Thursday, July 11, 2019

Conversations ...


Book cover designer: "Clip art of bear skin rugs is impossible to find."

Me: "Maybe it'd be easier to find someone with a bear skin rug and ask them to take a picture."

BCD: "Sure. Whatever."

Me (calling old college roommate): "Mac, you still have that bear skin rug we had in the dorm
room?"

Mac: "Yep."

Me: "Can you take some pictures of it and email them to me?"

Mac: "Sure. Can I ask why?"

Me: "It's best you don't."

(receive photos next morning and forward them to BCD)
BCD: "Of course you'd have a roommate with a bear skin rug."

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Notes, quotes & antecdotes

Light blogging is usually a good sign, because it usually means I'm making progress on a book. That's been the case lately. I actually have two novellas taking up storage space on the puter, the third Bags Morton and stand alone called "Pet Teachers."

The most recent one which is just waiting for my cover designer to finish is "Mustang Lang." My publishing timelines are generally pretty loose as I depend on volunteer labor. I pay in garden produce, so the editors and designers pretty much slack off until mid-July. As soon as the zucchinis start popping you might see Mustang Lang make his debut. It's a pretty enjoyable read if you ask me.

One of my editors, with me since the "Joshua's Ladder" debut, told me last year that she wanted a character named after her sometime. So I did in "Mustang Lang." Thought she'd be happy, but it wasn't the first time I misjudged a woman's response.

In the midst of proofreading it, she sent me an email saying: "Gad dummit, Haugen. You made me a hooker!" But she didn't say "gad dummit." I told her, "but she's a really hot hooker."

Didn't help.

*** How about those Twins?! Is it just me, or when they zoom in on Byron Buxton's face, doesn't he resemble Prince? Darn right, he does.

*** Speaking of Prince, our friends from Finland are visiting us in a couple weeks. He is the biggest Prince fan I know, probably one of the biggest in the world. It's like borderline mentally ill, but there could be worse things to obsess about.

*** In defense of owning too many books.

*** My favorite modern theologian is Philadelphia archbishop Charles J. Chaput. Here's his recent column: Building A Culture of Religious Freedom
Secular politics and ideologies have murdered and oppressed more people in the last 100 years—often in the name of “science”—than all religions together have managed to mistreat in the last millennium. 
*** Great story on one of the Last of the Mohicans (newspaper editors)
“She lived in Kansas City, and she lived to be 97. When she found out that I was working for a newspaper, she said, ‘I’m so glad. Newspapers kept going right through the Depression.’ No matter how poor her family was, they always took the Kansas City Times and the afternoon paper, the Kansas City Star. They couldn’t do without them. So, I’m hanging in there with my late grandmother.”
*** I used to be an Alex Rodriguez hater, much like I disliked Jose Canseco. One grew up, one did not. This is a very interesting story on A-Rod the business mogul and baseball ambassador.
Of Rodriguez’s troubles, Buffett says, “I’ve always said generally, you should behave better in the second half of your life than you do in the first half of your life. You learn more about people as you go through life. You really learn more about yourself. I think that’s been the case with Alex. You and I would not like to be judged by the worst thing we’ve ever done.”
*** Care about the planet? Don't ban fracking.

*** Inside one of the most spectacular and dangerous banks heists in U.S. History


Tuesday, May 28, 2019

The true story of the pickled foot

Finally, a news story I have some personal experience with: Will hospitals give back an amputated limb if you ask for it?

The article is about a year and a half old, but it somehow showed up on a website I was recently reading. The short answer is: Yes, they will.

How do I know this? Because I was, back in the day, an occasional customer of the prestigious Up Your Glass bar in Corson, S.D. The name of the bar was reflected in the elite crowd who frequented it. It was on my way home from work, had cheap, cold beer and a pretty barmaid, which combined to meet my qualifications for a 5-star joint.

Keep in mind, by "back in the day" I refer to that brief decade or so when I was walking on the wilder side. Now, 22 years without a cold beer, rehashing these stories seems like a lifetime ago and with a different person. But, what the hey, it's a great story.

If you've read the novel, Bags of Rock, you will recall that it begins with a glimpse of this story, as several of my recollections during that time in my life appear in various publications.

