Wednesday, March 30, 2005

March 30, 2005
The site which is the conduit to getting these posts online has been having technical difficulties for the past four days, so that's the why for the delay and all the odd posting sequences.

The name of the magazine I teased you about several days ago is The Utne Reader. Editor Karen Olson is an NAU grad and she will be joining me in two weeks at the Northern Arizona Book Festival panel discussion on publishing. It will be at the Museum of Northern Arizona in the Branigar Chase auditorium at 2 PM, on April 16th (a Saturday). A few of the things we will be discussing:

• Coping with the internet: has it helped or harmed your magazine? Let’s put it this way, you know those new XK8 Jaguars with the plush leather seats and the sleek, road-worthy drive trains? Well, I don't own one.

• What makes a good cover? Three things: a big idea with a headline you can read from ten feet away; numbers (37 Ways to Achieve Orgasm While Reading History!); and a come hither look from an insanely attractive woman (preferably with deep cleavage). Barring those ingredients, two words: Wyatt Earp.

• What makes a good magazine story? That would be an article that is actually read. And here's something I’ve learned the hard way in my five year tenure: the more awards an article wins, the fewer people actually read it (judges are writers and usually not a good judge of what readers actually want to read). The amount of people who will actually read a 5,000 word article anymore, are the spouse of the person who wrote it (and even then, only half), and people who are dead (and might have read it if they were still alive). That's it. Welcome to the new world.

I got this Email today from a working cowboy down in Texas who has a real problem with the incessant usage of the F-word on Deadwood. As he puts it:

“Until today I just didn't believe the word was used until the 1960s. I grew up around cowboys and worked with them everyday (as a youngster in the 1950s) and I can't remember one of them using it, but I do remember them using every other foul word not to mention assorted guttural sounds har, har. I'm still a working cowboy today and even the old ones I know & work with don't use the F word. At any rate, after a lot of looking/asking around I can finally leave everyone alone and thanks to you I won't think it sounds so fake when I hear it in a western next time.

The “Rangerider” went online and found these factoids:

FYI, from Word Origin:
1) "The earliest usage dates from 1503 and is in the form fukkit. The earliest cite of the current spelling is from 1535."

2) "The word was not in common (published) use prior to the 1960s. Shakespeare did not use it, although he did hint at it for comic effect."

3) "The taboo was so strong that for 170 years, from 1795 to 1965, f___ did not appear in a single dictionary of the English language."

I’ve been feeling really guilty lately about the ‘49 Ford and the tractor. I need to go down to Checker Auto and get some fix-it flat goop for the 1940 John Deere and get the pack rats out of the '49. I know my Dad is really getting bugged about this and I feel his presence and unhappiness over my procrastination.

"As we get older we become more like our fathers. If I become enough like mine, eventually I might be able to fix my car."
—Garrison Keillor

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