Monday, July 02, 2007

Mr. Sharpie

Dry Bones cartoon: Olmert surrenders at Sharm, avoids having to fight a war first.

I called this cartoon/posting Mr. Sharpie. Here in the blogosphere, the columnist has to think up his/her own headlines.

Back in the world of paper-based newspapers, writing the headlines was the job of the headline writer. This was because headlines had to be written to "fit" the physical space allocated to the piece. i.e. is it a one-column head, two column head, what font size is being used... . Different papers had different styles... i.e. humorous, straight-forward, etc. Headline writers on papers that I worked for always seemed like crossword puzzle freaks to me. It's because, in the search for the proper "fit" it was common to hear a headline writer call out for help with requests like "I need a short word for organization."

For many years, my studio was in the Jerusalem Post building in Jerusalem. In addition to headline writers there was a translation department. Ads which were running in the Hebrew press often would be sent to the Post to be run in English translation. Other ads, taken in English by the Post would be translated and sent on to be run, in parallel, in a Hebrew paper. Thus the need for a room of translators. One day I happened to be in the room when I heard a translator call out for help. To this day I remember that moment which happened thirty years ago. The request was "How do you say efficiency In Hebrew?" After a moment of silence came the response. "Dag B'Yam."

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For those of you who don't speak Hebrew, "Dag B'Yam" means "a fish in a sea".

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