There will (not) be cake.

I guess you should save these sorts of entries for birthdays that end in a zero, but in previous years I’ve let this day blow right past me, and if 2009 taught us anything, it’s that you never know when your number might be up. One minute you’re a painfully thin plastic-surgery addict who needs hospital-grade anesthesia just to grab 40 winks, the next you’re in long-term storage in your golden casket while your insane family fights over the DVD rights to your funeral service. You know? Never pass up a chance to party. And so…..

[Toots madly on party horn.] Happy Blogversary Day! Today we are nine.

I remember it as though it were yesterday: J.C. set me up with Adobe GoLive 5.0, and designed a simple template. I huffed and puffed and scanned and uploaded and sized and resized and cursed and scratched my head and sent out a bunch of e-mails inviting people to my “personal website.” There was a picture of 4-year-old Kate, one of Alan, one of Pilcher House (home of my college newspaper), a few more this and a dozen more that. My links page, what the kids today call a blogroll, was a big wad of narrative prose, explaining why I liked all my links. (That was what the internet was all about then — having the attention span to read 200 words at a stretch.) I believe I may have included the coffee pot at Cambridge University, but maybe not; that was very early-WWW, and I’d had broadband for two years by then.

I connected to the server, uploaded the whole thing, sat back and allowed myself to be proud of my personal website for about 15 minutes. And then it dawned on me: What am I going to do tomorrow?

Because that, as always, is the conundrum. You can have a corner of the internet to yourself, and you can invite all your friends to see it, but unless you’re a somebody, and even if you’re a somebody, it has to change once in a while, and if you’re a nobody like me, it better be changing a lot. And so I got up the next day, took down the first day’s main-page copy, and wrote something new. What to write about, now that I’d introduced myself? The events of the previous 24 hours, that’s what, and that’s how we got started.

At the time, I was a newspaper columnist writing four times a week in the paper. Justlikethat, I became a personal website operator writing five times a week for the internet. (I hadn’t yet heard of a weblog.)

Sometimes people ask me what I told my bosses. I told them I was setting up a website, and was that OK? As I recall, the only tentative objection was from the editor in chief, who wondered if I might end up in competition with them by “selling something.” Yes, ha ha ha ha. I think everyone in the office checked in the first day. I got 100 hits. And then everyone forgot about it, and NN.C became the naughty cousin of Nance-in-the-newspaper. I’m still amazed at what I got away with, just because people didn’t read it.

For instance, I told the story of the army men at Fort Wayne Newspapers: One day early in the decade, and sorry, but I’m not digging up old CD-ROMs to find out which one, an employee noted a solitary green army man, the toy kind you buy by the bag, placed high on a stairwell windowsill. It was aiming its gun at the staircase. Looking around, the employee found another. A search revealed they were all through the building, maybe a whole bag full, in unobtrusive places, atop vending machines and dusty shelves, apparently mobilizing for attack.

And that’s how Human Resources treated it, as an OMG OFFICE SHOOTING EARLY WARNING, and there were hushed conversations in offices and the strangest memo I’ve ever seen, that spoke of the army men without actually saying what they were, so that you’d read it and be somewhat alarmed but not informed, and, well, it was one of those days worthy of “Office Space.” I wrote all about in here, even quoted from the memo. It got linked by a couple other bloggers, ha ha, and no one said a word about it in my office because nobody read it.

NN.C was my shadow column. In the paper, one Nance, on the internet, dog Nance, because on the internet, nobody knows you’re a dog. Nobody knows you’re a nobody in Fort Wayne, Indiana, either, and that was the other revelation of the internet for me. (The first was that everybody can talk to everybody; I sent an e-mail to Warren Zevon and he wrote back, a stunning development.) The second was that for the first time in my life, I didn’t have to be limited by my newspaper’s lousy circulation. I’m bad; I’m nationwide.

You think this is nothing, but you don’t know that one reason I took the job in Fort Wayne was, I thought it might lead to bigger things. Knight-Ridder was then a respected newspaper chain, and I foolishly believed they treated their smaller papers as farm teams for the bigs in Philadelphia, Miami, Detroit, San Jose. They did, but not the way I thought they did, and anyway, by then I was part of a couple and had a mortgage and life was getting complicated. I despaired of ever getting out of the place, and in 2002 Bob Greene finally got his junk caught in his fly. I banged out a few hundred words, uploaded, went to bed and got up the next morning to look at e-mail. The first one was from a writer at the freakin’ New Yorker: “Great rant,” it began. Holy shit.

Over the next few days I gave an interview to Newsweek and one to a magazine in Japan, answered dozens of e-mails, got linked all over. I thought maybe I should give my bosses a heads-up that I was likely to be quoted in a national magazine. Oh, you wrote something about Bob Greene? Are you still doing that website thing? They still weren’t reading it.

