly. So not unlike us, really.

After dinner we continued celebrating the arrival of autumn at our place. A house full of friends, three hours of visiting and no television. Good times.

We did find two balloon boy games though. You want instant online gaming kitsch? You can have it here here.

And that's it. This is abrupt, but tomorrow is a busy day full of adventures that will keep us in conversation topics through the weekend. I better rest up, then, and you should too! Happy weekend!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Balloon boy.

I was working in the digital video center when I received a note from @BrianMcAlister about this kid up in the air.

I quickly surfed around to find the right local news feed to stream through a browser. Soon I was using the now famous balloon boy hashtag on Twitter. (Un)fortunately, the Twitter search engine only goes back a few thousand entries and that thing caught on like wild fire.

So I'm claiming it. Phrase: coined. Copyright, me, etc.

It was pretty terrifying to contemplate, but that quickly changed. It's OK, you can admit being captivated. Here's some of what I added to the balloon boy hashtag:
Paging Michael Dean Anderson ... Michael Dean Anderson, you are needed just north of Denver. Bring your MaGyver persona.

A 6yo is trapped in a runaway balloon. The news anchor asks the expert "So altitude is what we really need to pay attention to here?"

This will sound like a grim joke, but would a BB gun a good idea for this problem? Venting helium might be plan of attack.

New rule: All homemade balloons must have pre-paid cellphones on board, as per Hot Air Balloon Aviation Administration guidelines.

I'm guessing the homemade balloon wasn't belt for safety as we see the thing spinning around and around crazily.

Breathless journalist in Colorado and the MSNBC feed is freezing. What is he saying!?
At which point, about an hour in, I began to think that unthinkable thing which must not be thought in a breaking news story: Que?
No boy inside? So we're back to horrible tragedy close to home or a horrible hoax.

It is hard to say hoax when we're now poised over tragedy, but I'm wondering which way to lean.

I'd like to amend my last. Our possibilities now include tragedy, hoax and cover up.
I'd made up my mind by now, I promise:
WHAT!? The local NBC just dropped out of their coverage to return to soap operas? Oh. Wow.

NBC9 in Denver figures that with the balloon down and the boy not inside is no longer a story; now its just a missing boy.
The local media was beginning to come to the same conclusion, obviously:
(E&P editor) @GregMitch noted that the AP reported flatly for an hour that there was boy in balloon--no qualfiers, no "unverified," no "reportedly."

Denver Fox establishes a pecking order: "We're looking at some video ... I'm assuming this is from YouTube or ABC. YouTube."
And on the way home:
Balloon boy is reportedly alive and at home, reports CNN HLN. And someone is going to be in trouble.

That's good programming, by the way. "He's alive! Back after this!"

Sheriff says balloon boy was hiding "in an attic in the garage."

(Also, balloon boy's dad now knows his craft will fly for 50 miles.)
Four hours in and this most gripping story was over. How did we all come to conclude there was something wrong with this tale? It was too gripping. The escalating game of sensationalism has reached such heights that we can now see each move from wherever we sit.

And for once it isn't cable news' fault or new media's fault or any one thing. It is a tipping point of saturation. The key moment was when we all sat up and said "Michael Jackson? Dead? Publicity stunt."

Some of you were disappointed when that didn't turn out to be the case.

But that is precisely what the balloon boy was about. So that's great, I coined a lasting phrase about a middling hoaxster who's doomed his child to being a Trivia Pursuit question.

I call it the minutes 16 through 18. People that have a moment in our entertainment society's bright lights always find themselves wanting more. Sometimes the siren song is too loud to ignore. That leads people to sad little displays like today: the 15 minutes of desperation theory.

If you found yourself thinking about how reprehensible the balloon thing was today, wait until you hear what else comes out of that story. But, as Brian pointed out, our young balloon boy is no Evan Trembley.

I want my money back. $16 BILLION in stimulus creates 30,083 jobs. $531,000 a job. And that "exceeded expectations."

That has to surpass every aspect of big government conceptualization any democrat or 21st century republican ever harbored in their re-election seeking hearts. Oh, I can't wait for the campaigns that challenge these incumbents; those should be straightforward, slam dunk races.

Random link: Robin Williams on Birmingham. (Larry Langford, who gets a remarkable pop from the crowd, will be in federal court on his 60-count indictment next week.)

Obligatory meteorological observation: The southeast is now the pacific northwest. Rain, rain, rain. Also, the in-laws called to say it is snowing in Connecticut.

Tomorrow: A yard sale, pie day and more!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

This morning one of our newspaper distribution guys asked why we keep so many extras of back issues on hand. I explained that before the end of the year the library, students, organizations and the occasional parent will all ask for a copy or two. Some of them will call two days after I recycle the excess, but most will time it right and are welcome to take as many as they'd like.

Just as I'm explaining this our newspaper archival system -- which set someone back 30 bucks at Target, no doubt -- just collapsed on the guy. Fortunately he was not hurt, though he did find himself suddenly knee deep in newsprint.

I spent an hour rebuilding the wire crate structure. Given the rickety design I designed it to be wider than tall. It sacrifices space, but it won't give anyone a coma, so it is a worthwhile tradeoff.

The paper is getting several compliments today. The hardworking student-journalists are making strides. In this edition there's a big story on the state Supreme Court, which held a session on the Samford campus. There was also the announcement, by President Andy Westmorland, of a $200 million capital campaign.

As I mentioned yesterday there is a column about Twitter:
It's true. Most content on Twitter and Facebook is pointless, useless and often self-centered information. Status updates are commonly used as conduits for unhealthy venting or whining.

However, I'm still concerned by this "I don't care" attitude. It's true that your dinner plans don't really affect me, but should I be upset that you decided to share it with me? How many of us would ever look a friend in the face and say, "I don't care"?

