Sunday, September 28, 2008

Do they have recess at College

My 9 year-old son Charlie is a lot like other boys: loves sports, loves activities that ruin clothing, loves Star Wars, etc. He is a very physical kid and seems to tolerate academics of third grade but loves the social aspect of it.

All three of my kids have posed interesting questions that have made me pause or forced me to Wikipedia before I answered. But Charlie, who runs on a starch-only diet has a brain that is pure protein. He consistently zings us with a one liner or poses a question that triggers a multi-layered analysis. I envy not his intellect or his voracious curiosity, but his perspective.

After all, it's our perspective that focuses the lens from which we view and interpret life. Alright enough metaphysics and onto two questions he asked my wife and I that have stuck in my mind:

1. Do you wear underwear in heaven?
2. Is there recess in College?

Wow! I marvel at a brain that fuses together the electronic pulses and comes up with those questions. How cool would it be to somehow take those brain pulses, capture them in some kind of helmet and link it to your brain like a virtual reality device from 1993.

Now, there would be some impracticalities to using Charlie's brain 24/7. I would eat mac and cheese or sausage pizza every night and the Disney Channel and ESPN would be my sole contact with the outside world. If I bothered to pay bills, it would probably be with a SHARP AS HELL pencil. But if I could use the Charlie Brain Helmet for, say, a brainstorming meeting, to cure writers block or when I'm trying to come up with a new logo . . .think of the possible outcomes!

So you're probably wondering how I answered questions one and two? I said, "I don't know, what do you think?"

For me there was no right or wrong answer, it was the one Charlie had that mattered.

The Presidential Campaign Creator

Uncomfortable with the "Obamessiah"? Think John McCain is more of the same? It's time to put your money where your mouth is, because you too can run for president.

I guess all the Web 2.0 gurus DO know what they are talking about. I have begun to implement my own grassroots strategy to run for president and I have already scored my first media strike. Don't believe me? CLICK HERE to see the news story.

My platform? I plan on changing the National Anthem to "The Imperial March" from Empire Strikes Back; making the turkey our official bird (thanks for the idea Ben Franklin) and pardoning the Abu Graib soldiers (just kidding but I could if I wanted to.)

Monday, September 8, 2008

Indianapolis Air Show was WAAAY cool

(photo: A P-51 "Mustang" and an F-22 "Raptor" cruise the air together at the Indianapolis Air Show) Thanks Smoosier Jason Bean of bnpositive for the tix.

I took my boys Charlie (9) and Robbie (5) to the Indianapolis Air Show last Saturday. Despite the oppressive sun and heat, we had a great time bounding through a cavernous C-130 cargo plane and a Special Ops "Chinook" helicopter (think dual-rotor flying bus) that looks exactly like the one you jump out of in the "Call of Duty" video game. While a lovingly restored B-17 "flying fortress" once spent its days protecting the allies, 60 years later its shadow protected us from the sun as we watched exciting stunts performed overhead. It was cool to see 40, 50 and 60 year-olds sitting "criss-cross-apple-sauce" as they listened to a one-time crewman explain how the bomber's belly turret maneuvered.

The highlight of the event for me, however, was the demonstration of the Boeing F-22 "Raptor." As you can see in the video available below, I did a poor job videotaping its aerobatics, but you can hear how enthralled we were when it flew 100 feet or so above us (that shrill in my voice is the sound of pure excitement).

Once my heart slowed down I realized that despite all the advances we've made in 100 years of flight, I'm still amazed that something so heavy can fly through the air. The photo above depicts a "heritage flight," a common staple at air shows that plainly illustrates these advances.

And I picked up an awesome trivia gem: Wilbur Wright was actually born in Milltown, Ind., even though historically his hometown has been cited as Dayton, OH.

Find more videos like this on Smaller Indiana

Michael Phelps and his iPod

For the past week or so you can find the Magan family gathered in the family room watching the Olympics from 7:30 to 11:30 every night. I pride myself on detecting pop culture buzzes, and the excitement kids and t'weens have for the Olympics is on a high-band wavelength I cannot pick up.

Anyway, their enthusiasm for not just the mega stars like Michael Phelps, but for the unsung heroes like the loveable shotput guy who was reunited with his birth-mother is contagious. My kids and I have become a marketers dream, we want to try many of the products just to feel like we are part of the Olympics. Pathetic, I know.

But with all the Olympic product endorsements and official this' and thats,you rarely see athletes actually using the products in competition. I don't see Shaun Johnson slamming a Big Mac before the vault. That's because such an action would be detrimental, obviously. In my opinion, the best product endorsement of the games is one that looks as if it was totally UNPAID.

Apple is getting millions in ad value every time any athlete is pictured with the signature white earbuds trailing down their neck. You know the scene: Michael Phelps competitive glare and steely resolve on display as he plays the tape in his mind over and over. Listening to music is getting him in the zone. Whether it's lil Wayne's "I'm Me" or something about surviving by Eminem (pick one) I think the secret song Michael Phelps listens to in order to get pumped up is an oldie but a goodie "Mr Tamborine Man" on WIlliam Shatner's live album from the 60s. Who knew?

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Words that make me Cringe

As a writer for 20 years or so, I've always kept an unofficial list in my head of words that make me cringe when I hear them. These are not just outdated words or minor annoyances, I'm talking about words that may ruin my day if I hear them.

I'm actually a pretty level-headed guy. It takes a lot to piss me off. But this year, for some reason, I am >><< (wincing) more often when I am watching the news or listening to sports or talk radio. I just keep hearing words that drive me crazy. I'll be first to admit that I am getting older and more apathetic. I alone am responsible for my happiness and reaction to things I can not control.

But instead of blaming myself, why not blame . . . the media! I think do think writers and talking heads are getting lazy and just recycling phrases that someone has made universally acceptable.

THE WORD that motivated me to put together a formal list is the worst threat to face the English language since "whatever" (10 years or so). That word is:


ARRRRGH! Hearing that word in my head is like Freddie Krueger fingers scraping a frozen chalkboard. You have to be hip to nosh and if you are noshing, you are cool. Since many of you on SI are professional communicators, please make your day a nosh-free zone!

Below is my unofficial list of other words and phrases that bug me. These are certainly not exclusive to me, I'm sure many of you share my disdain for some of these words and phrases.

NOSH- to snack between meals
CRUNK- and NFL term for getting pumped up
BLING- ostentatious jewelry
PIQUE- to excite
ERECTILE - just because it is often found next to "dysfunction" during sports broadcasts I watch with my 9 year-old son
CHERUB- No good reason, I've just always been bugged by this word
PANTOMIME- see above
CHIPOTLE - This was my "nosh" of 2005, but it still burns.
FARVE - Just when I begged the sports gods to give me a new story, I discover Manning will be out for surgery
BURSA SACK- I have no problem with a bursa or a sack, but we have 150 bursae in our body to facilitate movement between bones and tendons. Which bursa is infected dammit!
BASTARD- Where has this word gone? You never hear it any more but it was big in the 80s. Could you imagine using this word today? It would be worse than the F-word!
DRAMADY- an example of word bastardization
infotainment- yet another example
WORDSMITH- ironic, isn't it?
DECIMATE- when used instead of annihilate. Decimate means only to reduce by 10 percent
ENTITLED- when used instead of "titled." OK if you're a Brit, however.

"At the end of the day"
"throw (someone) under the bus"
"The (insert sport here) Gods were smiling on me."
brick oven
talking points
perfect storm
sanitary landfill

Please add to this list. What are some words that make you cringe?