Well. I don’t want to go on too long here. But I do want to note the day, because it was a turning point. I got my Knight-Wallace fellowship because of the blog. I got my first freelance contacts because of the blog. I met a dozen or more people that I correspond with today and visit when I can because of the blog. I haven’t enjoyed every day of this, not by a long shot. I’ve considered shutting it down for a few weeks or months, just to clear my head and maybe let something else fill in the time I spend here, but then I stop and consider that every good thing that’s happened in my career since January 14, 2001 was because of the blog. (A couple of the bad things, too, but not many.)

Someone once wrote me and said, “I read somewhere that there are people who like to write and people who need to write, and you must be one of the second kind.” I never thought of it that way, but I guess it’s true. This is, and remains, my daily download, my quasi-diary, my shadow life, my batting practice. In Pete Dexter’s final newspaper column, long after he’d become a successful novelist and screenwriter, he wrote that a Hollywood producer of large repute asked him why he still bothered to write a column for peanuts. “I don’t know,” he replied. “I just need it.” The rest of the column was his announcement that he no longer needed it, but I’m not there yet.

Happy Blogversary Day. Time to get to work.

Posted at 10:23 am in Housekeeping |

76 responses to “There will (not) be cake.”

  1. brian stouder said on January 14, 2010 at 10:55 am

    Happy Blogbirthday to you;
    Happy Blogbirthday to you;
    Happy Blogbir -irthday dear Proprietress,

    Happy Blogbirthday to you

    And WE get all the presents!

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  2. Sue said on January 14, 2010 at 10:56 am

    Happy Blogversary Day, indeed. I love this place, and all the people who hang around here. And I love, love, love the freedom you give your commenters. Thanks for that, always.

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  3. Carolyn said on January 14, 2010 at 10:57 am

    I’m thankful today that you need to write.
    You make me think.

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  4. Dave said on January 14, 2010 at 11:00 am

    I’ve said before how we landed in Fort Wayne in 86 and happened to subscribe to the N-S and there you were. But, I’ve no idea how I learned of your efforts here but it sure seems like I’ve been poking my nose in here since nearly the beginning. I couldn’t have learned of it from reading the N-S, that’s for sure.

    They REALLY weren’t conscious, as it were, to the fact that you were doing this for fun, fun being perhaps the wrong word? They were less ‘net-savvy than you’ve previously let on, weren’t they.

    Anyway, I enjoy keeping up with you and all the regular commenters, too.

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  5. coozledad said on January 14, 2010 at 11:06 am

    First blog in the morning, and the nightcap. I will always be your tow-headed stepblog.
    And Iggy told me he’d send you a card, but the whole inferiority complex he’s been nursing for the MC5 has got him afraid to walk out to the mailbox, at least without a shirt.

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  6. jcburns said on January 14, 2010 at 11:16 am

    …hey, no cake? Well, we can recycle this one. Happy many years of web writing.

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  7. Colleen said on January 14, 2010 at 11:18 am

    Always enjoyed your column, and was glad to find a blog. It’s a daily stop for me. Happy 9th!

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  8. MichaelG said on January 14, 2010 at 11:21 am

    Bob Greene was in 2002? I’ve been following nn.c that long? Man. Happy blogaversary! This is my firstthinginthemorning thing. Don’t know what I’d do without it. Thank you, Nance.

    The SacBee used to carry Dexter’s column. I liked him but he used to piss me off a lot. I remember his last column. Somewhere around ’95? It was kind of a “screw you” thing. Apropos the trial going on in SF, He once wrote a terrific column about gay marriage. I’d like to see it again.

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  9. Jeff Borden said on January 14, 2010 at 11:26 am

    Congratulations. Your blog has lasted longer than most Hollywood marriages. Continued success.

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  10. crinoidgirl said on January 14, 2010 at 11:31 am

    Congrats as well.

    God help me, I came here because you were mentioned in a Lil@ks rant (no need to have him coming here when he googles his own name). And I remember the Bob Greene bit. It HAS been a while! Keep up the good work(s). I come here for my daily hit of intelligent conversation.

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  11. joodyb said on January 14, 2010 at 11:34 am

    I’ve been here since the beginning, too, and it is what jc said: writing. and you do it every day, which is more than we can say for a lot of “writers.” if nn.c went away, my ilife would be very weird.
    Peter and Kenny raise their glasses and bowls to you: it’s their bdays today. sending you a slice of virtual pineapple upside-down cake.
    ps: did mark tell you he joined IFP? first class is next week.

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  12. Jolene said on January 14, 2010 at 11:41 am

    Congratulations, indeed. Nine years is a long time to keep up an (almost) daily discipline. And what a great community. It’s not just anywhere that you can hear phrases like “tow-headed stepblog”.

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  13. Peter said on January 14, 2010 at 11:50 am

    Happpy Blogbirrrrthday, Mr. Pressssident…..

    And how ’bout that Rush Limbaugh!! And I thought that brush with socialized medicine in Hawaii would have softened up him up to the plight of others.

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  14. del said on January 14, 2010 at 12:00 pm

    Thanks Nancy. Many a time your writing has energized me for the day. Continued success!