So the nut of it is this:

A motorcycling enthusiast, named Snake, owned the bar. He had a long black beard and diabetes. He laid his Harley down on the road one day and ended up having his foot amputated. He did what any of us would do and asked for it back.

I didn't know that (it's not like were BFFs or anything) until I wandered in one Happy Hour and saw a foot inside a pickled egg jar on the shelf behind the bar next to the rumple minze schnapps (of which I have on good authority if you bought the barmaid a shot she'd show you her nipple ring). I asked the barmaid and frequent companion of Snake's if that were indeed a real foot.

She said it was and let me look at the jar close-up. I verified that it was indeed a real foot. And when Snake limped past me on crutches, it added further authenticity to the story.

As the weeks went by and I stopped in on Friday at 5, the foot gradually began to deteriorate. I think they pickled it with vinegar and not with the more effective, but harder to obtain, formaldehyde. So, pro tip, if you're going to pickle your foot, don't do it on the cheap. Because the water had become cloudy. Skin began peeling. The toenails began curling. And the top of the swelling foot that had been sutured began oozing. It was indeed a conversation piece. And not a pretty one.

A couple weeks after it had become a public safety issue, perhaps reaching biohazard status, the jar and the foot disappeared. Just gone. As any enterprising journalist would do, I asked the barmaid: What happened to Snake's foot?

And now is when the story gets gross. Now, you say? Yes, now.

It seems there's a little rougher clientele at 2 a.m. than there was at 5 p.m. when I would stop in. And one of those clientele, a fellow motorcycling enthusiast of Snake's, accepted a challenge. A bet. A double-dog dare. And for 20 bucks, one Andrew Jackson, he said he would take a sip from the pickled foot jar.

As it was replayed to me, the jar was placed on the bar, and the lid unscrewed. The member of the motorcycle gang I won't mention so as to avoid retribution, lifted the jar to his hairy lips. Apparently, the odor was jut too much, and he ... puked all over into the jar. The smell did him in. We're talking one of the baddest, toughest dudes in South Dakota. And it was too much for him.

It was also too much for the bar. Because it's one thing to have a rotting pickled foot in a jar on your shelf, but it's another to have a rotting pickled foot with vomit in a jar on your shelf. It just loses it's allure.

Just goes to show, everybody has their line they won't cross. Sometimes it just takes a while to get there.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Finished: Koontz's 'Forbidden Door'

I've read more Dean Koontz books than from any other author. He's brilliant.

But ...

As for his latest I read in the Jane Hawk series, The Forbidden Door, enough already.

Book 1 was very good. I liked where things were going. Book 2 was promising. Book 3 was bearable. This book, the fourth, was unbearable. This series needs to end.

Supposedly it's a six book series. I'll probably buy the next two, but not sure when I'll read them. I'm invested. Can't quit now.

Basically, throughout these books, it's the same thing. Jane Hawk, former FBI agent, chases bad guys who she blames for her husband's suicide. Then people who work for these bad guys chase her. If they can't find her, they try to find friends and family of hers to kill. Her young son is their favored target.

Jane is very concerned, very worried, always. She chases, kills, gets chased, rescues her son, who she's always leaving behind with other people. Rinse, repeat.

End of this book, she's rescued her son before the bad guys get him. Then she leaves him again. She still hasn't caught the people responsible for her husband's death. It's four books in and she's accomplished nothing!

I wish he'd wrapped things up in three books. That would've freed him up to write some more great stand-alone novels or more Odd Thomas novels.

But, I guess he knows what he's doing. Doesn't mean I have to like it. A 5 of 10 on the Haugenometer. Remarkably to me it has a 4.6 of 5 by the Amazonians, but many of the reviews are scathing. I feel their pain.

Friday, May 17, 2019

One eye is enough

Fit an autobiography into the rotation - Moshe Dayan: Story of My Life. I'm guessing most autobiographies by nature are the "story of my life" but let's not quibble with the book titles of one-eyed war heroes.

Dayan began life as a farmer and ended life as a farmer. He fit a lot of excitement in between:commander of the Jerusalem front in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, chief of staff of the Israel Defense Forces during the Suez Crisis, Defense Minster during the Six-Day War, close friend of David Ben-Gurion and Shimon Peres and more.

