Wednesday, March 17, 2010

I'mmmmm Baaaack!

Sweet Jesus! Has it really been December 2008 since I've posted to this blog? Well, yes, indeed it has. For the past year I've been focusing on my family, my finances and my feelings — instead of feeding technology. The world seems to be speeding past way too fast. A quick update on the CKS household: The Lovely Laura is writing and producing TV shows for WSU, and doing other freelance media consulting. Martha, who turns 18 next month, is finishing her IB degree at East and will be going to Kansas State this fall to major in theatre. Meaghan, now 27, is in Africa (Addis Ababa, Ethiopia) learning Amharit so she can translate the Bible into a regional dialect. I am completing my 20th year at WSU, teaching various communication courses. Dad died in August 2008 and my mom is soldiering on at 70, her breast canver in control for third time. I am going to try like heck to update this blog a few times each week with some short, interesting observations. But now, I'm worn out, so I will just say this: Happy St. Patrick's Day! Please subscribe and I promise I'll have something cool to say — sooner or later. Dan

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Folks, I guess I have gotten lax about putting any original thoughts on my blog, but my life's been pretty busy. In the meantime, I will rely again on others to carry the comedy load. This story came to my wife Laura courtesy of an online friend:

A Thanksgiving story about Jasper
We have a fox terrier by the name of Jasper. He came to us in the summer of 2001 from the fox terrier rescue program. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this type of adoption, imagine taking in a 10-year-old child you know nothing about and committing to doing your best to be a good parent.

Five weeks ago we began remodeling our house. Although the cost of the project was downright obnoxious, it was 20 years overdue AND it got me out of cooking Thanksgiving dinner for family, extended family, and a lot of friends that I like more than family most of the time.

I was assigned the task of preparing 124 of my famous yeast dinner rolls for the two Thanksgiving feasts we did attend.

I am still mad at the electrician for getting the new oven hooked up so quickly. It was the only appliance in the whole house that worked, thus the assignment.

I made the decision to cook the rolls on Wednesday evening and to reheat Thursday morning. Since the kitchen was freshly painted, you can imagine the odor. Not wanting the rolls to smell like Sherwin Williams latex paint #586, I put the rolls on baking sheets and set them in the living room to rise for five hours.

After three hours, Perry and I decided to go out to eat, returning about an hour later. An hour after that, the rolls were ready to go into the oven.

It was 8:30 p.m. When I went to the living room to retrieve the pans, much to my shock, one whole pan of 12 rolls was empty. I called out to Jasper, and my worst nightmare became a reality. He literally wobbled over to me. He looked like a combination of the Pillsbury dough boy and the Michelin Tire man wrapped up in fur. He groaned when he walked. Even his cheeks were bloated.

I ran to the phone and called our vet. After a few seconds of uproarious laughter, he told me the dog would probably be OK; however, I needed to give him Pepto Bismol every two hours for the rest of the night.

Who knows why I thought a dog would like Pepto Bismol any more than my kids did when they were sick. Suffice it to say that by the time we went to bed, the dog was black, white, and pink. He was so bloated we had to lift him onto the bed for the night.

Naively thinking the dog would be all better by morning was very stupid on my part.

We arose at 7:30 and as we always do first thing, we put the dog out to take care of his business. Well, the dog was as drunk as a sailor on his first leave. He was running into walls, falling flat on his rear. Most of the time when he was walking, his front half was going one direction and the other half was either dragging the grass or headed 90 degrees in another direction. When he ran down the small incline in our back yard, he couldn't stop himself and nearly ended up running into the fence.

His pupils were dilated and he was as dizzy as a loon. I endured another few seconds of laughter from the vet (second call within 12 hours) before he explained that the yeast had fermented in his belly and that he was indeed drunk.

He assured me that, not unlike most binges we humans go through, it would wear off after about four or five hours. He then told me to keep giving the dog Pepto Bismol.

Afraid to leave Jasper by himself in the house, Perry and I loaded him up and took him with us to my sister's house for the first Thanksgiving meal of the day.

My sister lives outside of Muskogee on a ranch (a 10- to 15-minute drive). Rolls firmly secured in the trunk (124 less 12) and drunk dog leaning from the back seat onto the console of the car between Perry and me, we took off.

Now I know you probably don't believe that dogs burp, but believe me when I say that after eating a tray of risen unbaked yeast rolls, DOGS WILL BURP. These burps were pure Old Charter. They would have matched or beat any smell in a drunk tank at the police station. But that's not the worst of it.

Now he was beginning to pass gas and it smelled like baked rolls. We endured this for the entire trip to Karen's. We were thankful she didn't live any farther away than she did.

