Thursday, November 29, 2007

I'm a Believer

For years I've heard about Shakespeare's Pizza in Columbia from the various Mizzou grads in the media. So on this road trip, the radio crew decides its time for a little research. Oh. My. This would not replace my hometown favorite -- there is nothing, nothing like Johnny's Pizza -- but that pie in Columbia was darn tasty.

Even better was the vibe. That's what's truly missing in America today. To one side, is that a photojournalism prof that is being fawned over by his young-enough-to-be-daughters. And scarfing up tables as fast as they could, is that the sociology department entertaining a future colleague? Mixed in with several nuclear families and fraternity brothers? It was a lovely step back in time. You can fill in the blank with your college food haunt -- Enochs was where we went with the profs.

Oh well, until the Ajax next month in Oxford . . .

Saturday, November 24, 2007

You've Got to Be Kidding Me

As much as I like a nice winter day, the cold and drizzle in San Antonio made this trip miserable. Any further north, this would have been snow -- no doubt. And, now the forecast has winter weather advisory for two counties over.

Really looking forward to New Hampshire now. Of course, with this wacky weather, it may be short sleeves at Christmas. Then again, the Mount Washington weather station had -2 F and 55 mph winds.

Friday, November 23, 2007

A Visit to the Mother of all Cabanas

Now the unarguable upside of the UTSA tournament is the chance to visit the original Taco Cabana. Great story -- an old Dairy Queen bought by two guys running a neighborhood bar that wanted the building's parking for the bar. Decided to go ahead and operate a taco stand, and the rest is history. Turnabout is fair play -- today, the bar is the parking lot for the Taco Cabana #1 location.

Kyle Kellams, our play by play announcer, mused how many motherships I'd had the chance to visit. The ones I can remember: Wendy's, Popeyes, Tom Horton, Krystal, Burger King, Whattaburger, Starbucks along with the Cabana.

But the Cabana, with its limited locations and a lack of trips to its region has a special place. With any luck, I'll equal or surpass the record run of every meal except one during a tournament trip from the Rice tournament back in 2004.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

I Hate Thanksgiving

Now that I have your attention, what I dislike is traveling on Thanksgiving. This is a factor of being in college sports, particularly basketball. If your team is any good, you get none of the holidays -- at an early season tournament for Thanksgiving, to or from some holiday tournament at Christmas, same for New Year's Eve and in many years postseason tournament for Easter.

I saw the harbinger of the holidays a few days ago -- the green and red Starbucks coffee cups. Shudder. Visions of really bad chain restaurant Thanksgiving dinners. Wandering aimlessly through empty airports or closed down city centers.

Last year was the exception to a 23-year run as the family got the chance to travel with me to Hawai'i, and we all had home cooked Thanksgiving dinner with my kami'ani aunt in Honolulu. Years ago, we at least got to stay home for Thanksgiving as Arkansas hosted a tournament, but some of the other staff got tired of having to work the Friday after, so they endorsed killing the tournament and sending the rest of us off on the voyage of the damned (I hope their turkey's got dried out in the oven today).

It has led to some interesting Thanksgiving meals, like the one in 2000 madly grabbing at a package to turkey meat and a bag of fritoes at a grocery store in New Jersey -- literally the only thing open on Thanksgiving night.

I love to travel with the best of them, but looking back, I've missed way to many family events for this job. Here's fair warning to those wanting to get into the business. When I started out, we always wondered why the boss sent the graduate assistant to Hawaii, or Puerto Rico, or Alaska. He never seemed to take the cool preseason trips.

Now on the other end of the gig, I can see why. Once you've seen San Antonio, there's no need to see it again on Thanksgiving night. Family is more important. I did make that choice one year, however, as my mother was dying of cancer I sent my student worker to the Virgin Islands. To this day, people still don't get why I'd skip that trip. As it turned out, it was also the last Thanksgiving our extended family had together as a series of holiday deaths would follow -- punctuated last year with my mother-in-law passing on Christmas morning just minutes after opening the presents under the tree.