I've always taken great interest in the history of Israel as a country, particularly its battles, wars, espionage, rescues and general Mossad bad-assery. My brother-in-law is a former Army Ranger who trained with Israeli soldiers and he said they were indeed a cut above. I can't tell you how he actually referred to them because this is a family-friendly blog, damn it.

Dayan either kept journals or had a remarkable memory in recalling events. It would have been beneficial to me, or any reader, to be more familiar with Israeli and Middle East geography as his descriptions often got in the weeds. Maps in the book helped a little, but, really, what guy reads maps?

One thing I noticed is that contrary to his Wikipedia entry, Dayan skipped over the parts about marriage infidelity and family issues. I suppose there might be a thing or two or three-hundred I would leave out of my autobiography, but there was nary the mention of anything negative about him in the book. Nobody would believe me if I wrote an autobiography and skipped over all the bad parts.

Such as:
Another son, novelist Ehud Dayan, who was cut out of his father's will, wrote a book critical of his father months after he died, mocking his military, writing, and political skills, calling him a philanderer, and accusing him of greed. In his book, Ehud accused his father even of making money from his battle with cancer. He also lamented having recited Kaddish for his father "three times too often for a man who never observed half the Ten Commandments".
Thanks, son.

Still, it was a good read. Interesting. Dayan was a very confident fella, which I suppose is what you want in a defense minister and military leader when you are being threatened by all your neighbors.

He had one of my favorite quotes too, might even make it the subhead of this blog. After losing his eye to a sniper attack, he said: "Boys, for all that's worth seeing in this wretched world, one eye is enough."

Ariel Sharon once said about Dayan:
"He would wake up with a hundred ideas. Of them ninety-five were dangerous; three more had to be rejected; the remaining two, however, were brilliant."
Then again, maybe that should be the subhead of this blog.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Halestorm hits, other bands all wet

One thing I miss, at least in the newspapers I read, is concert reviews.


I remember back in the day the Sioux Falls Argus Leader had Ann Grauvogl. She attended and reviewed concerts and plays and really got people worked up with her opinions. She was followed by Bob Keyes. He tilted more toward the rock and roll side and did a great job.

Their reviews gave their opinion, but also the set list, the attendance, what the audience reaction was. I don't know that the Argus does that anymore. I know the Rapid City Journal doesn't. If I can't make a concert, I like to know stuff like that. Was it worth the money? I wish they'd bring those back.

I'm not good at reviews, even books. Though I have an opinion on what I like, I have a hard time verbalizing why I liked something.

Still, I wanted to tell you about the Halestorm concert wifey and I went to Tuesday night at the Civic Center in Rapid City.

The opening band was Beasto Blanco. It's fronted by Chuck Garric and Calico Cooper. He is the longtime bass player for Alice Cooper and she is the daughter of Mr. Cooper. They were what you'd expect from anyone with the Cooper pedigree. Head banging and theatrics, like when Calico pulled the arm off a mannequin (which was on stage for some reason) and proceeded to twirl it around and do sexually suggestive things with it.

While not a big fan of growly head-banging myself, I actually preferred their set to the one that followed, Palaye Royale.

These 20-something-age guys are Canadian, so maybe enough said. They call themselves a "Fashion-Art Rock Band," whatever the heck that is. After watching their set it must mean: Let's jump up and down in skinny jeans and shout the F bomb as often as possible.

For a really funny/scathing review of these Canucks, check out this.
Musically, Palaye Royale are the audio equivalent of those ‘Normal People Scare Me’ t shirts you see so many of around Camden Market. It’s all bouncy, sassy instrumentation that lies somewhere in between early 00s emo power pop and High School Musical, with lyrics about being a kooky outsider, misunderstood by the world. Not a bad thing in its own right, but you have to question a band playing the sincere outcast card while they look like, sound like and sell themselves as the result of a marketing director staring at a mood board full of pictures of My Chemical Romance, Panic At The Disco, Twenty One Pilots and massive piles of money. In actual fact, though, the worst thing about their music is that it’s not even shit enough to be funny. It’s just so cynically put together that it bums me out.
So, finally, with the head-bangers and the nose-pickers out of the way, we got on to the main event, Halestorm, and they made suffering through the opening two acts worthwhile.

