As I understand the ground rules, I'm supposed to come up with eight facts about myself... and not just the standard biographical data that you can find in my Profile.
So settle back, stifle a yawn, and plow ahead:
- My first paying job was as a sports reporter. High school football. $5 a story. But it wasn't my high school and I was 15 and couldn't drive and I think I only lasted two weeks.
- I did have a column in another local paper during high school, also at $5 a week. It was supposed to consist of gossipy little items about happenings at the high school I actually attended. (The goal of every local newspaper editor is to mention as many names as possible of actual or potential subscribers in each issue.) I tended to write most of the column on one subject, never shy about sharing my opinions regarding that topic, but as a concession to reality, I managed to squeeze in a bunch of names somewhere just about every time.
- My father wanted to read every one of these columns before they went to the editor... just in case.
- My grandmother saved every one of those columns.
- I tried to get a job at a suburban daily during law school. I was willing to sweep floors -- anything -- just to get inside the news room. The very nice HR person wanted to help me but said there was only an opening for a truck driver -- which I couldn't get because I wasn't 25. So I stayed in law school.
- Mike Royko called me a yuppie once. At the original Billy Goat's, beneath Michigan Avenue. A friend and I would go there occasionally to gawk at the newspaper people. I don't remember how the conversation got started. I do remember that Royko took it back after I told him I had three kids under four, lived in the City, drove a Plymouth and wouldn't know what a pasta maker was if it bit me on the.... well, anyway, he took back the accusation.
- I was one of the editors of our school newspapers in college and law school, but my real value to those enterprises was that I was one of the faster typesetters we had. The typesetting machine was a primitive computer -- it displayed the word that you were typing and maybe a few words before and it printed out a column of type on what amounted to a very long photograph -- a photo-ready column of type. If you made a mistake, you'd skip a line and retype the paragraph. If you thought you made a mistake, you'd skip a line and retype the paragraph. And if you didn't pick up the mistake but caught it when you laid out the page, you'd retype the line and paste it over the top. We got very good with Exacto knives. And light tables.
- When our kids were younger, Long Suffering Spouse and I volunteered to edit the little newspaper that our school Parents Club put out six times a year. I enjoyed the experience a lot more than did Long Suffering Spouse.