Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Tech-hhhhheeellllpppppp!!!!

I've-got-oodles-of-writing-today-and-my-spacebar-won't-work.
I'm-on-an-iBookG3-laptop.Can-anyone-help?

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Engaging with Merton

FedEx brought yet another delivery of books from publishers today. Hidden among the Styrofoam popcorn was a re-release of M. Basil Pennington’s book, “Engaging the World with Merton: On Retreat in Tom’s Hermitage.” Originally published in 1988 (20 years after Merton’s death), it has been released under a different publisher.

In the new introduction, the author wonders about Merton’s responses to our world today, and how at the time of his death his letters to author Boris Pasternak took up to six months to be received via the underground. But what grabbed me on this day when time is so short is this beautiful prayer from Merton quoted in the introduction that I will share with you:

“To be here with the silence of Sonship in my heart is to be a center in which all things converge upon you. That is surely enough for the time being. Therefore, Father, I beg you to keep me in this silence so that I may learn from it the word of your peace and the word of your mercy and the word of your gentleness to the world: and that through me perhaps your word of peace may make itself heard where it has not been possible for anyone to hear it for a long time.” Thomas Merton, 1915-1968

Peace, my friends.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Some of the best views of Cleveland

• Cedar and Coventry in Cleveland Heights, just before you descend to Fairmount

• Harborside Drive in Edgewater, particularly from the backyard of a recently renovated large white stucco home

• The bedroom of a home on Chestnut Hills Drive in Cleveland Heights

• University Circle from the eight floor of Judson Manor

• East and West views of downtown from the Shoreway

What are your favorite (and lesser known) views of Cleveland?

Cleveland is my woobie

Surely I must sound like a broken record, but this is yet another intense week of writing. For once I’m feeling fresh on a Monday having had a wonderful five-day holiday weekend.

In the past few days, I’ve become the parent of a teenager, got lots of baby love from my little nephew Charlie and niece Natalie and had ample time to clean my house and deck the halls. I’m feeling pretty good going into this holiday season and that’s not been the case for many years.

Spent the afternoon shopping at Crocker Park with Ryan yesterday (he had all manner of gift cards just waiting to be spent). A little window shopping was just what I needed to get the gift-giving juices flowing.

But all that will have to wait for time and money. This week is filled with lots of reading, researching and writing that will keep my posting to a minimum. Did want to mention one thing though:

For the past couple of weeks I’ve been working on a book project that has taken me across town to Cleveland Heights, a city near and dear to my reporting heart. Though it’s been tough being out of the office so much, I’ve enjoyed commuting across town, knowing full well I don’t have to do it daily.

There are times when living in Cleveland becomes so exasperating professionally that I just want to up and flee. But then I remember the words of a dying man just a few weeks before his untimely death.

Richard Shatten was head of the Regional Economic Institute at Case and I was interviewing him for a story in the COSE Update. There was so much frustration in the business community in 2002 and he echoed a lot of that frustration and a lot of the inane infighting that has kept Cleveland from blossoming.

But when I asked him if Cleveland was hopeless, his voice brightened. “Oh absolutely not! It’s never hopeless.” I didn’t realize at the time we spoke that he was dying from brain cancer. I learned that two weeks later when I read his obituary. If, in the face of imminent death, that man could have hope about our region’s future then there’s no reason the rest of us can’t also.

As I’ve driven back and forth I see pockets of promise scattered in Cleveland’s neighborhoods. If you're always on the highways, I strongly urge you to get off the beaten track and take the long way home. I’ve been driving down E. 55th to Carnegie and Cedar since 1990. The transformation of that neighborhood is slow, but noticeable. And the resurfacing of Carnegie Avenue is a welcome treat (though admittedly it feeds my propensity to exceed the speed limit).

Last Monday I decided to drive through University Circle and take MLK to the Shoreway home. I remember reading once that the sign of a community’s vitality is the number of building cranes in the skyline. The building occuring in Cleveland is at University Circle. It was invigorating and I wished I had the time to walk Wade Oval and marvel at our city’s cultural and educational treasures.

As I drove down the Shoreway I got an overwhelming feeling of home. Downtown rose before me, Lake Erie sparkled to my right. It’s all so familiar, like a worn blanket a little bit tattered and frayed on the edges but just as ready to keep you warm and toasty on a blustery night.

