California Dreamin’ – Part 1

Last Sunday at this time, Chris and I had landed at LAX, rented a convertible and were on our way up the Pacific Coast Highway for a week-long adventure that opened my eyes to why so many people live in California.

I had always wanted to drive along Highway 1 – I heard it’s one of the most scenic highways in all of America and it’s true – it really is. But first, we had to make our way out of Los Angeles. One of the first streets we were on out of the airport was Manchester – which, in a way, is similar to St. Louis’ own Manchester – store after store after store on either side – only the ones in L.A. have a distinctly more Hispanic feel to them. Once we got onto Highway 1, the sightseeing began but overcast skies and temperatures in the 60s kept us from getting the full convertible effect.

We cruised through Malibu and Santa Monica taking in the hills on our right and the Pacific Ocean on our left. At a few intersections we’d watch surfboarders in wet suits unloading their boards from their rooftop carriers on their way to hanging ten and we knew we definitely had left the midwest. Once we got past the larger communities the road got windier, the hills got prettier and the clouds finally gave way right around the time we were getting to our first stop on our journey – Morro Bay.

Chris had looked into places to stay as we made our way up the coast and she picked a great one. It wasn’t quite a bed and breakfast but it had that feel. We dropped off our luggage and headed down to the pier for a sunset dinner and we marveled that just a few hours earlier we had left the kids and work behind in St. Louis and set off to see what we would see. Morro Bay is a small fishing village, best known for Morro Rock – the remains of a volcano that was named by Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo back in the 16th century. It juts out of the ocean and makes for a nice photo, particularly at sunset.

Everyone we talked to seemed extremely friendly. It’s interesting that when you mention St. Louis, people know one of two things about our city. We have an Arch. We have a great baseball team. That was about as far as the knowledge base seemed to go that day. But that’s okay. I didn’t even know there was such a place as Morro Bay before last week and I certainly didn’t know they had a famous rock that I’d want to post a picture of in this blog.

But they do and I did and that was Day One of our Journey.

More to come.


Bing in the morning

Every morning, I start my day with a dose of Bing.

Yes, – the website. There’s a simple reason why – every day, they feature an absolutely startling, eye-popping photograph on their home page.

Today’s image was of the Devil’s Tower – you know, the one from Close Encounters of the Third Kind where Richard Dreyfuss was obsessed by the image. Today’s pick was awesome and featured a moving cloud background.

They do that sometimes – adding just a bit of motion to the photo. Overall, though, it’s just a glorious, 4-color photo of something completely unexpected. So before I check my morning emails, I click on and take in whatever splendor they’re choosing to show me for the day. I have rarely been disappointed by their photo choice.

As far as bing goes being a great search engine or updating me on current events or gossip or whatever – well, I don’t really use it for that.

Bing is kind of my own, personal National Geographic/Life Magazine (if anyone still remembers Life magazine)/Travel Channel/News of the Weird.

If you’ve never visited before, I recommend it. If you have and you don’t get the same kick out of the stunning home page photo that I do, I’m not going to say there’s something wrong with you, but c’mon – it’s a great morning eye-opener and I recommend you pay it a visit.

(And no, I’m not getting any endorsement money out of this post).

With the reach I have, my payment would be in pennies anyway.

Bing. Try it, you’ll like it.

Print takes another hit

I received an email today from one of the trade mags where we recently sent off a new ad to run in an upcoming issue. We had created a small-space, black & white ad and the exciting news we received was that we could now convert the ad to 4-color – because they’re no longer going to print the magazine – now it will be entirely on-line.

I guess, I’m old school. But I don’t read any magazines on-line.

I guess I’m also part of the problem – we don’t subscribe to any magazines anymore – Time, Newsweek, Rolling Stone, AdWeek, AdAge – they no longer make their way to our mailbox. I also recently stopped subscribing to what was my favorite publication of all time – Lurzer’s International Archive.

Archive was a 5 times a year publication that featured the best print ads being done from around the world. I used to almost drool when I received my copy and I was always happy to see when any firm from St. Louis made it in. Core, Rodgers-Townsend and I think FUSE and possibly Arnold Worldwide all made appearances. But it wasn’t often.

Archive began featuring digital campaigns. And it’s now available digitally which I’m sure is way better because you can now experience all the great digital work and see any TV commercials that they happen to toss in which is always better than just looking at storyboard frames. But soon, Archive won’t have enough print ads to warrant an issue and it, too, will become past tense.