What does it say about us when we honestly don't care what our friends are doing or what they think? Sure, it may not really matter to us. Sure, they may just be searching for attention. (Honestly, the vast majority of my posts are for that very purpose, if subconsciously so.)

But maybe we should care a little bit more about what's going on in our friends' lives.
If ever I need to convince someone about Twitter I just ask them about their interests and then show them Twitterfall.

And, finally, there's the fashion review of the year. Now ... close readers will note that I'm not an especially big fan of such copy. But a review of rain boots is just a crazy enough idea to make it worthwhile. "Major designers like Burberry, Ed Hardy and Tory Burch have apparently picked up on this movement as well. It would appear that rain boots are no longer seen as a seasonal necessity, but rather as a fashion statement."

She goes on to pin style to personality. I'll just trust that she has it right, and try really hard to not wonder whether this is going on at other college campuses.

Random idea on which to retire: Nerd shirts. I wrote this on Twitter, and then googling the expressions I find these are entirely original ideas. Looks like I'll be opening a new online store ...

"To be or not to be, that is existential."

"I am p > .05."

Oh I've got dozens of ideas.

After prosem this evening I met a librarian (who studies children's books) and a guy who does a highly specific style of online credibility research. And, with that, class is over for the week.

The Yankee and I stopped by the pet store for things pets need, including toys on sale.

They are soft and furry and crinkle like paper. There's a pink and a purple one and they are both big hits.

It is the little things that make your evenings sing. Tonight I dug through two boxes and found Willie Morris' Terrains of the Heart. I was looking for it Monday and hope to find an essay worth critiquing there. I also pulled out my six-volume Winston Churchill history of WWII. I bought it this spring from a classmate for $20. One day I'll get to read them. But they have a stately red color and they sit handsomely in a blond mini-bookshelf that my step-father gave me a few years ago. It looks too nice to be stuck in a box in storage.

I put them next to my grandfather's grade school books.

I love books.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

I pass a high school on my way to the University of Alabama campus. It is one of those nicely built, stately old buildings from the street, but pretty sad when you go inside. We were invited to a Kiwanis Club pancake breakfast this spring and couldn't help but notice we passed through metal detectors on our way to the cafeteria.

But it is a nice enough place, for a high school. The area round it is a bit run down. All of this is just blocks off the Alabama campus, which is attractive enough, but there's no avoiding the dichotomy.

There was a moment of literary bliss in that neighborhood this morning, just blocks from higher learning and a mere four lanes of bad, bumpy roadway across from the high school. A guy was standing outside of a dirty old strip mall dressed in the better part of a Little Caeser's costume doing a dance and waving at cars. This was before 10 a.m.

After the red light I wondered: Does he now regret not working a bit harder in school?

Locked out of class myself this morning. I managed to show up at 11:04 and on this day the class actually managed to get started on time. Student presentations were underway and, not wanting to interrupt a classmate's rhythm, I listened for the first little while through the door. Here I learned that people walking in hallways are incredibly noisy, and so every fifth word was drowned out, but I know the guy, know the presentation and it was a good one. Two other presentations, one on political campaign music and another on presidential apologia ... and this is what I do with my day.

Or at least part of it.

There were some clerical chores today. I delivered the paperwork to the graduate school (which seems overly decorated for Halloween) that will pull in transfer credit.
Of course there have to be 92 levels of approval granted, but those seem to be formalities. When that paperwork makes its way through and this semester is over I'll have completed 41 of 48 hours of my doctoral coursework. Next spring I'll have seven hours and move on toward the dissertation, not a moment too soon.

The research methods class did not meet. We had an exam instead. The professor chose to do an Email exam. He sent the questions, we were to write for two-and-a-half hours and send the answers back. The test was to come at 2 p.m., but I did not receive it.

At 2:30 I wrote the professor and he quickly sent on the exam. I began working on it. There were four questions, we were required to answer three of them. I did this in my office so I wrote in between a chat with the boss and visiting with students asking questions about this and that.

The professor designed the exam to resemble a comps question. His idea was to get people comfortable with the format before they take the big exam. My media psychology class in the spring also used this technique and, hopefully, it will serve me well after I finish classes next spring.

The exam wasn't too bad. I wrote 16 pages, designing both a survey and an experiment. (Basically I designed my dissertation, or at least the overview, so I'll be saving that answer for future reference.)

The downside to the exercise is that my brain is now a bog of clay baked in a vat of day old coffee. I'm still working the night through as the Samford students create this week's Crimson.

We had a bit of rain this evening during all of that. Autumn moved in during the shower. No one likes moving in the rain -- trust me on this one -- but the seasons changed just like that. Oh, sure, we'll have a few days where the sun will shine high and bright and true, but that's all a mirage. It suddenly turned to October, somehow, and the dreams of a youthful spring and a diligent summer turn to a sanguine fall.

This begs the question: What anthropomorphic shape will winter take this year? Fall is sanguine; we'll not worry about winter just yet.

Looking over the paper I ran across a column on Twitter which took a different argument, a fashion review of rain boots of all things. May as well, we've had so much rain that they are no longer garments of utility, but rather an accessory that says something about you. Apparently so. I can only wonder if there's a student, somewhere, having a rain boot fashion crisis.

I've noted three uses of "Needless to say" (or variations) this evening. Why do you say that? Or even point out its needlessness?

I did it too, didn't I? Told you there was nothing in my brain this evening.

Monday, October 12, 2009

One of the nice aspects of the doctoral program at Alabama is the ability to transfer up to 12 hours of your master's degree credit into this program. You may do this if it is within a certain amount of time and if you went to a properly accredited school.

I managed to pull this off and, today, I've started the process of pulling those classes from UAB into the curriculum at Alabama. Here is how you do that:
Visit the department's secretary. She goes over an unofficial transcript with you. She finds the four classes that might best translate into this program.

She tells you to print off a form from the graduate school site and go see them.

You see them. They don't know why and send you back to the secretary.

