In which a group of graying eternal amateurs discuss their passions, interests and obsessions, among them: movies, art, politics, evolutionary biology, taxes, writing, computers, these kids these days, and lousy educations.

E-Mail Donald
Demographer, recovering sociologist, and arts buff

E-Mail Fenster
College administrator and arts buff

E-Mail Francis
Architectural historian and arts buff

E-Mail Friedrich
Entrepreneur and arts buff
E-Mail Michael
Media flunky and arts buff

We assume it's OK to quote emailers by name.

Try Advanced Search

  1. Seattle Squeeze: New Urban Living
  2. Checking In
  3. Ben Aronson's Representational Abstractions
  4. Rock is ... Forever?
  5. We Need the Arts: A Sob Story
  6. Form Following (Commercial) Function
  7. Two Humorous Items from the Financial Crisis
  8. Ken Auster of the Kute Kaptions
  9. What Might Representational Painters Paint?
  10. In The Times ...

Sasha Castel
AC Douglas
Out of Lascaux
The Ambler
Modern Art Notes
Cranky Professor
Mike Snider on Poetry
Silliman on Poetry
Felix Salmon
Polly Frost
Polly and Ray's Forum
Stumbling Tongue
Brian's Culture Blog
Banana Oil
Scourge of Modernism
Visible Darkness
Thomas Hobbs
Blog Lodge
Leibman Theory
Goliard Dream
Third Level Digression
Here Inside
My Stupid Dog
W.J. Duquette

Politics, Education, and Economics Blogs
Andrew Sullivan
The Corner at National Review
Steve Sailer
Joanne Jacobs
Natalie Solent
A Libertarian Parent in the Countryside
Rational Parenting
Colby Cosh
View from the Right
Pejman Pundit
God of the Machine
One Good Turn
Liberty Log
Daily Pundit
Catallaxy Files
Greatest Jeneration
Glenn Frazier
Jane Galt
Jim Miller
Limbic Nutrition
Innocents Abroad
Chicago Boyz
James Lileks
Cybrarian at Large
Hello Bloggy!
Setting the World to Rights
Travelling Shoes

Redwood Dragon
The Invisible Hand
Daze Reader
Lynn Sislo
The Fat Guy
Jon Walz


Our Last 50 Referrers

« Video for the Day: In-Grid | Main | Hot Numbers »

May 23, 2008


Donald Pittenger writes:

Dear Blowhards --

Newspaper headline writing might be looked at as a form of blank-verse poetry -- incorporating a lot of meaning into the few words that available space and type size allow. A real art, when done right.

On the other hand, everything can fall apart. This happened on page B1 of today's (23 May 2008) Wall Street Journal over an article dealing with the tribulations of NHL commissioner Gary Bettman. The headline reads:

Goal: To Make Fans Love Hockey

Okay, using the word "Goal" is cute: no problem there for me given my own tendency to get cute. What bothers me are the words "Make Fans Love Hockey." For one thing, you can't "make" people love something. That implies use of force, but loving is something people do voluntarily. I suppose someone radically into operant conditioning might argue that love is simply a conditioned reflex and is thereby something that can be externally contrived. But I'm not a True Believer in that breed of psychology and dismiss that argument.

Then there is the matter of "fan." The essence of being a fan is to be deeply, positively committed to something, a form of love, perhaps. So if fans are already in love with the sport, how can they then be forced to do what they are already doing.

The headline really should have focused on attendance or TV ratings, not fandom.



posted by Donald at May 23, 2008


As the wife of a diehard Philadelphia Flyers fan, I can honestly say that hockey fans do not need to be induced to love the sport.

(My favorite bad headline of all time was a review for the play: The Dairy of Anne Frank. Hard to hide from those Nazis when you've got all those cows living with you.)

Posted by: Decca on May 23, 2008 7:34 PM

I don't find "Goal" cute when you consider the guy who wrote it is supposedly a professional or, at least, an employed copy editor at a major newspaper. I hate when copy editors take one of the first words that would be associated with a subject and use it in the headline. If it were a story on kids' hockey, we would have surely gotten "chld's play" in the headline -- if they were constructing a new arena, we would have gotten "build it and they will come" -- maybe with a question mark if the editor is half awake -- those types of nauseating, sleepwalking works that make the reader feel beaten with easy cliches, tired puns and just plain lazy headlines. NHL commisioner has to fight for fans -- might be a less annoying head if one only has 10 seconds -- at least it somewhat pokes fun at itself with a lazy wink rather than the eyes shut headline put on the story or------------------------------ NHL facing its own climate change -- gives you an image of a league melting. But Goal? Geez, there's a special place in H-E double hockey sticks for that type of headline writing.

Posted by: s on May 24, 2008 12:46 AM

My favourite Diary of Anne Frank theatre production story concerns the stage revival in which starlet Pia Zadora played the lead.
It was funded by her adoring Greek millionaire husband who was sadly, blind to the productions flaws - and those of the gorgeous lead.
It was so bad that when the Gestapo came on, the audience shouted out "she's in the attic!"

Posted by: B Wood on May 24, 2008 5:04 AM

Perhaps the NHL could read Machiavelli and realize that although it would be best to be both loved and feared by fans but since the two rarely come together, when compelled to choose they will find greater security in being feared than in being loved.

Now on to the task of generating fear in the fans. That sounds like a fun project.

Posted by: Steve Johnson on May 25, 2008 1:46 PM

Post a comment

Email Address:



Remember your info?