News: Columnists

Mar. 02, 2014 @ 06:11 PM

Neil Offen: Your daily business report

The stock market staged an impressive comeback yesterday, bouncing back from the impressive downturn it took the day before.

At the close of trading, the S&P 500 had added two letters, making it the S&A&P, and offering buy-one, get-one free deals on creamed canned corn. The index got a boost from reports that reports were on the upswing and that the Federal Reserve was predicting that the labor market would be open late tonight so you can stop there on your way home.

Feb. 28, 2014 @ 06:48 PM

Platt: Remembering ‘we’ and not just ‘he’

I felt pretty good about my accomplishment Sunday morning as I walked in to find Catherine cradling the baby in her arms.

“Hey,” I said, holding up my smartphone. “I condensed all my iPhone apps onto one screen.”
She gave me her signature from-beneath-the-brow stare and replied: “I woke up tired.”

Feb. 22, 2014 @ 03:49 PM

Baumgartner Vaughan: Team sports, as a parent

March Madness is coming, and as the reigning bracket champ in the newsroom (I have the “NCAA Bracket Boss” trophy to prove it) I bring you a column about basketball that’s not what you’ll find in the Sports section.

I’ve joined a new team many of you already are on, past and present. I have been to the bleachers at kids’ basketball games, and I have survived. My son is in kindergarten. They don’t keep score. Well, the referee doesn’t keep score, and probably not the coach, but apparently parents do. I learned this when a parent told me so. I think I responded with something like, “Mm,” when I was thinking, “Say what now?”

Feb. 21, 2014 @ 05:24 PM

Living in another world, not far away

I live less than three miles up the Durham Freeway from where police say a man accidentally shot a baby with a gun stashed in the pocket of his hooded sweatshirt on Wednesday morning.

The only thing that’s liable to go off in one of my pockets is my phone, pinging as yet another Words with Friends challenge arrives.
That usually doesn’t hurt anything but my ego.

Feb. 16, 2014 @ 05:17 PM

Neil Offen: Developing a new vocabulary, or DANV

OMG, BTW, ICYMI you can LOL at this POW.

Yeah, I don’t have any idea what any of that means either.
While I’m generally proficient with real words, words that have syllables and, you know, meaning, in a world where communications are limited to 140 characters or a thumb or two, I am out of it — or OOI.
And I know I’m not the only one — NTOO.

Feb. 14, 2014 @ 06:13 PM

Snowfall shows our manners

Snowpocalypse. Snowmageddon. Snowfie. So many, or rather, snow many, ways to add snow into words depicting our inclement environment.

There’s not a good way to merge “snow” with “helpful” or “Good Samaritan” or “neighborly.” 

Feb. 14, 2014 @ 03:34 PM

Platt: Turning up the heat

Jousting a boulder, it turns out, isn’t such a great idea.
The boulder in question was a hard-packed orb of snow left behind during a pass by the city’s plow truck as it rolled past our house in Watts-Hillandale on Thursday, shortly before the second wave of Winter Storm Pax snow blew through.
On Friday morning, this hazard sat smack dab in the middle of the entrance to our driveway. No way I’d be able to drive around it.

Feb. 09, 2014 @ 03:24 PM

Neil Offen: Miles to go before I fly

I have a lot of miles on me, and that’s not even taking into account how the knees are pretty much shot and the back regularly gets stiff after bowling.  Actually, it gets stiff before bowling, too.

Anyway, what I mean is I have platinum miles on me, diamond miles, gold miles and even some rollover medallion qualification miles, although I’m not sure if that’s longer or shorter than a kilometer.

Feb. 08, 2014 @ 06:45 PM

Baumgartner Vaughan: Former mayor turned on the light

In 1930s small town Alabama, Horace Johnson’s parents lit their back yard with electric lights – something new back then -- so all the African-American kids had somewhere to play. I told you about Johnson’s background last week, and today I’ll share where that foundation led – to the mayor’s office in Hillsborough.


Feb. 07, 2014 @ 02:28 PM

A baby with ambition

He sits on the runner rug in the dog trot.

He’s taking a breather next to the windowed door that leads to the back stoop of our house in Watts-Hillandale.
It’s been a long trip of about 30 feet from the crib in the bedroom into the hall that leads to the kitchen.
John Michael – now 8 months old – is crawling.

Feb. 02, 2014 @ 05:41 PM

You can bet on it

OK, let me tell you who’s going to win the Super Bowl.

I’m able to do this because I have spent a great deal of time analyzing the two teams, measuring their run-to-pass ratio, checking out their blocking schemes and finding out if anyone on the defense is nicknamed Elmer.
The key to the game will be which team moves out of the 3-4 defense and into the 4-3 and thus can complete the subtraction without going into the minus numbers and screwing up the calculators on their phones. That team will then have more defenders in the box, fewer people at the movies for the 7 o’clock show and can be home before dinner.

Feb. 01, 2014 @ 04:22 PM

His Grandma Mattie survived slavery

The life of Horace Johnson has come as full circle as any life could. In 1850, his grandmother was born into slavery. In 1969, Johnson picketed and boycotted and was a major player in the civil rights movement in Hillsborough. Twenty years after that, he became mayor.

Feb. 03, 2014 @ 04:42 PM

Saying so long to Bubba

The ram on the lam is out of the slam.

But the future, although brighter for Bubba now that he’s no longer attacking his own reflection in shiny Durham neighborhood cars or chewing shrubs, remains uncertain.

On Friday morning, bidders gathered on Dave Artigues’ farm in Rougemont to get a look at the celebrity sheep.

Jan. 26, 2014 @ 04:46 PM

Neil Offen: Have an opinion?

Please join the conversation by adding your comments and telling us what you really think about what you just read. While sharing your thoughts, please remember to refrain from intelligent, thoughtful, reasoned discourse and revel in the fact that you are anonymous and no one will ever figure out who you are unless you use your real initials and leave your real zip code.  

Jan. 25, 2014 @ 03:14 PM

The work, then the magic of music

Sitting in on a rehearsal of the Durham Symphony Orchestra recently, I wondered how many of them were reliving a scene from their teen years. Rooms where musicians rehearse are functional, not fancy. The rehearsal room at the Durham Arts Council wasn’t too different than a high school band room. Nor should it have been. Chairs that stack. Lockers for instruments. Instrument cases – suitcases of the arts – resting by chairs. Musicians leaning over to each other during breaks, exchanging words and occasional laughter.