editorial page blog

For those who haven’t seen it, my newspaper’s editorial writers have a blog. They’re even talking about it over at Movable Type HQ.
I played a tiny, tiny role in setting it up — we’re talking tiny, but not so tiny I won’t mention it here. Unsurprisingly — given that the editorial board’s a conservative bunch and its main poster, Rod Dreher, is a National Review alum — it has a tone similar to National Review Online’s The Corner.
(On a related note, if you haven’t seen our print editorial page recently, check it out some time. It’s miles better than it was even a year ago — the opinions are much crisper, and the new boss is very open to trying new things with what’s traditionally been the most staid page of any newspaper. There’s a lot less of the traditional “on the one hand…on the other hand” mushiness of old.)

george at pres scholars

An addendum to my George Stephanopoulos post yesterday. In June 1993, when I was a freshly minted high school graduate, I had to attend a ceremony at the White House with a bunch of other kids. We stood on an East Lawn stage while Bill Clinton, himself freshly minted as president, gave a nice speech. When he was done, he moved through the crowd, shaking hands with everyone.
(This was a pretty ambitious bunch of kids, so this was a big deal. We all remembered how well Clinton had used that video of the young Bill shaking hands with JFK in his campaign. I in particular felt a certain kinship with Bill back then, as a fellow up-from-poverty Southern boy headed for the Ivy League. I was even contemplating a future political career back then. It was a heady moment.)
Anyway, before he reached me, he came up to a girl who had a simple request:
“Mr. President, I love George Stephanopoulos. Can you bring him out here?”
I don’t remember the girl’s name, but in the days preceding this ceremony, she’d mentioned her plan to find George somehow. This being years before combining the phrases “Clinton administration” and “love with college-aged girls” became taboo, Clinton whispered something to an aide and went on with his handshaking.
A few minutes later, out bounds George Stephanopoulos — the 32-year-old puppy dog George, not the 42-year-old grizzled vet we see on Sunday morning TV today. There were a few squeals from the females in the crowd, along with some appreciative applause from the boys. (Oh, the optimism we had back then!)
George walked up to the girl and shook her hand. She wouldn’t have that and demanded a kiss. He shyly planted one on her cheek. I doubt she ever washed her face again.

cafepress books

I’m actually kind of excited about CafePress getting into the print-on-demand business. Unlike other p-o-d companies like iUniverse (which charges at least $199 per book — and has a lame dot-com name anyway), CafePress charges no setup fees upfront, the same business model as with their t-shirts and mugs.
So as long as you’ve got software that generates PDFs (which includes anyone running OS X or anyone with a recent vintage Adobe product), you can publish short-run books at a reasonable (although not cheap) price. I have a feeling we’ll be seeing a lot of bloggers printing up their best posts. I might pull together a few collections of my better newspaper articles. Power to the people!

screwy saints preview

Gotta love this season preview of the New Orleans Saints. On the squad’s wide-receiving corps, offensive coordinator Mike McCarthy says:
“This is dummy text to use as a gauge for length. Will sub out with real quotes on Monday. This is dummy text to use as a gauge for length. Will sub out with real quotes on Monday. This is dummy text to use as a gauge for length. Will sub out with real quotes on Monday. This is dummy text to use as a gauge for length. Will sub out with real quotes on Monday.”
Strangely, he has similar things to say about the tight ends, the o-line, the quarterbacks, and the running backs.

exploding hearts die

Very, very sad news: Three members of the Exploding Hearts dead in a van crash. If you hadn’t heard of the Hearts, they were a great Portland pop-punk band — sort of a geeky Ramones with a power-pop heart. I read an interview with them a few weeks ago — they came across as so endearingly young (and a little immature, but hey, they’re all like 20).
Their first and only album, Guitar Romantic, is available on eMusic. Download away.

tqi data help

Attention web gurus: I have a (small) budget to hire someone for a (small) project.
On my hard drive sits a 8,000-record data file (currently in Excel) with about 10 fields in each record. I want to create a web interface to that data file so it would be searchable (by the first and second fields in each record). Said interface will need to plug into the web site of a major metropolitan newspaper (I’m sure regular readers have no idea which one that might be).
Email me (jbenton at dallasnews dot com) if you’re interested. Note: You will not get rich off this — we’re talking loooow three digits. In all likelihood, the lowest of all three-digit numbers. But if I’m thinking about this correctly, it also shouldn’t take very long. Email me if you’re interested.

virtual book tour entry

We here at crabwalk.com Global HQ are proud to be today’s stop on the Virtual Book Tour. This month’s book: Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach. It’s an entertaining — almost breezy at times — look at the myriad uses to which human remains have been put.
I interviewed Mary by phone last week during one of her non-virtual book tour stops in Minneapolis. Herewith, an edited transcript:
Your background is primarily in magazines and online — both places where short, quick pieces are the norm and editors typically don

back from denver, classic rock, vbt preview

Back from Denver. Had a nice enough time, even if my carlessness the last three days limited my funtitude options. Then again, I didn’t have my lung collapse, so that’s something.
On Sunday, with my car rental coming to a close, I went roaming in the Rockies, mostly staying on I-70 west of town for a couple hours. One thing I learned while driving: Denver has the best classic rock station I’ve heard, 99.5 “The Mountain.” (I’ll forgive the name.) Their schtick seems to be playing album tracks and obscure songs from the classic rock catalog, not the same few songs that you hear over and over again elsewhere on the geezer-rock dial.
Some examples: Instead of playing “Like a Rolling Stone” for the four-millionth time, they play all eight-plus minutes of Bob Dylan’s “Hurricane” — a song I’ve never heard on the radio before, even during all the movie hubbub around the Rubin “Hurricane” Carter case. (Perhaps because Bob uses no fewer than three not-supposed-to-be-on-the-radio swear words, not to mention the ol’ n-word.)
Instead of “Aqualung” again, they play “Bouree” when they get a Jethro Tull urge. Instead of “Stairway to Heaven,” it’s “The Rain Song.” “Bell Bottom Blues” instead of “Layla.” “Madman Across the Water” instead of “Tiny Dancer.” “There Is No Way Out of Here” (from David Gilmour’s 1978 solo record) instead of “Comfortably Numb.” “The Punk and the Godfather” instead of “Who Are You.” (Actually, this station looooves the Who. In two days of sporadic driving, I heard “The Real Me,” “Can’t Explain,” “Love, Reign O’er Me,” and “Athena.”)
Now, not all of those are improvements over the big hits. (For instance, “Athena” should stay locked in whatever vault every other station in the hemisphere keeps it. If you have to pull something off that album, which I still have on tape somewhere, at least have the taste to pick “Eminence Front.”) But a little variety goes a very long way, and it’s nice to see some personality in what’s traditionally been the most stagnant major radio format.
In totally unrelated news, this site will be tomorrow’s stop on the Virtual Book Tour. Last week, I interviewed Mary Roach, author of Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers. A transcript will run tomorrow.