Sunday, October 25, 2009

I Think I'm Going to Hurl

The Victoria Advocate received two top honors and two others in the Southern Newspaper Publishers Association annual contest.

The Advocate was the only newspaper of its size to win two first places in the contest, earning recognition for best use of multimedia and best local story.

The judges praised the newspaper's multimedia work on its "Fatal Funnel" series, describing it as "an unending, unfolding, emotion-charged international story."

I think that Cobler should have sandpaper glued to his palm. That might at least make him slow down and consider the pain and chafing before he publishes this crap........
It does NOT sell papers.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Newspapers - The Struggle To Survive.......

Despite all of the ragging I have done on my hometown newspaper, the Advocate of late, and despite how I intend to keep voicing my displeasure with the direction it going under present management, until I see a positive change in the quality of their product.......I do not envy the owners' task of trying to make it both a more credible, reputable publication, or to keep the ledger printed in black ink each month. Despite the recent layoffs in the newsroom at the New York Times, and the constant number of newspaper closings and bankruptcy filings by other old dailies, I still am not hearing death throes from newspapers in general. What I am seeing and hearing though, is that the time for them to stop the bleeding and streamline their operations to a point that remains both profitable AND credible, is running out.

Print news is still a bargain, but signs are there that they are circling the wagons. While the papers in newsracks are still sold on the honor system, that is trusting that you'll deposit the correct change and take out only what you paid for, look at the shrinking size of the daily paper. I mean, you could walk into the corner Valero, and pull out five Advocates and fold them under your arm, hand Mustafa 50 cents, and he'd be none the wiser. Apparently, newspapers are starting to tighten their belts - up here at least. Wasn't long ago that you could drop in at 4am and there would be a pile of yesterday's papers waiting to be sold or recycled. I rolled in tonight from Austin at 7:00, and immediately stopped at the corner Shell for a mas. Same thing happened twice more, before I was content just to go home and read it online, and browse thru my Austin Statesman from this morning, and my Marble Falls weekly Highlander.

As much as I wish I could come up with a solution for printed news, I guess I'll just be content to sit back and hope they figure out an answer. I do find it ironic, that with Google being my source for neighborhood pizza joint phone numbers, that on my way out of my apartment to the truck, and on the front stoop of each establishment I went to looking for a newspaper, I found myself tripping over those damned yellow bags of six inch thick Yellow Pages with..........a gazillion PRINTED phone numbers. Looks like the frickin' phone company is even slower to get the message than the Daily Planet, eh Lois and Clark? I haven't had a land line for two years, and I have had enough phone books delivered to my door to burn and keep warm for both winters........go figure.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Huh? Are We Saving Space Now - Or Pending Further Research

I swear, this is the whole story as viewed online this morning. Call me jaded, but I am accustomed to just a wee bit more of a work-up on a story like this.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Victoria Advocate - My Perspective After The "Town Hall"

Dummy, You're Supposed To Put The Potato In The Front! was the original title I chose for this one.......duh......
Don't ask......just call it an attention getter title. This is really likely going to be a long rambling dissertation of my opinion of The Victoria Advocate's state of ship. Fair warning for those who are looking for a risque' post or a dirty joke.

I suppose I should start by saying that I am quite thrilled with our little(but growing)renegade bunch over here on Blogger. As much as I miss the original blogs, and disapproved of the new anyone can blog format, I am proud and honored to be part of a group like Edith Ann, The Grey-Beard Loon, Sugar Magnolia, and The Truth Ferret. I now have met them all, and having put faces and names with their words, has convinced me that they are all accomplished writers and dedicated to putting out entertaining and informative work that an honest measure of thought and EDITING has gone into, before it gets published. What a concept.
If not for having read The Advocate print edition, back when is was a respectable and well laid out and edited (carefully, and for correctness edited)feature articles and daily online blogs by The Grey-Beard Loon, I likely would still be walking around with a pocket full of ideas and "notes to self" on scraps of paper, cocktail napkins, and such, having yet to figure out what to do do with it stands, before the Advocate pulled the plug on my blog, I was nearing six hundred or so stories/blogs of my own under my belt, with a lot of nice comments, and attaboys, and a few dissenting or outright in my face disagreeing comments. What finally got to me, was the new "editor's" tinkering with the blogs and forums to the point that it opened them to any bozo that could write down and remember a password, whether they could spell, make a sentence, or for that matter were required to at the very least, submit something that indicated a minor degree of literacy on their part. Yup, I think he just said "Myspace!, now there's a good model, let's go with that". If you are a reader of any length of time, you fall into one of two categories: either you are proud of your "wall" and your ability to write essentially unnoticed(unless you dare to disagree with Advocate policy), whatever comes to mind, no matter how illiterate or grade schoolish or angry in tone it is, or you are one of us scratching your head, and wondering WTF? How did it get to this point.........?

