Remembering the journalistic icon known as our newsroom door

Yes, this is our actual newsroom door.

Yes, this is our actual newsroom door.

If you’ve been following this blog for less than a year, you probably don’t know our newsroom has a door. But wait! It’s not just ANY door. Over the years, The Door has become more than just a way in or out of the restroom, or something that occasionally gets “stuck” when our editor is on the other side. It has been a work in progress since the early 1970s, when it became a place for journalists to display the best and worst examples of headlines, typos, cutlines and correspondence they found. As a result, The Door (of Shame, Blame and Brilliance) evolved into a journalistic Mecca.

A shrine.

A print media Wailing Wall.

And a place to ask that eternal question:

How did THAT make it into print without someone noticing?!?

In addition to its significance as a sentinel of journalistic history, it also contains enough tape, glue, wax and paste to withstand the blast-radius of a backfiring 1967 Volkswagen Beatle. Continue reading

Just like Justin Timberlake and sexy, I’m bringing May Day back

(Don’t Panic! It’s only Monday! While it’s true I don’t generally post until Tuesday, this week is an exception because someone has misplaced Monday. Probably one of my kids. So if you’ve seen it laying around anywhere, please let someone know. Oh, it also happens to be my turn over at Long Awkward Pause! So until we find Monday, feel free to read why I need your help in bringing May Day back…)

image Somewhere, lost between the risen Lord of Easter Sunday and the more laid-back Dos Equis guy of Cinco de Mayo, is the Roman flower goddess Flora, who used to reign supreme as THE party icon this time of year.

Nowadays, any May Pole dancing is purely coincidental, at strip clubs, with the only reference to Flora the flower goddess being dancers named “Daisy.” How did a celebration dating back before Jesus somehow get lost in the shuffle between Easter eggs and Mexican beer bottles? Even when I was a kid, which I’d like to point out was well after the resurrection and as recent as the 1970s A.D., I remember dancing around the sixth-grade May Pole and savoring the opportunity to hold hands with Sara Getlost as she cried out in springtime rapture, “Ewww! Ewww! Your hands are SWEATY! Ewww!”

It’s that kind of wild, springtime ecstacy that May Day and the goddess Flora were all about… (More at Long Awkward Pause)

That time I organized an escaped hamster posse

image That’s right, it’s time for Post Traumatic Sunday, which are posts written during my first marriage. None have appeared on this blog before, and only a couple were included in my book. What these posts aren’t about is venting or vindictiveness.

So what’s the point?

Simply to offer reflections from someone dealing with an unhappy marriage in the best way he knew how: with humor.

Eight years later, I am happily re-married to someone who inspires me each day to laugh for the right reasons.

Now, we can all look back on those years and share some laughs together…

* * * * * * * *

When you find yourself force-feeding Pepto Bismol into your child’s constipated hamster, you figure you’ve faced one of your greatest challenges as a parent.

But you would be wrong. Continue reading

Keeping your story focused is a lot like taking an eye exam

image Welcome to another edition of Ned’s Nickel’s Worth on Writing, a weekly feature offering writing tips that Publisher’s Digest has called “…Required reading for anyone serious about a career writing ingredients labels…” and what The Master of Horror® Stephen King heralded as “…The first thing I read each Friday before calling my attorney…”

But enough accolades!

My NWOW is when I share the writing wisdom gained from 15 years as a newspaper columnist — knowledge which, until now, was only available by reading the yellow Post-It on my desk. And while all of you are certainly welcome to visit my desk at any time, I think we know that isn’t very practical. Especially since most of you probably couldn’t read my handwriting. In fact, I have a hard time reading my own writing. For example, today’s tip was almost about how finding your story’s focus is a lot like taking a colorectal exam. How I got “colorectal” from “eye” tells you just how bad my handwriting truly is. Continue reading

Photo suggests Lee Harvey Oswald meant he was a Patsy, not “patsy”

"Skippy" the rabid, blindfolded squirrel.

“Skippy” the rabid, blindfolded squirrel.

That’s right! It’s time once again to RELEASE THE SQUIRREL! And I’m not talking about whatever it is those male ballet dancers have wedged under their tights. No, this is a real live squirrel who, in addition to being named Skippy, also might have rabies.

Why are we releasing him you ask? Fine, so no one actually asked. But if you did, I would explain that it’s part of a complicated selection process that happens here every Tuesday, when we randomly select a photo from a box of dozens that have remained unclaimed and unidentified in our newsroom since the 1980s. To ensure impartiality, I wait until my fellow reporters are deep in thought (on Facebook) before spreading the photos on the floor of our newsroom in a snow-angel fashion. I then release Skippy into the newsroom. The photo closest to the first person who screams is chosen, at which point I put my investigate journalism skills to the test in identifying the photo.

