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Grandson: Predicting Events

We are reading him The Fantastic Mr. Fox. Once again, he is demonstrating skill beyond his years. He asked me if the farmers would defeat the fox. I said “the book is called The Fantastic Mr. Fox, not The Fantastic Farmer Bunce , so the fox will probably win.” Two days later he repeated the exact same sentence to his grandmother.

This is a First Grade standard in California that he is already grasping: “Confirm predictions about what will happen next in a text by identifying key words.”

More astounding to me was when he asked her to read the last page of the book first. When I was only a little older than he is now, it was my common practice, when reading a novel, to read the last page so I wouldn’t be concerned about who lived, who died, who won, and who lost.

Hip Hoping/ICD For Me

Round and round she goes, where she stops, nobody knows...

Either Third Time’s The Charm, or I curse my chance for a hip operation when I mention it in this column (see Hip Op Music, and One Hip Dude).

I’m headed to the hospital Friday for two reasons: to get the battery changed on my pacemaker/defibrillator (ICD) and move towards a June hip replacement, after my MIT 50th reunion. Here’s hoping.

Public Speaking 2 / What A Junior Sees A Senior As

I often find myself wishing that this or that piece of paper had not slipped through my fingers. Twenty years ago, when my mother finally made me clear out my childhood bedroom, I ran across the script for What A Junior Sees A Senior As. I then lost it.

While I still had it, it seemed to me as funny as the day I delivered it a quarter century earlier during an entertainment assembly at Benson High in Portland. There were, however, members of the audience who were not amused. And some backstage.

In my mind it was innocuous juvenile humor. But the stage crew, the Benson Auditorium Technical Staff (BATS) was mostly seniors, and took offense.

So, in front of 1,000 of my fellow students, the BATS dispatched Art McDonald (a friend/enemy of mine) to wrestle me off the stage. The audience roared, thinking it was a setup. I resisted because I wasn’t done yet, and resented the interruption. Mr. Tripplett, the speech teacher who anointed student announcers, was baffled and miffed. I was finally dragged from the stage, and never spoke to Art again.

I have since gone on to three decades of announcing band concerts, a gig that those of you who have been paying attention will realize just ended. I wouldn’t mind another round of public announcing. Two-thirds of Americans say their greatest fear is public speaking. Not a problem I’ve ever had.

Things No One Will Ever Do Again: Set Type (4)

I have scoured the Internet, and cannot for the life of me find the actual name and model number of the Compugraphic headline typesetting machine.

There were a number of font strips (hung on a wire above the machine) representing various type fonts and sizes. An editor would specify a headline as “36 point.” You’d grab the 36 point font and place it in the back of the machine. As I recall, it exposed a strip of film that was advanced by hand between each letter.

They were called heds. The word was one letter shorter than heads. It was probably the eternal human desire to cover specialized skill with pointless jargon. Calling lead paragraphs ledes made a little sense, since it was a homonym with the lead that was melted to make type. But heds? Go figure.

If you developed the film and the hed was too long, you could reduce the space between letters (kerning) by backspacing a quarter space or half space between letters. Quarter and half were not marked, so it was by feel. A good touch on the Compugraphic was a marketable skill, now as valued as good buggy whips. I was good, but not great.

The headline rule at The Tech (as I am sure elsewhere) was: 9 pm it must be good and fit. 10pm: OK and fit. 11pm: fit.

The whole series: Things No One Will Ever Do Again: Set Type.

The Music Of (who else?) Me

I have trimmed my current output down to two albums: Paul Sings Paul and Lyrics By Paul. Since I want the world to enjoy them, they are now available as YouTube Playlists (Paul Sings Paul and Lyrics By Paul) or free downloadable podcasts (Paul Sings Paul and Lyrics By Paul). Or you still buy Paul Sings Paul on iTunes or listen to it on Spotify. (so far my royalties are nearly zero, but luckily I am not in it for the money).

And, of coure, The AI Song.

This and That

Challengers ****
A tennis movie under a love triangle of three beautiful people, topped with an indecipherable ending, all complemented by breathtaking visual and sound effects. Thirty minutes too long at two hours. Passes the watch test. Fails the Bechdel test. But entertaining, nonetheless.

Head That Writes Itself
Of course you knew a witness named Pecker would draw a head like this. The only surprise is that it was NBC News. This is what happens when you fire all your copyreaders. (No need to play the video; the thumbnail is the clearest shot)

My long-term memory continues unabated. Still, I am put in mind of the saying about French generals: “They forget nothing and learn nothing.” I am working on the second half.

Be Careful Of Ad/Editorial
Someone didn’t look to see what ad was appearing on this page of the Irish Times.

Trite, Yet True
There’s never time to do it right, but always time to do it over. (thank you John W. Taylor, my one-time friend, now disappeared)

If you want something done, give it to a busy person.