Monthly Archives: July 2014

Does news ever change?

How much history is buried in various construction sites, in homes, backyards and under carpets?

It’s interesting to come across information long past, and even overdue. Some news discoveries can be embarrassing.

In 1962, I learned about one such instance while attending a dinner meeting of the Cook County (Ill.) Press Association, in which an editor of one of Chicago’s dailies spoke to us about Chicago journalism history.

The speaker talked about the familiar Teletype machines, those mammoth electric typewriters that print the news without any visible operators. The paper I worked for then had several wire services. By contrast, the Optic, the newspaper I had just left, had only one wire service, and one at a time, variously United Press International or The Associated Press.

The Copley organization for which I worked in the early ‘60s, had about a dozen clattering machines, one just for its own sister newspapers, one for each wire service, a pair of sports wires, and even a Spanish-language wire that piped in news from Mexico and Central and South America. Continue reading

‘Let the taller ones stand’

Whenever Dear Abby gets involved in a discussion about which people feel passionate, you know the matter is serious. Dear Abby (actually Dear Abby’s daughter) took over her mom’s advice column years ago and it remains an extremely popular feature.

But as for feeling passionate, let me explain:

A number of years ago, possibly during the tenure of the original Dear Abby, someone wrote to complain that she had “never been so insulted” in her life. Now does this mean someone questioned her gender? Does it mean someone in a restaurant offended someone else, or did some high school graduate fail to send a thank-you note to the senders of a crisp 20?

Well, dear reader, it was none of these. And the reason I’ve danced around the topic is not because I get paid by the word but because I really believe the offended reader’s question to Dear Abby shouldn’t have even registered on the interest meter.

Here goes anyway: Continue reading

The selfie is all around

It’s heartening — but I certainly won’t say humbling — to have received a number of comments on the last few Works of Art, describing observations from countries such as the Czech Republic and Austria, during the two weeks-plus we spent there with family.

“Humbling” is the wrong word. It connotes a feeling of humiliation, as if some of my observations were ridiculous.

But let’s drop the humility and discuss instead the reactions of some people to the articles about Prague and Hallstatt.

Ray Litherland, who, with his wife Joyce, remembers the extremely popular Austrian tourist area of Hallstatt as “a small town with just one main street going through it.” Ray asked me whether anything has changed over the five decades since they visited. Continue reading

One egg is enough/an oeuf

In France, your breakfast waiter invariably will leave you hankering for more. You might just leave the table hungry. And why is that so?

Glad you asked. The custom is supposed to be that the omelet you order at a French cafe will contain only one egg, not two, or even three, as is common in some American restaurants.

The French serve one-egg omelets because in France, “one egg is an ‘oeuf.’” Now does that sound enough like “enough” to explain why diners go hungry?

Back from a 17-day tour with family to the Czech Republic and Austria, I have tales to tell — mostly miscommunications — about experiences in both places. When we eight Trujillo pilgrims chose these sites, I was pleased because Austrians generally speak German, a language I studied back in the olden days, and a great many tourists, I discovered, use French, the language I am studying under the ever-so-patient retired teacher, Lupita Gonzales. Continue reading

What? No Mozart?

HALLSTATT, Austria — We’re a number of kilometers from the spot I thought we’d be on this day, but the pleasant weather makes us regret nothing at all. As we left Las Vegas for our summer trip overseas, that took us from Albuquerque, to Dallas, to London, then to Prague, in the Czech Republic, I expected to be in Salzburg today, savoring every note Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart ever wrote.

But instead, there are often delays and changes in plans. Instead of a concert hall in Salzburg, Austria, where I’d expected to savor ‘The Marriage of Figaro’ and ‘The Magic Flute,’ we’re in a tiny tourist town, Hallstatt, in the middle of the Austrian Alps. I exaggerate only slightly when I say the sun rises around 9 a.m. and sets at 3. And that happens because towering mountains surround every direction from our Bed-and-Breakfast. The lofty peaks and the deep valleys make it almost necessary for dogs in this area to wag their tail vertically. Continue reading