New Media New Rules

(Originally posted New York Press Club blog July 26, 2011)
I wonder how many people get their news from their AOL homepage (or other email/social network access?)

While the majority of email reading by me comes directly from the Mail icon on the bottom of my iphone screen, at least once every other day I log on via computer. But of course before you can get to your email, you have the news of the day and ... well it's a full page but off the top of my head I can't remember. I never pay attention because typically the top three news stories are about some diet fad, the hottest celebrity taboo and some cute animal.

Quite frankly, since I moved to London, when I log on, I get UK aol, and I don't even know WHO the celebrity is that is apparently that day's talk of the town. (Did you hear the twitter link I sent a few months ago- I'll look for it and post it here... ) When you log onto AOL in UK, it doesn't say, "You've Got Mail." It says in a female British voice- "You Have E-Mail."
It's strange to me, but I think it's proper English.

Today I noticed some of the news connected to AOL is from the Huffington Post.
Here is a link to one of the top news stories on AOL UK- titled
"Phone Hacking Scandal: Britain's Media Likely To Face New Rules."

English Fairy Tale: Football?

No need to try to explain America's obsession with the recent Royal Wedding. It's something that couldn't happen in America. No royals; hence no royals to marry a commoner. CNN quoted a woman watching the wedding from Georgia, "It's sort of like a fairy tale, an escape from ordinary life for a while."

No wonder as this American is learning about English soccer, I'm feeling as if I'm seeing fairy tales play out.
This kind of stuff just can't happen in ordinary American pro-sport life. The Bridgeport Bluefish would NEVER play the New York Yankees. Sure, individuals can move up through leagues, but not usually entire teams. Okay so that's baseball.
But even just looking at soccer, the English football league system and the American soccer league pyramid operate very differently.

So here is the fairy tale I'm watching right now play out as I understand it.
AFC Wimbledon is in a position where it could possibly move up into Football League Two.
I'll have to take a step back.
Once upon a time there was a team called Wimbledon FC. Over the years it worked it's way up through the league system, even beating Liverpool in 1988 to become FA Cup champs. Then came the day they needed a new stadium and were to move 56-miles away from Wimbledon to Milton Keynes. (Wimbledon FC is now known as the Milton Keynes Dons.)
Some fans were outraged! How could their local team move so far away? So they started up their own club and held tryouts in Wimbledon Common for anyone who wanted to play. That club became AFC Wimbledon in 2002.
Here is what as an American I struggle to understand: somehow the new team was allowed in the system and has been promoted through the leagues.

If AFC Wimbledon wins the matches it needs to this month and moves up to League Two, it will be only one league behind the MILTON KEYNES DONS, currently in League One! (Here is an article about AFC Wimbledon in today's Evening Standard.)

Imagine starting from scratch: from anyone trying out on a commons, to possibly going all the way to the top.
It's a fairy tale I'm told is quite common in the game known as Football.

Understanding this (or at the verge of trying to understand the complexities of Football) I now realize why my British-life long football fan-husband kept questioning me about my loyalty to sports teams.

Born in Houston, Texas, I was a Houston Oilers Football fan. I have pictures of me in pigtails wearing a light blue "Luv Ya Blue" blue with the number 7 on the back for quarterback Dan Pastorini.

He asked, when the Houston Oilers moved to Tennessee in the 1990's, what did the fans do?
My answer- uh, well I wasn't going to become a Tennessee fan- Tennessee is more than 800 miles from Houston! I had moved to Dallas and was working in the media there covering the Dallas Cowboys and so... erm... maybe picked up a liking to "America's Team."

Plus I had moved to New York long before Houston was brought it's new team, the Houston Texans. (I still can't figure out how that system works, but it was created from players already in the NFL and it's draft picks all from colleges.)

At least in learning about Football, I'm starting to understand American sports better. I've always enjoyed sports, the history behind the teams, and cheered for my favorite players. And I will continue!
As a plus, it now seems by having hope for AFC Wimbledon, I'm enjoying sport on the level of living out real life fairy tales- even if it's only because the stories aren't the ordinary  tales I'm used to reporting.

Happy Cinco de Mayo from London

(Originally posted May 5, 2011 NYPC blog)

Salud! to all of you who've asked whether I would be able to find good MEXICAN FOOD in London.

Actually, it wasn't that difficult and was one of the first things I stumbled upon.
However, using any excuse -- anytime, anywhere --to enjoy a good taco or Margarita, I had to revisit my first London Mexican find in honor of Cinco de Mayo, Tacubas.
The sign outside made no mention of Cinco de Mayo, just that it was Happy Hour. As I was brought a menu I asked if there were any plans of celebrating Cinco de Mayo.
He said, no, it's not something they really celebrate in Mexico, more in America.
I said I just had to ask since I was American. Actually originally from Texas-eventually making the point Mexican food was my American food.
He smiled.

