NYT Editing Slashback: ‘Richard Simmons Is President’ Edition

From our Get Me Rewrite! desk

As New York Times public editor Liz Spayd noted last month, the paper’s “editing architecture”has traditionally employed multiple layers of editors, with most stories blue-penciled by three editors, “with up to six or more if the article is headed for home page prominence or A1.”

But, Spayd wrote, “soon this conveyor will be replaced by a bespoke editing system built primarily around digital.”

Hey – we got your bespoke right here.

From Sopan Deb’s piece in yesterday’s Times about Dan Taberski’s Missing Richard Simmons podcast, “which is currently the most downloaded podcast on iTunes.”

The back story: On Feb. 15, 2014, Mr. Simmons didn’t show up to teach his class at his gym, Slimmons, in Beverly Hills, Calif. He stopped answering emails or phone calls. He no longer sprinted out of his home to greet tour buses, delighting onlookers with his glittery costumes. After an article in The Daily News suggested last year that Mr. Simmons might not have control over his life, the mystery took such hold in pop culture that even Donald J. Trump weighed in from the campaign trail, promising to liberate Mr. Simmons if he became president.


Memo to Times bespoke editor: That should be this.

[E]ven Donald J. Trump weighed in from the campaign trail, promising – if he became president –  to liberate Mr. Simmons.

C’mon, Timesniks. This is Editing 101. You can’t even handle that anymore?

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Dead Blogging ‘Rabbit Fest’ at MSPCA’s Nevins Farm

Well the Missus and I trundled up to Methuen yesterday to catch Rabbit Fest at the MSPCA-Angell Nevins Farm and, say, it was swell.

From their website:

Thinking about adding a rabbit to your family – or just want to learn more about them? Join us for Rabbit Fest, a presentation that will fill your mind with everything you’ve been wondering about. Topics covered will include behavior, diet, housing, exercise, handling and wellness. And afterwards, everyone will be invited to meet our adoptable rabbits!

And that’s just what we did – we met the cutest rabbits ever, along with a whole bunch of very nice people who went to Nevins Farm to adopt rabbits, dogs, cats, parakeets, even chickens.

If we were 20 years younger and had a back yard, we would have adopted Tux for sure.

But, for sure, you could.

P.S. If you do head up that way, stop by the SunnySide Diner – nice people, good food.

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NYT (Sp)IndyCar Piece Totally Ignores Boston Strand Prix

As you splendid readers no doubt remember, the IndyCar Series has a memorable Boston track record, having crashed and burned last year in its attempt to hubcap the Hub.

We’ll pass over in silence the many downshifts IndyCar driver John Casey executed in relation to the ill-fated Grand Prix of Boston, and shift our attention to Dave Caldwell’s sunny side up piece in yesterday’s New York Times.

Its recent struggles with attendance and television ratings notwithstanding, Nascar remains the king of racing in the United States. But IndyCar racing, with sleek open-wheeled racers that can turn 220-mile-per-hour laps, appears to have established a foothold after spinning for two decades.

[IndyCar chief executive Mark] Miles said six events in 2016 bettered or matched previous attendance records. TV ratings are up by 55 percent in the last three years, with an increase in each of those seasons.

Nowhere, however, does Caldwell mention IndyCar’s spectacular flameout in Boston last year.

We’d say the Times was spinning its wheels in this instance.

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Wall Street Journal: Fenway Park Lefties Are Not All Right

While Red Sox Nation might be sold on newly acquired pitching ace Chris Sale, the Wall Street Journal’s Michael Salfino is decidedly not.

Fenway: A Monster for Lefties

The Boston Red Sox were desperate to add an ace this offseason and on paper Chris Sale fits the bill perfectly. But after acquiring the five-time all-star from the White Sox this winter for two top prospects one big worry remains: Will Sale be the latest lefty to be swallowed up by The Green Monster?

Since 1988, one southpaw has had an ERA under 3.50 at Fenway Park in at least 15 starts there: Jon Lester (2.49) in 2008, according to Stats, LLC. Last year, five-time all-star lefty David Price had a 4.11 ERA there and suffered through a 3.99 ERA overall, his worst season since his rookie year in 2009.

