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June 12, 2005 - Wet the ropes!

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World's Laziest Journalist

June 13, 2005

By Bob Patterson


While the television coverage of the death of pope John Paul II and the election of pope Benedict XVI was being presented, this columnist was watching to catch a glimpse of the obelisk in the Vatican courtyard because of a story told many years ago.


When the cultural treasure was being installed, the pope (at that point in history) forbade anyone in the audience from speaking under pain of excommunication, (or was it death?) because it was feared some random comment, might be mistaken for an order to the workmen and a tragedy might unfold.  As the work, with the object being hoisted into place, proceeded something went wrong.  The version I heard had it that the ropes slipped and friction caused the ropes to heat up.  A friend who heard the same story heard that the ropes began to fray under the load.  A sailor in the audience yelled out: "Wet the ropes!" - and that advice saved the day.


Sometimes a thing is so obvious that you just want to shout it out, but getting a public forum was much more difficult before the Internet came along.  A few years back if you couldn't get your letter to the editor published, your views and opinions were very limited in their ability to be disseminated.  ("Lemme buy the next round, and I'll tell you what I think of …")  Now, with the blog phenomenon, ordinary folks can offer ideas and personal insights to the world.  Heck, now you can even offer advice to the pope, because at any given time, anyone can possible be out there in the audience. 


After Benedict was sworn into office by the Catholic Chief Justice (they copied the American style, didn't they?) we had the opportunity to attend a Catholic Sunday Mass.  They don't say Mass in Latin these days and so my friends who took me to church related a story about how long a recent Mass took because it was bi-lingual and everything was said in English first and then repeated in Spanish.  The pope has been described as a hardliner from the old school.  We doubt that the new pope reads Just Above Sunset, but, you never know, so, just like that sailor, we'll give it a shot. 


Benny, if you are reading this: "Go back to saying Mass in Latin."  Over and above the nostalgic value (Who knows? If they go back to the Sixties style, even I might drop in occasionally "just for old times sake."), there is a practical side to it.  Latin could be like the lingua franca for all the Catholics.  Otherwise it will end up like the situation in the USA where they started out with bilingual English-Spanish attempts to communicate and then wound up having to have ballots with Chinese added and various documents in a zillion different languages ("Is there a Klingon speaking person in the audience?") and constant bickering.  If you have a document published in the Navajo language, isn't it discrimination if you don't also have one in the Arapaho language?  Latin could be the universal language.  It's kinda like pilots and air traffic controllers all over the world speak to each other in English.  An American who stopped into Mass in China would feel "at home" if it was being said in Latin.


Once a columnist starts handing out advice like that, things can get a tad out of hand.  Next thing you know, you become convinced that Roger Ebert is reading your movie reviews.  You find subtle little clues in one of his reviews that you use to convince yourself that he really is reading your movie reviews. 


Next, you start to advise the Democrats that if they think that the 2000 election was crooked, they have no logical reason to conclude that the 2004 will suddenly be honest and they should sit out the election in silent protest.  Then, a week or two after you write that in a column, Al Gore announces he won't seek the 2004 nomination.  (We expect to be selling "Jeb in '08" t-shirts soon.) 


It used to be that if you wrote to a celebrity the odds were good you'd never get a reply, but with the advent of the Internet, and a kindly editor who will give a columnist a chance to have his say, you soon find yourself dishing out all kinds of advice to folks with whom you would not have had the proverbial snowball's chance of reaching with your wisdom and insights.


What about Kodak and/or Nikon advice online for amateurs?  If Kodak wants to promote its entry into the digital age, why don't they have an online series of contests for amateurs?  Back in the Fifties, didn't Kodak participate in a series of photo competitions held during the summer by local newspapers?  It seems that papers (such as the Scranton Times) would have local competitions each week.  Later, the local winners competed for a national prize.  It helped promote photography and build the paper's circulation.  So why not try a digital version of that promotional ploy?


Couldn't Nikon run an online website with criticism of reader's photos for about the price of a year's worth of ads in one of the better photo magazines? 


Mick Jagger has recorded one duet with Michael Jackson.  Why hasn't he ever sung one with Willie Nelson? 


Hollywood should forget about not offending some people to try to please everybody and just make movies and let the chips (and profits) fall where they may.


Bloggers?  Forget about pleasing Hugh Hewitt hoping to for the chance of getting a plug on his radio program; go out to a community college and take some courses in journalism.  Learn what does and does not make a good feature story.  Then write some for your blogs.  Take some courses in photography and learn how to make great pictures, not just snapshots.