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  15. Jenflex said on January 14, 2010 at 12:12 pm

    Gawd, I’ve been here since Greene, as well. Thank you for being a blessing in my life…to all the whole gang, too.

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  16. Rana said on January 14, 2010 at 12:20 pm


    Nine years… wow. My (poor, sad, oft-neglected) blog will turn seven this spring, so I am in awe of the commitment.

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  17. 4dbirds said on January 14, 2010 at 12:26 pm

    You’re my first blog in the morning.

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  18. kayak woman said on January 14, 2010 at 12:31 pm


    I’ve had a website since, hmmm, lemme see, about 1997, I think — loverly black background with neon-colored text and un-optimized images in those days. It wasn’t until 2003 that I started writing mindlessly blathering on a daily basis.

    I am laughing out loud about the green army men. Hope you have many more good blogging years.

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  19. john c said on January 14, 2010 at 12:33 pm

    If you were merely my friend, I would look in on every now and then out of a sense of duty. But I look at it every day. When I am on vacation, and not looking at the internet every day, I always have a pleasant few moments of catching up once I’m back at my desk.
    I read some things because I know I should read them. But I do this less and less as I get older. I read this blog because I want to, every day. I know there will be something in it that I will want to think more about.
    Thanks. And congratulations! I think you should celebrate and take all the cash from the Kickback Lounge and find yourself a nice old center-hall colonial with a new kitchen and a great old knotty pine basement. I know where you can get it cheap!

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  20. derwood said on January 14, 2010 at 12:37 pm


    I also come here everyday. I may not interact much but as I stated in an earlier comment, I feel smarter having read the days post and comments. It truly is a pleasure.

    So, thank you.


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  21. mcegg said on January 14, 2010 at 12:43 pm

    Happy Ninth!

    To echo derwood (who sent me your way) and others, I come here every day. When I leave, I not only feel smarter but better informed. You and your loyal followers make me think–often about things that make me a bit uncomfortable (and I think that is a good thing!).

    Thank you!

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  22. nancy said on January 14, 2010 at 12:47 pm

    If anyone cares, I don’t recall if the Case of the Threatening Green Army Men was ever cracked, but Alan thinks maybe a culprit was found, a security guard or janitor or some such, and he was fired.

    Thread hijack: There was a story I read last night — and can’t find now — about why the damage in Haiti was so enormous. Due to deforestation, most buildings are concrete or block construction. And due to extreme poverty and the price of cement, it is routinely cut with large amounts of sand in the mixing. For the same reason, walls are constructed thinner than is the usual standard. A recipe for disaster, in other words. Slate has a pretty good explainer on construction standards, or lack thereof, if you’re interested.

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  23. Scout said on January 14, 2010 at 12:53 pm

    It’s interesting how many of us stop here first every day. I read a LOT of blogs, mostly political, but this one remains my favorite because of the excellent writing on a wide variety of topics, the smorgasboard of quirky links and for the intelligence and humor of the collective.

    Happy Blogiversary, Nance. And thank you. I mean that sincerely.

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  24. annie said on January 14, 2010 at 12:55 pm

    Who would have thought so many of us would be thankful for Bob Greene?

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  25. MarkH said on January 14, 2010 at 12:56 pm

    Nance, as time goes on, for the life of me, I can’t figure out why you are not more well-known. Especially when I realize that I have been coming here every day for eight years (!!). As you mention, the Greene column got you on a lot of peoples’ radar in the wider media, the Gogelein whip-out certainly brought you a bit if the spotlight, and I’ve seen the occasional op-ed in the WaPo. But the daily subject matter and the writing here are at such a consistently high a level, I would have expected you to be more sought out for contributions by the greater media. At least, specifically by NPR, for example.

    Anyway, just adding my congratulations. Like the others here, NN.C is a fixture of my day and I feel I am a part of a select group. Happy blogiversary and many more!

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  26. Bob (not Greene) said on January 14, 2010 at 1:15 pm


    This has been one of my first stops on the web each day and has been since you decided to give old Bob Greene his much-deserved digital wedgie. As a fellow newspaper guy (at probably the most un-corporate community newspaper chain in Chicago) I find your reflections on the biz insightful and funny. I’m glad I found you and your cast of characters in the peanut gallery. I also admire your perseverence and your uncanny ability to make each day’s entry fresh and enjoyable. Newspapers with entire staffs fail to do that. It’s what keeps me coming back for more. Who knows, maybe I’ll even participate once in a while. After all, seven years of lurking is a bit much.

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  27. Dexter said on January 14, 2010 at 1:17 pm

    Good Morning, Merry Sunshine
    ~ Bob Greene ( a horrible, phony book, BTW)
    Google got me here, as I knew N only through the New-Sentinel column. I guess it must have been 1992 when I responded to N’s column about being unable to watch the David Letterman ten-year anniversary show because of a televised IU basketball game, and I dropped off a tape of the show I had made from the Toledo NBC affiliate. I just left it with the receptionist on Main Street, and later I was thanked with a mailed note.
    Happy Blog Day to everyone.