They push hard rock just up to the level where if it goes any farther I wouldn't like them. But they don't so I do. A lot. They aren't dark, death metal. You can understand their lyrics, some of them somewhat sexual, double entendre-ish. The way I like em.

Their lead singer is Elizabeth Hale and she just down-right rocks it. How she could speak the next day after the concert is beyond me. She follows in the path of Debbie Harry (Blondie), Joan Jett, Pat Benatar and Lita Ford as kick butt female rockers.

As we walked out of the event, two dudes in front of us referred to her as "a rock Goddess." And I'd agree. She's as talented of a guitar player as anyone who took the stage that night. She's beautiful and personable, had a good front-person's rapport with the crowd.

To me, Lizzy Hale is the type of person feminists should embrace. She's in a male-dominated field, is kicking butt (won a Grammy for Best Hard Rock Performance, the first time for a band fronted by a female) and seems to be enjoying her career.

Her brother, Arejay Hale, is the drummer, who opened the show with a bombastic solo effort.

They played all the songs I knew, like "Love Bites" and "Do Not Disturbed," but didn't play another one I like, "American Boys." Maybe that's not one of their hits, not sure.

Halestorm put on a professional, high-end show. The one thing that struck me is they left the stage somewhat early in one of those forced encore moments. And I'm not quite sure they're at that encore-band level yet. I was worried for them as the crowd's enthusiasm started to fizzle before they returned to the stage. I told wifey: "They better get back out here before people start leaving." They did and finished strong.

I enjoyed the concert. I'm guessing 1,500 people, but I'm not great at that. I was a little disappointed in the crowd size. Thought there should've been more.

The band was very good, but not great. I didn't walk out in awe or buzzing, like after some concerts. Well worth the $35 ticket though.


Monday, April 29, 2019

Are sports books still a thing?

When I was a kid I read every sports book that came out. I still have many of them.

I rarely read one now, I guess in part, because I don't find athletes as alluring as I once did. Plus, with the internet and social media, there's very little that isn't known about them. They aren't as mythical now.

But I put this book on my list: “K: A History of Baseball In Ten Pitches,” by Tyler Kepner, a New York Times sportswriter. The book was released on April 2.
 After two chaotic decades or so, the spitball was banned for 1920, the same year the country went dry under Prohibition. The rule simply turned the mound into a speakeasy, with many pitchers going undercover to get the same slippery edge as their predecessors.
Here's a partial list of some of the sports books taking up room on my shelves. I'd forgotten how big of deal some of these people were back in the day (1970-80s). See if you recognize any:

How Life Imitates the World Series - Thomas Boswell
The Herschel Walker Story
Mickey Mantle - All My Octobers
Cosell
Frazier/Ali
Who's on First?
Doc Ellis - In The Country of Baseball
Bob Knight: His Own Man
John Madden: One Knee Equals Two Feet
Vince Lombardi - Run To Daylight
Jim Brown
Super Joe: The Jon Namath Story
Brian Piccolo: A Short Season
Alex Karras - Even Big Guys Cry
John Wooden - They Call Me Coach
The Breaks of the Game
Pat Riley - Show Time
Wilt Chamberlain
Giant Steps - Kareem Abdul Jabbar
Steinbrenner - Dick Schaap
Yogi Berra - If There's a Fork in the Road, Take It
Ball Four - Jim Bouton
Jay Johnstone - Temporary Insanity
Bill "Spaceman" Lee - The Wrong Stuff
John Brodie - Open Field

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Tomatoes: All potted up and ready to grow

Finished: Block's 'Eight Million Ways to Die"

I was recently complaining to a buddy that I hadn't read a book in a while that knocked my socks off. Then I turned to Lawrence Block and I'm running around barefoot.

