Archive for the ‘Bloggery’ Category

Ass, grass or gas: Nobody rides for free

November 9, 2013

It’s that time of year again, when I start ringing up editors to inquire whether come the new year they will keep flinging good money after bad by continuing to accept contributions from Your Humble Narrator.

This process always involves a bit of give and take — the editor explains what s/he wishes to take from me, and I tell the editor where and how I plan to give it. A good old time is had by all, often at the top of our lungs, and before long the spreadsheets, knuckle-dusters and restraining orders are set aside and we all go back to earning our meager livings.

bite-meAnd meager is all I ask. My needs are simple, not unlike myself, and I retain no illusions about the freelance rumormonger’s position on our long list of must-have items in the 21st century. (Hint: It’s more than a couple of folds down from the top of the page.)

Today, there is no more writing, illustration or photography — it’s all “content,” and a smart fella can get that anywhere.

Just ask Evan Williams, Twitter co-founder and Innertubez gazillionaire. Now one of the guiding lights behind a newish venture, Medium, Williams has moved beyond the 140-character limit in search of “thoughtful, longer-form writing,” says Matt Richtel of The New York Times.

Well, not all that far, perhaps. To be sure, Williams wants more characters for his new enterprise, but he’s offering the same level of compensation — to wit, nothing. Writes Richtel, 745 words into this paean to long-form work: “A few writers are paid, with their work solicited by a small editing team, but most are not.”

Do tell.

Medium employs some 40 folks; I assume that they are taking home paychecks, though being an Innertubez gazillionaire, Williams — whose personal fortune recently ballooned by nearly $2.5 billion, thanks to his 10.5 percent share of Twitter — may not require anything so mundane as compensation for whatever it is that he does.

Well, I do, and thus you should not expect to see my byline over at Medium anytime soon.

I don’t object to writing for free. In fact, I’ve done and continue to do plenty of it.  I kept a journal for a decade or so; covered cycling for free at The New Mexican (where I was paid for editing) just to get it in the paper; and have been blogging gratis for longer than I can prove (the archives back at the old home place date to 1992).

But it seems Williams is after something a little deeper than the product of a guy who is interested primarily in keeping the old editorial muscles loose by jotting down whatever comes to mind, just for the hell of it, without interference from editors, publishers or advertisers. Though precisely what that something is, the story never quite says.

There is chin music aplenty, however. Long form. Rationality. Nourishment. Holistic. The one thing that seems certain is that whatever it is that Williams wants to sell, he is not willing to buy.

Sounds irrational to me, even assholistic. Hey, yo, Williams! I got your long-form nourishment right here, pal.

We’ll be right back after this word from. …

April 27, 2013

A couple of you were wondering whether I had recently added advertising to the old blog. Nope. It’s still purely a labor of love on this end.

But it appears WordPress does, and I finally saw one of them myself last night when I checked the blog via iPad.

I had forgotten that WordPress reserves the right to ad-slap us now and then. The service is free, after all, so I’m not inclined to complain — and happily, there is an easy workaround. All I need to do is send the wizards a few drachmas and they’ll leave us be.

Meanwhile, it was 70-something here today and I sallied forth on the Jones for another get-acquainted session, this time taking in a few smallish hills. You’ll be pleased to learn that gravity is still in session, along with its opposite, comedy.

And boy, do those big wheels like to roll downhill. I could have parked my dogs on the bars, laced my hands behind my head, leaned back and enjoyed a bit of shuteye.

The morning after

November 7, 2012

After a late night and far too little sleep I had to get cracking on paying chores this morning, so I’ve been unable to crack wise about the abject failure of the Elefinks to accomplish much of anything in Election 2012 beyond spending other people’s money.

Look for snark to resume sometime this afternoon or evening. And thanks for playing.

Forward, into the past

November 20, 2011

It’s been 20 years since I had the traditional five-day, 40-hours-per-week job, and as those of you still manacled to same at wrists and ankles might expect I don’t miss it.

