Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Mid-week musings

- What is it with family members who are on Facebook and use that forum for online PDA? Uh, people--this is the sort of sentiment best expressed in person and privately.

- Conversely, here is where Facebook is used for good things. A Missouri man received some bad news earlier this summer--his kidneys were shutting down. So, he went on Facebook and began posting about his condition. A fellow classmate and Facebook friend saw the news and ultimately donated a kidney.

- Well, I sure know how to pick 'em. Lone Star, a new show on FOX, has already been cancelled after two weeks of the new season. I thought it was one of the better new entries on TV.

- A 98 year-old man passed away recently in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, leaving behind quite a legacy. The man had 10 children, 61 grandchildren, 130 great grandchildren, 162 great-great grandchildren, and 26 great-great-great grandchildren. Wow!

- According to an ABC News/Yahoo News poll, just 50% of Americans still believe in the American dream, i.e., "you'll get ahead by working hard." 43% say that the dream was once true, but now no longer is.

- The Chiefs bye week is coming at a good time for Kansas City as the annual NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Kansas Speedway is this Sunday.

- An early prediction: Tony Stewart and his team right the ship this weekend at the Speedway and repeat last year's win at Kansas.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Saturday morning coffee

- Yesterday's Wall Street Journal had a story titled "Is Video Killing the Concert Vibe?" The article discussed the ubiquitous use of wireless devices to take photos and record videos at concerts, thus impacting the experience for fellow patrons and, particularly, those on stage. Some acts are reacting with a "ho-hum" attitude but most, not surprisingly, are distracted and also worry about the video rights issue. This may be the next environment where, like in movie theaters, there is the courtesy "don't talk and text" message.

- Ever hear of Mark Fisher? Yeah, me neither. Fisher is the designer behind such concert extravaganzas as U2's "360 degree" stage, which was inspired by the Theme building in Los Angeles. He also designed Roger Water's current stage set-up for the remake of Pink Floyd's "The Wall," using 15 digital video projectors to create a 245-foot-wide wall which showcases a variety of images. Remember the glowing sphere, 60 feet in diameter, used at the opening of the Beijing Olympics? Yep, Fisher did that too. In a very old school design way, Fisher uses custom bound, hardback sketchbooks for his designs and uses the same fountain pen that has shaped these creations for the past 20 years.

- Quote of the week, from Tom Lehman, PGA Tour golfer: "Players, no matter what the sport, will thank their coach, their sport, their psychologist, their wife, their nutritionist, but the minute they get to thanking God, it's suddenly becomes 'Uh-oh, that's taboo.' But it shouldn't be, because God is there for them that way."

- The car I want? The 2011 Audi R8 5.2 FSI Sypder, clocking in at a cool $180,000. Wrote Dan Neil in a recent automotive review, "Balance, grace, refinement, power, emotion and intellect, futurism and a kind of Machine Age revanchism, these are the amino acids of such a car. Such a car is the Audi. I call it Gunther." I like guys who name their cars.

- Happy fall, everyone. Time to switch from the white wines and wimpier reds to a lusty Cabernet Sauvignon.

Friday, September 24, 2010

College football predictions - week four

Conference play has started for some but for most teams this is the final week of preparation before conference play begins. All three local schools are at home with games they should win--let's break down tomorrow's action.

Kansas over New Mexico State. The line on this game is over-inflated--Kansas will not beat the spread. The Jayhawks will win but if it's over 14 points, then KU has made significant progress on the offensive side of the ball. Let's see if the offensive line play improves as well as special teams.

Kansas State over Central Florida. This game will be closer than some might expect but KSU will go 4-0 heading into conference play.

Missouri over Miami (Ohio). This is the cure for MU's sub-par performance on offense last week.

Nebraska over South Dakota State. Watch Taylor Martinez run...

Oklahoma over Cincinnati. This looked like a good match-up four weeks ago. Now, not so much given the Bearcats' 1-2 record.

Baylor over Rice. Baylor continues its visits to former Southwest Conference colleague schools. This time, they will win handily over the Owls.

Iowa State over Northern Iowa. ISU needs a win, badly, to gain some momentum going into league play. It should happen tomorrow in Ames.

Texas over UCLA. Texas has been less than impressive thus far this season but they will win tomorrow by 14.

Alabama over Arkansas. Arkansas is good but Bama is great. This will be the most entertaining game of the day--Ryan Mallett versus the Tide defense.