"Eight Million Ways to Die" has all the stuff you like in a murder mystery: Machettes, bars, hookers, boxing, pimps and murder. What made this one special was Block's character Matthew Scudder

He's built a series around Scudder, a private detective. But this one really delved into Scudder's mind, his alcoholism, his lostness (is that a word?). This is fifth book in the 18-book Scudder series. It's the first that really fleshes out Scudder and, I think, really made him into the long-lasting character he came to be.
Nobody knows better than Matthew Scudder how far down a person can sink in this city. A young prostitute named Kim knew it also—and she wanted out. Maybe Kim didn't deserve the life fate had dealt her. She surely didn't deserve her death. The alcoholic ex-cop turned p.i. was supposed to protect her, but someone slashed her to ribbons on a crumbling New York City waterfront pier. Now finding Kim's killer will be Scudder's penance. But there are lethal secrets hiding in the slain hooker's past that are far dirtier than her trade. And there are many ways of dying in this cruel and dangerous town—some quick and brutal ... and some agonizingly slow.
This 1982 book was made into a movie in 1986 starring Jeff Bridges, Rosanna Arquette, and, in a leading role for the first time, Andy Garcia. I haven't watched it, but will now.

If you haven't read Lawrence Block, do it. As Stephen King said: "A hell of a book!"

I gave it an 8 on the Haugenometer.

Friday, April 26, 2019

They're coming for you (no, not really, they're not that bored)

I'm not saying there's aliens out there, but I am saying we're kind of naive to think there aren't. And now the Washington Post seems to agree.


Enough Navy pilots have raised a ruckus to get the military to begin investigating some of these sightings.
 In some cases, pilots — many of whom are engineers and academy graduates — claimed to observe small spherical objects flying in formation. Others say they’ve seen white, Tic Tac-shaped vehicles. Aside from drones, all engines rely on burning fuel to generate power, but these vehicles all had no air intake, no wind and no exhaust.
Here's a good summary with video of sighting by Navy and commercial pilots.

 Sleep with one eye open, my friends. One eye open.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

A fairy tale to make Stephen King blush


In this article I learned a new term: tempus fugit. Basically "time flies." I was also reminded how dark this fairy tale was, and it used to be worse.
The queen wanted her internal organs, so the huntsman, in what historian of religions Norman Girardot suggests is a reminiscence of the “sacrificial rites of the virgin maiden”, kills a wild boar instead – in antiquity, these were frequently used as a substitute for human sacrifice to appease the gods.
The subsequent event has been largely forgotten – and rarely shown in film adaptations. When the queen receives her daughter’s viscera, she decides she’ll have them salted and boiled, then feasts upon them with epicurean pleasure, convinced that they’re Snow White’s. The root of her pleasure rests on two facts: she has obliterated her daughter, her rival, but also, crucially, this anthropophagic act preserves the essence of ritual cannibalism – the ancient belief that eating the enemies’ flesh was a source of spiritual and physical strength. By eating Snow White, she believes she will embody her characteristics. The choice of organs is relevant: lungs represent the breath, the spirit; and the liver is a symbol of purification, as it cleanses the blood. In The Hard Facts of the Grimms’ Fairy Tales, Maria Tatar points out that different versions include different “gifts”: the most remembered one is the heart; but in Spain, it’s “a bottle of blood stoppered with the girl’s toe”, whereas in Italy, the huntsman must return with “her intestines and her blood-soaked shirt” or her eyes and a bottle of her blood.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

When we all think alike, nobody is thinking

Most know by now my thoughts on censorship and erasing history. In fact, my "Rockin' the Bakken" leather work binder features an "I Read Banned Books" sticker.

So of course this latest action by sports teams in New York and Philly to crap on Kate Smith caught my eye. This story argues that if Kate Smith must go, then so must go the New York Yankees. That's almost getting into a censorship/banishment movement I could get behind. Stinkin' Yankees. But I'm standing firm. Censorship bad. Free speech good.
The irony of this team cancelling Smith for actions she took almost a century ago that are only mildly problematic, while their own team refused to hire black ballplayers, is astounding.
So I've been thinking of a way to better make my argument that erasing history does not help anyone, because we won't learn from our mistakes if we don't teach young'ns what those mistakes were. Also, why are we punishing dead people who can't even defend themselves because they behaved according to the societal norms and mores of their day? Also, must everything good a person did (like sing "God Bless America") be erased because they (in some person's opinion) did something wrong?

