Random bits of this and that
Right now I'm stretched out like Gumby in "my" chair, with a cold Presidente next to me, my dog laying at my feet, and a South Park re-run on - the one about Chef's salty chocolate "cookies."
I'm not experiencing any deep thoughts and that feels good. In fact, the heaviest thing on my mind is how to get the faint poop smell off of my hands. No worries, no "accidents." I just decided to use a new hippie fertilizer on my lawn that's comprised of just a smidgen of the usual chemicals and mostly of "natural" ingredients. That's what the giant bag said. Of course, I didn't think about what the natural ingredients might be before I spread hands full of the stuff over the barren parts of my lawn. I swear it's like the chemicals caused the natural stuff to bond to my hands. If my 20th hand-washing hasn't worked by morning I may try tomato juice. It supposedly works for skunks.
My biggest quandary is whether to wear jeans and a blazer or a suit to work tomorrow. I don't want any crap from the straight guys. Fellas, there ain't no shame in dressing to the nines. Just make it look like you, not like something you pulled piece for piece off a mannequin.
Along the lines of my sleepless monkey beard night from last week, the funniest thing I saw in the Sunday comics today was this "Opus" strip.
I have a relatively new neighbor with kids, three I think, and they look to be between the ages of five and maybe 11. A couple of nights a week - sometimes on week (school) nights - they're up really late, playing outside. I'm talking after 11 p.m. late. Otherwise they appear to be healthy, happy kids. It's none of my business, I know. But the late nights bug me.
Proof that stardom in the entertainment world is just one random discovery away from all highly talented people: 19-year-old Robyn Troup, an unknown Houstonian who was chosen to perform with Justin Timberlake at the Grammy's tonight for the "My Grammy Moment" promo gimmick. She was good. I was impressed anyway. Who needs eight or 10 weeks on American Idol when you can get put on blast, as the kids say, in a matter of minutes on national television?
I was doing some Googling earlier, looking for a copy of an old article of mine that I couldn't find in the online archives of my old newspaper, and I stumbled across the one incident I'm aware of in which I was ever sort of ripped off. I suppose I could be flattered. You know that whole thing about imitation and flattery. But I wasn't flattered then. This time I laughed when I saw the article. But several years ago I was really annoyed. Here's the deal. Most newspapers (and TV and radio stations for that matter) buy into news wire services by which articles from other papers are placed on the wire and made available to everyone else for a fee. So if you write a story whose scope goes beyond the city where you live it's not uncommon for another newspaper in another city to buy your article and run it in their paper too. I won't deny it's a very cool feeling to get a call or an email from a friend in say Dallas, or D.C. or Chicago, or Denver, because they picked up their home town paper and saw a story with your name on it. Sometimes when papers buy your story they'll localize it. They'll have one of their reporters do a local interview for a local angle and add a sentence or a paragraph or two to make the story fit their area better. And that's all normal. Usually when that happens your name still runs at the top of the article along with the name of your newspaper, so people know who did the heavy lifting and where they did it. That's called the byline, if you didn't know. And the paper that bought reprinting rights to the story will add their reporter's name in italics at the end of the story and say something like Daily Globe Staff Writer John Doe contributed to this article. That's called a tag line. So anyway the story in question was one I did in the spring about three or four years ago. It was a look at dating and mating rituals of the perpetually single. It was funny, I think. I questioned relationship experts and then had three local singles tell me their worst dating experience. And I had the experts analyze each adventure. A couple of months later a friend in another big Midwestern city emailed me to say they saw my article. Yes, I was tickled. So I went to the Web site of that city's newspaper. And there was my story...but with a few changes. My three dating nightmares had been replaced with three singles from that city. It amounted to about 1/5th of the total length of the article. Otherwise, it was word for word what I had written, down to the jokes and anecdotes from the experts. Their reporter even used the expert analysis from my three daters verbatim. Here's the kicker: at the top of the story there were two bylines, one for their reporter who had changed a very small fraction of my story followed by my byline - the suggestion being I had written "less" of the story, when I had actually written pretty much all of it. One of my bosses called that paper and confronted one of their bosses. They gave a lame, stammering excuse for the deceptive shared byline. What a rip. That's OK. They know who they are and how they handled my material. It's all good.
OK, I'm done rambling. BTW, "Ask James Anything" was a blast. So we'll do it again next Friday if you guys are up for it. But give me some tougher questions next time ;-)
Till tomorrow, I'm outta here like Don Cornelius.
Peace and hair grease, my friends.