Wednesday, April 16, 2014

A Noble Task

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WORDguy writes: An obituary is an official document (for which newspapers charge extraodinary fees in times of bereavement, which is a different story...) to announce a person's death. It may review a life’s accomplishments and achievements. It can say—or at least acknowledge—nice things about spouses, siblings, parents, sons, daughters, nieces, nephews and grandchildren.

Too often—speaking as someone who has written too many obits—these official statements can be bland, dull, formulaic, sounding as if the "dear beloved" is some kind of crate of beef or other load that has somehow been lost at the side of the road.

My obit for my mother, Lillian, which appeared on the WORD Monday, is not nearly snazzy enough to reflect how I remember her and her life. It did not include grandchildren and her Chamber of Commerce medals. But it also did not include her dancing in sneakers to Musak down the frozen food aisle, humiliating her children.

I cannot say how grateful I am to the more than 200 WORDsters—my extended family—who responded so beautifully to my announcement of her death. My obit was not formulaic, and maybe inappropriate for some news outlets. Fair enough. But my mom was hilarious, caring, passionate, and liked a good laugh. That’s how I will remember her.

Thank you all for your good thoughts.
Now, back to the WORD.




Do Good Works

“I have a job to do, a noble task that I must not, cannot ignore. I have decided to be a journalist.”

 

—Rabiah Abdullah, high school student

 
• Editorial Comment: See? There is hope after all.


PeezPix by Ted Pease 
 
California Poppy







PeezPix. ted.pease@gmail.com

 
TODAY'S WORD ON JOURNALISM is a free “service” sent to the 1,800 or so misguided subscribers around the planet. If you have recovered from whatever led you to subscribe and don’t want it anymore, send “unsubscribe” to ted.pease@gmail.com. Or if you want to afflict someone else, send me the email address and watch the fun begin. (Disclaimer: I just quote ’em, I don’t necessarily endorse ’em. But all contain at least a kernel of insight. Don’t shoot the messenger.) 
 
Ted Pease, Professor of Interesting Stuff, Utah State University, Logan, Utah. ted.pease@gmail.com.
(Be)Friend Dr. Ted, Professor of Interesting Stuff

“Words are sacred. They deserve respect. If you get the right ones, in the right order, you can nudge the world a little.” —Tom Stoppard

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Monday, April 14, 2014

A Great Mom

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LILLIAN CAROL ZACHRISSON PEASE, 1930-2014


WORDguy writes: I believe this is a first for The WORD. We have observed, honored and otherwise celebrated a number of dying heroes on this site over the years, but I think this is the first actual obit The WORD has ever run. A friend observed yesterday that obituaries are staples of journalism, and so why not? He’s got a point. Many of us who do journalism start with the usual dry and stale recitations that appear on the funeral pages of newspapers. I must have written a hundred. But I don’t think they have to be so bone-brittle. Especially in the case of this woman, I prefer to celebrate her with a little more verve. She’d like it, I think. TP
 
As it happens, The Beatles were singing, “I get by with a little help from my friends” as I write this to celebrate the life and legacy of Lillian Carol Zacrhrisson Pease, my mother.



Lillian was born in Boston in 1930. March 7, in case anyone wants to celebrate that day. She died rather quickly and efficiently on Saturday in Brunswick, Maine, 84 years later, after falling and busting her hip just a few days before.



She was always efficient, our Mom. She got things done. And, when the end came for her, she didn't mess around. 



Lillian was a wordsmith, and she—and dad—have given that oddity to us. “Oddity” is a word that she would enjoy. A few months ago, when she told me on the phone, in despair, that she was “losing my words,” So I started calling with words that she had given me—like “fewmet.” She laughed.

Her loving and talented parents were Carroll and Lillian Zachrisson, second-generation Swedish immigrants who lived in Stoughton, Mass., where Lillian (Jr.) grew up. Carroll was a professional photographer. His wife worked in a bank. My mom attended the prestigious Boston Girls Latin School, and then went to the daunting women’s college, Wellesley, whence (she’d like that, too) she graduated in 1951. 



Although her professors were pushing her toward medical school, she inexplicably enrolled in The Union Theological Seminary in New York City. There she met Frederic A. Pease, Jr., whom (she’d like that, too) she married June 20, 1953. 



Fred got an assignment to minister to a bunch of New Hampshire heathens in New Ipswich and Jaffrey, N.H. Eventually, a bundle of kids ensued: Ted (1955) and David (1956) were born in New Hampshire, Ruth (1959) and Rebecca (1961) in Andover, Mass., where Fred was became chaplain at Phillips Academy in 1958.



