Monday, January 4, 2010

Through the looking glass of 2010

This is the time of the year when I like to stick my neck out and predict the future. I figure my guesses are as good as any other see-the-future type, so here goes.

And, please be aware: What you are about to read is worth what you're paying for it. And, as they say in stock trading past performance is not an indicator of future performance.

1) This will be the year when at least one major media outlet, such as Fox, will start to charge readers for its web content. The free ride in online news will come to an end as media organizations come to grips with the realization that relying on advertising to pay the way is an old model that no longer foots the bills.

2) Ninety-five percent of the people who vow to lose weight this year won't.

3) Ninety-nine percent of outraged Texas Tech fans and supporters of Mike Leach will forget their outrage by fall and be sitting in their seats at the season's opening kickoff.

The public's memory, a longtime PR guy once told me, is about six-weeks long.

4) And, with that in mind... Tiger Woods will come back from his self-imposed exile at Augusta National in April.

5) James Cameron will again make some incredibly obnoxious comment during his Oscar acceptance speech.

6) Construction on I-40 westbound will never come to an end.

7) Teen pregnancy in the Texas Panhandle will continue to increase.

8) Amarillo Globe-News Sports Editor Lance Lahnert will cover the Master's this year. (OK, this one I know is likely to happen, so I'm cheating a bit here.)

9) Mayor Debra McCartt will give up her job at Texas Tech in order to begin pursuing a larger political post.

10) Canyon will follow Lubbock's lead and alcohol sales will become a reality in the city.

If you've got some ideas for the future of 2010, post them in the comment area.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Readers' favorite crossword returns

So far, I've only heard from one reader who sent a thanks for the Globe-News returning Wayne Robert Williams' version of the crossword puzzle to our daily pages.

When we replaced Williams it was only because he retired from a major syndicate and was getting out of the crossword business. I heard from about a zillion readers complaining about his replacement so I expected at least a few readers to comment when Williams decided to come out of retirement late last month.

If you've noticed the daily crossword has changed back to Williams and you're happy about it, do me a favor, will ya?, and hit the comment button and let us know your thoughts.


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Gasp! Tiger Woods is human

I'm part of the media and I'm tired of the media hype about Tiger Woods' car accident. Anyone over the age of 15 instinctively knew the minute the story broke that the cause of the accident was one of two things 1) Tiger fleeing a wifely argument 2) Tiger caught coming home late with the proverbial lipstick on his collar.

And 1) and 2) could both be true at the same time.

I sure didn't believe he was going out for a pack of smokes or a quarter-pounder. And, having heard tales of women who've caught cheating spouses, I guessed the golf club-welding Elin wasn't as much trying to rescue him from a car wreck as pummel him for crashing the marriage.

All that having been said, so what?

The guy plays great golf. He's rich. He's human. And stupid. And embarrassed at getting caught in such a spectacular way. He's one more cheating celebrity to line up beside of David Letterman and thousands of not-a-household-name cheaters everywhere.

Did we really need a 4-day media blitz about it?

I wish we'd covered the weapons of mass destruction issue which led our country into the Iraqi war with equal scrutiny and fervor.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Sir Charles Barkley, still the King of skewer

I watched Charles Barkley on Jay Leno last night like a million other viewers. The difference in my absorbed viewing and others is that I have a pair of shoes I call my Charles Barkley shoes.

They earned that name about 10 years ago -- and yes, I still have them and I will never get rid of them -- because I remember Barkley grabbing my foot when I was wearing those shoes and saying in the way only Sir Charles can, "Girrrrrl... those are some nice shoes!"

I was sitting beside him in the locker room of the Seattle SuperSonics (they were super then) while he held a more interesting court that night than he had on the hardwood earlier. He was seated on a chair that wasn't big enough to contain him, swilling diet Cokes like there was no tomorrow and wearing a pair of shoes I wanted to grab for myself. Except they were about a size 14 and both of my feet would have fit into one of them with room to spare.

They were cobalt blue alligator shoes in a patent leather finish that probably cost him more than I was paid in an entire month.

Getting praise from a man who so clearly knew shoes is reason enough to keep mine forever, I figure. Plus, hey, they're cute. Still.

So, it was with some dismay I noticed on Leno's show Barkley wore a pair of boring brown loafers that looked like something a man with foot problems would don. He talked about his weight and vowed to lose 50 pounds by January.

The conversation was familiar.

Barkley was talking about his weight -- too much of it -- 10 years ago, too. Last night, he skewered politicians, poked fun at Jay and made fun of himself. Ten years ago, he was saying he would go into politics and run for governor. Back then he poked fun at reporters and told an ESPN guy that ESPN should be ashamed to call themselves a sports channel. The week before, Barkley pointed out, the sports network had aired a tractor pull event. Barkley went off on that.... "You call that (expletive) sports?", along with a few other choice phrases.

The ESPN guy actually blushed.

The newspaper people all laughed.

Except for the guy from USA Today, who also got a Barkley barb because USA Today cost 50 cents then, which Barkley considered .... ummh, shall we say, not a value.