Boise State over Oregon State. The luster of Boise's win over Virginia Tech to start the season has waned, but this is still a team with national title aspirations. Oregon State may be the last true challenge for the Broncos in the regular season.

Stanford over Notre Dame. You have to love a guy named Luck venturing onto the storied turf of Notre Dame Stadium. He won't need any luck to beat the Irish--look for Stanford's QB to have another big game.

TCU over SMU. The Mustangs are improved but cannot match TCU's team speed.

South Carolina over Auburn. I think the Gamecocks are for real. This one could come down to a late FG.

Season predictions to date: 34-8 (81%)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The cure for the common (fill-in-the-blank)

A recent episode of Mad Men featured an aspiring copywriter who was trying to impress Don Draper and colleague Peggy Olson with his portfolio. In the scene, the writer used the same line, "the cure for the common (fill in the blank)" for a variety of brands. Not surprisingly, Draper and Olson looked at each other and rolled their eyes.

As another example of art imitating life, the line has indeed been used in recent advertising by a variety of companies. There is the "cure for the common car" (Nissan), "the cure for the common show" (USA Network), "the cure for the common meal" (Taco Bell), "the cure for the common coupe" (Chrysler Sebring) and "the cure for the common commute" (New York Waterway system.)

It's too bad that Draper is a fictional character and couldn't have influenced this same-ness before all of these taglines were launched by their respective brands.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Mid-week musings

- Is there a more clueless branding campaign right now than Drake University's "D+" campaign? I know Drake alums and think highly of the school but, wow...seriously!?

- Disappointment is picking number one in your Fantasy Football draft, selecting Chris Johnson of the Tennessee Titans...and having the dude get all of 3.3 points in week two. Ouch.

- Today is Larry Hagman's 79th birthday. Hagman's name is likely not familiar to today's current generation but in the 1980s, his star shown brightest on the small screen. Hagman was the star, J.R. Ewing, of Dallas, a prime-time soap opera that aired from 1979-1991, and which eventually was named to TIME magazine's "100 Best TV Shows of All Time."

- Speaking of Dallas, last night's debut of Lone Star was sort of a "Dallas meets Friday Night Lights." It's a good show--tune in next Monday on FOX...and I won't spoil the premise for the show here.

- Boardwalk Empire's first episode this past Sunday on HBO did not disappoint.

- Elizabeth Moss, who plays Peggy Olson on Mad Men, has filed for divorce from Fred Armisen of Saturday Night Live fame. Rumor has it that Moss' Scientology beliefs split the marriage.

- Sunday's episode of Mad Men, in which Moss/Olson plays a central role, was one of that series' best ever.

- Brutus the Buckeye, mascot for Ohio State University, will not file charges after being viciously attacked this past Saturday by the Ohio University Bobcat mascot. The Bobcat waited until Brutus' back was turned, at the OSU-Ohio football game, and then pounced. He tackled Brutus again, after the Buckeyes' mascot gamely got to his feet, with the crowd booing lustily at the offending Bobcat. The mascot--actually, Brandon Hanning, the man in the mascot costume--later admitted that he'd tried out for the Ohio U mascot role just so he could tackle Brutus. Hanning, not surprisingly, is no longer enrolled at Ohio University. The school has sent an apology to Brutus...and to Ohio State University.

- The Situation was quoted as saying "I kinda sucked on 'Dancing.'" Uh, yeah, that's being kind. Perhaps the surprising standout last night on Dancing With the Stars was ex-North Carolina Tarheel and Los Angeles Laker, Rick Fox.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

College football broadcasts

- Is there seriously a dearth of broadcasters who can do college football games where names are pronounced correctly? (Note to Rod Gilmore--it's Kale "Pick"...not "Pike.")

- The Big 12 conference's television deal with FOX is painful given the announcing crews, and halftime studio guys, on that network. If I hear Dave Lapham talk about a player's "courage" one more time...

- The ESPN Game Day crew of Fowler, Herbstreit, Corso and Howard is first rate and entertaining. And, placing Erin Andrews on the ESPNU early version is good with me.

- I'm not a fan of the crew of Davis, James and Palmer on ESPN's Thursday night games.

- Favorite play-by-play guy: Brad Nessler.

- Brett Musberger is much better doing college football broadcasts than his Big Monday basketball assignment with Bob Knight as color commentator.

- Does anyone else miss Keith Jackson?

Friday, September 17, 2010

College football predictions - week three

The common belief in college football is that the biggest improvement a team makes is between week one and week two. If so, what does that make week three? For a team like the Kansas Jayhawks, it's the test of "which team are you...really?"