In 1956, Lillian and Fred went with friends to vacation on the coast of Maine. Inexplicably—again!—the two couples boarded a slow boat from Mount Desert out to Swans Island, where both families purchased homes, pretty much on the spot. Over the years, the families and their kids grew up every summer (and a few frigid Decembers) on Swans Island, and the kids and the next generations continue to do so.



Lillian went back to college in 1969. She enrolled at The Simmons School of Social Work in Boston, and earned a master’s degree. She used that training to become director of Fidelity House, a residential home for mentally disabled adults, and later teen-agers, in Lawrence, Mass. She grew the enterprise from a single home for about six people to a series of residential facilities that served hundreds by the time she retired to Maine in 1990.



Lillian was a fabulous cook, a formidable Scrabble player and an enthusiastic singer and pianist. She sang Gilbert & Sullivan in the kitchen. What she liked best about being a minister’s wife was not just the shared social commitment, but the community and choir that come with church. She and Fred always got by with a lot of help from her friends.



She and Fred moved to Brunswick, Maine, in January this year. She was until her death an active member of the First Congregational Church of Wiscasset, Maine, and the Maine Women's Lobby in Augusta.



A memorial service and celebration of her wonderful life will be at the First Congregational Church of Wiscasset, Maine, on Monday, May 5. Come prepared to sing. She’d like that.


• Editorial Comment: Bye, Mom.


PeezPix by Ted Pease 
 
Good Night







PeezPix. ted.pease@gmail.com

 
TODAY'S WORD ON JOURNALISM is a free “service” sent to the 1,800 or so misguided subscribers around the planet. If you have recovered from whatever led you to subscribe and don’t want it anymore, send “unsubscribe” to ted.pease@gmail.com. Or if you want to afflict someone else, send me the email address and watch the fun begin. (Disclaimer: I just quote ’em, I don’t necessarily endorse ’em. But all contain at least a kernel of insight. Don’t shoot the messenger.) 
 
Ted Pease, Professor of Interesting Stuff, Utah State University, Logan, Utah. ted.pease@gmail.com.
(Be)Friend Dr. Ted, Professor of Interesting Stuff

“Words are sacred. They deserve respect. If you get the right ones, in the right order, you can nudge the world a little.” —Tom Stoppard

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Friday, April 11, 2014

Mediocre

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GIGO

“We are given in our newspapers and on TV and radio exactly what we, the public, insist on having, and this very frequently is mediocre information and mediocre entertainment.”


—Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1964), First Lady, 1959


• Editorial Comment: That’s fair.












PeezPix by Ted Pease 
 
Ted’s Outhouse









PeezPix. ted.pease@gmail.com

 
TODAY'S WORD ON JOURNALISM is a free “service” sent to the 1,800 or so misguided subscribers around the planet. If you have recovered from whatever led you to subscribe and don’t want it anymore, send “unsubscribe” to ted.pease@gmail.com. Or if you want to afflict someone else, send me the email address and watch the fun begin. (Disclaimer: I just quote ’em, I don’t necessarily endorse ’em. But all contain at least a kernel of insight. Don’t shoot the messenger.) 
 
Ted Pease, Professor of Interesting Stuff, Utah State University, Logan, Utah. ted.pease@gmail.com.
(Be)Friend Dr. Ted, Professor of Interesting Stuff

“Words are sacred. They deserve respect. If you get the right ones, in the right order, you can nudge the world a little.” —Tom Stoppard

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Thursday, April 10, 2014

Haikus

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5-7-5

Note: Headline writing is hard. And fun. You have to write tight, and get it right. In my copy editing class, as we worked on headlines, I asked my students to write me haikus—five syllables/seven/five—about the press/journalism/editing. Here are some of the results. These kids are good.

“The beautiful thing
about telling a story
is ‘nudging the world.’”
—Mariah Noble

“Stories they tell me—
hidden thoughts and hidden dreams.
My hands write wildly.”
—Sarah Romero

“Class with Ted is great,
though I might not graduate...
Writing ain’t my thing.”
—Jon Larson (national handball champ, 2014)

“Procrastination.
The story was due Tuesday.
Who sleeps anyway?”
—Noelle Johansen

“e. cummings once said,
‘Society, I hate you.’
I’ve learned to question.”
—Manda Perkins

“Do not hit ‘submit’
until you fact-check your shit,
or else you’re fired.”
—Ileana Borunda

“It's a tasking thing.
Damn this business straight to hell.
Oh, but I love it.”
—Paul Christiansen was just hired at a newspaper in Gillette, Wyoming.

