The Week: What Caught Our Eye

October 8, 2022

Photo of an old truck with pumpkinsThere’s a good country song here about a beloved old truck without a scratch that found honest work in a pumpkin patch. (John Bulmer)

Dear Colleagues and Friends:

A salute this week to a one athlete who’s a giant in stature and achievement, and another who’s among the smallest ever to play his rough-and-tumble game at the collegiate level.

First, Aaron Judge of the Yankees capped his pursuit of the American League single-season home run record with one game to spare, a moment captured with Hall of Fame clarity by Yankees radio play-by-play announcer John Sterling. Judge ended the regular season leading all of Major League Baseball in home runs (62), runs batted in (131, tied with Pete Alonso of the Mets), runs scored (133) and total bases (391), and nearly led the American League in batting average. The Yankees now await the winner of the Tampa Bay-Cleveland series as they begin their quest for a 28th World Series title.

THEN THERE IS Daniel Abesames-Hammer, whose summer co-workers at the Jamba Juice laughed when he told them he played college football. It’s hard to blame them, considering Abesames-Hammer, a running back for Division III Cornell College in Iowa, stands about 5-foot-1 and weighs 125 pounds. He posts videos about his experiences on TikTok, and told USA Today’s Dan Wolken, “I get (direct messages) all the time from 13 and 14-year-olds who haven’t hit their growth spurt complaining about being short and calling me an inspiration. That feels really good. I never had that before I blew up on social media.” 

THE WORLD OF FUN AND GAMES needed people like Judge and Abesames-Hammer this week, considering that it also delivered a damning indictment of systemic abuse within U.S. women’s soccer and its top professional league, the result of an investigation requested by U.S. Soccer; allegations of habitual cheating by 19-year-old U.S. chess grandmaster Hans Niemann on the eve of the U.S. Chess Championships, a field that included Niemann; and in Ohio, news that a couple of anglers were ready to walk away with the nearly $29,000 top prize in a fishing tournament until a skeptical tournament director felt the hard objects in the fishes’ bellies.

FEAT FOR CLAY: Central New York this week celebrated news that Micron Technology would build a complex of computer chip plants in Clay, north of Syracuse, a $100 billion investment that would create up to 9,000 jobs. It would be the largest private investment in state history, aided by billions in federal, state and local incentives, and its statewide impact will include the Capital Region.

MARKETING PITCH: A few years ago, tired of being the national punchline for poor public education, Mississippi ran an ad campaign with the tagline, “Yes, we can read. A few of us can even write.” The ad featured photos of Mississippians like William Faulkner, Tennessee Williams, Eudora Welty, John Grisham and Shelby Foote. Given that Central New York has furnished a “Jeopardy!” contestant a month for the past six months, and on the heels of the Micron announcement, we offer a regional branding idea in the words of the most recent Jeopardy contestant: “We’re pretty smart up here.”

PARODY ON PARADE: The case of a Cleveland-area man who was arrested for mocking his local police on Facebook reached the attention of The Onion, the satirical news website whose entire business model is built on parody. After his acquittal, the man sued in federal court for violation of his constitutional rights. He has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review a lower-court ruling that the police had “qualified immunity” and The Onion is on board, filing an 18-page “friend of the court” brief that is exactly what fans of The Onion would expect, with some serious legal argument sprinkled in. “The Onion files this brief to protect its continued ability to create fiction that may ultimately merge into reality,” its lawyers write. “As the globe’s premier parodists, The Onion’s writers also have a self-serving interest in preventing political authorities from imprisoning humorists. This brief is submitted in the interest of at least mitigating their future punishment.”

HAPPY (?) DAYS: McDonald’s is collaborating with fashion streetwear brand Cactus Plant Flea Market to offer adult Happy Meals, complete with a classic character toy, throughout October. It didn’t long for some McDonald’s employees to start complaining

BOTTOM’S UP: If a nice cocktail in an elegant setting is your thing, the World’s 50 Best Bars, first published in 2009, is out with its list for 2022, as ranked by 650 drink experts from around the globe. Two of the top three and three of the top seven are in Barcelona. Mexico City has three of the top 13. New York City’s Double Chicken Please and Katana Kitten crack the top 10.

Photo of halloween pumpkinsGREAT PUMPKINS: A pumpkin grown in Western New York shattered national and state records, weighing in at 2,554 pounds. It’ll be on public display through October 16. Imagine what these guys — described by Syracuse.com as “scary good at carving pumpkins,” a skill they displayed on the reality TV competition “Outrageous Pumpkins” — could create from a pumpkin like that.

BAD CHEMISTRY: Eighty three of 350 students in the organic chemistry class of New York University Professor Maitland Jones Jr. signed a petition to the university complaining that his class was too hard. (News flash, kids: This is organic chemistry. It’s notoriously hard.) The university tried to placate the complaining students, offering to “review” their grades and even allowing them to withdraw from the class retroactively. Then NYU took the ultimate step and fired Jones, a storied professor who literally wrote the book on organic chemistry.