Cleveland is my old blanket and as much as I wish it was shining and new, I take comfort in its familiarity, in the fact that this is really a small town and that I’m just as likely to run into someone I know on the east side as on the west side. My husband and I joke that we can’t seem to go out to dinner without running into a handful of friends and acquaintances. We complain, but really we love the serendipity of running into others. Because that’s the most beautiful thing about this town … its people.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Just pondering...

...Why does Bob Woodward remain on staff at the Washington Post? Clearly it's not for the money and I'm fairly confident he doesn't need the prestige. Doesn't it make more sense that he take sabbatical to write his books or just go off on his own completely, writing the occasional Post story as a freelancer? Just wondering...

The antidote to corruption

"When power corrupts, poetry cleanses." — John F. Kennedy, 1963

Merton in the UB

Here's the Cleveland version of the Thomas Merton article, which appears on the front page of the Nov. 18 edition of the Catholic Universe Bulletin.

Dysfunctional democracy

Here is the most astounding statement to (recently) spew from Dick Cheney’s mouth regarding our failure to find caches of WMD in Iraq:

"I repeat that we never had the burden of proof; Saddam Hussein did."

Excuse me? Wasn't the basis for an unprecedented policy shift of preemptive strike made on the basis that WE believed Hussein had WMD? And now we learn that said “proof” of WMD is based (in part) on faulty intelligence from a crackpot informant who sought asylum in Germany?! Am I missing some important nuance to this debate? Or does this seem an absolutely preposterous statement?

Didn't we have the burden to prove that he was engaged in such a weapon's program? Under Cheney's logic, who's to stop say North Korea from attacking because America possesses nuclear weapons?

The result of this crap is that while there was previously no connection between Hussein and bin Laden, Al Qaeda (and probably every other terrorist organization) now has a yeast-like presence in Iraq.

I’m convinced that our government is on the fast track to complete and utter breakdown. Maybe we’ve got to hit rock bottom before we can find our way out of this shit hole we’re in. (Apologies for the foul language. I’m feeling ferocious about this.)

Cheney returned to the American Enterprise Institute yesterday to speak to a friendly crowd on the issue of Iraq. He said: "I do not believe it is wrong to criticize the war on terror or any aspect thereof.

“What is not legitimate, and what I will again say is dishonest and reprehensible, is the suggestion by some U.S. senators that the president . . . misled the American people on prewar intelligence." This, he said, "is revisionism of the most corrupt and shameless variety."

Read between the lines. So maybe Bush didn’t mislead us, but how about Cheney himself or Rummy?

Chaos doesn’t only reign at the White House. E.J. Dionne wrote about the growing dysfunction in Congress that came to a head last Friday with Rep. John Murtha’s emotional plea to get out of Iraq. I know people are backpedaling about how the country will fall into chaos, but isn’t it already there? And didn’t we create that chaos? Don’t we have to live with the aftermath our failed policies created?

Can common sense prevail? Does it even exist inside the Beltway? I’m thinking no and here is evidence from Dionne’s column:

(Rep. Gene) Taylor's syntax only underscored the emotion he brought to the floor: "Mr. Speaker, in south Mississippi tonight, the people . . . who are living in two- and three-man igloo tents waiting for Congress to do something, have absolutely got to think this place has lost their minds. The same Congress that voted to give the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans tax breaks every time . . . suddenly after taking care of those who had the most, we have got to hurt the least. . . . Folks, this is insane. . . . This is the cruelest lie of all, that the only way you can help the people who have lost everything is by hurting somebody else."

I don’t recognize my country.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Ode to the Boss

There’s been a lot of celebration this week on the release of the 30th anniversary box set of Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run” CD. Since my time is so limited for posting this week, thought I’d share my own Boss anniversary piece that I was unsuccessful in selling . Some readers may remember a similar post from the summer of 2004. Anyway, here’s my ode to the Boss:

Twenty years ago this past August, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band came to Cleveland Municipal Stadium for a thunderous, soul-stirring 4-1/2-hour performance that to this day stands as my all-time standard for brilliant rock performances.

I was digging around my CD collection recently for some music to download onto the iPod before a run when I spotted the black and white album cover as familiar to me as my favorite black leather bag. I pulled it out, blew off a bit of dust and popped the CD into my laptop. It took only a few bars of harmonica and piano to transport me to 1985 — the summer before I left for college.

