Keith Morrison, Barbara Walters and others continue to seek… The Door

The Door (of Shame, Blame and Brilliance) is both sentinel of sacred journalistic history, and protector of commode users.

The Door (of Shame, Blame and Brilliance) is both sentinel of sacred journalistic history, and protector of commode users.

Since last week’s posting of The Door (of Shame, Blame and Brilliance), I have received hundreds of emails from concerned readers asking if we followed up on the tip about a potential murderer staying at a local hotel, which was brought in by a woman who said she heard “murdering noises” from the room above her — and as our office girl Misty noted: “I think she was hearing them again while standing in our office lobby.”

As it turns out, all 358 emails were from NBC Dateline’s Keith Morrison who, like countless other television correspondents, is seeking an exclusive to The Door in our newsroom. It was actually Misty who made the realization that Morrison was behind all the emails when, while checking our general voicemail box, she heard the message: Just checking to see if you got all the eeeemails I sent. This is an anonymous call by the wayyyyy.

“Hey,” said Misty, “isn’t that the creepy guy from Dateline Mysteries?”

So as it stands, The Door remains safe from Morrison, as well as Barbara Walters, Geraldo Rivera, Morley Safer and Anderson Cooper, each of whom has taken a crack at getting the exclusive to what Diane Sawyer described as “An awe-inspiring body of journalism… which reminds me, where’s Chris Cuomo?” Continue reading

Five days without cranky teenagers at home (Can I get a Halleluja?)

image They say absence makes the heart grow fonder. With that in mind, the thought of our three teenagers being gone for most of spring break makes us love them beyond words. In fact, the only way we could love them more is if they each found jobs and an apartment while they were gone.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that we don’t enjoy spending time with our kids. Of COURSE we do! What kind of parents would we be if we didn’t enjoy the lighthearted banter we share each day, such as when I say:

“You need to wash your plate.”

And without skipping a beat, they reply:

“You’re ruining my entire LIFE!”

Ha! Ha! That’s why they are called “kids!” Not because they are like stubborn baby goats who, given the chance, will run horns-first into your knee caps. No! It’s because they’re kidders! So who are we, as parents, to selfishly deny them from spreading that kind of joy to others for five whole days during spring break? Continue reading

Do you hear that? It’s the sound of our teenagers not being at home

Within the next 24 hours, my wife and I will suddenly be without our three teenagers at home for five whole days. Possibly longer, depending on traffic, wind resistance and any other delays that could hamper an expedient pick-up next weekend. Not having them at home will obviously take some getting used to. Such as getting used to not having less than 90 seconds of hot water for a shower, or being accused of smothering them when we ask if they made their bed.

To celebrate help us deal with the emptiness we feel, here’s an audio clip of this Monday’s upcoming post, “5 Days Without Cranky Teenagers at Home (Can I Get a Hallelujah?)”


See you Monday! Unless I’m still in the shower…

Sometimes, your Muse needs to be romanced

image Today, we’re going to focus on tips for writing intimate love scenes. Or more specifically, how to effectively insert (see what I just did there?) descriptive phrases like:

“He grabbed her bare shoulders, caressing them with the kind of longing one reserves for freshly-baked bread …”


“She de-pansed him in one quick motion, opening a floodgate of memories from freshman gym class…”

As you can see, this is a genre I am intimately familiar with because, as I’ve said before, you need to write what you know. And believe me, when it comes to intimacy no one knows it better than myself. That said, as a personal favor to 50 Shades author E.L. James, I will actually NOT be offering insights regarding the the ins-and-outs (See how I did that?) of writing descriptive lovemaking scenes. The reason is because her latest book, “14 Shades of Puce” is due out later this week, and she is concerned many of you would recognize some of the techniques I would be discussing today.

In short, that “fresh bread” example wasn’t something I pulled out (are you following these?) just willy-nilly (Did I mention subtlety is important?) Continue reading

Keith Morrison latest reporter to knock on The Door of our newsroom

[Ask for it and ye shall receive! (Unless it’s a tax refund.) Our month-long-ish retrospective of The Door in our newsroom continues with a special visit from ABC News reporter/creepy guy Keith Morrison…]

The Door in our newsroom: Sentinel of journalistic history, protector of bathroom privacy.

The Door in our newsroom: Sentinel of journalistic history, protector of bathroom privacy.

It seems as though ABC reporters Barbara Walters, Morley Safer and John Quinones have finally given up on gaining an exclusive to The Door (of Shame, Blame and Brilliance). It’s been nearly a week since Safer has faxed any threatening images of his booty, which we began handing out for a new children’s coloring contest. Interestingly, there seems to be a 50/50 split between children who believe it is the image of a dense forest surrounding an abandoned well, and those who are think it is the Death Star exploding.

In addition, Walters is no longer leaving angry messages such as “Your CAWEER is HISTOWY!” on my voice mail, and Quinones has stopped Tweeting “@Ned Hickson: What would YOU do? Give me an exclusive before you become a Dateline Mystery!