I went along with the changes, even after my pal the "loon" was squeezed out, both of his feature article writer job with the print edition, and then unceremoniously, had his blog pulled(in the days before Herr Cobler instituted his banishment ritual). I pissed and moaned, likely setting in motion, the events that finally got me banned from participating in the Advocate "experience". So for those of you who attended last night's "town hall" or caught the print story of it, please, when you read the part where Mr. Cobler says "we welcome your online participation"........take those words with a grain of salt. The truth is, he welcomes bullshit accolades from various "associations of fellow dying print news folk", and anything remotely resembling praise from "readers". If however, you see fit to criticize his "editing" or anything or anyone of the kids that he micromanages as "editor", and if you do it long enough, your unpaid writing career with the Vicad will be sent to "sleep with the fishes".

I know good people who work for the Advocate, who are happy to have the job they do. To the credit of those whose function and output falls under the scrutiny of myself and others here who have issues with your work, please listen to us, and at least consider what we are saying or suggesting. Know that if we take exception with your product, that there is a guy there who should as editor, be pointing out your errors, and encouraging you to do better, rather than just saying "we are human - we make mistakes" and giving lip service to the public, and blowing smoke in the eyes of the owners, rather than doing what an editor is supposed to and crack his whip and demand accuracy. Mr. Cobler needs a "The buck stops here" plaque on his wall, and he needs to take it to heart.

The Advocate on a daily basis(both print and online), is rife with misspellings, errors, sensationalist headlines, and half baked stories, written by folks who never left their chair on Constitution St., but rather depended on word of mouth phone calls, e-mails, and Twitter accounts of what actually happened. Can I prove this? NO, but if you don't believe it, just follow a few online versions of various "news" stories, and watch as they are updated and corrected repeatedly until they are somewhat accurate, then die or are replaced by the next story. It all boils down to final editing, and accountability for the product that hits the streets. From where I sit, it does not look like a good product, or at least anywhere near for the last three years, like the paper I have read since 1959.

Am I going to quit reading it? What do you think? Of course not. It is my hometown paper, and the one that lands in many of my dear friend's and family's driveway daily. I was fortunate enough to have some of my thoughts and words published there for a time. But being banned from participating is not going to stop me from using The Advocate as my source for hometown news.

All of that said, I will say that being banned by the Advocate, was something I asked for and fully expected. I took exception to the angry, illiterate hateful rants of a particular blogger commenter, that I personally feel was responsible for wrecking the integrity and atmosphere of the blogs and online forums. Before he showed up with his gibberish and hideous butchering of the English language, my posts and comments were by and large, pretty benign and boring and corny. I took exception to this angry person's bullshit and when he pissed in the pool, I was content to go into a kamikaze dive at him and do my best to help get him off the site, knowing well and good that it would cost me my place in line. So be it - he's gone. From what I see of late, it is still a free for all, albeit a much lighter hearted and civil one.

As far as the product that comes out of the Advocate daily, I along with many others, will just have to be content to try to make our voices heard, and hope for the best I guess.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Where The News Stops and "Reality" Starts...I Smell Oprah...

Second news story today I have seen that blurs the line between what is real, and what is "reality". Seems the little kid that was "missing" after he supposedly was whisked away in his daddy's hot air balloon, that the whole world and internet followed on CNN, Twitter, ABCBSNBCFOX.......etc, as choppers were scrambled, and the stories of how he stowed away in first, the balloon, then in a revised story by his brother, in a box attached to the balloon, all the while the kid was hiding in the family's attic.
Now on the surface, this all looked like a newsworthy story didn't it?
.......But Wait! This same family was recently one of the two featured families in the low rent network farce "Wife Swap"........... Some people apparently just aren't content with a single "fifteen minutes of fame", so to speak. Does anyone else doubt that these camera hog hams will be front and center on GMA, and the other morning shows tomorrow?

Maybe that smell wasn't Oprah after all......could have just as easily been Wolf Blitzer, or Larry King...........

On the other hand, as I sit here unemployed and going through my savings and retirement, I suddenly realize, that I am only one goofy ass story away from being front page news, and all the networks beating my door down, and offering me cash for crap. Whaddya think......dirty laundry? a UFO story? maybe a story about how George W. and I shot pool and smoked weed and did tequila shooters way back when in Midland.