So my new argument is this: Pretend (or hope) that in 100 years, abortion is considered wrong, ghastly and horrendous. Much like we now consider racism (or any other ism) wrong.

Will then every pro-abort politician, celebrity, singer who is currently pro-abortion, but otherwise excels in their field, be ostracized? Their music banned? Their statues torn down?

Even though by today's standard that is a position held by half the population of our country, and accepted by many, should they be punished a century from now if that changes? No regard paid to the times they lived in? No consideration given that societies might evolve for the better?

I don't know if that helps my argument or not, but I'll stand by my assertion that Kate Smith was a helluva singer, Thomas Jefferson a brilliant man, and General Robert E. Lee was a shrewd battlefield commander worthy of study. We can talk about their mistakes, their decisions, while still maintaining the value they brought in other aspects of their lives.

If we erase imperfect people from the history books and current life, there won't be anyone left to learn from.

Everything is not equal. Kate Smith is not David Duke. She's done less offensive things than the current governor of Virginia. Yet, he gets to keep his job.

The trouble with banning this, that and the other, is the scorecard is hard to keep given the hypocrisy of many of the judges, no measure of shades of gray, and no counterbalance given to the good those people may have done.

Do we not put up a statue of President Obama in Rapid City because up until a decade ago he believed marriage was only between a man and a woman? I think he deserves a statue despite having held that belief. But Chick-fil-a can't be in a particular airport?

We're riding on the crazy train here folks. This stuff needs to be shut down. Let people think, talk, worship and sing how they want. Ban censorship.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Free stuff for Arbor Day!

Arbor Day is Friday, April 26. If you want a free tree, you can click here:

I love trees but live in a tough spot to keep them alive, unless they are Ponderosa pine.

We have semiarid climate, clay soil, dry summers and my particular place lives in a valley where a cut in the hill provides a nice little wind tunnel for wind from Hades.

But that doesn't stop me. We had one tree on our one-third acre when we moved here fourteen years ago. Now, i'm guessing, we have 50 various bushes, evergreens and trees of various sizes and varieties.

The previously mentioned website to get the free tree is kind of cool. It zooms in on your property and shows you the best place to plant a tree to save on your heating and cooling bill. Also estimates the amount of money you save and some global warming gobbledygook.

Never one to turn down a free plant, I put in an order for an oak tree. Come by in 100 years and check it out.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

The nightly routine

Like me, my dogs are creatures of habit.


About 9 p.m. most nights I go into my office/library/greenhouse/conservatory to read, write or play in the dirt, depending on the season and my mood.

Every night, the dogs follow me in. Stanley hops onto the bed and assumes his position. Eventually Huckleberry moseys in as well. When Huck was a puppy, he was too little to jump onto the bed. He would put his front paws on it and I'd lift him up by his haunches and give him a boost.

Six years later, with the ability to easily jump onto the bed, he chooses not to. He likes the little extra attention. He will put his front feet on the bed and stare straight ahead. Finally, if I haven't jumped out of my chair to lift him up, he'll turn his head and look at me and wait.

So I get up and lift his 60-pound butt onto the bed and he curls in next to Stanley for his pre-bedtime nap.

It's so silly it makes me laugh every time.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Word of the Day: Nutpicking

"the fallacy of choosing the craziest elements from groups you disagree with and pretend they are representative of that group."

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Thanks for the business

Just a quick thanks to those who took advantage of the offers made available by Smashwords.com during Read an Ebook Week.

I "sold" over 70 books and was very happy with that. If you liked the books, please leave a review. If you didn't, well, never mind.

Hey, I get it. We all love Amazon. But they are monopolizing the biz right now and we can't let these other outlets be ruined by them. That's why I post most of my stuff on both. But most people default to Amazon because they already have an account there.(Authors get a much larger share on Smashwords.)

So getting more people signed up on Smashwords continues to be my goal. I love what they do there.

"Bags of Bodies" was the top download, which reminded me I haven't transitioned "Bags of Rock" over to Smashwords from Amazon. I will do that shortly. Keep an eye out for it.

