On hiatus

Q: On hiatus? What does that mean?

A: It means I don’t really have the time or energy to keep this blog up to the standards to which I aspire. So rather than keep running endless birthday posts, I’m going to take a break for now.

Q: Will you return?

A: I imagine I will. Some day.

Q: Are you taking a break from the Web in general?

A: Not at all. I’m still all over social media. In fact, I’m sharing good pages and graphics and links to online presentations that impress me. I’m just doing it there instead of here.

Q: Are you ill?

A: No, just sick and tired (heh). And eager to have a little “me” time for a change.

You can’t tell me you didn’t see this coming. Back when I was doing the consulting/teaching thing full-time — which is a fancy way of saying I was unemployed — I was able to blog five or six times a day. I was mighty happy with that.

When I returned to work in March 2013, I spent several months living by myself in California while my wife and daughter still resided on the East Coast. I still managed to get in a lot of blogging time. Not quite as much as before — hey, having a full-time job can be quite the time suck! — but still enough for me to feel like I was serving my readers.

When my daughter moved out to California with me, however, I found myself wanting to spend more of my down time with her and less with my head buried in my rapidly-aging laptop. So I cut waaay back on my blogging. I’d go days, sometimes, between posts — other than the by-then-obligatory birthday posts.

When I moved to Texas a little more than a year ago, that time crunch became acute. Not only did I no longer have time to write thoughtful posts, I found it a real problem just keeping up with furniture items — those birthdays. Which, thanks to the lack of substantive content, had completely taken over the blog.

I dislike doing something poorly. Therefore, the decision to stop was an easy one. Or should have been. I should have stopped two years before I did.

Q: Why didn’t you just become a full-time blogger?

A: I never really found a way — or, at least, a way I could live with — to monetize this blog.

We talked about it from time to time. But since so many of the pages and photos and graphics I posted here were donated by you, my readers, I didn’t feel right trying to charge you to look at your own work. I was always much more comfortable as essentially a nonprofit operation.

The main problem with a nonprofit operation is: You don’t turn a profit. And I still need to eat, sleep with a roof over my head and pay the bill to move pixels around the interwebs.

I tried, though. I came this close, once, to getting hired by a big Florida-based journalism think-tank. That was way back in 2012.

When that opportunity tanked for me, it took with it any real hope I had of one day being a full-time online journalist. No matter how prolific I had been over the years.

Q: Will your archives go away?

A: I hope not. I put a lot of time and energy into blogging over the past 12 years. Five of those years reside here, at CharlesApple.com. I hope we can maintain that permanently. Or, at least, as permanently as anything can be online.

My College Media Convention slideshows

For those of you who are attending my sessions at today’s ACP/CMA National College Media Convention in Austin, Texas: Here are links to the slideshows used in today’s sessions:


9 a.m.: Graphics for Word People

12:30 p.m.: Alternative Story Forms

3:30 p.m.: Scrounging for Fun and Profit

Thanks for attending!

A lush graphic look at a biodiverse mountaintop rainforest

Have you ever heard of the Google Forest in northern Mozambique?

Me, neither.

Botanists from the Kew Royal Botanic Gardens near London theorized there must be some virgin biodiverse rainforest-like territory near Malawi and Mozambique, nearly a mile above sea level.

They used Google Earth to search for likely spots and eventually zeroed in on Mount Mabu.


Bingo! The area proved to be as biologically diverse as hoped. Scientists have been studying it ever since.

This happened ten years ago. My friends at Graphics24 in South Africa celebrated this anniversary with an ginormous graphic that explains how what’s become known as the Google Forest was discovered and some of the species found there.

Click this for a much, much larger look:

Google Forest new

Graphics24 graphics editor Andre Gouws tells me:

I had an idea for this one when I read an article that this forest was discovered by Western scientists ten years ago. I thought it would be great to show this amazing forest in all its beauty in an infographic.

I did the research, found the names of all the new species, and told Hanlie Malan about my idea to sketch the forest filled with all these beautiful creatures.

I love doing these kind of arty graphics with Hanlie.

Hanlie picks up the story:

This graphic was Andre’s great idea. He asked me to make sure to create the feeling that when you look at it, it must feel like you are inside a forest.


First I made a study of all the trees — I found a great site with all the info, then I proceeded with a rough drawing to be able to figure out where each bird/plant/insect etc must go. I discussed it with Andre first, and then I started the detailed drawing of the trees, after which I added the colors and effects. This took me one whole weekend and the following Monday nonstop.

After that was done, I started drawing each animal/insect separately, knowing it would facilitate the process as I go along, in case it needed to be made bigger or smaller or moved to add info later on.



The snake took many hours to draw.


Andre supplied a lot of info which helped me to me able to illustrate a lot of the newly found fauna and flora. I used a few different artist pens for all of the drawings. I added each one’s colors separately as well, and these took me an additional two weekends, but I also worked on this a few times during the weeks, when I had time, between my other work.

Yes, you are 100% correct by saying I drew it first, scanned it in and then added the colors in Photoshop. I drew everything quite big so that it could have a lot of detail afterwards, when scanned and reduced in size. I tried to make it look hand-colored with the effects I used.


And yes, I added the ‘halo’s’ to make them stand out, I am glad you say it works.

Andre finishes the story by adding:

I sent the graphic to the researcher, Dr. Julian Bayliss (he is in Malawi now)…


…and he very kindly responded with some additional info. He also asked for a copy of the graphic. He says he likes it a lot.

Graphics24 is the infographics division of South African media giant Media24. Among the company’s many holdings: Daily Afrikaans-language papers in Johannesburg, Bloomfontein and Cape Town, two large nationally-distributed Sunday papers — one publishes in Afrikaans and one in English — and a number of tabloids. I did quite a bit of teaching and consulting work for the company’s print operation between 2009 and 2011.

This graphic ran in the English-language Sunday paper, City Press. I’m told it’s possible it might also appear in City Press‘ Afrikaans-language counterpart, Rapport.

Hanlie Malan works out of the company’s Port Elizabeth office.


I posted about her work from time to time during my trips to South Africa. Here’s an example of her graphic work.

Here’s what I wrote about graphics editor Andre Gouws back in 2010, when Media24 appointed him to be graphics director:

Andre is very sharp and very organized. He has a ton of experience as both and editor and a manager, having worked in Cape Town and then at the Gulf News in Dubai.


When I was here [in 2009], I helped write a job description and recommended criteria for a departmental leader. Seems to me they’ve chosen wisely.

In November of last year, Andre and Hanlie teamed up to create a nice piece on the Berlin Wall. A month later, they worked on a piece that observed the 10th anniversary of the gigantic tsunami that affected the Indian Ocean.

Find the Graphics24 online graphics archive here.

Charles Apple moving to the Houston Chronicle

My stay here in Victoria, Texas, has turned out to be a brief one. I’m headed two hours up the road to become assistant design editor for the Houston Chronicle.


I’m a graduate of Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C. — although it wasn’t Winthrop University when I was there. It was just plain ol’ Winthrop College. I graduated in 1984 after several years of working in the school’s sports information operation and stringing for the Charlotte Observer.

Two pictures of me at the Athens Banner-Herald,
around 1987 or so. On the left is my first Mac.
On the right, I’m drawing an editorial cartoon.

I spent several years working at small papers: the Athens, Ga., Banner-Herald and Daily News and the Rock Hill Herald.


I joined the staff of the Raleigh, N.C. News & Observer in 1993, won a handful of SND awards for graphics and graphics reporting.




Among the many talented folks I worked with there:

  • Our editor, Frank Daniels III, who went out to found TotalSports.com and who now is community conversations editor and a columnist for the Nashville Tennessean.
  • Our city editor-turned-editor, Anders Gyllenhaal, who’d go on to become editor of the Miami Herald and who is now vice president of news and the Washington editor for McClatchy.
  • Our projects editor, Melanie Sill, who spent several years as editor of the Sacramento Bee and who is now vice president for content at Southern California Public Radio in Pasadena.
  • Our design director, Damon Cain, who’s now managing editor for presentation and design at the Denver Post.
  • Stuart Leavenworth, who’s currently the McClatchy bureau chief in Beijing.
  • And our Chapel Hill bureau chief, Nancy Barnes, who spent six years as editor of the Minneapolis Star Tribune and who is now the editor of the Houston Chronicle.

I was there only a brief time before I was hired away by the Chicago Tribune in 1996.


I entered the world of management in 1999 at the Des Moines Register


…and then moved to the Virginian-Pilot in 2003.


Here I am in 2007, with my award-winning Virginian-Pilot graphics staff.


After the Pilot eliminated my department and my position, I spent a brief time as an art director for the Sporting News in Charlotte, N.C.

For the next four-and-a-half years, I worked as as a free-lance instructor, consultant, writer and designer, teaching news design and graphics seminars around the country. I spent a total of eight months teaching at and consulting for the Media24 newspaper chain of South Africa.


I’ve also taught in the Philippines…


…in Nigeria…


…and in Kenya.


Mostly, though, I blogged.


Blogging has never paid anything. But during my long years out of work, it keep me productive and positive — at times — and it allowed me to help make your life and your job a little easier. And, perhaps, a little more fun.

Or, at least, that was my hope.

In 2013, I was hired by the Orange County Register of Santa Ana, Calif., in the southern suburbs of Los Angeles, not far from Anaheim and Disneyland. Basically, they gave me a full page five days a week and told me I could do anything I wanted with it. The only real instruction: Make it spectacular.

And so I tried to do that.





Focus page editor was the greatest job a research geek like me could have. It was fun for nearly two years — until cycle after cycle of layoffs and furloughs and news reports suggested that the situation at the Orange County Register might not be as secure as I had hoped.

Not wanting to have yet another job die under me, I tried to go proactive: Last December, I became managing editor for visuals of the Victoria Advocate — a small, family-owned newspaper that wasn’t likely to go anywhere, anytime soon.

I’ve done pretty good work, I think.



But yet, it’s not been a good fit.

That’s where my old Raleigh friend, Nancy, comes in.


I’ll start at the Chronicle on Monday the 29th. I’ll be working with the paper’s news presentation and projects design.

Added bonus: I imagine I’ll be building a lot of work that originates with the Chronicle‘s investigations and enterprise team. That team is led by Maria Carillo, who was my managing editor at the Virginian-Pilot.

It’s an awfully small world, isn’t it?

I live in Victoria with my 22-year-old daughter, Elizabeth. My wife, Sharon — a special ed teacher — never made the move to California and she also doesn’t live with us in Victoria. She moved in with her folks in Lilburn, Ga. — outside of Atlanta — and helps care for them. She comes to visit every few months or so…


…and, in fact, will be here next week to help plan our move to Houston.

What will become of this blog? I’ll keep on posting as often as I can — which might not be very frequently over the next few weeks. I’ll keep the blog alive as long as it’s useful to us in newspaper land.

Want to see more samples of my work? I’m in the process of overhauling my NewsPageDesigner portfolio. You can find it here.

I’m all over social media: I’m on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. If you’ve not friended me, please feel free.

You know where to find my blog. Obviously.

Why I went to Fargo in February… and why I loved it

In the years since I left the cold, cold north — we moved out of Iowa back in 2003 — I’ve managed to throw out most of my warm clothes. No sweaters. No hats or heavy jackets. My snow boots dry-rotted years ago.

For the past 12 years, I’ve enjoyed living in relatively balmy Virginia Beach, Orange County and, now, South Texas. And, to give me some credit, I agreed to this teaching + consulting trip to Fargo, N.D., last fall, when I was toasty warm in Southern California. I just assumed I’d be able to deal with whatever mother nature threw at me.

So it was with a bit of alarm that I watched the extended forecast roll in the week before I left.


That showed a full week below freezing and lows, four out of six nights, below zero. What it doesn’t show is the wind chill. And it’s very windy in Fargo, this time of year. This screen snapshot from my phone the day I departed showed a wind chill factor of minus 40.


Minus 40. Wow.

In fact, it was closer to minus 30 when I arrived last Sunday night. Obviously, I survived.


I took my thickest coat — which really isn’t all that thick — my one pair of gloves and the wonderful scarf that was a gift from my friends in South Africa. I left my usual Hawaiian-themed shirts at home and took the warmest clothes I could find in my closet. I have a limited number of long-sleeved shirts. I took all but two with me.

The hospitality I received from my new friends at the Forum of Fargo/Moorehead was just wonderful. Editor Matt Von Pinnon met me at the airport with two things: A sign, made by his daughter…


…and a knit stocking cap. Which I didn’t actually use all week long. But Matt was afraid I’d hurt my ears walking around in the cold.

I arrived at my hotel — the Radisson, in downtown Fargo — just early enough to glimpse the area in the fading sunlight.


It looked cold outside and it was. My hotel was, in fact, the tallest building in town. This is what it looked like, later in the week.


I was on the sixth floor and I was never really uncomfortable at any time… as long as I was inside. The folks there know that, when you walk in, you’ll be awfully chilly. So they have this fire-burning heater set in the wall by the front door.


I’d walk downstairs to find folks crowded around that thing, trying to thaw out their fingers.

Bright and early Monday, I had breakfast in the in-house restaurant on the second floor of the Radisson, from which I had a clear view of the Forum Communications building.


That shows how far I had to walk in the frigid air every morning: Exactly one block. It took me maybe a minute.

Every day at 9 a.m. or so, I’d walk in the front door…


…receive a friendly greeting from both the receptionist and from this bronze kid hawking newspapers…


…and ride up the elevator to the newsroom, where they hold the morning news huddle every day at 9:15.


Interestingly, they begin every morning huddle with a trivia quiz by Jack Zaleski, the editorial page editor sitting here to the right of Matt.


Jack would read off five questions. Folks would write down their guesses on the back of their daily budgets and then compare their answers to Jack’s answers after the meeting.

I managed to hit five out of five on Tuesday. Which kind of made up for my dismal performances on the other days.

On Monday, we hooked up my laptop to the brand-new oversized newsroom flatscreen — They used my visit as an excuse to upgrade, I was told — and I gave an updated version of my Graphics for Word People talk and a presentation on basic charting.


One of the things that delighted me about this trip was how quickly and how enthusiastically the staff of the Forum picked up on the lessons I bought them. We spent some time Monday looking at spectacular pages built by papers around the world, blowing most of the stories off page one — when the news merited it, of course.

That very afternoon, we discussed how to present the story about a hotly contested runoff election. Was a boxing metaphor appropriate? Yes it was. So I fished out of my hard drive a few Chris Morris illustrations from a while back and showed them to the Forum‘s super-terrific artist, Troy Becker.

Troy put his own spin on the idea and turned Tuesday’s front page into an entire boxing poster.


Holy cow. It happened so fast that it really caught me off guard. That suggested these folks were really, really hungry for inspiration.

We also spent a lot of time talking about alternative approaches and things like quick-and-easy “big numbers” graphics. The Forum‘s design director, Jason Miller


decided this was the way to go for Wednesday’s paper. And darned if he didn’t knock it out of the park.


He even sampled the red color out of the photo, to help the centerpiece hold together.

Later in the week, we talked about skyboxes. Most newspapers build boring, ordinary skyboxes that aren’t very effective at catching anyone’s eye. Which, of course, defeats the purpose of a skybox in the first place. We talked about how skyboxes need to be selected more wisely, cropped better, constructed more effectively and written in a more snappy manner.

And occasionally, maybe — just maybe — a skybox might interact with the paper’s nameplate. We looked at a lot of examples of cool, eyecatching skyboxes. Everyone seemed to appreciate the session.

So, for Thursday’s paper, Troy illustrated the front of the daily features section…


…and they decided they wanted to put this in the skybox. Troy’s artwork converted nicely for a fun piece of art. But that day, the staff went a step further when Troy suggested this catchy headline:


So by midweek, I was completely knocked out by what the Forum staff was doing with the topics were were covering each day.

On Wednesday, however, we changed everything up. Forum Communications owns dozens of other papers around the region, including maybe 12 or 15 dailies. The ownership had asked all the other dailies if they wanted to attend a few sessions. I’m told they expected maybe a handful of additional people to show up. Instead, we had 45 or 50 responses.

This was too many people to see my presentations on the new widescreen and it was too many people to stuff into the largest conference room in the building. So for the first time in my life, I got to play Broadway.


In order to get there from the hotel, I had to walk a block in the opposite direction from the newspaper, turn left and then walk another block. The meeting place was then directly across the street.

We met in a little building that held a coffee shop, an art studio and a marketing firm. In the back of the building was a cute little venue called Studio 222. The operator, Spider Johnk rents it out for speeches, concerts and whatnot.


In fact, I had to giggle when I saw myself listed on their calendar.


Every Friday night, Spider’s Studio 222 hosts a live jazz show. So the place had a basement jazz club kind of feel to it, including vintage advertising-type art.