I worshipped Springsteen. My angst-ridden teenage heart rode the wave of emotions in his lyrics, while I spent hours hypnotized by the alternately driving and melancholy sounds of his music.

When he sang…

“The screen door slams
Mary's dress waves
Like a vision she dances across the porch
As the radio plays”

…I was sure his soulful rebels were talking only to me. These guys were deep and stood for more than fast cars and fast women. In their white T-shirts and faded jeans, they seduced me with their dreams — my dreams — of something better.

Man, the Boss could write. He wrote anthems. Hell, “Born to Run” used to kick off every weekend in Cleveland when Kid Leo would play it at 5 p.m. on Fridays back in the heyday of WMMS. He wrote dramas such as "Jungleland,” “Sandy” and “The River"; he wrote humor in "Sherry Darling"; and he wrote bluesy grooves like "Tenth Avenue Freeze Out” and “Pink Cadillac."

But his genius was his ability to entertain a crowd — even 60,000-plus — as if he were playing in the intimate Stone Pony bar where he got his start in New Jersey. His set list from the Cleveland concert contained no less than 28 songs — from “Born in the USA” to “Thunder Road” to “Sherry Darling.”

My Boss record collection includes the five-album live set from the “Born in the USA Tour.” After that album, I didn’t buy anymore. I suppose it’s because his early albums still capture my inner 18-year-old — when I stood looking upon the innocence of adolescence while tiptoeing into the promise of adulthood.

Driving home in my boyfriend’s Vega after the concert, a midnight haze of fog hung over the road leading to my house. Adding to the surreal quality of the night was Springsteen's music echoing back from the radio. (WMMS was playing every song from his set list that night.)

Looking back I realize that his blue-collar work ethic, his intoxicating energy and marathon performances were the antithesis of the ’80s rock concert experience, the stuff of world-class athletes more akin to Lance Armstrong’s Tour de France than the 2004 Cleveland Browns. It was easy to believe the Boss was as regular and hardworking as the guy standing next to me singing at the top of his lungs.

I found it heartening that his music still stirred my soul, feeling as if all the promise of the future still lay before me and tapping the energy that is his essence.

So I finished stretching, pulled on the headphones and headed out to the street. There was never any question which tune would kick off my run.

“Wendy, let me in, I wanna be your friend
I want to guard your dreams and visions” — Born to Run

Friday, November 11, 2005

Newsweek and Boomers

Oy! I don't know if I have the strenght to digest yet another Newsweek cover package. Here it is complete with a cliche cover that makes you jump back with fright. Yikes!

Let me know what you think. I've not read and will reserve judgment until after I've spent the weekend reading it. In the name of transparency, I am not a Boomer but part of that cohort born just outside the Boomers. My parents are not Boomers either, but were born just before the Boomers. Technically, I'm Gen X. But I don't find a lot of myself in the stereotypes linked with Gen Xers. So I guess that makes me an oddball, a place I'm wholly comfortable inhabiting.

Anyway, I did a big package of my own on this topic back in 2003 for a quarterly trade pub called The Leading Edge. One of my favorite pieces was on marketing to mature audiences.It's an interesting topic so I'll be curious to see how Newsweek covers the story.

Friday roundup

Read the Guardian Newsblog for an Anglican take on the Judith Miller saga. Don’t forget to read the comments. Interesting discussion.

Consider this from blogger/reporter Stephen Brook:

For many of her crimes, the guilty party was not so much Miller but the newspaper itself. She was badly managed and subsequently shabbily treated – a situation so commonplace in journalism it barely qualifies as news.

Heard at last night's JCU/SPJ program on press, politics and religion
Rev. Donald Cozzens said that the mark of a civilization's success or failure is how it treats the least powerful in its midst. What does that say about our American culture? Food for thought.

Talking Points talking new journalism
Josh Marshall has an interesting new project under wing. He’s developing a blog that weaves all the info bubbling up about the corruption scandals in Washington and how those relate to the upcoming mid-term elections. A freelance writer, Marshall is someone who demands to be listened to because he has three-quarters of a million visitors to TPM monthly. Here's why he's expanding the blog:

But I'm never able to dig deeply enough into the stories or for a sustained enough period of time or to keep track of how all the different ones fit together. That's a site I'd like to read every day -- one that pieced together these different threads of public corruption for me, showed me how the different ones fit together (Abramoff with DeLay with Rove with the shenanigans at PBS and crony-fied bureaucracies like the one Michael Brown was overseeing at FEMA) and kept tabs on how they're all playing in different congressional elections around the country.