I know that incredible things are being done with ‘magazines’ on the iPad. Now the content can feature live interviews. You can press a button, scroll, wipe or expand content to get all sorts of fabulous tidbits of info or link to sites that tell you more about whatever it is you happen to be reading about.

I know I’m behind the curve on adapting to this new format. I still like to read books by holding them in my hand and turning the page – I’ve tried the Kindle and Nook and it’s just not me.

Fortunately, I’m getting involved in developing some of this new content and it’s given me a new appreciation for what can be done.

One day, there simply won’t be any more printed magazines. We’ll be able to dig out old issues and show them to our grandchildren and they’ll ask, “What’s that?”

I began my career typing on a manual typewriter.

That’s an antique in today’s world.

The key is to make sure that I don’t become one as well.

Happy reading.

A weekend of baseball

I love baseball – I always have and always will. Maybe that’s an inherent part of being a St. Louisan. No matter what people say, this really is a baseball town and yes, I believe St. Louis fans are a little more knowledgeable about the game than fans in other cities. But that’s easily debatable and this isn’t about a debate. This is about a weekend of baseball that was quite unlike any other baseball weekend I’ve ever experienced.

It began Friday night when our family went to the Cardinals game with Chris’ parents and her brother and his family. We had a great pre-game dinner downtown and then left for Busch Stadium in plenty of time to assure that we all got our Mike Shannon bobblehead. That alone is probably worth the price of admission – I’ve been a huge fan of the Moon Man and his brilliant mis-use of the English language ever since he first paired up with Jack Buck.

I can still remember listening to a late-night Cardinals broadcast when I was a teenager. They were playing the Giants and it was late in the game. “That’s a 6-4-3 double play for any of you still scoring in the sack,” said Mr. Shannon. That’s just one of literally hundreds of Shannon-isms that I’ve heard through the years. Mike’s a Hall-of-Fame broadcaster in my book and I’m glad he got his own bobblehead night. He deserved it.

It wasn’t a great game. But it was a good game – lots of good fielding, some timely hitting and it was just fun taking in the major league atmosphere.

Next morning, Michael and I left the house at 6:10 and drove to Memphis for a baseball tournament. Michael plays on a pretty solid 18-and-under team that travels to a number of different locations for tournaments. This was a wood bat tournament which I love because aluminum bats in the hands of 18-year-olds can do major damage if line drives are struck and with Michael being a pitcher, he’s most likely to be in the line of fire.

They had a double-header. Michael didn’t even play in the first game but it was well-played by both sides and it came down to the last inning. The St. Louis Tigers pitcher ran out of gas, hitting two batters and their coach brought in a reliever who promptly gave up a bases clearing triple and they lost 8-7.

Michael took the mound in the second game and was getting rocked in the first inning. Somehow, he got out of it, only giving up two runs, followed by another in the second. They were down 3-1 and I was thinking our trip to Memphis was going to be less than desirable when all of a sudden, Michael flipped a switch. His curve ball was almost Wainwright-like. His fast ball was popping and his change-up was exactly that. They ended up winning the game 9-3 with Michael pitching a complete game and having about four or five Ks.

His teammates were telling him to “throw the Blood ball” – which is their name for his curve ball. The mere fact that they even call it that is awesome.

So we made it back to our hotel, showered and then headed out for another baseball game – this time it was the Memphis Redbirds.

Memphis has a gorgeous stadium. It’s right in the heart of their downtown, basically across the street from the Peabody Hotel. They had a nice crowd on hand but seats were available, so we ended up sitting right behind home plate about 15 rows back.

Minor leaguers are guys who are right there on the cusp. Several of the Redbirds have played for the Cardinals and got sent back down. It’s got to be a nerve-wracking experience – knowing you’re so close – to playing in the Bigs, to getting big-time money and endorsement deals.

So few players make it. It’s when you see the 32-year-old guys coming to the plate, knowing that their time is probably already past-tense and you feel sorry for them – but not really – they’re playing baseball. And baseball is a great game to be able to play.

Sunday was another game for Michael which they won, coming back from being down five in the fourth inning and winning it 12-6. Michael was the DH and was 1-for-2 with a walk and two runs scored. Another game was to start at 3:30 – but I had several work obligations that I needed to tend to last night so we hit the road – and of course, tuned in to the Cardinals game which we listened to from about the third inning on. Sweep!

Today, the Cardinals have an off day. I’m taking one, too – not from work, but from baseball.

Play shall resume tomorrow – for the Cardinals, for Michael and for Catherine – who’s in a summer softball league and is also a pitcher.

Play ball!