August 27, 2007

Monologue Joke

A study conducted by University of Chicago researchers has found that a majority of senior citizens remain sexually active well into their golden years, with more than a quarter of those up to age 85 reporting having had sex in the previous year.

In a related story, 100% of people in their 20s and 30s did not want to hear about this survey.

Posted by Doug at 12:14 PM

August 24, 2007

Adventures in Typos

Although the link is now gone, I swear I saw this listing on Craigslist the other day:


Wouldn't it be better to hire people with the time to work for you?

Posted by Doug at 11:13 AM

August 23, 2007

Martha Stewart Weddings

Darcy Miller, over at Martha Stewart Weddings, has a new blog and was nice enough to ask me to contribute a short list of tips for the groom. Here's the link.

On a related note, I was a last-minute guest on the Martha Stewart Living Radio Network on Sirius last Friday. It was my third appearance on the network, making me the Larry "Bud" Melman of wedding shows.

Posted by Doug at 06:50 PM

August 14, 2007

Small Times

On August 6th, 2007, the New York Times became the latest victim of corporate downsizing. Literally.

Landing at apartment doorsteps and at newsstands everywhere, Monday’s paper was an inch and a half narrower than usual. Commuters who wondered why there was so much extra room on the six train found a special note on the gray lady’s front page, which explained that the Times was “conforming to the national newspaper standard of twelve inches,” a concession to rising newsprint costs and falling readership. There would be “fewer words per page,” but what was lost in print would be found online. The news is still big. It’s the newspapers that got small.

Other cities, such as Los Angeles or Las Vegas may actually celebrate the physical demolition of civic icons, but complaining about change is part of what it means to be a New Yorker. When the Times introduced color in 1997, some readers predicted the paper would be too much like USA Today, which for die-hard Times readers is indistinguishable from a comic book.

Today such concerns seem as quaint as the controversy over Elvis swiveling his hips on The Ed Sullivan Show. But something feels different this time around. Bringing color to the Times added something that was previously missing; this week’s trimming subtracts something that has been there for decades. While the front-page note reassured readers that the paper would “preserve the look and texture of the Times,” few people, I imagine, found comfort in the promise that the newsprint would still feel the same. Decaf may preserve the look and texture of real coffee, but drinking it does not provide the same effect.

Reading Monday’s paper, I soon saw which words had been sacrificed on the altar of profitability. Letters to the editor were reduced from three columns to two, and yet another apologetic note explained that the paper’s Web site would expand its letters section to make up for the lost real estate. But in an age when anyone with an Internet connection can see his opinions online, who cares? I’ve published a book and written for television, but I still consider the two letters I’ve had published in the Times among my greatest accomplishments.

Reacting to the change on Tuesday, one letter writer, beating the now-slimmer odds of getting published, lamented that he could no longer “fold the editorial page equally in half, with the editorials on one side and the letters to the editor on the other,” a New York-specific tragedy tantamount to someone inventing an unfoldable pizza slice.

Stories were indeed shorter, but what was surprising about this week’s change was that some features – ones that would seem easy to do without in this digital age – remained untouched.

The last page of the Arts section is still devoted to TV listings. Even basic cable comes with a guide channel, so why couldn’t this page have been dumped to keep the length of movie reviews and arts features intact? Lottery results are still published in the Metro Section, but anyone who checks the winning numbers every day probably reads the New York Post instead. As for the full-page weather report, hasn’t anyone at the Times heard of AM radio’s promise of “Weather on the 1’s”?

There was one part of the paper the publishers wisely left untouched: the crossword. The Times could fire Tom Friedman and Maureen Dowd to less uproar than they’d receive if Will Shortz, the daily puzzle’s mustachioed editor, suddenly found himself on the unemployment line. Saying you do the Times crossword puzzle is a universal shorthand for brilliance, like mentioning that you’re running late for your MENSA meeting or that you paid for your new car with the money you won on Jeopardy. Take that point of pride away from people, and thousands of angry cruciverbalists would march on Times Square.

Even the crossword may one day be little more than a remora, clinging to the sick shark of print. If a newspaper can sacrifice news, then surely the crossword’s days, much like its clues, are numbered.

As the nation increasingly turns its attention-deficient eyes towards blogs and gossip magazines, the Times might soon have to change its slogan from “All The News That’s Fit to Print” to “All The Print That Fits.” Soon, even the beloved crossword puzzle might be axed. When that day comes, I’ll write a letter to the editor in protest. Hopefully there will still be a paper in which to print it.

Posted by Doug at 02:02 PM | Comments (0)