You catch her, just as she's leaving for the day and use all of your charms to make her stay 45 seconds to go over this form.

You fill out the form.
I made it this far today, but the graduate school office was closed by then, so the rest will take place tomorrow and at a later date.
You take the now filled out form back to the graduate school.

They fill out a form and send it back to your department's secretary.

She gives it to your department chair.

He approves it.

You take this, add it to the all-important program of study (A list of classes you've taken and plan to take. This is so all important that you do it in your third semester which, in my case, is the next to last semester.).

The program of study is then approved by your committee.
So, while those steps might seem tedious or redundant to some, to me it is an easy way to add 12 hours to your transcript. Whenever all of this gets done (hopefully soon) and when I finish this semester I'll have completed 41 of the required 48 hours of coursework. (Meaning it is worth a few extra steps in the transfer process.)

Got an A on the tech and society paper I wrote last week. That's a good class, and I'll take as many A's as I can get. In between that class, all of the transfer credit efforts and my social movements class I took a stroll down the block, where I ran across one of the more depressing window displays you'll ever see.

"Do not be concerned if you can't fit through the door frame! We will sell to you on the sidewalk, just waddle on over!"

I read a bit of Thomas Paine again. He came up in the social movements class and I haven't studied Common Sense -- the pamphlet, not the practice -- since the eighth grade. I was interested to see how the perception has changed in those almost-two decades.

To an eighth grader, Thomas Paine reads like he'd like to stick his thumb in King George's eye. Now he sounds like he'd like to cut off King George's thumb and stick that in the monarch's eye.

Auburn folk are mulling over this article tonight. If you read it closely you might note the part of the story when I was at Auburn. (More on that here and here.) Having covered the story then, and followed it since, the Fortune story sounds about right. There's not a lot new there, but it is accurate.

You can also make fun of Ole Miss or you can cluck along at this sad situation in British journalism.

You could also come help me look for a particular book. I'm digging through boxes searching out a Willie Morris book. I have one box of books in the media center cubby and ... (much later, after getting in a groove and cleaning the entire room) it isn't there. I love books, but I need more bookshelves. Since the book isn't in that box that means it is in storage, which means I'll dig it out later this week.

So a 14 hour day of work and classes ends after a quiet night of reading, searching and accidental cleaning. That's as good a Monday as you can ask for. I hope yours was twice as peaceful and rewarding.

Tomorrow: Methods exam and putting the newspaper to bed.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The wedding was great. Megan and Brice met in college and the Ursinus chaplain performed the ceremony. He was a very interesting man, the type of fellow that people gravitated toward. He'd been in the Coast Guard. His wife, who was a lovely and charming woman, was a teacher. They adopt children with disabilities. He has a very earthly way of delivering his spiritual messages that is probably very successful on a college campus. He keeps count of his marriages like a sports record. So far, he says, he is undefeated.

After the ceremony he walked up and we were complimenting him on the service. He only wanted to know the scores to the Penn State and Oklahoma games. He also told me about his busy Sunday schedule. In addition to his own church's duties he'd been invited to speak elsewhere, but he broke down the times: "Reflections are three to five minutes. Meditations are five to eight minutes. Sermons are 10 to 20 minutes. They asked me to do a reflection, and the Colts and Titans are playing, so they'll get a three to five minute reflection."

At the beginning of the ceremony the mothers of the bride and groom did a sand ceremony but, we learned later, they mixed all of the symbolic sand. We also learned later that the reverend noticed the problem, told the groom about the problem and said that, when they went over to the sand table they should just ad lib the goof.

Every wedding has some memorable element, of course, and this was theirs. They played up the "Hey! What happened!?" perfectly.

Megan's sister was the maid-of-honor, the niece was the 18-month-old flowergirl. A college buddy, if I'm not mistaken, was Brice's best man. My in-laws, Megan's godparents, did a reading, as did another guy I did not get a chance to meet.

Today there was a big brunch and then we had to get back on the road and into Philadelphia to catch our flight.

At the airport we met maybe the most self-important, semi-literate man the TSA has ever had the pleasure to hire -- and that's saying something.

Aside: Talk about your presidential legacies. Any presidential candidate that wants to receive the traveler's vote should just come out and say he's going to dissolve that department and start over with something not insulting to our intelligence and humanity. That candidate would get a lot of votes.

So bad was the moment that a Delta employee actually wound up doing us a favor. (Delta, by the way, has apparently just reduced their carry on luggage size. You'll fall victim to a scheme there too if you aren't careful.) When a Delta employee takes the time to stick it to a government employee you find yourself wondering just what people expect out of government managed health care.

And then there was the actual security station, where the TSA video was everything Starship Troopers foretold. You can only stand so much propaganda in life, and I found it all in one 30-second increment.

We flew into Detroit, which has a nice, big, clean, amazingly empty airport. We sat there for a nice while and then caught a plane for home. Birmingham, which the federally-indicted mayor recently spoke of the airport as the first impression of the city, left us with the exotic opportunity often only available in third-world countries. The jetway was somehow broken, so we walked to our gate, from outside, three gates away.

This is supposedly an international airport, friends.

So, I love traveling, I'm seriously reconsidering how far I'm willing to drive rather than fly.

It was a great trip, if rushed. Wonderful people to see and a family's joy to share. Traveling in the contemporary style, while unfortunate, is the worst of it. If that's all you can be angry about you've got it made.

I've got it made.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

We're celebrating Megan and Brice's wedding. Megan is The Yankee's godsister. They were at our wedding this summer in Savannah and we, of course, weren't going to miss the event of a lifetime in Pennsylvania's autumn.

While we're celebrating today, we'll travel back tomorrow. There's great stories from the day and I'll share them then.

Happy weekend!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Somewhere over the Carolinas, I'd guess.

Traveling to Pennsylvania. Airports are just about more than we can stand, at this point, but you know everyone else is in the same miserable boat, so you try to endure it with a smile.