- Kansas over Southern Mississippi. My optimism is that the real Jayhawks played in Lawrence last weekend, upsetting Georgia Tech and making what may be the biggest turnaround ever in a week--rebounding from a loss to a Division 1AA team to beating a top 15 team. Southern Miss is a team which is a lot like Kansas--an offense which operates out of the spread and isn't afraid to play fast to a defense built on speed and attacking. I think the Jayhawks handle prosperity and win by six.


- Kansas State vs. Iowa State at Arrowhead. Farmageddon II is the billing. But, this matchup is hardly marquee material. Look for KSU to win by 10.

- Missouri over San Diego State. Another home game for MU, another win.

- Texas over Texas Tech. This will be one of the best games of the weekend. It's Tommy Tuberville's first crack at UT since taking over at Tech, and the game is at Lubbock. The last time these two teams played on the south Plains, Michael Crabtree was seen tiptoeing into the endzone and the stands were emptying fans out onto the field. It won't happen tomorrow.

- Nebraska over Washington. Jake Locker against NU's tough D. This will be another fun game to watch--look for the Huskers in a close one.

- TCU over Baylor. This is a trendy upset pick but the Bears have not yet ascended to a place where they can compete with TCU. And, the game's being played in Ft. Worth.

- Oklahoma over Air Force. This is one of those possible "gotcha" games--sandwiched in between OU's romp over Florida State last week and a visit to Cincinnati followed by Texas in Dallas. The Sooners will win--sloppily.

- Colorado over Hawaii. The Buffs rebound against Hawaii, who not only invades the mainland...but also the altitude.

- Oklahoma State over Tulsa. The final in this game will read like a basketball score.

- Texas A&M over Florida International. This is A&M's final tune-up before Okie State, Arkansas and Missouri.

- Florida over Tennessee. Remember when this game meant something?

- Notre Dame over Michigan State. You could maybe call this an upset pick, but I don't think so.

- Iowa over Arizona. The Hawkeyes continue on their path of challenging Ohio State for the Big Ten championship.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Mid-week musings

- It didn't take long for Pepsi to decide that it needed to be back on the Super Bowl telecast. After a one-year break, the beverage company is back, announcing that it will air three spots on the 2011 Super Bowl for its Pepsi Max product.

- Everyone seems a bit giddy now that the NFL is back in action and television ratings from weekend one were quite good. We all had better enjoy it as an NFL work stoppage is on the horizon and threatening the 2011 season. And, the ones who will be hurt most by a labor situation are sponsors, advertisers and, of course, fans. The TV contracts for the NFL are guaranteed meaning that the league and its teams would make an approximate $6 billion. If the league locks out its players, it does not need to pay them but the players union has a strike fund. That leaves the networks, all of whom are believed to have purchased work-stoppage insurance. Who's left? The aforementioned audiences--sponsors who will receive little to no value for their investments, advertisers who cannot make up the audience provided by the NFL, and a devoted fan base who will suddenly have Sunday afternoons and evenings, and Monday nights, with viewing decisions to make. It's been a long time since an NFL lock-out and during that time the league has experienced unprecedented growth and popularity. Let's hope that prosperity ultimately helps sanity prevail such that we don't face a 2011 fall and winter with no NFL games to attend and watch.

- I attended an advertising conference where Chuck Porter, a principal at Crispin Porter & Bogusky and head strategist for MDC Partners, spoke. He used the term "electronic word-of-mouth" when talking about the social media phenomenon of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc. I really like that term...

- Speaking of social media, did you know that there are a million blog posts daily? A million! That's a lot of people writing.

- In the category of "what you do in high school can indeed come back to bite you," we give you one Katy Perry. Perry made a surprise performance at her old high school in Santa Barbara, CA, and used the forum to call out some guy who ignored her prior to her "I Kissed a Girl" fame. This culprit--apparently the most popular kid in school when Perry was there--didn't want to date Perry, according to the singer, so she yelled at him after spotting him in the crowd. Perry screamed "what's up now!?" and then dedicated her next song, "You're So Gay," to the young man. Ouch.

- It's official--J-Lo has joined the judging panel of American Idol. It's a much needed boost for the show, which has had a tumultuous "off season."

- Only four days until HBO's Boardwalk Empire premieres at 8:00 p.m. CT Sunday on HBO.