Helpful chart:

Helpful history: “Yankees great Lefty Gomez likened his games at Fenway to ‘pitching in a phone booth.’ Another New York legend and fellow Hall of Famer Whitey Ford famously didn’t want to pitch there at all, hurling just 87.2 innings in Boston (12 starts) versus 246.1 against the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium (31 starts). And Ford had good reason to skip that venue whenever possible, posting a 6.16 ERA in Boston (his ERA against those same Red Sox at home: 2.16).”


Not-so-hopeful conclusion:

Sale has made only three career starts at Fenway and allowed nine runs in 19.2 innings (4.22 ERA). Given the park’s history and the history of left-handed pitching there, it’s curious as to why the Red Sox have paid such a hefty price for two of the game’s top left-handers. While Sale makes $12 million this year versus $30 million for Price, according to Spotrac, he cost the team two of the most coveted prospects in all of baseball in the December trade with Chicago, according to MLB.com: top-overall minor leaguer Yoan Moncada, an infielder, and 30th-ranked righty Michael Kopech.

Clearance Sale, anyone? Discuss among yourselves.

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Dead Blogging ‘WOW: World of WearableArt’ at PEM

Well the Missus and I trundled up to the Peabody Essex Museum yesterday to catch WOW® World of WearableArt™ and, say, it was . . . wow.

From the website:


For the last 25 years, New Zealand has hosted an annual design competition that challenges sculptors, costume designers, textile artists and makers of all stripes to explore the boundary between fashion and art, and to “get art off the walls and onto the body.” The WOW® World of WearableArtTM competition is the country’s largest art event and each year it culminates in a live runway show for winners in front of an audience of 50,000.

WOW® World of WearableArtTM — the exhibition — presents 32 ensembles the competition’s most unique, spectacular and outlandish wearable artworks. Expertly crafted in a range of materials, from wood and aluminum to fiberglass and taxidermy, these creations celebrate lavish creativity and push the limits of wearability. PEM is the exclusive U.S. east coast venue for this interactive and theatrical exhibition.

Our two favorites:





That’s Notre-Dame Cathedral, crafted entirely of felt.


The exhibition runs through June 11. You really should see it.

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The Sad Demise of Trader Joe’s Little Chocolate Chip Cookies

The hardmunching staff has long been a patron of Trader Joe’s (Coolidge Corner chapter) and along the way we’ve noticed several syndromes.

#1: The Trader Joe’s Trance

Most people at Trader Joe’s move . . . like . . . they’re . . . shopping . . . under . . . water.

Then they stop. Justlikethat.

And simply stand there.


#2: The Trader Joe’s Meltdown

From time to time, Trader Joe’s discontinues certain products. Totally understandable.

But certain shoppers react like the store has just killed their dog.

“You no longer carry red bliss potato salad? Are you serious? What shall I do? How shall I live?”

Bliss (potato) free, apparently. We all have our crosses to bear, no?

#3: Crispy Crunchy Chocolate Chip Cookies Crisis

From Trader Joe’s Fearless Flyer:

Trader Joe’s Dress Circle Crispy Crunchy Chocolate Chip tj-crispy-cookiesCookies are bite-size cookies that definitely live up to their Crispy Crunchy moniker. They’re delish dunked in cold milk or hot tea, and downright dazzling crumbled over your favorite ice cream (we’re partial to French Vanilla). You can even crush them to make a choco-riffic pie crust – similar to a graham cracker crust, but choco-riffic.

Except . . .

They’re no longer choco-riffic. Truth is, they’re barely edible.

That’s because for the past six months (at least), they’ve been consistently overbaked/outright burnt.

Consequently, on more than one occasion we have approached various Trader Joeniks to register our dismay about the situation. Each time we’ve been met by sympathetic responses and no action.


Arise, ye Crispy Crunchy Chocolate Chip Cookies connoisseurs!

Make your voices heard!

Or abandon all hope of ever enjoying those crunchy cookielets again.

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Donald Trump Didn’t Honor Ryan Owens. He Used Him.

This is really hard to write, because in no way do we wish to minimize the death of Navy SEAL William “Ryan” Owens, who was killed in Yemen on Jan. 29 in a raid President Donald Trump has said was highly successful.

Except it wasn’t.

Flash forward to Trump’s address last night to a joint session of Congress, when Carryn Owens, whose husband was the first American combat death during the Trump administration, received a long, richly deserved ovation.



