If you can’t fix it with gum or duct tape, it’s not a real VW bus

image When I first heard about Volkswagen’s plans to bring back the Microbus, I immediately decided it would become our new family vehicle. That’s because no mode of transportation offers the same level of excitement as riding in a VW bus.

Except maybe riding in a runaway mine car.

But that was always part of its charm, just like the seat belts that had to be double-knotted to the door handle; the innovative heating system that blended engine heat and exhaust fumes with just enough outside air to keep occupants from blacking out; and a horn that never EVER worked — and when I say never-ever, I don’t just mean on mine. To this day, I have yet to meet anyone who has actually had (or witnessed the existence of) a working horn on a VW bus. Remember, this was way before side-impact bars, breakaway bumpers and so many air bags popping out of places that, last year alone, false sightings of Pamela Anderson rose by as much as 64 percent. Continue reading

… This Just In …

image

…TAT-tat-tat-TAT-TAT-tat-tat-TAT…

[Breaking News: from another strangely irrelevant moment in our news room…]

As our editor passes through the newsroom, a reporter looks up from her computer screen.

Reporter: “Have you assigned anyone to cover the Psychic Fair this weekend?”

Editor: “I was thinking about doing it.”

Reporter: “Really?”

Editor: “No, not really. And you’re obviously not psychic, so it won’t be you.”

Me: [remaining quiet and still]

Editor: “This sounds like you’re beat.”

Me: [Dropping back in my chair] “Really? Why me?”

Editor: “How did you know I meant you? Obviously you must be psychic. Therefore it’s your assignment.”

Me: “I think my life line just shrank.”

Editor: “You should get that looked at while you’re there.”

(Ned is a syndicated columnist with News Media Corporation. You can write to him at nhickson@thesiuslawnews.com, or at Siuslaw News, P.O. Box 10, Florence, Ore. 97439)

One group’s quest brings them to… The Door

The Door: Cultural mecca; journalistic icon; restroom door.

The Door: Cultural mecca; journalistic icon; restroom door.

The media storm continues to swirl around us in the newsroom here at Siuslaw News, where we have denied access to all the major news outlets seeking an exclusive to The Door (of Shame, Blame and Brilliance). Obviously, this has made us a lot of enemies at ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX and The 700 Club, all of which have sent their most prestigious correspondents to secure an exclusive to what Brian Williams has called, “Equal to the Rosetta Stone in terms of journalism — You know, if The Door wasn’t already in English.”

While Morley Safer is continuing to hound us for the exclusive by faxing images of his buttocks with the words “You will crack” written on them, Barbara Walters has been talking about us on The View, hoping to manipulate the public into thinking we have something to hide. As she said during this morning’s show, “What if we cwosed the Smithswonian to the pubwic? What are they twying to hide? It’s a weal twavesty.”

The fact is, we have nothing to hide. At least, not unless someone is on the other side of The Door using the commode. Just last week I spoke at the Boys and Girls Club about journalism, and how any one of them could become a successful journalist like me! Once the laughter faded, I ended my presentation by talking about The Door. Continue reading

Geographically speaking, I have no idea what I’m talking about

(Somewhere in the world, it’s already Monday. Ech! But for those reading this, it’s still Sunday! Now, before I start getting appreciative calls and emails, I can’t take all the credit. It probably has as much to do with our position in the hemisphere and rotation of the sun as it does with my power to post Flashback Sunday. Although, yes — it is a compelling coincidence. Regardless of the reason, I’m glad we can share Sunday morning together. Come to think of it, I should go put some pants on. In the meantime, here is this week’s flashback, which comes from a time long before I even had a blog, back when I thought “Freshly Pressed” was a new coffee shop and dry-cleaning chain…)

image When my youngest daughter entered middle school, I knew it was only a matter of time before my worst fears were realized and, as a parent, I would have to help her with geography. As many of you know, I suffer from acute directional dysfunction — a disorder many famous historical figures also suffered from, including Christopher Columbus, who discovered America completely by accident while looking for… if memory of sixth-grade history serves me…

A faster trade route to WalMart.

I’m the kind of person who must enter and leave somewhere the same exact way in order to keep from getting lost, even if it means walking backwards out of a public facility, such as the men’s room at Safeco Field. I’ve actually had nightmares about being a contestant on The Amazing Race. In it, I am partnered with my friend David, who spent six years in the Marines, and therefore still refers to distances in terms of “clicks,” which is a unit of measure based on kilometers and the use of a special clicking device. Were I trying to find my way out of enemy territory, this device would be about as useful to me as, say… a Superball. Because of this, my Amazing Race nightmare always starts and ends the same way, with everyone getting the first clue and then excitedly running off in the same direction. Except for me, who excitedly runs in the opposite direction — and off a cliff with my “clicker.” Continue reading

Humor columnist and firefighter; sometimes my two worlds collide

imageAs some of you know, in addition to being a humor columnist, I’m also a volunteer firefighter. I don’t write much about that aspect of my life because I don’t encounter many humorous situations when we roll onto a scene. About half of what we do involves MVAs (motor vehicle accidents), from fender benders to multi-car fatals. Because we get a lot of tourists here, most of the situations we encounter don’t involve people we know. But living in a smaller town, you know the possibility exists every time your pager goes off. It just goes with the territory. Continue reading

Investigative journalism in action…

Only the trained eye of a journalist, or average five-year-old, could recognize this is a freshly painted street. It's what we do.