Naturally, I had to introduce myself to the gorgeous lady on the wall.


Find Studio 222’s web site here and its Facebook page here.

Folks from all over the chain came to see my presentations. On a few occasions, folks from the Forum staff came over too, packing the place pretty tightly.


Over the course of Wednesday and Thursday, I gave eight presentations there at Studio 222. I spoke on the aforementioned Skybox design and proactivity for visual journalists. I spoke on breaking news visuals and showed sketches from the old days when I covered plane crashes and shooting sprees.


I spoke on alternative story forms and techniques for scrounging when centerpiece art is scarce. And, of course, I gave my old Art of Being Brilliant motivational talk. I hadn’t done that one in a while.


And I showed folks some material I’ve not shown in a long, long time. I was especially delighted with this picture — one of the best ever taken of me teaching.


One staffer tweeted this really awesome quote — one so awesome I don’t even remember saying it.


Turns out, I was talking about the complicated blends in the water in that battleship graphic from 1995. The folks at Adobe told me the water was clearly drawn in photoshop and then placed as an eps image. But no, it was all vector blends. I don’t think they believed me until we sent them a copy of the graphic on a syquest disc.

The folks in Fargo me me feel like such a rock star. I just hope I made last week’s shows worth their time.

And, on occasion, I learned something new myself. I knew it was possible to create artwork on an iPad, but I hadn’t seen anyone actually do it until Friday, when Troy Becker showed me his cartoon work.


Troy creates two cartoons a week for the Forum‘s sports section. He uses his iPad, a stylus and an application called Sketches.


The pro edition of Sketches costs $4.99. Plus, you could pay an additional $1.99 for “more tools.” And then $1.99 for a layers version. And then $1.99 for a version enabled for use with a stylus.

So the outlay would could be as much as eleven bucks, depending on how you need to configure your app. But you get so much function for this. Note the various pen tools on the left side of Troy’s screen.


This photo looks pretty rough, but the actual artwork on Troy’s Retina screen was perfect.


Troy then uses the various pens and whatnot to trace directly over his pencil sketch. A wide variety of textures and effects are literally at his fingertips.


Once the drawing is done, he fills in the image with, y’know, 50 shades of grey. Or maybe just three or four shades of grey.


He moves the result over to his computer, where he adds the text…


…which, I might add, is made from his own handwriting.

Very cool.

So as I was wrapping up and saying my goodbyes Friday afternoon, I found this little gem on Twitter.


Not only did they decide to put Leonard Nimoy in the Skybox for Saturday’s paper, they had Spock’s Vulcan salute take the place of the “u” in Forum. I couldn’t get over how well this fulfilled the challenges I laid out for them in Wednesday’s session on skyboxes.

Jason told me that he designed the thing but then turned it over to designer Alicia Strnad — a comics and sci-fi fan — to write the actual text.


Alicia came up with that particular quote from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.

I was so thrilled. What a great week it had been. In addition, Jason built a huge page-one bar chart for Saturday’s page one and another one for Sunday’s metro front.

I got up mighty early Saturday and took the shuttle to the airport long before dawn. The sun came up as we were sitting on the tarmac, waiting for our plane to be de-iced.


The window was too fogged to see it clearly. But Saturday’s dawn was certainly colorful enough.

I flew to O’Hare and then to Austin, retrieved my car and then drove the two hours home to Victoria. Where I was delighted to discover that a) My cats were just fine, b) My daughter didn’t host a party in my absence, and c) My own paper, the Victoria Advocate, looked pretty good during my absence.

So it was a wonderful week in Fargo. Just fantastic.

A South African chain observes the 10th anniversary of the tsunami

Ten years ago today, a 9.3-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Sumatra, Indonesia. The resulting tsunami grew to nearly 34 feet tall in places. Nearly a quarter-million people were killed in and around the Indian Ocean.

My friends at Graphics24 — the infographics arm of the Media24 chain based in Johannesburg, South Africa — put together this piece to commemorate the disaster.

Tsunami gray

Click that for a much larger look. Click here to see a version in Afrikaans.


The illustrator for that graphic was Hanlie Malan, who works out of the company’s Port Elizabeth office. I posted about her work from time to time during my consulting gigs at her company. Here’s an example of her graphic work.

Graphics editor Andre Gouws researched and wrote the piece. Here’s what I wrote about Andre when Media24 hired him to be graphics director back in 2010:

Andre is very sharp and very organized. He has a ton of experience as both and editor and a manager, having worked in Cape Town and then at the Gulf News in Dubai.


When I was here [in 2009], I helped write a job description and recommended criteria for a departmental leader. Seems to me they’ve chosen wisely.

Last month, I wrote about Andre and Hanlie’s collaboration on a piece about the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Find the Graphics24 online graphics archive here.

The 12 Days of Christmas, told via outstanding Christmas Day poster front pages

Hardly anyone runs out and buys a paper from a newstand or a convenience store on Christmas Day. So no matter what you do — no matter what you put above the fold — it’s unlike you’re going to push up single-copy sales on Christmas Day.

For that reason, some papers will essentially “blow off” their typical page-one presentation strategy on this day and give readers a bit of a Christmas Card-like gift for the holiday with a giant poster-page treatment featuring photography or an illustration.

Over the years, I’ve tried to shed a spotlight some of the better examples. Here is this year’s installment…


Scranton, Pa.
Circulation: 47,663

Perhaps the day’s most spectacular poster front — certainly the day’s largest — is this enormous illustration by Times-Tribune staffer Bob Sanchuk that wrapped around the paper in Scranton today.


Click on that — or any page here today — for a larger look.

The illustration evokes old times, winter weather and the Polar Express. In addition, of course, to being downright gorgeous.

Find more of Bob’s work here.


Santa Ana, Calif.
Circulation: About 160,000

My friends and ex-colleages at the Orange County Register created yet another fun Christmas Day photoillustration for today’s page one:


That’s Santa, setting up a tree and lighting a bonfire on Huntington Beach. Leonard Ortiz made the photo and Karen Kelso art-directed the shoot. Sitting the door of the trailer is Jitterbug, the dog of copy editor Maryanne Dell.

UPDATE: 6:45 p.m.

Karen writes on her Facebook page that she also art directed the front page of the Register’s sister paper, the Riverside Press-Enterprise.


That picture was shot by Press-Enterprise staffer Terry Pierson. For some reason, that’s not the page that showed up in the Newseum today.

These guys have teamed up in the past for previous treatments. Here was the one they did for 2011:


Karen said she really hated dealing with the reindeer for the 2012 page. Dirty nasty animal, she said.


And this is the one they built for last year.


Brilliant work. Definitely worth tooting your pipes for.


Cleveland, Ohio
Circulation: 246,571

This front page photo of a real, live singing angel was enough to make me leap for joy today.


Not only is it gorgeous… not only does it perfectly illustrate the season… but also, it was shot live last night during a Christmas Eve pageant. Staffer Lisa DeJong made the picture.


Newport News, Va.
Circulation: 57,642

My friends at the Daily Press have been doing the relocation dance this month, moving into new digs in Newport News, Va.

Their full-page poster treatment today not only illustrates the season but also highlights their new building.


Note how the sign on the side of the building does double-duty today as the paper’s nameplate. Nice.

The picture is by staffer Adrin Snider.


Oklahoma City, Okla.
Circulation: 130,177

To find maids a-milking, we’ll head to the farmlands of the Midwest.

For its Christmas Day treatment, the Oklahoman today milked the old holiday tradition of a snowglobe.


This attractive illustration is credited to staffers Steve Boaldin and Todd Pendleton.

Steve and Todd did a great job with their snowglobe. But Sean McKeown-Young of the Gannett Design Studio in Des Moines, Iowa, has cornered the market on snowglobes. He’s been building Christmas Day pagetoppers based on snow globe imagery for the past two years. This year, however…

I went a little nuts.

Sean builds his snowglobes to include imagery from each city. He reused the globes he’s built for Gannett’s Wisconsin papers, including Appleton…


…Fond du Lac…


…Green Bay…










…Stevens Point…




…and Wisconsin Rapids.


This year, Sean added snowglobe treatments for Des Moines, Iowa…


…Iowa City…


…Sioux Falls, S.D. …


…Springfield, Mo. …


…and a whole bunch of papers further south. Sean tells us:

We used one basic Louisiana snowglobe…

…for Alexandria…










…and Shreveport…



Wichita, Kansas
Circulation: 67,250

I’m certain it had been done before, but I first noticed Christmas Day poster treatments by watching the Wichita Eagle. They’ve been doing this sort of thing longer than most papers and they do it as well as anyone.

Here is this year’s gorgeous swan of a front-page Christmas card to readers.


Unfortunately, the photo isn’t credited.


Colorado Springs, Colo.
Circulation: 70,021

If you’re gong to fill the role of a goose a-laying, then you might as well lay golden eggs.

That’s just what the Colorado Springs Gazette did today with this photo of Santa greeting kids, shot from outside a window.


The photo is credited to staffer Jerilec Bennett.


A number of papers chose to illustrate page one today with religious-themed imagery. Taking the place of golden rings today are two of the better ones…

Spartanburg, S.C.
Circulation: 31,940

The Herald-Journal of Spartanburg, S.C., typically runs large art of a stained glass window on its Christmas Day front. They went sideways with today’s version.


My only beef with this page: There’s no credit. I suspect this window — gorgeous as it is — is from a cathedral in Europe. But with no cutline or credit, we’ll never know.

Hutchinson, Kansas
Circulation: 25,722

The Hutchinson News also has a Christmas Day tradition: It makes a full-page Christmas card out of classic paintings from long ago.

This year’s painting is 479 years old.


Note the nudity. I think you’ll find that unusual for a small-town newspaper.


The Villages, Fla.
Circulation: 44,624

Yesterday, I highlighted a really fun Christmas Eve page from my friends at the Villages Daily Sun.

Today, they fill the spot of calling birds with this gorgeous illustration of Santa, drifting through the sky with balloons of love.


The art was not credited, so I asked executive editor Bonita Burton about it. She replies:

It was a mashup I did of stock images.

If you ever feel you can’t possibly build a poster front with stock images, please come back and look at this example.


Longview, Texas
Circulation: 24,481

Sometimes, simpler is better.

No, strike that. Often, simpler is better.

Taking the place of simple French hens today is the News-Journal of Longview, Texas, which illustrated the tale of the birth of Christ from the New Testament with a very simple illustration of the wise men, following the birth star through the desert.


The art is listed only as a staff illustration.


New York, N.Y.
Circulation: 579,636

Doves are symbols of peace — appropriate for this holiday and especially for the troubled social and political times we live in.

So filling the role of turtle doves today is the New York Daily News, which delighted me this morning with this wonderful photoillustration.



Unfortunately, it’s not credited.


The final spot in our Christmas Day countdown of the day’s most remarkable pages — the partridge in a pear tree — will be played today by a pair of pages that are not poster pages but still interesting treatments of note.

Fort Collins, Colo.
Circulation: 19,864

The paper in Fort Collins, Colo., today did a story on ugly Christmas sweaters. To illustrate that, they dressed staffers in the ugliest sweaters they could find.


The story is by Erin Udell. The portraits are by Erin Hull.

Jackson, Miss.
Circulation: 57,710

Remember what I said about simpler being better? After the visual Christmas dinner feast you’ve enjoyed here today, let’s go in an opposite direction for our dessert: This gorgeously simple treatment from the Clarion-Ledger of Jackson, Miss.


The Clarion-Ledger asked staffers to write personalized stories about the holidays and Christmas traditions. Note that the little tree art is made of little quote boxes — what cartoonists call dialogue balloons.

Gorgeous stuff. Once again, sadly, it’s not credited.


In all the years I’ve been posting roundups of Christmas Day pages, I’ve never had one of my own to post.

Until today…

Victoria, Texas
Circulation: 26,531

Ten years ago today, it snowed in Victoria. In fact, the town got 12.5 inches between Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

That was pretty unusual. It’s snowed only 18 times in the 100+ years the National Weather Service has collected data in this city. The 12.5 inches was the greatest 24-hour snowfall this area has ever seen. The fact that it happened on Christmas and then pretty much melted off quickly afterwards was a big bonus.

We at the Advocate commemorated the tenth anniversary of this with an eight-page special section in today’s paper plus a big poster front on page one.


We didn’t really have a lot of file photos of the snow. That picture of the town square here in Victoria was shot by Miguel Luna, who was a staffer here at the time.

Side note: Check out the little daily bug at the bottom of the page showing local gas prices. They’re below $2 a gallon here. WooHoo!

But, back to the snow…

Several weeks ago — long before I arrived here — the Advocate began running items in the paper reminding readers it had been ten years since this snow and asking them to send in their snapshots and their memories via email, Facebook or whatever. And dozens did.

We used this in our local section today. We pushed all the usual B-section material into the A-section and opened up eight full pages for readers’ memories.

I built another big display for page B1, using the same typography and color scheme, plus another photo by Miguel Luna — this one, of Victoria’s historic old county courthouse.


The secondary art was contributed by a reader. Staffer Natassia Bonyanpour wrote the nice essay for the front.

On the inside, pages two and three were both black-and-white. I tried to pick only photos I thought might reproduce well with no color. The Glass family of Victoria sent in a very nice collection of pictures, so I ganged five of them for a visual sidebar at the top of page three.


I used another of Miguel’s photos for the snowman cutout on the left side of the spread.

Also, note the page headers. How often can you use that song in this area? Not very. So I thought that would make a nice running gag throughout the section.

Pages four and five was the color doubletruck. I sidestepped any possible production headaches by building two facing pages instead of filling the gutter.


Here, I used only the best, clearest, and highest-resolution pictures we were sent. The one at upper right — “Wyatt’s first Christmas” in the nearby town of Goliad — was professional portrait quality. Building a section like this is a lot easier when you have top-notch ingredients like this.

Also, note the “Lawnmower powered sled” picture at upper left. That makes a lot of sense: We’re very close to the Gulf of Mexico and the land here is very flat. How else are you going to use a sled?

Across the bottom of both pages, I cooked up a little timeline graphic showing the 18 snowfalls in Victoria history, going back 125 years.

Now that I had established a nice flow of stories and some gorgeous visuals, I used the next two black-and-white pages to display the nicest art I could find that would play well without color. On page six, below left, I played off the “beautiful sight” lyric by going with landscape shots.


Note the take on ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas poem sent in by one reader at upper left.

On page seven, above right, I tried to mix some of the more interesting and unusual pictures readers sent us: A cow in the snow. Towels, frozen on the clothesline. A man who, to this day, has kept a bag of 2004 snow in his freezer.

For the color back page: Yes, I went there.


Although I had used a few snowman pictures on pages two and three, I ganged 12 more of them here. A couple of the pictures here were awfully murky. But combined with several others, they didn’t seem so bad.

I hadn’t really intended to build the entire section myself. But when I found our lead designer and our lead copy editor were planning to come in on their days off to work on this project, I urged them to take their days off. Thanks to all that experience I gained this year building photo pages every other Monday at the Orange County Register, I could knock this out myself.

The parallel to my OC Register work is even stronger when you consider I’m still not yet up-and-running on our editorial system here. I built all nine pages the same way I built my Focus pages in California: In Adobe Illustrator. We saved the finished pages as EPS files and then plopped them into place as full-page images.

Lead designer Kimiko Fieg then returned the favor Tuesday night by building a sports front for Sunday I had intended to work up on Christmas Eve. Which, in turn, made Wednesday a very easy day for me. This reciprocal gift-giving was quite nice.

With the exception of my own pages from Victoria, all these pages are from the Newseum.

Previous Christmas Day page roundups:

Things are a little crazy around the Apple household this week

It’s mostly because we’re packing up to move this weekend.

My wife — who lives in Atlanta these days, where she helps care for her folks — flew into town Saturday to help us prepare for the move from Santa Ana, Calif., to Victoria, Texas.

After days of packing, she and our daughter, Elizabeth, are nearly done.


While they’ve been working here, I’ve been in my last week building Focus pages for the Orange County Register.


Sharon and Elizabeth are making good progress. But then again, we have lots of recent experience doing this. Sigh.

One thing’s for sure: Our cat, Bones, is less than pleased with developments.


They’ll finish up packong here Thursday. Friday, we have a crew coming to load up a Penske truck. As soon as I can slink out the door at work, we’ll hit the freeway, bound for parts east.

We’ll stay in Indio, Calif., Friday night and El Paso Saturday night. We’ll be in Victoria late Sunday and move into our new place Monday.

I’ll start my new job as managing editor for visuals of the Victoria Advocate on Dec. 1.