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  28. paddyo' said on January 14, 2010 at 1:27 pm

    You remain at the top of my ever-growing list of “Favorites,” blog division. You’re the only one I read every day.

    I’ve never been to Fort Wayne and have only visited Detroit twice (in the ’80s, as a reporter for McPaper). Your window on these “foreign” lands, and on so many others, is splendid. I love your annual spring boat trip through the marinas, your let’s-make-a-movie-in-a-weekend adventures, your call-outs on cretins great and small, and your shout-outs to bearers of grace notes in a mostly graceless world.

    And speaking of grace notes, you introduced me to my second-favorite blog, Sweet Juniper. Gifts, both of you.

    So I also thank my younger sister — another ex-newspaper reporter — for telling me about nn.c several years ago (when neither of us was an ex-newspaper reporter, but that’s another story).

    The great big blogoversary bonus? You have drawn/assembled the best-read, funniest, most expressive and thought-provokingest band of readers-followers-commenters I’ve ever encountered in bloggoland. There’s a reason they’re here. You light the match (matchlessly, I might add). They burn.

    (OK, Pat, just shut up and continue to enjoy.)

    All right. I will. Happy anniversary . . .

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  29. alex said on January 14, 2010 at 1:41 pm

    What more could I possibly add to this heaping helping of praise? I’m always eager to read your work every day, Nance, and feel as if I cannot get enough.

    There are so many less worthy writers out there in high profile jobs; I hope your ship comes in one day soon, but when it does I hope you won’t give up your batting practice here.

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  30. Rana said on January 14, 2010 at 1:42 pm

    Oh! I knew those army men were triggering something in my brain… I doubt this is what they were there for, but your story reminded me of this anti-Iraq war protest that happened at one of the colleges I worked at – students took a bunch of little army men and placed them all around campus (the main concentration was at the entrance to the library) and each had a label giving the name of an actual soldier who had died in combat. It was some sort of consciousness-raising exercise, if I remember right.

    (Like many of those college-student efforts, it was intriguing to see, but I’m not convinced that it was all that good at turning what was basically an art project into actual political action.)

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  31. Deborah said on January 14, 2010 at 1:56 pm

    Congratulations! I found out about this blog about 5 or 6 years ago. Actually I found out about blogs in general about that time. The ones I started reading then I only occasionally visit now, but this one I come back to daily, multiple times a day to keep up with the comments. Great stuff here. I’d pay for a subscription.

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  32. Dorothy (green is my favorirte color, but not Greene) said on January 14, 2010 at 1:59 pm

    I’m ever so thankful I found you about seven years ago. I love reading what you write, and I respect you and all of the commenters here. If I may speak for the others as well as myself, we are grateful that you share yourself with us and teach us things and make us all feel smarter for the experience. Happy 9th!!

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  33. Deborah said on January 14, 2010 at 2:06 pm

    I just spent a few minutes Googling trying to find Nancy’s post about Bob Greene. I can’t seem to find it. Can someone tell me how I can access it if it is indeed accessible?

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    • nancy said on January 14, 2010 at 2:11 pm

      It’s probably gone from the ‘net, as it happened before we upgraded to WordPress, and I’m not sure where the archive lives online. But I know I could find it on my CD backups, and if you give me a few days, I’ll try.

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  34. Dave K. said on January 14, 2010 at 2:20 pm

    Nancy, I remember reading your column in the News-Sentinel. I always wished you would write every day.
    (After you left, I let my subscription expire). Nn.c is so much better, as I can enjoy your writing each day, along with the best commenters anywhere. Congratulations. I hope you keep enjoying this endeavor for a good long time.

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  35. jcburns said on January 14, 2010 at 2:27 pm

    This appears to be the first one we have on convenient backups that I have Nance…April 6, 2003.
    Oh, but wait. the Wayback Machine will take you to the primordial ooze that was Nancy’s first foray onto the web. Take for example this. Still looking for the Bob Greene one, but hey, it’s fun, browse for yourself.

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  36. moe99 said on January 14, 2010 at 2:37 pm

    Happy Blogversary to Nance and a big thank you to her and the supporting cast of characters. Feels like home.

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  37. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on January 14, 2010 at 2:57 pm

    Jeff B & Annie got off the best comments so far, but my very heartfelt thanks for your daily choice to invite us over for coffee and conversation. Even when we have to run off, most of us wish we could stay longer.

    I’ve appreciated your candor, humor, and incredibly annoying capability to write well even when pressed, harried, and out of sorts. Shine on!

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  38. Sue said on January 14, 2010 at 3:24 pm

    A few commenters have wondered why Nancy isn’t more well-known. Unless Nancy can make actual money with a larger readership, I prefer where we are right now. The closest blog I’ve seen to this one is Balloon Juice. Smart writing and a similar-minded readership/comment group, just more of them. Here’s the problem. As of right now, over at Balloon Juice the most recent six topics have the following comment numbers: 132, 89, 38, 18, 254, and 271. All topics were posted today. That’s not a comment section, that’s an auditorium.