Along those lines:

How to Fight the Commoditization of Books 
Smart indie authors can combat the devaluation of e-books caused by Kindle Unlimited

Friday, April 12, 2019

Newspapers aren't dead, but they're not helping themselves

A columnist cites Ted Koppel in an offering about journalism dying in self-importance and embracing its own biases. Who am I to argue with him?

When I owned the Tea & Harrisburg newspaper 15-20 years ago with a skeleton staff, people would ask how I could cover a Lennox School Board meeting and put a news story about it on Page 1, but then turn the page and find me ripping the same school board for its dumb decisions. I felt, wrongly or rightly, that I could present an unbiased news story on the cover and present my thoughts on the story on the opinion page. Koppel's point, and others, seems to be those lines of separation have been blurred or even erased in some cases: The news story contains the opinion of the writer.
When I started as a reporter years ago—we were known as “reporters,” never by the more pretentious “journalist”—I tried to use an adjective or an adverb now and then, in the wistful hope of making a story, well, colorful. The city editor, with a look of scorn, would ask, “Who do you think you are?” It was not for the reporter to characterize the facts of the story. He was to report them. Facts were sacrosanct—they had a hard-won integrity, an objective existence in the universe. They were to be approached with a certain scruffy reverence.
Back in the day at the Argus Leader, I remember legendary editor Dick Thien telling the newsroom the best sentence, in his opinion, contained a noun and a verb. That would make pretty boring copy in my opinion, but I understood his intent.

I think most local newspapers I read make an attempt at being unbiased, but understand how readers get confused when they see the paper state an opinion on the opinion page and wonder how that can't bleed over onto the news page. They usually don't understand how things work in a newsroom. People still assume the reporter writes the headline on their story.

I think the larger problem is when reporters go on social media and post political stuff, with their unfiltered snark and self-importance, and then they expect people to read a news story with their by-line the next day with an open mind.

While I think it's good for reporters to use social media to give readers or viewers a more personal look at them, some can't resist the temptation to be antagonistic egomaniacs.  While that is the personality of some, I doubt it's driving traffic to their newspaper.

Here's another take on the same subject:

Why Losing Our Newspapers Is Breaking Our Politics
Study finds newspaper closures are linked to partisanship
As local newspapers disappear, citizens increasingly rely on national sources of political information, which emphasizes competition and conflict between the parties. Local newspapers, by contrast, serve as a central source of shared information, setting a common agenda.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

More to Hepburn than met the eye

So there's a new book out detailing Audrey Hepburn's role as a resistance spy during WWII.


As a frequent viewer of old films on Turner Classic Movies, it's always struck me how beautiful and classy many of the mid-twentieth-century starlets were. If not for those movies I'd only know them as they were in old age. I suppose that's true of everyone. Lord knows I haven't gotten any more attractive in old age, and it's not like it would've taken much to improve with time.
“The first few months we didn’t know quite what had happened … I just went to school,” Hepburn would recall. “In the schools, the children learned their lessons in arithmetic with problems like this: ‘If 1,000 English bombers attack Berlin and 900 are shot down, how many will return to England?’ ”

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Did someone say the snow is about gone? Idiot

This guy seems about as enthused about Winter Storm Wesley as I am. Picked a bad year to skip our Florida vacation.


Saturday, March 23, 2019

The snow is about gone - time for tomaters

It's that time of the year again. Actually, it's a week later than that time of the year.


Usually, I plant my tomato seeds on St. Patrick's Day, but this year made the executive decision to delay planting by a week.

Why, Haugen? Why?

Because it's good to be king - of my garden anyway. And my bones, and AccuWeather, tell me it's going to be a cool spring. That's not a very good excuse though, as I usually plant on Memorial Day weekend. Also, the plants seem to get a little leggy by that time, so figured another week won't matter.

Also, my daughter was visiting last weekend, so thought I better not take time off to go play with my dirt.

I went with the usual TomatoFest seeds. They've always done me well, even left-over seeds that are two years old. Will still probably get 90 percent germination out of them.

So there are about 100 seeds in the greenhouse. Heat mats deployed. Grow-lights on standby.

Let's just hope I still won't need those heat mats at the end of May.