Barkley road the moment like a professional bronc rider and got in several more zings before he left to go eat a steak at McCormick and Schmick's. It was his favorite steak place in Seattle and he never missed a chance to eat there and Seattlites knew it. He always signed autographs and joked with the patrons. Compared to the petulant SuperSonic Gary Payton who never had a nice word to say to any fan, Sir Charles was a prince, a star who never forgot "who brung him to the dance."

For my money, Barkley has always been more entertaining off the court than on it. He's willing to be transparent, self-deprecating and call the world exactly like he sees it.

And in this day of out-of-control political correctness, the world gives him a free pass for doing with flair what most everyone wants to do, but won't.

That, my friends, is true star power.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Please. Save me some real time in the daylight

Thank God, it's over.
Daylight savings time, that is.
I hate daylight savings time with a passion usually reserved for creepy-crawly things and drunks who misdial at 3 a.m.
I guess at one time it had a purpose.... like back when children had to do chores on the farm and walk to school in their bare feet after doing said chores.
These days the bare feet are on the mother's chauffeuring their kiddies to school in a luxury minivan and the closest thing to a chore a kid does before heading to school is charging a cell phone.
So, yes, I hate the obsoleteness of DS and the insistence in hanging onto something that used to be a good idea but no longer is.
Even the government finally acknowledged that its latest effort -- expanding DS by about a month -- actually cost the country (Read that as you and me) money. We paid for more electricity because we ran our air conditioners longer at night. We turned the lights on sooner in the morning, and generally managed to burn up any supposed energy savings which we were promised by having a longer period of DS.
I think Arizona has the right idea. Arizona, that plucky state, Just Said No to daylight savings time. They've never had it. Don't want it. Know they don't need it.
So, I have to constantly ask myself when calling friends there: Is it one hour difference or two? My friends never have to remember to fall forward or backward. Their biological clocks aren't in a constant state of readjusting like mine. Their dogs don't need to be retrained twice a year on what time their little doggie world is supposed to start.
And my friends NEVER have to adjust their clocks, digital, manual, VCR, oven, microwave, car, computer or other.
Which is what I'd call saving real time in the daylight.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Southwest Airlines: Where has all the fun gone?

We all know the reputation which helped build Southwest Airlines.

Fun in the skies.

Flight attendants who joked.

And sang.

And made fun of the instructions while telling you things like, "Really. The seat beneath you which barely has enough padding to support your rear quarters, is a flotation device. Trust me."

Their non-corporate ways have gone bye-bye faster than the planes.

Yes,I'd heard of those flight attendants. Like I'd heard of a T-Rex and 10-cent coffee and newspapers which everyone read with more daily commitment then they gave to attending church.

But finally, last Sunday I had the fun of being on a flight with those high flying Southwest Dinosaurs.
And, it was fun. And funny.

And the passengers clapped at the end of their routines.

And we all felt better about flying.

And for no rational reason, I felt like the odds were good I'd make it to my destination.

And my sense of well-being about the world rose.

And I felt really good about picking Southwest, too.

Did I mention passengers clapped?

Granted, the singing wasn't that great and the jokes weren't that funny, but the unexpectedness of it made up for any lack of talent.

And the passengers clapped.

And I went to my destination happier than I would have been if I hadn't been on that flight. For that I am thankful. I suspect others were, too.

On the return flight, sadly, the Southwest Dinasaurs were extinct replaced by flight attendants who thought they worked for .... well, American.

We got home safely -- and my motto is any flight that lands safely is a good one -- but, trust me, it wasn't nearly as much fun.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Ballon Boy: He's six - so what's CNN's excuse?

In the news business, we're used to reporting bizarre stories. We report about life, which often is, as they say, stranger than fiction. The saga of Balloon Boy falls right in there with the strangest of the strange.
For those of you who missed it, the nation was riveted -- driven in part by CNN non-stop video coverage -- as a weird silver object looking way more like a mushroom than a balloon -- whisked its way across the Colorado landscape for some two hours.
CNN's talking heads narrated non-stop the journey of the dipping and diving device, all the while speculating whether the 6-year-old was A) in the balloon B) still alive C) fallen out of the balloon D) at home E) suffered other fate. Watching, I flashed back to a similar second-by-second video chase of a slow-rolling white bronco driving down a California highway.
OJ Simpson.
Balloon Boy.
Non-stop coverage of every twist and turn.
Talking heads with vacant air to fill, often making comments that sounded as if there was more air between their ears than in either the balloon or their time slot.
As I listened to this news report which was long on speculation and short on facts, I had another flashback of the grainy black-and-white video where Walter Cronkite reports the shooting of President Kennedy.
Cronkite's most memorable line -- at least among journalists -- was: Get it right. Not "Get it fast." Cronkite knew reporting news fast is worthless if whatever you get isn't also right.
No doubt about it, CNN's Balloon Boy report was great entertainment. It was a mixture of truth, human drama and pure bull.
Afterward, the public was outraged at the parents, partly I suspect because we'd been taken on a two-hour emotional roller coaster, courtesy of CNN.
In the old days, we called such stuff a fictionalized account based on actual events.
These days, it's hard to tell where one ends and the other begins.
Great entertainment. Great fun. Just not great reporting.
Meanwhile, let's not forget: Balloon Boy is a 6-year-old. They do and say childish things. Cause THEY'RE SIX. They do things which don't make sense. Cause THEY'RE SIX.
Sadly, we all don't have that same excuse.