I try to keep up, but I am struggling with the lingo in snowboarding and journalism.

I am not going to gripe that my first skis were solid wood, that “bumps” used to be moguls or that “halfpipe” makes me think of  “Don’t Bogart that joint.”

But I am having trouble this Winter Olympics with excited snowboarding announcers using terms such as “off-axis backside rodeo,” “method air,” “front side Alley Oop” and “air-to-fakie.” I think I get “verticality,” but am still stumped by “heavy widers.” halfpipe

Nor will I dwell on my newspaper career, beginning at the tail end of an era when “journalism” was a word more often associated with “school” than putting out a daily paper. Its practitioners smoked, cursed and criticized co-workers and competition alike. The really “rad” ones sometimes showed their regard for readers and co-workers by throwing telephones into trash cans, sticking receivers in their crotches and, I’ve heard, heaving an occasional typewriter. I’ve heard tell of newsmen in Santa Fe setting a self-important “colleague’s” copy on fire. But all this is nothing compared to editors with unknown pedigrees having carte blanche to impale your polished prose on a treacherous device known as a “spike.” It was both a noun and a verb, but it meant DOA in either form.spike 2 2

ibm selectric red 2A story was a story and a brief was a brief. Sometimes, with deadlines looming and backshops waiting, you were told to write — in numbers of words or “takes” — to the length of the “hole.” There were “brights,” “features,” “Sunday stories” and, as I was assigned without instruction in my second year on the job, the “writing job.” The appropriate form was determined by an unsentimental editor wielding a thick pencil, a glue pot and a giant pair of scissors.

I am not particularly proud of this history, but I still do a double take when I hear newspaper people utter words such as “colleague,” “longform” and “nuance.”

And I will tune in to the Olympics again tonight to see if Shaun White can pull off another “giant backside double McTwist.” I’ll figure out where the commas go later.

Scan 49