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  39. Michael said on January 14, 2010 at 3:28 pm

    I’m late to the party – only reading for about two years. My requirements from journalists are modest; either tell me something I don’t know or make me think differently about something I already know. You rarely disappoint. It’s also been fun, on a couple of occasions, to read about myself.

    Happy anniversary!

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  40. Bruce Fields said on January 14, 2010 at 3:35 pm

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  41. MichaelG said on January 14, 2010 at 3:36 pm

    The widespread structural failure found in Haiti is sad but very predictable. You see lousy building in every third world country. Concrete is a perfect example. With no building codes or inspection to speak of, with uncaring contractors and developers you’re guaranteed to get a substandard building. Thus lots of cheap sand vs expensive Portland Cement in the mix. Clean, properly sized aggregate? Catch as catch can. Rebar? That looks about right. I was in Puerto Vallarta one time watching construction of some oceanfront condos. They were using sand right off the beach for their concrete. I don’t know what their mix design was bit the rebar was clearly rusty and substandard in size and installation. Ocean beach sand has lots of salt in it and that salt will leach out of the concrete as time goes on weakening it and dissolving the rebar. At least the builders in Haiti don’t have to put up with any of that awful govt interference or have any of those stupid codes to worry about.

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  42. ROgirl said on January 14, 2010 at 3:39 pm

    Your takedowns of Mitch Albom were what drew me in. I thought I was the only person who couldn’t stand his sentimental, simplistic and empty slop, wondered why he was still in the paper and if anyone still took his columns seriously, and I was so happy to find someone who articulated the feelings so well.

    Since I don’t go back to the Bob Greene era, I would also like to read the story.

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  43. Dexter said on January 14, 2010 at 3:49 pm

    This is from Ben Yagoda’s web page . Ben writes later in this truncated entry that he knows nance:
    “Nancy Nall writes a column for the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel and also a five-times-a-week posting to her website, http://www.nancy In 2002, columnist Bob Greene was forced to resign after news came out about a sexual indiscretion. Nall wrote a blistering post for the site that named the:

    three things everyone [in the newspaper business] tells you about Bob Greene. Number one: he’s a hack. Number two: he’s a horndog … Did I say three things? I was wrong. The third thing you learn with your own eyes: This man wears the second-most preposterous toupee in the history of hairpieces, bowing only to Jim Traficant’s [a Democratic Congressman from Ohio convicted of bribery and racketeering in 2002]. They all tie together, in my mind. The horndog requires the hairpiece, which is sort of a metaphor for [Greene’s] hack-ness, his false, treacly, icky prose that only fools the willfully blind.

    This would never have found a home in a mainstream printed medium. It hit a guy when he was down and seemed to take some glee in the blow; it had rantlike qualities; it was … unseemly. Yet at the same time, it was good. The emotion, the conviction, the verve, and, yes, the word horndog all are not found enough in print. After Jim Romenesko included a link to the post on his very widely read media news website, Nall received a flattering e-mail from a Chicago Tribune editor who asked to see some of her columns. A few days later the editor e-mailed her: “I’m disappointed. There’s nothing here that matches the tone or voice of your Web page.” Nall had to acknowledge, as she wrote in an essay some months later, that the editor was right: “In print, I’m more likely to pull punches, equivocate, wring hands. But on the Web, I use stronger language. I run rings around the big ship in my inflatable rubber Zodiac boat.”

    In an e-mail to me, she observed:

    The more I think about it, the more I’m convinced that the voice of the web is a matter of audience. The attitude on the web is, “Don’t like my page? Go start your own.” Because anyone can do it, because the technology is now so advanced that you really don’t need any more skills than those involved in web-surfing, it’s that easy. That sort of anarchic screw-you frees writers.
    …and here is some copied text from the Luke Ford web page. He does not use quotation marks so I hope the last paragraph contains nance’s words…if not, sorry:

    What’s the Story With Bob Greene’s Firing?

    Nancy Nall writes:
    [T]here are three things everyone tells you about Bob Greene. Number one: He’s a hack. Number two: He’s a horndog. I don’t think I’m even into the penumbra of libel saying that, because I am telling you, everybody in Chicago journalism has a story about Bob chatting up a sweet young thing with a gleam in his eye, and there was that incident with trying to pick up my friend who worked at Esquire, while he was on tour promoting his “Good Morning, Merry Sunshine” book, about what a great dad he is.

    Did I say three things? I was wrong. The third thing you learn with your own eyes: This man wears the second-most preposterous toupee in the history of hairpieces, bowing only to Jim Traficant’s. They all tie together, in my mind. The horndog requires the hairpiece, which is sort of a metaphor for his hack-ness, his false, treacly, icky prose that only fools the willfully blind.

