Friday, October 29, 2004


Originally uploaded by jonfobes.
The other thing about Joe's dog: She has a really great smile.

And her own tooth brush. And her own floss.

And she's really happy now that the braces are off.

Thursday, October 28, 2004


Originally uploaded by jonfobes.
No, you're not seeing things. It's Joe in his own lovely house with his own cool computer.


Originally uploaded by jonfobes.
Annie Hanak was on hand for the big night ... but she didn't have any Luchita's or beer.

She's one of the sweetest dogs on the planet.


Originally uploaded by jonfobes.
A still-recovering Joe plays some music Wednesday night at The House of Hanak after we pigged out on Luchita's and washed it down with beer.

We also watched some scenes from "Almost Famous" and "Clockwork Orange."

Sunday, October 24, 2004


Originally uploaded by jonfobes.
Everyone connected with the massive election section we published today deserves a big round of applause, but perhaps I am showing my News Desk prejudice when I say, "and especially Bill Lammers."

Bill is known for his organizational skills, but they never have been more evident than with this 220-page, 4-way-zoned monster project. If you've ever worked on a News Desk you know what an incredible and insane chore it was. And it wasn't simply the layout, design and pagination; it was the planning and the record-keeping that allowed Bill to know — under mind-melting deadline pressure at 2 a.m. — that page T21 was also page U26, V28 and W30 and that T22 was also U27, V29 and W31 and to copy pages and adjust folios and jump-lines accordingly. And fast.

If that doesn't give you a intense headache just thinking about it, then you've never worked a News Desk. And perhaps News Deskers are overly sensitive to the perception that stories get written and photos get shot and then magically appear in the paper. There's nothing magic about it — it simply requires faultless record-keeping, painstaking organization, sound journalistic judgment and many long hours of pagination.


Thursday, October 21, 2004

Miracle message!

Another first for Mr. Joe Hanak:

Just about an hour ago I got his first e-mail from his spanking new home computer. You can e-mail him at

Joe update

Talked to Joe at 3:50 p.m. today.

He said he has not had a pain pill for 12 hours but is still feeing some surgery-related weirdness; said he feels better than he has in many weeks. He can't sit for more than 10 minutes without pain, and though he feels fine one moment and groggy the next, he's ready for phone calls ... 440-259-4182.

He said If he doesn't answer, he's either watching baseball or a porno or tonight's Animal Planet special on the geoduck.


Originally uploaded by jonfobes.
Having already faced numerous changes in his 40-column national section, Tim Graham was surprised (not really) to see Kathie Kroll standing by his desk.

Then Kathie said prayerfully, “May I preface this news by saying, NOT my fault …” and then she dropped the bomb about more changes.


Originally uploaded by jonfobes.
Tim did what any normal assistant news editor would do: He tried to effect the first-ever News Desk beheading.

But as luck would have it, Tim missed Kathie’s neck and hit her hair. Now, if you know anything at all about Kathie, you know that all her super powers reside in her magnificent tresses. So as the unharmed Kathie sauntered back to her desk, Tim straightened his pica pole and re-jiggered the section — again!

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Mary Jo: More surgery news

Darling Mary Jo's surgery also went well, but doctors say she's not allowed to lift anything heavier than a "good book," which doesn't sound too bad to me. She's not allowed to vacuum or do any house chores either, also a pretty good deal.

She can move her fingers across a keyboard, however, and is in the process of signing on as a member of this Web log, so she can clarify and expand on News Desk history. And I bet she'd like to get an e-mail from you.

You can reach her at


Originally uploaded by jonfobes.
Besides laying out the National section and shouting OOO-LAWD at precisely the right moment, Joe Hanak's other important duty as a Plain Dealer assistant news editor is to view and critique each new pair of boots Bill Lammers purchases.

Since Joe is still off with his back problems — no word today on when he's ready to take calls after his surgery — Bill is showing his new boots to anyone who'll look at them.

But I don't think he's getting the patented “Joe” response he's looking for. You can submit a critique of Bill's boots by clicking the “comment” button below. And Joe can render his own well-reasoned opinion when he gets back to work — OOO-LAWD!