“Editing stories—
spell this, grammar that, AP . . . 
learn to write, dammit!”
—Eric Jungblut

“Ode to my Stylebook:
thanks for saving my ass from
inaccuracy.”
—Noelle Johansen

“Using pens as tools,
reporters uncover truth.
Their words shape the world.”
—Dawn Otterby


• Editorial Comment: And here’s the perfesser’s: 
Headline writers writhe,
struggling to tell a true tale.
Why is truth so hard?

PeezPix by Ted Pease 
 
Sardine Canyon

PeezPix. ted.pease@gmail.com
 
TODAY'S WORD ON JOURNALISM is a free “service” sent to the 1,800 or so misguided subscribers around the planet. If you have recovered from whatever led you to subscribe and don’t want it anymore, send “unsubscribe” to ted.pease@gmail.com. Or if you want to afflict someone else, send me the email address and watch the fun begin. (Disclaimer: I just quote ’em, I don’t necessarily endorse ’em. But all contain at least a kernel of insight. Don’t shoot the messenger.) 
 
Ted Pease, Professor of Interesting Stuff, Utah State University, Logan, Utah. ted.pease@gmail.com.
(Be)Friend Dr. Ted, Professor of Interesting Stuff

“Words are sacred. They deserve respect. If you get the right ones, in the right order, you can nudge the world a little.” —Tom Stoppard

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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Why We Do this

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Check Your Sources

“I became a journalist because I did not want to rely on the newspapers for information.”

—Christopher Hitchens (1949-2011) British journalist, commentator and author




• Editorial Comment: Yup. Think for yourself, dammit! 



PeezPix by Ted Pease 
 
Home Beach, Trinidad, California





PeezPix. ted.pease@gmail.com
 
TODAY'S WORD ON JOURNALISM is a free “service” sent to the 1,800 or so misguided subscribers around the planet. If you have recovered from whatever led you to subscribe and don’t want it anymore, send “unsubscribe” to ted.pease@gmail.com. Or if you want to afflict someone else, send me the email address and watch the fun begin. (Disclaimer: I just quote ’em, I don’t necessarily endorse ’em. But all contain at least a kernel of insight. Don’t shoot the messenger.) 
 
Ted Pease, Professor of Interesting Stuff, Utah State University, Logan, Utah. ted.pease@gmail.com.
(Be)Friend Dr. Ted, Professor of Interesting Stuff

“Words are sacred. They deserve respect. If you get the right ones, in the right order, you can nudge the world a little.” —Tom Stoppard

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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Field Trips

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Professional Fun & Games

“[A]s much responsibility as our profession carries, we have a comparative advantage in having fun. Being a journalist is endlessly exhilarating. Most people stop taking field trips after they leave grade school. Journalism is one field trip after another. We can knock on any door and ask questions. And if they don’t let us in, we can go around to the back.”


 John Maxwell Hamilton, journalist, author, journalism educator & provost, LSU, 2002


• Editorial Comment: My first editor taught me that journalism is a license to be curious, and ask questions that are none of your goddamn business. 


PeezPix by Ted Pease 
 
Pease Family, 1972









PeezPix. ted.pease@gmail.com

 
TODAY'S WORD ON JOURNALISM is a free “service” sent to the 1,800 or so misguided subscribers around the planet. If you have recovered from whatever led you to subscribe and don’t want it anymore, send “unsubscribe” to ted.pease@gmail.com. Or if you want to afflict someone else, send me the email address and watch the fun begin. (Disclaimer: I just quote ’em, I don’t necessarily endorse ’em. But all contain at least a kernel of insight. Don’t shoot the messenger.) 
 
Ted Pease, Professor of Interesting Stuff, Utah State University, Logan, Utah. ted.pease@gmail.com.
(Be)Friend Dr. Ted, Professor of Interesting Stuff

“Words are sacred. They deserve respect. If you get the right ones, in the right order, you can nudge the world a little.” —Tom Stoppard

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Friday, April 4, 2014

MLK

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Brain Cramp


“Rarely do we find men who willingly engage in hard, solid thinking. There is an almost universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions. Nothing pains some people more than having to think.” 

 —Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-1968) The civil rights leader was killed 46 years ago today.  



• Editorial Comment: Let’s all think again.



PeezPix by Ted Pease 
 
Blacks’ Cabin, Logan Canyon









PeezPix. ted.pease@gmail.com

 
TODAY'S WORD ON JOURNALISM is a free “service” sent to the 1,800 or so misguided subscribers around the planet. If you have recovered from whatever led you to subscribe and don’t want it anymore, send “unsubscribe” to ted.pease@gmail.com. Or if you want to afflict someone else, send me the email address and watch the fun begin. (Disclaimer: I just quote ’em, I don’t necessarily endorse ’em. But all contain at least a kernel of insight. Don’t shoot the messenger.) 
 
