It's always a matter of timing

You want to know what stinks? I’ll tell you what stinks: Vice President Dick Cheney shoots a lawyer, and it happens over a weekend. That’s what stinks.

See, it happened at the worst possible time for me. We publish on a Friday. Obviously too late for that week’s paper, right? And it’s given every other person in the free world the opportunity to throw as many jokes as possible at this situation before I ever get to run my latest little weekly voyage into the inane.

I feel cheated.

It’s as if I’m Charlie Brown, intent on booting that football through the uprights, only to have it yanked away right before I launch ... my God, I’ve resorted to Peanuts analogies. Do you see what this has done to me? I’m a mess.

But this is the life we chose over here in Newspaperland — particularly in the great city of Weekly, Newspaperland. We’re held hostage to deadlines, gambling our pertinence each week on a timeliness that does or does not blow up in our face.

Think I’m blowing this out of proportion? Yeah, probably. But another little reality in Newspaperland is the need for a strong inch-count to fill up the pages, so indulge me while I milk this for all it’s worth. I mean, sometimes I’ll just go on and on about the most trivial of things, just to fill ...

But I digress.

Deadlines are brutal. But not so much in the capacity of dread over the impending doom that awaits each week as the clock winds down — we expect that one, and we’ve pretty much been able to put ourselves in position to deal with it every week in a somewhat workable manner. No, what I’m talking about is the timeliness of publication.

Put aside the Cheney example for a second. Last Thursday night (the day after our paper is sent to the printer), the staff of the Coastal Point got together at Scotty’s Bayside Tavern to participate in their weekly Celebrity Bartender night. Our goal was to raise as many tips as possible in a three-hour window to donate to the Delaware Special Olympics. The people at Scotty’s were great, the customers were fun and I got to stand up on the other side of the bar (two novel things for me at a bar — being on the other side of it, and being able to stand up for an extended period of time).

But, alas, our next paper would be coming out eight days after the fact, meaning I couldn’t fill a column with how we all managed to get in the way of their outstanding bartender Murph, or how our new reporter Jonathan Starkey stood on the bar and did this odd dance with some gypsy swords, three bags of live piranhas and ... fine, I made up that last part. But, you have to admit, that would have definitely been cool.

Nor could I really get into discussing the Valor Awards put on by the Bethany-Fenwick Area Chamber of Commerce last Friday afternoon at Bear Trap. Local firefighters, EMS personnel and police officers were honored for their service throughout the year, and this year’s speaker, Josh Freeman, gave an impassioned speech on public service and general appreciation of the jobs these people do on a day-to-day basis.

Again, our paper would be coming out a week later, meaning I couldn’t really write a piece on how inspired I was after the luncheon to do more in the community, or how badly I just wanted to shake hands with these people that truly do so much more than giving Sam Harvey tickets as he barrels through town. Surely this would have been covered to death by other news organizations before I got my chance.

Once again, bitten by the deadline of timeliness.

So, where does that leave us? Well, there’s always the Winter Olympics. I could easily discuss the awe-inspiring physical feats being performed on the world stage, and the human interest stories of some of our own athletes that can both make us cry over their tragic pasts and unite us in our desires to see them continue to overcome their hurdles and reach their dreams.

Or, we could discuss some of the events at the Winter Olympics — like curling, for example — that make me feel like a beer gut and creaky knees don’t necessarily mean I’m done with my dream of Olympic gold. I watch knuckleheads scream down mountains in the skeleton event and “athletes” sweep a tiny broom down a frozen bowling alley, and wonder how far we are from competitive nacho eating and snow fort-building being recognized as official sports. Needless to say, I’m in training for one of those events.

But the Olympics just aren’t grabbing me, so I lower my head and keep pushing forth, hoping for a timely, interesting subject to pique my interest.

Man, if that Cheney thing would have only happened on Tuesday ...