Stay tuned for Joe recovery updates.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Joe's surgery "went well"

I just got a call from Joe, who was on his way home from 12 hours at The Cleveland Clinic and three hours in surgery. The doctor said the surgery, "went well." He took a thumb-sized hunk of disc material out of Joe's back. That's pretty big for a "fragment." Joe said he's sore but already feels some relief. Don't call tonight, but maybe tomorrow afternoon will be OK. Watch the Nightsider Web log for updates.

Joe asked me to tell everyone, "Thanks for all your prayers and support."


Originally uploaded by jonfobes.
It should be no surprise that Native Americans of the Pacific Northwest looked to the geoduck as a cure for erectile dysfunction.

They didn't call it "erectile dysfunction" of course, but referred it as "limp arrow syndrome," or would sometimes say of an ailing comrade, "His totem pole won't stay up." And they prized the geoduck as a cure.

Viagra researchers dismissed this superstition when they encountered quite a few flaccid geoducks, which they harvested and eventually brought back to full vigor with their amazing product, paving the way for its use by the general public.


Originally uploaded by jonfobes.
The proper way to pronounce the word is "gooey-duck," not "gee-oh-duck." The word is also sometimes spelled "gooey-dick," but only by someone going for cheap laughs on a Web log.

A geoduck is not a duck in any way, shape, or form. It is a species of large saltwater clam, Penis generosa, which is native to the northern Pacific coasts of Canada and the United States of America. They live buried deep in the sand of ocean beaches, sometimes reaching the age of 140 years. The name seems to have originated from an Native American word meaning, "That's a big one!"

Geoduck, graphically dubbed the "elephant trunk clam" by the less-dirty-minded Chinese, is prized for its incredibly sweet flavor and crunchy texture.

Extremely popular in Hong Kong, China and Japan, where it is considered a rare taste treat, geoduck is mostly eaten cooked in a fondue-style Chinese hot pot or raw sashimi style, dipped in soy sauce and wasabi. On Japanese menus, geoduck is called mirugai.


Originally uploaded by jonfobes.
It wasn't a typical day at the beach for little Johnny and Jimmy Graham last year during their vacation to the Pacific Northwest. They had either found some sex toys or stumbled across an accident site.

But, of course, all they had really done was to discover a couple of geoducks on the beach and were bringing them home for dad, who says that geoducks taste, "real good!"

And he knows how to say "geoduck," too. Do you?


Originally uploaded by jonfobes.
The Higgs boys were at The Plain Dealer Monday to post a sign on the PD newsroom balcony and sell items to make money for — I am not sure what. Church? Scouts? School?

I suspect they were selling items for the sole purpose of enriching the already wealthy Higgs family, as I am pretty sure I saw Lisa tucking a big wad of money into her sock.
Oh, yes — she also tried to steal and resell the News Desk popcorn, but we busted her for that one before she could get her coat off.


Originally uploaded by jonfobes.
Here’s is our colleague Roy “Chi-WAH, Chi-WAH” Graham, who has come up with yet another fun word for us to investigate, “Geoduck.” Stay tuned for more. As a preview, here are some lyrics from the Geoduck song.

It take a lot of luck
And a certain kind of pluck
To dig around the muck
To get a gooey duck.
Cause he doesn’t have a front
And he doesn’t have a back
And he doesn’t know Donald
And he doesn’t go, "Quack!”

Monday, October 18, 2004

Another "first" for Joe

This information got shoved aside in light of Joe's other big news, but for the record, after many long years of avoiding it, he finally watched, "The Last Waltz."

It's not every day you get to see Eric Clapton almost drop his guitar in the middle of a solo and call out for someone to finish it for him: "Robbie!" That alone is worth the price of admission.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Joe Hanak having surgery Tuesday

Joe is having his surgery at the Cleveland Clinic Tuesday morning. Amazingly enough, he’ll be home that same afternoon after microsurgery to remove loose free-floating fragments of the disc.

Joe can’t drive for at least three weeks after the surgery. And too much sitting could re-injure the disc. So that will factor into his return. He could be back to work my mid-November.