I’ll try to keep you posted via social media. Look for the hashtag #trektotexas

My graphic takes on today’s midterm elections

Unless you’ve been living under a rock — or somewhere else where you’ve not suffered through the barrage of political attack ads — then you know today is Election Day.

There is much at stake today. Lots of referendums and ballot measures. State house seats. Gubernatorial races and Congressional seats. I covered some of the nation’s most notable on my Focus page in Monday’s Orange County Register.

Click this for a readable version.


The biggest stakes, however, are in the U.S. Senate, where Democrats have been clinging to a thin margin of control. That’s not expected to last much longer, however. Most observers think Republicans will win control of the senate. That was the topic of today’s Focus page.


I built this grid showing all 36 Senate seats at stake today. Most of those races are pretty easy to call — they’re safe for either the Democrats or Republicans. Only a handful are “up for grabs.” And even those are leaning one way or the other. I aggregated prognostications by eight leading news outlets including Politico, RealClearPolitics, Nate Silver‘s FiveThirtyEight and the University of Virginia’s Larry Sabato as well as CNN, Fox News, the New York Times and the Washington Post to show readers what to expect –and, better yet, what to watch for — as the results begin rolling in this afternoon, Pacific Time.

This is basically a U.S. Senate version of the big Election Night graphics I’ve done for the last four presidential election cycles.


In 2012, I sold this graphic to 36 newspapers around the country.

As you can see from today’s Focus page, there are really only two races nearly everyone agrees are too close to call: Georgia and Kansas. In addition, Louisiana is so close that it, like Georgia, might very well have to hold a runoff election.

This brings up a number of important notes about the status of the Senate…


  • Alaska is expected to go Republican. But the vote is still expected to be close. There are a lot of votes by mail in Alaska. By state law, those ballots won’t be counted until next week. If the vote there is very close, we might not know the winner for several days.


  • If neither candidate in Louisiana earns more than 50 percent of the vote, the state would have to hold a runoff. That would happen on Saturday, Dec. 6 — 32 days from now.


  • In Georgia, too, things could get strange. Two-term GOP Sen. Saxby Chambliss is retiring. Democrat Michelle Nunn — daughter of former Sen. Sam Nunn — is running strong against Republican David Perdue, cousin of former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue. A Libertarian candidate will split the vote even more and make a runoff even more likely. But here’s the thing: A Georgia runoff wouldn’t be held until Tuesday, Jan. 6 — three days after the new Congress is scheduled to convene.

What a nutty day this could turn out to be. Still, the GOP has more than a 74 percent chance of taking the senate, said Nate Silver (and since yesterday afternoon, he’s raised that to 76.2 percent). The Washington Post is even more sure — it set the GOP’s chances at 96 percent. (They, too, have upped their estimate, now, to 98 percent).

How often does the President’s party lose seats in a midterm election? About 80 percent of the time. Over the past 50 opportunities, a sitting president gained seats in either chamber only nine times.

I charted this back in April with this Focus page.


Only twice in the past 100 years has a president gained seats in both the Senate and the House. Franklin D. Roosevelt did it in 1934 and George W. Bush did it in 2006.

Only once in the past century has a president won Congressional seats in his second midterm: Bill Clinton did it in 1998.

I love elections. Campaign TV ads? Those, I could do without…

Want to check out my sources to see what data that may have updated overnight or what could shift throughout the day today? Here ya go:

Charles Apple named managing editor/visuals of the Victoria Advocate

Today, I have an announcement of my own: I’m leaving my job as Focus page editor of the Orange County Register and moving to Texas.


Starting in early December, I’ll be managing editor for visuals of the Victoria Advocate — a paper I’ve admired greatly and about which I’ve written often, here in the blog.

Monday, Advocate editor Chris Cobler announced to his staff:

I’m delighted to announce that Charles Apple will be joining our team as managing editor/visuals.

As an industry leader in newspaper design, Charles needs little introduction, but I’ll briefly summarize his wide range of experience: Early in his career, he was a sports stringer for the Rock Hill (S.C.) Evening Herald and later became a graphic artist there. His remarkable work led him to similar positions at the Raleigh, N.C., News & Observer, the Chicago Tribune and Des Moines Register.

He served for five years as graphics director of the Virginian Pilot until the recession hit in 2008. From there, he further enhanced his national reputation as an international consultant and through his blog, which is a must-read for all newspaper designers…

To bring in a journalist of this caliber, [managing editor] Becky, [design director] Kiko and I discussed how best to structure the newsroom. Through those conversations, we landed on the title of managing editor/visuals… Becky’s title will be adjusted slightly to managing editor/content, but her job description remains unchanged, except that she obviously will be working closely with Charles on the visual aspect of our content.

You might be wondering why Charles would come to a smaller newspaper like the Victoria Advocate from his current position as Focus editor at the Orange County (Calif.) Register. As many of you know, Charles has been a huge fan of the creative work we have done at the Advocate for many years, and that’s how he and I first became acquainted. With the turmoil in the industry, Charles believes community newspapers like the Advocate are the future and appreciates, as I do, the family ownership here.

His first day is set for Dec. 1. He and his wife, Sharon, will be in Victoria Oct. 29-Nov. 2 on an apartment-hunting expedition.

As exciting as my new job sounds, please understand: I leave California with a great deal of sadness. I love my colleagues at the Register and my editors have been very kind to me. Focus page editor has been the most fun job I’ve ever had.

In addition, my daughter and I just love California.


Some of you know I have occasional health issues with asthma, allergies and the like. I’ve never breathed better than I have here in Orange County. I imagine I’ll be allergic to every other molecule in the air in Texas, just as I was in Virginia, Iowa, Illinois, North Carolina and the rest.

Sadly, my wife, Sharon, never made the move to California. She came to see us a couple of times, but she lingered a bit in Atlanta to help deal with family matters.


But, sadly, it’s time for us to move on. I’m just lucky I have a top-notch outfit like the Advocate — and a top-notch editor like Chris — who’s willing to provide me with a new professional challenge.

The Advocate is a family-owned daily that circulates an average of 26,531 papers on weekdays. The city is about two hours from San Antonio, two hours from Houston, two hours from Austin and two hours from Corpus Christi. It’s maybe 30 minutes from the Gulf of Mexico.


Victoria is a gorgeous little city with deep historical roots. You guys know how much I love history. I was completely charmed by the place during my visit there several weeks ago.


The whole small-town, family thing was driven home — almost literally — when my mom drove down from her place in Fort Worth and crashed my interview.


The Advocate likes to surprise and delight its readers as often as possible. As Chris notes, I’ve blogged about the paper frequently over the years.

The plan is for me to continue building Focus pages here in Southern California through Thanksgiving. We plan to move over the holiday.

Chris covered the standard biographical info above, so let’s skip that this time. If you feel compelled to see more details about my career, read this item I posted 20 months ago, when I moved to the west coast.

A great way to sample some of my work here in California would be to read about the two-day Focus page series on the Beach Boys I did back in June.


Or, you can check out my gallery at NewsPageDesigner. I’m several months behind in posting my work, but you’ll definitely get the idea.

Before I got into teaching, I spent several years as a graphics reporter, artist and editor. One of my favorite battle stories is the work my staff did covering the tragic loss of the space shuttle Columbia in 2003.


Read more about that here.

Before I got into management, I was known for my work as a graphic artist. This was the assignment that really took my career to the next level.


That ran in May 1995.

Not only did I design and draw that page, I also researched and wrote it. I was also known for my work reporting graphics for breaking news stories.

More recently, I’ve done a bit of freelance graphic work. One of my most successful projects has been a big election grid that I originally built in 2000 and have updated for every presidential election cycle since.


In 2012, I sold the graphic to 36 newspapers around the country. Read about that project here.

Chris mentioned I’ve done teaching and consulting work internationally. That’s true: I’ve been to the Philippines, Nigeria (below), Kenya and especially South Africa.


If you put my six trips to South Africa together, it would total more than nine months.

My very first overseas assignment, however, was to England. And the whole thing was a bit of a fluke. I recently wrote about that here.

When I travel, I blog about my adventures. Here’s a sample from my time in Nigeria in March of 2012…


…and here’s my final dispatch from Nairobi (above) in August of that same year.

The last time I was on Johannesburg, it snowed. And it never snows there.


In addition to work, I also manage to get in a little fun from time to time. One time, I went to a nature preserve and got to watch them feed the kitties.


When I’m in Cape Town, I like to drive around and take in the scenery.


Or I’ll just watch the mountain. Table mountain is just incredible.

So I’m looking forward to moving to Texas and I’m looking forward to getting back into teaching+mentoring mode.

This is gonna be fun. Stay tuned.

A quarter-century ago, my side career as an instructor began

Twenty-five years ago today, I departed for my first big visual journalism teaching assignment: A one-week gig at the Echo in Sunderland, England.

Somewhere in storage, I have two scrapbooks full of pictures and memories of that trip. I sure wish I had access to that now. I don’t, though, so I have no real visuals at all for this story — other than this one, of me teaching.


Wow. I wore a tie then.

Wow. I wore sweaters then.

Wow. I had hair then.

How did it happen that a young guy like me got such a sweet gig? It was a total fluke.

In September 1989, three representatives of the Echo came to the U.S. to pick up a marketing award their paper had won. While they were here, they took the opportunity to visit a number of newspapers to see how newsrooms were using those newfangled Macintosh computers. They had bought one for their own paper, but hardly anyone was using it. Just to build borders for ads, I was told.

At some point, the three of them ended up in the Charlotte area to take in a NASCAR race. They stayed at the lake house owned by Wayne Patrick, publisher of the Herald of Rock Hill, S.C. Wayne asked them how their journey was going and they complained that they really hadn’t been able to spend much time with actual Macintosh users at the big papers they had visited.

Wayne told them: Well, hey, we have a guy at our paper who’s pretty good on an Apple computer. His name is even “Apple.” Come by the paper Friday and you can spend as much time as you like watching him work.

So that’s how I got blindsided on a very busy Friday-before-Labor-Day-weekend with these three English newspaper guys who wanted to shadow me.

Sigh. Whatever, y’know?

I started plowing through my stack of holiday assignments, explaining each step of the way what I was doing. The three gentlemen took careful notes and asked really good questions. After a while, several things became clear:

  1. The artists back in England really weren’t using the kinds of software they needed to do the kind of work the management expected. In addition to MacDraw, they’d need Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop and Aldus Freehand.
  2. The little Macintosh in their department wasn’t nearly robust enough to get the job done. They’d need a bigger Mac with more memory and a much, much bigger screen. Plus, a scanner.
  3. And they really needed someone to demonstrate not just what but how to use a Mac in their daily duties.

They asked me: How would you like to come to England and teach our people how to use an Apple Mac?

I just laughed. Yeah, right. I had spoken to a couple of college and high school classes, but I had never taught before in my life. These guys couldn’t possibly be serious.

The English folks departed and I forgot all about them. Until a few weeks later, when they contacted Wayne to set up my trip.

Egads! I didn’t even have a passport! I had to take a day off and drive to Anderson to pick up a copy of my birth certificate.  Then, my mom — a postmaster — expedited my passport application through the office of her pal, Sen. Strom Thurmond.

Just a few weeks before I was scheduled to depart, Hurricane Hugo ripped through the area. I was immersed in aftermath graphics: How a hurricane destroys a house, parts of our county that still didn’t have power.


I was awfully worried about jet lag. I had been told it would take me days to recover from my trip. After studying the issue for a while, I decided to shift my hours before I departed. Each day I got up a half-hour earlier and tried to go to sleep a half-hour earlier. I did this for about two weeks. By the time it came for me to leave, I had matched my own schedule to the time zone I’d be visiting.

This worked out well — so well, in fact, that I did the same thing for every trip I took to Africa from 2009 to 2012. Time-shifting is a pain in the ass. But take it from me: It works.

Finally, the day came to depart. I had flown only twice in my life: To Tampa and back to attend an infographics session earlier that year at the Poynter Institute. Now, I was to fly direct from Charlotte to London’s Gatwick airport. And I was terrified.

I didn’t sleep much on that flight, so I was pretty wired when I got there. The Echo‘s advertising director met me at the airport. We had train tickets to take us to the northern part of England later that evening, so we checked my bags into a locker at the train station and we took a double-decker bus tour of London.

After lunch, my host told me we had just a few hours before departure. Just enough time to do maybe one thing. What would I like to see? I chose Westminster Abbey.


So we took a guided tour of Westminster Abbey, which I enjoyed very much.

I didn’t sleep on the train as much as I passed out from exhaustion. We pulled into our station in Durham quite late. My host delivered me to my hotel: Lumley Castle, a 700-year-old castle near Chester-le-Street that had been converted into a hotel.


They had me booked into one of the VIP rooms in the original part of the building. The ceilings were low and the winding stone staircases were impossibly narrow. What an adventure!

Every morning, a waiter would bring a wonderful, hot English-style breakfast to my room. They’d also drop off a newspaper. I asked for an Echo plus a different newspaper each day so I could sample them all.

On my second Saturday night, the man at the desk asked: “You’ll be wanting a Sunday Sport, then?”

A whole paper devoted to sports? Are you kidding me? Sure, I want a Sunday Sport!

Imagine the look on my face Sunday morning when I opened my door, picked up the Sunday Sport and discovered that the Sunday Sport is actually a pornography newspaper. It’s all topless women and stories about sex.


The deal was that I taught for five days during the week. In the evenings, they took me out to do something interesting. On the weekends, they took me sightseeing. In addition to Westminster Abbey, I got to tour the gorgeous cathedral in Durham…


…the beautiful city of Newcastle (as in: “Coals to Newcastle”) and they took me out to see Hadrian’s Wall.


One night, we went down to the docks so I could have fish n’ chips in their natural environment: We sprinkled salt and vinegar on them and ate them from newspapers rolled up into cones.

Another night, the publisher and the editor took me to a nationally-televised championship boxing match starring the local hero, Billy Hardy.

Bantamweight champion Billy Hardy.

We had ringside seats — so close that as the boxers got punched, their sweat flew off of them and splattered us. Ew.

We sat though a number of preliminary bouts but when the time came for the headline of the night, an official climbed into the ring, picked up the microphone and asked for everyone to quickly leave the building. Without panic, everyone got up from their seats and filed out of the exits.

The publisher went over and checked with the official: It was a bomb threat from the IRA. We, too, walked out of the nearest fire exit and milled around for a good 15 or 20 minutes. When the all-clear was given, everyone queued up into straight lines and marched back to their seats. The emergency doors shut, the lights came back up, the TV cameras came on again and they literally picked up where they had left off.

I was stunned. Does this happen a lot? Isn’t this big news?

Yes, it happens from time to time, I was told. But no, we never report it and we never explain to the TV audience. That’s just what the IRA wants: Publicity.

Finally, the big match began. Billy Hardy punched the lights out on his opponent about 40 seconds or so into the first round. My hosts, who had hoped for a hard-fought, exciting marathon match were disappointed.

I was delighted: I hate boxing!

We had a Sunday dinner one day in an English pub. I had roast beef, as I recall. The English seem very self-conscious about their food. I loved it.

The classes went well, too. The paper rented a half-dozen or so top-of-the-line Macs with 20-inch color monitors and all the RAM and software that I used back home. The computer dealer who rented the equipment to them gave them a special deal if they could come in and videotape this “Mr. Apple” who was coming to teach.

Sure, they were told. Come on in.

So I showed up at work on the first day to find a line of dignitaries from the local computer dealer eager to shake my hand and welcome me to their area. You should have seen the looks on their faces when they discovered I was just a 27-year-old kid who drew locator maps and bar charts for a tiny paper in South Carolina!

They filmed for a few minutes, quietly packed up their cameras and lights and sadly slipped out. I never saw them again.

I worked with five or six artists. There really wasn’t a such thing as a news artist there — the artists all handled advertising, marketing and news assignments. They knew coming in that I had primarily a news background and that I’d be teaching from a news point of view.

This must have been Wednesday. I was showing them
the power of illustrating in Freeland. On the screen
is a drawing I had done for the Herald for a story
on comedy clubs.

Each day, we started out by booting up a software package. They’d watch as I ran through the basics of how to use the application and I’d zip out a piece or two for them. In the afternoons, they each would then try to work on sample projects. Occasionally, one or two of them would try to do a live project that would actually see print later.

We used MacDraw II, Illustrator, Photoshop and Freehand. By the end of the week, they knew the basics of each application, what each could be used for and they knew enough so they could begin groping around to discover things on their own. I showed them how to scan and trace sketches or maps. We didn’t cover too much journalism, though, like I do in my classes these days. We just talked software.

Finally, the week came to a close. I was given a second week of sightseeing. Early Monday morning, I was put on a plane to fly back to Gatwick where I’d enjoy a brief layover before my plane departed for Charlotte.