That's a site I'd like to read because I'm never able to keep up with all of it myself. So we're going to try to create it.

I don't imagine it will be easy. But it will be an experiment with a new sort of journalism. And I think we'll be able to put something together that the readers of this site will enjoy and find useful. And we're going to try to do that by mobilizing the resources we've already built with TPM and TPMCafe.


Oh, and by the way? He’s hiring.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Dying young

My heart literally aches when I read stories like this primarily because it puts words and images to my worst fear — dying young.

Marjorie Williams died last January at age 47 from liver cancer. Way too young and cheated of seeing (on this earth anyway) her son and daughter grow. I’m sorry I didn’t pay closer attention to her work because she strikes me as someone to whom I could relate.

Meghan O'Rourke of Slate writes:

Imagine being told, at 43, that you have a few months to live. And imagine—among other things—that you have a career deepening in new ways, and two young children, a boy and a girl, who still believe that Santa Claus is real. The truth is, most of us can't imagine anything like it. But this is what Marjorie Williams, a Washington Post columnist who died last January at 47, describes in her extraordinary essay about being diagnosed with advanced liver cancer, "Hit by Lightning: A Cancer Memoir." It appears in The Woman at the Washington Zoo: Writings on Politics, Family, and Fate, a new collection of her journalism edited by Slate's Tim Noah, her husband. Reading the essay, one is rocked back on one's heels not only by the steady summoning of detail—including the split-second thrill she felt when the doctor first discovered a tumor—but by the fact that she wrote the essay in the first place. " 'I don't want to end my life in some hospital barfing in the name of science," " she recalls telling Tim. " 'I mean it: I want to be realistic about what's happening to me.' " And she was. The essay is the distillation of the gift that Williams, whom I never met, displays throughout the volume: total engagement inextricably connected to a comic detachment—a stoic determination to make the most of her tragic, and at times absurd, situation.

Williams first hit my radar a few weeks ago when David Brooks, of all people, wrote an incredibly moving column about her short life. I reached for my heart as I read his words and even as I write my hands tremble with the fear her story evokes in me.

Several years ago that fear was so intense that I found myself sitting opposite a psychotherapist trying my best to deal with so many things out of my control. I’ll never forget pacing in my room, Kleenex in hand, sobbing and trying to articulate to Danny what was scaring me. “Everything!” I finally blurted out. “I’m afraid of everything. My mom went to the doctor because she felt bloated and she came back with ovarian cancer. I’m afraid of cancer. I’m afraid of dying. I’m afraid of someone kidnapping my kids right from the bus stop. I’m afraid of failure. I’m afraid of success. I’m afraid of everything.” My husband, who loves to make my world better, knew at that moment that this was something he alone couldn’t fix.

But in a way he did because just verbalizing my fears out loud made them slightly less scary.

I'm prone, however, to relapse. Whenever my life begins to go well I can’t help feeling as if it will all be snapped away because on some level I am undeserving of happiness. It’s irrational perhaps, but there it is. And it keeps me from fully enjoying life — that fear haunting me in the darkest hours of night and in my most vulnerable moments alone. Rarely does that fear find a voice. Instead it festers inside my brain, a cancer of its own, hurtling me headlong into morbid agony.

I’ve found myself looking at my children and my husband and thinking:

“Would they be okay without me?”

“What would they remember about me?”

“Would there be time to leave them plenty of letters to share a lifetime of love before I die?”

“Would they be able to love fully without my steady presence?”

“Will they be happy in life?”

I fight back tears every time someone talks about people and families suffering with cancer. I want to run from the room and hide the fear that I’m sure is visible on my face. This even after my own mother has survived cancer. But it seems to strike the young with a vengeance.

My thoughts, never voiced, turn to how I would handle treatments, how much and how soon I would tell the kids, how to ease my parents’ grief, what my epitaph would read, readings and hymns for my funeral. My brain can jump from zero to 60 in a nanosecond. It’s not healthy, I realize, but it’s there, lurking. Sometimes to the point where I feel it will be a self-fulfilling prophecy.