We hoped the long shadow of illness and funerals had passed -- literally -- with last season. We were fresh out of older relations -- mothers, fathers, aunts, birth parents -- then we get the slap in the face of maybe having my job potentially dead. Another reminder that just when you think it's safe to go back to the gym . . . .

Oh well, at least the Blue Bell is fresh down here.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Those Internets Strike

No one will know what really happened this past weekend with Houston Nutt for a while. By what happen, let me be clear I am not casting any judgment on the rumors. What I'm more concerned about is the process that brought us to the point that the story went from website hint to national television network within the space of 24 hours.

For the moment, this is another unfortunate ramping up of the clash between traditional and new media. A fundamental part of the problem is the shifting scale of sourcing. Are two sources required? What if those two sources are not independent of each other? What about an individual who runs his own blog, and has a different standard than when he is working for his traditional media outlet? What if the same applied, but it was a radio talk show and a media outlet? Speed is one of the great problems, as competing media -- both similar and dissimilar -- battle to be first.

When all the dust settles, one can only hope that the parties may be able to come together and figure out how to better control these outbursts.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The End of the World As We Know It

The unification of men's and women's athletics at the University of Arkansas gets announced today, and if it is a unification, if it really becomes taking the best policies and people of the two departments, it will make something that can take us to the next level.

If it becomes as almost every other men-women event -- as Donna Lopiano once said, "When the departments merge, the women submerge" -- we'll become just another cog in the big wheel of athletics.

As one would expect, individuals on both side are anxious. Time will tell.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Ad Platform Comes to Facebook

Remember those profiles you made, those friend lists? That represents a social graph to the folks running the SNW. Now Facebook will utilize this info to create an advertising graph, and in turn target advertising. This could be benign, but then again it is a little more of your privacy peeled away.

Meanwhile, TiVo is acknowledging it is planning to sell data on your viewing interests. One difference here, hardly anyone realized you were signing up to give up how much you watched Gillian's Island or the Inside of Jillian.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Telling Quote from New Book

On the nightstand right now is Craig Silverman's Regret the Error. Right off in the introduction, this one is a winner:

As trust in "official" journalism wanes, many other newslike operations are evolving to fill the void. When people stop trusting the media, believing the media, they go elsewhere.

Silverman's thesis is all the errors -- large and small, acknowledged and uncorrected -- add up to a general loss of faith in journalists.

The elsewhere referenced by Silverman are blogs, websites and message boards. No surprise here.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Booing by SNW

Saw a little of this last year when the "cheering" instructions for the Duke student section against UNC were posted on Facebook. Now the Orlando Sentinel brings us the tale of heckling football players by opponent fans.

Once again, it proves there is such a thing as too much publicity.

For those of us in the profession, here's the money quote:

Courts have ruled that college athletes are quasi-public figures, said Catherine J. Cameron, an assistant professor at the Stetson University College of Law in St. Petersburg.

That means an athlete would not have to prove that an Internet message-board poster acted with malice when making comments about the athlete's personal life.

Even then, and even if a statement was shown to be false, a plaintiff still would face difficulties in potential lawsuits.

"Can you really prove they [the defendants] posted it instead of somebody else who had access to their computer?" Cameron said.

We go a step further. Every year during the new student athlete orientation, the first slide of the PowerPoint tells them the moment they signed their letter of intent with the University of Arkansas, they became public figures -- in every sense of the term.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Not Exactly on Pace

Weeks like these remind me that while you might get behind on the blog, it could be worse -- you could lose family members, or spend quality time bailing out siblings. Compared to last week, these real life things with some others around remind you of two things. Above all, not so bad in your world. Second, you never quite see the life changers that come at you on a Tuesday afternoon.

Deep thoughts aside -- recent development in the SNW world is the potential desire of Facebook to entertain screen names. That would be the beginning of the end for their brand, what would separate them from MySpace, et al.