    It started with the Baby Richard case, one of those awful adoptive/bio parent tug-of-wars we witnessed some years back. I wanted someone to suggest that maybe, just maybe, the adoptive parents? Who knew they had a contested adoption on their hands within a couple weeks after taking Baby Richard home? And knew the law wasn’t on their side, but chose to drag the case out for years, appealing and appealing in the hopes of finding a judge who would rewrite the law? I wanted someone to wonder whether those people, who only gave up the kid after calling all the media to witness the transfer of this poor child, might bear, oh, a teensy bit of blame for how terrible it all turned out. (end of text)

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  44. MarkH said on January 14, 2010 at 3:50 pm

    Thanks, Bruce.

    While looking for the Greene article myself, I found this interesting bit:

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  45. Rana said on January 14, 2010 at 3:55 pm

    Sue, I know just what you mean. A couple of my blogging friends saw their sites become incredibly popular (Stephanie McPhee of Yarn Harlot, most notably) and now the old conversations are simply impossible to have. You get what I call “posse- ing” (as in, the posse will get you if you say anything negative about the blogger) and lots of fluff, and nobody really talks to the other commenters, or even, really, the blogger herself.

    (A useful counter example is what’s happened at Shakesville, where the community and blog have both grown tremendously, but it still feels like a conversation in the comments. I think having moderators who aggressively promote that sort of culture is key – I see some of this in Ebert’s comments threads, as the presence of the blogger himself in the conversation cuts out a lot of the crap drive-by comments.)

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  46. nancy said on January 14, 2010 at 4:01 pm

    Comments — their communities, their chemistry, why they work or don’t work — is one of the most interesting things about blogging, to me. It’s everything Rana mentioned, plus a certain critical mass of…something. I’m not sure why our comments work so well, but for me, it’s increasingly why I do this. For the loop.

    BTW, where is Danny these days? He’ll drop out for spells when he gets busy at work, but it seems like it’s been months since we’ve heard from him.

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  47. Kim said on January 14, 2010 at 4:02 pm

    Been reading since Bob G., too, and when I don’t have time to read you daily I always – eventually, but always no lie – end up taking the hours to catch up on posts and commentary. It is uncommonly good, all of it. So congratulations to you, Nancy, and the intimate auditorium-dwellers.

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  48. Connie said on January 14, 2010 at 4:09 pm

    Congratulations Nancy, it’s hard to believe I have been here that long. Bob Greene brought me here, but it was you and all the great commentors that have kept me here.

    I have my own unexpected seriously health problem all of sudden as well. I just spent four days in bed with fever etc., flu, but not H1N1, when my lower left leg swelled up, turned purple, and began to hurt and burn. Really hurt and burn. So I have been diagnosed with severe cellulitus, and if the magic antibiotic I took this morning has no effect with 24 hours I will spend a day or two in the hospital receiving liquid antibiotic by IV. If untreated this underskin bacterial infection can proceed to necrotizing fasciitis.

    So I went to wikipedia to read about it, and I wish mine looked like those pictures. Those are just little blobs. Mine is most of my left leg below the knee. So part of the process is to outline all color with a sharpie marker to that you can track it’s growth or decline. It is so cute, my leg is all red and purple with black op art swirls. Cuteness doesn’t help the pain.

    In other news, aren’t there a couple of Butler U alumni out there? If you got their alumni magazine this week, please note that the lovely girl on the left side of the cover is my kid.

    Very bad scan:

    I am sending vibes to all who are suffering, moe99, whitebeard, jolene, and everyone in Haiti. My good friend’s husband went on a medical mission trip several years ago to Haiti and managed to stick himself with a dirty needle. It took over a year of monitoring to declare him clean. His wife had a chat with him about his three small children, so his current mission trips are closer to home.

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  49. Connie said on January 14, 2010 at 4:14 pm

    My husband has just discovered that because we are coming from the same IP number the blog will allow him to see my comment including the edit line. “edit this comment (30 minutes left)” I won’t tell you what he threatened to add to my post, just know that he is a dirty old man.

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  50. Jean S said on January 14, 2010 at 4:34 pm

    Old Horndog brought me here as well (really? it was that long ago? jeez) and the abundance of personalities keeps bringing me back. Also, the recipes.

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  51. Catherine said on January 14, 2010 at 4:34 pm

    Happy Blogoversary, and here’s a big virtual bouquet of poppies and/or birds of paradise (I’m a little unclear on the correct 9th anniversary flower).

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  52. Connie said on January 14, 2010 at 4:37 pm

    Yes, the recipes. I claim credit for smashed potatoes, stolen from Pioneer Woman Cooks. Now that is a blog with bad comments. When she posts a new recipe she gets hundreds of comments that say, “sounds good, I’ll have to try it.” That’s not a conversation.

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  53. Jeff Borden said on January 14, 2010 at 4:42 pm

    In honor of Nancy’s anniversary, I’ve donated $100 to Doctors Without Borders. I asked that my donation be a memorial to Rush Limbaugh, who yesterday took the last tiny shred of humanity still clinging to his obese belly and threw it down the deep, dark mineshaft where Pat Robertson stores his.