For me it starts with the parking deck and doesn't end until we get the rental car. Only today that was the beginning of even more fun.

The rental car guy told me to turn left. The GPS told me to turn left. The sign told me to turn left. The Yankee told me to turn left. In this case, what would you do? You'd turn left.

And you'd be wrong, because, really, all of that means turn right. You'd then laugh about it for an hour. We also decided that our GPS may have a split personality. There's the good, helpful, accurate and efficient direction-giving GPS and then the wicked, evil, turn-right-really-means-go-straight GPS.

We're not in the habit of naming inanimate objects, but now the GPS has two.

This tale doesn't even include the missing the toll booth adventure. A disinterested toll booth operator (but I repeat myself) did us a nice favor there. I blame poor signage.

But the traveling part is over. Lots of fun tomorrow.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Hectic day, somehow.

Not a lot to show for it, but work got done. You have to take those days too, sometimes. I take them quite a bit.

The most important part of the day, perhaps, was the most fun part. The editor and I sat down to critique the paper. She's now four issues in and beginning to see a few patterns. I'm trying to help her see the paper with a critical eye. She's a smart one. To her credit she doesn't let the same mistakes happen over and over and so I predict that next week we'll get some of the design elements resolved.

Now. If only we can get the copy editing up to par. That will come too, it will just take a few more weeks.

Talked photography with magazine students today. We discussed the merits of still life versus staged action shots.

The rest of the day was spent reading. Sometimes it is for pleasure, sometimes it has to be done. Usually, I am lucky and get to consider it both.

So, that's today. Solid, productive, uneventful, unspectacular, but still a good one. Not bad for a Thursday.

And the best part of that, of course, is that tomorrow is Friday!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

I love this feeling: weary fatigue, quiet room, happily and absolutely oblivious to how much stuff I SHOULD BE doing.

Usually I get the feeling later in the week, but I'll take it on Wednesday. But why is it here? Oddly enough days feel more productive when I have the opportunity to get stuff done.

Among the things that took place today, we set up a pre-interview for the World War II oral history project mentioned here earlier this week.

Some school work was done. Notes were made. Calls were returned.

I broke Microsoft Word in a new and interesting way. "Word cannot insert a file into itself." There's a painful shortcoming. You could understand why it'd be hesitant to do so. How would you explain that at the emergency room?

Someone found a wedding band in the copy room. No finger was inside and no inscription inside. There's no telling who's it is. How long ago was it lost? How much trouble did the guy get into? A short story is in the details.

But, if it is yours, or if you need to get off the hook with the missus, send me a note. Maybe we can help you out.

Saw this on my way to get a haircut. It was a lovely afternoon, one of the few we've had lately. There's been a lot of seasonably inappropriate rain this year. For 2009 as a whole we are now a foot over our average rainfall totals.

No rain today, though, in Hoover. I saw a grim reaper dancing on the side of the road. Someone has opened a Halloween store and they have a cartoonish character, think Beetlejuice, dancing for the traffic. He'll make you double check your seat belt.

And at the haircutting place tonight's entertainment is brought to us by the young woman who REALLY doesn't like whichever parent keeps calling. At first you would have thought she was arguing with her significant other, and you would have thought they were having a bad day. After the third call -- I had to wait an inordinately long amount of time, unfortunately -- the context clues became apparent: a parent was whining and this lady wasn't having any of it.

It was unfortunate. The rest of us pretended not to hear, flipping through the various magazines in the waiting area. I flipped through a Time magazine for the first time in a long while. The economy and the shifting industry and the Internet have taken their toll. You can tell a difference. There's more art, less substance and the entire thing feels a bit thinner and less substantial, somehow.

Magazines once meant something, remember? These days some of them have begun to feel like a distraction. Conde Nast shut several of their properties down this week and Jeff Jarvis (who once worked for Conde Nast and was also an executive-level boss o' mine) said "(M)agazines are going to start dropping like newspapers -- faster, even, for there's more direct competition among the slicks."

They're not all going away, Jarvis says, but he points to FitchRatings skepticism about the magazine format's transition to a digital property and says:
So go to the newsstand today and look around. You'll never see so many magazines again. One by one, like the trees they used to kill, they will fall. Some will remain standing, stronger because they're not competing for sunlight and nutrition. But magazines as a medium and an industry will only shrink.
Simple economics, he says.

My haircut? It took too long and it was deceptively decent. It looked fine there. Because I'd waited for so long for someone to be available to cut my hair I relaxed my standard toward my hair cutting theory. The wilder the person's hair, the worse yours will be. My hair cutter was a "creative hair specialist" and her hair was ... creative.

Guess I'll just have to grow into mine.

It is dark. The house is quiet. The cats are dozing and I'm going to go poke my head into the television for a little while. How do they get all those little people inside the screen, anyway?

Tomorrow is Thursday, why do you ask? Something interesting will come to us all, we just don't yet know what it will be. May yours will be very worthwhile.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Life has many rhythms. Sometimes they all come together in a moment of serendipity.

Sitting at a red light in Tuscaloosa (the town motto is: We got 'em, you're gonna sit at all of 'em) and I looked to my left. An old woman sitting in the passenger seat of the car in the left turn lane was clapping along. And, I realized, she was clapping in time to the song that was playing on my radio.

This was a happy accident. My window was up, her window was up. My stereo was fairly quiet. I was listening to satellite radio and the odds that the old couple were listening to the same song seemed more than a little long.

She had such joy, though. It made me smile. What was she listening to? Who was she thinking of? Where did that memory take her into her past? The answers will escape us forever. It would have seemed rude to roll down my window and say Hey! What are you clapping too? Her light turned green and she was gone, clapping happily forever I hope.