One note: You might remember that the back specialist said Joe would need the most invasive surgery possible; but Joe saw two surgeons and each one said that would not be necessary, identifying the problem as “free-fragment floating outside in the spinal canal,” which can be grabbed microscopically without invasive surgery.

As you can imagine, he's very happy.

Stunning news: Joe finally did it

Joe Hanak has ordered a computer!

After six years of thinking, mulling, pondering ... after six years of study, research and reading ... Joe ordered a Dell 8400 with a flat-panel display, 160 gig hard drive, DVD-ROM and CD burner ... and that's all I can remember, as I am in shock that he finally took the plunge.

He should have it next week.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004


Joe has an appointment at The Cleveland Clinic tomorrow. If all goes well he may be able to schedule his back surgery at that time. Stay tuned for updates.


Originally uploaded by jonfobes.
As noted earlier in this Web log, we all knew it was going to take some doing to fill those size 15 clown shoes on Dave Clary's gargantuan feet, and here's the journalist who did it:

Our own Kim Moy.

I thought I'd slip in this post while she's on vacation, crawling around some Mayan ruins in Guatemala — and scouting out the location for her banana plantation.

We miss you Kim, come back soon — and bring us a skull or a spider.


Originally uploaded by jonfobes.
The Chihuahua is a small dog with large ears.

The wah-wah pedal is used by a guitarist to vary the tone of his instrument. Think of the opening of "Tales of Brave Ulysses" by Cream or the middle solo in "All Along the Watchtower" by Jimi Hendrix. You don't need big ears to hear the sound of a wah-wah.

One final note: The wah-wah and the Chihuahua are alike in two respects — they are about the same size and each makes a funny noise if you step on it.


Originally uploaded by jonfobes.
I thought it was time to post a nice picture of two happy people, Denise Ritter (front) and Lisa Higgs.

We like to complain about work, but honestly, we also smile a lot as we entertain each other with amazingly silly things, like helping Roy say "Chihuahua."

George Harrison and "Roy's Theme"

If I can figure out how to do an audio post and link, I will connect you to this George Harrison song — as performed by Eric Clapton and friends in the “Concert for George.” I think it’s now safe to rename this tune, “Roy’s Theme.”

Here are the lyrics to “Chi-wah-wah!” by George Harrison originally recorded on his album, “All Things Must Pass.”

You've given me a Chi-wah-wah
And I'm thinking of you
And all the things that we used to do
Chi-wah-wah! Chi-wah-wah!

You made me such a big star
Being there at the right time
Cheaper than a dime
Chi-wah-wah! you've given me your Chi-wah-wah, Chi-wah-wah!

Oh, you don't see me crying
Oh, you don't hear me sighing

I don't need no Chi-wah-wah
And I know how sweet life can be
If I keep myself free from the Chi-wah-wah
I don't need no Chi-wah-wah

Oh, you don't see me crying
Hey baby, you don't hear me sighing
Oh, no no-no no

Now I don't need no Chi-wah-wah
And I know how sweet life can be
If I keep myself free — of Chi-wah-wah
I don't need no Chi-wah-wah!
Chi-wah-wah! (repeat and fade)

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

You cannot "p" in this old Hausa

It seems that Roy narrowly missed a language problem that could have been much worse than the “Chi-WAH, Chi-WAH,” bugaboo.

He was lucky, he said, that he learned to speak English before he learned his native tongue, which is Hausa, because in Hausa there is no “p.” (This reminds me of my cousins who had an outhouse instead of a bathroom, but that’s another story.) And he would have lost the ability to say "p," always having to replace it wtih “f.”

So if Roy had learned Housa before English, his career opportunities would have been severely limited. Yes, he could have been a Philadelphia philanthropist, but …

• He could not have worked at NAPA because he would always be telling people, “I sell auto farts.”

• He could not have delivered fast food because no one would get it when he said, “Here’s your fefferoni fizza.”

• He could not have worked at Office Max because customers would get confused when he told them, “Oh, yes, you can find fens and fencils in aisle 7.”