Which brings us to this week’s entry from The Door, and the latest reporter to begin hounding us for an exclusive to what Anderson Cooper has called “A journalistic milestone of unparalleled significance, not counting my decision to wear Dockers that were a size too small during broadcasts.” Continue reading

I’ll be off the grid today because of pasta

image In case you were wondering why I was mostly absent from my blog yesterday, it’s because I spent the day at the fire station preparing for our annual Siuslaw Valley Firefighter Association’s St. Paddy’s Day Spaghetti Feed. And by “preparing for it,” I don’t mean stretching out my stomach and putting on pants with an elastic waist. I was cooking off 60 pounds of pasta and dicing up 30 pounds of tomatoes while Capt. Liz Iabichello cooked off 40 pounds of meat and diced 10 pounds of onions.

Today, we’ll finish the sauce, make garlic bread and prepare the salad for tonight’s fundraiser dinner, which is from 4 to 7 p.m. If any of you happen to be on the central Oregon coast tonight, stop in! We’re expecting about 300 people but I’m sure we can find you a table.

And we promise you’ll get your food faster than you would on Hell’s Kitchen. Continue reading

Being attacked by a Komodo dragon is its own reward

I think there's a reason he's missing part of his middle finger...

Any guesses why he’s missing part of his middle finger?

Some of you may remember when San Francisco Chronicle executive editor Phil Bronstein was attacked by a 7-foot-long Komodo dragon back in 2001. Oddly enough, it wasn’t a letter to the editor gone horribly wrong, or even a marketing stunt for “Crouching Editor, Hidden Dragon” that spurred the attack. It actually happened during a special behind-the-scenes tour at the Los Angeles Zoo aimed at rewarding high-end financial contributors.

As a result, officials were forced to “re-evaluate” the special visiting privileges reserved for major donors — and without question, feeding yourself to a seven-foot lizard definitely falls into the “major donor” category.

More than a decade later, zoos are still struggling to find ways of rewarding major donors with experiences that, as one zoo official put it, “Offers a unique and exciting interaction with animals that doesn’t include offering our donors as dinner.”

The problem is, while there are certainly lots of other, safer animal exhibits that could be toured by big spenders, the danger factor — and storytelling value — drops off considerably once you leave man-eater realm. Being at a dinner party and telling how you stared down a Siberian tiger, then narrowly escaped its claws, is definitely more impressive than recalling the time you held off a hungry Toucan with nothing but a tranquilizer gun and a box of Fruit Loops. Continue reading

Please hear me out: Zoos are scary

image As you may have noticed — and by “you” I mean no one in particular or, quite possibly, no one at all — there was no sound preview on Friday for tomorrow’s post. That’s because I was so busy posting video of my high school long jump attempt on Friday that I completely forgot to record my weekly soundbite! Considering that I, a 48-year-old firefighter, essentially landed a personal best that any third grader would be proud of, I probably should’ve posted my soundbite and forgotten the long jump.

The good news is, my doctor says I should make a full recovery. And so will most of the high school students who witnessed my long jump attempt — just as soon as they complete their group therapy session. Continue reading

Tips to jump-start your writing (Unless you’re in Arkansas)

image There’s nothing quite like staring at a blank page, knowing that with a few strokes of the keyboard you will transform a landscape devoid of life into a living, breathing thing of your own creation. There’s also nothing quite like finishing that fourth cup of coffee only to find that same blank page staring back at you.

Sure, you may have typed several sentences — or maybe even the same sentence several times — in hopes of gaining some kind of momentum to carry you over that first hump, but the cursor repeatedly stalls out in the same spot, leaving you with the same blank page after riding the “delete” button back to the beginning.

Hey, that’s why it’s called a “cursor.”

I’ll be honest. I don’t necessarily subscribe to the notion of writer’s “block,” which suggests some kind of blockage — such as a cheese wedge or too many butter biscuits — restricting movement through a hypothetical colon of creativity. Although there are some books in print that offer evidence to support at least part of the colon theory, I prefer to think of the writing process as cells in a battery; when they are fully charged, things start easily. But if the alternator belt slips too much or the terminals get corroded, you end up without enough juice to turn the engine. Because we are writers and not mechanics, and because that last sentence exhausted the full extent of my automotive knowledge, I will sum up my analogy with this: When your battery is low, you get a jump, right?

Writing is no different. Continue reading

Apparently, I’m a long way from the high school long jump

image While visiting Mapleton High School yesterday, it occured to me that it had been more than 30 years since I’d pulled a hamstring. Fortunately for me, the Mapleton track team was only a discus throw away — which I suddenly realized when someone yelled “HEADS UP!”

As it turned out, the Sailors were finishing an inner-team “mini meet.” Despite what it sounds like, it’s not actually speed dating for high school midgets. According to coach Johnny Sundstrom, it’s a four-event “meet” among the squad that helps set individual baseline measurement for athletes in the sprints, distance running, throws and jumps.

The team was on its last event, the long jump, when my natural competitive instincts — normally reserved for “donut day” in the newsroom — were triggered. After talking it over with the coach, and signing a medical release form, then briefly discussing (depending on how things went) the idea of the Ned Hickson Memorial Long Jump, I took my place at the end of the runway. Mapleton senior Katie Dearman volunteered to record this historical event. Or as she put it, “Acquire documentation that could keep the school out of court.”

I believe Katie is headed for law school after graduation. Continue reading