Sunday, April 20, 2003

The Burned-Out Newspapercreatures Guild's World-Famous Encyclical
No. 621

Visit the News Gorilla store. That's where you can get your Chagrin Falls Commercial Scimitar Project Team sweatshirt.

For April 22, 2003. Life is tough; one minute you have the attention of the world's media, telling them everything's under control, and the next your turf is ransacked by uniformed ruffians. What's a Modesto husband with a new hair color, beard and ten grand in his pocket, a half-hour from the Mexican border, to do? asks the Burned-Out Newspapercreatures Guild, and this is BONG Bull No. 621!

ADDED TO THE INVENTORY. A sweatshirt emblazoned with the Projects Team logo of the Chagrin Falls Commercial Scimitar, the world's best-read fictitious newspaper, is now among the offerings at the News Gorilla store,. As with the same paper's Foreign Correspondent press cards at, it's sure to turn up a lot of newsroom chatter including testimonials from those who say they did internships there.

HEYWOOD GETS AROUND. Heywood Jablome was the counter-protester at the Augusta National Golf Club who got in the way of a feminist speaker with the sign reading "Make me dinner" and shouted "Oprah rules!" The cops got the joke, even as they cuffed him. So did Richard L. Eldredge of the Atlanta Journal Constitution, but not until a couple of days later. That guy at the Charleston Post and Courier, on the other hand, probably has some learned things to say about keeping up with publicity-hungry radio jocks like Richard Shertenlieb.

VOLUMINOUS EXAMPLES. On the question of where this word "volumn" came from, ace researchers Bill Eger and John D. Ayer found thousands of hits on Google.
Lee Hickling offered:
"I had never seen the 'volumn,' and I was puzzled. I would have said there was no such word and never had been, but the OED straightened me out, sort of. 'Volumn' isn't listed, which means that the assiduous compilers of the great dictionary never found it used in print anywhere during this last 500 years of so.
"However! as the world's leading expert, Prof. Irwin Corey, used to start his act, the OED does list 'volumen'. It's defines it 'A volume, a book. (Obs.)' and also as a roll of parchment. The only quote containing volumen meaning a book is from 1821: 'He drew all the confusit lawis of Scotland in ane compendius volumen.' There are two quotes about the secondary meaning, the first one being: 'A volumen of parchment unfolded in the centre.' The second quote is even more boring.
"So if the world was ever used in print in English, tireless researchers who contributed quotations to the OED never found an example, as 'a unit of information, as a member of an encyclopedia,' or with any other meaning. Besides that, I have never seen the word until now, and I have read an awful lot of damned dull old books."
That squares with the Latin-root "volumen," Lee, a word still used in Spanish where "volume" works north of the Rio Grande.
Based on empirical evidence (what the scholars say when they're going with a hunch), it's merely a typo that people like. Midwestern Americans almost rhyme "column" and "volume" if you ignore its "lyu." Bloggers and newsgroup addicts say like working without editors; you like typos, learn to live with them.
It reinforces a thought the Chief Copyboy built into a colume, er, column some years ago: As literacy and movable type gave birth to standardized spelling, the Internet shovels dirt on its face. A freshman shirking a term paper to play in a chat room can spray his maundering drivel, and his choice of spelling, over more readers than Gutenberg ever dreamed of. And does that ever-so-hip Wired magazine still use 3s for Es, lik3 th3s3?

THE BONG HANDBOOK OF NEWSROOM INSECTS. In Spring, or any other season for that matter, watch for these pests in your plots:
The Lesser Colorless Leafhopper: Avoids creative projects until someone else has them done, then flutters about, getting onto the team.
The Flushfaced Features Plume Moth: Becomes profligate from overfeeding of first-person usage. If you've got more than 15 examples of "I," "me" or "mine" in a two-take list of Oscar nominations, you have an infestation.
The Wide-Tailed Staff-Meeting Borer: No committee agenda is too long for this pest, if it keeps him or her from doing any real work. Can sometimes be controlled by assignment to Special Projects.
The Sharp-Tongued Ladder-Climbing Assassin Bug: Whatever's wrong is the fault of whoever's back is turned. Frequents the shadows of larger creatures.
The Executive Bumblebee: Thick-shelled and plodding but a survivor, perhaps owing to his or her slowness to make waves -- or splashes.
The Potbellied Woolly Earbender: Member of the borer family, attaches to passing victims with stories of how he saved that Page One layout in '71 with the three-quarter hood in 6-point Benday rule.
The Hip-hopping Katy-and-Me-Did: Office parasite, quick to attach to anyone's project just before prize-harvest time.

CAN'T THINK WHERE ELSE TO USE THIS. Before the atomic age, uranium was used to color artificial teeth.

BACK UP ALL ASSERTIONS. Charles Chapin, the legendary city editor of the New York World, early this century praised a reporter for a story using the phrase "melancholy waters" referring to the East River.
Praise from Chapin was hard to come by, so soon all the reporters were turning in melancholy-waters stories. Chapin grew tired of it and when reporter Dwight Perrin used the phrase about the Hudson River, Chapin fired him.
As Stephen Bates tells it in his book "If No News Send Rumors"
(St. Martin's), Chapin demanded to know what could make the Hudson's
waters melancholy.
"Perhaps," the reporter said, "it was because they had just gone past Yonkers."
"Not bad," said Chapin, and rehired him.

COMIX SECTION. The Further Adventures of Herman "Speed" Graphic, ace photographer for the Chagrin Falls Commercial Scimitar, and his Faithful Companion, Typo the Wonder Pig.
PANEL ONE: Typo enters the photo lab carrying Speed's trenchcoat, a deathbed gift from an ancient mystic wire service executive editor on a fog-shrouded eastern island, and states, "Wow, Boss! I never heard of a dry cleaner that assesses monthly late charges!"
PANEL TWO: Speed grumbles, "Deregulation run amok, pal! As soon as we get the S&L's caught up, we're going after the laundries! But what's this nasty memo from Features Editor Hyperba Lee? Did you eat all the chocolate-covered cherries they sent down for that photo spread?"
PANEL THREE: Typo temporizes, "You mean the section page on what to serve at a wake? Well, the caramel corn was stale! And besides, I only ate the chocolate parts!"
PANEL FOUR: Speed complains, "Well, I wish you'd waited until I shot the pictures! She says the reader mail is 4-to-1 against!"
PANEL FIVE: Typo observes gleefully, "But look at her walkoff, Boss! Hyperba says we're banned from all Sunday-page meetings until further notice! Come on, we can just make the fifth in the pressroom roach races, and I got the key to Publisher Gimlet Peen's private box!"

Visit the News Gorilla store.
BONG Bull is the product of Chief Copyboy Charley Stough, a copy editor at the San Antonio Express News. Email for any reason. Phone (210) 250-3191 after 6 p.m. central time.