It takes tremendous mental agility to downshift into the here and now instead of racing headlong into a worst-case scenario. Perhaps it sounds as if I'm a little crazy and maybe I am. Maybe I don't have enough faith in the goodness in life to think I'm worth any of it. Maybe that's why I'm such a seeker. I pray daily that all this internal dysfunction will at least allow me to cherish those in my life more deeply. Mostly, I pray...

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Miller and Times part ways

It's official... Judith Miller has "retired" from the New York Times.

Here's the official story.

Does demise of PD Sunday Mag spell opportunity?

This is truly sad news, but rumors have been swirling for a few weeks so it’s not altogether surprising. While I was unsuccessful in placing a story in the Sunday Magazine (I was trying for essays), I remained hopeful that I would hit the sweet spot in 2006. This loss got me thinking:

Where else will readers find the solid long-form narrative writing on the issues and people that comprise Northeast Ohio?

Markets are drying up faster than my printer’s ink cartridges. PD Editor Doug Clifton says some of the stories will appear throughout the paper. I hope he sticks to that pledge because I’d hate to see the PD lose talented writers such as Andrea Simakis. The reality is that shrinking news holes rarely allow for the expansive narrative that was found in the Sunday Mag.

Every time news of this sort hits the streets, I begin fantasizing again about my dream publication (and my dream job of leading said dream publication). Since current city pubs are doing a miserable job, I’d love to see a monthly New Yorker-type publication in this town or a regional Salon and here’s why:

We have some serious issues to discuss that affect a wide swath of people and our current staple of pubs are doing a lackluster job at best. Most are filled with gratuitous nods to advertisers that everyone can see through. Even the advertisers are getting fatigued by the crappy advertorial that dominates each month.

We have some incredible editorial and design talent in this town. (I’ve already got an art director in mind.) I’d love to do some market research about the viability of a regional pub devoted to in-depth personality profiles, solid public affairs reporting, extensive arts, medical and business coverage (our region’s big economic engines) and an assortment of departments that include:

• nurturing a city columnist in the Roldo Bartimole vein
• look at research of all kinds happening at local universities
• food and wine coverage that’s much more than simply restaurant reviews or news of openings and closings
• personal essay column to bring in fresh voices and perspectives

The only way to be truly successful is to take a bit from existing pubs (pull in-depth reporting of PD Sunday Mag, only the best business coverage in Inside Business, and only the best arts coverage in Northern Ohio Live), add hipness of Cool Cleveland, mix in stronger editorial content presented in a visually unique way (either in print or online or both) to create something uniquely Northeast Ohio. Maybe it's a new collaboration among these pubs.

When it comes to regional pubs, I think Texas Monthly blows everyone out of the water. Of course it also has the backing of Indiana-based Emmis Communications. Skip Hollandsworth is as gifted a writer as they come and sets the bar for narrative nonfiction writing at such pubs.

But we've also got talented writers. And we’ve certainly got the stories. Now how about we get some financial backers who have the guts to put their money into something truly provocative and reflective of Northeast Ohio? I’m not talking your staidly parents’ and grandparents’ magazine (ala Cleveland and Ohio).

Take the energy of the younger population segment (young pros ages 25-45), the doggedness and intensity of the local blogosphere and the buying power of the 35-60-year-old demographic. Mix that together with this town’s incredible reporting and writing talent, illustrated with its complementary visual artistic talent and you’ve got buzz.

Well, anyway, a girl can dream...

"Where God Was Born” review
Today’s review book was listed as number three on the Local Bestsellers List. The author was at Joseph-Beth last night and I’m sorry the review couldn’t have been timed to come out before his appearance.

Here’s the text from today’s PD:

Where God Was Born: A Journey by Land to the Roots of Religion

(William Morrow, $26.95) by Bruce Feiler.

Feiler is a masterful storyteller weaving his way through luminous descriptions of people, places and feelings. He takes readers on a moving and at times dangerous journey to ground zero of religion through Israel, Iraq and Iran. It's a personal quest to find meaning in his religion beyond the limitations of place and land.

With his Hebrew Bible as guide, Feiler explores the heart of civilization, visiting the ancient places that gave us prophets, kings, scientists and writers. Helping him parse the stories and their meanings is an amazing cast of theologians, adventurers and archaeologists.

As a result, his story becomes more than one man's search for God, it's also one of the great political, historical, geographical and archaeological adventures of all time.