- The new, improved Arrowhead lived up to its billing on Monday night. Not only did the improvements look terrific but the play on the field was reminiscent of those wonderful years in the early to mid 1990s when the stadium earned its moniker as the "loudest stadium in the National Football League." Even when the rains set in on Monday, the crowd endured and helped the Chiefs to a very important opening weekend win in front of a national television audience on ESPN. Good stuff!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Sunday morning coffee

- Google is estimating that its recent change to its search engine, called Google Instant, will save users more than 350 million hours per year, or two to five seconds per search, on average. The new feature has results pop up, along with corresponding search ads, as one types in a search term or phrase--it predicts queries from the first typed-in character.

- Colleague Rose Cameron, chief strategy officer at Euro RSCG, was recently interviewed by Advertising Age on her expertise at "selling stuff to dudes." In the interview, Rose said, "I'd like to say that men are highly adaptable. They're not. The hard thing for me to take into account is that men really love clarity. And they're dealing with a hell of a lot of ambiguity." Cameron's agency, Euro RSCG, handles the very successful Dos Equis "Most Interesting Man" campaign.

- Where the heck did Denard Robinson come from? The Michigan quarterback has to be the front-runner for the Heisman Trophy after his performances the past two weeks. Yesterday Robinson accounted for 502 of his team's 532 yards of total offense--258 of that in rushing yards. In his first week directing the Wolverines' offense, Robinson ran for 197 yards and threw for 186 in Michigan's 30-10 win over Connecticut. The sophomore's stat line should grow even more in the next two weeks--Massachusetts and then Bowling Green visit Ann Arbor before Michigan travels to Indiana in week five.

- It was the 40th anniversary of Marshall University's tragic airline accident, chronicled in the 2006 film We Are Marshall, this weekend. And, Friday night Marshall played West Virginia and was on the verge of one of the biggest wins in school history, up 21-6. Alas, the Thundering Herd fumbled the ball when they had first-and-goal with 8:30 left to play in the game. They subsequently gave up two touchdowns and a game-tying two point conversion before losing in overtime. That just isn't right...

- Here's the current drama on Dancing With the Stars and its desultory lineup of "stars" this season. Apparently Mark Ballas, dance partner for Bristol Palin, has been griping that Palin has missed too many practices and that their performance will be embarrassing. Uh, the very fact that Palin is on a show called "Dancing With the Stars" is embarrassing enough.

- Apparently, Pac 10 commissioner Larry Scott is pessimistic that Colorado will join the league in 2011. Colorado is currently negotiating with the Big 12 on its departure and it appears that it won't happen until 2012, leaving the Buffaloes to play one more year against the likes of Kansas, Missouri and Kansas State. Given the Buffs' performance yesterday against California, other Pac 10 foes are likely disappointed that CU's struggling football program isn't set to join the conference.

- The first song, "Boy Falls from the Sky," from Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, the Broadway musical set to now open in December, debuted last Friday on ABC's Good Morning America. The music is written and produced by U2's Bono and the Edge.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

How did Kansas win today?

Ah, the unpredictability of college sports. How in the world did the Kansas Jayhawks win today versus the #15 Georgia Tech Yellowjackets after losing last week to Division 1AA North Dakota State?

Here are some thought starters:

- Justin Springer. Springer had 15 tackles but appeared to be involved with every defensive play Kansas made. Springer cemented his role today as the leader of this KU defense.

- James Sims. The true freshman became the first frosh ever to run for 100+ yards in his debut at Kansas. Sims demonstrated quick feet, eyes always looking for the hole, and the ability that great runners have to fall/move forward and rarely lose yards.

- Jeremiah Hatch being reinserted at center with Sal Capra moving to guard. Hatch is too good to sit on the bench, and Capra's natural position is guard. The O-line had a stellar day.

- Consistency at QB. Jordan Webb has won the job--let him stay in the role. While Kale Pick made appearances to run the ball, Webb is the better passer. And, the emergence of Sims, coupled with Angus Quigley and D.J. Beshears as backfield mates, equates to a more balanced Kansas attack.

- Carl Torbush. Kansas' defensive coordinator has coached against this Georgia Tech offense before, during this stint at Mississippi State, and it showed today. The defense always seemed to blitz at the right time, and was fundamentally sound in defending the option.

- The coaching staff. It had to be a very difficult week for the coaches to keep the players believing in themselves. Confidence now is running high and an argument could be made that losing to NDSU and beating Georgia Tech will mean more for this team's psyche than vice versa.

