Daily Archives: November 8, 2010

I’m onto your game

Hey Doug!  Last month, you used the phrase “slake the thirst” in a story on 11Alive to describe how negative political advertising satisfies viewers with a taste for fear or horror.  I don’t hear “slake” much.  Is that really a word?  If so, why wouldn’t you use a more common word, such as “satisfy,” “quench,” “gratify” or “relieve”?  Thanks.  Btw, are you still writing your blog? – Ted Simmons, Decatur GA

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Thanks for checking in, “Ted.”  I get writing inspiration from many sources.  Here’s a partial list.

Cold fear. That describes my normal state, as I crunch out words at 5pm for a piece due to air at six.  This writing is by-the-numbers, where I cling to the hope that my grammar and facts are accurate and rarely produce anything memorable, writing-wise, unless it’s memorably awful.

– Embarrassment. I have numerous reporter –  colleagues at WXIA who seem to effortlessly write elegant prose on a nightly basis.  One of these days, they’re all going to figure out that my effortless writing is utterly pedestrian by comparison.  So I have to try harder than everybody else, or else they’ll get onto my game.

– Squidbillies. This is a TV show, which happens to be made in Atlanta.  It’s among many that are well-written.  When a character named Krystal told a convenience store clerk that she wouldn’t stop ordering soft drink refills “until my bottomless thirst is slaked,” it stuck with me.  When that happens, such phrases seem to find their way into news stories.

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– Music. Once, I sidled up alongside the singer for the Rock*A*Teens on a barstool at Manuel’s, and told him I’d swiped a lyric he’d written for a story.  He was neither impressed nor flattered.

– Jeff Dore. The WSB reporter is a clever dude, a standard-setter.  When covering a hailstorm, he described the ice chunklets as “the size of Spanish olives,” discarding the conventions of marbles and golf balls.  I copy him shamelessly whenever possible.

As Tom Lehrer once sang:   “Let no one else’s work evade your eyes.  Remember why the good Lord made your eyes.  So don’t shade your eyes, but plagiarize, plagiarize, plagiarize.”