• He could not be an entertainer because he might have to sing, “Feefle, feefle who need feefle …” And he could not be a politician because no one would respond warmly when he declared himself to be, “A man of the feefle.”

• And he never could have been a hockey announcer because he might have found himself shouting into the microphone, “In an incredible move, the Toronto defenseman just knocked the fuck out of his own end!”

And on that note I say, “Barka da yamma,” which is “good evening,” in Hausa.

NOTE: A quick look at the Hausa alphabet indicates no “Chi” or “Wah” sounds. This is all starting to make sense. Read about Hausa.

The Roy Solution: Trip to Mexico

Originally uploaded by jonfobes.
Now collecting money to send Roy to the Chihuahuan Desert, where he can learn to articulate properly. Info from their Web site:

Exploring the Chihuahuan Desert

The Chihuahuan Desert is the largest of the North American deserts and is centered in between the Sierra Madre Occidental and Sierra Madre Oriental in the Borderlands. Ancestral home of the Chihuahua dog and the Hua-Hua pedal.

This is a high desert — the peaks are generally 1,500 meters high and the basins 700 meters above sea level. Most of the desert lies in Mexico, while Roy lies mostly in Cleveland. Native species include the creosote bush, lechugilla and candelilla, the Chi-WAH-ha and the Cho-wowwow. Cacti number more than 250 — more tongue-twisting plants than in any other North American desert.

Also home to the Chihuahua College of Pronunciation and home office of Cheesy's Rest Tent Inc.

Rap-master Roy still struggling

Some other words Roy can’t pronounce, and how they sound when he tries:

Huarache — Who's itchy? • Che Guevara — Chew Guava • Chiaroscuro — Charred squirrel • Chasmogamous — Charles is monogamous • Wah-Wah pedal — Chi-WUH, chi-WUH pedal • Alpha Chi Omega — Apple Pie Bodega • Chi-Chi’s Restaurant — Cheesy’s Rest Tent • Chincherinchee — Chincherinchee … He finally got one right!

Roy is no closer to saying, "Chihuahua," than Les Nessman is to saying, "Chi Chi Rodriguez."

Monday, October 11, 2004

More fun with "Chihuahua"

Poor Roy Graham is still trying to say, "Chihuahua," and he's inventing new breeds and animals in the process.

First came the dog that any comic would love: Chi-wha-ha.

Then came the cross between the Chow and the Chihuahua: Chi-wow-wow and also the Chowhuahua.

Then came the bizarre Chi-guana, a cross between a Chihuahua and an iguana.

Wait, I am giong to ask him to try one more time before I close this post:

"Hey, Roy, try 'Chihuahua' again!"

"Chi ... Chi-juana." Now's he creating new city names.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Roy Graham has gone to the dogs

Roy Graham says, in regards his training as an attorney, "All I am good for is lying." The problem is, I don't know whether to believe him. If he's telling the truth then the statement is false. Hmm, he really is a lawyer.

Denise asks Roy, "So, what kind of dog do you want to get?" Roy replies, "Uh, chi-WUH ... chi-WUH ... uh, I guess if I can't pronounce it, I don't want it."


Originally uploaded by jonfobes.
Who is this hard-working News Desk editor, and why does she have a picture of a pot-bellied pig on her computer?

And when is she coming back to the PD?

Photo by Bill Lammers


Originally uploaded by jonfobes.
Wonder why Joe Hanak has back problems?

For a while it seemed that whenever you aimed a camera at Joe, he would say, "Wait, I like to get my picture taken this way," and strike the pose you see at right. Ouch!

Photo by Bill Lammers


Originally uploaded by jonfobes.
I told you Marvin's picture would be better than mine: Here you have The Plain Dealer metro desk gone wild.

Photo by Marvin Fong

See larger version of this photo with the other "Mark says goodbye" photos at:

Thursday, October 07, 2004


Originally uploaded by jonfobes.
The metro desk put on their special Mickey Mouse ears for this final tribute to the departing Mark Russell. There's a link to more photos in the post below. Sorry for chopping off some heads, but I was trying to stay out of the way of the official photographer.