Karthika Muthukumaraswamy writes on the social media policies put in place by The Washington Post, Wall Street Journal and ESPN:
The very essence of social media is that it offers readers a glimpse of the "person" behind the journalist. Citizen journalism pioneer Dan Gillmor looks at social networks as an opportunity for news organizations "to show readers that news is not a commodity produced by a faceless institution but a rich, collaborative process."

For instance, Post political reporter Chris Cillizza, whose Twitter account, "The Fix" is named after his blog at the paper, entertains readers not only with snarky political comments but also by finding humor in life's little trials, and his Twitter page has been surprisingly -- and comfortingly -- unhindered by all the drama. If his tweets were to trickle down to news article URLs in keeping with the Post's new regulations, I wouldn't follow him. It's safe to say, neither would 14,540 others.

Despite these differences, even old-school news organizations agree that social media are important. But can managers, editors, reporters and readers agree on a social media policy? To that end, it would, perhaps, be helpful to analyze guidelines that have so far been proposed by different news organizations, and more importantly, how they have been received.
She makes distinctions between individuals and institutions, moreso than some of the policies, it seems. If you read through her essay you'll emerge with a lot of thoughts on the entrepreneurial personal brand of which we often speak, particularly right in here: "Social media don’t operate strictly within the sphere of the workplace. Social media are part of what journalists carry home with them; it is where they ought to be able to express views wholly unrestrained by the rigid rules of traditional journalism."

After classes, and meetings with professors I had to stop by a friend's apartment to visit his dog. He's out of town this evening and the dog needed a walk. I received the short briefing: here's the key, there's the leash, asking him if he wants to go outside and you'll be pals. (The dog never knows what to make of me and generally tries to intimidate me with a gruff bark.)

So I go over, unlock the door and the dog barks at me. I grab the leash, make my way over and snap it on. I ask him if he wants to go outside and he's suddenly very friendly.

We walk outside and I head in the direction where I was told to go. The dog sniffs around a bit and gives me two looks. One says, "Yes?" and the other says "And?" After a while of this the dog finally trains the human. This is not where he wants to be. So I give him some leash and off we trot.

Have you ever seen a beagle sprint? Those big floppy ears drunk with the rush of wind and a little bounce in his step is about as cute as they get.

He circled the block and would have gone on forever if I'd had time to let him. Instead I had to take him back inside and get on the road.

I didn't think to take a picture of the dog -- I was too busy trying to keep him out of the road -- but I did notice the apartment complex' former pool. That makes you want to go for a dip, no?

Know what a swine flu-frightened populace needs? A recording, in the local pharmacy, of a phlegmy cough. Had that entirely unnecessary experience this afternoon.

That was a productive marketing meeting. "The numbers, over the last two months, have jumped a bit for flu-like symptoms, how can we exploit it?"

"Hey boss, me and the boss've been tossing around a few ideas that will move masks and pills."

"I like it, Johnson. Get someone from audio to go down to the sub-basement and record the maintenance crew. Their collective emphysema could be just what we need to drive up sales. I could get the pool heated before the holidays!"

Stopped off at home on my way to Samford. The Yankee was in the middle of some marketeer's phone survey when I walked in. "Heard of it, but never use it. Heard of it, but never use it."

I suggested she say "Use it, but never heard of it."

A little while later she said she didn't finish the survey. "The question and answer options were horrible. I told them to redesign it and call me back."


Part of the evening was devoted to reviewing papers for the Southern States Communication Association. The reviews will help the conference decide which papers to accept for presentation and which should be declined.

One of the papers is not bad and the other two are quite good, really. One has a typo in the abstract, which doesn't get us started off on the right foot. These are student papers for that august conference and so I spend a lot of time searching for and writing about the positives in the paper. Even if one of these studies is not accepted someone invested their valuable time in the effort and I'd hate to be a person that unjustly discourages their effort.

Finishing those, I had dinner at Jason's Deli. An elderly lady out with her friends was ordering just in front of me. She ordered slowly, but was very enthusiastic about the entire process.

It became clear that she'd never been to Jason's before. Everything was new and she was a bit unsure of herself, but she was just so excited about it. You wanted to scoop her up and give her a big hug. I could see the ladies' table from my own seat. They looked like a church group, out for a night on the town. There's no telling how long it has been since they were all out for a late dinner.

I was reading about Savannah's James Habersham, who beat Rosa Parks to the punch by 85 years. Unfortunately he shares a name with one of the city's prominent colonial families, so there's not an obvious and easy link to find on Google. In summary, postbellum Savannah had segregated carriages and Habersham, a black man, decided he'd get on the white carriage. He was thrown off, a riot began and it all became a small part of a sad and bizarre tapestry of the South.

When I made it back to the paper after dinner I was created with a popular question: "How do you get press passes?"

I just ask who's coming to town. This time it is Kings of Leon. So I explain that process of phone calls, letter writing, condescension and hopeful waiting that goes into press pass requests. Sharing the bit of information that you're expected to be not a fan, but a working journalist can discourage a student, we'll see about this case.

To wind down from an 18-hour day, I found myself reading 1890s articles on a sailor, teacher, judge, pastor, multimillion dollar swindling prison escapee. Our anti-hero conned the modern equivalent of about $50 million in a scheme that would make the Nigerian spammers proud.

There has to be a paper in that guy's story.

Maybe I'll brainstorm one up tomorrow.

Monday, October 5, 2009

I've been asked to take part in an oral history of a World War II pilot.

A friend owns a video production company. He was out shooting an air show and ran across an older gentleman looking over a plane. The old man was wearing a hat noting that he was a WWII and Korean War veteran.

But, first, I should back up. My friend and I have discussed once or twice the Honor Flight program. It has long been my position that this wonderful program -- they fly veterans to Washington D.C. free of charge to see the WWII monument -- is overlooking an opportunity to document the stories of some of those veterans. How great it would be, I've said to my friend if they recorded those visits and interviewed those willing to document their experiences in the war. They should really have someone tagging along and making mini-documentaries.