Naturally, I didn’t try to time-shift my schedule back the other way to go home. So when I arrived back in Rock Hill, I was pretty well burned out. It took me the better part of a week to sleep it all off. Luckily, my colleagues at the Herald were awfully understanding.

It wasn’t until I got back that I realized it had never rained on me in England. Sharon had gone to the Burlington Coat Factory Outlet to buy me a new London Fog-brand trenchcoat for my trip, but I had never gotten it wet.

The trip had gone well and the classes had gone well. But I was acutely aware that I wasn’t a trained speaker, nor did I feel I was particularly good at it. I made the odd classroom visit from time to time, but I didn’t perform another formal teaching assignment until 11 years later, when I was asked to speak at a Society for News Design Quickcourse in Rockford, Ill., in April 2000.

That one went well — really really well, in fact. On the basis of that gig, Bill Dunn asked me to speak at the big SND annual workshop that fall in Minneapolis. I don’t know how many people attended my session there, but there were 200 seats in my room — I know because I counted them before hand — and I ended up with a standing-room-only crowd.

After that, my dance card got really busy. I did lots of workshops, big and small: Several SND Quickcourses. SND annual workshops in Orlando and St. Louis. The Iowa High School Press Association. Series of assignments for the Pennsylvania Press Association and the Southern Newspaper Publishers Association.

I finally scored another overseas assignment when I taught in the Philippines in 2007 along with Tonia Cowan, Peter Ong and Kris Visselman.

Teaching in Manila for IFRA, 2007.

I made my first trip to South Africa in 2009 for a two-week workshop. That gig was extended to a third week and then that client asked me to come back for two more months. In 2010, they hired me to consult for them for five months.

Teaching in Abuja, Nigeria, 2012.

I also took on two-week teaching assignments in Kenya and Nigeria. I was asked a number of times to teach in Egypt, but we could never work out the details.

Twenty-three years after my week in Lumley Castle, I spent
two weeks in the Hotel Stanley in downtown Nairobi, Kenya.
On the wall of the old Exchange bar I found this old drawing
of Lumley. Go figure.

I rarely teach these days. I’m happy to when I’m asked, but hardly anyone asks. I presume this is because most newspapers have slashed their training budgets.

Speaking at the Villages Daily Sun in Florida in June 2014.

Still, I was happy and honored to work as a teacher and consultant as long as I was needed and as long as clients found me useful.

I’ll always fondly remember that first assignment.

49 interesting facts about apples… plus one dropped name

The 50th annual National Apple Harvest Festival is being held this weekend and next in Adams County, Pa.

The York Daily Record celebrated the festival’s 50 years with this great page listing 50 fun things you might not know about apples.

Click this for a much larger look:


Assistant managing editor for presentation and digital innovation Brad Jennings wrote to say:

Samantha Dellinger and I put together a page for today that you might want to take a close look at.

That’s something we in the news business call “a hint.” So I began wading into the apple facts. I didn’t have to get very far became I came across this one:


Ha! I’ve finally lived long enough that I’ve become an Easter egg in somebody’s features page!

I’m honored, Brad and Samantha. Plus, on top of that: It’s a swell illustration.


I used to do a lot of teaching for the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association in Harrisburg and around the state. The Daily Record sent lots of folks over the years to my sessions. Brad, in particular, probably gets some kind of frequent-flier points for staying awake through my presentations.

Find Brad’s Twitter feed here and Sam’s Twitter feed here. Find the paper’s web site here.

Average daily circulation for the York Daily Record is 57,738.

Twenty-five years ago tonight: Hurricane Hugo

Twenty-five years ago tonight, I spent one of the most terrifying nights of my life curled up with my wife, Sharon, on our fold-out sleeper sofa, listening to our neighborhood ripped apart by the fury of Hurricane Hugo.

A quarter of a century ago. Wow. As you know I’m a guy who’s pretty conscious of history and the passage of time. But this just floors me.

The weirdest thing about that night: We lived in Rock Hill, S.C., just south of Charlotte, N.C. We were 180 miles away from where Hugo made landfall near Charleston.


We expected some wind and rain. But we didn’t have a clue we’d be struck by a full-scale hurricane — one that had spun up to Category 4 in strength before making landfall and wasn’t officially downgraded to a tropical storm until well after it ripped through our area.

In the Caribbean and in the U.S., Hugo did about $10 billion in property damage. Some folks in the region were without electricity for up to three weeks. About 100 people died in total, although — if memory serves — only six or seven in the U.S.

It was a huge event in the history of my home state and in the memories of any of us who were in Hugo’s path.

The Post and Courier of Charleston commemorated the day today by asking the question: What if it happened again today?


As you can see from the deck: It would be a mess. The feds use outdated software to plan for hurricanes and, therefore, they consistently underestimate impact. And Charleston, surrounded by water, is particularly vulnerable to storms of this size.

Those links go to today’s main stories. Average daily circulation for the Post and Courier is 87,817.

The Herald-Journal of Spartanburg focused on the damage Hugo did in Charleston that night.


Read the story here. Circulation for the Herald-Journal is 31,940.

The folks in Florence led today’s paper with a vintage sepia-toned picture of devastation around a local motel the next morning.


No one was quite sure where Hugo would hit, so tourists and residents alike fled the coastal regions as the storm approached. They were surprised to take such a fierce hit that far inland.

Find the anniversary story here. Average daily circulation  for the Florence Morning News is 31,237.

The State of Columbia retold one of the most compelling stories from that night: Folks in McClellanville, a tiny fishing community maybe 30 miles from ground zero on the Isle of Palms…


…huddled together on the highest ground in town — the local high school —  far back enough from the waterfront that it should have been a safe refuge.

Hugo produced a storm surge of more than 20 feet. Water moved inland, surrounded the school and poured in through broken windows and around door frames. Terrified evacuees, gathered in darkness in the school cafeteria, first climbed onto tables and then knocked out ceiling tiles in order to lift children into the rafters to keep them from drowning.

That didn’t seem much safer. Outside, 130-mph winds ripped mightily at the school’s roof.

Then, nature took mercy on the town of McClellanville. The winds and tide subsided. No one had died. Evacuees filed out to discover the wall of water had tossed their cars around like Hot Wheels.


It was — and still is — a terrifying story. The State today led with an account of all that, featuring a terrifying quote headline.


Find the story here by the State‘s Jason Ryan. Find video and photo galleries here.

Average daily circulation for the State is 70,980.

My favorite front page of the day, however, is this one from the tiny Item of Sumter, circulation 13,644.


Reversing the entire front page out of black is a risky thing to do, but not what the folks at the item did:

  • They bumped up the point size of their body copy so it’d be more readable on a black background.
  • They used sans-serif type — rather than the usual serif — because serifs can get lost when reversed out.
  • They kept the rest of their design very clean and let the black background do the shouting.

There’s one more thing you can do with a page like this: You can make sure the black isn’t a four-color black. Use a mix like, say, 15 cyan and 100 black — with no magenta or yellow ink whatsoever. Even if you have a few registration issues, your copy will, most likely, still be readable.

I can’t tell if that’s what Sumter did here. Nor can I tell if print copies looked as good as this PDF does. But I sure like what I’m seeing.

When you go to the Item‘s home page today Wham! — you’re smacked in the eyeballs with an enormous picture of the paper’s front page from 25 years ago this coming Wednesday…


… which was the first time the paper could publish after the storm. Note the note at the top right:

Special thanks to the Times and Democrat of Orangeburg for typesetting and publishing today’s edition. The Item hopes to resume its normal publication Schedule beginning Monday.

What did my paper at the time — the Herald of Rock Hill — do today? I dunno. Here’s their anniversary story, but sadly, their front page was a no-show in the Newseum today. If any of my friends in the McClatchy design hub in Charlotte would care to send me today’s page, I’d be happy to add it here.

All these front pages are from the Newseum. Of course.

Back to the night of Sept. 21, 1989…

I sat up that evening watching live TV coverage as the eye of Hugo seemingly smashed head-on into Charleston. We expected heavy wind and rain the next morning, but we didn’t expect it to get bad until after daybreak. I set my alarm for an hour or so earlier than normal — so I could drive to work before it got too messy — and went to sleep right around midnight.


Sharon and I woke up around 3 a.m. to this horrible, horrible howling noise. What the hell is that? Turned out to be the wind. I had never been in a hurricane before. I had no idea the racket they make. God, it was awful.

We tried to go back to sleep. Within minutes, the power went out.

My old Herald colleague Deborah Burriss posted on Facebook, five years ago:

That’s a night I’ll never forget.

The copydesk stayed late, waiting for the storm to hit Columbia, which was supposed to get it bad. Then, we got hit with tornado warnings, so we thought it safer to stay at The Herald.

After the power went off all over town, we decided to go home. I lived less than five minutes away, but it was terrifying. Total darkness, stuff flying everywhere. A transformer blew, flaming out as I drove by.

By 4 a.m., so many tree branches and debris from our disintegrating apartment building had bounced off our bedroom windows that we decided to move downstairs.

We lit candles and found a battery-powered transistor radio with which to pull in a local station. We succeeded for a few minutes, but then the announcer said his transmitter was on fire. Then he was knocked off the air.

We were terrified. How much worse can this get?

Around 6 a.m. on the morning of the 22nd, the wind suddenly died down and the sky brightened just a bit. I ventured outside for just a few moments. Trees and power lines were down. Debris was everywhere.

I ducked back inside. Sure enough, moments later, the wind picked up again. I couldn’t believe the eye of the storm had stayed intact this far inland. But sure enough, it had.

Then, suddenly, the storm was gone. The wind stopped blowing, the rain slowed to a misty trickle and then ended. The clouds parted. The sun came out.

But everything was deathly still. No singing birds. No chirping crickets. No sounds of radio or TV. No sounds of traffic on Cherry Road, a block or so away.

The air quickly became hot and muggy. But the blue skies were a stark — and welcome — contrast to what we had suffered through just hours before.

We were lucky: Our townhouse apartment was surrounded by units on either side that protected us from the worst of the wind.


But we could see what had caused some of the racket overnight: Large chunks of our roof were gone with the wind.


With school canceled, Sharon straightened up the place while I dashed in to work.

All down Cherry Road, I saw things like this:


That was one of my favorite Hugo photos, snapped by my colleagues at the Herald.

Here was the view out on Cherry Road, near our apartment.


That’s a Wendy’s sign, denuded and leaning to the left.

And where had that fickle Wendy gotten off to? She was out messing around with a neighborhood kid:


We were lucky. We got power back at our apartment the very next day. The secret to having your power restored quickly: Live directly behind a Wal-Mart. Works every time.

Power was out for weeks, though, for many residents. We invited folks we worked with to come over and take hot showers.

Not together. However, now that you mention it, that’s not a bad idea, either.

Hugo struck in the wee hours of a Friday morning. That afternoon, our paper attempted to put out our Saturday and Sunday editions with power from a generator trucked in from Raleigh.

I built a nice photo page for our Sunday Perspective front. As soon as the page went to plate, however, I was told we’d be producing a 12-page special section for Sunday’s paper.

A number of us came in Saturday. I came up with a design format, which we handed off to editors. We divvied up the section into geographical regions and turned everyone loose. Here was the cover I designed, with art by photo chief Andy Burriss:


I don’t know if you can read the lede on that cover story. It’s uncredited, but I’d bet you it was written by Terry Plumb, our editor. It sounds like him:

South Carolina does not suffer her villains easily, an she will rank Hurricane Hugo up there with General Sherman, carpetbaggers and the boll weevil.

Pages two and three focused on the city of Rock Hill (click any of these for a larger view).


Pages four and five looked at the rural areas of our coverage area, York and Chester counties.


Pages six and seven focused on whatever cleanup and recovery photos we could get Friday and Saturday.


Pages eight and nine looked at Charleston and the devastated lowcountry.


Page 10 was a state-wide roundup. Page 11 focused on the Caribbean, where Hugo had beaten up the islands pretty badly before it had even gotten to us.


Page 12 — the back page — was mine. However, I found myself handicapped by the loss of my Mac. When power finally came back on Friday night, the surge fried my power supply. I was forced to cobble together pieces from whatever I could find on floppy drives, using one of our ad production Macs.


In the lower left is a hasty recreation of a hard copy I had saved of an Associated Press graphic by Dean Caple and Karl Gude.

Later, I did manage to put together some nicer pieces. I showed you one earlier of Hugo’s trek across the state. This one shows the mechanical forces a hurricane uses to rip apart your house.


I had made the switch from MacDraw to Freehand just five months before. As you can see, I leaned on gradient blends just a bit too much in those days.

Our carriers did a really swell job getting papers out in the aftermath of Hugo. In a gallery of reader-submitted photos on the Herald on the 20th anniversary five years ago, I found this picture of former carrier Betty Johnson, whose work that day earned her a T-shirt. She says she wears the shirt once a year, to commemorate Hurricane Hugo.


Yep: I designed that T-shirt.

While I was digging around in my Hugo files, I also found the special section inserted the Sunday after the storm by our competitors up the road, the Charlotte Observer.


The Observer’s special section contained three or four good-sized graphics — a lot more than I was able to provide for the Herald.


The reasons for that: a) The Observer employed five news artists. I was a one-man staff at the time. And b) Presumably, the Observer didn’t lose its news art Macs to an electrical glitch.


The Observer graphics were drawn by Mike Homan and Mike Fisher. Mike the former  now designs the paper’s page one at the McClatchy hub there. Mike the latter spent a few years with KRT’s News in Motion and is now with the San Antonio Express News.

The Charleston paper — actually, there were twin papers at the time; the morning News & Courier and the evening Evening Post — one-upped us all by rushing to press this magazine-format reprint edition containing stories and photos from the week’s papers:


The design looks a little dated now, but then again, it is dated. This printed 25 years ago.



Hugo set off a series of events that happened very quickly for me that winter.

  • Just a couple of weeks after Hugo, I visited England for my first-ever international speaking engagement.
  • That winter, the Daniels family of Raleigh sold the Herald and its sister papers in Beaufort and Hilton Head to McClatchy company of Sacramento, Calif.
  • McClatchy immediately ordered up a redesign of the Herald, which I executed. It was the second daily redesign of my career. I was only 27 years old.
  • Then, McClatchy authorized us to hire a second artist. We selected Michael Dabrowa of the Savannah College of Art and Design. Michael would later spend eight years as graphics editor of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Back to Hugo, though: As chance would have it, Sharon and I had spent a long Labor Day weekend in Charleston with her parents, just three weeks before the city was was nearly wiped off the map.

Charleston, as always, had been gorgeous:



After the redesign, Sharon and I took time off during her spring break to visit my dad, who had just moved to Moncks Corner, north of Charleston.  We couldn’t resist driving back into town to see what the place looked like, six months after our last visit.

And, in fact, the tourist-conscious downtown area looked pretty good. Most buildings were already repaired. A few still had scaffolding up, like this place just off the famed battery, along the waterfront.


Here are four houses along the famed Rainbow Row. Three had been repaired; fixes to the fourth were underway.


The outlying areas to the north and east of town, however, still showed heavy scars from Hugo. Rich houses along the beachfront on Sullivan’s Island — actual ground-zero the night of Sept. 21 — sat empty, some no longer attached to their foundations.


Apartments and condos, no longer structurally sound, had been abandoned in place, awaiting demolition crews.


Just a few months before, this area had been lively with activity. What a depressing sight this was.


And along the beach itself, officials had erected fences to collect wind-driven sand, in hopes of accumulating the protective sand dunes lost to the storm surge.


We found all sorts of interesting debris still washing up along the beach, six months after the storm.


A few miles up the coast, though, was where the truly stunning visuals were.

I wrote a few minutes ago about the most terrifying story that came out of Hugo: What happened in the town of McClellanville. I wanted to see the town for myself. We couldn’t find the school. Perhaps it had been demolished.

We did, however, find fishing boats in the strangest places.


Namely, everywhere except the water.


The final item in my collection of Hugo memorabilia is this board game, rushed out in time for Christmas that year:



The orange cards, by the way, are “experience.” The blue cards are “adjustor” and represent comical dealings with insurance companies.

That’s who everyone cursed in South Carolina after Hugo, by the way. Insurance companies, as opposed to FEMA.

I took those pictures five years ago. I’m not even sure this little gem survived the massive purge we made for our move to California last year.

Hugo was my first hurricane. We had had storms come through before — in particular, I remember Hurricane David dumping a ton of rain on us in 1979, causing one of my Friday night high-school football games to be postponed until Saturday.

But the howl of wind moving in excess of 75 mph, I had never heard before that night.
Since then, though, we have been through a series of hurricanes and tropical storms. Fran, which smacked us so hard in Raleigh in 1996 that we didn’t get power back for nine days. Emily. Bertha. Allison. Eduardo. Leslie. Ernesto. Bonnie. Charlie. Gaston. Ophelia. Irene, the only storm for which we evacuated our home in Virginia Beach. Probably a few more I can’t recall right now.

