July 28, 2014

FILL IN THE BLANKS

FROM NORTH AMERICA SYNDICATE, 300 W 57th STREET, 15th FLOOR, NEW YORK, NY 10019
CUSTOMER SERVICE: (800) 708-7311 EXT. 236
BOB FRANKEN
FOR RELEASE TUESDAY, JULY 22, 2014
FILL IN THE BLANKS
BY BOB FRANKEN
It’s a journalist’s worst nightmare: We discover that nobody cares about our stories because they’re predictable and boring. That certainly seems to be the case for those of us here in Washington, but it’s true throughout our industry. We keep on regurgitating the same stuff and spend a lot of energy doing it. Face it: It’s the same bit, different day.
It’s time to save time, to say nothing of big money. So, as a public service, let’s concoct reports where all you have to do is fill in the blanks. For example:
“Medical researchers at (institution) have discovered in (animal) a (protein, enzyme, stem cell) that causes (disease). If confirmed in a larger study, the scientists will apply for authorization to conduct human trials that could lead to a better understanding of (disease) and possible new protocols. They emphasize that any advances in treatment will take five to 10 years to develop.”
How many times have we seen minor variations of that one?
Or in the business section: “(Airline) announced today that it will now be charging a $25 fee for passengers’ (essential travel item). Other carriers quickly stated that they would follow suit. One executive was overheard saying, ‘Why didn’t we think of that?’”
And this one has become routine: “(Federal agency) has agreed to a settlement with (bank), which will pay $(number) billion in fines for fraudulent mortgage practices during the period leading up to the 2008 financial collapse. Under the terms of the deal, (bank) does not admit wrongdoing. A (bank) spokesman issued a statement saying that it only decided to go along ‘to avoid any further distraction from time-consuming litigation.’”
Wherever you look, you can find examples, from the lifestyle sections and fluffy celebrity magazines, where (contrived reality star) was spotted holding (body part) with (rapper), or on the sports pages, where (jock) tells reporters: “My individual performance doesn’t count. What’s important is that the team (won/lost).”

Continue reading "FILL IN THE BLANKS" »

FILL IN THE BLANKS

FROM NORTH AMERICA SYNDICATE, 300 W 57th STREET, 15th FLOOR, NEW YORK, NY 10019
CUSTOMER SERVICE: (800) 708-7311 EXT. 236
BOB FRANKEN
FOR RELEASE TUESDAY, JULY 22, 2014
FILL IN THE BLANKS
BY BOB FRANKEN
It’s a journalist’s worst nightmare: We discover that nobody cares about our stories because they’re predictable and boring. That certainly seems to be the case for those of us here in Washington, but it’s true throughout our industry. We keep on regurgitating the same stuff and spend a lot of energy doing it. Face it: It’s the same bit, different day.
It’s time to save time, to say nothing of big money. So, as a public service, let’s concoct reports where all you have to do is fill in the blanks. For example:
“Medical researchers at (institution) have discovered in (animal) a (protein, enzyme, stem cell) that causes (disease). If confirmed in a larger study, the scientists will apply for authorization to conduct human trials that could lead to a better understanding of (disease) and possible new protocols. They emphasize that any advances in treatment will take five to 10 years to develop.”
How many times have we seen minor variations of that one?
Or in the business section: “(Airline) announced today that it will now be charging a $25 fee for passengers’ (essential travel item). Other carriers quickly stated that they would follow suit. One executive was overheard saying, ‘Why didn’t we think of that?’”
And this one has become routine: “(Federal agency) has agreed to a settlement with (bank), which will pay $(number) billion in fines for fraudulent mortgage practices during the period leading up to the 2008 financial collapse. Under the terms of the deal, (bank) does not admit wrongdoing. A (bank) spokesman issued a statement saying that it only decided to go along ‘to avoid any further distraction from time-consuming litigation.’”
Wherever you look, you can find examples, from the lifestyle sections and fluffy celebrity magazines, where (contrived reality star) was spotted holding (body part) with (rapper), or on the sports pages, where (jock) tells reporters: “My individual performance doesn’t count. What’s important is that the team (won/lost).”

Continue reading "FILL IN THE BLANKS" »

July 25, 2014

I'M SIRIUS AND XM TOO

If you've got nothing better to do on a summer Saturday, tune in to my co-host exercise on No Labels Radio. 10AM, SiriusXM ch 124. What could be better than laughing at me?

July 24, 2014

LESSONS FROM HARDING 'S LUST LETTERS

FROM NORTH AMERICA SYNDICATE, 300 W 57th STREET, 15th FLOOR, NEW YORK, NY 10019
CUSTOMER SERVICE: (800) 708-7311 EXT. 236
BOB FRANKEN
FOR RELEASE FRIDAY, JULY 18, 2014
LESSONS FROM HARDING’S LUST LETTERS
BY BOB FRANKEN
I’m not one to celebrate the good old days, because in so many ways they were the bad old days. Nor do I begrudge the explosion of technology that shapes our lives in this century. We live in an era that benefits from a remarkably shrinking planet and remarkably expanding knowledge.
Still, it’s doubtful we will ever again leave for future generations the expressions of beauty and love that the great writers and thinkers bequeathed us in more leisurely times. And I’m not talking about that long ago. We have only to go back slightly more than a hundred years to retrieve those luscious letters that soon-to-be-President Warren G. Harding wrote to his next-door neighbor, Carrie Fulton Phillips. He went on to become arguably the worst president in U.S. history, but the boy could write a gloriously smutty letter.
Mrs. Phillips lived on his street back in Ohio, and to put it mildly, he loved his neighbor. Warren was head over heels. Never mind that each was married to someone else and never mind that she was very pro-German -- if his letters to her were any indication, he was obsessed with her.
Much of his stuff was too explicit for a family newspaper, even in these times. George Carlin would have had a field day. But let’s edit some of the good stuff, and you can fill in the blanks: Sept. 15, 1913: “Honestly, I hurt with the insatiate longing, until I feel that there will never be any relief until I take a long, deep, wild draught on your lips and then bury my face on your pillowing (blanks)”. Nearly three years before, he wrote: “I love you more than all the world and have no hope of reward on earth or hereafter, so precious as that in your dear arms, in your thrilling lips, in your matchless (blanks), in your incomparable embrace.”
It didn’t seem that Harding was a leg man. But he sure did have a way with words. He carried on like that for 10 years, 106 letters, which stopped shortly before he became president in 1921. He died in office after just two years, suffering an apparent heart attack. Is it any wonder?

Continue reading "LESSONS FROM HARDING 'S LUST LETTERS" »



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