Everyone remembers the famous Andy Warhol saying: “In the future, everyone will have a boodle for 15 minutes.” But his prophecy has never quite come true. I am one of the few people who has a boodle [for those who have been living in a cave and don’t know the etymology, the main blog item here is the kit and the comment thread is the kaboodle, or simply the boodle], which today celebrates its ... sixth??? ... birthday. Yes, we turned on the comments six years ago today, and the rest is hysteria.
The boodle has survived trolls, lonemules, long absences by the kit-maker and even, most recently, the horror of “Comments Closed” amid the changeover to Methode. The boodle lifers — show your hands — are nothing if not hardy. You cannot kill them, you cannot keep them down, you cannot shut them up, you cannot understand all their inside jokes and you cannot afford to consume all the calories in their recipes.
Lest somehow I fail to communicate the essential point: I am grateful to the boodle, very much so. Having a boodle is better than winning a Pulitzer.
Though, sadly, that’s merely a conjecture on my part.
[Methode update: I have an inspired idea that will enable me to circumvent the 97 steps necessary to publish a blog item. From now on, I will only add material to an existing blog item rather than starting a new one. I’ll just tack it on. In a couple of years we’ll have a blog item that’s 100,000 words long. Now, you ask: Won’t that hurt page views? Won’t that cut down catastrophically on the number of clicks? Won’t the Google spiders be displeased? To which I answer: Those are marketing questions. My job is to write.]
[Pausing to leap over Add Widget Code Here obstacle on screen.]
The other day some Esquire writer who has won ONLY TWO NATIONAL MAGAZINE AWARDS shed bitter bloggy tears over his exclusion from this year’s list of nominees. I’d like to send the poor fella a list of my many incredibly talented colleagues who have somehow been overlooked over the years when the most prestigious prizes are handed out. But they know how good they are, and if you’re in it for prizes you ain’t serious about the business. A friend told me the other day: “It’s all about the work.” Yep — and the stuff that endures is often written by people who did not in their own slice of time win recognition and reap the rewards of their labor.
Let’s extend this to the revolution in news media: A better platform can’t by itself make something smarter, more literary, more insightful, or better written. Ultimately what will retain value over time is intelligence and insights and craft. I’m encouraged that there are new web ventures that preserve the art of long-form narrative while adapting to the bells-and-whistles requirements of the new media age.
But whatever happens, I hope they let me keep the boodle. I was going to write “my boodle” but the boodle belongs to no man. It is its own universe, with its own laws. As a Post headline writer once very astutely put it: It’s the tail that wags the blog. Happy birthday, boodle, and many thanks to the boodlers who have done so much amazing boodling over the years.
NEW BLOG ITEM: THE GOLF CRISIS
I’m tracking The Masters leaderboard and note that Goosen is burning up the course while Woods is grinding out pars. No question, golf needs Woods to get his game back. No slap against the Goosens of the world, but most of them are a little....dull. Goosen has no charisma whatsoever (though he can putt lights-out).
Beyond the Tiger problem — that, without Tiger Woods at the top of his game, the sport seems diminished of much of its drama — there’s a fundamental disconnect between the PGA Tour and fans that the Tour bosses could probably ameliorate if they would be willing to give up some sponsor money. The simple fact is that the average fan nowadays is lucky to have the slightest idea where these tournaments are being played.
Obviously that was not a problem last week during the Shell Houston Open. It was, I’m guessing, somewhere in the general vicinity of Houston, Texas.
But where was the Transitions Championship? That was contested March 17 to 20 in some place known as Palm Harbor, Florida. I am a Floridian, as you know, and I can testify: There is no such city as “Palm Harbor.” That is the name of a housing development, surely. That may even be a trailer park. But even to the extent that some golf fans might recognize this place, they are thrown for a loop by the name of the tournament. The “Transitions” Championship? Surely that is a Senior Tour event, no? Or an event for the Over-80 golfers, the ones about to make the really big transition to the Great Beyond.
Looking at the PGA Tour Schedule, I see the Farmers Insurance Open, the Northern Trust Open, and the Cadillac Championship — names that do not give any hint that these are being contested at legendary golf courses (Torrey Pines, Riviera, Doral). I’m sure the Tour makes a lot of money on title sponsorship, but it’s a problem when I turn on the TV and I see, in something called the Transitions Championship, played someplace called Palm Harbor, a person named Gary Woodland holding off Webb Simpson and Scott Stallings (are these their real names????????????) to win the coveted trophy.
NEW BLOG ITEM FRIDAY APRIL 8:
[Blogger’s labor action against clunky Methode software continues.]
I’M LESS HOI POLLOI THAN I THOUGHT
I just read this fine piece by the estimable* Ben Yagoda on what the headline writer calls “the Nonplussed Problem”: Words that have lost their original meaning in common usage, to the great chagrin of scolds and pedants.
I am all in favor, as a free-thinking, open-minded person, to the concept of language evolving over time. But I can’t abandon “disinterested” in its hour of need. It is a useful word. (We might say, for example, that George Washington, owner of thousands of acres along the Potomac, feared that he would not be viewed as a disinterested advocate of a Potomac seat of government.) To let it become a synonym for “uninterested” impoverishes the language.
I’ll readily abandon the original definition of “decimate” simply because it is too precise to be useful. What an earthquake destroys 20 percent of a city — do we underestimate the calamity by saying the city has been decimated?
Am embarrassed to say that I’ve been using “eke out” and “fortuitously” incorrectly, and, were I to be the kind of person to use the term “Hoi polloi,” would likely use it incorrectly. But to my ear ear, “fulsome” praise is overdone, not merely abundant. And when I catch myself saying “verbally” when I mean “orally” I usually correct my speech so that my meaning is clear.
And don’t get me started on the abuse of “their” (as in, “Every person had their own way of mangling the language.”)
*Let’s go with the second definition in Webster’s New World College Dictionary, “worthy of esteem; deserving to be respected or valued,” rather than the first, which doesn’t sound right to my ancient ear, “that can be estimated or evaluated; calculable.”