Friday, December 10, 2010

“Roundtable Review”

c. 2010 Rod Ice
All rights reserved

The morning was busy at McDonald’s on Water Street in Chardon.

I arrived just after eight o’clock, hoping to buy breakfast before the activities began. We had gathered for the monthly meeting of our Geauga Writers’ Roundtable.

In attendance were many noted wordsmiths from around the county. I felt a tingle of excitement while enjoying my first cup of coffee. Notepads were strewn over the table by their artificial fireplace. We chatted briefly about our Twitter accounts and cell-phone plans. Then, the happening commenced.

Carrie Hamglaze, a local figure of renown, was already at our table with a cup of tea. She was a vision of mature womanhood, dressed in Irish green and Hilltopper red.

“Dear friends,” she began. “Allow me to bring this event to order!”

Everyone stopped talking.

“With the end of 2010 approaching, I’d like to hear about your stories of the year,” she said. “What was most important to your readers in the past twelve months?”

Stan Moster of the Thompson Tribune answered first.

“I think Ledgemont’s incredible football season was most memorable in my neck of the woods,” he cheered.

“Very good,” Carrie agreed.

Martha Ann Reale of the Newbury Siren-Monitor spoke next.

“Coverage of the November elections was most important in my community,” she proclaimed. “We ran an in-depth series of articles on all the candidates and ballot issues.”

“Well done,” Carrie applauded.

Ezekiel Byler-Gregg of the Burton Daily Bugle followed with his own perspective.

“My readers were fascinated with coverage of the fugitive who built a hut in the woods, in Munson,” he said. “It was a story folks might have expected to come from Montana, but not Geauga County.”

“Very true,” Carrie agreed.

Bubbly editor Judy DiCenza of the Claridon Clarion added a new report to the mix.

“My readers were most interested in hearing about upcoming productions by the Geauga Lyric Theater Guild,” she smiled. “Our county can be very proud to have such a cultural resource, right here at home.”

Carrie nodded with agreement.

Finally, Mack Prindl of the Parkman Register added his own viewpoint with gusto.

“I had a front-page article on Ben Roethlisberger, last month,” he boasted.

The entire group went silent.

After a long pause, Carrie sighed loudly. “Where’s the local angle in that?”

Stan rubbed his eyes. “Yeah, how does that qualify as local news?”

“Big Ben has a cousin in my town,” Mack sneered.

Judy bit her lip. “Really?”

Ezekiel was unimpressed.

“C’mon,” he groaned. “You think that will actually sell newspapers?”

“Six Superbowl rings for the Steelers!” Mack whined.

Martha Ann turned sour. “Did you see Oakland Radiers player Richard Seymour punch Ben in the face, during a confrontation on the field? Your quarterback melted like a stick of butter.”

“Did not!” Mack cried. “Did not!”

“Hey, that’s a bit extreme, don’t you think?” I wondered out loud. “Not really an appropriate comment for our forum…”

“C’mon friend,” Ezekiel laughed. “Big Ben shivered on the ground like Pee-wee Herman after getting smacked down by Miss Yvonne.”

“Did not!” Mack repeated.

“I’m melting!” Martha Ann said mockingly. “I’m melllllting!”

Carrie bowed her head.

“You must admit, it wasn’t a very manly reaction to being assaulted,” she observed.

I coughed with disbelief. “Carrie! You are supposed to be the voice of reason here! This isn’t funny!”

Mack was red-faced.

“Six Superbowl rings!” he shouted.

“Quiet, Pringle!” Martha Ann taunted.

“That’s PRINDL!” Mack retorted.

“Okay! Please calm down, everyone,” Carrie pleaded at last. “I apologize. Let’s get back on track here. What about you, Rod? What was your big story for 2010?”

I cleared my throat. “Well, a column about Harvey Pekar seemed to resonate with our readers this year.”

“Who??” Mack exploded.

“He was a jazz music critic and comic book hero,” I explained.

“Right,” Mack huffed. “Rrrright. There’s a local story for people in Geauga County…”

“My feature compared Harvey’s work to Thoughts At Large,” I confessed. “He influenced me as a teenager. I’ve often thought of my writing as a text version of his American Splendor series.”

Ezekiel slapped the table. “Funny. I liked that column.”

Mack was red-faced. “You wrote about a nobody who did comic books?”

“Harvey penned storylines which were illustrated by a variety of successful artists,” I said. “Robert Crumb, for example.”

“Who?” Mack repeated.

“Go back to your Iron City Beer!” Martha Ann squealed.

“Sounds like boring stuff to me,” Mack complained. “Chuck Noll could write a better column than that!”

Carrie was becoming flustered.

“Please!” she begged. “Let’s stay on the subject here!”

Stan unfolded the paper on his breakfast tray. “Hey, did you realize they brought back the McRib sandwich? If we adjourn until lunchtime, we could talk about this stuff over a slab of barbecued pork!”

Suddenly, all hope of continuing our discussion evaporated.

“That’s got it for me!” Mack cheered. “See you guys at noon!”

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