Lukewarm Off the Press

The fall edition of our parenting magazine arrived this week. When that delivery truck pulls up outside and all the boxes are unloaded from the pallet, it’s always a cause for celebration—physical proof of our collective hard work. Some people claim that print is dead, but my boss doesn’t believe that. Neither do the businesses and customers who are so eager to get their hands on the latest copy (nor do I).

These deliveries always inspire a bit of jubilation; my boss will open up a box and pass out copies for each of us. There is gaiety and high-fives and compliments such as “looks great!” Assembling a magazine from scratch four times a year is no small feat. But if I’m being perfectly honest, by the time our newest print issue arrives hot off the press, I can barely stand to look at it.

As an aside, I hate to burst your bubble, but the idiom hot off the press is a lie, people! Not once has a new issue ever burned my hands. One time I think a copy was lukewarm to the touch when I grabbed it, but that was the summer issue and it had been sitting in the back of a delivery truck in 90º weather, which hardly counts.

But I digress.

I call bullshit.

Please don’t misconstrue this as a lack of pride or anything of that sort. The publication invariably looks great and is chock-full of informative, engaging articles. I’m always happy to have played a role in its production. The problem is, by the time that printed copy lands in my hands, I have read it from start to finish so many times I can practically recite it by heart. By this point, the following has occurred:

  • I’ve written a majority of the articles
  • I’ve edited all the articles for spelling, punctuation, and fact-checking
  • I’ve edited the articles again during layout, chopping and rearranging to make them fit
  • I’ve proofed a first draft, a second draft, a final draft, and a printed draft

So naturally, the last thing in the world I want to do is sit down and read it from cover to cover. Been there, done that, too many times to count.

I can’t help but wonder if this is what it was like for, say, Abraham Lincoln. You know he worked on multiple drafts of the Gettysburg Address long before he ever stood on that platform and delivered the mother of all speeches. I’m sure while he was reciting it to the crowd, he was already bored with the whole thing and his mind was wandering over more trivial matters, like whether to have egg salad or tuna for lunch or what color socks to wear the next day. Four score and seven years ago…yadda, yadda…government of the people, by the people, for the people. I’m kinda shocked he didn’t stifle a yawn. Honest Abe needed another delivery of that speech like he needed a hole in the head.

Err…too soon? I have no idea what the moratorium is on gallows humor.

Hmm…egg salad or tuna?

Fortunately, in the publishing industry, by the time that latest issue arrives, we’re already planning out the next…and the whole cycle repeats itself. Come December, I’ll be sick and tired of the issue I haven’t even started working on yet.

Do you guys follow The Onion? I’m referring to the satirical news publication, not the vegetable (though I’m fond of that, too). I’ve been a fan for many years and once worked with a guy named Mike whose cousin in Wisconsin was one of the founders.

That’s two degrees of separation if you’re keeping track, yo.

They had a post today lamenting the death of the TV theme song. It was tongue-in-cheek, of course, as all of The Onion’s articles are. Specifically, they decried the loss of “theme songs that explain the show’s whole deal.” Think Gilligan’s Island, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and many other classics. Their opening themes provided a succinct narrative that allowed a newcomer to jump in anytime and understand exactly what was going on. The premise of the former is spelled out for us in no uncertain terms: the weather started getting rough and the tiny ship was tossed, but the courage of the Minnow‘s fearless crew prevented further calamity. Likewise, in the latter, we know full well that the lead character was just chillin’ out, maxin’ relaxin’ all cool, shooting hoops when a couple of thugs started a fight, persuading his mom to ship him off to a bunch of rich SoCal relatives because West Philly was just too darn violent.

Today’s TV shows don’t provide us with this luxury. We’re lucky if we get a catchy tune; sometimes there’s nothing more than a title. Look, I love Breaking Bad as much as the next guy (probably more), but if I’m tuning in for the first time, all I’m seeing are some periodic table symbols. I want to be entertained, not study science, so assuming I live under a rock I’ll probably pass on what is arguably the greatest drama in television history.

Talk about a missed opportunity. They could have borrowed the melody from The Brady Bunch, rearranged the lyrics, and whipped up an opening theme that would perfectly sum up the show in four stanzas. It might go something like this:

Here’s a story
Of a middle-aged man
Who is living on extremely borrowed time
Both his lungs are turning black
Full of cancer
This dude is going to die

Here’s a story
Of a kid named Jesse
Who was a student in Walt’s chemistry class
They are two guys
Without a future
Life kicks them in the ass

‘Til the one day when the teacher hatches a plan
That’s criminal but also bound to work
And this pair must become blue meth partners
That’s the way Walt White turned into Heisenberg

Ol’ Heisenberg…
Ol’ Heisenberg…
That’s the way Walt White turned into Heisenberg!

It’s good, right? Catchy and gives you a nice CliffsNotes version of the whole concept behind Breaking Bad.

Look me up the next time you’re ready to launch a show, Vince. I’ve got ideas galore…

19 thoughts on “Lukewarm Off the Press

  1. As much as I love my tech, and I do… I really do, I will always be a print girl at heart. Reading is a tactile pleasure for me and I’d gladly heave every Kindle in the ocean. Long live books! And magazines.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You would think me, published author, paperback in circulation, I’d be pretty anti-Kindle, too…but I love mine for the convenience (and the ability to read in bed without turning on a lamp). I vote we keep both!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I miss theme songs, too, but, damn your eyes, I will now have “Gilligan’s Island” running through my head for at least a week. Or until I listen to the “Hamilton” soundtrack again.

    (I have always wanted to use “damn your eyes.” Thanks.)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Mark, I can so understand your feelings about being “over it” once it’s published because it’s kinda the way I feel when they release a new product in industry that I’m in. By the time it actually launches, I’m so ready to start preparing for the next new product.

    And I also agree with you about the Breaking Bad intro. Very uninteresting.


    1. There is that mysterious wisp of smoke that fills the screen right at the very end. You might think it’s somebody smoking a cigarette, which again is misleading. Great show, though!


    1. The short answer: I don’t always.

      Case in point…I spotted an error in the new print issue that I (and others, because we do have the whole team look over the final draft) missed. It’s very small and buried in the Contents page so not likely to be a big deal, but the perfectionist in me still cringes.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Not sure I’d trust an egg salad sandwich or a tuna salad sandwich in the middle of summer before refrigeration.

    Then again, if it was that or sitting down for another meeting with McClellan, I guess I’d go for the tuna sandwich.

    Liked by 1 person

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