Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Adrenalize??

"Here's one for your TH committee meeting" a reader-acquaintance said in an e-mail. She noted on Page 2B Tuesday the Telegraph Herald caption of a picture of baseball player Juan Pierre. The caption stated that the Chicago Cubs are counting on Pierre "...to adrenalize the top of their lineup ..." The reader asked, "Is 'adrenalize' a word? A created word?"

Frankly, I thought she had caught us. Making a verb out of a noun is trend that makes grammarians cringe.

However, it turns out that adrenalize, which might have its roots in the title of a 1992 album by the rock/heavy metal band Def Leppard, is now legit.

Adrenalize shows up in Dictionary.com, which uses as its source The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition.

Use the word three times today and it's yours.

Bunny Day 2006


I never dreamed that one day I would give up the bulk of my Sunday to attend Bunny Day. No, it was not an event involving magazine pin-ups. It was an educational program sponsored by the Wisconsin House Rabbit Society, from which we adopted Maddie in late October. We decided to become adoptive "parents" at the urging of our older daughter Kate (pictured), who with her husband, Will, have owned Teaser (also pictured) for nearly four years. So, on Sunday morning, we loaded a reluctant Maddie into her pet carrier and trekked to Madison. It was a good session; we learned more about diet and health (sorry, Maddie, fewer raisin treats) and took advantage of the opportunity to have her checked out by a vet and have her nails clipped. (Actually, while Ann and Kate attended more sessions, Will and I bailed out to watched the final events of the Big Ten women's indoor track finals on the UW campus.) A house rabbit might not be the perfect pet for everyone, but we have enjoyed Maddie. If you are considering a pet, a house rabbit might fit the bill. More information is available through the national House Rabbit Society or its Wisconsin chapter.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Sudoku insights

After Thursday night's seminar, "Solving Sudoku," attendee Art Roche in an e-mail commented to me that he came away with four insights from Professor Emily Moore's presentation:

1. The use of "incomplete triplets" to rule out other possibilities in a row, column, or box. (i.e., discovering that three cells must include three numbers and three numbers only, like 123, 123, and 12, which makes it possible to eliminate those numbers as possibilities for other cells in the same row, column or box.)

2. The practice of redrawing the puzzle when you're completely stuck, and eliminating the clutter by removing the numbers that have already been solved.

3. The third insight is more philosophical. The debate about guessing versus always being able to solve a very difficult puzzle logically- our professor made a startling insight, I thought, by saying that (I'm paraphrasing here) guessing is just a way of dealing with not being able to hold everything "in my head." Logic would require, at some point, to try one path to its ultimate conclusion, and if it fails, try the other. Guessing, then, is the same thing, except it accounts for our inability to hold so many moves in our memory.

4. I was also struck by her recounting the research that says Sudoku employs our full immediate engagement but absolutely no memory skills beyond the duration of the puzzle. Thus, we could be doing the same puzzle today that we did two weeks ago and have no recollection of it or its solution. So maybe crosswords and other puzzles that require digging into my memory vaults are better than Sudoku for keeping the synapses firing to ward off Alzheimer’s and dementia, but I sure like Sudoku better -- it's neat, sweet, and complete.

Thanks for sharing, Art!

Let's play Sudoku!


Jan Weier (left) of Platteville, Wis., and Lindsay Hollingsworth, of Verona, Wis., follow the numbers during "Solving Sudoku" Thursday night at the University of Dubuque. (Telegraph Herald photo, reprinted with permission.)

What a great turnout Thursday night for the "Solving Sudoku" seminar! Hadley Auditorium on the University of Dubuque campus was filled for the session, sponsored by the Telegraph Herald and UD. More than 140 attended. We did our best to not turn anyone away due to the capacity of the hall -- but it was close.

Emily Moore, a Grinnell College math professor and Sudoku player, did a great job in her first-ever presentation on the puzzle. The hours she invested -- along with that of her husband, Tom, also on the Grinnell math faculty -- in preparation for the seminar were much appreciated. She also displayed some impressive software to effectively display the puzzle grids, clues, answers and options. It made it easier to visualize the options.

The Moores were able to spend a little time in our fair city, and I think they were impressed with Dubuque. I won't be surprised if they pay a return visit when they can stay longer. (They arise early Friday and hustle back to Grinnell, where Emily had a 10 a.m. class.)

Meanwhile, initial feedback on the session was positive, and we'll consider doing another seminar sometime in the future. Thanks to all who turned out!

Monday, February 20, 2006

Shape of Ad Campaigns to Come

Knowing my interest in oldies music, colleague Erik Hogstrom recently called to my attention a CD he received as a gift: Nuggets: Choice Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era. He loaned my his copy, and I ordered my own the next day.