This idea got my friend interested. This weekend he met the pilot and today he asked me if I'd like to take part.

Of course I would. I dashed off a few thoughts and notes along with an idea or two about this or that. I hope it all comes together.

My day's been like that, a lot of Emails with ideas and thoughts and notes that will hopefully be useful to some other group or provide a solution to another problem. You try to write those authoritatively -- You should think about this. Have you considered asking about that? -- so the person on the other end will find you helpful.

Spent the late afternoon whittling down a 12-page study into a one page precis.

From the technical standpoint of the editing, rewriting and omission this isn't difficult. I had a terrific English teacher in high school -- she taught my English class for four years between the seventh grade and my senior year, actually. In all of those years we had two regular tasks. We had to write to a topic of her choice every day, usually a one-page full of hasty scribbling in a notebook on a timely subject. We also had to write a weekly summary of some magazine article of her choice.

Oh, it was busy work then -- and pure drudgery senior year since we'd been doing it for so long -- but those experiences were probably the most important lessons I learned in a high school classroom.

From the perspective of the study I was tasked with rewritten today was challenging because this piece figures prominently into my own dissertation. Summarizing, into less than a page, something so important left me sensitive to handling with care and took a bit of doing.

Just one class today. My technology and civilization class, for which that summary was due, was canceled. The seminar on social movements, however, did meet as scheduled tonight. The professor returned the critique I turned in last week (or was it two?). I received an A, but more importantly some good feedback.

This is another busy week, but a week where I might be able to dig out from under a weighty schedule and, if not get ahead, at least catch up at a rate where I am not behind.

These things are awfully temporal when your only To Do List is the one running in your head.

Tomorrow: more classes, errands, favors, a newspaper and writing conference reviews. Why not have the busiest day of the week following a 12-hour effort?

Sunday, October 4, 2009

While being behind can sometimes be a routine condition around these parts, I've decided to change up the temporal pace of things today.

Oh, sure, I could opt for "being ahead," but one has to catch up first in order for that to happen. Instead I've spent today shooting for "getting ahead on being behind."

It sounded much better when I tricked myself into it earlier today.

To catch up from last week there is a presentation to flesh out. I submitted two papers on time, so I can put those behind me. At work there's the paper and the hall of fame project.

For upcoming conferences I must prepare two presentations in the next few weeks.

For the rest of the semester there's an abstract, an extensive presentation, paper and book review in my technology and society class. There are two papers -- one medium, one large final paper -- and a presentation in my social movements class. In colloquium there's the presentation mentioned above and a great chore of administrative busy work. Two exams and a large project are still on the horizon in methods. And the readings. Always the readings. I will not list them here because they seem too numerous to mention in aggregate. Finally, there's also the Sisyphean task of getting my curriculum approved.

I was thinking that listing this stuff, and gleefully watching it deteriorate, could be a great Sunday gimmick to run on the blog through the early part of December. Now I'm not so sure. That looks a bit imposing.

At least I won't be bored. Good thing, too, since we're seeing enough rain lately and in the forecast to keep Noah's wife fearful of another boat ride.

So I've consoled myself tonight with homemade chicken noodle soup. Campbell's might be a favorite of little kids, but only because they invest so much in their marketing. This stuff is delicious.

Tomorrow: Back in the swing of things, I hope. Two classes, one paper due and the various assorted errands and favors that make life so enjoyable. Come back, won't you? You will help me start off the week right!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

This morning we drove my mother-in-law to the airport. She's been visiting for a few days. She's a delight, did more than she should have and cooked delicious meals.

We tried to convince her to stay longer.

But she had to go back home. We'll see her again in a few days ... and she left us stocked up with a wonderful homemade chicken soup and traditional meatballs, but still. What about all of the other meals in between?

She's wonderful company too, don't get me wrong, I just have my priorities in order.

The rest of the day was all about football. We drove home from the airport listening to the first part of the Alabama-Kentucky game. Eli Gold had his call of the year, no matter what he has said or what he will say he can't top this, "Someone just lost a hat that went flying by. It was blue and white, so nobody you know. Don't worry about it."

In watching the rest of that game I've now been able to catch about four quarters of action from the Tide this season. They are a scary looking team.

Auburn's on the road, so we watched from home, which meant, for the first time this season, that I got to see more than a snippet of other games.

If you're not interested in the time-test, me-approved tradition of padding out a blog post with witty observations on football as constructed within the boundaries that define Twitter, you might want to move along. That's all I have for you today:
College football officials should be given a cell phone to receive calls from the instant replay booth. That would save time.

The LSU-Georgia game is being shot in soft focus European panovision. The teams are playing similarly.

Saw a highlight of the BC-FSU "football game." How in the world do they stick Doug Flutie in such a bad seat? He should be on the sideline.

A Number 14 team should be able to take advantage of a struggling opponent. A Number 4 team should be able to score some points. LSU@UGA

Florida - even with a brain-bruised Tebow - has today beaten both the UGA and LSU teams. And the Gators are on a bye week.

Referees in the LSU@UGA game make us grudgingly concede Gary Daniels has a point re: make-up celebration penalties.

ND escapes Wazzou. The '02 Irish beat Stanford, too. This proves those most recently removed from Ty Willingham always suffer.
All of that (and a tiny bit of writing) made the afternoon pass. Auburn starts the day 4-0, but facing their first road test at Tennessee.
Chris Todd is no master of the swing pass, down the side he's murder.

Tommy Trott! (One need only exclaim the name after a clutch play -- ed.)

Wes Byrum slices a 29-yard kick through the uprights and gives Auburn a 3-0 lead.

Tennessee fumbles and Auburn recovers! Bring on Dr. Gus!

Byrum boots a 43 yarder to extend Auburn's lead to 6-0. The offense needs to take advantage of Tennessee's mistakes.

Jonathan Crompton's getting booed. Shame, but War Eagle and throw some picks!

