I swear I had nothing to do with this

Does this look like the face of a guilty person?

Does this look like the face of a guilty person?

We all make mistakes:

Drying boxer briefs in the microwave

Bathing your cat.

Kanye West.

But when it happens in a newspaper, it’s like taking that same mistake and repeating it, say… 15,000 times… then handing it out to people to make sure they saw it. Such was the case in our latest newspaper issue, which included a full-paged ad promoting the biggest event our small town hosts each year — and has been for the last 109 years: The Florence Rhododendron Festival. Our small town swells (it’s a swell town) from 8,500 to 18,000 for four days each May, culminating with the West Coast’s second-largest floral parade next to the Rose Parade. It also brings about 300 bikers to town.

No one knows why.  Continue reading

Some weeks, my life is a blooper reel

image Several weeks ago, my blogging friend Alan W. King asked me if I’d be interested in participating in a short film project by answering a few questions about writing. I immediately told him “Of course! Anything I can do to help!”

“Great. You’ll need to record it on-camera,” he said.

“Oops! I almost forgot. I’m pretty sure I’m coming down with something. Possibly fatal. My ear hurts.”

But Alan is good and talented man, dedicated to his craft and working hard to make both a career and a family. In fact, he’s most likely working hard at one of them this very moment. Needless to say, I agreed — and naturally procrastinated until the last minute. So in addition to moving into our new house this week, I also started recording my answers for Alan’s project yesterday.

Maybe it’s the stress of moving.
Maybe it’s because I’m recording my answers at 5 a.m.
Maybe it’s the first signs of aging.

Whatever the reason, here is proof of why I became a writer instead of an actor… Continue reading

Thank You

As I flipped open my iPad, sipping my morning coffee, my wife nudged me and pointed to this before I could explore my WP Reader:


While coffee was brewing in our cluttered kitchen here in Florence, Ore., blogger Aman Shrivastava, a freshman engineering student at the Indian Institute of Technology in Roorkee, Uttarakhand, India, pushed the “follow” button — and became one of 4,500 people who have contributed to this blog reaching more people than I ever thought possible. I am constantly amazed and just as often humbled by all of you; your generosity of spirit; your witty and insightful comments that never fail to elicit a laugh (sometimes more than the actual post); your support of me and each other throughout the world; and your endless creativity, wisdom and acceptance, even when… Continue reading

Excuse me, but I really need to get… The Door

The Door... sentinel of journalistic history and protector of olfactory senses prior to flushing.

The Door… sentinel of journalistic history and protector of olfactory senses prior to flushing.

Do NOT adjust your screen! There is nothing wrong with your computer! Unless, like mine, you’ve actually seen it in a 1980s movie, where it represented the era’s most advanced computer technology as part of a high-tech military defense system that becomes self aware. But assuming you’re looking at a screen smaller than an industrial sized microwave oven, then yes — you really are seeing an image of The Door (of Shame, Blame and Brilliance) in our newsroom.

As I mentioned when I closed The Door a few weeks ago, it would be re-opened as the situation warranted. And today, my friends, we have a SITUATION.

For those of you just joining us, or those unfamiliar with The Door for personal reasons, I should explain that it is the most important door in our two-door newsroom. Not just because it leads to the commode, but also because it displays the best and worst examples of print journalism clipped and taped there by reporters at Siuslaw News since the 1970s. We like to think of The Door as the Smithsonian of journalistic history, except with the occasional sound of flushing. As iconic anchorman Dan Rather recently said, “It is unquestionably our most important relic representing modern journalistic history — or my name isn’t, uh… Barbara Walters?” 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…

Every good journalist wants to be shown… The Door

Our actual newsroom door, and the envy of Barbara Walters.

Our actual newsroom door, and the envy of Barbara Walters.

It seems comments about The Door among journalists and bloggers — much like your favorite cream cheese or many Hollywood audition hopefuls — have been spreading quickly. Just yesterday, I got a call from Barbara Walters, asking if I would be interested in talking with her about what she called “Those wonderfuwwy wacky and whimsical journa-wistic pieces of histowy.

I told her I was a big fan and extremely flattered but, “No.

To which she replied, “DWOP DEAD!” and hung up.

So what is The Door (of Shame, Blame and Brilliance) exactly? Quite literally, it is a living, breathing piece of journalistic history assembled over 40 years by reporters here at Siuslaw News. That said, it’s no mere coincidence that the other side of The Door leads to the commode, where those same reporters have been depositing a different kind of history — and where, in a fitting twist, nothing living can breathe.

Today, we have a new first on The Door: a two-part clipping, meaning that whoever put this piece together has earned the coveted “Twin Globes of Shame” award, which is named in part because of its rare “two-shames-in-one” distinction, and partly because the trophy once belonged to a failed cosmetic surgeon. Continue reading