So, if you're Turner Gill, what's next--what do you need to worry about and/or consider?

- A five-day prep process for the next game on Friday at Southern Mississippi.

- How to get your team believing in "one game at a time?" There is the obvious danger of being too high after today's upset win.

- How do you continue to get Kale Pick on the field without harming offensive consistency? Pick is obviously shifty and fast--could he be KU's next Kerry Meier, i.e., a quality QB who is good enough and athletic enough to develop into a running back or receiver?

Kansas' performance today was far from flawless. There were two huge drops by receivers, the most damaging being Daymond Patterson's on a key second half third down play. The special teams have been average. And, there was questionable play calling when KU was up by 11 and trying to maintain possession of the ball in the fourth quarter.

In sum, KU is 1-1 after their first two games--exactly where most thought the Jayhawks would be. It's the journey which got them to this place which has been anything but predictable.

Friday, September 10, 2010

College football predictions - week two

What did we learn last week? We learned that Kansas' program has taken a huge step back, that Kansas State has the best running back in the conference and that Missouri has the best quarterback in the Big 12. We also learned that Gary Pinkel CAN make half-time adjustments, that Bill Snyder CAN beat Division 1 non-conference foes, and that Turner Gill CAN remain upbeat even after the most embarrassing loss in recent KU history.

Let's look at week two action in the Big 12 and elsewhere--here are the predictions.

Georgia Tech over Kansas. The intrigue in this game is whether we see Kansas improve, particularly in the area of coaching preparedness on offense. Jordan Webb is the new QB and Jeremiah Hatch has been inserted back into the starting offensive line. Gill has said that freshman James Sims will see action at RB. The line is 14--I think staying within two touchdowns of Tech would be a definite improvement in week two for the Jayhawks.

Missouri over McNeese State.
Last week was the Tigers' non-conference test. This week, and the two following, are contests where MU will be fine-tuning its game in preparation for the start of the Big 12 season on October 9 against Colorado. And, it's the first of four straight home games for Missouri.

Kansas State over Missouri State. Terry Allen had a horrid record against Kansas State during his tenure at KU. That record won't improve tomorrow. The issue for Wildcat fans is the play from the quarterback position--will it improve?

Oklahoma over Florida State. This is the best game in the Big 12 tomorrow. Which OU team will show up? Disciplined? Focused? Or, the team which almost squandered the big lead last week?

Iowa over Iowa State. The Cyclones lost big in this game last year at home. It won't get better in Iowa City.

Oklahoma State over Troy. Kendall Hunter stakes his claim to being the best RB in the conference.

Baylor over Buffalo. The Bears get win #2 over Gill's old school.

California over Colorado. Welcome to the Pac-10, CU.

Nebraska over Idaho. Another tune-up win for NU before heading to Washington next week.

Texas over Wyoming. The Cowboys can't rope the Longhorns.

Texas Tech at New Mexico. Tech needs to be careful and not overlook a New Mexico team which was embarrassed last week at Oregon.

Texas A&M over Louisiana Tech. The A&M offense continues to roll.

Notre Dame over Michigan. Remember when this match-up would've been at the top of the watch list? It's an intriguing game as it will give us a better sense as to which team is more legit--both won their openers last week.

Alabama over Penn State. This is the game drawing most of the attention this week. I can't see Joe Pa going into Bama and stealing a road win.

Miami over Ohio State. Yep, my upset pick of the week. Each year, Ohio State lays an egg in the non-con schedule--tomorrow will be this year's version.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Team popularity in the NFL

There is a recently issued "popularity index" for NFL teams which takes into consideration the local and national television ratings for individual teams coupled with traffic on the team's website and number of mentions on the Internet. The study was commissioned by Nielsen.

So, who do you think is "most popular?" Of course, it's "America's Team"--the Dallas Cowboys. And, FOX Sports should be happy as seven of the top 10 teams are NFC teams--the conference covered by FOX versus CBS, who has the AFC.

