Tuesday, April 20, 2004

The Burned-Out Newspapercreatures Guild's World-Famous Encyclical
No. 644
and News Gorilla

For April 20, 2004. Wow, Bob Woodward, nice book about the runup to Iraq War II, and how much work it was for Dubbya to get everybody backed into the corner with him so invasion was the only answer. But it's not a first: Ernie Hemingway also kept the good stuff in his other notebook for the book later. No sense letting great reportage go to waste as newspaper fodder, says the Burned-Out Newspapercreatures Guild, and this is BONG Bull No. 644!

NEW FOR YOUR CUBICLE: If Texas had stayed a republic, what would it have on its postage stamps? It's a theme well treated in the new Cubicle Art Collection that members can download and display in their workplaces. Examples so far include Tailgaters, Big Hair, Schoolhouse Memories, Really Manly Boots and Howdy-Hemorrhoids Cuisine. Under committee consideration and design: Crooked Politicians, Magic Ballot Boxes. See the art here. It's at
And yes, since we criticized Bob and Ernie a couple of paragraphs ago, of course this idea was offered for newspaper use. The memo went where all the idea memos go, somewhere south of the Island of Lost Socks.

THE REAL-LIFE INSTRUCTIONS FOR ACCEPTING AWARDS. Somebody suggested dressing correctly, making short acceptance speeches and not getting shitfaced for journalism awards events. Yeah, well, nice try. Here are real-situation tips for surviving immortalization:
-- After the newsroom cheer-in, nobody remembers who got the award or why. But they remember great cake.
-- Don't thank the little people who made it all possible. They're on the night shift and can't hear you. Just leave some cake, and not in that fetid newsroom refrigerator.
-- It's OK to gloat. For getting that beast past all the committees and coat-tailers, in fact, all 7 Deadly Sins have been waived for you. But only till press time.
-- Winning is winning. The definition of "being a finalist" is "losing."
-- It's rude to ask who the guy in the fancy suit is. Publishers have mothers and want to be in the winners photo too.
-- When deciding what to put in your resume, consider this: Would you rather hear someone tell you about the big prize he won, or show you the Hank Aaron ball he caught at the game?

THE DRAMA OF THE HINTERLANDS. Wow, you get journalists talking about bulls' genitals (see the painting banned by the San Antonio International Airport art judge at, you better have a comfortable chair. This comes from Jeremy Condliffe:
"We would not crop a bull here at the the Congleton Chronicle (Cheshire, England). We're in a rural area, after all. But stock bulls are kept for one function only, and we can get close . . .
"We covered a one-act play competition organised by local thespians.
The competition attracted entries from across the country and the winner was a play about masturbation, concerning a young man's experience as he gave a sample. Sadly, none of us could come up with a suitable headline featuring both the content of the play and the name of the company which sponsored the competition -- Siemens. (You couldn't make it up, could you?)
"On a similar theme, couple of years back we ran a story about a council meeting which decided on a name for a new housing development. The architects' plans had a familiar outline and for one councillor at the planning meeting, there was an obvious choice of name given the plan's appearance - he suggested Dog's Bollocks Road.
"The councillor said that everyone who lived there could say 'Where I live it's the dog's bollocks'. (This is an English expression meaning 'Jolly Good!') We did report that in full, and tried to sell it to the nationals, but they shied away and no one would run it. In the end the road was called Lilac Close. Shame."

CABIN FEVER. Slang terms of commercial airline pilots and air traffic controllers:
Diesel 10: DC-10
18-wheeler: Boeing 747
Mad dogs: MD-80s and –90s.
Jurassic jets: Boeing 727s or DC-9s.
Baby Boeing: Boeing 737.
Bigfoot: Boeing 777 (for its huge main gear).
Jungle jet: Embraer (made in Brazil).
Alley-Oop: Fast plane passes a slower one by climbing, then descending.
Blue Bayou: To tell a slow plane it is being passed by a faster one (from the Ronstadt song).
Bug smashers: Small, slow piston-engine planes. Also heard: Nearjet (small, slow business jet); dink (for the sound the little plane would make when hitting a big liner); FLIB (Fucking Little Itinerant Bastard); squirrels, especially if the small planes' pilots can't follow instructions.
Captain Magoo: A pilot who can't see traffic right in front of him.
Crowbar arrival: An abrupt descent, as on some landings at JFK; after the trajectory of a falling crowbar. Also heard: Manhole arrival, slam dunk.

IN ANTIGONISH, NOVA SCOTIA, NEARLY EVERYBODY READS: The Casket. (Yes, this is a rehashed column item. First used it years ago. And a couple times since then. So what? You go, Jimmy Breslin!)

COMIX SECTION. The Further Adventures of Herman "Speed" Graphic, Ace Photographer of the Chagrin Falls Commercial Scimitar, and his Faithful Companion, Typo the Wonder Pig.
PANEL ONE: Signaling for another round from the back booth of the Bait Shoppe, Typo counsels, "Hey, don't worry about anything in your annual evaluation, Boss! Your discipline file is already so heavy that nobody's gonna want to lift it, much less read it!"
Speed grumbles, "Nobody believes in imagination anymore!"
PANEL TWO: Typo suggests, "Well, the times being what they are, Boss, maybe too much imagination isn't good for a news photographer to have! Unless you're editing for Republican Web sites, I mean!"
Speed moans, "Nobody on staff has as great a future behind him as me!"
PANEL THREE: Speed commiserates, "Well said, Boss! But if I may suggest (and isn't Floyd the Barmaid looking especially lovely tonight?), perhaps in your rebuttal of Features Editor Hyperba Lee's comments you shouldn't have mentioned her banner headline spelling of 'Niagara' to look like 'Viagra.' She was confused by her gifts-registry sidebar!"
Wrapping himself in his trenchcoat, a deathbed gift from an ancient mystic wire service executive editor on a fog-shrouded eastern island, Speed snorts, "I know what I shoulda said!"
PANEL FOUR: Typo cheers, "That's the spirit, Boss! Get those creative juices flowing! Oh Floyd, be a dear, the phone please, thank you."
PANEL FIVE: Hanging up the phone, Typo smiles, "That's exactly right, Boss, and Hyperba just told me she couldn't agree more! Your evaluation is getting a snappy rewrite and your bar tab is to be settled at company expense! Oh Floyd! Two more refills, if you please, and two . . . no, make that FOUR of your great Meatloaf Surprises, there's a dear!"

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