I quit for a reason. More than one, actually. Walking out of The New Mexican for the final time felt like taking one of those endless beer leaks after a long ride in an old truck on a bumpy road. Total relief.

O'Grady at The New Mexican

I don't recall which job I held at The New Mexican when this mugshot was taken — I went from copy editor to assistant sports editor to assistant feature editor to feature editor in less time than it takes to say, "Why the hell am I still working here?"

To be sure, there are (or were) perks — health insurance, 401(k), two days a week off, sick leave, paid vacation and The Company buys your gear and puts a roof over your workaday head. But otherwise it pretty much sucks. I know, because during most of my 15 years as a newspaperman I was keeping a journal — you know, sort of an analog blog that nobody else gets to read.

So, having hard evidence that doing journalism eight hours a day, five days a week is like volunteering to get a daily pepper-spraying from Lt. John Pike, why in hell would I agree to go back to it? Especially considering that this time around, I don’t even get the perks because I’m an independent contractor and hellbent on remaining one?

Larry’s wife knows the answer. As for me, I’ll just note that when VeloNews.com lost both senior editor Charles Pelkey (involuntary retirement) and web editor Steve Frothingham (fled like a rat out of an aqueduct back to a former employer, Bicycle Retailer and Industry News), there was nobody left to ladle sludge out of the old VeloBarrel and onto the readers’ titanium-and-carbon-fiber plates save Your Humble Narrator (and Lennard Zinn’s daughter Emily, who recently clambered aboard as a part-timer).

So when The Company came a-callin’, I picked up the phone, even though we have Caller ID.

Call it equal parts stupidity (“Well, shit, someone has to do it,” a knee-jerk reaction common to journalists) and avidity (“There’s a pink slip out there somewhere with my name on it and I’d better start stockpiling fiat currency if only to save money on toilet paper.”)

All this is the long way around to telling you that if you see anything outrageously defective on VeloNews.com from Saturday morning to Wednesday afternoon during the next month or so, while The Company shops for iEditor 4.0, you’ll know whom to blame.

And if the bloggery gets a little thin around here, well — you’ll know whom to blame for that, too.

A house-wetting party

November 16, 2010

Welcome to the new DogHaus. Please park your fleas at the door and pee only in the designated corner. No, not that one.

I got the Hostcentric weenies to cut my monthly fee in half for the digital injuries I’ve suffered while tap-dancing through their virtual minefields, but they still piss me off. So I’m gonna try playing in this virtual sandbox for a while, maybe test-drive a few features WordPress 2.6 doesn’t have while I try to drag maddogmedia.com/wordpress into the 21st century.

Until then, please leave your critiques in comments. And seriously, not that corner. Christ, where’d I leave the mop?

Twin sons of different mothers?

July 22, 2010

This is weird. Kevin Drum just wrote a post that in spirit mimics a draft column I decided not to send to Bicycle Retailer & Industry News.

Mine had more bicycle crap in it, of course. And hardly any political snark, barring a quick left hook to Caribou Barbie’s spastically winking phiz. So they were practically identical, except for content ’n’ stuff. Plus Kevin says “fuck” less often than I do.

But we both are clearly in need of a vacation. Any ideas? I’m contemplating a hot-springs cycling tour of south-central Colorado on my kinda-sorta “touring bike,” the Soma Double Cross, but I’m absurdly vulnerable to peer pressure. Leave your suggestions in comments.

Incidentally for all you wisenheimers, Thomas McGuane already penned the definitive Hell-as-a-vacation-destination gag in “Nothing But Blue Skies.”

Hand me the Bravo Foxtrot Hotel

July 1, 2010

OK, I’ve done a little research, hollered for help, cursed a whole bunch, sipped a glass or two or three, and finally repaired and optimized my WordPress database, so let’s see if this has sent the censorship gremlins packing.

