Cory Farley, voted "Best of Reno" 26 times in 27 years by readers of his column in the Reno Gazette-Journal, takes an unconventional look at topics from presidential elections to the best way to cook Brussels sprouts.

Location: Verdi, Nev, United States

Friday, March 21, 2008

Off the deep end again, at 1270 on your AM dial

One of the things that happens when you get old (I hear...) is that you get afraid to try new things.
It's nonsense, of course, Just the other day I ate my french fries without adding salt, a culinary adventure many people half my age haven't experienced. Later this afternoon, I may try napping in the Big Chair instead of on the couch. Life is to be lived.
Still, I'm a little apprehensive about what I apparently have to regard as What's Left Of My Career: Starting Monday, I'll be on the radio.
Regularly, I mean. I've done radio many times, but nearly always with someone to fall back on. When you're the guest, and all you can think of to say is, "Uh...," it's not your fault. When you're the person after whom the show is named, "Uh" won't carry you very far.
As of 10 a.m. Monday, that will be me, on KBZZ, 1270 AM.
Panama, aka "The Franchise," will move from his present 9-to-noon slot to 6 to 10 a.m. I'll take the 10-to-noon period, then Don and Mike will pick up at their normal time.
This is, in some ways, extremely cool. I love radio, and was a Radio-TV major my first two years in college. When I got home from Vietnam and went back to school, I switched to print, for reasons I've been trying for several years to recall. So when The Buzz asked if I was interested, I had to say yes.
Sounded like a good idea at the time. But I've been hanging out in the studio with Panama for a few days to learn how it's done, and it's like juggling cats.
When I was doing television commentary, I found that I could sound smart or look good, but not at the same time. When I focused on what I was saying, my tie curled up like Dilbert's and my glasses fell off. When I was perfectly groomed and turned out, I talked like Yosemite Sam.
I looked forward to radio for several reasons, but a big one was that you don't have to dress up. Half the people you hear on the air aren't even wearing pants (which is also true of TV news anchors, by the way. That's why the sets have solid fronts, so you can't see Brent Boynton's skivvies).
Turns out, though, that radio is another area in which you can't be proficient without, you know, actually being good at it. Like I needed another one of those.
To be honest, I'm not that eager for an audience until I begin to figure this thing out. My understanding, though, is that radio station owners prefer it when people actually listen to their employees. so check me out, 10 to noon starting Monday at 1270 AM. No passing judgment, though, until I learn how to work the phones.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

In your heart, you know he's right

If I could just weigh in with a voice of reason here, let’s try this:
What kind of oblivious jackass do you have to be not to understand the anger that drives the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, the man who may have cost Barack Obama the presidency?
I’m not saying he was right, though in many ways he is. What I’m saying is: How can you not see where he’s coming from?
Wright, if you haven’t heard (and if that’s the case, just stop reading right now, why don’t you?), is the pastor who married Barack and Michele Obama and who christened their children. Lately he’s been seen on YouTube, Fox Noise and elsewhere sounding like . . . .
Well, an angry Black man. Which pretty much takes us back to my point: Who can be so oblivious as not to see the reasons a thinking person of African heritage and Wright’s generation would be angry?
Let me make this as basic as I can: You know how you feel when somebody cuts in front of you in line? You’re waiting in the rain for a movie, say, and somebody approaches, finds a friend and runs himself and five companions in front of you, with a little wave and shrug in your direction to show you he’s really a good guy, but, you know, he’s him and you’re you, so what can he do?
Pisses you off, doesn’t it?
But what do you do? You let it slide, but for the next two days you eat your liver because you weren’t man enough to force the issue.
Now, think about this: Many Black men of Wright’s generation have spent their whole lives being shoved back in that line. They haven’t been able to get decent jobs or proper educations. In my lifetime, they weren’t allowed to sit in the front of a bus, stay in good hotels or eat in restaurants where their ebony presence might offend The White Folks.
We shouldn’t be surprised when one of them stands up; we should be thankful they all don’t. Which may, in fact, be one of the reasons this incident has provoked the response it has: Deep down, we know Wright’s anger, however injudicious, is justified.
Sure, things are different now, though perhaps not as different as a lot of us confidently assume. But if you had those days in your memory, how long would it take you to get them out?

