Work the suit.

Spring is here, which means it’s time for the Derringer clan to do its semi-annual flirtation with divorce. Yes, it’s boat-launching day. I thought this event had lost its drama once we got the kinks out; last year’s launch, and even autumn’s melancholy take-out, went better than expected. But this year lingering knee pain complicates matters, and the temperature is predicted to be a blazing 85. Will this day end in cursing, tears and lawyers? Tune in tomorrow.

Two bits of bloggage, one short, one long:

Like dripping ice, like descending smog, there was karma all over the building Tuesday night — and still the Red Wings almost shook it off, they fought to the choking finish. But in the end, it was covered in feathers and spoke with a beak. This, friends, is the kind of prose that makes you a national treasure.

The Yak is the Detroit Free Press’ big furry animal. Its job is to encourage children to read the paper, via its ongoing feature, Yak’s Corner. When the Freep and my ex-employer were both Knight Ridder papers, we ran Yak’s Corner, too. I guess, in the Freep sale and subsequent dissolution of KR, the Yak was not considered corporate property, because it’s still in the Freep.

One time, to promote the feature at some convention-center show the paper was involved in, the Freep loaned the Yak costume to our newsroom in Fort Wayne. It arrived in a big case on wheels, and was taken to the managing editor’s office, whose job it was to find an occupant. She needed someone who was both slim and had nothing better to do on the weekend, and found her ideal candidate in Name Redacted.

Redacted tells the story better than I do, but the bottom line is: It was a disaster. The suit was claustrophobic, and the children were horrible; they especially liked running full-tilt into the poor Yak, trying to knock it down. Or they’d beat on the suit with their fists to provoke a reaction. Imagine being inside this thing — hot, sweaty, trying to see out the fur-screened peephole, besieged by brats who will probably not grow up to be daily newspaper subscribers. The Yak had an escort, the teenage daughter of an editor also in attendance. After a good deal of this torture, Redacted started to feel the suit closing in, so to speak. She turned to the escort and said, “GET YOUR MOM,” only it sounded like “Mmmf mfuf mmmffm” and so the escort did nothing. “PLEASE, PLEASE GET YOUR MOM” came out “MMFF MFFM mfmfuf mffmf” and the torture continued. Finally, the Yak bolted from the hall, ripped the head off the costume, climbed into her car in a state of barely restrained panic and vomited down her shirt.

This would have been a sight to see. I only wish my life was this cinematic.

I mention this only because whenever I see a video like this one, I think, “If they made me do that, I’d puke, too.”

Back later, with pictures.

Posted at 7:09 am in Media, Same ol' same ol' |

30 responses to “Work the suit.”

  1. Colleen said on May 23, 2007 at 7:25 am

    Husband still has flashbacks of the time he was the Pink Panther at WMEE’s Babyfair. I think he nearly passed out from a combo of the heat and dehydration.

    Not to mention the trouble he had walking in the giant feet…

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  2. Connie said on May 23, 2007 at 8:44 am

    Scholastic will loan a Clifford the Big Red Dog suit to libraries. I am always astonished that children’s room staff fight to be the one who has to wear it.

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  3. Nick said on May 23, 2007 at 8:44 am

    “spoke with a beak”

    Um, isn’t that a bill?

    “Duck, duck gone.”

    Yecch – that was awful.

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  4. nancy said on May 23, 2007 at 9:40 am

    There’s so much wrong with that lead it only reinforces my belief that no one — NO ONE AT ALL — even bothers to edit the guy anymore. Even allowing for the fact it was written on deadline, there’s simply no excuse for this sludge:

    ANAHEIM, Calif. — Like dripping ice, like descending smog, there was karma all over the building Tuesday night — and still the Red Wings almost shook it off, they fought to the choking finish.

    How is “karma” like “dripping ice?” Never mind that smog doesn’t descend, it forms when rising pollutants meet cooler air. Fog descends, if you’re interested. But that’s a quibble, compared to that run-on sentence.

    But in the end, it was covered in feathers and spoke with a beak. And by the time the sun set in the West, it had already gone down on Detroit.

    Ducks have a bill, not a beak, and they make noise through it, not with it. The next sentence is OK, though, if a little cliché; I think I hear Elton John singing somewhere.

    Duck, duck, gone.

    Ooh, it’s the stand-alone Albom Whammy!

    Say good-bye to the 2007 dream. It ended with a fury, like two mad heavyweights plundering each other.

    It’s “pummeled,” not “plundered.”

