The Incredible Shrinking Lantern

I was in the OSU campus area yesterday, and the security desk for the building I was in had a small stack of papers on it.  I glanced at them and saw that the flag on the front page said “The Lantern.”

Wait a second . . . this is now the Lantern, the Ohio State University newspaper?

When I attended the OSU School of Journalism in the late ’70s, the Lantern was a full-sized, broadsheet newspaper published five days a week.  It carried pages of national and campus news, had an editorial and op-ed page, and multi-page sports and arts sections.  The paper was chock full of display ads and had a lengthy classified ad section, too.

The current edition of the Lantern is far removed from those days of yore.  It’s now the same size as those free shopper publications that people are always annoyingly leaving on your doorstep, and the copy I picked up was only 8 pages long.  Eight pages!  There was no editorial page, only a handful of display ads, and all of five classified ads.  The guy who was the business manager of the Lantern in the old days, whose sales force kept the paper filled with ads and classifieds, must be shaking his head in disbelief.

I know many newspapers have fallen on tough times, but I had no idea how significantly the Lantern had been affected — and diminished.  It made me wistful and sad.

The Week Of The Game

In most of America, people woke up this morning, rubbed their hands over their sleep-filled eyes, and wondered aloud that it could be Thanksgiving Week already.

Not so in Buckeye Nation.  Sure, we know there is some minor holiday on Thursday featuring turkey, stuffing, family arguments about politics, and appalling overeating — but our real focus is on next Saturday, when Ohio State takes on That Team from Up North in the latest annual incarnation of The Game.

This year’s version of The Game promises to be a humdinger.  Both Ohio State and Michigan have ten wins, both are ranked in the top five nationally, and both harbor hopes of being selected to be one of the four teams in the College Football Playoffs.  The Buckeyes have had an up-and-down season that has seen them crush some teams and squeak by others.  Yesterday’s nail-biter against a rugged Michigan State squad fell into the latter category.  That Team from Up North, on the other hand, has been a lot more consistent in thrashing just about everyone they’ve faced.  Both teams have one loss, but Ohio State’s defeat, to Penn State, means the Buckeyes don’t control their own destiny in their bid to win the Big Ten championship.  Michigan can get to the Big Ten title game by beating the Buckeyes, but if Ohio State wins it has to hope that those same Michigan State Spartans who gave the Buckeyes such a tough time yesterday can beat Penn State.

Regardless of the Big Ten title game implications, this will be the most eagerly anticipated Ohio-State-Michigan showdown since 2006, when the Buckeyes and Wolverines were ranked 1 and 2 going into The Game.  Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh may be quirky — OK, downright weird — but the guy obviously can coach.  In two years, he’s turned around the Michigan program and has Wolverines playing with swagger and toughness, especially on defense.  Ohio State, on the other hand, has to figure out which team will show up on Saturday — the one that has been almost unstoppable offensively, or the one that struggles to score and finds itself trying to hang on by its fingernails come the fourth quarter.  Members of Buckeye Nation are hoping it’s the former.

So bring on The Game.  Oh, and on Thursday throw me a turkey leg, willya?

The Morning After

My autumnal allergies hit on Monday afternoon and were raging at full force yesterday.  I was sneezing uncontrollably and my nose was running to beat the band, too.  Last night, after Kish and I settled down to watch the election returns, I felt exhausted and miserable, so I went to bed before 9 o’clock.  At the time, the voting data was showing an enormous turnout of new Latino voters, exit polls were indicating that Hillary Clinton was outperforming President Obama and Donald Trump was underperforming Mitt Romney in key demographics, and the network pundits were confidently predicting a smooth ride to a Hillary Clinton victory.

democratic-presidential-nominee-hillary-clinton-holds-election-night-event-new-york-cityWhen a fit of sneezing and coughing woke me up six hours later, as Kish was turning in, the New York Times and the Washington Post were calling the election for Donald Trump.  Trump had won Ohio and Florida, but he had also eked out victories in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.  (Pennsylvania?)  I felt like I had gone to bed in the normal world and awakened in some bizarre alternative universe.  It’s the most astonishing turn of events I can remember.

So now we are at the morning after.  The election is finally over, and we have a President-elect who seems remarkably ill-suited for the job in just about every category you can think of.  We’ll see shock from foreign governments overseas, and a drop in the stock market because of the utter uncertainty about what a Trump presidency might mean, and amazement in other places as people struggle to process a result that no one expected and no polls foresaw.  We will hold our breath and wonder who our new leader will enlist to fill Cabinet positions, and staff the White House, and perform the countless other tasks that new Administrations must undertake.  And the Republicans who control both the House and the Senate will have to figure out how they are going to deal with President Trump.

Many of my good friends are bitterly disappointed and angry, and are wondering whether this country has changed in some terrible and fundamental way.  I hope we all can take a deep breath and hold our fire for a few days before equating the voters from the states that voted for Trump with Nazis or knuckle-dragging ignorants.

Some of the people who stood patiently with me in long lines yesterday, waiting to vote, must have been Trump voters (he won Ohio by 8 points) and they weren’t ogres.  Obviously, something motivated them to overlook Trump’s shortcomings and vote for a person who is the most improbable President-elect of the modern era, by a factor of ten.  We need to understand what that motivation is.

The period between now and Trump’s inauguration is going to be the most important, and probably strangest, transition period in the history of American politics.  We need to figure out how we can get through it without tearing our beloved country apart.

Series Shots (II)

There were some protesters on the Ontario Street side of the ballpark, advocating for changing the Tribe’s name and Chief Wahoo.  I agree with them about Chief Wahoo, and I get the point about the name — but it’s hard to imagine a Cleveland baseball team being called anything but the Indians.  And, I think “the Tribe” is a pretty cool and inclusive nickname.

The protesters look like they have an uphill battle, as the photo below suggests.  Chief Wahoo was seen pretty much everywhere.

Series Shots


Russell, UJ, and I had a blast at Game One of the World Series last night.  Downtown Vleveland was packed before the game, and the area between the ballpark and the Cavs’ arena — where the Cavs were to play, and win, their season opener — was especially jammed.  Two big screen TVs were set up to play season highlights and get both the Cavs fans and the Tribe fans fired up.