Sunday, September 21, 2008

Now That's a Dangerous Hunt

Sarah Palin has nothing on my friends in south central Indiana. She hunts moose. They hunt mushrooms. If you ask me, mushroom hunting is more dangerous.

After all, when I was growing up, my mom warned me to never eat a toadstool from the yard. They'll kill you, she said.

So you can imagine my surprise when I moved to south central Indiana and met people who not only hunt wild mushrooms, but eat them, too.

Apparently, this is pretty common there. So common, that people take vacations from work to go mushroom hunting. They even forecast the best days for mushroom hunting, based on changes in the climate.

Sometimes when the hunt is especially successful, generous mushroom hunters even bring their bounty of morels to work to share. I had to remind myself that they were trying to be friendly, and not secretly plotting to kill me.

I'm not kidding. The wrong mushroom can kill you, and only experienced mushroom hunters know the difference between yummy and deadly.

This explains why even today, when the climate is just right and my belly is rumbling for something special, I hunt for ... a jar of Green Giant.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

A Fine Wine

As a PR guy, I am an astute observer of human behavior, including my own. Lately, I've found myself wondering about the fate of the Meijer wine guy.

Meijer is a retail chain with a store near my home. I receive the Meijer circular at my home every Sunday in The Courier-Journal. The circular has a section highlighting wines. In the past, this section included a picture of Meijer's presumed wine expert, along with his weekly recommendation.

Meijer still publishes the circular. It still has wine recommendations. But the wine guy himself is no where to be found.

I'm not happy about it either. Even though I never met the wine guy, I guess I built a relationship with him. Now that he's gone, I've become skeptical of the recommendations from this nameless, faceless, corporate entity.

I also wonder what happened to the wine guy. Did he retire to the paradise of his own little vineyard? Was there a disfiguring cork accident?

I guess we'll never know until the wine guy resurfaces, perhaps at Costco or Wal-mart. In the meantime, I have just one question: Can anyone recommend something under $10 that goes well with pasta?

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Fit To Print?

It’s no secret reporters are being asked to do more with less. It’s affecting their morale, but is it affecting the news product? Based on my recent experiences with the Louisville Courier-Journal, I’d say that it is.

My friend, Todd Tucker, recently published his first novel. Todd was born and raised in New Albany, just across the bridge from the Courier-Journal. Additionally, his book, Over and Under, is set entirely in the newspaper’s coverage area. Oh, did I mention that Todd’s mother retired from the Courier-Journal.

For all I know, they all have Courier-Journal umbrellas, too.

My point is that the C-J has every reason to cover Todd’s book. So why won’t anybody return my calls or e-mails?

Book editor? No dice. Features editor? Not a chance. Indiana editor? Forget about.

The C-J is a Gannett paper. Gannett is cutting jobs. Even before that, some positions in Louisville weren’t being backfilled.

What does this have to do with Todd’s book? Maybe the Courier-Journal’s staff is so overloaded that reporters lack the time, interest and desire to pursue, discuss or even return e-mails about anything remotely outside their daily scope.

Of course, then again, maybe I’m wrong. Maybe they’ve carefully vetted Todd’s book and it just doesn’t meet their litmus test.

I’d like to talk to the C-J’s ombudsmen to find out, but she won’t return calls either. You see, her position was among those eliminated.

Monday, September 8, 2008

A Just Cause?

So you figure people who subject themselves to tear gas, plastic handcuffs and a night in jail must have something important to say.

Not necessarily.

While attending the Republican National Convention, I talked to several people who were arrested on everything from misdemeanor unlawful assembly to felony rioting following a clash with police along the Mississippi River in St. Paul.

Their message? I'm not sure ... and neither were they.

The first guy, who was released with no charges after eight hours in the company of the city, said he "got caught up with the wrong crowd." When I pressed for details, he said he was "just trying to eat a sandwich" when police came.

Shortly after this conversation, I encountered two other protestors. One was charged with a misdemeanor; the other with a felony. With so much at risk, they could certainly enlighten me on the urgency of their civil disobedience.

"We were just trying to get to the concert," one explained.

Oh, well. I guess dissent was alive and well at the RNC, even if only for dinner and a show.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

One Flexible Guy

I just got back from the Democratic and Republican national conventions where I was working on a bike-sharing program with Humana. I met a lot of interesting folks: mayors, councilmen and women, Congressmen and women, media representatives and Twister Man.

That's right. Twister Man.

Twister Man showed up at our Freewheelin booth at the DNC late one evening sporting a multicolored afro, Twister boxer shorts and a Twister game board as a cape. Despite his girth, he bragged of great flexibility.

Twister Man expressed an interest in riding one of our bikes until I told him it would require a driver's license and a credit card.

"Twister man has bad credit," he explained.

Thankfully, it doesn't take a good credit score to fight crime.

Stay safe Twister Man.

And good luck repairing that bad credit.