Once Jasper was firmly placed in my sister's garage with the door locked, we finally sat down to enjoy our first Thanksgiving meal of the day. The dog was the topic of conversation all morning long and everyone made trips to the garage to witness my drunken dog, each returning with a tale of Jasper's latest endeavor to walk without running into something. Of course, as the old adage goes, "What goes in must come out," and Jasper was no exception.

Granted if it had been me that had eaten 12 risen, unbaked yeast rolls, you might as well have put a concrete block up my behind, but alas a dog's digestive system is quite different from yours or mine. I discovered this was a mixed blessing when we prepared to leave Karen's house.
Having discovered his "packages" on the garage floor, we loaded him up in the car so we could hose down the floor.

This was another naive decision on our part. The blast of water from the hose hit the poop on the floor, and the poop on the floor withstood the blast from the hose. It was like Portland cement beginning to set up and cure.

We finally tried to remove it with a shovel. I (obviously no one else was going to offer their services) had to get on my hands and knees with a coarse brush to get the remnants off of the floor. And as if this wasn't degrading enough, the dog in his drunken state had walked through the poop and left paw prints all over the garage floor that had to be brushed too.

Well, by this time the dog was sobering up nicely, so we took him home and dropped him off before we left for our second Thanksgiving dinner at Perry's sister's house.

I am happy to report that as of today (Monday) the dog is back to normal, both in size and temperament. He has had a bath and is no longer tricolor. None the worse for wear, I presume. I am also happy to report that just this evening I found two risen unbaked yeast rolls hidden inside my closet door.

It appears he must have come to his senses after eating ten of them but decided hiding two of them for later would not be a bad idea. Now, I'm doing research on the computer: "How to clean unbaked dough from the carpet."

And how was your day?


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Poor Obama

Ok, ok, ok...we get it. Barack Obama won. Good for him. Now he's facing the cold, hard reality that implementing his "changes" is going to mean compromise and trade-offs. I sure wouldn't want to be in his shoes. By the way, have you seen photos of Obama recently, with the sunken eyes and haggard expression? He's already starting to look like a Brady photo of Abraham Lincoln during the War Years. But, again, I hope he does well — Lord knows we need someone good in charge. For you fellow McCainites, here's one final swipe at Our Fellow Americans.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

It's a Bird...It's a Plane...It's...Bat Boy?

Bread, milk, butter. . .fake news tabloid? If your weekly shopping routine used to include the out-of-print Weekly World News - famous for such wacky content as alien/celebrity weddings and ominous pictures of the devil's face in smoke plumes - you might have reason to celebrate. WWN stopped printing in 2007 after circulation fell from a high of 1.2 million to below 90,000. A new owner, Bat Boy L.L.C., recently bought the publication and plans to revive it on both the Web and in print. There's even talk of licensing notable recurring headline-grabbing characters, such as the half-breed Bat Boy, for toy figures and movie deals.

It's the End of the World as We Know It...

Well, we knew the day would come when a major newspaper folded up the tent and decided to do away with its daily print edition in favor of the...ugh...Internet. I had just hoped it wouldn't come in my lifetime. The Christian Science Monitor just announced that it is taking the big leap o' faith. Personally, I hope they crash and burn. It's still my strong belief that folks want a physical paper to buy, hold, read and tape to the refrigerator. I also don't think the advertising is there to support online. But, as we all know, the newspaper industry has made so many smart decisions in the past five years, so maybe they are on target. Tell it to my stockbroker, who has watched my McClatchy stock go from $46.50 to $2.50 a share in less than two years. As much as I don't mind reading some news online, I don't want it to be my primary source of information. Wait. Sorry. We're all watching TV nowadays anyway. Nevermind. Do what you want. It doesn't matter anymore. Go here, if you care, to get the sordid details (and their attempt at an explanation):

Thursday, October 23, 2008

My daughter, Sweeney Todd

Just when I thought my daughter Martha was getting over her Goth years, she goes and makes herself a Sweeney Todd costume for her Halloween parties (the girl is booked). She may not look exactly like Johnny Depp but the hair, suit and snarl are pretty good. It's impossible to take a bad picture of her. So far she has not asked for a barber chair for Christmas. Still, I'm keeping the old straight razors hidden. Hell hath no fury like a 16-year-old who hates meat.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

William Shatner on Gun Control

William Shatner may be an iffy actor and a horrible singer — and a racist on Boston Legal to boot — but he loves women, booze, cigars and guns. If you do too, this will make you laugh. This is courtesy of Bill Molash.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Smart Students

From that great teaching guru, Les Anderson...

