Mrs. 3,000.

Yesterday was a 3K day. That is, I wrote 3,000 words, plus a few more. For purposes of perspective: For my newspaper friends, that’s about 100 inches of copy by most measures. Ambitious novelists strive for 1,000 words a day. Graham Greene used to write something like 487, no more and no less, and knock off for the day even if he had more in him. (Warning: I may be thinking of someone else, but I’m pretty sure it’s Graham Greene.)

And for James Lileks, 3,000 words allows him to barely scratch the surface of his latest strawman takedown.

For a freelancer, 3,000 words is a lot, but not so many when you consider you’re being paid by the word, which gives you the strength to get it done: “Faster! Faster! Our house has been reassessed and we have taxes to pay!” I do recommend light carbs for lunch, however.

While I was smearing my keyboard with my own blood, a kid came to the door. Selling magazines, for some outfit with a name that immediately makes sensible people suspicious — two capital letters separated by an ampersand, plus Enterprises. J&B Enterprises, something like that.

“Let me guess,” I said. “Are you in a crew, traveling around the country by van, sleeping on top of one another in motels? You’re not from around here, are you?”

He nodded. He was from Little Rock, Arkansas. Dressed reasonably well, but a little sour-smelling up close.

“I won’t buy any magazines, because I can’t support the people you’re working for,” I said. “But let me tell you this: If you want to go home, there are numbers you can call. The folks you’re working for are not good people, most likely. You’re not in a safe environment, but you’re an adult, and I guess you can decide for yourself. But just know that if you want out, people can help you.” (Of course, I don’t actually speak in permalinks.)

“How do you know this?” he asked.

“I’m a journalist,” he said. “There have been many stories about these outfits. A bunch of kids were killed in Wisconsin a few years ago, when their van overturned on the freeway.” His eyes widened.

“Are you sure you won’t buy any magazines?” he whined. “I can win a trip.”

“Don’t bet on it,” I said. “Remember, there’s help. Stop back if you want to, and I’ll find you the phone number. And wear your seat belt in that van.”

He didn’t come back. But it’s not often that I get to say, “I’m a journalist” the same way others say “I’m a doctor” or “I’m an FBI agent.” That was amusing.

Do I have bloggage? I have bloggage:

In the Department of the Obvious, Don’t use your cellphone outside in a thunderstorm. Experts agree!

A late-arriving commenter to the thread in which we discussed the sale of my old paper to Ogden Newspapers left a note that most will likely miss, so here it is, front and center:

Ogden owns both of the newspapers in Wheeling, so there’s no real competition. There used to be some competitiveness between the news departments, though. There was pride in writing well and putting out a quality product, especially by the afternoon paper. But when Ogden hired a new general manager – a former advertising guy with no editorial experience whatsoever – all that mattered was the bottom line. Formerly free obits now cost $$$. The two newsroom staffs were, for all practical purposes, merged. No longer was there a separate city editor for each newspaper. Then Ogden bought a few more local papers and was able to eliminate reporters by just taking stories filed for the Steubenville or Martins Ferry newspapers and using them in the Wheeling paper. I left because the pay was so bad and it became evident that management didn’t care one bit about putting out a quality newspaper. I didn’t want my name associated with it.

I repeat: They’ll feel right at home.

Posted at 10:34 am in Media, Same ol' same ol' |

14 responses to “Mrs. 3,000.”

  1. Mindy said on June 23, 2006 at 11:00 am

    Not just 3,000 words, but 3,000 words turned and placed very well. Pats on the back! Open up a bottle of whatever you require this evening and enjoy yourself.

    160 chars

  2. MichaelG said on June 23, 2006 at 11:55 am

    I used to read Lileks. I still think he’s an excellent writer. He just has nothing to say. His site is this weird collection of trips to Target and brain dead right wing screeds coupled with amusingly anal collections of minutiae. He’s one of those guys who compensates for draft dodging in his youth by being all manly in his support of the Bush Administration’s military adventures while sneering at the Frenchified cowardliness of anyone who questions the conflict. The Regrettable Foods thing can be entertaining, though.

    There are a lot cheaper ways to purchase magazine subscriptions than from those cultists.

