Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The worst typo ever?

The Red Room asked readers about the worst typo they've ever seen. In the early '70s I wrote for a local weekly newspaper. On one fateful deadline night, a reporter (not yours truly) wrote his account of a planning board meeting, and the editor rushed it through to print without giving it much of a look. But the reporter had embedded a parenthetical note to the editor, not meant for publication, mentioning a member of the public who'd attended the meeting. The gist was that the gentleman, who was named, was a loudmouth, a fool, and the town drunk. Naturally, the article was published with the private note intact, and it caused quite a commotion. The way I heard about it later, the newspaper's owner privately apologized to the man, who in turn acknowledged the basic truth of the article as printed.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Defining the border

Gene Keller, the speaker at today's El Paso Writers' League meeting, gave us a 15-minute writing exercise to "define the border." Since El Paso is flush against the U.S. Mexican border, that's the one he meant and the one we wrote about. Here is my effort:

The border is a line we've agreed upon—a river, a wall, a treaty. Land that once was theirs but now is ours, and they had better not show up without their papers.

It's a line between us and them—our language and theirs. Our money and their drugs; our guns and their crime. It's a line we cross every day, enjoying the benefits of each others' culture. It's a line that once kept shifting but now is fixed in the ground. It's a line that is both distinct and blurred.