Sunday, September 30, 2012

Sunday afternoon check-in

- Well, gee, it looks like I've got a fun trip coming up this week.  Travel & Leisure magazine rated my destination--New York City--as the dirtiest city in America.  Gotham was also rated as the rudest and loudest city.

- Arnie, the beagle, was busted for grand theft in Largo, FL.  The pooch, pet of Corey and Hope O'Kelley, consumed $275 worth of the couple's cash and was only found out after the owners sifted through the dog's vomit and excrement to piece together a few shards of the downed dollars.

- Shoppers in Kansas City got a jolt with news that IKEA is coming to town in 2014.

- This could only happen in America and, specifically, L.A.--O.J. Simpson thinks that Khloe Kardashian is his daughter and has added her as a beneficiary in his will, according to the National Enquirer.  The Juice believes that he fathered Khloe in a 1983 affair with her mother, Kris Jenner.

- Today's data point:  70% of Americans support efforts to require voters to show a photo I.D. card at the polling place.  (Source:  New York Times/CBS News poll.)

- Did you know that there is a soundtrack for the hit mommy porn book, Fifty Shades of Grey?  Yeah, I didn't either.

- The Emmy award-winning show Homeland debuts Season Two tonight on Showtime at 9:00 p.m. CT.  It is "must see" TV.

- This had to be a "for sale by owner" situation--a homeowner in New Jersey put a "for sale" sign in his lawn which read "House for sale by owner, because my neighbor's an a--hole."  Nice...

- And, finally, the saddest story of the week is that Lady Gaga's weight is even a "story."  The singer has recently gained 25 pounds, prompting criticism from fans and observers.  She revealed this week that she's struggled for years with bulimia and had recently put on weight by eating pizza and pasta at her father's restaurant in New York.  Gaga has asked for "compassion" and I, for one, think that is the least that we can do.  Move on here, people--there's nothing to see.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The life of a blogger

Wow!  I'm sorry, dear readers, but I just realized that it's been almost two full weeks since I last posted here at Musings, Notes & Quotes.  What's up with that, you ask?  Well, I think it's a combination of writer's block and time.

It's hard to continue to find compelling content with which to populate this three-plus-year-old site.  But, I believe I have something which will get you excited and exclaim, "that's more like it!"

What I found was this enthralling bit of data from The New York Times Magazine.  Did you know that flip flops are called by different names in different parts of the world?  Unbelievably, neither did I!

In Arizona, they're referred to as "showershoes."  Who knew?  Further west in California and Hawaii, wearers call them "go-aheads."  Perhaps the footwear is called that as they tend to leave your feet and "go-ahead," as they fit very loosely.

"Thongs" are the descriptor of choice in Texas and New York, not to be confused, of course, with a ladies' undergarment by that same name.  East Texans, those folks better known for their ability to breed roses, call 'em "tweeny-toes."  Isn't that cute and oh so Texan?

Finally, in San Diego, they are called "Lord boards."  Perhaps those in SoCali use that term as reference to the sandal favored by Jesus and their love of surfing?

There, now, wasn't that worth waiting for?  I promise to not take as long a respite next time but also pledge to continue to mine the various media outlets for this type of quality content to which you've grown accustomed.

Stay thirsty (for Musings, Notes & Quotes), my friends...

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The View from The Hill

It's week three of my gig as Executive In Residence at the University of Kansas Journalism School and there are some definite impressions I've gathered which I want to share with you, my faithful audience.

Before we begin, let me state again just how surreal this is--spending time in the building where I had many a class during my tenure "back in the day" as a J-School student in the Public Relations sequence.  That sequence has gone away, replaced now by the overarching track of Strategic Communications and the sister track, on the News-Editorial side, which is aptly named "News-Ed."

One thing that immediately strikes anyone of age 40+ who sets foot on campus is the proliferation of ear buds attached to the heads of students walking to and fro on Mt. Oread.  The ubiquitous white cords attached to an Apple product are peeking out of backpacks or hands of students, heads bowed as they peruse all of the functionality of their precious iPhone or iTouch.  A few headphones are seen now and then, usually a staple of athletes typically sporting togs with adidas and KU branding.  It seems, to this old fogey, that today's student can't go anywhere without music providing a daily soundtrack.

Another observation is the disdain that students have for the lesson learned when they were young, i.e., "be sure and look both ways!" before crossing the street.  Look?  Why!?  These kids simply step out, whether due to distraction from the omnipresent ear bud attachments and/or given their expectation that no moving vehicle would dare to strike them while on or around campus.

It's been warm here thus far in the semester and I envy the person who has the Nike track short concession at local sporting goods retailers--this clothing is a staple of any female student on The Hill.  Guys, of course, also sport the shorts look but their attire ranges from the baggy basketball short to cargo shorts from American Eagle or Abercrombie.

From my closeted space in Stauffer-Flint, the best part of each day is overhearing the student conversations, in the hall outside, as they wait for class or head elsewhere after their latest course.  The conversations range from discussions about the latest class project to thoughts on cheap places to eat in Lawrence.  The tone of the voices and the content within is full of hope and promise, reinforcing the thought that college is the best four years of life.

It was with thoughts of this hope and optimism that I anxiously responded when one young man poked his head around the corner into my office and said, "Hey, man, can I ask you a question?"  "Sure!" I said, my mind racing on the possibilities of some thorny journalistic issue certain to come next from his hopeful face.  "Yeah...uh, can you tell me where the bathroom's at?"

I kept my facial expression helpful and smiled, replying "Sure, no problem--go down the hall and down the flight of steps."

Monday, September 3, 2012

The inferiority complex of Labor Day, and what to do about it

Is there a U.S. holiday which has more of an identity problem than Labor Day?  Think about it...

- Martin Luther King Day is obviously a day, during Black History Month, when we stop and observe all that Dr. King did to move the cause of civil rights.

- Memorial Day is the unofficial jumping off date for summer and, of course, the grilling season.  Retailers use this date in May to push grills, charcoal, swim and pool gear, summertime foods and, of course, beer to the masses.

- Independence Day, a k a the 4th of July, celebrates our country's independence and is a day typically set aside for families to come together to test their hands at pyrotechnics, or watch others blow up stuff. It's a day where America's fascination with fireworks is on full display.

Labor Day stands alone as a misunderstood holiday.  Does the word "Labor" mean that I'm supposed to do some sort of work, or absolutely nothing at all?  What's on television on this date?  Nothing, unlike Memorial Day which has tons of war movie reruns for all of us wanting to once again see John Wayne as General James Gavin in The Longest Day.  Heck, Labor Day doesn't even signal a return to school for the kiddies as everyone seems to be jumping to an early August date for the beginning of the school year.

Labor Day has no personal brand and thus is in need of a major makeover.

Here's what I suggest:
- Let's make Labor Day the official opening weekend of all football.
- The Thursday night prior to Labor Day will be the college football kick-off.  Let's schedule a major game (e.g., this past weekend's Alabama-Michigan game at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, TX) as the opener and then have a full slate of games on Saturday of Labor Day weekend.
- High school football then would kick off (pun intended) on Friday--a true Friday Night Lights across all America.
- Sunday would be our NFL opening weekend and then, on Monday--on Labor Day--we have the first NFL Monday night game of the year with a major match-up, perhaps featuring the two teams from the prior season's Super Bowl.

Using Labor Day as our official football opening weekend makes all kinds of sense--it brands the weekend with our country's most-watched sport, and unites us across the country around that greatest of inventions, the television set.

Let's go market this thing, shall we?