Newsgorilla

Friday, September 10, 2004


I'm not grasping the "typographic forensics" on the slacker Lt. Bush issue. Times Roman is a 75-year-old design (devised at great Gray Lady expense for N.Y. Times text in hot lead days) with clarity the prime motivator. Good for Microsoft for using it. There were any number of typewriters, typerack manuals and electrics, with optional keys available like "th" and legal citation symbols, degree marks, mathematical deltas, take your pick and tell the salesman. IBM's Selectrics with their type ball went into orbit with weird stuff; when I used to bust up typewriters for cfflinks and earrings I found a ball that had astrological symbols. Don't recall if it was an IBM but it would have been a pretty weird tie tack so it vanished from around here.
As for centering type, every high school typing student since the 30s knows how to do that with a manual, vertically or horizontally. There used to be 3-side rules for that, in case your machine was pica or elite. Printers could even do it in newspaper pages, which is why the stick was called a "line gauge" before editors took to calling "pica pole" and using it as a newsroom cake cutter.
And I can see a colonel's secretary vertically-spacing a document on orders from her boss. As a college kid I was a mail clerk in a San Antonio bank and the chairman was a retired 4-star general (National Bank of Commerce 1966-67; the Gen.'s name was Bennett) whose former-WAC secretary used to rifle the important-baskets' outgoing mail to catch any clerk who put a rubber band around any of it; rather than risk an edge wrinkle, it was sent back for retyping and the clerk's outline was sweat into the wall with brisk soldierly critique having to do with getting one's brains above one's belt buckle.
So, Washington Posties with your research department thinking the world was invented by Lexis/Nexis, better get out some heavier tools. Hannity will take augury from night-blooming cactus as proof of anything, but nobody's touching on any proof. Except that both sides seem to agree that slackerdom is no handicap for Republican candidates.


Thursday, September 09, 2004


(Editor's note: Pulled strings to get into the Texas Air Guard with all those Dallas Cowboys and other bigwigs' kids? Would a future president do such a thing? What, it was possible for snotnose rich brats with connections to beat Vietnam duty? Why haven't we reported this before? ;-)

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For Sept. 7, 2004. Wow, when they talk tropical breezes around Florida,
you'd better listen, warns the Burned-Out Newspapercreatures Guild, and
this is BONG Bull No. 653!

SO LONG DEREK, YOU WERE A HERO TO US ALL. Friends and colleagues mourn
the death of Derek Ali, an ace reporter for the Dayton (Ohio) Daily
News, shot and killed early Sunday while pushing a woman out of the way
of some lump with a gun in his hand. Derek, as adept at music as he was
at chronicling the streets of Dayton, had been working as a disc jockey
at a private party. Witnesses said the shooter had not been allowed in,
and was angry.

AND HERE COMES THE HAT TRICK. All right, you gale correspondents, now
you know the stuff you left out of your emergency kits for the Charley
and Frances blows. As Ivan bears down, here are some tips that the dear
old j-prof probably neglected to mention:
-- A deck of cards by lanternlight, huddled in the lee of a
blacked-out hotel garage, not only helps to pass the time but has profit
potential. Invite the chess playing reporters over; those are the
locals.
-- In 1776 it was "Keep your powder dry." In 2004 the same rule
applies to toilet paper.
-- Splintered pine branches can become admirable toothbrushes.
-- Beers sink. Snakes float.

CHECK UPSTAIRS. When the cleanup starts, if any buildings still have
upper stories, scout them for quotes. Edna Buchanan wrote vividly of
riding out her first hurricane in Miami in the plywood shack "penthouse"
of her apartment building. The first gust jammed the door and she had no
choice but to ride it out long after good judgment suggested otherwise.
She knew she was rescued the next day when she heard the landlord fight
the roof door open, come outside and shout to someone downstairs, "Hey!
It's still here!"
In the old 'hood of Dayton, Ohio, they still talk of their 1913 flood
and sometimes mention the horse that floated in through someone's
second-story window. Rescue took days. The horse ate a piano.

SEND GREAT REPORTER SOONEST. There it is in plain sight, a message
spelled in rocks on the martian surface, "Mars to Earth: Send That Times
Guy."
It's the Newsgorilla Store burnouts' latest shot at savoir faire with
just the right soupcon of braggadocio, and it comes in T-shirts, mugs,
cubicle posters and, super-cheap till Sept. 30 or while supplies last,
hooded sweatshirts.
See them at <http://www.cafeshops.com/newsgorilla> and yours will be
inbound in mere hours.
There's also a "Send That AP Guy" motif in the selection. In fact,
thanks to the snappy work of design expert Geo Stough of the BONG lab in
Minnesota (to get design experts that good, you gotta make your own),
the engineering staff proudly offers to create sets for all who ask.
Contact for full particulars.
Check out the Newsgorilla Store.