Hurricanes are deadly. They’re loud and terrifying — for years, our daughter, Elizabeth, referred to Fran as the night we had “big thunder,” because that’s what it sounded like to her: Big thunder that wouldn’t stop.

Twenty five years later, Hugo still gives me a shiver. I don’t want to go through that again anytime soon.

The Apollo 11 anniversary proves why we all need copy editors

On this date 45 years ago, Apollo 11 landed on the moon.

A number of newspapers did stories over the past few days commemorating the event. Forty-five isn’t exactly a round number — not as sexy as, say, 40 or 50 or 75 — but, hey, it’ll do.

But commemorative packages are not as much fun when you screw something up.

For example: On Friday, Jim Romenesko pointed out this errant tweet by the Columbia Missourian:


Everyone laughed about the “Lance Armstrong” goof. But no one seemed to notice the other mistake: Neil and Buzz walked on the moon July 20, 1969 — 45 years ago Sunday, not Saturday.

Our second example was pointed out to me by Philip Maramba, managing editor of the Charleston (W.Va.) Daily Mail who writes in his column today that he was so very proud of his paper’s page-one centerpiece on Friday.

Until it dawned on him: What’s a lunar rover doing in that picture?


Philip writes:

This was not an image from the historic 1969 Apollo 11 moon landing; this was James P. Irwin from the Apollo 15 mission in 1971.

Rovers, y’see, were only used on the later missions: Apollos 15, 16 and 17. They were not used on Apollos 11, 12 and 14.

Philip writes that he made two mistakes: He pulled together art from the Associated Press to consider for Friday’s front page. But somehow, that Apollo 15 shot got grouped in among the Apollo 11 pictures.

I’ve seen this sort of thing happen before. Once, I found the Associated Press moving a famous photo of a bootprint in the lunar soil. Several papers used it like this:


The caption said it was a footprint of an Apollo 11 astronaut, leading some papers to suggest it might be Neil’s first footprint on the moon. It’s not. That’s a print made by Aldrin’s boot, as part of a sequence he shot to measure how far into the soil his boots sank. Here’s the entire sequence of five photos:


As you can see, the AP also flopped the photo.

One solution for next time: Why use AP photos for space anniversary stories when it’s very easy to pull fresh scans of the original negatives from one of NASA’s online archives? My favorite one is here, and it’s extensively annotated.

Secondly, Philip writes, he thinks he should have caught the error:

I am now one of only a handful of people on staff old enough to remember the Apollo program. I knew the lunar rover did not go up on the first landing, but in my focus on the astronaut, the flag and the lunar module, I didn’t notice the second vehicle that shouldn’t have been there in ’69.

And now it’s part of the permanent record — with a correction forthcoming, of course.

I know the feeling. Because our third example of Apollo 11 flubs is my own.

I’ve written extensively here in the blog about Apollo 11 photography. The day Neil Armstrong died, I rushed out a blog post intended to help guide newspaper editors around the world in their choice of photos for the next day’s edition.

My Friday Focus page was one of the few times I’ve been able to take an old blog post, expand upon it and use it in the Orange County Register.


It’s a fun page, with a lot of “the story behind the picture” information and — I hope — written in a breezy, engaging way. I invite you to click on it and see for yourself.

There was just one little problem. That was the corrected version we posted online Friday. The version that ran in the OC Register, the LA Register and the Riverside Press-Enterprise had an error in the intro copy — as you can see here on the left:


That’s right. Despite all the work I put into that page, I got the damned year wrong. Apollo 11 landed on the moon in 1969, not 1974.

I, of course, know that. I’m not quite sure how I made this error. But man, does it sting. And it kept on stinging all day Friday. I received a good half-dozen phone calls and maybe a dozen-and-a-half emails about it. As I told one of my colleagues: It not the error that I regret. At this point, I regret ever being born.

My editor, the most gracious Rob Curley, just chuckled and told me Friday that my track record was still terrific. I appreciate that kind of support, but I’d prefer my track record to be flawless. Every time.

But flubs happen. As careful as we try to be, we’ll never eliminate mistakes entirely. The best we can do is to be as careful as we can, put as many safeguards into place as possible… and treat our copy desks really, really well. Because if reporters and editors and designers are high-wire artists, the copy desk is our safety net.

As Philip wrote today:

If we’re lucky, aside from the chiding of an eagle-eyed readership, that’s the worst fallout of our mistakes. (The worst usually involves lawyers.)  The only salve we can apply is that we get another chance to do a good paper with our next edition and that we will try harder to be more careful in the future.

A look at my two-day Beach Boys Focus page extravaganza

I’ve been a big Beach Boys fan all my life. That’s probably one of the reasons I’ve felt so at home in the 15 months since I moved to California: I have all of Brian Wilson‘s albums. I feel like I know the place already.

When I went off to college in the fall of 1980, I hung a couple of posters on my dorm room wall, stood back and thought: What I’d really like to have here is a huge poster showing the west coast, showing all the beaches the Beach Boys mention in their classic surfin’ songs from the early 1960s.

It’s now 34 years later and I never managed to find that poster. So, what the hell: I guess I’ll just have to make it myself.

This was yesterday’s Focus page in the Orange County Register, the Los Angeles Register and the Press-Enterprise of Riverside:


As you can see, the huge map I wanted all those years ago runs down the right side of the page. They’re all there — not only are they listed, but I did some research to find out why each was famous.

  • From Surfin’ Safari: Huntington, Laguna Malibu, Rincon and Cerro Azul.
  • From Surfin’ USA: Del Mar, Haggarty’s, La Jolla, Manhattan, Narrabeen, Pacific Palisades, Redondo Beach, San Onofre, Santa Cruz, Sunset, Swami’s, Trestles, Ventura County Line and Waimea Bay.
  • Doheny actually appears in both songs.
  • And from Hawaii: Waikiki.

I mention Huntington Beach is known as “Surf City” but I didn’t include Surf City as one of the songs.

Why not? That was not a Beach Boys song — that was Jan & Dean. Brian Wilson wrote much of it, but gave it to Jan & Dean, who finished it off, recorded it — with Brian’s help on the high parts — and rode the song to No. 1. The rest of the Beach Boys were reportedly not happy Brian gave away his first No. 1 single.


I only used the classic Beach Boys songs from 1962 through 1964 or so. They sang about more places in the 1970s and onwards. But hey, I had only one page.

One subtle Easter egg: Instead of dots on the map, I used tiny little 45 rpm records.


The lead art is an outtake from the first album cover photo session Capitol Records held with the Beach Boys in 1962 at Malibu’s Paradise Cove. The session resulted in cover pictures for the group’s first album, Surfin’ Safari and their third album from 1963, Surfer Girl.


The rest of the page is taken up by definitions of terms heard in those classic surfin’ songs from 1962-64.


I was particularly proud of getting a 19-year-old Sally Field into the graphic to illustrate a “Surfer Girl.”


I also tried to work in a little humor here and there.


At the request of our page one editor, Marcia Prouse, I built this for the top of page one of Monday’s Orange County Register to plug my page:


I also built a skybox for the Long Beach Register, but it didn’t get used: The L.A. Kings’ big win in the NHL playoffs knocked me off the page.


Did you spot the Easter egg? No, I didn’t think you would. I meant it to be very, very subtle.

I meant that to be the same surfboard from the Paradise Cove photo shoot.


In the process of working on this surfin’ page, it occurred to me: What would really be a public service is a page explaining all the words used in the Beach Boys old car songs from that same era. The boys sang a lot of them — in fact, they typically turn the songs into one long medley in their concerts. It always brings down the house.

But just what is a “four-speed, dual-quad positraction 409“? Or “a competition clutch with a four-on-the-floor“? Or, for that matter, a “pink slip, daddy“?

So, I decided to go for it. The surfin’ page ran Monday. The car songs page ran in today’s papers.


Again, I did the lingo thing. This was important to include, I thought, because lead singer Mike Love didn’t always pronounce everything properly.


Many, many thanks to Bob Beamesderfer on our copy desk, who is one of the bigger car experts in the building. He carefully read behind me to make sure I didn’t make a fool of myself. I’m pretty good at researching stuff like this, but I don’t know beans about cars.

Or surfing, either, for that matter.

The lead art was from our archives — those are the Beach Boys performing I Get Around on the Ed Sullivan Show in September 1964.


Notice how I labeled each guy. Most casual Beach Boys fans might remember the names “Brian Wilson” or “Mike Love” but they wouldn’t necessarily be able to pick them out of a police lineup.

The purple Deuce Coupe at the bottom of the page was from our archives.

I explained what is a Deuce Coupe, and I referenced the one of the front of the 1963 Little Deuce Coupe album — that picture was an outtake from a photo session that produced a cover photo for Hot Rod magazine in 1961.


The fun part of this page, however, was where I show all the cars the Beach Boys sang about in their songs.


I knew a Sting Ray is a Corvette, and XKE is a Jaguar. And, of course, I was familiar with T-Birds and Hondas. But I had no idea a “409” refers to a Chevy Impala SS. Or that a “Super Stock Dodge” is a souped-up Dodge Dart.

I went through a lot of web sites for these.

Now, any sharp-eyed old-timers out there might have a question at this point: Why did you include Little Old Lady from Pasadena but not Surf City? They were both Jan & Dean songs!

The answer: Little Old Lady from Pasadena was covered by the Beach Boys on their Concert album in 1964. But they never recorded a version of Surf City, despite the fact that Brian helped write it.

Yesterday, my pal Ron Sylvester, editor of the L.A. Register, asked me for a “ribbon” skybox to promote my page in today’s paper. Here’s what I built for him:


Yep. Sometimes, this job is an awful lot of fun, fun, fun.

I first saw the Beach Boys play two back-to-back shows in Atlanta, Ga., in June 1981. Carl Wilson wasn’t there, unfortunately — he had just put out a solo album and was taking a break from the usual grind — but his troubled brothers were.

That’s Brian, the guy who wrote and produced most of their hit songs on the right, approaching the piano. He’s struggled with mental health issues. It’s a miracle, really, that he’s still around and productive.

The third Wilson brother, Dennis, is climbing onto his kit at left.

The Beach Boys’ shows during the early 1980s weren’t superb. But they did play most of their hit songs.

The next summer, I drove back to Atlanta to see two more back-to-back shows. This time, Carl Wilson was there but neither Dennis nor Brian was present.

After the show, my brother and I got a chance to chat a few minutes with Al Jardine. He proved to be a terrific guy — and appreciative of his fans.

In March 1983, I took my girlfriend — Sharon, who I eventually married — to Augusta, Ga., to see the Beach Boys in concert there. The show was less than spectacular. What’s worse, Dennis and lead singer Mike Love got into a fight onstage during the show. I guess it really wasn’t a good introduction to the band for Sharon.

They didn’t allow cameras into the venue, so I didn’t get pictures that time.

Three months later — June 1983 — I caught the Beach Boys again when they played a post- soccer match concert in Charlotte, N.C. They sounded much better. I wish Sharon had seen this show, instead.

Before the concert — while the soccer game was in overtime, in fact — several of the band members came out to watch a little of the action. So yeah, I got to photograph Mike Love up close, as well as chat with him a bit.

While he was signing an autograph for me, I happened to mention that I had bought his solo album, which had come out the year before. Mike looked at me oddly for a long while. For a moment, I wondered if he was afraid I was going to ask him for a refund.

I also got pretty close to Dennis Wilson, here chatting with a couple of members of the backing band.

I thought about approaching him as well but — seeing the beer bottle in his hand and remembering the sad state he was in during the Augusta show — I decided against it.

Six months later, Denny was dead. I’ve been kicking myself ever since.

I later dragged Sharon to shows in Athens, Ga. (October 1987), Carowinds amusement park near Charlotte (August 1990) and Carowinds again (July 1991).

In 1993, of course, my daughter was born. Elizabeth grew up listening to Beach Boys whenever we drove around. When she learned to talk, in fact, she insisted their name was “the Barbara-Anns.”

Carl Wilson died of cancer in 1998. The band pretty much broke up. Mike and Bruce Johnston licensed the Beach Boys name from the corporate entity and took to the road. Brian pulled himself out of his funk, issued a remarkable series of solo albums and also went on tour with his own band.

Al Jardine — “Mr. Dependable” — spent some time touring with a band composed of his sons and Brian Wilson’s two daughters, Wendy and Carnie — better known, perhaps, as two-thirds of Wilson Phillips. I took Sharon and Elizabeth to their show in Dubuque, Iowa, in July 1999.

Afterwards, we agreed it was the best Beach Boys show we had ever seen. And Al was the only “Beach Boy” on stage that night. (Go here to read a lengthy review I wrote of that show.)

After that show, I again got a chance to chat with Al. He asked me for suggestions on what other old Beach Boys songs he might play in concert. I named one of my favorites — Steamboat from the 1973 Holland album — but apparently that was a bit obscure, even for Al. He nearly busted a gut laughing.

After that, I pretty much stopped going to Beach Boys shows: With Dennis and Carl dead and with Brian and Al doing their own thing, it just didn’t seem like the Beach Boys, y’know? In April 2002, however, a features editor at the Des Moines Register asked me to review a Beach Boys show for the paper.

Which I did. They sounded terrific. I wrote them up nicely. Later, Scott Totten — a member of the backing band who I had singled out for praise — send me an email thanking me for my review.

Brian’s solo tour came to Virginia Beach a couple of times over the last decade. Each time, I was out of the country doing consulting work.

Two years ago, however, the Beach Boys reunited for a 50th anniversary tour. They played an outdoor amphitheater just a couple of miles from my house in Virginia Beach. I was between assignments, though, and strapped for cash, so I had resigned myself to not going to the show.

Then, my pal Brian Sandford — who’s now the editor of the Nevada Appeal in Carson City, Nev. — stunned me by gifting me tickets.


Which I enjoyed very much.

Not long after I relocated to Southern California, I dragged my wife and daughter out for a Beach Boys road trip. We visited the old Wilson home in Hawthorne, where Brian, Carl and Dennis grew up.


They tore the house down back in the mid-1980s to build I-105 — which is just beyond that hill in the picture. But the city came back in 2005 and put in a nice historical marker on the spot.


Hawthorne, of course, is now more famous for being the home of Elon Musk‘s SpaceX.

While we were there, we took a quick peek at the Fosters Freeze, where Brian and the boys would hang out after school.


We then drove into Hollywood to check out the famous cylindrical home of Capitol Records, for which Brian and the gang made all those great recordings.


And finally, we drove past Western Recording studios, also in Hollywood, where Brian recorded his classic Pet Sounds album.


So this two-day project was truly a labor of love for me.

A tour of William Randolph Hearst’s famous castle

My wife — who’s temporarily living in Atlanta these days — came to visit us here in Southern California for my birthday (which was April 26).


We decided I’d take a few days off so we could drive up the Pacific Coast Highway to Hearst Castle.

Yesterday, I told you about the drive north, the scenic views and our visit to Morro Bay.

We left off with that photo, above, of Sharon and myself, taking a selfie in front of a large colony of molting elephant seals at Piedras Blancas, just a few miles from the infamous “enchanted hilltop” castle built by newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst.

Our tour tickets were for 6 p.m. It was only 3 p.m., but we decided to head on to the visitors’ center. We’d be there hours early, but at least we’d be out of the rain.


These cute little telescopes at the visitors’ center allow you to put in a couple of quarters and view the castle itself, atop the next mountain.


However, no one was spending any quarters on this day. The cloud cover was so low that you could barely see the base of the mountain, much less the top.


One of the things we did with all our spare time was take in a movie about the building of the castle.


There is a small museum there in the center where you can learn more about the life of Hearst and his media empire.


Hearst — not surprisingly — was a bit of a control freak. I don’t think that was uncommon in those days.


In 1937, Hearst nearly lost his newspapers because of debt that had mounted over the years of the Depression. This chart showed the newspapers he owned over the years.


His first was the San Francisco Examiner, which his dad gave him in 1887. The deal: Turn the paper around and you can keep it.

Hearst turned the paper around and added to the holdings. One thing Hearst is known for is the titanic war he fought with Joseph Pulitzer for readers in New York City. It was this battle that led to the invention of the term “Yellow Journalism” — not because of the color of old newsprint…


…but because of a comic strip called the Yellow Kid.

They even had an ancient copy of the Examiner on display there.


Nowadays, of course, the Hearst empire is much smaller. Among the papers the company owns: Four in Connecticut, one in Houston, one in San Antonio and the San Francisco Chronicle.

But wait — the Chronicle? What happened to the Examiner?