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  54. Laura Lippman said on January 14, 2010 at 5:40 pm

    Happy anniversary from yet another person who found you because of Bob Greene. So, I guess I owe him something in a weird way. No, I’m not willing to go that far.

    (BTW, in this memory-plagued household, origins are often lost, but I’m pretty sure I started reading Ashley Morris because of this blog and even the SO admits that I sent him a link to Ashley’s blog, saying, “Hey, if you ever get to do that New Orleans show, this might be instructive to read.” So I think you get to take credit for that, too.)

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  55. Connie said on January 14, 2010 at 6:24 pm

    I found Joan Walsh’s article on Salon about the Game Change book very interesting. She notes it is mostly a compendium of gossip and rumors, sources are not cited, and quote marks are not used. I believe she changed the entire subject of the Ed Show the other day by bringing this up.

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  56. moe99 said on January 14, 2010 at 6:57 pm

    Connie, cellulitis is very serious stuff. Here’s hoping that the antibiotics do their magic rapidly and you can rejoin the other side of the ledger.

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  57. Rana said on January 14, 2010 at 7:03 pm

    Sending good thoughts your way, Connie – and to the others here who need or would like them.

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  58. Deborah said on January 14, 2010 at 7:31 pm

    I’m a bit tipsy after 2 martinis, our office had their [post] holiday office party tonight after 5 pm, no spouses, no fancy setting, just in the office, which is fine by me (because of the economy). If you’ve ever seen the holiday party scene of the Katherine Hepburn movie “Desk Set” that’s always been my ideal for a holiday office party. Anyway, I just want to reiterate slurrily how much I enjoy this site and all the folks who comment here. I love you guys.

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  59. Dorothy said on January 14, 2010 at 7:39 pm

    Oh Connie I’m sorry to hear of your suffering. My older sister has had quite a few bouts of cellulitis and I know a little bit about it. Hope you are healing.

    Y’all I had a really cool thought this evening. Is it too soon to start thinking of us having a meet-up to celebrate Nancy’s 10th anniversary next year? Would that not be extremely wild?! I think it would be a very worthwhile pursuit. Start your engines….!

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  60. LAMary said on January 14, 2010 at 7:44 pm

    I always give money to Doctors Without Borders and Oxfam, but the non profit I work for has been in Haiti for years and they have set up a Haiti relief fund. We have permanent people there and rotate volunteer doctors and nurses as well as ship medical supplies.
    online.aspx .

    We have also received word that our workers there are safe.

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  61. Judith said on January 14, 2010 at 7:49 pm

    Read this blog every day and always find thought-provoking comments! Thanks and onward to 10!!

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  62. Jolene said on January 14, 2010 at 7:50 pm

    Connie: I’m sorry to hear about the cellulitis. Do they think this somehow came from the flu, or did it arise spontaneously? Hope the antibiotics do their work w/o the unpleasant side effects I’ve been having as a result of the Cipro and Clindamycin I’m taking.

    Cute daughter, indeed. Must be very satisfying to see your kid all grown up, looking good, and doing good things for others.

    Re Joan Walsh: I agree that she’s been a voice of reason w/ regard to the Halperin/Heileman book. Will check out the Salon piece. She was very impressive on The Ed Show.

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  63. whitebeard said on January 14, 2010 at 7:54 pm

    Happy Blogaversary, my daily treat
    I had to Google the bob greene scandal, choice words about “the rug” on the horndog

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  64. Jolene said on January 14, 2010 at 7:54 pm

    ” . . . the non profit I work for has been in Haiti for years . . .”

    Amazing how many organizations do seem to have a more or less permanent presence there. All the biggies: World Vision, Catholic Relief Services, Salvation Army, Oxfam, Doctors Without Borders, Mercy Corps, CARE, and many more.

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  65. basset said on January 14, 2010 at 8:46 pm

    Forget exactly how I got here but I suspect it was through Romenesko during the Bob Greene situation.

    Still haven’t been to the Fort, except to pass through on the interstate.

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  66. Connie said on January 14, 2010 at 9:39 pm

    Nope no flu connection, just a bad coincidence. Cellulitis is caused by a bacterial infection that can enter your body through a tiny hole, prick, bug bite whatever. As a diabetic I am in the number 1 susceptible category for this. I get these strange cracks in my toe calluses which my doctor zoned right in on. And lectured me about not having been to a podiatrist in almost a year. I am taking care and following directions in the hopes of no hospital.

    And Jolene thanks for the compliment on the kid. Sometime in the last year she really finally turned into an adult.

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  67. mark said on January 14, 2010 at 10:08 pm

    Congratulations and thanks for putting out the daily buffet.

    I really fear that the situation in Haiti is about to become much worse. The absence of even water could turn things into a Mad Max scene. With 48 hours of hindsight, I’m thinking we should have air dropped 20,000 Rangers loaded to the gills with water, MREs and ammo. I hope I’m wrong.

