Herald and Journal Herald & Journal, March 2, 1998

Writing about nothing isn't easy


Every writer experiences it ­ and fears it ­ writer's block. That's when your mind is blank and you can't think of anything to write about. I'm having writer's block right now.

Jerry Seinfeld, the tv comedian says his top-rated show is about nothing. A show about nothing with top ratings? Maybe this column this time should be about nothing. Maybe it will cure my writer's block. Here goes.

(Staring at keyboard of word processor for awhile.)

Did you ever wonder why the letters on a keyboard are placed where they are? Why is "qwerty" the first six letters on the third row up? Is that a secret word? I'll check it out.

According to my information, Christopher Sholes of Milwaukee invented the typewriter back in 1867. Sholes was editor of the Milwaukee Sentinel during the Civil War. He is responsible for the qwerty system of letter placement. He scattered the most common letters all over the keyboard. He did it as a way to force the typist to type more slowly so the typewriter keys wouldn't jam together.

He is also responsible for "Now is the time for all men to come to the aid of their country." I don't know who came up with "The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dogs back."

(Writer's block continues as writer stares out window.)

You know, this has been a pretty decent winter ­ so far. No sub-zero temperatures for weeks, no raging blizzards ­ just a nice snow cover. Thank you, El Nino, if it's your handiwork.

(Block continues, as writer refills coffee cup.)

This summer, River Fest here in Watertown, Wis., features a free concert one afternoon by Guy Lombardo's Royal Canadians. It's about time that a civic event features something for the old folks. No ear plugs needed. Just "the sweetest music this side of heaven." Of course, Guy Lombardo himself is no longer with us. Al Pierson leads the band now. This is not the first time the band was here for River Fest. I can't wait. Good Neighbor Days people, take notice.

(Block still continues as writer visits bathroom.)

If you like history, Wisconsin is the place this year. The state is celebrating it's sesqui-centennial. That's 150 years since gaining statehood. Already the newspapers and public tv are running features on early Wisconsin.

That reminds me . . . When I went to Howard Lake High School in the early forties, the school song was to the melody of "On Wisconsin." "On oh Howard, on oh Howard, move on down the line, etc." When did it change to the "Anchors Aweigh" melody? Every time I heard it, I expected to see a bunch of sailors.

(I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.)

One last item, the Green Bay Packers. There was no joy in Cheddarville after the Super Bowl. The mighty Packers struck out. The mad cheese disease was stopped. Some fans took it pretty hard, but most got over it and said, "Wait 'til next year." Now let's talk about something else besides football.

(Writer's block defeated, thanks to a column about nothing.)

(Thanks for nothing.)

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