Monday, May 24, 2010


It took a solid 12 hours for my LOST-induced state of zen to wear off. The euphoria of the grand finale episode remained strong as I lay in bed watching the Jimmy Kimmel post-LOST wrap up; through a good, but short night's sleep; as I fought morning rush-hour traffic on 494 through Bloomington; it even stayed intact through the weekly round of morning meetings once I got to work. Clearly this was a powerful television experience.

SPOILER ALERT! If you keep reading, make sure you've seen the finale.

The episode more than delivered on the questions I needed answered. Mainly, what was really going on in both the island and sideways worlds - what was real and what wasn't and if something wasn't real, than what was the purpose of that fictional realm? Turns out (I think) the island was a real place where the survivors really did survive. But these are just details to add substance to the story. What was the show really about?

There are a LOT of people who want to say it was all about religion. LOST certainly had heavy religious themes. After all, the series closed with everyone presumably transitioning into some sort of heaven-esque after life. That said, while religion had a major role to play in the storytelling of LOST, saying the show was all about the truth or existence of religion or faith is still too simple. Much like the island and ancient philosophy, religion was another detail used to tell the story.

LOST was driven by the stories of the show's characters and every one of those characters was flawed. Kate was a murderer, Sawyer a con man. Locke and Jack had daddy issues like no other, as did Hurley who also believed he was cursed. Then there was Benjamin Linus, who many have called the greatest TV villain of all time. Every one of them found redemption. Even Ben - who we all finally learned to trust thanks to his poignant apology to Locke before Locke entered the church - turned out to be a good man and Hurley's island-guardian sidekick for who knows how many hundreds of years.

The main message and on-going theme of LOST was that through all the potential to be evil, there is good at the core of all human beings. For all the bad deeds done by the cast of characters, there was redemption available by doing something good of equal or greater magnitude.

That's a message that makes ya feel good - and it's why much like myself, so many millions of Americans went to bed with a inexplicable feeling of zen following the conclusion of what might be the greatest TV show of a generation.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Extremely Random Facebook Photo Musing

The best thing about Facebook are the pictures that users don't necessarily choose, but are often the first photographic representations of a person on their profile. You know, that first round of pics titled "Photos of You" when you're looking at your own profile?

Every other album is what the user chooses. Of course, a user can untag themselves and remove a photo from their "Photos of You" album, but that's being a little disingenuous with your friends, don't you think? "Photos of You" is sort of the "this is who I really am, without a filter" album. If you find yourself constantly removing images from this album, what does that say about your comfort level with yourself?

Since this is turning into a preachy post, I'll put my money where my mouth is and show you that, despite the potential embarrassment, I'm happy to allow some of my less photogenic moments to stay tagged. Is this a flattering picture I would choose to post on my own? Probably not. Was it a good rendition of "Born to Run"? Absolutely not. Is the arms-raised image of Robert Plant in the background awesome enough to save the photo? Without a doubt. In the end, I'm clearly having a great time, dressed up in yellow face as Simpsons character Kent Brockman during a good friend's 30th birthday party. If that doesn't give you a free pass to do a terrible karaoke rendition of a Springsteen song, then I don't know what does. I'm more than cool with people seeing this side of me. If I'm not, then I shouldn't engage in behavior that leads to such a picture being taken.

If you like the person you see through another person's lens (literally) then you're probably in decent shape overall. If you often feel the urge to "untag" yourself, perhaps you should take a closer look at the actions depicted in the photo instead of untagging and hoping the unflattering image goes quietly back into the Internet ether from which it came. Just sayin'...

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Blogger - Tomorrow's Don Shelby?

Personality is an important thing when it comes to catching someone's attention. Make them laugh or cry, scared, awestruck or just generally impressed, a person with personality is usually able to command another person's attention better than someone lacking charisma. So it stands to reason that one quality you'd find in a journalist is a good, approachable personality.

For decades in TV news, that personality belonged to an anchor. If you look at the golden years of local news in Minnesota circa the '80's, you'd find KARE-11's Paul Magers duking it out with the about-to-depart Don Shelby from WCCO - both great news guys who knew how to command a viewer's attention with that oh-so-cool balance of stern sincerity that was broken occasionally, and always at just the right moment, with a little down-home humor. That was the media world of yesteryear.