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  68. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on January 14, 2010 at 10:27 pm

    USMC is in control of the airport, and the 82nd Airborne is out around the capital laying out logistics for dawn — i suspect you will hear worse before you hear better, because open roadways will get cameras out to tragedies that have been invisible or aerial up to now, but tomorrow morning aid wil actually start flowing. And the USS Vinson arrives tomorrow with amphibious units out of Beaufort to set up a working port offshore, USNS Comfort the next day.

    The water situation will be job one, tragically.

    Anyhow — i think regular blogging is quite similar to column writing or preaching sermons . . . a little OCD comes in quite handy. Huzzahs to LAMary’s team, and as for Brother JeffB’s example, i’ve echoed his idea with $100 to Partners for Health in NN.C’s name. In honor of the increased connectedness and community blogs like this provide in a fractured and shaken world!

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  69. Jolene said on January 14, 2010 at 11:04 pm

    Keith Olbermann was giving some chilling details about signs of disorder. There wasn’t much that was confirmed, but it’s clear that things are very bad.

    Historical fun fact: George Washington is believed to have died of epiglottitis. Learned this from one of my sisters who’d googled for info about it when I was knocked out last week. There’s <a href="an account of his final illness that certainly sounds like what I experienced. Fortunately, my doctors didn’t try to bleed me or try to apply “cataplasms of wheat bran to [my] legs and feet.”

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  70. Jolene said on January 14, 2010 at 11:16 pm

    Keith Olbermann was giving some chilling details about signs of disorder. There wasn’t much that was confirmed, but it’s clear that things are very bad.

    Historical fun fact: George Washington is believed to have died of epiglottitis. Learned this from one of my sisters who’d googled for info about it when I was knocked out last week. There’s <a href="an account of his final illness that certainly sounds like what I experienced. Fortunately, my doctors didn’t try to bleed me or try to apply “cataplasms of wheat bran to [my] legs and feet.”

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  71. Dexter said on January 14, 2010 at 11:45 pm

    Everything changes, especially in Detroit, but people gotsta have a donut every now and then.

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  72. Jolene said on January 15, 2010 at 12:44 am

    Historical fun fact: George Washington is believed to have died of epiglottitis. Learned this from one of my sisters who’d googled for info about it when I was knocked out last week. There’s <a href="an account of his final illness that certainly sounds like what I experienced. Fortunately, my doctors didn’t try to bleed me or try to apply “cataplasms of wheat bran to [my] legs and feet.”

    Re disorder: Keith Olbermann reported some scary details, but it didn’t seem like there was much confirmation. If people begin to get some food and water tomorrow, perhaps violence can be avoided. I know that, in addition to high poverty rates and high infectious disease rates, there are high crime rates in Haiti, but there are also important ways in which it’s a conservative society–big influence of the church and all.

    Years ago, I spent a summer in the home of some people who had a Haitian nanny, and she talked about Haiti being a better place in somewhat the same way as the Cameroonian woman I mentioned the other day–more neighborhood friendliness, more respectful children. (Of course, I did notice that she was in NJ saying this.)

    Also, Haitians who have settled in the U.S. have apparently done pretty well economically. Bill Clinton said on the PBS NewsHour this evening that, in the U.S., only 1% of African Americans are of Haitian origin, but 11% of African American doctors are of Haitian origin. Chuck Todd said something on TV today about the “Little Haiti” neighborhood in Miami having become a pretty strong community.

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  73. David in Chicago said on January 16, 2010 at 3:35 pm

    This blog is a daily stop for me, too, though I very rarely comment. I think I found my way here around the time Nancy unmasked the serial plagiarizer (I forget who linked you. It might have been from over at alicublog, my other daily stop.) What really hooked me, though, was the discussion about Sarah Palin right after she was named as Veep candidate – the sophisticated points of view from both sides of the aisle was bracing, as was the respect and affection from both sides.

    I’m smitten with you all, but especially our delightful hostess. I look forward to many more laughs and insights. (and maybe I’ll feel more confident and comment more… )

    Cheers! Happy blogiversary!

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  74. brian stouder said on January 16, 2010 at 7:55 pm

    Our hostess really does have the mostest, doesn’t she?

    I also always look forward to reading Nance’s latest edition, and what her peeps will have to say;,and it will be pleasant to hear more from you, David/Chi-town

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  75. Jill said on January 18, 2010 at 7:57 pm

    Searching my gmail, the earliest reference to you I could find was on Dec. 29, 2005. I sent your link to my brother-in-law under the subject line “Some blogs I read.” I described your site as “a journalist who’s just better at writing about nothing than anyone I’ve come across. She may not be your cup of tea, but I had to include her.” I think he was thinking of starting his own blog, and wanted some good examples.

    I probably started reading you at least a year before that, maybe even two years earlier, and no one has stayed on my blogroll as long since. Congrats, Nancy. I never comment, but I always enjoy.

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