This CD is a scaled-down version of a boxed set released in 2000 by Rhino Records in the Time-Life series.
There are a couple of chart-topping exceptions -- including "Incense and Peppermints" (No. 1 in 1967), "Louie Louie" (No. 2 in 1963-64) and "Wolly Bully" (No. 2 in 1965) -- but most of its 20 tracks, from the mid- and late 1960s, are songs that I considered "forgotten oldies."

What "Wolly Bully" and "Louie Louie" had to do with the "psychedelic era" is a puzzler. Several other tracks were by groups of the garage-band variety. Whatever.

Anyway, I was forced to reassess my "forgotten oldies" description when I heard one of the tracks featured on the newly released TV commercial for Target Stores. It is
"Shape of Things to Come" by a studio band dubbed Max Frost and The Troopers . The song, part of the soundtrack from the 1968 movie, "Wild in the Streets," topped out at No. 22 on the Billboard pop charts. How Target or its ad agency uncovered it to use in its ad campaign is a mystery of Madison Avenue. But it seems to work.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Cold night, hot jazz

Organizers no doubt hoped for a bigger turnout Saturday night, but for a first-time event staged with the temperature well below zero, they had to be happy with the response to jazz singer Tierney Sutton's concert. She was the headliner for the inaugural Winter Jazz & Blues Festival.

It was said to be the first concert presented in the auditorium of the recently opened Eleanor Roosevelt Middle School.

I am not a music expert. (The only thing I play is CDs.) But I enjoyed the concert. Perhaps the modest turnout -- a couple of hundred? -- and excellent sound system made the atmosphere feel more intimate. Sutton was backed by a solid band: pianist Christian Jacob (who has own trio and his own CD releases), bassist Kevin Axt and drummer Ray Brinker (who played on Ray Charles' last recording session and on the "Ray" soundtrack).

Let's hope that organizers of this event will schedule it again in 2007, that the weather will be more cooperative and that more tri-state residents will take advantage of the great musical opportunity.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Jazzed Up


Despite below-zero temperatures and a stiff wind, Ann and I ventured out Friday to enjoy the opening night of Dubuque's inaugural Winter Jazz & Blues Festival. Though we got a late start -- it involves Sudoku, but I'll spare you the details -- we got out in time to enjoy a couple of sets by Bob Dorr and the Blue Band at Bricktown. We didn't stay long at the Holiday Inn, where Lesley Byers & The Jazz Cats performed, but it seemed that the audience was more interested in talking (shouting?) and smoking than enjoying her music. (What is the status of smoke-free legislation, anyway?) Our night concluded with the mellow jazz of the Eddie Piccard Quartet at the 3100 Club in the Midway Hotel. At our first and third stops, we encountered Radio Dubuque's Paul Hemmer and his wife, Jan. Paul, who is behind the microphone on KGRR six mornings a week, is a (the?) lead organizer for the festival. Great job!

We're looking forward to tonight's headliner performer, Grammy-nominated jazz singer Tierney Sutton. She might be running on fumes. Paul said that her flight from Southern California was delayed or cancelled (mechanical problems out there, not the Midwest weather) and she was not due in Dubuque until sometime today. Then she will rush back to the Pacific Coast for shows Sunday and Monday.

The festival continues into Sunday afternoon, when the U.S. Navy Band Great Lakes Jazz Fleet performs at 2 p.m. in the Roosevelt Middle School auditorium.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Get used to it

The national press corps is squawking because of the delay in release of an incident report concerning Dick Cheney's hunting accident. There may or may not have been an effort to withhold the news that the vice president plugged a hunting partner in Texas, but I doubt that the local sheriff was in on any conspiracy. As frustrated local reporters around the country will testify, it is common for authorities to take their time in completing incident reports. If a report isn't completed, and the deputy's shift is about to end, well y'all will just have to wait until the deputy comes in the next day. And you'd better hope that the deputy doesn't have a day off the next day.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Cartoon decision: Cowardice or a good call?

Controversy has come in waves concerning the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten’s publication of editorial cartoons depicting Muhammad (and unfavorably so).

Now, another layer of controversy centers on how the U.S. media cover all this.

Should news outlets reprint one or more of the Muhammad cartoons, so readers and viewers can see for themselves the images that have resulted in protests, deaths and destruction?
Some have. Most have not. USA TODAY did not. The Associated Press has not distributed the images to its members. CNN won’t show them, and neither will National Public Radio (on its Web site).

Are editors and publishers who do not print the cartoons caving in to Muslim protests or threats? Columnist Michelle Malkin thinks so. Or are the images, as argues journalist and UCLA professor Tom Plate, a member of the Pacific Council on International Policy, the cartoon equivalent of yelling “Fire!” in a crowded theater?

Here at the Telegraph Herald, we will continue to print stories, columns and editorial cartoons about the controversy. But we don’t believe it is necessary to show the cartoons to adequately report this story. Readers who want to see exactly what the fuss is about can hop on the Internet; it takes seconds on Google to find the links.

