Sunday, October 23, 2011

Football and mice

Had a great time on campus last night, watching the Stanford football team dismantle the University of Washington, a team that had itself been doing very well until now. I woke up this morning wondering how to incorporate football into this blog–then remembered that the appropriate link is right there on page 252 of “Mousenet” (due out November 8th):

“How many mice did it take to get us here?” asked Megan.
It was Saturday night, a couple of hours after the football game in which the Oregon Ducks had beaten the Stanford Cardinal to a pulp. . . .

Sorry about that, Stanford. My excuse for denigrating you is that I wrote the scene some years ago when the football team was barely mediocre, our shiny new stadium was barely half full, and the Ducks did indeed beat us to a pulp, regularly. There’s still a chance they will do so again this year on November 11th, but it is much less likely because Stanford is now considered by some to be the third best team in the country. Astonishing when you think that our players have to meet the same entrance requirements as everyone else. (To illustrate their caliber, the honorary captain last night was Cory Booker, class of ’91, tight end, Rhodes Scholar, and now a rising political star as mayor of Newark, New Jersey.)

What changed in the last few years? Well, part of it was luck, or, if you prefer, Luck. Andrew Luck, generally considered to be the best quarterback of his age on the planet. There’s a headline in today’s San Francisco Chronicle; “Mad dash for last with grand prize a franchise QB.” In other words, Luck is so good that professional teams may be competing for the worst record, because it will earn them the first pick of college talent next year. (In Seattle the rallying cry of the Seahawks was allegedly “Suck* for Luck,” until they accidentally won a few games.)

Is this a great University or what? Don’t even think about the Nobel prize winners (OK, 26 so far) or academic ranking (between second and fifth in the world, depending on who’s counting). How about that Director’s Cup? It’s given to the college or university “achieving success in many sports, both men's and women's,” and was awarded to Stanford at half-time last night FOR THE SEVENTEENTH STRAIGHT YEAR.

Beat that, Oregon.

*For British readers, “sucks” = “is not good.”

Rodents and Raisins

It’s interesting to be back in the world of Public Relations, as I make my approaches to the local news media before the launch of Mousenet in a month’s time.

Yes, I’m having some success (more on that when it gels) and it takes me back to my glorious eight months when I was officially in the PR business. I’d just been fired laid off from the San Francisco Examiner in one of the periodic culls of reporters decreed by the head office, and took a job in the PR department of J. Walter Thompson. My boss there was extremely tolerant, and let me pull off some great stunts, like sending a model out into San Francisco Bay in a bathtub powered by a client’s outboard motor.

Our main client, however, was the California Raisin Board. For them I invented “The League of Silent Movie Eaters.”

Launched to coincide with the San Francisco Film Festival, this organization purported to battle the noise people make at the movies unwrapping and chomping food. Scientific tests (we claimed) had shown that raisins and an Indonesian delicacy called kwee-talm were the two snacks that scored lowest on the scales of both “rustle” and “crunch.”

Big success! Our fake president was interviewed extensively on the local media–as was my brother Richard, whom I appointed president of the League’s British branch. He was whisked off to various television and radio studios, and I’m proud to say, completely forgot to mention raisins.

And I think my boss was not too unhappy when I decided to go back to England.

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