Here is the list:

1. Dallas Cowboys
2. Pittsburgh Steelers
3. New York Giants
4. Chicago Bears
5. Green Bay Packers
6. Minnesota Vikings
7. Philadelphia Eagles
8. Indianapolis Colts
9. New Orleans Saints
10. New England Patriots
11. Washington Redskins
12. Denver Broncos
13. San Diego Chargers
14. Cincinnati Bengals
15. Tennessee Titans
16. Baltimore Ravens
17. Arizona Cardinals
18. New York Jets
19. Miami Dolphins
20. Buffalo Bills
21. Cleveland Browns
22. Atlanta Falcons
23. Carolina Panthers
24. Kansas City Chiefs
25. Oakland Raiders
26. Detroit Lions
27. San Francisco 49ers
28. Houston Texans
29. Seattle Seahawks
30. Jacksonville Jaguars
31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
32. St. Louis Rams

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


When hired, he was quoted as saying, "Kansas needs to get its swagger back." And, under his reign, indeed it did as the University of Kansas had its most successful football season ever in 2007 capped with a BCS bowl win in the Orange Bowl in January 2008. Three months later, a victory parade in Lawrence brought out 80,000 fans to pay homage to their national champion Jayhawks--victors over Memphis in the 2008 NCAA Mens National Championship game. Swagger? You bet!

That swagger became a part of business at the Kansas Athletic Department. A points system for tickets was instituted, donations swelled, facilities were built, and giving increased KU's athletic budget so that the school better competed with the big boys. Yes, Lew Perkins was all about swagger.

The swagger backfired, however. What was swagger was really hubris. And, hubris translated to a lack of management, budget and institutional control. There's no need to recount the sins here--suffice to say that Lew (even the one-name moniker is about swagger and BIG) did many things wrong and ultimately is paying for those mistakes by resigning twice. Perkins' first resignation was to say he'd exit a year from now. Yesterday, it was a resignation which reported that he was gone immediately.

Now what? For we Kansas alumni and fans, the peak of 2007-2008 is fading rapidly in the rearview mirror, replaced by the following uncertainty:

- On the basis of the outcome of one game, Perkins made an awful hire for his new head football coach.

- The most important guy in the athletic department will have a new boss by the "middle of the spring semester," according to the University's chancellor. And, we all know what happened between Perkins' predecessor and the then head mens basketball coach--he didn't get along with his new boss and left.

- The publicized Gridiron Club--a project led by Kansas great Gale Sayers--isn't even being talked about anymore.

- A ticket investigation is still underway.

- And, for all of the fundraising and facilities improvements, Kansas athletics did not crack the top 50 in last year's Athletic Directors' Cup competition, which measures success across all sports. (Only Kansas, Kansas State and Colorado, among Big 12 schools, didn't make the top 50.)

The responsibility for "what's next" falls on Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little. If the athletics department is indeed the "front porch" into a university, then her upcoming decision on a new athletic director, and the new A.D.'s actions after that, will dictate much about the future success of the University of Kansas.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Another of The Greatest Generation passes

One of the beauties, for me, of a long holiday weekend is the ability to spend more time absorbing the Sunday newspaper. Yesterday, as I read page after page, I came across the obituaries and my eyes were drawn to a long write-up about Dr. John E. Ingram, M.D. The photo in the Kansas City Star's obituary section showed a young Ingram, clad in army khaki and combat helmet.

The story about Ingram was compelling and sounded as if it came straight from Tom Brokaw's book, The Greatest Generation. Ingram's tale embodied all that we respect about those who grew up in the Depression and then served in World War II.

Ingram was born in Wyoming and grew up "throwing newspapers, playing football, chasing horny toads and rattlesnakes, building balsa wood airplanes and all of the other things boys did during the Depression." He graduated from Rawlins, WY High School in 1942 and promptly joined the Army. After his basic training, Ingram fought in the Battle of the Bulge, the pivotal battle in the winter of 1944-45 in the European theater, crossed the Remagen Bridge under heavy gunfire from the enemy and was involved in the capture, and surrender, of Germany. He celebrated VE Day there.

The obit points out that while Ingram survived the war, he also saw first-hand the atrocities of the Holocaust. His unit was assigned to the Dachau concentration camp a few months after its liberation and witnessed the stockpiles of clothing, shoes and other items which were taken from the camp's prisoners and stored in a warehouse.

Mr. Ingram saw London and France before returning home to Rawlins. He worked at the Sinclair Refinery there but a work accident convinced him that he needed a change of profession, so he chose to go to medical school. He attended Creighton Medical School, graduated, and moved to Kansas City. He interned at St. Margaret's Hospital and ultimately bought out a family physician's practice in Argentine. It was during this time that Ingram met "a lovely young brunette on a blind date." And, yes, he and his love Barbara were married shortly thereafter and celebrated 49 years of marriage together before her passing.