    623 chars

  3. brian stouder said on June 23, 2006 at 12:25 pm

    “In the Department of the Obvious, Don’t use your cellphone outside in a thunderstorm. Experts agree!”


    I think the “obvious” part of this is – don’t be OUTSIDE in a thunderstorm! Reading the article, it appears that the use of a cell phone does NOT increase your chances of being struck by lightning (ie – it doesn’t ‘draw lightening’ to you, as, say, holding onto a long metal pole would) – but DOES increase your odds of serious injury if you happen to get struck….

    and viewed THAT way, the same can be said about taking a shower during a thunderstorm (a Forbidden Act, when I was a kiddo, but which I confess I have done a time or two) or using your land-line telephone during a thunderstorm.

    I suppose this is a distinction without a difference, unless a person draws the impression that they are somehow safer standing in a thunderstorm if they are NOT on their cell phone

    905 chars

  4. mary said on June 23, 2006 at 2:47 pm

    Big day here in hospital HR. One visit from Ahnuld (he’s shorter than you might think.) and two new positions to fill for Six Sigma Black Belts.
    Ahnuld was here to get his photo taken while listening to someone talk about disaster preparedness, not to visit HR. We just happen to be next door. He didn’t drop off a resume or anything.

    338 chars

  5. Dorothy said on June 23, 2006 at 3:02 pm

    Mary you just KILL me!! You really do! Thanks for the big laugh you just drew from me!

    86 chars

  6. mary said on June 23, 2006 at 3:41 pm

    You’re very welcome. Dorothy.
    Ahnuld said we were the perfect model for California hostpitals, by the way. Disaster preparedness-wise at least.

    144 chars

  7. Randy said on June 23, 2006 at 3:44 pm

    Since Lilks covers every minute of his day in excruciating detail, I’ve noted he spends little if any time with his wife. Someone wrote a hilarious parody of The Bleat, where Mrs. Lileks had gotten a personal trainer, fell in love with her, and left poor ol’ Jimmy. It was great, and if I find the link I’ll share it.

    317 chars

  8. nancy said on June 23, 2006 at 5:35 pm

    I think Lileks leaves his wife out of it by her request, but you’re right — it does leave a certain dog-that-didn’t-bark hole in things. Speaking of gay, though. A friend and I have an ongoing e-mail volley, with the subject line: Proof That Lileks is Gay:

    Off to a boutique that sells gifts and home décor items; I found nothing. I never find anything there. But it’s the kind of place that seems like it will pay off some day.

    You wonder, does his wife find this sort of thing attractive in a man? It does, indeed, take all kinds.

    548 chars

  9. a different Connie said on June 23, 2006 at 6:07 pm

    Randy–here it is; The Bleak.

    The Lileks parody

    117 chars

  10. MichaelG said on June 23, 2006 at 6:23 pm

    I also saw something to the effect that Lileks largely leaves his wife out of the blog at her wish, but it still does have an eerie aloneness to it. He’s forever fussing with little nitnoy stuff and describing his never ending lone activities. And the activities he describes are the types of things that aren’t really multi-participant things. He just strikes me as an odd duck.

    382 chars

  11. mary said on June 23, 2006 at 6:39 pm

    Just the way the sentence is constructed: “Off to a boutique that sells gifts and home decor items; I found nothing,” is gay. A guy would not even write, “Off to a store that sells chain saws and wrenches; I found nothing.” It’s a limp wristed sentence.

    254 chars

  12. brian stouder said on June 23, 2006 at 6:48 pm

    “Time to check out Home Depot’s chain saws and pneumatic nailers. I never end up with anything from those sons of bitches, but they DO make me appreciate things when I hit Lowes”

    178 chars

  13. mary said on June 25, 2006 at 2:41 pm

    See, now that’s a guy sentence.

    31 chars

  14. brian stouder said on June 26, 2006 at 8:34 am

    Speaking of manly-men and girly-men, this bit from’s “scoop” made me laugh

    “Match Point�? star Jonathan Rhys Meyers believes that Elvis Presley was gay, telling ContactMusic: “Anyone who lives with their mama that long and dresses up in that much spangly gold with black lacquer on their eyes has definitely got something going on.�?

    357 chars