MODERN WONDER: Visitors to the GE Global Research Lab in Niskayuna, N.Y., walk into a gallery that displays the desk Thomas Edison used in his New York City office, a recognition of the company’s founding days. More than once, a student on a school field trip has asked where Edison kept his keyboard. We’re reminded of that anecdote by news this week that minds around the world are being blown by an 1860 painting in which the subject appears to be staring at an iPhone. Art critics say it likely was a small prayer book.

SAFE HOME: Damian Browne, a former professional rugby player whose post-playing days adventures have taken him to the top of Mount Everest and a row across the Atlantic from Spain to Antigua, just completed another transatlantic rowing trip, this time from New York City to his hometown of Galway, Ireland, a 112-day journey of more than 3,450 nautical miles. The ending was a bit rocky, literally; his boat ran aground as a storm lashed Galway Bay and he was rescued by Irish police.

BURIED TREASURE: The remnants of a statue of Hercules, more than 1,800 years old, were discovered this week beneath the streets of Philippi, in northeastern Greece. The features of the head and torso are remarkably well preserved. A team of researchers from Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece led the excavation, which also revealed a structure, thought to be a fountain, that the statue adorned.

HOT WHEELS: Jim Taylor has spent years collecting and curating his unique slice of automotive history. He displays the collection in a private, 30,000-square-foot museum in Gloversville, N.Y., where his family’s business made products and accessories for boats and RVs. Make no mistake, he enjoyed his cars — he is renowned among collectors for taking them on the road — but at 78, he has decided to part with all but a treasured few, the ones he loves driving most. An auction will be held at the museum October 14 and 15. It could raise $30 million or more. “I'm in good health, as far as I know,” Taylor told the Albany Times Union’s Steve Barnes, “but at some point, I'm going to kick the bucket. I'm doing a favor to my family by divesting now, rather than put them through it after I'm gone.”

A TINY RESCUER: A persistent kitten named Thor saved the lives of four people in Michigan who had been overcome by carbon monoxide from a generator running in a closed garage. Thor’s screeching awakened Heidi Stamper, who noticed he appeared to be sick and took him outside, where he quickly seemed to recover. Heidi lost consciousness soon after going back inside. This time, Thor’s cries awakened the couple’s children, who were able to get their parents out of the house. The local fire department used the near tragedy to remind people never to use a generator “inside homes, garages, basements, sheds or any other enclosed or partially enclosed spaces.”

FOLK HERO: WAMC Northeast Public Radio’s Wanda Fischer has been keeping her Saturday evening audience of folk music fans good company for 40 years, and luckily for them, has no plans to stop. Her program, “The Hudson River Sampler,” features folk musicians as guests and takes requests from what is now a worldwide audience, every Saturday night from 8 to 10. To celebrate, she is presenting a live broadcast and concert featuring local musicians tonight at The Linda auditorium in Albany, N.Y.

SEEING THE FINISH: Back in July 2021, the Boston Globe’s Jack Thomas published an essay that pondered a searing and immediate question: How does a person spend what he knows are his final months of life? Thomas, freshly diagnosed with terminal cancer, wrote of missing the smiles and hugs from his wife that greeted each day, of telling their three children, of the roses he nurtured and the inspiring people he met, of the career he was privileged to have. “As death draws near, I feel the same uncomfortable transition I experienced when I was a teenager at Brantwood Camp in Peterborough, New Hampshire, packing up to go home after a grand summer,” he wrote. “I’m not sure what awaits me when I get home, but this has certainly been an exciting experience. ... It’s been full of fun and laughter, too, a really good time. I just wish I could stay a little longer.” Thomas died this week at 83.

THOSE BEEFY BEARS: Fat Bear Week is back! The annual contest invites online viewers to rank some of the behemoth bears that dine on the ample salmon in the Brooks River in Alaska’s Katmai National Park and Preserve as they fatten up for hibernation. Four-time champion Otis, once witnessed eating 42 salmon in a single sitting, is a legend, but Bear 747, lugging about 1,400 pounds, looks to reclaim his 2020 title. Voting continues through October 11 — Fat Bear Tuesday.

RUMINATIONS ON ROAMING: Last week we published a piece on Britain’s “Right to Roam” laws and the grassroots effort to expand those rights. A legal expert among our readers pointed out that the situation is not as simple as it may seem. The British do enjoy a legal right to walk, run, watch wildlife, walk dogs on a leash and climb on some private lands without having to use paths. The issue is whether to open more lands to roaming and to more activities.

LIVES

LORETTA LYNN’s determination to sing about the rough edges of life as it was helped her become a legend of American music, the first woman named entertainer of the year by the Country Music Association in 1972 and by the Academy of Country Music in 1975. She’s perhaps best known for “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” in part because of the Academy Award-winning biographical movie of the same title. The Academy of Country Music named her artist of the decade for the 1970s. A winner of four Grammy Awards, she is in both the Country Music and Songwriters halls of fame, was honored at the Kennedy Center Honors in 2003 and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2013. She was 90.

