Monday, March 15, 2004

For March 12, 2004. Sorry if we’re a little late with the advice, Martha
Stewart (no, we couldn’t revive an old dried-out typewriter ribbon with
blueberry juice and pancake syrup), but for what it’s worth, here’s
Janet Jackson’s advice: To avoid jail time on the next call from your
broker, rip a fall-away patch off your bustier. The press play is just
the same but you won’t go to Stony Lonesome and somebody else pays the
fine, says the Burned-Out Newspapercreatures Guild, and this is BONG
Bull No. 642!

HOT OFF THE PRESSES. "Tabloid!" is out. It's the gripping tale of space
aliens struggling to make it in the supermarket tabloid business on
Earth, coming head-to-head with drug-crazed radio commentators, actors
turned politicians, reporters who make stuff up, and lunatic editors who
place recipes on the backs of grocery coupons (the bastards!).
And it's by the ace father-son writing team of Geo and Charles Stough
(take that, Coen Brothers!). And what's more it's only $8.95, cheap even
by trashy novel standards. See it at
Or hit here. Buy it before Mel Gibson snaps up the film rights, assuming he goes for
stories not already in the public domain.

SHARKS EATING SHARKS. Holy moley, is it an election year again? Gosh,
with Rush Limbarf and The Sludge Report's credibility stock down the
tubes, somebody has to take up the banner of right-wing babbler. Will it
be Fox News? The Wall Street Journal? Ah, the eternal struggle of Good
vs. Noisier. Somebody has to stand up to the Elite Media, that's for
Anyway, if your news organization is a little low in the advertising
budget, now's the time to take advantage of the free play: Join the
Elite Media. Who gets credited when the monthly jobs report looks like
the obits? The Elite Media. Whose fault is it when Halliburton's
billings make six minutes on Letterman and nine of Leno? The Elite
Media. Who catches it in the neck when Kerry calls them crooks on
national TV and supposedly nobody hears about it? The Elite Media. Not
to mention the travails of poor Michael Jackson, Kobe Bryant and Martha
Stewart, and how about those reviews of Jason Blair's latest output?
Yes, boys and girls, you too can be members of the Elite Media! Win
fame, power and hourly mentions on cable news channel! Hear yourself
excoriated by out-of-work campaign strategists, shouting heads, book
peddlers and think-tank hacks! Join today! There are no dues and you
won't be assigned to any committees, which of course we all recognize as
code talk for You Will Get Orders Each Morning From The International
Media Conspiracy (eat this message!).
The only requirement is that you wear the uniform. It's here. See the Elite
Media tunic at
and remember, first guy who shows up on TV wearing the Elite Media
target in the gallery of a campaign press conference wins double muffins
at the International Media Conspiracy power breakfast in Dubuque!
(Bargain note: CafePress offers a St. Patty's discount of $4 off orders
over $40 until March 31. Simply enter "luckygreen" in the coupon space
of your order.)

FLYOVER COUNTRY. As further evidence of the deterioration of newsroom
raffishness in the computer age, eastern and western coast careerists
are really stepping in it as the campaign heats up. The Milwaukee
Journal Sentinel's Graeme Zielinski ably describes the hubbub when the
boys on the bus saw their first snowmobile, and when the Washington Post
misspelled "Schlitz," the beer that made Milwaukee apparently not famous
enough. Go to
We confess that three years in Texas have not gotten us inured to the
spectacle of 112-pound (as well as some 212-pound and one or two
312-pound) housewives piloting 6,000-pound SUVs with front-end winches
and bush bars to take the kiddies to dance class. On the African veldt
the ranchers file the leading edges of bushbars sharp, the better to
pierce wire fences when chasing marauding lions; let us hope they don't
hear about this at the nail salon.