Ted Pease, Professor of Interesting Stuff, Utah State University, Logan, Utah. ted.pease@gmail.com.
(Be)Friend Dr. Ted, Professor of Interesting Stuff

“Words are sacred. They deserve respect. If you get the right ones, in the right order, you can nudge the world a little.” —Tom Stoppard

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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Idiots

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Public Officials

“Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.” 

—Mark Twain
 (1835-1910), writing guy and social commentator

• Editorial Comment: Suppose you were a member of the press.....


PeezPix by Ted Pease 
 
Blacks’ Cabin, Logan Canyon









PeezPix. ted.pease@gmail.com

 
TODAY'S WORD ON JOURNALISM is a free “service” sent to the 1,800 or so misguided subscribers around the planet. If you have recovered from whatever led you to subscribe and don’t want it anymore, send “unsubscribe” to ted.pease@gmail.com. Or if you want to afflict someone else, send me the email address and watch the fun begin. (Disclaimer: I just quote ’em, I don’t necessarily endorse ’em. But all contain at least a kernel of insight. Don’t shoot the messenger.) 
 
Ted Pease, Professor of Interesting Stuff, Utah State University, Logan, Utah. ted.pease@gmail.com.
(Be)Friend Dr. Ted, Professor of Interesting Stuff

“Words are sacred. They deserve respect. If you get the right ones, in the right order, you can nudge the world a little.” —Tom Stoppard

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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

My Truth Is Better Than Your Truth

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No Joke

“Liberals claim to want to give a hearing to other views, but then are shocked and offended to discover that there are other views.”


         William F. Buckley Jr. (1925-2008), conservative icon, author, talk-show host, magazine editor and wordman. URL

• Editorial Comment: There are?!????!!!








PeezPix by Ted Pease 
 
Titus, Ferocious Weiner








PeezPix. ted.pease@gmail.com
 
TODAY'S WORD ON JOURNALISM is a free “service” sent to the 1,800 or so misguided subscribers around the planet. If you have recovered from whatever led you to subscribe and don’t want it anymore, send “unsubscribe” to ted.pease@gmail.com. Or if you want to afflict someone else, send me the email address and watch the fun begin. (Disclaimer: I just quote ’em, I don’t necessarily endorse ’em. But all contain at least a kernel of insight. Don’t shoot the messenger.) 
 
Ted Pease, Professor of Interesting Stuff, Utah State University, Logan, Utah. ted.pease@gmail.com.
(Be)Friend Dr. Ted, Professor of Interesting Stuff

“Words are sacred. They deserve respect. If you get the right ones, in the right order, you can nudge the world a little.” —Tom Stoppard

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Monday, March 31, 2014

Beans!

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Willful Ignorance 

“The worst illiterate is the political illiterate. He hears nothing, sees nothing, takes no part in political life. He doesn’t seem to know that the cost of living, the price of beans, of flour, or rent, of medicines, all depend on political decisions. He even prides himself on his political ignorance, sticks out his chest and says he hates politics. He doesn't know, the imbecile, that from his political non-participation comes the prostitute, the abandoned child, the robber and, worst of all, corrupt officials, the lackeys of exploitative multinational corporations.” 

—Bertold Brecht (1898-1956), German poet and playwright (Thanks to alert WORDster Bryan Mullins)


• Editorial Comment: Why should I give beans about politics? Wait! damn ObamaCare!!!!


PeezPix by Ted Pease 
 
What goes with beans? A ferocious weiner (dog)!








PeezPix. ted.pease@gmail.com
 
TODAY'S WORD ON JOURNALISM is a free “service” sent to the 1,800 or so misguided subscribers around the planet. If you have recovered from whatever led you to subscribe and don’t want it anymore, send “unsubscribe” to ted.pease@gmail.com. Or if you want to afflict someone else, send me the email address and watch the fun begin. (Disclaimer: I just quote ’em, I don’t necessarily endorse ’em. But all contain at least a kernel of insight. Don’t shoot the messenger.) 
 
Ted Pease, Professor of Interesting Stuff, Utah State University, Logan, Utah. ted.pease@gmail.com.
(Be)Friend Dr. Ted, Professor of Interesting Stuff

“Words are sacred. They deserve respect. If you get the right ones, in the right order, you can nudge the world a little.” —Tom Stoppard

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