Ingram and his wife would raise three children. He worked for over 40 years as a doctor and during that time reportedly delivered over 800 babies. Ingram was generous with his patients, allowing one to pay his bills with Polish sausage and helping another avoid suicide after spending hours talking to the man and getting him to turn over his pistol.

He had hobbies--photography, carpentry--and loved to travel with his wife.

There was no explanation for how Ingram died but the obituary painted a picture of a man who had lived his 86 years to the fullest. He served his country, served his fellow man, fell in love with and married one woman, and raised what sounds to be a successful family of children and grandchildren.

Life goes on but each day carries with it the passing of another Dr. John Igram--a member of "the greatest generation."

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Saturday morning coffee

- Apple has launched a new social networking service on iTunes called Ping. Ping allows others to follow you and your music. Thus far it's in its infancy as I've successfully created a profile but have found few to follow.

- Isn't the term "reality show star" an oxymoron?

- Back to iTunes--the uber-successful digital music service could soon have none other than Google as a competitor. According to Reuters, Google is considering launching a music download store, like iTunes, and a "song locker service" that would allow users to access their music libraries from anywhere, via the Internet. This development makes the music labels happy as Apple has had a near monopoly on the market. Apple's closest competitor, the MP3 store of Amazon, only boasts a 12% market share.

- It's not the best week to attend the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York. Early in the week, scorching temperatures blistered competitors and fans. And now, Hurricane Earl is wreaking havoc with the tournament's schedule.

- Remember the vuvuzela from the World Cup--the plastic horns whose noise became a constant audio backdrop to any match played in the competition this summer? The word "vuvuzela" has now made it into the Oxford Dictionary. Other new words include "overleveraged," "defriend," and "bromance," which is a close friendship between two men.

- This falls into the category of "be careful of what you say and who you say it to." A Colorado man was banned from a Safeway store after offending an employee. What was the crime? The man was charged with pointing to the buxom employee's chest while ordering chicken breasts. He said "I like the large ones" and swears he was referring to the chicken, not the employee.

- Can parents and Facebook co-exist? 76% of parents with teens on Facebook have "friended" their kids. And, 29% of the teenagers on Facebook say they would "unfriend" their parents if they could. The teens are twice as likely to unfriend Mom than Dad. comment.

- Finally, here is my Labor Day admonition. It's not called "Labor" Day so that you can work--take it easy this weekend.

Friday, September 3, 2010

College football predictions

Week one of college football play began last night with USC, South Carolina and Utah all winning and staking claims to early movement up in the Top 25. Here are my predictions for the Big 12, and some select other games, in week one.

Missouri over Illinois. Will the Illini ever win again in this series? It won't be this year given issues with their secondary, which will be no match against Blaine Gabbert and company.

Kansas over North Dakota State. It will be a successful opener for the Turner Gill reign at Kansas. The questions to be answered are how well the team looks in prep for upcoming games against Georgia Tech and at Southern Miss.

Kansas State over UCLA. The Cats are two point favorites. This will be the best game of the three local schools' contests.

Nebraska over Western Kentucky. This will get ugly early--Western Kentucky could be the worst team in D-1 college football.

Colorado over Colorado State. If CU loses this game, the "Dan Hawkins Watch" will go on high alert.

Texas Tech over SMU. The Mustangs are a much-improved team but will lose in Lubbock. It's Tuberville-time at Tech...but this game could be the upset special in the Big 12.

Baylor over Sam Houston State. Welcome back, Robert Griffin.

Texas A&M over Stephen F. Austin. The second of two games where Big 12 schools play Texas heroes. A&M will trample Steve Austin.

Oklahoma over Utah State. The Sooners roll...

Oklahoma State over Washington State. WSU won one game last year. That losing trend continues tomorrow.

Texas over Rice. The Longhorns will beat up--big time--on their former Southwest Conference brethren.

Virginia Tech over Boise State. This is the best game of the weekend. If Boise State wins, a BCS bowl bid awaits. I'm going with Tech since this game won't be played on a blue field, and there will be tons of Hokie fans at this "neutral site" game in Landover, MD.

Notre Dame over Purdue. Brian Kelly's first game as Irish head coach will be a W.

LSU over North Carolina. Does UNC have anyone left on their team? Suspensions have dramatically impacted the outcome on this one.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Big 12 - The Final Football Season

After an eventful offseason, and a long, hot summer, we can collectively breathe a sigh of relief as college football returns tomorrow evening. Let's take a look at this last season of the original Big 12 Conference and who we expect to make it to the league championship game in Dallas.