HELLO SWEETHEART, GIMME REWRITE. With disaster dominating the front
pages and diatribe in the politics section, we knew we would find this
pair of anecdotes from decades ago. Jerry Crimmins of the Chicago
Tribune told BONG that the following conversation took place between a
reporter and a Trib rewrite man after a toxic fire in Indiana:
Reporter: "I'm at the gym where they took some of the evacuated
people, and I got a lot of good quotes. Also, the wind has changed
and they may have to evacuate this place, too."
Rewrite: "Where are you?"
Reporter: "I don't know. Don't you know? It's a school."
Rewrite: "What's the name of the school?"
Reporter: "You can find that out. I've got a lot of good
quotes."
Rewrite: "You are there. What's the name of the school? Where
is the accident from you? Which way is the wind blowing?"
Reporter: "I don't know! Don't you want my quotes?"
All the more tragic is that out of this exchange, beside very
little news, there probably arose a reporter who goes around
complaining that the desk screwed up his opus.

HELLO REWRITE, GIMME A SWEETHEART. Different reporter, different
story, same rewrite man. The fire is in an old South Side factory
district near homes.
Reporter: "The fire is or seems to be spreading now to another
building. It's very windy."
Rewrite: "What's the address of the other building?"
Reporter: "I don't know. Can't get that close."
Rewrite: "Which direction is the fire spreading?
Reporter: "I'm not very good with directions. Can't you look
on a map?"
Rewrite: "They don't have fires on maps. Which way is
downtown?"
Reporter: "I'm not sure."
Rewrite: "Where is the sun?"
Reporter: "Oh, no. Nope. I'm not getting into that."

TRANSLATING THE ADS. The gray matter at the back end of Editor &
Publisher used to be the best-read yet most depressing ink in the news
profession. Here is a translation guide for the newspaper want ads:
"JOIN OUR FAST-PACED STAFF:" We don't bother with training and
you'll have to introduce yourself to your coworkers.
"IMMEDIATE OPENING:" Had another staff walkout.
"SEEKING SELF-STARTER:" Paper's in Idaho. Publisher's in
Pennsylvania.
"COMPETITIVE ENVIRONMENT:" We're getting killed by the other
paper.
"EXCITING WORK ENVIRONMENT:" The pressroom crew packs heat.
"JOIN OUR DYNAMIC TEAM:" You'll have to listen to all the
motivational tapes that the boss brought back from that seminar.
"MUST BE DEADLINE ORIENTED:" You'll be six months behind on
your first day.
"FLEXIBLE HOURS:" No overtime pay.
"DUTIES WILL VARY:" Anyone including the boss's kid can fire
you.
"MUST HAVE AN EYE FOR DETAIL:" We have no proofreaders.
"SEEKING CANDIDATES WITH A WIDE VARIETY OF EXPERIENCE:" You'll replace three people.
"PROBLEM-SOLVING SKILLS A MUST:" Your immediate supervisor is
given to crying jags.
"REQUIRES TEAMWORK:" You take the blame for golden boys'
screwups.
"HANDLE A HEAVY WORKLOAD:" One whine and you're outa here.
"NEAR TRI-STATE'S LARGEST CULTURAL CENTER:" Nothing to do for
90 miles.

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: Rushing into the photo lab to find Speed dozing in his
trenchcoat, a deathbed gift from an ancient mystic wire service
executive editor on a fog-shrouded eastern island, Typo announces,
"Boss! I got us a gig, and you'll only have to wear a costume part
of the time!"
PANEL TWO: Speed blusters, "Gig...? Costume...?"
Typo explicates, "Right, Boss! The President is playing catch-up
on the educational thing, and I signed us for 13 weeks on PBS! You're
Speedy the Erudite Clown!"
PANEL THREE: Speed blinks, "TV...? Clown...?"
Typo declares, "You got it right, Boss! Illustrate complex
science concepts with kitchen-table explosives! Explain quadratic
theorems with flash cards! This ring-toss game with the busts of the
presidents will be the history segment!"
PANEL FOUR: Speed squints, "Science concepts...? Ring-toss...?"
Typo cheers, "I know you'd dig the concept, Boss, and it's all
sponsored by federal grants! The only thing we need is a bikini-clad
assistant, and I'm waiting for Features Editor Hyperba Lee's agent to
get back on that...!"
INTERPANEL SILHOUETTE: Popout letters of flames, teeth, pain stars
and fists obscure the panel.
PANEL FIVE: On the ledge outside the photo lab, Speed gasps,
"Bikini-clad...?"
Beside him Typo reassures, "Only her negotiating tactic, Boss!
As soon as she reads the Free Lunches Clause, we'll be in Fat City!"
BONG is a production of BONG Chief Copyboy Charley Stough of the San
Antonio (Texas) Express-News. E-mail bongstuff@yahoo.com.
Visit the News Gorilla store at <http://www.cafeshops.com/newsgorilla>.


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