Walter McFadden is down with a knee. That's not good. Get well in a hurry, Walt!

Crompton is Latin for incomplete.

Hall's commercial? A little too disturbing ...

Auburn's maligned (by me) defense seems to be getting statistically healthy in this game.

Todd is your video game quarterback. Skip, zip, flip, first down!

TOUCHDOWN AUBURN! Ben Tate sprints 11 yards through a demoralized Tennessee defense, 13-0.
Around this point WENNYBROWN and I ventured out for pizza. I learned something new about her tonight: Do not stand in the way of this woman when pizza and football are on the line. She will run you over.
Erin Andrews can make wardrobe jokes tonight because, fortunately, an arrest was made in her case.

My friend and radio broadcasting legend @GrantMerrill says Arkansas leads Texas A&M 30-13.

Super Mario!

Said it before and I'll say it again: Kodi Burns, when scrambling, is a bit reminiscent of Dameyune Craig, for better or worse.

Byrum is 3-4 on the night and the Tigers lead 16-6. Another score the next time down will be the end of the Vols.

Can we get a flag for mocking a block? If we had the LSU-UGA refs, maybe.

Crompton isn't a bad quarterback, he's a misunderstood artist.

And while I didn't tweet it earlier, I'm glad Ben Tate could help Eric Berry join the Jason Allen-on-his-butt club.

Bullet dodged. Phew. Rocky Top you'll always be, unimportant to me. Sit down Volunteers, whoo! Oh - and - three in the SEC!

Here at the Auburn Society of Hoover we couldn't help but notice that Tennessee is drinking Gatorade. Hmm.

TOUCHDOWN AUBURN! Todd to Zachery for an 11-yard score! 23-6.

Ted Roof ... paging Ted Roof ... the football game is on Line Two.

Crompton throws a fade in his own third ... I'm telling you, misunderstood artist.

Any chance we can get Paul Rhodes back?

I'm not saying that the defense is bad ... but Tennessee's offense is ... and by transitive qualities ...

Tennessee kicks a 26-yard figgie, Tigers lead 23-16. We need a two score win Auburn!

Shouldn't the Allstate guys be handling a hot Jimbo Fisher? Or at least a lukewarm Bobby?

Onterio McCalebb with the 52-yard kickoff return and then they run Demoralizer Power Right with Ben Tate.

Eric Smith is the most underappreciated skill position player on the Auburn offensive side of the ball. Clutch and productive.

No one else respects them, but Gene Chizik told the official to bring over the referee and the referee came running.

Here at the Auburn Society of Hoover we couldn't help but notice that the ref's name is Tom.

Byrum kicks the short field goal to cinch it, 26-16 Auburn!

Here at the Auburn Society of Hoover we couldn't help but notice how quiet Neyland Stadium is, and how awesome the AU Band sounds.

Tennessee fans actually celebrated that touchdown. Rocky Top! 26-22 is still a win.
You'll understand if I self-edited a bit of the more impulsive ones out of the mix, caught up in the moment of the game as we were. Nothing bad, just a few things that could be potentially embarrassing when the Tigers inevitably lose somewhere they shouldn't later this season.

Auburn was on the cusp of being ranked last week. National television and a game that was more thoroughly resolved than the four-point spread should get these boys a much-deserved ranking when the polls come out tomorrow.

And that's where you'll find me. Happy football! Hope your team won!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Spent the morning traveling around -- part of the time with purpose and some of the time in vain -- working on a Samford project. We are establishing a journalism hall of fame this year as part of our homecoming and departmental anniversary celebrations. We're going to honor those great contributors and alumni of distinction to whom we point as the best and brightest. It is going to be fancy.

The first half of the hall of fame represented the first half of my morning's journey. We're doing the obligatory plaque with headshot and biographical blurb. There have been a few meetings over the idea of how these should look and now I'm out shopping for a place that can make it happen.

I visited the Framin' Shoppe who we've called upon to do some departmental projects before. They are good to work with, understand what we're after and take our timelines in stride. Going in the place is like working your way through a well organized attic. There's stuff everywhere, but it isn't overwhelming and you get the sense of being able to examine the ongoing projects.

This is studying someone's home decoration before they even receive the finished product. You see it before they do. You're the guest in the home that evaluates every piece of art just a little too long.

And so I'm forever sending the very nice gentleman into the back of the store to look this up or see if they have that in stock, because the things that people bring in to frame are very interesting and usually of good quality. Sure, there's a disproportionate amount of local football stuff, that comes with the territory. (I have two football items framed in my home. One is a sideline picture and sideline pass from the 2005 Iron Bowl and the other is one of those giant portraits of Jordan-Hare stadium, which was a beautiful birthday gift from my mother. See? Comes with the territory.) There's also a sense of history and place, things both recognizably important and privately personal, just sitting out in the open. It is a glimpse at strangers.

It is also validation that things you hang on your walls aren't all that unusual.

Also, after much searching -- Google Maps on my phone was absolutely no help -- I found a trophy shop. The inductees into the hall of fame will receive plaques and this guy has them. There's the particle board, the pine, the oak, the ash, the walnut, the specially imported twisting grain of wood send special from Tellaxian III. There are 90-degree corners and rounded edges. Letters cost $.15 per. It'll say anything you want when you're done.

Ultimately the guy just gave me a catalog, told me to give him a week to produce the things and sent me on my way.

So I finally found my way back to campus where I began my daily fight with the formatting in Word. It seems that going from PC at home to the Mac in my office means adding extra spacing at the top and bottom of documents. This isn't a bother at all unless you're trying to be precise with your format which, you know, does sometimes seem appropriate.

Twenty minutes of forehead slapping, desk smacking, desperate prayers later I figured out a way to make it work. This time. You can be certain that the same hackneyed workaround will not save the day next time. The machines, they're learning. And there are only so many creative fixes I can dream up.