In 2000, the Hearst company bought the Chronicle. It then sold the old Examiner to a private family, which turned it into a free-distribution tabloid. Hence, the switcheroo.

Sharon spotted a stack of Chronicles in the gift shop and marveled over their small size.


While I pored over Hearst’s newspaper history, Sharon enjoyed the magazine exhibits. Among his holdings, at one time: Harper’s Bazaar, Good Housekeeping and Cosmopolitan.


I was fascinated that the museum spent so much space on honoring Hearst’s wife, Millicent Willson, a former chorus girl and the mother of his five sons.


A large portrait of Millicent hung on the wall of the museum.


However, the exhibits say, Millicent preferred the East Coast. She spent nearly all of her time in a large mansion Hearst owned on Long Island.

Hearst rather famously lived in his castle with movie star Marion Davies. There were several mentions of her in the museum…


…but always with regards to her movie career and the Hearst-funded films in which she appeared. There was no mention at all — that I could find — of their nearly-30-year live-in relationship.

Another thing you won’t see mentioned anywhere in the visitors’ center or the castle itself: A reference to Orson Welles’ cinematic satire of Hearst and his life: Citizen Kaine.

Finally, 6 p.m. rolled around. It was time for our tour to begin.

The parks service makes available a number of tours covering a number of specialized routes within the estate. We had chosen what is called the evening tour: A recreation of what a typical night might have been like for one of the many celebrity guests Hearst invited to his “enchanted hill.”

That was his official name for it. Usually, Hearst just called it the ranch.

We piled into a bus that drove the five miles or so up twisting roads to the top of the mountain. Members of Hearst’s prized cow herd dodged the bus a number of times.

I sure wish we had seen better weather Friday evening. I can only imagine what the main building — Casa Grande — would have looked like dry and in sunlight.


The tour typically begins with a look at the famous outdoor Neptune Pool. However, the pool is drained at the moment: The estate is supplied by water from natural springs, but — thanks to the drought — those springs are running at about one-sixth normal strength these days. Therefore, they’ve chosen to stop refilling the pools and fountains here.

Plus — ironically — it was raining. So we were given only glimpses of the pool.


The pool cost Hearst more than a half-million dollars, we were told. He had it completely built, demolished and rebuilt three times before he was happy with it.


Instead of the pool, we were given tours of all three guest houses, each named for the direction in which they faced: Casa del Mar (House of the Sea), Casa del Monte (House of the Mountain) and Casa del Sol (House of the Sun).

I won’t pretend that I can tell the three guest houses apart, now, even in my pictures. This would be the side facing the main house. The other side of the guest house faces off the mountain.


This is yet another of the guest houses.


The evening tour group split into three smaller groups so it’d be easier to move around and to hear our guides. We went into all three of the guest houses.


Each of the houses had its own personality and decor. But all had a central sitting room, where guests could mingle in the afternoons after their activities wound down but before heading over to the main house for dinner.


No expense was spared for decor or furnishings. The amount of detail was just astounding.


Each guest house contains a number of bedrooms. Some of the bedrooms — like this one — seemed a little plain, compared to the sitting rooms. But that’s OK: Some of the rooms gave me a definitely sensory overload.


Note the dress laid out on the bed, for the benefit of the guest. Hearst flew his guests — typically Hollywood celebrities, but often sports or even scientific heroes — here in a private plane and took care of their every need. They didn’t even have to bring clothes if they didn’t want to.

Here’s some of that ornate detail I mentioned. In the ceiling of that bedroom.


Notice that most of these bedrooms have a nice view of the mountain.


Not that we could see anything in that dense cloud cover. But on a nice day, the view would be glorious.


I was a bit envious of the desk in that room. I started to ask the tour guide if Hearst supplied wifi to his guests, but then decided I didn’t want to spent the rest of the evening banished to the tour bus.

This guest bedroom was one of the gaudier ones we saw, with ornate wall coverings and a rich-looking carpet.


In case you’re wondering: No flash photography is allowed on the tour, so I had to shoot everything with natural light. That became more difficult as the night got progressively darker. In some rooms, I couldn’t shoot anything at all.

But then, at times, I was able to pull out some detail. Like the Spanish-influenced ceiling carving of this sitting room.


Hearst’s guests would dress for dinner and then gather for conversation in the sitting rooms. Hearst didn’t like drinking, so he discouraged it from the guest houses. The actor on the left, here, is slipping a few swigs from a hip flask.


Hearst began building his castle here in 1919, but his prime entertaining years here were from the late 1920s until his health began to fail in 1947. Therefore, the actors were all dressed in depression-era finery.


When the signal was given, it was time for Hearst’s guests — perhaps two dozen at any given time — to leave their guest houses and walk over to Casa Grande, the main house. On the way there, they’d pass some of the antique sculptures he had collected and scattered about on the grounds.

These appear to be lions of some sort.


This one is of a nude girl — note the hairstyle, pretty much identifying her as a 1920s’ “flapper” — hanging out with a baby centaur of some sort.


This is a replica of a famous old piece called the Three Graces — basically, the daughters of Zeus.


Don’t look now, but Thalia — the Grace on the right — has made it to second base with Euphrosyne.

And this statue is a German statue called Europa.


Hearst certainly liked his naked women, didn’t he?

And again, we should have been able to see the sun preparing to set over the Pacific Ocean. But no such luck: All we could see were the layers of clouds below us.


It was finally time to enter the castle itself.


The tour goes into great detail about the woman who designed this place to cater to Hearst’s changing whims: Julia Morgan, who had made her name rebuilding San Francisco after the great Earthquake there. Morgan and Hearst had gone back-and-forth for years — literally — trying to settle on a style for the estate.

The result is a bit of a mixture. You just saw the grand front of the main building. But the back part of that same building looks very plain and much more modern.


A fountain out front features yet another nude female statue. This one appears to be grappling with sea creatures.


The guide pointed out this little ramp on the front of the fountain.


Hearst’s dog fell into the fountain so many times that they finally had to install a ramp so he could climb out on his own.

I just couldn’t get over the amount of detail around the main entrance. It’s almost as if some granite carver was given carte blanche to do whatever he wanted here, so he just kept going and going with no restraint at all.


As designers, y’know, we all know overdesign when we see it. And that’s overdesign.

I must admit, though, the building was an imposing presence.


We walked past the front entrance — where, I presume, most of the guests would enter…


…and went inside via a side door to what Hearst called his Assembly Room: An enormous room that served as his primary living room for guests in the main building.


Occasionally, we were told, Hearst would have the furniture moved out and hold ballroom dancing here.

The enormous 16th-century tapestries and statues overshadow the primary function of the room. How could anyone unwind in this environment?

Wisely, there are little sections where — if one can use her imagination — a guest might be able to imagine she’s in a normal-sized living room. Or, perhaps, back in the sitting room at the guest houses.


We were told that guests would hang out here, chat, play cards or work jigsaw puzzles. Hearst and Davies loved jigsaw puzzles, they told us.

Scattered around were reproductions of several of Hearst’s newspapers featuring headlines of the day.


Jean Harlow’s husband, Paul Bern, killed himself just two months after they wer married. That newspaper would have been dated Sept. 6, 1932, just to give you an idea of the time frame the evening tour attempts to model.

Whenever he was ready, Hearst would appear via a secret elevator door hidden in the wall and ask his guests to move to the refectory, or dining hall.


The long table looks a lot like something you’d see in a cartoon. Hearst and Davies would sit near the center, facing each other. The newest guests would sit immediate beside them. The longer a guest had stayed at the castle, the further away they’d sit.


Up to 40 guests could be accommodated at the table.

There were exceptions to the usual protocol. Our guide told us that Harpo Marx would stay here from time to time. Davies was fond of Harpo, but Hearst couldn’t stand him. So he’d have Marx put on the very end — as far away as possible and still be in the same room.


The enormous tapestry, the 26-foot-high ceiling and the flags give you the feeling you had stepped directly into a medieval castle.


Next door, to the dining hall, of course, is the kitchen.


A staff of 11 worked in here, working on meals for the guests and various activities. Hearst really liked his guests to eat together. No room service in the guest houses was allowed, we were told.


Looking at this area gave me the idea: Forget Downton Abbey, this place would make a great TV series.

Check out the golden birds that serve as handles on the hot and cold faucets.


Hey, fake beer! My favorite!


Fake food was scattered around the kitchen — after all, this is no longer a working kitchen. I enjoyed the fake apple pie sitting in front of the very real window.


By another window was a period telephone and a small tray nearby holding fake — but authentic-looking — telegrams.


I couldn’t resist checking out what the telegrams said. This one would have dated from the period in which Hearst publishing empire fell on hard times: The War Dept. is offering $2 million for 154,000 acres of the ranch surrounding the castle.


From there, we headed upstairs to visit some of the castle’s more intimate areas. On the way, I happened to notice the low-hanging clouds had finally lifted.


That’s the Pacific Ocean out there, in the distance.

We walked down a long corridor populated with more guest rooms — these were for Hearst’s most special guests. Sometimes, we were told, Hearst would bring in editors or officials from his publishing empire. This gentleman plucked away on a period typewriter to simulate a working vacation by one of Hearst’s journalists.


In case you’re starting to wonder: The estate has a total of:

  • 56 bedrooms
  • 61 bathrooms
  • 19 sitting rooms
  • 127 acres of gardens

Our next stop was Hearst’s library, where his prized collection of antique books and Greek pottery resided. Most of these collections were liquidated in 1937, but 156 of the Greek vases — each more than 2,000 years old — sit atop shelves around the top of this room.


The actors were dancing — We were told Hearst loved the dances of the day, including the Charleston. These folks were not doing the Charleston. But they sure looked grand.


The 80-foot-long library itself was incredibly gorgeous. At its peak, Hearst’s collection consisted of more than 5,000 books. Most of what’s here are now are placeholder books, I gather.


Next, we went across the hall to Hearst’s private office. Papers from his empire were flown in via private plane. He’d stand with the papers spread out on this table, mark up the papers with notes in the margins and then have them flown back to the respective editors.


Oddly enough, this room contained more books than his library. More than 7,500 books were housed in the shelves built into the walls here.

On the far end is a portrait of a 30-year-old William Randolph Hearst, painted in 1893.

Outside the office is this large unit holding newspapers from the height of the Hearst empire — 29 newspapers and 15 magazines.


Again, I suspect most of what we’re seeing there are reproductions.

Nearby is the master bedroom suite. This room — relatively modest by the standards we’ve seen throughout the estate — is Hearst’s own room.


It’s really not until you look upwards that you’re floored. By his ceiling. Heh.


There’s a nice sitting room outside that bedroom.


Again, I was just stunned by the ceiling. This reminded me of the interior of an old sailing ship. Or a cathedral.


Standing there in Hearst’s master sweet and listening to the tour guide, I found myself distracted by the window. Or, rather, by a ray of sunlight streaming through the window.


It had finally happened: The sun finally graced us with its presence.

The tour left Hearst’s bedrooms and traveled back up a long, open-air corridor. I paused to shoot a picture of the next mountain over.


Finally, we got a feel for what the view must be like from atop Hearst’s “enchanted hill.” I took a few more steps down that corridor, however, to find the sun setting over the Pacific.


Wow. You know, that was almost worth it.

Our evening narrative picked up downstairs in the billiards room. After dinner, guests would come down here to play pool or smoke.


I tried to shoot the French tapestry filling the wall to the left of that picture, but none of them came out. What a pity — the tapestry is the oldest in the house, dating from 1500.

After a time there, Hearst would direct his guests to the movie room. This was just about the size of a typical multiplex theater of today, but with plush seating.


Oversized Greek temple-like statues kept watch over the guests and also lit the way out.


The tour guides sat us into bleachers behind the main seating area and ran a newsreel from Hearst’s Movietone News Service.


Therefore, we got a chance to hear him talk. I would have imagined Hearst to have a rich, booming voice, but that’s not he case. His voice is a bit reedy and nasal. I was reminded of the way Daniel Day-Lewis played Abraham Lincoln.

Interesting factoid No. 1: William Randolph Hearst and Daniel Day-Lewis share a birthday: April 29.

Interesting factoid No. 2: Hearst owned a movie studio, but he frowned on the idea of filming at his castle. Even after his death — when the State of California inherited the place — they won’t honor petitions to film here.

Two exceptions:

  1. The 1960 Stanley Kubrick movie Spartacus.
  2. A Lady Gaga video, earlier this year.

We left the main building — giving me a chance to fire off another exterior shot or two…


…walked past the back part of the main house…


…and all the way to a building behind the main complex. Inside, we found the second of the castle’s great swimming pools, the Roman Pool.


It was very, very dark in here and, therefore, extremely difficult to take pictures. Note the blown-glass, hand-placed tiles on the wall and even on the floor of the pool.


The pool features a small alcove off the the side. You can’t see it here, but there’s a small diving platform atop that doorway.

All this was built between 1927 and 1932, beneath the estate’s tennis courts. Without disturbing them.

From there, they loaded us back onto the buses and took us back down the hill to the visitors’ center.

Elapsed time of the evening tour: More than two hours. Number of steps we went up or down: 308, I’m told.

The center was long closed down when we arrived back there. As we were climbing into our car, I happened to note a brightly-lit object in the distance, above the visitors’ center.


That’s the castle — a little jewel, sparking on a newly-cleared night, atop the enchanted hill.

Find the Hearst Castle web site here.

A drive up the Pacific Coast Highway

My wife — who’s temporarily living in Atlanta these days — is visiting us here in Southern California.


So I took a few days off last week to take a mini-vacation: Sharon and I drove up the Pacific Coast Highway to visit the infamous “castle” built by William Randolph Hearst.

The plan was to follow the PCH as far as we could, keeping in mind that the scenic drive disappears and changes names in places.

For us, though, getting on the highway was fairly easy. We drove due west to Seal Beach and then turned north on California Hwy. 1.


Long Beach can be a very pretty place. But along Hwy. 1, it’s not so great: The highway passes through what seems like the world’s largest industrial area. Lots of warehouses, small factories and billboards. So you won’t mind if I skipped taking pictures of all that.

We took our  first photo of the day as we drove through a tunnel below a runway at LAX.


Traveling north past the airport, we hit lovely Marina del Rey. However, I’ve taken pictures there before. So we paused only to shoot this road sign — and even that was at a stoplight.


Sharon, though — who was on camera duty while I drove — couldn’t resist taking this snapshot of female bodybuilders working out along Lincoln Blvd. Which is what they call the PCH in that area.


Traffic moves slowly here, as you’d probably suspect. So even before we had gone very far, we were a bit behind where I expected to be at lunchtime.

However, food beckoned. We answered that call — in Santa Monica.


I’ve not yet spent much time up this way, but I made a mental note to bring my daughter up here and explore one weekend. The Santa Monica pier looks particularly inviting.


Thanks to a poorly-market detour, we had already become separated from Hwy. 1. Our target highway was that one, below the cliffs.

Instead, we were at the intersection of Ocean Ave., and the famous Wilshire Blvd.


Wilshire, of course, runs through Hollywood and into Los Angeles. East, in that direction there.


Here on the zero block of Wilshire is a giant bank building and a nice little park.


Sharon spotted this statue, a good 14 or so feet tall, and asked me why there was a giant phallic symbol here.


I walked around to the other side to discover it was, in fact, just the opposite of what she thought. The statue was of a nun: The one for whom the city is named.


I stepped away from Sharon, just in case she was suddenly struck by lightning. That didn’t happen, so we walked up the street in search of cheap eats.

Just a few blocks east is the Third Street Promenade, a nice little shopping area.


On the corner is a gorgeous art-deco-styled Barnes & Noble.


Sharon knew if we went in there, I’d a) be there for hours, and b) I’d blow our vacation budget on books. So I had to make a note to return here. After Sharon flies back to Atlanta.

Another cool thing we saw on the Promenade: A dinosaur who spits water.


Two of them, in fact.


I didn’t know dinosaurs spat water. Oh, the things you learn on vacation…

I also stumbled over this modest display of civic art.


I Googled the Sterling Foundation and found that it helps ]teens go to college — teens who, in some cases, might the first members of their families to attend.

We didn’t walk far before we saw this cute little Greek diner.


Mmmm. A gyro sounded perfect. So we took a table inside the quaint little joint…


…and had a delicious lunch.


With our faces stuffed, it was time to try to get back on schedule. We still had a long, long way to go.

This was our direction: Past Pacific Palisades and on through the Malibu region, which you see curling around to the left.


So off we went. For most of the day, we kept the sun roof closed so I wouldn’t get sunburned right off the bat.


Malibu was much less dense than I had expected, but every bit as rich.


Very expensive-looking homes perched on the hills above the Pacific Coast Highway.