Companies should reinstate suggestion boxes and bonuses.


How about a suggestion to ourselves?  We've been trying to find someone who will lend us a Ford Cobra so that we can drive from LA to New York City and back again and write about it on the Internet while it is happening.  Maybe we should try asking if anyone will lend us a Ford Cobra so that we can drive from Sydney to Perth and back and post our observations online while making the journey?  (What is the Australian equivalent of Route 66?  Does that highway have its own song, too?)  Who makes the best Cobra replicas?  Maybe they could lend us one?


Maybe we should start sending them an e-tear sheet of our column every time we mention a Ford Cobra?


Why doesn't some enterprising newspaper hire a journalism professor to write blog criticisms?  It would promote the Darwinian concept of survival of the fittest.  Wouldn't it?


There aren't enough young people joining the armed services?  Start the draft again.


Speaking of bad decisions, why would someone be selected to attend pilot training, just so that they would have a skill to polish during weekly meetings of their reserve unit?  A million dollars worth of training is a lot to spend on a guy who will wind up reading magazines while "on the clock" attending his reserve unit's weekend meeting.


Public relations firms were paid millions to help promote the idea of fighting Desert Storm.  That happened just about the time that conservative talk radio was experiencing a period of phenomenal growth.  Why doesn't some investigative reporter do some work to see if those two topics are related?


Why does the columnist for an online magazine have to come up with all these ideas while the staff writers for the Washington Post can just sit around waiting for the second in command at the FBI to call them up and hand them a Pulitzer Prize winning topic? 


Gringos love burritos.  Everyone loves pizza.  Why is it that a guy with Mexican and Italian heritage over by CBS studios near the Farmers Market will custom-make a pizza burrito for this columnist, while no one puts it on their menu?


Mainstream Media (MSM) has done a bunch of stories about how the TV networks are slowly losing their audiences.  Has anyone done a story about how gringos are tuning into Spanish Language TV?  How is it that a columnist with Irish heritage knows about El Gordo y la Flaca?  We know about Rojo Vivo, too.  In Estylo magazine, we know that Jacquiline Martinez is writing the serial.  (Is it really being done by the famous horror writer Jack Martin?)


When will the New York Times do a feature story on the rock group that has a parrot as the lead singer?  The band is called Hatebeek and is not to be confused with Hatebreed.  Where does Hatebeek play on National Talk like a pirate day?  "Arrrgh, matey, that be the question. We'll needs a map!"


We noticed during the weekend of June 3 to 5, that one celebrity who was touting her new book, was very candid about the fact that she had been in bed with a member of the Beatles.  At one time, a love affair, could disrupt a Hollywood career.  ("Oh, I don't know what's right any longer. You'll have to think for both of us, for all of us.")   Now, its almost part of the publicity campaign to list a star's past lovers.


OK we'll throw an idea out and let Hugh Hefner and Larry Flynt fight over this one: What about a reality TV show, where say five studs spend a week with five women judges and every day they change off.  At the end of the week, the judges confer and like a panel of Olympic judges they pick the guy who was the best lover?  On cable TV, they could provide men with a look at what women's locker rooms sound like and the guys who competed would get the chance to become a genuine sex object of renowned and women viewers could learn how to hone their appreciation for and enjoyment of things like performance and size. (Think of it as a Road & Track style road test for the new generation of swingers.)


Speaking of adult entertainment, the Exotic LA show was being held this weekend in Los Angeles.  The Just Above Sunset eyewitness news team will be dispatched to that event to try to gain access and provide coverage in next week's issue.  If you missed it, and want to learn about adult entertainment, may we suggest this weekend seminar to be held next weekend in LA: The Adult Entertainment Seminar will teach folks how to make money legally providing that kind of divertissement. 


James Nathan Miller once said: "The best advice one can offer to both press and public is the suggestion Ronald Reagan himself gave to students in Chicago 'Don't let me get away with it. Check me out. Don't be the sucker generation.'"  Bless my WMD's - that's good advice.


Now, if the disk jockey will play Shakira's "Underneath Your Clothes," we'll slink on out of here for this week.  Y'all come back next week if you want to learn about what lesson the bloggers might learn from the story about how the American Trucking Association was formed.  Until then, have a week in overdrive.


[If you want to write to this columnist we presume that you'll know how to format it, if we tell you to contact us via e-mail; send it to "worldslaziestjournalist" at the Yahoo dot com website.]


Ciao for now.


Copyright 2005 – Robert Patterson

Email the author at worldslaziestjournalist@yahoo.com



Copyright 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
The inclusion of any text from others is quotation
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