As a weekly columnist for a 140-year-old newspaper, I’m an endangered species. I’m like a steak, cooking backwards: rarer by the second. More so now that the run of my column is being halved. There was a contraction in the newsroom. The afterbirth is, as Terry Gilliam might say, “100 percent more Less.”
Ever hear of a “fortnightly columnist? Neither have I but that’s what I am now. Perhaps I’ll eventually become a monthly, then annual columnist. After that, I’ll publish with less frequency than appearances of Halley’s comet.
I know what I’m talking about — a kid in my brother’s sixth-grade class was a direct descendant of Halley. She was 11 when the comet last visited. The local paper did a story and pointed out that she’ll be 86 when it returns in 2061. That’s about when my next column will run. Or, at least that’s how it seems to a man who’s spent his entire professional career on deadline and needs the juice like some kinda junky.
The comet had been observed before but never as colorfully as when it ranked a mention in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle of 1066 (medieval media!) when scribe “Eilmer of Malmesbury” spied the comet for the second time in his long life and lamented, “You’ve come, you source of tears to many mothers, you evil. I hate you!”
Eilmer’s comet comments could pass for the reception of one of my columns. But wait there’s more: “It is long since I saw you,” he writes “But as I see you now you are much more terrible, for I see you brandishing the downfall of my country. I hate you!”
What the hell is a fortnight anyway? Sounds like an evening spent building a fortress of couch cushions. Apparently, “fortnight” is an abbreviation of “fourteen nights.” Filing a fortnightly column drops my annual published output by 26 columns. It’s all relative I suppose. Even if I filed every one of those 14 nights I’d still only be doing only 1.4 percent the business of Scheherazade.
So, doing 50 percent of my own business ain’t that bad — perhaps it’s the difference between being half-assed and an ass-whole (Ba dum tss. I’ll be here fortnightly). Expect more blogs.