Only the trained eye of a journalist, or average five-year-old, could recognize this is a freshly painted street. It’s what we do.

They say the news never sleeps. At least, not while an editor is watching. As a journalist, I have a trained eye for recognizing even the most subtle signs of a brewing news story. Even if it has nothing to do with coffee.

A reluctant glance.

A quickly hidden document.

A misspoken word.

This morning as I entered the office parking lot, my investigative journalism instincts led me to suspected the city had secretly re-striped the street behind our office. How do I know this? It’s just something you feel in your gut. I can’t explain how or why. I just know I trust it. Unless it’s lunch time…

Why National Hot Dog Day always leaves me feeling inadequate

“After realizing the size and scope of this assignment, I was feeling a little inadequate.”

Given that 1) yesterday was National Hot Dog Day, and 2) I have just returned to eating solid foods, it seemed like the perfect time to reminisce about the Oscar Mayer Weinermobile, which visited our town exactly one year ago today.

After more than a decade of working in the high-pressure environment of our newsroom, where at any given moment you could find yourself surrounded by as many as two other journalists all typing at once, it takes a lot to get our adrenaline pumping.

In fact, we have been at the epi-center of the national spotlight three times here in Florence. Sure, two occasions came after being singled out as having the nation’s highest rate of … (yawn) … retirees.

But the third time involved REAL explosives.

And a dead whale.

And quite possibly an unlicensed demolitions expert going through a divorce. This would explain using half a ton of dynamite to dispose of a rotting whale carcass that washed ashore, and how one onlooker literally chewed the fat after being struck by a piece if flying whale blubber. Continue reading

Journalists can’t wait to be shown… The Door

The Door in our newsroom: a sentinel of newspaper clippings, held together by history and a lot of tape.

The Door in our newsroom: a sentinel of newspaper clippings, held together by history and a lot of tape.

For those who have been following The Door, particularly in the last few weeks, then you know that media powerhouses ABC, CBS, NBC and the 700 Club have been pressuring me for an interview and exclusive access to what Diane Sawyer called “A journalistic treasure equal to the late Barbara Walters, God rest her soul… hmm? Oh, sorry. I mean, if she were dead.”

Needless to say the pressure has been tremendous. Even Morley Safer was pulled out of retirement to hound me, which he has been doing by continuously faxing images of his rear with the words “I will make you crack.”

So, yes — things have been a little tense here in the Siuslaw News editorial room, where The Door remains safe from blatant commercialism and media hype, while continuing to serve its dual purpose as both a journalistic mecca and restroom door. For those who may be visiting for the first time, perhaps because you have just been rescued from a deserted island along with a volleyball named “Wilson,” I should explain that The Door (of Shame, Blame and Brilliance), is home to a collection of the best and worst examples of newspaper journalism, taped there by reporters at the Siuslaw News since the 1970s, back when most interviews took place while sitting naked in a grassy field. Each week, we highlight one of those historic examples, after which we wash our hands repeatedly. Continue reading

Cold medicine: The key to true introspection

(Welcome to Flashback… Monday? That’s right! Today, thanks to my spending the last two days with my hands on the commode as if rubbing it for a genie, Flashback Sunday is making a rare Monday appearance. In fact, the only thing more rare is anyone on Here Comes Honey Boo Boo with a high school education. As always, we will delve back into the archives, back to when my only followers were members of a terrorist cell using my blog to pass messages; back when I thought “Freshly Pressed” was a website for innovative door bell designs. Given the circumstances of why this week’s Flashback is a day late, this post seemed appropriate…)

As if being sick wasn’t bad enough, my laptop burst into flames while I was on the commode. Ask Tina Fey — she saw the whole thing.

I’d like to start by apologizing for this column.

Technically speaking, I’m still writing it. However, given the volume of cold medication I have consumed, and keeping in mind that I have finally given in and, as a time saving measure, moved my workstation to the commode, there’s a good chance my current location is exactly where this column is headed. Making matters worse, the laptop I’m using is about 10 years old. Getting it open was like shucking a Pismo clam. After opening it, I realized it’s the very same model that caused panic aboard a flight to Miami when it overheated and singed the thighs of an intoxicated businessman.

True, I am not on a plane. Yet there are still some frightening similarities:

I am under the influence of Codeine.
I am in a seated position.
And if this morning was any indication, I won’t be leaving my seat for the next few hours. Continue reading

To celebrate the completion of my book, I decided to contract what I’m pretty sure was ebola

My whereabouts since Saturday night. Well, here and kneeling in front of the commode. (No photo available)

My whereabouts since Saturday night. Well, here and kneeling in front of the commode. (No photo available)

After completing the final draft of my book on Saturday, I decided “What better way to celebrate than to contract a stomach virus?!?” Between Saturday night and this morning, I have spent equal time between laying in bed and kneeling at the commode until, Sunday morning, I hurled up what I believe was a penny I swallowed when I was seven. This morning I feel a little better, in that I have kept half a donut down. I had every intention of posting Flashback Sunday yesterday, but I couldn’t get my iPad to balance on the rim of the commode. Because of this, I’ll be posting a special Flashback Monday edition this evening, more than likely from a seated position in bed — which is a real improvement from most positions I’ve been in during the last 48 hours.

To everyone who left comments inquiring as to my whereabouts, I appreciate your concern and am comforted to know, should I ever come up missing, it will not go unnoticed by my wordpress friends. At least, not until Sunday.

Seriously, thanks for asking 😉