Old at Heart

Mainstream news offers little to the under-thirty crowd.

In the end, Scott Stoltz allowed Good to move out in exchange for his cleaning deposit; he's been gone since late September. Although Stanley is still there, he needs to be on his best behavior. The court ordered him to see a trainer, who'll evaluate his aggressiveness and determine if further instruction is necessary.

As for Good, he's learned that even in victory, he's not invincible. "I'd like to think that I have a journalist's thick skin," he says. "Apparently, I'm a little thin around the ankles."Hart failure: When News reporter Good isn't fending off canines, he's generally covering events in the Boulder area -- and an article he wrote about one such happening, a speech by former Colorado Senator Gary Hart, put him in another uncomfortable situation.

Here's the sequence of events. On November 5, the Denver Post published "Gary Hart Considers White House Bid," a page-one piece that took off from comments made on the November 3 edition of ABC's This Week about a possible Oval Office run by the 1988 presidential candidate. Two days later, on November 7, Hart spoke to a political-science class at the University of Colorado, and when pressed, briefly addressed the presidential gossip. Good's synopsis of this appearance turned up in the News the next day under the headline "In Hart-to-Heart Talk at CU, Ex-Senator Says He Won't Run: Presidential Rumors Put to Rest, But He Still Hopes to Contribute." But neither the Colorado Daily nor the Boulder Daily Camera, which both covered Hart's CU session, reached the same conclusion. Their headlines were, respectively, "Hart Coy on Presidential Bid" and "Hart Downplays Speculation: But Former Senator Won't Rule Out Running in 2004." As if that weren't enough, Hart hemmed and hawed about the race in another interview with the Post, which turned up on its November 10 cover.

Mark Andresen

Despite what looks like a botch job on his part, Good says he stands by his article -- and a close read of it shows why. He quoted Hart as saying, "I don't want to run for office, but I want to make a contribution" -- a comment that was hardly unequivocal and gave him plenty of wiggle room. That means the staffer who wrote the headline didn't appreciate the political nuances of Hart's phrasing and concocted a banner that would make the News look tone deaf in subsequent days.

Whether the Post was justified in giving Hart's musings so much up-front ink is another question worth pondering, because Newt Gingrich would have a better chance of winning the 2004 Democratic nomination. But if the Post's enthusiasm -- the crux of a curious November 17 media critique by News commentators Diane Eicher and Joe Bullard -- nudges Hart toward such a kamikaze mission, it'll certainly make for a livelier election.

Come back, Donna Rice. All is forgiven.

Story time: In the November 2 Rocky Mountain News, veteran columnist Gary Massaro began an obituary of 82-year-old Carole Tool as follows: "This is a love story that endured into a seventh decade and at one time spanned 12 time zones. It is a story about separation during war, and reunion in time of peace. It is the story of Carole and Jean Tool."

A perfectly serviceable way to begin -- but also a familiar one. Several months ago, a reader collected first lines from a slew of Massaro columns. Take a gander at the sampling below and try to identify the common thread:

April 20, 2002: "It was a love story that was just meant to be."

March 26, 2002: "Call this the story of little ladies with big feats."

March 4, 2002: "This could have been a story about how a feud divided a neighborhood. Instead, it is the story of one person who helped hold it together."

November 11, 2000: "This is a story of two war heroes."

May 11, 1999: "This is a story about the Lion in Spring."

March 16, 1999: "This is a story about the prayer house that Ruth built."

March 22, 1998: "This is a story of the caddy in the Audi."

December 4, 1995: "This is a story about love and devotion and what it means to do the best you can with what you have."

June 24, 1995: "This is a story about the Music Man of Wheat Ridge."

June 5, 1995: "This is a story about six friends who have stuck closer together than a postage stamp on an envelope."

October 5, 1994: "This is a story about four women who have made a commitment to fitness and friendship."

June 13, 1994: "This is a story of tears and terror."

And this is the story of a columnist, Massaro, who writes almost every day -- so it's not surprising that he falls back on formula every so often. But with luck, it's also a story about Massaro giving the "story" lead a rest for a while.

Hope the story has a happy ending.

Hoisted on my own petard: This week, my own ending is thoroughly unhappy.

In a November 7 column that found me pointing out a couple of names misspelled by Denver Post columnist Bill Husted, I misspelled a name, too -- that of Post transportation writer Jeff Leib. I humbly apologize for this error, and offer my pledge to never make a similar mistake again to Mr. Leib, the average reader and Westword editor Patricia Calhoon.

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