Friday, March 07, 2008

Hillary does what 16 years of GOP conniving couldn't

I'll admit it: In about a week, Hillary Clinton has done something the entire Republican slime machine, our time's finest-honed instrument of character assassination if you don't count Rush Limbaugh, was not able to do in the best part of two decades.
She turned me against Hillary Clinton.
I wasn't what you could call a Hillary zealot. John Edwards would have been my first-choice Democrat, followed by Bill Richardson, Barack Obama and then Clinton.
Primary voters saw things differently (no problem; I'm used to it), and it came down to Obama vs. Clinton. I caucused for Barack on the theory that he was more likely to bring "change," whatever that means these days, than the ultimately-wired former first lady. Really, though, the thrill of seeing so many Hill-haters unhappy nearly won me over, and I would have been OK if she'd won.
Then she turned on the very people she needs for her victory. At a time when Democrats are justly furious and disgusted with George Bush and most of his party, Clinton ranked the presidential candidates in this order: Herself, Republican windsock John McCain, and then her Democratic opponent. You can find it on YouTube.
Me and her, as Grandpa used to say, are quits. I'll still vote for her in November if she gets the nomination, because a McCain presidency is just unthinkable. It would be like something out of a movie about a bleak future world, with hundreds of billions of dollars going for "defense" (read "aggression"), pennies for education and no concern at all for the environment.
Otherwise, though, zip. My campaign contributions don't amount to much in the overall context, but they're not going to Clinton.

6 things my English teacher says you do wrong

Before we begin: Sorry for the formatting problems in the previous post. Got a new laptop; it has new features, but I have an old-school brain. I'm told the problems are easy to fix, but I've tried a couple of times and all I've succeeded in doing is moving them around. I'll pile a new post on top and everybody will forget soon enough.--CF

But now: One of the marvels of dwelling in the public eye in a tourist heaven like Reno is that people you haven't seen in years come through, spot your name and track you down. Happens to me once or twice a year: I grew up in the Bay Area, and a lot of Bay Area people come through here, so the phone will ring and it's somebody who wouldn't talk to me in high school, all grown up.

Usually the experience is fleeting: We were acquaintances 40 years ago, I moved away three years later, and we don't have all that much to say to each other now. They're mostly Republicans anyway.

The other day, though, I got an e-mail from a woman who struggled to teach me English in 1961. English in those days was mainly diagramming sentences (a skill I never mastered and have never needed), struggling to remember what a participle was and trying not to get caught looking down the front of Carol Barthel's blouse (a skill I did master pretty well).

Her note led to an exchange of reminiscences, during which I was shocked to learn that she's only nine nears older than I am. That would have made her 25 when I was 16, rather than the 50 or so I figured she was, and a look at my yellowed yearbook indicates that she may have been the hottest teacher, and certainly was the hottest English teacher, I ever had. Once again I'm reminded that my life consists mainly of a dismaying series of missed opportunities.

Anyway: She's enjoyed my writing, she said, because "you avoid most of the mistakes that have devastated the language."

"Like what?" I shot back, forgetting that she was the first to warn me about using like when you really meant as. But as what still sounds funny .

I asked her for 10 examples of things I don't do wrong, and I'm sure it's only her advanced age that caused her to send but six. Now that I'm aware of them, I hear and read them everywhere, and she's right: They're wrong. Check yourself out:

  • "Where's it at?" You don't need at. Just say "Where is it?"

  • "Anyways." The word is anyway. Probably comes from something like "any way you look at it," and you wouldn't say "any ways you look at it."

  • "To no end," as in, "He annoys me to no end." The to is unnecessary and changes the meaning of the phrase. If you're annoyed to no end, it means there's no purpose to your annoyance. If you're annoyed no end, it means the annoyance is endless.

  • The "is-is" syndrome. Barack Obama isn't alone in doing this constantly: "The thing is, is that..." or, as I heard John McCain say the other day, "The thing was is that . . .," as though "thing-was" were a noun. Correct: "The thing is, almost everybody does this wrong."

  • "Decimate" meaning something like "devastate" or "damage." This has caught on recently with news reporters, who are forever talking about something being "decimated." As you could tell from the root word, if you'd paid attention in English, decimate means to take one out of 10. Line up the enemy, count off and shoot one every time you get to 10? Then you've decimated his force.

  • "Have got." This is one I violate all the time: "I've got a new computer" is prolix, because without the contraction, it's "I have got." "I have a new computer" says the same thing in fewer words.