Right after I clean up the urine stains around Bill’s desk. Coincidentally, Bill is almost always the first to scream. Continue reading

On deck for the next #mywritingprocess Blog Tour

Coming to a blog near you! (Unless we break down)

Coming to a blog near you! (Unless we break down)

Welcome to a special post-Easter edition of Ned’s Blog. For those who have been directed here by Ross Murray at Drinking Tips for Teens as part of the #mywritingprocess blog tour, thanks for coming. Hopefully it wasn’t for the refreshments because, regardless of what Ross might’ve told you, I stopped offering them after I found a red wine stain on my blog. In addition to those following the tour, I realize there are still others who may have stumbled onto this blog like last year’s overlooked Easter egg; understandably, you are confused and a bit hesitant to know what’s inside.

I should explain that my part of the #mywritingprocess blog tour, including answers to the four poignant questions posed so poignantly to each poignant blogger (such as “Do you think vocabulary is important?), isn’t scheduled to be posted until May 2. This allows the wisdom of the previous blogger — or in this case, what Ross said — to ferment like a fine Muscat before, eventually, someone breaks into a rendition of “Muscat Love” and, indeed, it is time to move on to the next bloggers on the tour. Continue reading

More often than not, the Easter Bunny wears boxer shorts

(With it being Easter, I thought I’d skip this week’s edition of Post Traumatic Sunday and run a different kind of flashback, reminiscent of when my children were small and the Easter stakes were always high. Whether this day is observed in your family or not, we can all agree any day that you can be together is worth celebrating…)

Easter dad in boxers In the wee hours this morning, something magical happened in backyards all across America as, one by one, each of them was visited by …

You guessed it! A half-naked father hiding Easter eggs.

That’s right, the same fathers who were stomping on the roof with sleigh bells Christmas Eve were out in the yard in their boxer shorts with an arm load of colorful eggs not long after sunrise.

Their mission?

Keep this tradition alive while trying not to step in anything that could elicit a response deemed inappropriate for Easter morning. Continue reading

A few things writers and superheroes have in common

image As I’m sure you’ve already gathered from the title of this post, yes: I look really great in tights and a cape. At least on paper. In fact, all writers do. However, the power writers wield with words (such as four “w” words in a row) — whether (make that five) for inspiration, contemplation or revulsion — got me thinking about the things writers and superheroes have in common. And I don’t just mean how often people confuse me for Chris Hemsworth. At least on paper.

To begin with, like any superhero, every writer experiences a transformation process before going into action. Sure, it doesn’t involve hastily peeling your clothes off to reveal a fancy costume (depending on your genre and dedication to research), or a blinding flash that changes you from street clothes to colorful tights — something for which reporters in my newsroom are extremely thankful. However, while not as dramatic, there is a transformation that takes place as a writer’s body language, facial expression and overall focus shifts from “earthbound” to “alternate universe.” Ever see a photo of yourself immersed deep in writer mode? It’s like looking at someone else. Which, in my case, is often mistaken for Chris Hemsworth. I mentioned the alternate universe part, right? Continue reading

Sad breaking news…

DATELINE: OREGON — Call it a sign of the times, but this image shows how even in a state where all residence are required to wear hiking boots and smoking is strictly limited to medicinal marijuana (mostly), childhood obesity has gotten so prevalent that some parents are being forced to sell their children…

Sadly, more than 100 families in Harrisburg, Ore. have opted to sell their "huge" children rather than pay for a health club membership.

Sadly, more than 100 families in Harrisburg, Ore. have opted to sell their “huge” children rather than pay for a health club membership.

Photo from ‘The Box’ reveals evidence of possible Liberace séance

"Skippy" the rabid, blindfolded squirrel.

“Skippy” the rabid, blindfolded squirrel.

There are certain iconic phrases woven into the fabric of our collective experience. They are phrases which, upon hearing or seeing them, create an anticipation that has been engrained in us since childhood…

Once upon a time…

It was a dark and stormy night…

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…

RELEASE THE SQUIRREL!

Only that last example, however, means it’s Tuesday and time for this week’s edition of The Box in our newsroom! For those who might be unfamiliar with this weekly feature, possibly because your parents never read you the fairytale about a magical newsroom that lives in the shadow of a rabid squirrel named “Skippy,” I should probably take a moment to explain so this all makes sense.

Each Tuesday, with the help of Skippy the Rabid Squirrel, I utilize my investigative journalism skills to uncover the mystery behind a photo selected from The Box: a collection of unidentified photos which — much like Dolph Lundgren movies — have remained unclaimed since the 1980s. Continue reading