Saturday, March 29, 2008

Red, Fight, and Blue

-Well, it's time for another Cardinals baseball season to start, and another Blues season to end. Let's talk about the Birds first.

After the way the team performed in the last couple of weeks in spring training, there's certainly room for plenty of optimism about the potential for winning. I think many people look at the youth in the outfield and the uncertainty of the pitching and second base/shortsop combo and think there's no chance for the team to be any good. After all, Edmonds and Rolen provided much of the identity for the "winning Cardinals" of recent years. That's certainly a valid line of thought. (By the way Jimmy and Scotty will both start the season on the DL for their new teams.)

But, I tend to think that there is just as much validity to this one. The pitching will be adequate to keep them in the race until Mulder, Carpenter and Clement are available. The enthusiastic and youthful outfield will be a plus, rather than a minus. Adam Kennedy will return to the form of his past, which was very good. Cesar Izturis will be fine defensively, and adequate offensively. Albert Pujols will stay healthy...(he's had the elbow problem for a while and it hasn't stopped him yet) and have his typical awesome season. Tony LaRussa will out-manage the rest of the division as he usually does. You could expect all of this to be true...just as much as you could expect it not to be. If it does play out that way, there's no reason the Birds shouldn't be in the hunt for the division come September.

-Now to the Blues. We knew that John Davidson and upper management had been planning a long-term re-build of the team. We knew that it would take patience on the part of our fan base. So, let's be patient. We need to look at Pittsburgh, Anaheim, Colorado, Detroit, and some of the other perennial powers who had to hit rock-bottom before they could create a strong, long-term nucleus for on-going success. Sure, we would have liked to have made the playoffs this year after the start the team had. But where the Blues finished in the standings this year really didn't matter. Did it? Where they finish in 2009-10 will be more important to judging if the rebuilding project is working. In the meantime, it will be more important to enjoy the sport and hope that the youth the team is investing in pans out.

-I read that Dave Duncan is thinking of suing KFNS host Kevin Slaten because he felt Slaten put him on the air without notifying him of same. Let's clear something up. I've worked with Kevin in the past and found him to be a smart, and reasonable the air. Kevin knows what his job is and why he gets paid well. Because he says things on the air that nobody else has the guts or inclination to say. I suspect deep down inside Kevin doesn't get his jollies by being the on-air ogre that he is. It's fairly easy to be the on-air nice guy. Not so much the villain. Kevin chooses the dark side for his on-air persona and a good portion of the St. Louis market eats it up consistently. It might not be everybody's cup of tea to listen to someone who claims to always be right and won't listen to reasonable arguments that might prove otherwise. But the King brings enough intelligent controversy to his show on a regular basis to be successful. That's his gig. As for Mr. Duncan... I read the transcript, and I'm not a lawyer, but I don't think he has a legal leg to stand on. If Kevin Slaten is calling you, wouldn't you expect to be on the air? 'Nuff said.

-Our company organized and hosted a Home Theater Workshop for client Mueller Furniture Friday night. It was well attended and everybody seemed to have a good time. Many thanks to McGraw Milhaven of KTRS (pic) for stopping by and meeting the Mueller customers. He's been Mueller's on-air spokesman for the past several months. Also thanks to Ron Wiblemo and Dennis Mokriakov of Ultimate Electronics, Mark Mueller of Mueller Furniture, and Scott Givens of Illinois Distributing for some well-thought-out presentations at the event.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Old Guy Rant

-You know, as time marches on in my life, I wonder if things in this country/world are ever going to get better. And I wonder if my generation doesn't shoulder much of the blame. The main reason I wonder is that it seems every time one turns around we find a story in the news that presents us with the undeniable fact that a growing percentage of our fellow humans only care about themselves... and not much else. And I think it might have begun when people of my age were turning into adults.

Can mass murders be anything but an effort to call attention to one's own problems with the world before checking out? Can we see the politicians on TV without getting the idea that they're in it more for personal glory than changing the world for the better? Aren't most of our young people more interested in how to make themselves look and feel better, and personal amusement than anything else?

I'm not saying all people are this way, but do you want to argue with me that the percentages aren't higher than say, 20 years ago? 50 years ago? Places of worship struggle to relate to the younger audience and, as a result, to stay open. Civic and charitable organizations that depend on volunteers are hard pressed to stay afloat. Fraternal groups that help to improve our communities in many ways, such as the Elks, Moose, Lions, and others like them, can't get young people involved to save their lives.