Yer Doin' a Heckuva Job Me

Did I miss something? Is there an interim unscheduled election coming up? What the hell is Obama doing in New Orleans, yanking off the populace there? Uh, I faintly recall a hurricane there back in what was it, 2005? Let's face it. A dirty city that needed a good flushing, got just that. Get over it, and put away your tin cups, and get on with your lives. I challenge you to go to the Rita ravaged Golden Triangle today and see how many Texans are standing around with their hands out. Or better yet, come to Galveston next summer, and enjoy the surf, or the fishing, or the dining or a show at the opera House, but don't look for Fema folks doling out cash still.

I went through Audrey, Carla, Beulah, Celia, Alicia, Allison, and Ike, to name just a few. Funny, back in those days, I never heard the word FEMA. I saw lots of churches and Boy Scout Troops, and a lot more of neighbors helping each other, and pulling themselves up by their bootstraps and getting on with life, despite all of God's little speed bumps. What I did not see, was any Texans crying for Federal handouts, wasting said handouts on flat screen TVs instead of an repaired home, nor did I see a bunch of scam artists, (including guv'mint payrolled officials) trying to make a quick buck from the money the rest of us paid in taxes that ended up in the hands of those crooks.

I hear where Obama is due in College Station tomorrow. Something tells me that unless he has sold tickets to a pre-determined, select group there, he may get a bit of a different reception among the corpsmen, and salt of the earth ranchers and farmers, than he got in the Wards of NOLA.

Your WHAT Exploded? Oh, Your Water Balloons.....

Okay, this is where I get to do my George Carlin skit.....Tits, ta-tas, jugs, boobs, funbags, knockers......and my personal favorite name, which I bestowed on my ex's puppies, "lefty and big boy"....... Now how often do I get to lead into a story with such descriptive language?

Now that I have sent the children asking mom what I'm talking about, and causing said moms to blush and try to compose themselves, I'll attempt to grab a gut full of stick and pull back hard and see if I can climb out of this dive. I will apologize and explain up front, that I just used the words for an attention getter, and that I am not a breast man.....despite the fact that in the late seventies and early eighties, I was the first one to turn down the A/C or pray for a good norther. How times(and styles) change....That said, this may be as a shock to many of you, but this is not a sexual story, but rather a medical one. One thing is for certain, had this blog appeared in the Advocate, it would already be on the cutting room floor, don't you think?

Okay, time to get down to business......if that is even possible after the lead in paragraph.

There is a story on the news channels today that I caught a bit of early, regarding a woman who upon diving(a belly/boob flopper actually, I later discovered), complained of severe pain and once transported to the hospital, discovered that her breast implants had ruptured upon impact with the surface of the water after leaping from a cliff. Now I don't know about you, but to me, this gal was apparently the victim of a dad who never allowed her to play with water balloons, and also apparently managed to be absent on some critical days in both her middle school physical science and high school physics classes. Duh. Let's face it, while there are undoubtedly some reasons after say a radical mastectomy, that a woman would choose to undergo reconstructive surgery including implants, this one was simply a case of vanity and stupidity combined. I learned in a follow-up report, that the gal was appearing in one of those skin or skin tight reality obstacle course shows when this incident took place. This story, pretty much reflects in my opinion, the inflated and superficial society that we have come to accept as normal of late.

I for one, will be the first to admit that my head can be turned by the sight of a healthy and attractive woman, be she eighteen or seventy eight. Just ask either of my first two wives...... But I will say that despite the accepted fact that men don't make eye contact with women because "breasts don't have eyes".....and that whether you are one who is attracted to massive Morganna mammaries, or one who is of the of the old school thinking that anything more than a mouth full is a waste, society in general puts way too much emphasis on aesthetics and on the perfect female(or male) body being of a certain shape and size. In the long run, what it does is contribute to some serious self esteem issues with a lot of beautiful girls and women and create a false industry of consumers who pay billions of dollars for promises of a skinnier waist, bigger boobs, or a longer thicker pecker, when in fact, what God gave all of us, is quite sufficient, and actually just what someone out there would be happy to see on their partner.........

It ain't about how much you paid for the tools......It's about how much you have learned about how to get the most out of them.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Calendars Have Their Place......I Guess

sorry - I don't post many of these of late, and while I rag on my girl for her amazing organizational skills, in particular, her obsessive (by my bayrat - use the sunrise and sunset method) attention to her calendar, this came in an e-mail from an old Advocate reader and frequent contributor, David Yzaguirre, by way of my pal the Grey-Beard Loon.....After I quit laughing, I felt it my duty to share........