At Penn State University, there were four sophomores taking chemistry and all of them had an 'A' so far. These four friends were so confident that, the weekend before finals, they decided to visit some friends and have a big party. They had a great time but, after all the hearty partying, they slept all day Sunday and didn't make it back to Penn State until early Monday morning

Rather than taking the final then, they decided that after the final they would explain to their professor why they missed it. They said that they visited friends but on the way back they had a flat tire. As a result, they missed the final. The professor agreed they could make up the final the next day. The guys were excited and relieved. They studied that night for the exam.

The next day the professor placed them in separate rooms and gave them a test booklet. They quickly answered the first problem worth 5 points. Cool, they thought! Each one in separate rooms, thinking this was going to be easy... then they turned the page. On the second page was written...

For 95 points: Which tire? ________________

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Goodbye, all you idiots

This is from the Financial Times of London. If I were this rich and tired and stressed and wanted to be happy, I would do the same thing. He is right. Enjoy.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Font Humor

I can't say that I am a regular YouTube watcher, but this video made me laugh. It was sent by my wife, the always lovely L Kelly.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Tim Russert on Journalism

If you care about the state of journalism, and enjoy reading the late Tim Russert, I encourage you to go to this Poynter Institute for Media Studies Web site and read his remarks. There's also a YouTube video showcasing part of the speech. Enjoy! And, as always, I encourage your feedback.

Monday, October 13, 2008


Watch this. Then tell me how you did.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Who Do Students Admire?

Five of us had lunch today with Jay Smith, the recently retired president of Cox Newspapers. Smith was in town to talk to a couple of classes at the Elliott School of Communication. Smith posed a couple of interesting questions. One that particularly struck me was: "Who do your students look up to?" Smith wasn't asking about celebrities, but about media mentors, specifically in journalism. Going to high school and college in the 1970s, my journalism heroes were broadcast giant Walter Cronkite and investigative reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein of the Washington Post, famous for their sleuthing in the Watergate crimes. In terms of literary models, my writing mentors ranged from Ernest Hemingway to Hunter S. Thompson, an admittedly wide net to cast. His query intrigued me because I have no clue what my own students would say if asked that question. Would they cite old-school journalists, broadcasters and advertising experts? Or would they throw out the names of unknown (to me) bloggers, Web site gurus and weirdo page designers. Well, I am just going to have ask them. Stay tuned. In the meantime, who are/were your mentors?

Monday, September 8, 2008

What is an Intellectual?

Please read the commentary on the attached link. Essentially, the writer argues (persuasively) that while liberal arts professors seem to get away with shrugging off the need for them to knowing math and science, the reverse is rarely true. The writer makes the case that to be a true intellectual you need to grasp all knowledge. It makes sense. Why should a biology professor have to listen to a sociologist complain about pseudo-science, when sociology profs are allowed to attack scientists as being uninformed about the human condition? I have been talking to journalism professors lately about the problem of writers who don't like doing math. That is a subset (pardon the mathematical expression) of the illiteracy issue covered by this writer. Please go to the link for the essay...then let me know what you think.

Old Books You Need to Read

Here's an old list of books I've read and recommend. I plan to update this soon. Pick something out and read it.

John McPhee
The Survival Of The Bark Canoe
The Pine Barrens
The Deltoid Pumpkin Seed
Table Of Contents
The Curve Of Binding Energy
The Crofter And The Laird
The Headmaster
Coming Into The Country
Pieces Of The Frame
A Sense Of Where You Are
Looking For A Ship

Tim Cahill
Jaguars Ripped My Flesh
A Wolverine Is Eating My Leg
Road Fever
Pecked to Death by Ducks

By Tracy Kidder
The Soul Of A New Machine
Among Schoolchildren

Edward Abbey
Desert Solitaire
Abbey’s Road
Down The River
The Journey Home
The Best Of Edward Abbey: A Reader

Hunter S. Thompson
Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas
Hell’s Angels
Fear And Loathing On The Campaign Trail ’72

Tom Wolfe
The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby
The New Journalism
The Right Stuff

Michael Herr

Scott Turow
One L

Timothy Crouse
The Boys on the Bus

Bob Greene
Johnny Deadline, Reporter
Billion Dollar Baby
We Didn’t Have None of Them Fat, Funky Angels on the Wall of Heartbreak Hotel And Other Stories From