Meanwhile, the richest-looking homes of all sat right down on the water. I was kind of shocked how close these homes were built to the Pacific Ocean.


I’ve always read that homeowners in these parts discourage visitors from stopping and checking out the beaches. Beach access points exist and are clearly marked. Parking spots, not so much. Therefore, I missed a lot of great opportunities for pictures: You can’t take them if you can’t stop. Sharon shot a lot of these from our moving car.

Sitting atop this particular hill are the Hughes Aircraft lab facilities.


Man. What a view these folks have. I can’t imagine how they get any work done at all.

Shortly past there: Pepperdine University.


Someone told me recently that Pepperdine sits directly across the PCH from the ocean. Absolutely true.

Every once in a while, we could find a place to stop and let me fire off a few pictures. Again, note how close to the freakin’ water this modest-sized beach house is.


I presume this was high tide.

Not far past Pepperdine was Zuma Beach, where we took a short break.


The water was gorgeous and looked very inviting. I kind of wished we had more time to stay and enjoy this little place.


A flock of pelicans soared overhead…


…not pooping on my wife. I was thankful for that.


And, of course, I must include the obligatory “sun behind a palm tree” shot:


As we moved further up the coast, the terrain became more mountainous. The Pacific Coast Highway would, at times, soar above the beach houses along the shore.


But still, we could only pull over in a few places. There just wasn’t anywhere to safely stop and take pictures. Especially not heading north, like we were.


That’s one tip to remember, should you ever make this drive: Start up north and drive south. There are a few scenic outlooks marked on that side of the PCH.

At several points during our drive, I was reminded very much of the numerous drives I took up and down the Cape of Good Hope peninsula near Cape Town, South Africa. The geology here is very similar: Shorelines that are rocky at times.


And strings of mountains that come clear down to the sea.


Those signs weren’t kidding. We spotted a large number of rocks laying all over the highway. I wasn’t sure whether to slow down,  so I could spot rocks falling from the mountain…


…or speed up, to get us through that stretch a little more quickly.


Even after we were in the clear — supposedly — we found ourselves driving on a road that was literally carved from the side of a mountain.


There definitely wasn’t a lot of room for error here.

Finally, we rounded one of these gorgeous bends to spot something I had read about a while back: Mugu Rock.


Not only is Mugu an interesting rock formation, but also it’s the spot where our journey — which had become mostly westernly since lunch — would turn north again.


When they built this part of the Pacific Coast Highway in 1925, I’m told, they really didn’t think they could build a road around this bit. So t’hell with it; they just blasted their way through…


…creating a picturesque notch that has been used in dozens of automotive TV commercials ever since.


Naturally, we got out and took a bunch of pictures.


Looking back the other way, I spotted this sign.


Man, the idea of a tsunami rolling in off the Pacific and pinning us against that rock cliff was terrifying. Just what I needed: Something else to worry about.

The ocean was quite rough here, however, pounding the shore to little bits with a loud crash.


Speaking of car commercials: Ford really ought to pay me money for posting this picture.


In case you’re curious: This was the longest road trip we’ve taken with the hybrid Fusion I bought last summer. Fabulous car.

After Point Mugu, we departed the immediate coastline and toward the towns of Oxnard and Ventura. This was farm country.


I was delighted to see everything so green, given the severe drought in these parts.

Among my regrets from our trip: We didn’t have time to stop in Ventura. I thought this little place was just gorgeous.


What a lovely little town.


I’ll have to go back there one day.

On the other side of Ventura, we had a choice: Take U.S. 101 — a nice freeway — and make up our lost time, or stick to my original goal of trying to stay on California Hwy. 1. They run parallel for a few miles. Hoping for a few interesting pictures, we chose the latter.

First thing we did was stop near Emma Wood State Beach, where this interesting mountain looked like it had collapsed in on itself.


In addition to the two highways, a railroad track ran along this stretch.


Views like this, however, was the real reason we kept stopping. Just look at those waves, crashing into the bay.


Sitting atop one rock here, I found a shoe. Just one shoe. No mate. No owner.


No explanation. No nothing. Just a shoe.

We climbed back into the car but didn’t get far at all before we ran into our next unusual sight: Recreational vehicles, parked end-to-end along the highway.


There were hundreds of them. Stretching for miles.


We were stunned. I didn’t really see that many people. Just the RVs.


That was better than shoes, I suppose.

I stopped in the middle of the pack and shot back south, along the sea wall.


As far as the eye could see. Amazing.

Just past there, Hwy. 1 ended, so we leaped back onto U.S. 101.


The downside: There were neither as many interesting sights nor as many places to pull over. The upside: We finally began making decent time.

Note the mountains disappearing in the mist. Notice the flat little island at the far left, with what appears to be a causeway leading out to it.


That wasn’t a causeway. That was a pipeline. That’s an oil operation, just barely off shore, called Rincon Island. It was built in 1958.

It really was getting late. We had a big lunch, but we knew we’d be getting hungry soon, and we wanted to be somewhere near our hotel for dinner. So it was time to make some serious tracks.


Because of that — and because there are so few places to pull over anyway — we took very few pictures of the Santa Barbara area.


And that’s a shame, because Santa Barbara, too, was a very pretty little city.

At some point, we passed Gaviota State Park. That was a landmark for us, because it meant we had to say goodbye to the Pacific Ocean for the day.

We turned due north, inland towards those mountains…


…and through this little area called Gaviota Pass.

It was here, on Christmas Day, 1848, that the Mexican Army waited to ambush John C. Frémont and his 300 men who were en route to Santa Barbara.


However, Frémont — realizing the peril — chose an alternate route.


The next month, Frémont was successful in winning his part of the Mexican-American War with the signing of the Treaty of Cahuenga.

Only the southbound part of U.S. 101 travels through the pass proper. We were on the northbound lanes, which pass through the mountain via a tunnel built in 1953.


Although there are no bike lanes in the tunnel, bicycles are allowed inside.


Once we passed through that mountain, our route took us west again, through some very hilly country…


…which eventually flattened out just a bit…


…by the time we hit the town of Lompoc.


By now, we were getting hungry. We probably should have stopped here for fast food or something, but we were determined to press on to our hotel near Pismo Beach.

This is where we made our first real mistake of the day: I had planned to stay on Hwy. 1 past the main gate of Vandenberg Air Force Base. However the GPS built into my car suggested a faster, alternate route that would help us link up to Hwy. 135.


I succumbed to the temptation. The lesson I learned: Never take GPS’ word for anything. Because GPS lies.

So here’s what happened: We turned northeast on something called Harris Grade Road. Which turned out to be a very small, somewhat terrifying road that took us up and around a number of mountains. Without guardrails.

I slowed the car waaaay down. Both Sharon and I have a bit of an aversion to heights. We both turned green.

By this time, the battery on my camera had died for the day. I suggested to Sharon that she take a few pictures of this incredibly narrow, terrifying road — it’ll make a great story later, I said. Pictures, hell, Sharon said. I’m not opening my eyes again until we’re down.

You’re reading this, so you know how it ended: We eventually reached Route 135, slid into Santa Maria and picked up U.S. 101 again. Which we probably should have never left after driving through the tunnel at Gaviota.

From there, it really was a short drive to Arroyo Grande, where we checked into our hotel.


As you can see, we were very close to Pismo Beach. We never managed to get over to see the actual beach there: The whole time we were there, we were either sleeping or running around points north.

The hotel, though — a Best Western — was quite nice. Much nicer than I would have thought.


The only downside of the place: The patio around the pool and hot tub was being resurfaced, so the pool area was closed.


That was OK, though: We didn’t come to enjoy the pool.

Our room was on the second floor, just past the elevator.


As you saw, we enjoyed gorgeous weather for the drive up on Thursday. Friday, however, dawned chilly and overcast. Rain was in the forecast. It was hard to complain — folks here need rain so much — but, still. We’d have to work around the weather.

After a quick breakfast, we jumped back onto U.S. 101 for a drive over to Morro Bay. I’ve always heard how pretty it is there.

After we passed through San Luis Obispo, however, we came across a row of very interesting mountains.


These are what are called the Nine Sisters — nine mountains of volcanic origin that stand roughly in a row between San Luis Obispo and Morro Bay. That one, I believe, would be 1,559-foot Bishop Peak.

This one with the rocky adornments is Hollister Peak — at 1,404 feet, the tallest of the nine.


This is Cabrillo Peak, with Black Hill lurking behind.


Finally, the last of the nine — Morro Rock, at the very mouth of the bay — came into view from the highway.


We’d spend quite a bit of time looking at that rock. First, though, we had to drive through the town of Morro Bay.


It was a very pretty little seaside town. The big industries here, evidently, are fishing and tourism.


It was yet another place I’d like to spend a day or two exploring. But, alas. We didn’t have that kind of time.

This is Morro Rock, as it appears from Embarcadero, the harborfront street.


Like I said, the day was overcast. The clouds must have been low, because every once in a while, one would drift between us and the 581-foot-tall rock.


The rock guards the base of the bay, where lots of sailboats and fishing vessels are moored.



A family of seals — they were very loud — kept watch over the boats.


And a seagull kept watch over the seals.


Just behind the row of shops and restaurants along Embarcadero are a number of docks. Fishing boats and tour vessels came and left as we strolled along the boardwalk.


Business was a little sleepy on this misty Friday morning. I’d imagine the place is hopping on a sunny day.


Despite the big oily boats, this is still California. So everyone here is ecology-minded.


Like I said, a number of cute little shops lined the street.


Sharon found herself a bit chilly, so we ducked into one and bought her a Morro Bay sweatshirt. Then, I wondered why this place was named after me.


A few of the restaurants doubled as sports bars. I wondered how good satellite reception could be with all that bird poop on the dish.


And, speaking of cute names: Sun-N-Buns for a bakery.



At the end of the row of shops was a tiny little park.


We drove around Embarcadero to get a little closer to Morro Rock.


The rock, as I said, is of volcanic origin. This diagram is posted nearby, explaining how the action of wind and water over the past 20 million years wore away the volcanic mountain, leaving only the plug.


Another part of the same diagram explained the Nine Sisters.


For a while, the mountain was used as a quarry. The nearly breakwater, for example, is made entirely of rocks chipped away from Morro Rock.


Here’s a look back at downtown from the base of the rock.


Lots of folks were out there, even on a blustery day, shooting pictures of the Peregrine Falcon nests there.


Sharon, however, is more interested in shells and sea creatures. She walked along the beach and the breakwater, looking for artifacts.


She really should be more observant, however. You never know when a giant gull will snatch you off the beach, fly to her nest and feed you to her young.


Once I got all the pictures I wanted, I took a break and waited for Sharon to do her thing.


I did find a few signs that made me laugh. This sign tells you to not climb on the giant rock — it’s a nature preserve — but it’s OK to walk your dog here.


Or does it?


Captain Nasty, it turns out, is a local funk band.

I couldn’t help but notice the enormous amount of bird poop all over Morro Rock.


I’m not sure why all the poop kept leaping out at me. But it did. That, alone, would keep me off the mountain.

We took a quick detour to the far side of the bay to see the estuary…


…but, quite frankly, it was time to eat lunch and move on to our next stop. There were a number of nice-looking eateries on Embarcadero, but only one was cooking food right there on the sidewalk.


This was Giovanni’s, a fish market and eatery where you can munch with a view of the rock.


Naturally, we had to eat fish and chips.


However, we decided to pass up the Fried Twinkies and Fried Oreos.


Our tickets at Hearst Castle were for an evening tour. It was still a bit early to drive the few miles there, so we decided to drive past the estate and check out a nearby colony of elephant seals.


The terrain in these parts was just a bit flatter than what we had seen earlier. Flatter but very rocky.


Here, I’m looking back over the water to Morro Bay, far in the distance. You can see Morro Rock, just above the direct center of the picture.


Look to the left to find another large cloud.

While we stood there taking pictures, our weather luck finally ran out. A layer of clouds rolled in out of the mountains and it began to rain.


The spot where the seals hang out is called Piedras Blancas. We got out of the car, pulled on our jackets and hats and walked over to the observation point. Where, sure enough, among the rocks…


…we could see seals. Sleeping on the beach.


Turns out, this is molting season for female and juvenile elephant seals. Mating season is over. The seals return to the beach and spend days or weeks laying on the beach until they shed their skins.

I had to laugh at this sign, however.


“Faster than you think”? Not today, they aren’t. If you don’t stand there long enough to see one twitch or vocalize, you’d swear they are dead.

Still, there weren’t very many seals to watch. Most of the crowd was further up the path. Despite the wind and the rain, we decided to walk over there and see what everyone was looking at.


Sure enough, we hit the motherlode: Hundreds of elephant seals. Thousands, maybe.


As far as the eye could see. Most were very drowsy. Only a few were moving around or tussling with each other.


Sharon managed to capture one of these li’l fellas heading for a quick dip in the water.


He’d move a few feet and stop and rest. And move a few more feet. And stop and rest again.

Kind of like me, going up stairs.


We shot a selfie in the rain…


…and decided that we would go on to the Hearst Castle, even if it was too early. At least we’d be out of the weather.

That’s all the story I have for you today. Tomorrow, I’ll walk you through our evening tour of Hearst Castle.

Where were you 35 years ago tonight?

I can tell you what I was doing: I was watching the Gator Bowl from a seat perched fairly high in the corner of an end zone in Jacksonville, Fla.


Not only was the game very, very exciting — one of the best football games I’ve ever seen in person — it’s notable for a number of reasons.

1. It happened 35 years ago tonight.

2. The teams that faced off against each other were my Clemson Tigers and the Buckeyes of Ohio State. Those two teams have not played each other since… but they will on Friday in the Orange Bowl.

3. A very sad incident at the very end of the game produced one of the more obscure trivia questions in NCAA football history. What was the name of the Clemson player iconic Ohio State coach Woody Hayes slugged to get himself fired as coach of Ohio State?

I’ve written about this game twice — once in 2002 on my own web site and then again in 2007 on my old VisualEditors.com blog. Neither of those posts are readily available now, so it’s time I freshen up the story and post it again…

As a kid growing up in upstate South Carolina, I heard all about the football glory years of our beloved Clemson Tigers.

But those years were long gone. I suffered through season after dismal season in the late ’60s and 1970s. The 1975 season in which the Tigers went 2-9 stands out in my mind: The two wins were by a combined total of five points.

The next year, Clemson was only slightly better — 3-6-2 — but finished with a big 28-9 upset of South Carolina at Death Valley. I was lucky enough to sit on the famous hill at that game, although “sit” isn’t quite the word to describe it. It was more like standing and jumping up and down and shrieking like a nut. The crowd that day set a new attendance record for Memorial Stadium, at the time: 54,486. (Later additions of upper decks would increase capacity to more than 82,000.)

The victory over our arch-rival Gamecocks wasn’t enough to save coach Red Parker’s job, though. Parker was let go and one of his assistants, Charley Pell, was named coach for the 1977 season.

And what a season it was. After dropping the opener to Maryland, the Tigers went on to win seven straight games. Clemson finished the season with an 8-2-1 record, a No. 19 ranking and an invitation to play its first bowl game in my lifetime. Pitt dismantled the Tigers 34-3 in the Gator Bowl, but that was beside the point. We were just delighted Clemson didn’t suck any more.

Pell’s second Tiger team finished 10-1 and earned Clemson its first Atlantic Coast Conference title since 1967. Ranked No. 6, Clemson was invited back to Jacksonville, this time to face Woody Hayes‘ Ohio State Buckeyes.

Clemson Coach Charley Pell and
his young assistant, Danny Ford.

All was not well in Tigertown, though. Rumors abounded that Pell was talking with the University of Florida about a head coaching position there.

Scott Keepfer of the Greenville News writes today that Pell assured his team that he would stay at Clemson for the foreseeable future. Two days later, he was on the cover of the Greenville News holding a Florida banner.

Pell said he’d stay on to coach the Tigers in the Gator Bowl, but the team was so upset at the way Pell handled himself that they essentially voted him of the island.

Keepfer writes that the Tigers…

…held a team meeting, with quarterback Steve Fuller presiding.

To a man, the players voted to not have Pell as their coach for the upcoming Gator Bowl. As the result was announced, one of Pell’s assistant coaches, who had been listening to and watching the proceedings, expressed displeasure with the vote.

According to [center Jeff] Bostic, Fuller promptly asked him to sit down.

“We’re going to vote on you next,” Bostic recalls Fuller saying.

Which left assistant coach Danny Ford with the task of coaching the Tigers in their second consecutive trip to the Gator Bowl.

As a bit of a gag, I wrote a little song about the whole affair, sung to the tune of Frosty the Snowman. My mom passed it along to the editor of the weekly newspaper in town, the McCormick Messenger, which regularly published articles I wrote about our school sports teams.