Originally uploaded by jonfobes.
Mark Russell said farewell to The Plain Dealer October 6, 2004; he'll be heading to Florida to serve as managing editor of the Orlando Sentinel.

There were speeches, gifts, ceremonial mouse ears and lots of food. Best of luck, Mark — you will be missed. Follow this link for a few more photos.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Important reader note: Archive info

Make sure you check the archive sections of this Web site. Not all information displays on the main page, so you can read to the bottom and still not be done. Stay tuned for up-to-date items mixed in with Nightside history. (See "King of Coffee," for example, for a fresh photo with up-to-the-minute caption information. See also report on PD lockdown.)

PHOTO NOTE: If you click on the link under the photo posts, you will be transported to our non-official photo site called Flickr, and in most cases you'll find a larger copy of the picture.


Originally uploaded by jonfobes.
You can call Bill the King of Coffee or the Sultan of Speedway, but never call him late with his pages.

Now you know the secret of Bill's success with massive election-advance sections: Plenty of caffeine from a variety of sources. (And lots of attention to detail!)

The big pots come from Speedway: $3.99 for the pot and first fill-up, and a $1.99 per fill-up thereafter. Just to be fair, it should be noted that Bill often shares his Speedway coffee with co-workers.

The press pots are updated versions of the pot Bill was so proud of many years ago and showed off to the News Desk so often. See Day Runner entries below.

Sunday, October 03, 2004


Originally uploaded by blsbls.
Here is Larry the Legend, who always had a keen eye for a good photo. He did something most of us will never do: shed the golden handcuffs twice. But he never burned any bridges doing so.


Originally uploaded by blsbls.
If you are wondering where Joe's back problems started, this might be a good place to look. Joe was trying to teach my dog a little discipline, which, in the long run, turned out to be a failed experiment. It did reinforce the consensus that Joe is definitely the alpha dog in the pack.

To give you an idea of how long ago this photo was taken, the boy in the top of the frame is Joe's son, Tyler, who is now 16, driving and studying all of John Paul Jones' bass lines.

Onion salt assault puts PD under lockdown

News broke Saturday but so did my camera; otherwise I'd have photos with this report.

Saturday afternoon Estella and Nellynn opened an envelope addressed to The Plain Dealer. It contained some brown powder, and a bizarre letter — which described the powder as "snail poison" and complained that President Bush is poisoning America. (Why did I say bizarre?)

The Plain Dealer was locked down for about 45 minutes until firemen examined the powder, which they determined to be seasoning with onion salt.

I had a nice picture of Estella talking to Cleveland firemen, police and Plain Dealer security, but I lost it later that evening when my camera crashed in a USB plugging mishap. I had an even better photo of Estella and Nellynn celebrating when they learned the powder they found was only seasoning. Estella was celebrating because the powder was harmless; Nellynn was celebrating because she could finally leave the building for a cigarette. Picture them smiling, hands above their heads, gleeful ... an unlit cigarette gripped triumphantly between Nellynn's fingers. It was a Kodak moment captured on a Nikon camera zapped by an Apple computer.

Others were celebrating, too — so they could finally cross the street to the Artefino Art Gallery Cafe for coffee and snacks; thank goodness it was open later than usual for the art-walk festivities.

Rosie and Chris later learned that other newspapers and TV news organizations received letters with powder, so we did a story. Chris passed the onion-salt info along to the AP, but she was misquoted; the news service said the mixture contained "onion powder," but we had it right.

See story in our Sunday Plain Dealer: "Mystery powder, letters sent to various media outlets," A18.

Friday, October 01, 2004

TNG Local 1 Web site

In case there's anyone out there who is still not aware of it, your Guild has a Web site, and it often features updated information the Guild deems interesting or important. If you haven't done so already, please bookmark the TNG Local 1 Web site and look at it every week or so.


Originally uploaded by jonfobes.
I was once in the habit of sending trim orders to the copy desk on colorful Post-It notes; and Mike was once in the habit of decorating his desk with them.

This is one of many candid photos on my outdated version of the Intern Web site (see note below).

Candid pictures.
Move-In pictures.