If my observations are accurate, and of course I think they are, I have to wonder what has allowed this slippery slope to develop. Is it the erosion of the traditional family and it's values? Are we over-exposed to attractive, but destructive, lifestyles in the media? Aren't our heroes more about self-agrandizement than doing good in the world? When I say heroes, I mean the ones in sports and entertainment that are most prominent on the channels watched by the under-20 crowd.

You may read this and say, "It's no different now than when you were a kid." But I don't think so. We've had at least 5 college campus murders...two of the mass variety...just in the last few months. I don't remember ever hearing a story like that when I was a kid. Ever. The preponderance of situations in the news where a person has resolved a dispute by killing someone else is not an occasional thing anymore. It's become a daily headcount. Please count the number of murders in your local newspaper or on the 10 o'clock news for a few days and tell me that I'm misreading the situation.

All of these things, in my mind, come from the mistaken notion that many believe themselves to be the real center of the universe. All things begin and end with ourselves, and our wants and needs. Maybe, just maybe, we baby-boomers screwed things up for good with the 60's rebelliousness and where things progressed from there. If so, I would hope we can get things turned around, at least a little, for those we leave to take care of things.

nar·cis·sism /ˈnɑrsəˌsɪzɛm/Pronunciation[nahr-suh-siz-em] –noun
1.inordinate fascination with oneself; excessive self-love; vanity.
2.Psychoanalysis. erotic gratification derived from admiration of one's own physical or mental attributes, being a normal condition at the infantile level of personality development.
nar·cis·sis·tic, nar·cis·tic, adjective
—Synonyms 1. self-centeredness, smugness, egocentrism.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Where's Tommy?

-Well...Hello again! Sorry about the absence. Too much to do...too little time. You know how it is.

-Son Stewart ended his run in Thrill Me-The Leopold and Loeb Story last night. He reports a full house and long standing ovations from the crowd at the end of the run. A great experience for our young actor. Stew also reports much activity on the "potential work" front... but we don't talk specifically about that not wanting to jinx anything. Next up, a very exciting project with the producers of a new stage adaptation of The Reader. It's a novel by German writer Bernard Schlink that was on the NY Times best seller list several years ago. It's currently being made into a movie with Ralph Fiennes and Kate Winslet. I'll have more as that project develops.

-The Cardinals made a good move to shore up the confidence of fans...if not the signing Kyle Lohse. He's not a huge difference-maker...but is a solid pro.

-The Blues...after the last couple of weeks...well, should be in a good position for another outstanding draft pick this year. And frankly, I think that's just fine. Keep putting potential star players in the pipeline for another year or two. Then let's worry about competing for The Cup.

-Tornadoes tear through downtown Atlanta. Doesn't that only happen in those "end-of-the-world" movies?

-Speaking of the end-of-the-world, when do we start getting really worried about the state of the economy? Mr. Bush says he's on it. What usually happens in an election year is that it gets really bad (yes worse than now) by summertime...then miraculously improves dramatically just before we go to the polls and both parties and their candidates try to take credit. See if that's not how it goes this year.

-The Cardinals have a little to much DeWitt flavor about them now that Mark Lamping has decided to move on. Not that the DeWitts are bad people... but any organization runs better with some honest give-and-take between executives. DeWitt Jr. better be right on most of his decisions..because it looks like most of the credit or blame will be going his way.

-Pretty hard to argue with Bernie Miklasz when he writes that it looks like the NCAA has it out for the mid-major conferences. Some of the most exciting basketball at this time of year happens when David is trying to slay Goliath. But the NCAA big wigs don't seem to understand that concept. This year's bracket seems more intended to get David killed early than create interesting match-ups. And there aren't many Davids in the tournament to start with. There is a David-son to root for. (I guess I'm rooting for Drake since all of our teams in MO/IL had a tough year.)

-Who drummed up all the publicity for this state of Illinois-shaped corn flake that sold on Ebay for 1500 bucks...or something like that? Whoever it was, they should get some kind of a PR award. We seem to be fascinated by the quirky and stupid...and uninterested in the important in these times. Our neighbor won the Nobel Prize for physics?....yawn. Our neighbor dog won the Westminster Dog Show?? Whoopeee!!!!

-I'll bet Mike Martz and Isaac Bruce are having coffee about now dreaming up plays to beat the Rams defense next season. Jim Haslett beware.

-You used to be so proud and excited to send your kid off to college. Now, not only does it break you...but you also have to hire private security to make sure they get through it alive. Tough places these college campuses these days.