But documents were preserves. Letters written. And then, finally, bills were paid. Including the tuition bill. I'm tired of saying that bill is paid, mostly on the basis of the cost. On the other hand, saying the bill is paid is better than having to say it is unpaid. My checking account would disagree. It would cry, as well, if only it could afford the tears just now.

Breaking news: Tuition is expensive.

The rest of the day -- after two buck lunch, spent with part of the department's faculty, including the president of the American Journalism Historians Association, who's convention is next week here in Birmingham, even if I can't go -- was spent getting stuff done. There was a brief meeting, time invested in setting up a future meeting, but fortunately no meetings about meetings.

I formed brilliant half-constructed ideas that may or may not be remembered. This problem is solved by writing them all down in a notebook. Upon later consultation the cryptic note may or may not be understood. See? Already I've improved my mental efficiencies.

On one phone call today the automated system prompted me for an account number. Apparently the system did not like my diction -- maybe it has a bias against mild middle American (with a touch of Deep South) accents. Without asking me to repeat myself it cut me off mid-number and sent me to a fellow named "Victor."

We both know that's not his real name. For one thing, he's to young for a name like Victor. (Yes, he was too young for his name. My blog, my hasty conclusions.) For another, he's from a country that doesn't give a lot of Latin-based names. Also, he works for a company that is gently trying to make me -- the stupid American consumer that apparently befuddled the automated system -- feel comfortable with the interaction.

He was a very nice guy got right to it, asked what he could do to help me. Just a little database issue, Victor. He asked what he could help me with again and then seemed disappointed when there was nothing else. Based on how he clipped his consonants I'm guessing northern India.

You wonder if he rides into work with a baby book -- purchased from a guy named "Carl" no doubt -- and picks a new persona for the day. How liberating it must be. "Had a lousy day Monday as Jim. No, no, that was Richard. Jim was Tuesday. Tuesday wasn't horrible. Maybe I'll try James today."

Caught up on some reading and writing today. Shunned arithmetic, as is my want. Stuff was accomplished. Stuff was sent out. Items were removed from the week's list of worry. Research was conducted on bottling this idea of progress. It was a good afternoon.

At home and for the second time today, I tried to use a campus key on the front door. I believe this says something about what my brain considers as my primary dwelling. Somehow, if pressed, I'd bet "Victor" does not have this problem.

I had no problems as I walked to Pie Day. It was a beautiful, quiet night. I walked, The Yankee and her mother joined me later. A few years ago her parents were in town and we sat in the both right next to the table where we ate tonight. They offered us that table.

Why do I remember that?

They shared a slice of pecan pie, which meant I had a large piece of lemon ice box to myself. Since I haven't had a full piece of pie on my own in years now I could not finish the thing.

Also, they've changed the menu. A few things are cheaper. There are a few more options. The new menu is dated to August of this year. We regulars, so accustomed to ordering from memory, only noticed in October.

We saved you some cheese biscuits.

Later that night I made the mistake of putting my watch to my ear. I've had the thing since last Christmas -- it was a family gift -- but I've never listened to it. The sound seems much faster than one tick per second. That shouldn't happen. Especially on a weekend.

I hope your weekend is slow and restive!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

I stood, for a long time, in the coffee aisle yesterday. As I said, my lovely mother-in-law (truly, she is lovely) is in town and we've figured out the key to being at least acceptable hosts is to have that which your guest craves.

This was a hard lesson to learn for The Yankee and I. Neither of us drink coffee and so it isn't a daily moral imperative as it is for many people. We had one friend spend a weekend and he suffered in silence. Only on Friday, when he did the oasis-in-the-desert crawl toward a Starbucks did we realize our error.

Not this time. Not this guest. We have hand towels in the extra bathroom and coffee was acquired.

But what to buy?

I opted for the Duncan Donuts Hazelnut brand. Sure it was a bit more expensive than the regular varieties, but she is worth it. I've seen her drink it before. We got her a gift card once, for just that purpose. She probably now thinks that we only see her as a hazelnut drinker, but she was too kind to suggest I chose poorly. Happily, the smell from the kitchen wasn't half bad. (Generally I'm not even a fan of the smell of coffee.)

I dug the individual coffee serving maker out from storage, we cleaned it up and she figured out how to give herself that morning refreshment to which she's accustomed.

And so she started her day with a mug of coffee. Then she wrote down the instructions for our coffee maker, for the next guest we have. She's just that thoughtful, and understanding that we have no idea how that little machine works.

The cameras are here! The cameras are here!

In my humble little role as the director of the digital video center we had a great deal of excitement today. Many cameras showed up, a small handful of standard definition cameras and a much more impressive stack of hi-def gear was rolled into the office.

One of the faculty members brought up students from his broadcast class to help assemble some of the rigs. It looked like Christmas in there.

Soon they'll be shooting an awfully lot of hi-def stuff. Everyone has been calling me and dropping by to ask "When are they coming in!?" for weeks. Today was the day. And the new rule is: Don't drop ANYTHING.

That stuff is pricey.

So that was a big part of the day. At home The Yankee and her mother were watching girlie movies, as is their right. I retreated to the office to write things, but mostly to watch the dreadful Colorado-West Virginia game. Woof.

Thursday nights are great. There's football even bad football, the impending success of having once again of having realized Loverboy's dream and then, of course, there's the weekend itself. This is a nice place from which to study the week.

And now, at the beginning of what will surely be a swift October, we can say that this is a good place from which to see the year. There's the nostalgia of autumn, none of the unnecessary crush of the holidays. There's the promise of brisk weather and then there's today, which must have been the warmest 77-degree day on record.

Things have been a bit low key around here the last few days. Good timing: I'm going to catch up on everything this way.

If only you'll give me a few decades.

Tomorrow: My day, from afar, centers on food. There's two buck lunch and Pie Day! Also there will be many other adventures, but you'll just have to come back to see them tomorrow.

Happy October!