Lemon Tree Very Pretty - A Pup Tale

My gal pal came trudging in from work this afternoon, with a stack of pizzas and cheese garlic bread for us and the boys, and with a cute story that I couldn't help but share......
My pal the Grey-Beard Loon and his gal, are like I and probably some of you, in that animals just seem to find US.....knowwhutimean? They are parenting two such canine critters these days, after convincing my gal and I that we should come up and adopt one that appeared in between the two they currently have(it's all in how you look at it as far as who owns who with dogs, now isn't it?) Anyway, the one we drove down to fetch, was one furry friend too much for either of us, so she was destined to live with my gal pal's folks, who were just recently coping with an empty nest after the passing of their beloved pup of many years. The timing was good I think - for all.....particularly the pup, who was fending for herself on a sparsely inhabited four mile stretch of coastal road on the Intracoastal Canal, when rescued by Herself, in the course of fulfilling her duties as a U.S. Census taker. looking back now, I know we were likely under the wire by about an hour tops, as to when the Old Loon would have not given a thought to parting with her, but as it turned out, the little thing has blossomed in her new home. I am sure after scrounging for road kill and dodging $50k pickups hellbound for the launching ramp with $equally priced boat$ in tow, that landing in suburbia in the shadows of NASA in the loving company of a couple equally as sweet and kind as the lady and gent who rescued her, was just the beginning of a puppy dream come true. I mean obedience school, toys, chewies, you name it.....what more could a dog want???

Okay, I'll tell you. For all of the balls and toys I am sure she had at her disposal, imagine her delight yesterday, when she discovered her new dad's "ball tree" make that his prize little Myers Lemon tree, with this year's crop of maybe a half dozen.....max, prize lemons. Tennis ball sized and also in appearance, I can only close my eyed and imagine that little Carly wishing she had a thumb and opposing forefinger, to both pinch herself for her amazing discovery, and maybe to pick the, fruit from the tree.

Now this is where it will get a little dicey for the little dear. You see, dad is in Africa on business, and mom has now to both protect the remaining crop of "balls" - er, lemons on his prized tree, plus the added chore I'd assume of plea bargaining the little sweet pup's case down a notch or two when dad returns.........a dog's life. Like I asked earlier - who owns who? Who follows who around and cleans up their poop? Whose bowl is always full of food and water? Most of us could handle some of that I think..........

Barney Fife Editing......(Mr. Cobler)

Labeling some small town cops scratching their head, saying "they don't want to come out, whaddya think we oughta do now"?, as a standoff or anything remotely resembling a standoff, speaks volumes about your editor's reasoning when he swings the axe on the forums.......

One of the core values of journalism is accountability," he said. "We wanted to learn more about how to engage readers online while remaining true to the core values of journalism." So banning dissenting viewpoints, and deleting comments you don't agree with, is what you learned in the process of "how to engage readers"? Where is the accountability in that?

If anyone seems reluctant or fearful of attending the town hall meeting, I would suggest that it is those you have coddled and protected from being held accountable for their words, by deleting and banning other readers of longer tenure and more prone to think their words through. They know that to come out in public, they run the risk of being put on the spot in a place where you can't offer them your protective "editing" expertise.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

And Now a Bay Rat Story........ show I am not a complete militant hard ass ,only on a mission bent on derailing Advocate management. I took a two day break from looking at the grim reaper in my rearview mirror, chewing up my unemployment and 401k as I struggle to find gainful employment. Just had to get out of the city, and feel some salt air. I had a wonderful dinner with the Grey-Beard Loon and his gal and their canine menagerie, and was briefed by herself on the inner-workings of the latest incarnation of my old hometown city/county politics. I didn't ask their take, or share mine, but in my opinion, it all seems a bit more citified, and a lot less bubbafied than I recall it being........either way, it was a fine evening of socializing, lacking only my hard working gal pal being present to add the perfect complement to the evening. 'Twas also a welcome diversion from a troubling afternoon with my own folks. Mom's Alzheimers, has become advanced to the point that it is really heartbreaking to us "kids", and a burden on my dad, requiring some serious soul searching and decision making on our part. I never would have imagined, given her full of piss and vinegar, powerhouse personality, as recently as a year or so ago, how quickly it could all come crashing down. We are resolved to make it all work out, and deal with it, so if you pray, pray for her and for us.

Today, while my sweet sister took mom to her doctor's appointment, I got a rare chance to hit the bay alone in my old boat, and rocket about for an hour or so, getting some pounding by the rough water, and some muddy salt spray in my face and hair. It is a far cry from the thundering forty foot crewboat, with it's array of lights and radar and squawking marine radio I remember as a young man, but it was still a day on the water. That is always good for the soul.........