JIM REDMOND came to the world’s attention in a moment of agony and adrenaline on a track in Barcelona. There, Redmond’s son, Derek, running in a 400-meter Olympic semifinal, tore his hamstring. Determined to finish, Derek Redmond hopped along on one leg, his face contorted in pain and grief, until a man in a white hat and T-shirt barged past security, came alongside and held his son close, guiding him the final meters as fans rose in tribute and a global audience watched and wept. The Olympics’ Twitter account called it “one of the most inspirational moments in Olympic history.” He was 81.

SACHEEN LITTLEFEATHER was neighbors with director Francis Ford Coppola, through whom she came to know Marlon Brando. The actor called her the night before the 1973 Oscars ceremony with a request: if I win the Oscar for best actor, decline it for me. She arrived shortly before the program ended, wearing a buckskin dress, moccasins and hair ties, and did as she was asked, announcing Brando could not accept because of “the treatment of American Indians today by the film industry” and listening as much of the audience jeered. Security guards kept John Wayne from storming the stage as she delivered a speech she never finished. She confirmed a terminal cancer diagnosis in 2021, and just a few weeks ago, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences apologized for her treatment at the Oscars. The Academy joined Littlefeather’s family in announcing her death at 75.

ALMOST FINAL WORDS

“Our ultimate freedom is the right and power to decide how anybody or anything outside ourselves will affect us.”
—    Stephen Covey

THE SIGNOFF

PEOPLE ARE TALKING: We’ll stipulate upfront that making a political ad is hard work. It takes a lot of time and effort to come up with just the right imagery, setting and dialogue to persuade people to support your candidate or issue. Or, you could spend $1,400 and end up producing an ad that’s rocketing around the internet. Though those mocking it would do well to remember one very important fact — it got their attention. (For what it’s worth, the candidate the ad is supporting loved it).

——

Some of the linked material in Facing Out requires a subscription to read.

THANK YOU to our contributors: Bill Callen, Ryan Moore, John Bulmer, John Brodt, Lisa Fenwick, Mike Cybulski, Claire P. Tuttle and Tara Hutchins.

FACING OUT is what we do. We help companies, organizations and individuals work effectively with their most important external audiences – their customers, their shareholders, their communities, the government and the news media.  www.behancommunications.com

Facing Out features news and other nuggets that caught our eye, and that we thought might be of value to you, our friends and business associates. Some items are good news about our clients and friends, others are stories that we hope will leave you a bit more informed or entertained than you were five minutes ago. As always, we welcome your ideas and feedback.  

Let’s make it a conversationmark.behan@behancom.com

Recent Posts

The Week: What Caught Our Eye

November 19, 2022

The Week: What Caught Our Eye

November 12, 2022

The Week What Caught Our Eye

November 5, 2022

The Week What Caught Our Eye

September 17, 2022

The Week What Caught Our Eye

September 10, 2022

The Week What Caught Our Eye

September 3, 2022

The Week: What Caught Our Eye

February 26, 2022

The Week: What Caught Our Eye

February 19, 2022

The Week: What Caught Our Eye

February 12, 2022

The Week: What Caught Our Eye

December 18, 2021

The Week: What Caught Our Eye

December 11, 2021

The Week: What Caught Our Eye

November 19, 2021

The Week: What Caught Our Eye

November 13, 2021

The Week: What Caught Our Eye

September 25, 2021

The Week: What Caught Our Eye

September 18, 2021

The Week: What Caught Our Eye

September 11, 2021

The Week: What Caught Our Eye

September 4, 2021

The Week: What Caught Our Eye

February 27, 2021

The Week: What Caught Our Eye

February 20, 2021

The Week: What Caught Our Eye

February 13, 2021

The Week: What Caught Our Eye

December 19, 2020

The Week: What Caught Our Eye

December 12, 2020

The Week: What Caught Our Eye

November 21, 2020

The Week What Caught Our Eye

November 14, 2020

The Week What Caught Our Eye

October 17, 2020

The Week What Caught Our Eye

October 10, 2020

The Week What Caught Our Eye

September 26, 2020

The Week What Caught Our Eye

September 19, 2020

The Week What Caught Our Eye

September 12, 2020

The Week What Caught Our Eye

September 5, 2020

The Week: What Caught Our Eye

February 29, 2020

The Week: What Caught Our Eye

February 22, 2020

The Week: What Caught Our Eye

February 15, 2020

The Week: What Caught Our Eye

December 28, 2019

The Week: What Caught Our Eye

December 21, 2019

The Week: What Caught Our Eye

December 14, 2019

The Week: What Caught Our Eye

November 30, 2019

The Week: What Caught Our Eye

November 23, 2019

The Week: What Caught Our Eye

November 16, 2019

The Week: What Caught Our Eye

September 28, 2019

The Week: What Caught Our Eye

September 21, 2019

The Week: What caught our eye

September 14, 2019

The Week: What caught our eye

September 7, 2019

Old West Adirondacks

July 19, 2019

A Glens Falls Night

November 20, 2018

A moment for our home city

October 9, 2018