The author's writing transports you to another time and place. When he writes of the desert you become thirsty, when he describes ruins you want to reach out and run your hand along the smooth stone surfaces. "The tunnel smelled like the inside of a tank I used as a boy to grow tadpoles into frogs -- a fetid, muddy grog that gave off the disquieting odor of evolution," he writes.

Vivid descriptions of people give you amazing insight into the author's mind. "Gabi Barkay is an archaeologist who looks like the vintage newspaper editor from Spider-Man, with a stringy black comb-over, nicotine-stained fingers and an air of seen-it-all-before."

Throughout the journey we discover what the Bible really says: God is not confined. We experience God through humanity and relationships with others.

Wendy Hoke Special to The Plain Dealer

Monday, November 07, 2005

Bloggers and MSM in Philly

Wow. Check this out from Suburban Guerilla in Philly. Seems the bloggers and MSM got together in the City of Brotherly Love for a little chat about the future of news and newspapers.

Can we do something similar in Cleveland?

The glass is half …

There is a temptation in blogging to follow the pack and post on the big issues. Admittedly this is a sweeping generalization, but it sometimes takes a conscious effort to resist joining the fray.

But in my humble opinion, it’s critical that blogs maintain their individuality because otherwise there’s no point in reading them. Regular readers of CI know that my paying gig is as a freelance journalist, writing primarily for mainstream media. Creative Ink, by contrast, is my writing laboratory.

Still I'm a news junkie and at times I struggle with not adding my voice to the cacophony as I scan the day’s headlines. I confess to secretly fantasizing about being a national beat reporter for a daily newspaper. But then I remember that my chosen path is one of independent because it suits my desire to follow my writing passions and it fits well with my family life.

Daily newspapers, no matter how I may romanticize about reporting on national issues, are not the place to be right now. According to WAPO’s Howard Kurtz, “If the (newspaper) industry were a person, a shrink would prescribe Prozac.”

News is particularly bad at The Times Co., which reports profits down by more than half this quarter. That The New York Times is beleaguered is undeniable and I’ve not resisted my chance to take shots. But what’s missing from the daily/hourly discourse is that what's happening at The Times can happen anywhere. Newspapers are losing readers and losing sight of the big picture in the quest to please Wall Street.

Here's the glass-is-half-full view from a CJR editorial. “A great shift in how people get their news and spend their time is under way. Much of this is beyond our control,” writes CJR:

But not all of it. And crisis can bring opportunity. Take a look at the front page of your newspaper today. How many stories are on events that the average reader has already heard something about? The Metro section, is it riveting and creative? Or incremental and cramped? Does the paper have strong voices? Does it provide the kind of context that cuts through the fog of information? Does it have any fun? Does the photography speak volumes? Does the Web site offer more than digital newsprint? Can a reader get into the conversation? Do you want to read this newspaper? Bold is mine.

And now the glass-is-half-empty view. Kurtz concludes:

Except for an uptick during Hurricane Katrina, the media's stock seems to be in a gradual decline -- journalistically, financially and psychologically. That is unlikely to change as long as journalists keep behaving in ways that alienate their audiences.

The Wall Street Journal, which is FREE this week, (Woo Hoo!) has a similarly dire report.

It’s easy for those of us in the business to armchair quarterback the problems and the solutions. But just because we’re not in the newsroom daily and don’t understand the grind and the pressures doesn’t mean our suggestions for improvement should be summarily dismissed. We are, after all, consumers of the news. Let's at least start the conversation, yes?

Women bylines at Conde Nast
One Conde Nast editor has taken it upon herself to track the male to female byline ratio in the publishing powerhouse’s mags. Ruth Davis Konigsberg started her site as a pet project, only the evidence is crystal. Gender imbalance pervades many national magazines, particularly those involved in reporting public affairs.

Now The Times has picked up the story.

Cullen Murphy, the managing editor of The Atlantic Monthly (61 male bylines to 18 female bylines, according to Ms. Davis Konigsberg's count), responded to questions from a reporter in an e-mail message: "The byline imbalance is endemic in public affairs magazines. At The Atlantic we are aware of the problem and have been actively taking steps to address it."

I wonder what those steps are? As I've written here before, I know many women skilled in writing about public affairs. I wonder about the barriers to entry.

Comic relief
This was sent to me today by Joe Skeel, editor of Quill magazine .
A councilman is apparently trying to access ISP records so he can find out what blogger called him paranoid in order to convince people he’s not … paranoid. HAH!