    The Wings battled back from 3-0 and 4-1, closed it to 4-3, and with three minutes to go, they unleashed a relentless passion that makes fans swear hockey is the greatest sport of them all. Swarming. Charging. Pavel Datsyuk had a swipe at the goalie and another swipe. Denied! Dan Cleary had a swipe and another swipe. Denied!

    Finally, some lively description of the action. Didn’t need that extra “they” in there, nor the “them.” The copy desk should have clipped those.

    I could go on, but I need to leave for the boatyard. (Rest assured, “Duck, duck gone” appears twice more, as all AWs must.) It wouldn’t be so bad if the guy wasn’t regularly held up as some sort of writing sage. Everybody needs an editor. Too bad he doesn’t seem to have one.

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  5. brian stouder said on May 23, 2007 at 10:02 am

    But if he DOES have an editor, imagine how bad the first draft could have been

    Say sayonara to the 2007 dream. It ended with a tsunami, like two mad Sumo wrestlers raping and pillaging each other.

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  6. LA mary said on May 23, 2007 at 10:06 am

    Speaking of editorlessness, I saw a line on MSNBC yesterday that I thought you would love. Comparing a young performer to an older, more polished one, she was credited with “useful exuberance.”

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  7. Kirk said on May 23, 2007 at 11:08 am

    And here, from the Santa Barbara Independent, we have a new adverb, in addition to a few other things an editor could have solved:

    On Sunday, the Santa Barbara News-Press announced that Laura Schlessinger — aka “Dr. Laura,” a radio talk show host known for her cutthroatly conservative views and tough-love opinions who started writing a column for the N-P following the start of the daily’s meltdown last July — would be “taking a break from her column.”

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  8. brian stouder said on May 23, 2007 at 11:13 am


    The term seems oddly sexist (although to be honest, I cannot say why); would anyone refer Jerry Falwell as “cuthroatly conservative”?

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  9. LA mary said on May 23, 2007 at 11:22 am

    I know I’m asking for trouble by saying this, but my NJ roots are surfacing.
    The throat is not the body part I think of when I think of Jerry Falwell’s version of conservatism.

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  10. brian stouder said on May 23, 2007 at 1:21 pm

    bible-thumpin’ boob? Baptist bunyon? Self-righteous shin splint? Broke-dick, bile-filled distended gall bladder evangelical? Shrill spleen wringer?

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  11. LA mary said on May 23, 2007 at 1:49 pm

    Sorta. It was more earthy.

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  12. alex said on May 23, 2007 at 1:50 pm

    Cornholy conservative.

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  13. LA mary said on May 23, 2007 at 1:51 pm

    That works.

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  14. brian stouder said on May 23, 2007 at 1:57 pm

    Cornholy conservative

    and just like that, with effortless grace and efficiency, Alex whacks another one out of the park!

    Cornholy!! Marvelous!

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  15. ashley said on May 23, 2007 at 2:37 pm

    Plundering each other? Huh?

    I think the editors simply refuse to read his drivel any more.

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  16. Kirk said on May 23, 2007 at 2:56 pm

    I think Ashley has it. It’s not hard to imagine Mitch going high and mighty on the sports copy editors for perceived affronts and blunders. Nor is it hard to imagine them deciding that they don’t need that crap and letting him stew in his own brilliance.

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  17. LA mary said on May 23, 2007 at 3:13 pm

    I feel so much better now. I read that Sheryl Crow has adopted a baby and she’s depending on her show business friends to advise her on raising the baby “organically and holistically.”

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  18. alex said on May 23, 2007 at 3:59 pm

    What, she didn’t want to take Lance’s irradiated jiz?

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  19. ashley said on May 23, 2007 at 4:14 pm

    Organically and holistically? Is that so that the kid will turn out to be as much of a nut job as she is?

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  20. LA mary said on May 23, 2007 at 4:36 pm

    I think Lance has some banked. His kids were born after he, well, you know.

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  21. nancy said on May 23, 2007 at 4:53 pm

    Lance and Cheryl rode their tandem to Splitsville long ago. Now he hangs with his posse — Matthew McConnaghey and Jake Gyllenhaal.

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  22. alex said on May 23, 2007 at 5:01 pm

    Mmmm, I’d like some o’ Jake Gyllenhaal’s posse.

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  23. LA mary said on May 23, 2007 at 5:06 pm

    Rumor is Jake goes both ways. Maybe Matthew does too.

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  24. Danny said on May 23, 2007 at 5:08 pm

    Wait a ‘sec. Alex is gay?

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  25. LA mary said on May 23, 2007 at 5:20 pm

    Or is Alex a male or a female, eh?
    Things have gone all Shakespearean on us. As well as holistic, organic and cornholey.