Big 12 North

Nebraska is expected by everyone to win the Big 12 North in their last year in the league. The Huskers return 19 of their 22 starters from last year's North winner and play key games at home. However, I'm not convinced that NU will contend for the national crown--I expect them to beat Texas in Lincoln but then lose to the Longhorns in the rematch in the conference championship game.

Missouri plays at Nebraska, at Texas Tech and at Texas A&M, and will face Oklahoma at home. I am predicting that MU will lose all four of these games, given a defense which will be susceptible to the pass. The Tigers also sustained a huge blow this week with the permanent suspension of key running back, Derreck Washington.

Kansas lost all of its key skill position players and now has a depleted defensive line and linebacking corps due to injuries and suspensions. The defense will struggle to stop teams with strong ground games. On offense, Kale Pick has been anointed "the guy" and will take over for the most prolific QB in Jayhawk history, Todd Reesing. It's hard not to be optimistic about the program, given Turner Gill's coaching philosophy and the quality of his coaching staff, but the 'Hawks will be hard-pressed to make it to a bowl game. It's key that Kansas go 3-1 in the non-conference if they expect to make it to the post-season.

Kansas State won't benefit from a schedule which set up in its favor last year. The 'Cats have the chance to be good, with perhaps the best rusher in the league in Daniel Thomas, but must win games at Iowa State, at Baylor, at Kansas and at Colorado in order to finish third in the North.

Here are my predictions, which include the expected overall record, conference record, and key games which will determine whether this is a good year...or a bad year.

Nebraska: 11-1/7-1; Texas, Missouri, @Texas A&M
Missouri: 8-4/4-4; @Texas A&M, Oklahoma, @Nebraska, Kansas (in Kansas City)
Kansas: 6-6/3-5; Georgia Tech, @Southern Mississippi, Kansas State, Missouri (in K.C.)
Colorado: 5-7/3-5; @California, @Kansas, Kansas State
Kansas State: 6-6/2-6; UCLA, @Kansas, @Baylor, @Colorado
Iowa State: 3-9/1-7; @Kansas State (Kansas City), Kansas, @Colorado, Missouri

Big 12 South

Texas won't play for the national title this year but all roads to the Big 12 South championship run through Austin. The key game will, once again, be the Texas-Oklahoma clash in Dallas but other matchups will determine who plays North Division winner, Nebraska, in early December. These key games include Oklahoma at Missouri, Texas Tech at Texas A&M, and Texas A&M at Texas.

Predicted records:

Texas: 11-1/7-1; Oklahoma (Dallas), @Nebraska, Texas A&M
Oklahoma: 10-2/6-2; Florida State, @Cincinnati, Texas, @Missouri, @Oklahoma State
Texas Tech: 9-3/5-3; Texas, @Texas A&M, Missouri
Texas A&M: 7-5/4-4; @Oklahoma State, Arkansas, Missouri, @Kansas
Oklahoma State: 6-6/2-6; Texas A&M, @Texas Tech, @Kansas State, @Kansas
Baylor: 5-7/2-6; @TCU, Kansas, Kansas State, @Oklahoma State

Big 12 championship: Texas over Nebraska

DWTS lineup

ABC stuck to its formulaic approach to Dancing With the Stars when it announced this season's lineup of competitors. As in years past, this season will feature celebrities from sports, politics, comedy, reality TV and movies, and will once again include a "senior adult." However, unlike last season, this eclectic mix does not boast star power or personal mini-dramas comparable to last spring with personalities like Erin Andrews, Kate Gosselin, Evan Lysacek, Jake Pavelka and Pamela Anderson.

No, this season we get the following:

- Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino. Seriously?
- Jennifer Grey. The Dirty Dancing star fills the 50-something slot in the DWTS formula.
- David Hasselhoff. The Hoff must be trying to set a record for most reality TV show appearances.
- Rick Fox. Resident eye candy for the ladies.
- Florence Henderson. See Cloris Leachman.
- Bristol Palin. Okay...even more seriously--seriously!?
- Michael Bolton. He'll fill the nice guy role along with former NFL quarterback Kurt Warner.
- Audrina Partridge. Resident eye candy for the gentlemen.
- Brandy. "You're a fine girl..." (Look it up on
- Margaret Cho. The comedian of the lineup.
- Kyle Massey. Uh, I don't watch The Disney Channel.

I have to admit that I'm surprised. After what appeared to be a very solid season with plenty of interest and intrigue, we get the above group of head-scratching players from ABC. Color me disinterested.