If for some reason you find yourself unable to comment on one of my brilliant online observations, please fire off a NastyGram® to our retarded IT guy, otherwise known as Your Humble Narrator, to wit, me. But if I were you, I’d spend my time enjoying the Fourth of July weekend instead of hanging around here, waiting to see if I can come up with a fresh way of saying, “This fucking sucks.”

Or, if you’re truly, hopelessly and spectacularly bored, pop on by VeloNews.com at 9 a.m. Mountain time on Friday, when the Boulder-based Journal of Competitive Cycling will be running its second 2010 Tour de France Round Table. It’s set up like one of Charles Pelkey’s live updates, but instead of following a bike race online you get to ask the editors and reporters how we’ll be following a bike race online — to wit, the impending three-week dash around Frogland.

I skipped the first TdF Round Table for reasons that are better left unsaid, but I may chime in tomorrow, because it will be the last chance I get to crack wise for three long weeks.

Ghosts in the machine

June 29, 2010

OK, folks, bear with me here — the WordPress install on this site is getting buggier by the moment, like a GI’s skivvies in a Thai whorehouse, and I may have to attempt a software update or a shift to a new hosting provider.

I’ve backed up the database and the entire WP folder, and the automatic update is just sitting there in the admin tool, winking frantically at me like a strumpet with a crack habit. But the thing is, I have a clusterfuck with the VeloFolks tomorrow and a visitation by the mom-in-law on Thursday and a BRAIN deadline on Friday and the Tour de France on Saturday.

So what I’m sayin’ is, don’t be surprised by a bit of weirdness — like comments shutting themselves off without authorization from the Home Office — and a lot of radio silence in the next few days. It ain’t that I don’t love youse, y’crazy bastids, youse.

If the whole shebang should blow up in my face, look for me at Mad Blog Media (The Freeware Edition) until the dust settles. Peace out.

Tour de farce

April 2, 2010
Editor of a new touring magazine? No, just another April fool. Photo: Herself

Editor of a new touring magazine? No, just another April fool. Photo: Herself

It was April Fool’s Day at VeloNews.com yesterday, and as usual we managed to snooker a few people.

My contribution — an entirely bogus item about VeloNews launching a touring magazine, headed by yours truly, with accompanying website and online store — apparently caused a minor stir among some folks in that niche. It was a calculated risk, since I’m writing a piece for Adventure Cyclist magazine about my tour of southern Arizona and really don’t need to piss off anyone holding a checkbook. Happily, editor Michael Deme was a good sport about it, having published his share of April Fool gags over the years.

I can’t remember how long VN’s been pulling these pranks. They date back to the newsprint edition of the magazine, and Charles Pelkey guesstimates the tradition to be 17 years old at least.

My favorite gag remains the time we “fired” me and posted the news online. I still can’t decide whose letters were funnier — the outraged readers who were canceling their subscriptions or the O’Grady-haters who were saying, “About damn’ time!”

On an unrelated note, I stumbled across a Rick Bayless recipe for tacos de papas con chorizo y salsa de aguacate last night and cooked the sumbitch right up. It was both easy and delicious, and that’s no joke.

Hey, Mo’! Nyuk nyuk nyuk

May 18, 2009
Calling all cats ... calling all cats ... be on the lookout for a red-headed NYT columnist hunting hot word count. That is all.

Calling all cats ... calling all cats ... be on the lookout for a red-headed NYT columnist hunting hot word count. That is all.

The Old Gray Lady’s Old Red Lady, Mo’ Dowd, just got busted lifting lines from Josh Marshall over at Talking Points Memo. For a nice bit of snark on the crime and and a most unrepentant criminal, see Steve Benen at Political Animal. Dowd’s explanation boils down to “it followed me home and I kept it.” So that’s how you get a Pulitzer for commentary. Note to file.

In the meantime, I’ve posted a couple of sentries just in case Mo’ (or Curly, or Larry) comes slinking around here in search of a bon mot. A guy can’t be too careful these days, what with all these journos desperate to hold onto their vanishing jobs.


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