Problem #1: That whole supposed Secretary of Defense James Mattis quote – “Ryan was a part of a highly successful raid that generated large amounts of vital intelligence” – is entirely disputable since no military raid can be called a success that winds up with a) the death of a Navy SEAL, b) the death of multiple children, and c) the escape of the primary target.

Problem #2: It’s entirely possible that the Yemen raid has generated zero amounts of vital intelligence.

Consequently, it was stunning that Obamanaut Van Jones would wax eloquent on CNN about that moment in Trump’s address.




He became President of the United Staes?

More like President of the Benighted States.

We totally understand Carryn Owens’s desire for her husband’s sacrifice to be recognized by the country he so nobly served. And we honor that.

But we don’t understand how General Mattis can let himself be puppeteered by Donald Trump that way.

And we don’t understand how Van Jones can be suckered by Donald Trump that way.

But we do understand this:

Ryan Owens’s death was the result of a tragically ill-considered raid ordered by Donald Trump.

And there’s no finessing that.

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NYT Editing Slashback: ‘William Jennings Bryant’ Edition

From our Get Me Rewrite! desk

As New York Times public editor Liz Spayd noted earlier this month, the paper’s “editing architecture”has traditionally employed multiple layers of editors, with most stories blue-penciled by three editors, “with up to six or more if the article is headed for home page prominence or A1.”

But, Spayd writes, “soon this conveyor will be replaced by a bespoke editing system built primarily around digital.”

Well, here’s the latest example of what bespoke has begot. (Others here and here.)

From Maureen Dowd’s column this past Sunday:


Yeah, we know – Trump’s no William Jennings Bryan either.

(Fun fact to know and tell from Geoffrey Norman in The Weekly Standard: “It has been estimated that when [Bryan] was at the height of his powers, half the population of the United States had heard him speak.”)

The digital version of Dowd’s column, not surprisingly (bespoke, my heart!), gets it right and – to its credit – acknowledges the flub.

Correction: February 25, 2017
An earlier version of this column misspelled the name of a politician. He is William Jennings Bryan (not Bryant).

So is this the future for Times readers – a print edition that’s sort of a rough cut of the digital one?

Not very promising, is it?

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Real News Goes Full-Page Boogie at Donald Trump

Ever since Donald Trump became the tweeter-in-chief, the New York Times has been his favorite chew toy.

Exhibit Umpteen (from yesterday):




But the Grey Lady is punching back. From yesterday’s Times:



Interestingly, nytimes.com/truth takes you to the subscription department, but hey – why not? The camping also includes a TV spot that will run during tomorrow night’s Academy Awards broadcast.



Coincidentally, this full-page ad appears in today’s Wall Street Journal, which finally has an eReader, although it’s not exactly screen-grab friendly.






Excellent! Let the wild Trumpus begin!

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Trump Coat Holders Howie Carr, Bill Belichick Ascend to NYT

From our Late to the Party of Two desk

As our kissin’ cousins at Two-Daily Town have dutifully noted, Boston Herald columnist Howie Carr is not only a charter member of the local Donald Trump fanboy club, he’s also a member of Trump’s swanky Florida resort, Mar-a-Lago.

As is New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick.

And now they’ve made their way into the swanky New York Times.

From Sunday’s Page One:

For $200,000, a Chance To Whisper in Trump’s Ear

Membership at Mar-a-Lago Gives Titans Easier Access to Political Power


On any given weekend, you might catch President Trump’s son-in-law and top Mideast dealmaker, Jared Kushner, by the beachside soft-serve ice cream machine, or his reclusive chief strategist, Stephen K. Bannon, on the dining patio. If you are lucky, the president himself could stop by your table for a quick chat. But you will have to pay $200,000 for the privilege — and the few available spots are going fast.

And at least two of those spots, the Times notes, have gone to Boston “boldfacers.”

The list of members is a who’s who of the world of global finance and real estate, but it is also sprinkled with other boldface names, like Howie Carr, the Boston radio show host, and Bill Belichick, the head coach of the New England Patriots, according to three lists reviewed by The Times, from 2015 through earlier this year.

Campaign Outsider Pop Quiz (pat. pending)

Trump, Carr, Belichick, and ???

Who rounds out their golf foursome?

Enter now and win big prizes!!!*

(*Prizes TBD)

UPDATE: Did we say boldface? We meant baldface.

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