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  26. susang said on May 23, 2007 at 8:29 pm

    The height of my HR career was, surprisingly, a corporate Xmas party thown in Fort Wayne.

    We pulled out all stops. Our “focus group” indicated that 158 4-year males were attending the party. Quality Control and Skilled Trades donned animal suits. I pulled every party/event idea I’d learned from the Japanese. Dry ice, lots of food, pictures of the kids with Santa Claus, booze for the adults.

    The only kink in the whole spectacle was Mrs. Santa Claus. She was going through a rough patch of menopause and the costume had a large fur collar…Anyway, she was a trooper; 15 minutes with the kids, 15 minutes in the bathroom, sans collar, cooling her face with ice cubes.

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  27. michaelj said on May 23, 2007 at 9:15 pm

    You never get the Kinks out. You Really Got Me. On the other hand, Van Halen pretending to be Ray and Dave, seriously lame.

    And on the Shakespearean front, the ‘sit upon the ground’ speedch in Richard II is so great nobody but Derek Jacobi should ever say it. Unless they do a cross-dress veersion and then Inspector Tennison would be suitable.

    Shakespeare may be a dream we dream one afternoon, long ago. If you don’t get it on some level, you’re pretty much half a human.

    But anyway, regarding sleep, etc. Dreaming’s a wonderful way to liive your life. You just have to know when it’s time to wake up. Unreqyited dreams ar no fim, but I always talk some gullible prof into letting rmake it up. Michael Stipe who isn’t a blowhard like Bono, said I don’t sleep I dream. Boy, that boy was right.

    So back to the Bard. What Caliban, the anti-human, said about this subject is almosr unbearably gorgeous:

    Be not afeard; the isle is full of noises,
    Sounds and sweet airs, that give delight and hurt not.
    Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments
    Will hum about mine ears, and sometime voices
    That, if I then had waked after long sleep,
    Will make me sleep again: and then, in dreaming,
    The clouds methought would open and show riches
    Ready to drop upon me that, when I waked,
    I cried to dream again.

    Twangling? Go to bed with the radio playing. It will do you both good. The world’s a somewhat better place when people talk about Shakespeare in a glass snowball that Nancy Nall made up.

    I’m the only person I know that’s never had a nightmare. If things look grim, I am always aware of how they ‘turn out out for the better. Of course, I’m the protagonist, but frequemtly’ everything goes to shit and the outcome is bittersweet.

    Am I missing something? I have dreams in which circumstances are dire. Imminent end of mankind, et cetera. And I might save it, or it’s ineffably sad and I can’t save anything. And I don’t. And I wake up the next day.

    Now, I’m a fairly well-adjusted guy. But I have dreams exactly like this, and they progress from one sleeping moment to the next. This doesn’t bother me, at all. I enjoy dreaming with plots. Oh, and I can wake up and go back iimediately to the sane dream.

    So, you know, what Caliban said you Shakespeare mongers, Devonian and otherwise, , and the lunatic is in the grass.

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  28. michaelj said on May 24, 2007 at 12:53 am

    As is the case with pretty much anything that can happen to anybody, Ray Davies got the whole barfing on the costume thing down:

    Everybody’s a dreamer and everybody’s a star,
    And everybody’s in movies, it doesn’t matter who you are.
    There are stars in every city,
    In every house and on every street,
    And if you walk down Hollywood Boulevard
    Their names are written in concrete!

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  29. basset said on May 24, 2007 at 10:16 pm

    the Nashville Tennessean ran a hockey story above the fold on the front page this morning – some Canadian bought the Predators, they might leave town, pitiful quote from some weeping fan who says she blames local government and the media.

    story jumped to the back page of the first section, where it continued with two sub heds which read, I quote them verbatim here, “sub hed” and “sub hed,” and ended in midsentence.

    this is at the only daily in a city, or rather SMSA, of more than a million people.

    now, about Mrs. Claus… I used to work for a woman about that age who, whenever we’d see her sitting quietly and pouring sweat, would say she was having a “personal summer.”

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  30. Susan Braun said on May 25, 2007 at 1:35 pm

    Ahhh, the Yak! That brings back the memories. My class won a contest or somehow got the yak to visit us in ’96 (in Roanoke). My 2nd graders were so thrilled, and it was a highlight for them. I just found the clipping about that from the newspaper this afternoon.
    I still get the News Sentinel but am so saddened that it’s so thin lately … when I was teaching in the 90s there were always so many neat contests/features/you-name-it. Now, there’s just not much to it.
    I remember feeling so sad when I learned your column was over, Nancy, and then being really heartened to find you online.
    This is my first comment, but I do enjoy “visiting” with you each day.

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