Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Wedding follies and foibles

Despite the best fretted-over plans, something always goes awry at a wedding: the mistakes are what makes the wedding memorable.

This past weekend my dear friend and her fiance were married in a lovely garden chapel in central Texas. It wedding sufficiently simple and well planned to be enjoyed even by the wedding party and families of the bride and groom.

The afternoon, the two precious and very quiet five-year-old flower girls broke away from racing the snails found in the gardens outside the chapel to participate in the rehearsal. With empty baskets, one mimicked the motions of gracefully tossing petals on the aisle. All set.

Fast-forward to the wedding. As maid of honor, I walked down the aisle first, followed by the ring bearer, who executed his right-angle turn toward the best man with military precision.

From my vantage point at the head of the aisle, I watched as one flower girl vigorously and conscientously pelted unsuspecting guests on her side of the aisle with fistfuls of petals, catching most of the guests by surprise. It makes me smile every time I think about it, and ten years from today, the flower girl with the powerful backhand will be what I remember.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Print Journalism RIP

My college major was journalism. I was set on becoming a newspaper reporter long before Woodward and Bernstein's All the President's Men shunted hordes of college freshman, who would otherwise have become accountants and English teachers, into journalism schools.

One offhand statement by one of my professors at Northern Arizona University, either Dr. Bert Bostrom or Dr. Dal Herring, stuck with me first for its absurdity, and later for its staggeringly accurate prescience.

One of these professors said that in a few years, we would read our newspapers on a monitor in our home, printing out the articles that interested us. It would be this mysterious force, this new ways of reading the news, not television newcasts, that would sound the death knell for newspapers.

The time was the late 70s. No internet, no personal computers at the time. I could not even conceive of such a thing.

Fast forward to 2009. The revered Seattle Post-Intelligencer is shutting down the presses after 143 years of publishing; it will publish only an on-line edition.

The equally respected Detroit Free Press is cutting back to only three days of home delivery.

Even the venerable New York Times laid off 100 staff persons last week.

Media pundit Marshall McLuhan said, "People don't actually read newspapers. They step into them every morning like a hot bath."

I understand why it is necessary, and, of course, the wastefulness of natural resources on so many levels of the home-delivered paper, but still I'm sad to see the decline of this institution of the fourth estate.

To mangle quotations from Winston Churchill and FDR: "The only thing we have to fear is change itself."