CICERO. Doug Bevins went off on BB's historic
note on agate, picas, etc., and added further:
"Which leads me to a snip from a column at
"Et tu, cicero?
"Q: In some programs I find 'ciceros' listed as an alternative
measurement, along with picas, inches, and the rest. What is a
cicero,anyway, and why might I want to use one?
"A: In the 18th century, the French, ever busy trying to make things
more rational, cooked up a scheme for measuring type that is now called
the didot system. It's based on the didot point, 12 of which make up a
cicero (whose name actually varies from country to country). A didot
point is slightly larger than an American or PostScript point, so that
15 ciceros equal about 16 picas. (The PostScript point system, by the
way, rounded off the values of the so-called American point system --
which was actually developed by another Frenchman and adopted in the
U.S. in the 19th century - so that there are exactly 72 points and 6
picas to the inch.)
"The didot system is still in use in Europe today, although it's
being overtaken by PostScript picas and points and metric measurements.
European imagesetter manufacturers calibrate their machines metrically
(which is why many imagesetters resolve at the mysterious figure 2540
dpi - that's 100 dots per millimeter), and more and more graphic artists
are measuring type and page dimensions metrically as well. So unless
you're working with a tradition-minded publisher or printer in Europe,
you're not likely to ever use a cicero."

URGENT APPEAL. A Canadian hack who avoids hackneyed words and phrases
like the plague (his own description) asks, "How about an appeal in a
future BONG bulletin for a moratorium -- no, make that a total cessation
-- on the use of overworked words in print?
"What happened on Sept. 11, 2001 was 'horrific.' A car crash on a
highway, however, sad that it takes three or four young lives, does not
compare with 9/11 in enormity but it seems 'horrific' has become the
buzz word used by hacks to describe any tragedy beyond an ordinary event
involving death or destruction.
"Icon: What did we use before we had this one? How often is it used in
its proper meaning?
"And, one we see a lot: Coffers. Isn't a word which used to describe
containers for holding money in bygone years a bit antiquated in this
day of accounting by computer and instantaneous transfer of sums around
the universe?
"I'm sure you and your many devoted readers can come up with many
more words and phrases currently being grossly overworked and/or beaten
to death on the pages of newspapers today -- not to mention the
electronic media."
Yes of course, whatever we can do to ease the burden of our Canadian
hack brethren. We never hear the word "hustings" until election time,
when it becomes an instant cliché. "Warchest" is another of the same
ilk, and we don't mean warch, warcher, warchest. Who whistles at a
"whistle-stop?" And when was the last real stump seen at a "stump
speech?" Would the Secret Service let a candidate even climb onto a
stump, and risk being nipped by a termite?

show network is to go on the air March 31 in New York, Chicago and Los
Angeles. Voices include Janeane Garofalo, hip-hopper Chuck D, NPR
veteran media analyst Martin Kaplan, and comedian-author Al Franken with
a program called "The O'Franken Factor," clearly a takeoff meant to piss
off Fox's Bill O'Reilly even more.
BONG's Fair and Balanced and Cuddlier and Warmer Committee will await
the liberal programming's arrival in Texas in time to entertain our
grandchildren's grandchildren.

THE UDDER GUYS. The airport lady said the Chief Copyboy's painting
"Enough Damn Bluebonnets," picturing a bull ripping up the hackneyed
theme of 27/32s of all Texas landscape art, that it was "too
anatomically correct."
More than one newspaperwoman commented that it was, if anything, too
modest. Ahem, girls.
Anyway, yes, airport displays have to be conscious of nervous airline
passengers in these troubled times. See the opus at
Donald Brandt mailto:; saw it and wired in: "The
state of longhorns is offended by anatomically correct bulls? This
reminds me of when I was covering the Pennsylvania Farm Show for a
newspaper in Lancaster. One of the competitions for dairy cows, of
course, was Best of Udder. The Philadelphia Bulletin, which nearly
everybody stopped reading decades ago, published a picture of the
champion dairy cow with the udder airbrushed out."

A production of BONG Chief Copyboy Charley Stough, San Antonio
Express-News. E-mail