In today's media world, it's not enough for a reporter to be polished. Today, there has to be a genuine connection between that reporter and his or her audience. There has to be give and take. Reporters have to listen to feedback (good and bad) and react to it appropriately. They have to write an occasional blog post that offers more to a story - or perhaps why they chose to tell a story in a certain way. They have to use all the new media tools available and facilitate on-going conversations with news consumers. Last but not least, they have to use that new media to show viewers, listeners and readers their personality. Reporters have to connect with news consumers and show them why they should be trusted with getting the facts right and giving them sound information to base decisions upon.

So is the blogger the new anchor? Maybe. More likely though, is that a good blog is just a solid tool in the arsenal of the modern reporter. A way to not only add to and clarify a story, but also an opportunity to add a little aweshuckedness and levity to what is (and should be) a serious topic - good journalism.


Want some examples? It's not all about personality alone. Check out this story from Mashable for examples of how a few journalists have used Twitter and Facebook to advance the quality and timeliness of their work.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Tough Times Disappear at Target Field

On a recent Saturday night, my wife and I enjoyed a nice dinner with my parents, headed home and starting kicking around a few ideas for how we'd spend the next five or six beautiful hours of freedom that only a Saturday night can offer. After crossing a few things off the list and realizing there would probably be some easy-to-get, inexpensive tickets to the Twins v. Orioles game at Target Field, (rain postponed the game from the night before) we decided to jump on the train and head out to the ballpark.

For $10 a piece, we got seats worth $12 (not huge, but it's always fun to get a deal, right?). From there, we grabbed a couple beers and headed to our seats which were tucked neatly into the right field corner. Like so many spaces in this beautiful park, these seats were dripping with character - bleachers that offered a nice view of the action in a party-like atmosphere.

We arrived late, but the game was a good one (1-0 Twins in the top of the 4th inning). The temperature was not what most people would consider baseball weather with a game time reading of about 45 degrees, but the sky was clear, the grass was green and the gloves kept our fingers protected from the icy cold emanating from the beer cups in our hands.

About an inning into our night, my wife got a text from her brother saying he was just a few sections over. We grabbed our beer and headed to their section, watching the game the entire time thanks to Target Field's open concourses that offer numerous sweeping views of the action. As we walked, met up with and talked to my brother in law, we couldn't help but notice some of the other things that make this park so sweet.

There are the countless meeting areas where you can chat with friends and still catch a big play with a quick glance every time the crowd erupts. There are the outfield seats that seem impossibly close to the action (seriously, it feels like you're sitting on Cuddyer's shoulders in the right field sections). There's the State Fair food on a stick in the concession area behind those seats. There are the sections of stadium that were actually built over existing freeways - something that isn't noticeable from inside the stadium, but is surprisingly apparent when you walk around it. The undercover roadways are the result of trying to squeeze a major league ballpark into a tiny, 8-acre parking lot. When the plans for this park were being drawn up, architects and organizers were criticized for trying to squish a stadium into such a small space. Now that it's open, the limitations caused by the size of the land seem to be more benefit than detriment. Because of the lack of space, architects were forced to get creative and the end result is one of the warmest, coziest, most unique environments I've experienced in pro or college sports (that includes more than a dozen arenas, stadiums and ballparks).

And then there's the view.

Yes, this view that gave us an incredible rainbow after a short, early May rain shower.

All the bells and whistles are what you'd expect with a new ballpark - the character and coziness is beyond what you'd expect - but that's not what makes the Twins' new home so special. With everything that's gone wrong with the world lately, Target Field is a place where we can all take a break from reality and focus on something that we got right.

A lot of us have lost or are losing jobs; we've been fighting viciously over things like health care and none of us trust the leaders we've elected to clear up those debates; we've seen businesses leave or collapse and well-known business leaders crumble into piles of corruption; we're tired of being at war and being perpetually reminded of terrorism - but for a few hours at the ballpark on a Saturday night, we can forget about those things and sit back with awe-struck smiles on our faces as we take in Minnesota's new meeting place. A ballpark to watch our constantly-overachieving, small-market baseball team play ball against the beautiful backdrop of the downtown Minneapolis night sky.

Target Field wasn't free. As a Hennepin county resident, I pay the sales tax increase nearly every day. But it's hard to quantify and put a price on the feeling of community generated by the new ballpark. At a time when we need it the most, Target Field makes us feel good, if only for a few hours at a time. To me, that makes every penny spent well worth it.