Anne Lamott
Bird by Bird

Ben Hamper
Rivet Head

Nathan McCall
Makes Me Wanna Holler

Joe McGinniss
Going To Extremes
The Selling of the President 1968

Russell Baker
The Good Times
Growing Up

Dennis Miller
The Rants

Howard Kohn
The Last Farmer

Robert K. Massie
The Romanovs

Calvin Trillin
American Fried
Alice, Let’s Eat

Richard Rhodes
The Making Of The Atomic Bomb

Tim O’Brien
If I Die In A Combat Zone Box Me Up And Ship Me Home

George Plimpton
Paper Lion

P.J. O’Rourke
Holidays In Hell

Mark Baker

Jim Bishop
The Day Lincoln Was Shot

Witold Rybczynski

Andre Codrescu
Road Scholar

Stanley Crawford
A Garlic Testament

Nora Janssen Seton
The Road To My Farm

William Zinsser
Willie and Dwike

Mariana Gosnell
Zero 3 Bravo

Anne LaBastille

William Least Heat Moon
Blue Highways

Annie Dillard
An American Childhood

Michael Critchton

Stephen Coonts
The Cannibal Queen

Michael Bane
Over the Edge

Thomas French
South of Heaven

Stephen Ambrose
Undaunted Courage

May Wynne Lamb
Life in Alaska

David Herbert Donald

Jim Paul

Dava Sobel

Oliver Sacks
The Island of the Colorblind

Jim Hughes
W. Eugene Smith: Shadow and Substance

Jeremy Wilson
Lawrence of Arabia

Richard Schickel
Clint Eastwood

Books About Writing
• “Writing Creative Nonfiction: How to Use Fiction Techniques to Make Your Nonfiction More Interesting, Dramatic and Vivid,” by Theodore Cheney, 1991, Ten Speed Press.
• “The Literary Journalists: The New Art of Personal Reportage,” edited by Norman Sims, 1984, Ballantine Books.
• “Writing for Your Readers: Notes on the Writer’s Craft from the Boston Globe,” by Donald Murray, 1992, 2nd edition, Globe Pequot Press.
• “Writing for Story,” by Jon Franklin, 1986, Mentor.
• “They Went: The Art and Craft of Travel Writing,” edited by William Zinsser, 19xx, Houghton Mifflin.
• “Handbook of Magazine Article Writing,” edited by Jean Fredette, 1988, Writer’s Digest Books.
• “Magazine and Feature Writing,” by Hiley Ward, 1993, Mayfield Publishing Co.
• “Beyond The Inverted Pyramid: Effective Writing for Newspapers, Magazines and Specialized Publications,” by George Kennedy, Daryl Moen and Don Ranley, 1993, St. Martin’s Press.
• Words’ Worth: A Handbook on Writing and Selling Nonfiction,” by Terri Brooks, 1989, St. Martin’s Press.
• “Interviews That Work: A Practical Guide for Journalists,” by Shirley Biagi, 1986, Wadsworth.
• “The New Journalism,” by Tom Wolfe and E. W. Johnson, 1973, Harper & Row.
• “Popular Writing in America: The Interaction of Style and Audience,” by Donald McQuade and Robert Atwan, 1993, 5th edition, Oxford University Press.
• “The Craft Of Interviewing,” by John Brady, 1977, Vintage Books.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Cigar Victims

Read this "news" blurb in today's Wichita Eagle — it's really more of an ad — and then read what I have to say. Then, let me know what you think.

Tour allows one last puff at three restaurants

Stogie aficionados can take a smoking tour tonight of three restaurants that will go smoke-free when the city of Wichita's partial ban takes effect Thursday. Businesses must ban smoking or build a separate smoking room if they admit people under 18. ABC Discount Smoke Shop & Fine Cigars has arranged for a party bus to leave Finn's bar, 800 E. First St., at 6 p.m. Monday. It will travel to Old Chicago West, Yia Yia's Euro Bistro and Fox & Hound English Pub before returning to Finn's at 11 p.m. The trip costs $25 per person and includes the bus, a T-shirt, a cigar and appetizers or desserts at the three restaurants. To sign up, call the smoke shop, 316-688-0112. -- Eagle staff


The only thing sadder than the arrival of this ridiculous "ban" is the fact that several corporations are exploiting cigar smokers in this way. Fine cigars, like other pleasures in life, are meant to be savored at a leisurely pace in the company of friends. The idea of someone cramming a bunch of folks into a bus and richocheting them around the city for a puff here and there (while gobbling appetizers and pastries to boot) is repulsive and smacks of cheap opportunism. This sounds more like one of those "see a dozen European countries on Greyhound in a week" kind of things. Forgive me if I pass on this and the stupid T-shirt. And shame on the restaurants who are trying to wring one last visit from excellent customers, while kicking them out the door. I will never do business with the smoke shop, its liquor store, or the three restaurants again — and I'll bet no other serious cigar smokers do, either. There are other places and other opportunities for people of fine taste.