Sure, the celebration in America is consumerism, but it's also a recognition of culture and heritage. People of all backgrounds join in to celebrate just as we do on St. Patrick's Day or Chinese New Year or at a Puerto Rican Day parade.

Cinco de Mayo celebrates the Battle of Puebla over French forces in 1862. It's a story of a small Mexican army defeating a mighty French force more than double it's size.
Read more on Cinco de Mayo here.
Click here for my favorite Mexican restaurants in New York City.

Cinco de Mayo is a National Holiday in Mexico, but the big patriotic celebration is Mexican Independence Day, September 16th. On the night of September 15, 1810, a Mexican priest rallied the people to fight against Spain. The next day, the fight for independence began. It was an 11-year-battle with victory finally in 1821.

I'll have to return to Tacubas to see if they celebrate in September. The front of the menu mentions Mexico's Aztec Warrior history.
It was in the year 1500 when Spain conquered Mexico- forcing many of the native Mexicans, Mayas and Aztecs into slavery. Independence Day didn't come for more than 300 years.

Now that I'm living in London, I'm starting to learn about culture here and national pride. Football, of course is rooted in history, and so it was interesting when researching Aztec Warriors to find an ad likening football to tribal times. The ad features Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez - who was just last year the first Mexican signed to Manchester United.
I will definitely be watching Chicharito play- as Manchester United is a big rival to my husband's lifelong passion- Chelsea. The two clubs are set face off this weekend in an important match.
Ay-Yi-Yi! Maybe I'll have to cheer with a cider instead of a margarita.

All About the Dress

(Originally posted 4/28/2011 New York Press Club Blog)

Poor Kate. She's not just trying to keep the groom from seeing the dress before the wedding, but the entire world!

The night before the Royal Wedding, Kate Middleton is staying at the Goring Hotel in London. The UK Press Association reports a canopy has been put up over the front of the hotel to make sure no one sees her dress before she arrives at Westminster Abbey Friday.
As you can see here, people and press are trying to get as close as they can to the hotel, despite barricades and street closures.

My interest in this part of the Royal Wedding stems back to my early days as a reporter (when quite honestly I made a screaming fool of myself.)
In 1997 I was an early morning anchor/producer at USA Radio Network News in Dallas. For what seemed like months, we were running this story promoting Princess Diana's dress collection touring US museums. I was a fairly new journalism graduate full of ideals of what should be news and frankly I was sick of hearing about Diana's dresses. I would rant why that story wouldn't be in my newscasts.

As I walked into the news room to start my early morning shift on August 31st 1997, I asked out loud, "what's our lead story?"
I thought the answer, simply "Princess Diana," was a joke, so I started my rant again of how she wouldn't be in my newscasts that day. I saw terror on my colleagues faces and then quietly began my shift that spanned into the announcement she had died.

Ever since the engagement was announced, I've seen Kate's outfits compared to Diana's. Even when I walked into work with a new white coat, someone said, "that's like Kate's! Everyone wants a white coat!"
How had I missed that? After a google, whew. Mine didn't have black buttons.

However, Kate is now a leader. Which also makes her a fashion icon. If those magazines are selling to the masses- and they're buying- it shows respect for the new royal. People are looking for leadership and why should someone like me dismiss clothes as part of the big picture.

Outside the chaos of central London, here is a residential street that I'm told could echo much of the country. On the eve of the wedding, a quaint display of national pride and respect.

First 2012 Olympic Rings

(Originally Published March 3, 2011 NYPC blog)

Hats off to the first 2012 Olympic Rings unveiled today at St. Pancras International Station.
Read the press release.
Read story on BBC.

Since I'm now living in London, I'm proud to own one of these knit caps New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg gave out during a press conference during the city's 2012 Olympic bid.

Too bad they are summer games. It might be too warm to wear the hat in London from July 27th to August 12th, 2012.

Back to the Rings unveiled today- they are measure 20 metres wide by 9 metres high and weigh 2,300 kilograms. That's .... uh, hold on. I have to google a conversion chart.

That's nearly 66 feet wide by 29.5 feet weighing more than 5,000 pounds! That's 2.3 tons.

No wonder they had to transport the rings in 39 separate parts to St Pancras International. The press release says they were secretly assembled and installed over seven nights.

St Pancras will be one of the key access points to the games, transporting visitors on a high-speed Javelin Train to and from Stratford International. Stratford International is adjacent to Olympic Park, which is under construction in Stratford, East London.

If New York had won the 2012 bid, the first Olympic Rings might have gone up at Grand Central or Penn Station. Though you have to wonder if the assembly would have been kept secret like in London. My bet is coverage would have been of olympic proportions, from the time the first piece of metal arrived, to the type of aluminum used, where it came from, the people putting it together, until finally the unveiling. Though probably by then the story might have switched to "commuters fed up with crowds" trying to get a glimpse of the monstrous logo.

If you'd like the follow the build up to the Olympics, you can check out the London 2012 Headquarters website and follow on twitter.