Town hall meeting:Yeah Right - Try Circle Jerk....

Jesus,....What a ridiculous attempt at patronizing those few folks online that Cobler has not already micromanaged into oblivion by way of banning from participation in the forums, or the other chosen few he is giving a daily literary hand job to, to ensure that they remain and sing praises to him. Has anyone taken note of the fact that this "town hall meeting" was announced two weeks in advance? That was I am certain, by design....... For my money, I would like to see all of the banned bloggers and commenters, the "good, bad, and the ugly" if you will, show up at this little get together, and make ourselves heard. I'll say here and now, that I expect this post to remain a work in progress, and be updated or reposted a number of times before meeting day. I also wonder if Paul Tasin will show up as he die at the last "town hall" with his oversized bloody fetus posters. If he does, I hope this time, if Cobler still doesn't show the gonads to take the photos away and trash them, someone else does.

This whole farce of insinuating that Advocate management may actually consider dissenting opinions when plotting a future course for the paper, is enough to make me puke. Looking at my old Advocate copies from 20 years ago, or better yet at today's Chronicle, then opening up today's print edition of the Vicad, illustrates the chasm between a real newspaper, laid out by professional newspaper folks, and a tabloid style trash rag, laid out by bargain basement internet oriented dweebs, with basically no concept or understanding of the community in which they reside. Their idea of diversity from yesterday's to to today's print edition, was to re use the same two thug mug shots as front page material, but to re-arrange all two of them, and "update" the story.

Comparing the online edition to the print edition in their survey, and coming up with remotely similar numbers, tells me they just pulled numbers out of their ass, and served up to us and their subscribers as "fact", and in fact should be considered by everyone that reads it and this as fact, an insult to our intelligence.

As I said, this will be added to and amended, as warranted until I get a good head count of folks who will show up at their town hall wankfest and make themselves heard as a voice of opposition to the way these morons are heavy handedly running and ruining our only source of local print news.

If you would like some further evidence of Cobler's micromanaging style, beyond striking down opposing opionions by banishment, I urge you to track down the most recent issue where the Vicad management was required to disclose ownership and circulation statistics. For the previous twelve months, they claimed a circulation of 31k and change......note please the crossroads population.......

Now for the kicker - for a current circulation, they show 49k.....again with change. Now, I ask of any sane individual who either reads the online edition, or the print you honestly think in the last year, that Chris Cobler and his Kansas cronies have really managed to effect a fifty percent increase in circulation of the Advocate? Whether you are euphoric from the smoke blown up your ass, or like me, wanting to see figures and hear the claim made in public and backed up with documentation, I urge you to give some serious consideration to attending the upcoming "town hall" event and make yourselves heard. At worst, it'll be a chance to wipe Paul Tasin's old ass with his obscene anti-abortion posters, and at best, it will be a chance at letting the Advocate management know that not everyone believes the bullshit they are printing daily, and to let them know we'd like our hometown paper back as it was..........
I mean, after all, as Gabe bragged, the meeting is "free admission". Do you think Cobler would have balls enough to check I.D.s at the door, and turn away those of us who have either been banned, or labeled dissenting voices? A best case scenario would be the bigj shows up onstage with his handlers......right?

Monday, October 5, 2009

Lawyerin' 101

I heard a little blurb by a lawyer on KTRH this morning, driving home after dropping my kids at school, that in my book, really typifies why the general consensus among humans toward lawyers, is what it is. Now being recently divorced, it is not like I needed to reload to take a few more shots at lawyers, but this one just made me roll my eyes..... There was a news story about someone in a condominium, who had sued another resident owner of a neighboring condo, for infringing on his right to enjoy peace and quiet.....I didn't catch what the squawk was about the alleged perpetrator actually doing, but it apparently was a trial that is about to come to a conclusion, and being a slow news day, the radio reporter asked a lawyer his professional opinion of the suit........

His reply was to say that while there are smokers who bother other folks by smoking around non-smokers, and ones who would play their music louder than maybe a neighbor would find acceptable, essentially saying so astutely, "different strokes for different folks". But his closing statement was that given that people are living in such close proximity to one another these days, that he personally saw this case as an indicator that an whole new field or type of specialized litigation was being born ........huh?

That pretty much explains the statement I read by a lawyer once, "It's a shame people feel the way they do about lawyers, when it's really only 98% of the lawyers that give all the rest of us a bad name.........