If you'd gone to San Carlos High School in the early '60s, you'd know these things....

Thursday, March 06, 2008

New meaning to "Not a friend in the world."

Been talking lately with a friend who just got back from two months in South America. He
was on a low-budget walkabout, not a Congressional fact-finding tour, which means he met,
ate and for all I know slept with real people. Here's his read on the attitude toward Americans there:
"I had to tell people five times a day that I wasn't a 'Bush American.' They hate us. If we
get into trouble, nobody's going to be willing to help us."
Well, here we go--another Bush-bashing.
Well, no. Not, at least, except where it's unavoidable. Which, come to think of it, is pretty
much everywhere these days.
More than five years ago, when the Bush Doctrine of pre-emptive strikes, saber-stroking and encouraging mass hysteria among the voters became apparent, I wrote that "a world groveling at our feet is a world waiting to trip us up." Of course I was wrong about Iraq, where the citizens welcomed us with open arms, flowers and baklava. That or IEDs and AK-47s; I forget which, and I'd feel worse about that if George Bush and Dick Cheney hadn't forgotten which, too.
Elsewhere in the Middle East, though, we have nothing but enemies and retail partners,
stuck with us because we'll buy their oil (until China outbids us) or sell them our weapons. In
Europe, we're bashed at every opportunity. We're just lucky the dollar is worth so little
that hardly anybody can afford to go there anymore, or there would be more opportunity.
But South America? Who knew?
"Who cares?" said a Reno news professional with whom I happened to discuss this recently.
"I don't give a **** what they think of us in South America,"
Well...neither do I, in the abstract. The older I get, the more I focus on what I can see
from my house.
In the real world, though, such as it is these days, it's hard to see why a country would
go out of its way to antagonize, not just the people it chooses to invade, but just about the whole world. Even in England, pretty much our sole remaining significant ally in Iraq, our
popularity among the people doesn't come close to matching our "official" popularity. We've pissed off everybody.
As for South America, though: One of these days we'll need friends there, if only to invade
Venezuela for us and liberate our oil from under their dirt. Wait and see. And wait and see
if we find any.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Are the media bashing another conservative pol?

Notwithstanding my poor performance as a blogger lately, I’ve had questions from readers about . . . .
No, let me rephrase in the interest of accuracy: Although I’ve slacked the blog for awhile, I’ve had comments, mostly accusations, from people pissed about media coverage of the maybe-divorce of Nevada’s first couple.
Why me? I’m no longer a full-time media professional, and I haven’t mentioned the situation in public or in private.
In fact, I don’t even have an opinion, beyond an abiding lack of surprise. Rumors about the Gibbons’ relationship have circulated for at least a decade. They’re common knowledge among reporters, but no one, as far as I know, has reported on them.
Which, just in passing, is another stick in the spokes of the “liberal media” theory, the notion that all the news outlets on the planet work together to undermine conservative politicians.
Gibbons is conservative to the point that the term “mindless ideologue” has been employed to describe him. Moreover, he’s been in public life a long time, and it’s fair to say his arrogance and messianic certainty have made him unpopular with some news people. As a columnist I loved him, because I could count on him to pop up every few months with a new dumber-than-dirt remark. It was Gibbons, remember, who said it was a shame Iraq war protesters couldn't be used as human shields, and who insisted that mercury in the environment wasn’t a health hazard. Most reporters, though, don’t get to comment on things like that. They just listen and fume.
Despite that, and despite persistent rumors, I haven’t read or heard speculation anywhere in the media about the Gibbons' alleged personal problems. Not until the bloggers got hold of it and the story went national did local news people touch it. Even then, most stories had an air of, “We have to mention this because everybody else did.”
In that case, then, what could the local folks, even those who’ve refrained from mentioning this situation for years, do? The Gov is entitled to a private life, but when his affairs (not meaning affairs, necessarily, though not necessarily not) . . . when his business becomes public, then his hometown newspaper and television station have an obligation to report it. Otherwise, when your cousin in Kansas calls and says, “Hey, how about your Governor now, GOP Boy?” all you could say is, “Huh?”
Gazette-Journal editor Beryl Love explains what went into the RGJ's decision to cover the story on the paper's Web site at, and anybody with complaints about that should write to him, not me. I don't work there any more.