This decision is hardly unprecedented. For instance:

-- We didn’t show Andres Serrano’s “Piss Christ” — a photograph of a crucifix submerged in a container of urine — to report on the controversial museum exhibit.

-- To report on a landmark case before the U.S. Supreme Court, we didn’t reprint Hustler Magazine’s filthy parody advertisement suggesting that the Rev. Jerry Falwell engaged in sexual relations with his mother.

-- In 1999, amid the furor about the Brooklyn Museum of Art’s display of a Chris Ofili painting of the Virgin Mary — it featured sexually explicit cutouts covered with elephant dung — we did not run a photo.

Guess how many readers complained to me that we did not print those images or articles. That’s right: Zero.

Now, to not publish cartoons that have outraged a significant portion of the world’s population clearly is the safer decision. But is it responsible journalism, or is it cowardice?

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Bravo, Megan!


At the Telegraph Herald, I work with lots of talented people -- and many of those people have talents that extend far beyond journalism. For example, Megan Gloss -- above, with John Woodin (top) and Dan Lobianco --who edits our entertainment tabloid River Stages, had the female lead in the Grand Opera House's current production, "Man of La Mancha." I attended Saturday night's performance. (In December, the last time the Grand staged a performance, TH reporter Matt Kittle carried the lead role as the narrator.) Megan, a Clarke College graduate who is a regular in local and regional productions. did a fine job as Aldonza (aka Dulcinea). What a voice! And she acquitted herself well on the stage -- including the times Aldonza was "roughed up" by the men. It probably reminded her of a rough day at the office. "Man of La Mancha" plays one more weekend (Thursday through Sunday). Check it out! (Photo (c) Telegraph Herald 2006. Reprinted with permission.)

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Evelyn Wood, where are you?


I'm not the world's fastest reader, but I need to pick up the pace. On my nightstand, the stack of books I am anxious to read is growing. I have been enjoying "How You Played the Game: The Life of Grantland Rice," by William A. Harper. During what was considered a golden era for American sports, the 1920s, Rice was the nation's leading sportswriter. However, I have put that biography aside temporarily in favor of "Outrage, Passion, and Uncommon Sense: How Editorial Writers Have Taken On and Helped Shape the Great American Issues of the Past 150 Years," by veteran Iowa journalist Michael Gartner and the Newseum. Gartner gave an inspiring address and read excerpts of his book Friday at the Iowa Newspaper Association annual meeting in Des Moines. Once I complete those, I'm anxious to get to John Feinstein's "The Punch: One Night, Two Lives, and the Fight That Changed Basketball Forever." The book documents the 1977 NBA game in which Kermit Washington slugged and nearly killed Rudy Tomjanovich, and how the lives of the two men have never been the same. Finally, I was honored today to receive an autographed copy of Msgr. Francis P. Friedl's book, "a kind of autobiography," titled "My First Life." (Chuck Offenburger posted this article by Msgr. Friedl, an outstanding homilist and storyteller, who, now in his late 80s, is working on yet another book.Now, I need to get reading!

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Where sportsmanship reigns

My Super Sunday opened with my first running competition of 2006, the Iowa Winter Games 5K in Dubuque. With the temperature in the teens and a stiff breeze -- the wind chill was in the single digits -- the conditions seemed balmy compared to those at my previous race, the Dubuque Turkey Trot last Thanksgiving.

While I debated whether three shirts or four would be right for me during the race, one of the guys opted to go shirtless. (There is always one!) He was a young man who, it was revealed at the awards ceremony, had recently returned from a military stint in Iraq; he received a special round of applause in recognition of his service.

It is coincidental that the Iowa Winter Games -- and this race -- occur on Super Bowl weekend, but the contrast between the two events could not be greater. The Super Bowl has the hype and glitz and winner-take-all mentality, performed before millions and millions of TV viewers worldwide. The Iowa Games 5K involves several dozen people of varying ages and abilities, few of whom much care how they place -- as long as they meet their goals. This morning, there were no rehearsed dances at the finish line, no Lambeau Leap and, especially, no in-your-face taunts of fellow runners.

I got an assist from local executive Rob McDonald, who I pulled next to in the final mile. Once I determined that I would not have to challenge Rob, a (much) younger man, for a place in my age group competition -- I asked him -- I was content to just complete the race without giving up any places. However, Rob encouraged me to stick with him and finish together. I faded behind him by a few seconds, but my time was better it would have been without his words of support.

Meanwhile, behind us on the race course, my wife, Ann, met Ramona from Bondurant, who was running her first road race ever. Ann ran (and walked) with Ramona, offering encouragement and a little advice, for much of the 3.1 miles. Ann did not post her best time -- that was not her goal anyway -- but Ramona finished, and her face showed her sense of personal accomplishment.

Now, isn't that what sport should be about?