Much to my surprise, the Messenger printed the song. To this day, folks in my home town of McCormick, S.C., ask me to explain how some of the syllables I wrote fit into the tune.
Which they don’t. Not really. But hey, I was an 11th grader. So cut me some slack, willya?

In fact, my brother asked me the other day for a copy of the song. I have one, pasted into a scrapbook somewhere that got buried, long ago, in the garage. As I type this sentence, that scrapbook is in the back of a rental truck, somewhere in the California desert and headed this way. I might not lay eyes on it again for years.

My memory is that the song was pretty awful, so that might not be such a bad thing.

As the holidays arrived, a family friend offered up a spare ticket to the game. Our next-door neighbors offered transportation and lodging with grandparents in Jacksonville. Which is how it came to pass that my pal, Willie Connor, and I attended the 1978 Gator Bowl.


Willie Connor and myself, Dec. 29, 1978,
before the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Fla.

Our seats weren’t great — stuck high in the corner of the end zone on a chilly but very, very humid evening — but hey, it was the Gator Bowl and my Tigers were playing. I was 16 years old and in hog heaven.

There was this interesting guy sitting behind us with two girls — one on each side. As I recall, he had earned a degree from Clemson but was then attending Ohio State as a grad student.
He was relatively harmless type of smart ass: He spent the entire night sitting on the fence, attempting to show his intelligence by supporting both teams. I couldn’t get over the fact that he had two — two! — dates for the game. So I showed him the respect that I figured he deserved.

However, each time the Ohio State quarterback — a young fella by the name of Art Schlichter — did something extraordinary, the guy would bolt out of his seat, knee me in the back and yell at the top of his lungs: “That’s our freshman!”

That got old fast.

Schlichter was a fine quarterback. On the night, Schlichter was 16-for-20 for 205 yards. Plus, he picked up another 70 yards on the hoof.

Clemson dominated the game early and led 17-9 by the end of the third quarter, but danged if Schlichter didn’t bring the Buckeyes back. He scored his second rushing touchdown of the night with 8:11 left in the game.

And the whole time, the loudmouth with two chicks kept yelling: “That’s our freshman! That’s our freshman!”

With very little time left in the game, Clemson was forced to give up possession. Schlichter mounted yet another drive as we were hit with another lecture from this jackass on how this talented young quarterback would put a nail in Clemson’s coffin.

But, as fortune would have it, it wasn’t a nail that Schlichter delivered. It was an egg.


Left: Second-string Clemson nose guard 
Bauman. Right: Buckeye QB
 Art Schlichter.

Schlichter delivered the brown, egg-shaped football directly into the hands of backup Tiger nose guard Charlie Bauman — who appeared as surprised as anyone. After all, how often does a nose guard get a chance to run back an interception?

Bauman rumbled out of bounds right in front of the Ohio State bench. So much for that nail. Or the coffin, either, for that matter.

Everyone sitting within three or four rows of us all turned in unison, pointed our fingers at the smart ass and yelled with great relish: “That’s your freshman!

Which is how we missed the start of the bench-clearing brawl.

It took the referees a while to clear the mess on the field. When order was restored, they marked off two consecutive unsportsmanlike conduct penalties against Ohio State, which left Clemson quarterback Steve Fuller in well enough shape to run out the clock.

The final score: Clemson 17, Ohio State 15.

But what we didn’t know yet was that the score of the game had become a sidebar. The big news was the brawl. Or, rather, what had started the brawl.

None of us — even those in our party with better seats — knew what had happened until we returned to grandmother’s home that night. It was all over local TV.

What happened was that as Bauman ran out of bounds, the legendary — but infamously hotheaded — Ohio State coach, Woody Hayes took a swing at him.

The Buckeyes line up on the Clemson
 24, marching in for the winning score.

I’m in the corner of the end zone, to 
the near side and right of ABC’s sideline camera.


Freshman QB Art Schlichter takes 
the snap and drops back…


…and, unwisely, throws across the
 middle. That’s Bauman at far right.
 Note the wide-open Buckeye receiver
 at the top of the shot.


Bauman easily picks off Schlichter’s 
pass and rumbles toward the sideline…


…where he’s dragged to a stop smack in front of the Buckeye bench.


As Bauman climbs to his feet,
 Ohio State coach Woody Hayes grabs
 Bauman by the sleeve…


…and smacks him.


It looks as if Hayes 
wants to hit Bauman in the head but
 avoids hitting Bauman’s face mask. As enraged as Hayes must have been, at least he had enough presence of mind not to break his own hand. As you can see, he mostly got Bauman’s shoulder pads.

Bauman, on the other hand, just gives Hays kind of a “Huh?” look.

However, Hayes doesn’t stop there. He flails away at Bauman…


…who wisely backpedals from the legendary coach.
 Other Tiger players swoop in to intervene…


And, of course, no one wants
 to see that.

The refs step in, but not quickly enough to stop the Ohio State boys from tearing
 onto the field.


The situation goes downhill from there.


Here’s the entire sequence in video, via the wonders of YouTube:

The penalty assessment suggested to us it was an OSU problem rather than a Clemson problem. So we put it out of our minds. When we saw the story on TV — and in the paper the next day — we were stunned.


These photos
 from UPI were offered in
an eBay auction
 several years ago.

It turned out a small scandal was brewing among the broadcast media, in fact. Bauman’s interception and Hayes’ sparring match were caught squarely on camera when they happened but — for some reason — ABC chose not to replay the punch. The network later claimed its videotape machine as busy rewinding to show the interception and therefore didn’t capture Hayes’ fit.

Compounding this error was the failure of broadcasters Keith Jackson and Ara Parseghian to say anything about the punch. Jackson was quoted later as saying he didn’t see it and didn’t even know it had happened until much later.


The ABC-TV broadcast team of
 Jackson and
Parseghian, from the Gator Bowl game program.

ABC headquarters in New York had the master tape, however. Which was fed back to the local Jacksonville ABC affiliate, stations all over South Carolina and, presumably, Ohio. Within hours, Woody Hayes had become a one-hit wonder.

The next day, Hayes was fired. It was a sad, sad end to 28 remarkable years as coach of the Ohio State Buckeyes.

And it made Charlie Bauman a household name in South Carolina. For a while, at least.

Speaking of trivia, there are a few other names involved with the 1978 Gator Bowl. Perhaps you’ve heard of a few of these guys.

For Ohio State…


Art “That’s Our Freshman” Schlichter played three more years at Ohio State and then played three years for the Indianapolis Colts. However, his career was cut short by an addiction to gambling.

He was booted out of the NFL and played a couple of seasons of Arena football. His addiction caused Schlichter to run up debts of more than a third of a million dollars. He spent four of the last six years of the 1990s in 17 different jails and prisons.

Here’s a USA Today column from several years ago about the poor guy. What a waste.


Linebacker Tom Cousineau was the No. 1 pick in the 1979 NFL Draft, but he elected not to sign with the Buffalo Bills and instead played Canadian football.

Cousineau finally returned to the U.S. in 1982, playing four years with the Cleveland Browns and two with the San Francisco 49ers


Tailback Ron Springs — reportedly the intended receiver for the pass Bauman stole — spent several years with the Dallas Cowboys and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

No fewer than six players on Clemson’s 1978 team would go on to be first-round draft picks…


Jerry Butler, WR
1979 Draft: 1st round, 5th overall pick
Buffalo Bills

Butler was named AFC Rookie of the year in 1979, spent nine years in Buffalo and played in the 1980 Pro Bowl.


Butler later worked in the Cleveland Browns organization.


Steve Fuller, QB
1979 Draft: 1st round, 23rd overall pick
Kansas City Chiefs

Fuller played five years with the Chiefs…


…and four with the Chicago Bears as Jim McMahon’s backup. He earned a Super Bowl ring with the Bears in 1985.

His real claim to fame, however, may be the rap video, Super Bowl Shuffle. Fuller wears No. 4 — the same jersey number he wore at Clemson, but you don’t need to see his number in order to spot him.


He’s the one who’s out-of-step. For the entire video.

The guy standing to the right of Fuller is one of Clemson’s most famous football alumni. I’m sure you recognize William “Refrigerator” Perry.


Joe Bostic G
1979 Draft: 3rd round, 64th overall pick
St. Louis Cardinals

Bostic spent 10 seasons on the Cardinal offensive line, long before the Cards moved to Arizona. He was named to the 1979 NFC all-rookie team.


Dwight Clark, WR
1979 Draft: 10th round, 249th overall pick
San Francisco 49ers

Perhaps the most famous member of the 1978 Tiger Gator Bowl team, Clark won two Super Bowl rings with the 49ers as a player and helped to earn three more Super Bowl trophies as a member of the 49er front office. He went on to become general manager of the Cleveland Browns.


His biggest claim to fame, however, was one catch vs. the Dallas Cowboys in a playoff game on Jan. 10, 1982. Ask any pro football fan about “the catch” and he’ll instantly remember it. And Walter Iooss‘ iconic photo for Sports Illustrated is nearly as famous as the feat itself:


I wrote about that incident a couple of years ago. Find that here.


Jim Stuckey DT
1980 Draft: 1st round, 20th pick
San Francisco 49ers

Stuckey played seven seasons with the 49ers, earning two Super Bowl rings. Then, he played one season each with the Jets and Chargers. He later did marketing and promotional work for Nutrisystem.


Jeff Bostic C
1980 – Not Drafted; signed as a free-agent
Washington Redskins

Bostic anchored the famous offensive line of the Washington Redskins — “The Hawgs” — for 14 seasons, earning three Super Bowl rings.


He played in the 1983 Pro Bowl.


Jeff Bryant DT
1982 Draft: 1st round, 6th overall pick
Seattle Seahawks

Bryant played 12 years with the Seattle Seahawks.


Perry Tuttle, WR
1982 Draft: 1st round, 19th overall pick
Buffalo Bills

Tuttle played three years with the Bills and Falcons, then jumped to the Canadian Football League in 1986. He was an all-CFL selection in 1987.


You’d probably best remember him from the cover of Sports Illustrated after Clemson won the national championship in 1981.


I originally posted a version of this story on my web site in the fall of 2001 — back when I had a web site and before I had even heard of a blog.

Much to my amusement, I found I was cited in the bibliography of a book about ACC football:


Here’s the citation:


I was amazed at the comments I received from folks who stumbled across my humble little page. Like this one from Daryl K. Tabor:

It’s Keith Jackson, not Jennings. Keith Jackson was the ABC sportscaster for the game, not Keith Jennings.

Who is Keith Jennings?

Oops! Keith Jennings was a tight end for the Clemson Tigers from 1985 to 1988 who went on to spend several years with the Bears.

Yes, that was a screw up. I would have fired my copy desk. If I had one.Steve McCarthy wrote:

Didn’t Charlie Bauman change his name due to the notoriety that followed?

Nope. In fact, the real irony was that Bauman now lives in Ohio.A couple of years after I first posted this story, Chris Dufresne of the Los Angeles Times wrote this 25th-anniversary story of the incident:

Bauman, the innocent Clemson bystander, wondered how a reporter had found him, living quietly these days, in Ohio of all places.

“Google search?” he asked.


Bauman did not want to rehash the details. He said his role in the play is a historical footnote.

“That’s all it is,” Bauman said. “He made a mistake. He made other mistakes, and so have I. Everybody makes mistakes.”

Steve replied:

Thanks for the response. Now I can finally put away the urban legend of what happened to Charlie Bauman…

I saw the game with a few friends here in Houston. We were shocked. The local ABC sports newscaster, Tim Melton (who is still here incidentally) expressed what everyone had just seen, that ABC had shamelessly tried to ignore what had just taken place.

Charlie could have and arguably should have retaliated, but Charlie was in full control of himself and did the smart thing, which was nothing.

Patrick Dyer chimed in right after the Buckeyes won the National Championship in January 2003:

The OSU win in the Fiesta Bowl Friday night brought this all back to mind, especially with ABC’s Keith Jackson’s (I though that he’d retired) comment at the very end: ” … rest easy Woody”!

I’d seen the 1978 “incident” live on ABC (no VCR until 1987). To the best of my recollections the OSU sideline was to the left of the interception runback. I’d at first thought that Hayes was grabbing at Bauman to pull him back from the mob of OSU players.

They did air some kind of a replay as there was dead silence from Jackson and Parseghian during and after it. At the time I took them to have been thunderstruck by what they saw, but, perhaps, they really couldn’t see it after all.

When I reposted this story in my old VizEds blog in 2007, I received another nice round of comments. Richard Curtis, former managing editor of USA Today, wrote:

I was watching the game at home in Baltimore while my 1-year-old son was asleep (one of the few times he ever slept as an infant!!). My wife was in the kitchen. I remember yelling to her that Woody Hayes had just slugged a player!

I couldn’t believe it. I think that was the moment I gave up on college football.

My pal Doug Jessmer wrote:

As you sat in the stands in Jacksonville, Charles, I’d just moved to West Virginia. (Don’t laugh.) When I see the punch footage, I just laugh and say, well, that’s Woody Hayes. He should’ve repeatedly punched Bo Schembechler instead, but it’s too late for both of ‘em.
 (Full disclosure: GO BUCKS!)…

P.S.: It was a regrettable incident, don’t get me wrong.

Scott Griffin of the Waterbury, Conn., Republican-American wrote:

I was about 10 or 11 and watching the game back home in Fort Walton Beach (a few hours west on I-10 from Jax) and I still remember it clearly.

ESPN Classic showed it a couple of weeks ago and I watched it again. I couldn’t believe Keith Jackson ignored it … twice. He never said anything live and when they showed the replay a few minutes later he said, “I didn’t see anything that would have started the scrum except some glum faces.” (pretty close to exact quote). It was pretty hard to miss that roundhouse right.

It was also a helluva game. Tell that to the people who think the “other” bowls don’t mean squat.

Mike Facciolo wrote:

My wife and I sat on the Clemson side of the field on about the 20 yard line up high. We did not know what happened to Bauman until we got back to our hotel room.

We took a shuttle bus to and from the stadium and, on the way back to our parking lot, our shuttle bus was full of Clemson students and only two Ohio State fans. They were, of course, very quiet and the Clemson students were truly happy.

About half way back to our destination, the two OSU fans started in on the Clemson kids. My wife and I cracked up as the students started chanting “Woody is a pecker, Woody is a pecker” all the way back to our lot.

Ron Bowlan wrote:

I remember exactly where I was when Woody threw the punch, at my parents house in Amarillo, Texas.

I was also a member of some of the “dismal” teams of the 70’s you referred to (we were, however 7-4 in 1974 back when there weren’t 34 Bowl games). I was still around Clemson when this game took place and had some athletic department connections.

This was the early days of video tape and someone showed me the “raw” feed from ABC that didn’t go away during commercials. When they broke for commercial following the interception/punch, Ara Parseghian was heard to say something to the effect of “that was the God Damndest thing I ever saw.”

Lastly, I received this e-mail which — I hope you’ll agree — was definitely a keeper:

Greetings Chuck…

This afternoon while performing a search on Yahoo I came across your 1978 Gator Bowl web page… WOW, your web page brought back a lot of great memories… especially the group of talented players on our team and our great fans.

I just wanted to let you know I think you designed an exceptional page about the Gator Bowl. Thanks for being a fan of the Tigers.

Best Regards,
Charlie Bauman

No, thank you, Mr. Bauman. Not only for making my last-minute, surprise trip to Jacksonville a thrill, but also for being such a class act.

Every 16-year-old kid should be lucky enough to have a hero like Charlie Bauman.

Ho, ho, ho…

This musical interlude is dedicated to my wife and daughter, who are spending Christmas with family in Atlanta.

Have a great one, everybody…

Now, that’s more like it

I mentioned the other day that the front pages in South African newspapers the day after the death of Nelson Mandela were very nice, but not jaw-dropping.

That was probably an unfair expectation on my part. I was hoping for jaw dropping.

Well, today it happened. My jaw dropped.

This cover wrapped around the entire edition of the Afrikaans-language national Sunday paper, Rapport.


Whites and blacks, gathering to pay their respects outside of Mandela’s residence near Johannesburg.

Look at the young white man on the right, comforting the black woman.

It’s a touching picture anyway, and worthy of the play it was given. But the more you know about the history of the country and the culture that it still struggles with to this day… well, this is just mind-blowing.

Unfortunately, I can’t read the credit. I’ll add the name of the photographer if I can dig that up. I’m told the photographer was Siphiwe Sibeko, shooting for Reuters.

Making the rounds today via social media is this other shot of those same people:



I’m told this picture was used on the front of today’s Sunday World — a South African paper I’ve not even heard of.

Find Siphiwe Sibeko’s web site here and his Twitter feed here.

My compliments to Rapport editor Waldimar Pelser and his staff.