Court rules that official cannot unmask blogger
The Delaware Supreme Court ruled that a Smyrna city councilman cannot force an Internet service provider to reveal the identity of a blogger without substantial evidence of defamation, The New York Times reported Oct. 5.
According to The Times, court records showed the blogger said that Councilman Patrick Cahill had ''an obvious mental deterioration" and was "as paranoid as everyone in the town thinks he is.''
David Finger, the blogger's lawyer, told The Times, ''statements on an electronic bulletin board with hyperbole and profanity are generally not considered as credible sources of facts. The court found that people who read these types of blogs cannot reasonably expect them to be anything more than the writer's opinion.''
The court found no distinction between protections on Internet communication and other forms of media, The Times reported. The court said this was the first state or federal Supreme Court ruling on anonymous bloggers' rights.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Time was ... 1996

Last Friday I spent the bulk of my day in the archives of a longtime Cleveland nonprofit in preparation for a project I'm working on. While thumbing through the piles and piles of newspaper clippings, annual reports, photos, letters, etc., I stumbled across a flyer celebrating Cleveland's Bicentennial in 1996. Wasn't sure whether to laugh or cry.

Do you remember how high our collective city was a mere 10 years ago?

Stealing moments

I sometimes worry that I’ve not taken sufficient care to help my children enjoy life’s simple pleasures.

Here I sit on another Sunday afternoon and the weekend has literally flown by in a flurry of kids’ activities and household chores and errands. It’s inexcusable that there are entire weekends when I don’t sit except in my car. I hate that feeling just as I recognize it’s within my own power to change. Then it hit me:

Attention must be paid or life’s simple pleasures will be lost to the next generation.

It was a rainy, gloomy morning, the ideal setting to roll over, pull up the blankets and sleep a little longer. That’s what we did this morning. No alarm set for practices or games. I wasn’t going to push to get everyone to Mass. Heinen’s can wait until later in the day. No program for the day. This morning was for lazing about.

One of my simple pleasures is to be up before everyone else with the coffee on and the Sunday paper spread before me. Because in all the frenzy of our daily lives, it’s quiet I most desire. Time to either think or not think.

This morning I was thumbing through the Sunday ads shaking my head at all the Christmas promotions and decorations. Can it be? Of course, Halloween has passed and we’re on to the next big consumer-driven holiday. What happened to fall? Have I missed it completely?

With sadness, I realized how we never did take a Sunday to go apple picking. We missed the divine taste of biting into a tart apple picked right from the tree. We missed the peace of wandering aimlessly through the orchard, giving our kids the chance to sample what it feels like to roam with no fences or neighbors' yards, driveways and streets delineating the boundaries. The only reference points are where the Macintosh trees start and the Jonathan’s end.

I almost missed this fall’s golden-colored trees. So much of the past two months has been spent right here, with my back to the window and my face to the computer screen that I realized how easily I could’ve missed fall completely.

The leaves have turned late this year and it seemed as if they were just waiting for sunny days to warm their hues into the striking brilliance we’ve seen the past few days. Fortunately, I was driving home from Columbus on Wednesday afternoon and had miles and miles of brilliant color lining my way home.

While raking yesterday I inhaled the sweet, smoky smell of autumn and I wondered if I’ve told the kids how each season has a distinct smell. Have I told them how you can taste winter’s coolness? Or how snow clouds look so heavy hanging in the sky? Have I told them about the earthy smell of spring and how the green of new growth is only visible in nature for a few short weeks?

Perhaps they won’t care at this point (Mom, we’re missing the game!), but I’ve got to steal the moments while I can. Someday they will be out raking with their kids and remember how mom described the smell of autumn.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Stories of Strength

There’s no question that Jill and I are tight pals and supportive writerly companions. But that doesn’t lessen the incredible honor it is for her to be included in the Stories of Strength anthology. If you only know Jill through her blog then you’ve only gotten a little taste of her skill as an essayist.

Her story, “A Real, Super Human,” joins the stories of more than 100 other gifted writers in this amazing collection. And it’s for a good cause. Profits support disaster relief for victims of Hurricane Katrina. Read on, support the cause and perhaps you'll be inspired to write your own story of strength.

From the site:

“At times tear-jerking, at times humorous, this book is guaranteed to inspire and remind readers that the human spirit knows no boundaries.”