By Ian Anderson
The concept seems a bit odd now – parodying magazines – do they even still make those any more? But in the days before Facebook, Twitter, and even Amazon, magazines were kind of a big deal. Below are a former Editor’s recollections of a bygone Ear, from a bygone era.
1 – The Convention Ear
Speaking of magazines, a personal favorite of mine (a byproduct of seeing it on the shelves daily while working at a grocery store) was The Weekly World News. When I was elected Editor, I knew in the back of my mind that the first issue of the Ear would have to be a play off that bizarre combination of crudely Photoshopped images, outlandish headlines, and absolutely ridiculous yet straight-faced credulous storytelling. Needless to say, my WA/BC SCL comrades and I had many a fun night before convention coming up with the “news” for this issue.
Fun Fact: On the second day of convention, I was approached out of the blue by some eager JCLers who had assumed that this would be the Ear theme for the week, and they had gone to the trouble of writing up a funny story about a bee attack for the next issue. I felt bad breaking the news that this might not fit in with the next day’s theme…
2 – Convention Reports
This was probably the issue that was the most fun to create. I think the “Certamen Machine Buyer’s Guide” is probably my favorite bit of content from the entire week. Although “Fun Dip, Is It Safe” is up there too.
Fun Fact: The Personals were not originally intended to be rated. But at 2 a.m., it just felt right (although some SCLers who shall remain nameless took issue with certain ratings of certain personals).
3 – E A R
I knew this one was going to need some “gravitas” as it would hold the officer candidate profiles. In this instance, gravitas meant a tight crop of Augustus of Prima Porta’s fancy breast plate (in just-barely-enough resolution). Speaking of the candidate profiles, little did I know that my future wife would be one of the many, MANY, profiles that were part of this lengthy edition. She’s the cutie from Louisiana running for Parliamentarian!
Fun Fact: The Got Latin? ad at the back of the issue got us into a bit of trouble with the printers for using up too much ink. I remember Steve Gentle coming to me early the next morning and passing along the message from the print shop: “Yeah, don’t do that again!”
4 – Rolling Ear
I can’t say much about how we got “the interview” - it’s the type of thing that will forever remain a mystery. But, I can say that it took FOREVER to tweak the Rolling Stone header into a believable-looking Rolling Ear moniker (if you look closely, you can see where I ran out of time as there’s no angled 3D stripes coming off the trailing ‘a’ and ‘r’).
Fun Fact: This was the first year the Ear included digital photos taken at convention. Many thanks go out to Steve Gentle and his trusty Apple QuickTake camera with its marvelous 8-photo capacity!! The cover art for this issue would not have been possible without it!
5 – Convention Illustrated
Despite our best attempts to intersperse some Olympika photos (premiering the first of many, many future action-shots of swimmers, basketball players, etc.), this issue is definitely driven by the motherload of “personals” that comprise almost 50% of its content. This was definitely the “peak personal” era of NJCL conventions.
Fun Fact: Remember earlier when I said the print shop got mad at us for using too much ink? Well, the cover for this was also supposed to have a solid background behind Discobolus… but I had to tone it back to a nice 80% grey to be a bit more forgiving to the toner cartridges.
6 – The Convention Ear
This was supposed to be a LIFE magazine parody… although it was probably a stretch even then as the actual magazine was on its last legs by then.
Fun Fact: This was back when an additional Convention Ear was published on the final going-home day of convention. Mercifully, this practice has long since been abandoned, allowing Ear staff some much needed rest and recuperation (and fun times) on the last night of the week.
Extra Bonus Fun Fact: These Convention Ears were all assembled using Quark XPress. If you know what Quark XPress was/is, honestly – you should run for Editor!!
By Stephen Gentle
What I remember most about my week at SDSU as editor in 1992 - beyond the 6.5 hours of *total* sleep I had that week - was that it was the week that Hal Rather died.
You may know Hal Rather's name from the award that bears his name. Hal was from Tennessee, and he was a legendary character in SCL, even though he was barely out of his primary membership. He and his friend Tom Cheever from Massachusetts were hosts for That's Entertainment for a few years, and they were comedy gold. His recurring bit as Bob, the Generic JCL Candidate from Guam, was legendary in the early 90s.
When we arrived on the SDSU campus for Convention in August of 1992, Hal had been fighting cancer for almost a year. My recollection is that he was doing well enough, you know, for fighting cancer. In retrospect, that may just have been my youth believing that no one as young and vibrant as Hal could suddenly be gone.
And then he was.
We were in the Ear Office tossing around some ideas for That's Entertainment skits, when the Ear Office phone (a land line!) rang. It was either Mary or Geri from the JCL desk, asking with a very concerned voice, to talk to Cheever, his best friend. It was one of those moments of disbelief that slows everything around you, and you can't believe it's real.
I remember being numb.
I remember lots of tears.
I remember hugs with the only family that mattered to us at the moment.
I remember someone told Sister Jeanette Plante, who came immediately to the SCL dorm to support us. Sister Jeanette offered the sweetest words of comfort and a very moving prayer...all for "Al".
I remember the sobs becoming stifled guffaws because that's the kind of humor that Hal would have loved - a nun earnestly comforting his friends while getting his name wrong. We all knew Hal was laughing his ass off.
So how does this relate back to the Convention Ear? In two ways - both in Issue 4.
On page 6, there's an article recapping Bob, the Generic JCL Candidate. In a bit of serendipity, Cheever had written the article before Convention, and we were planning to run it on that day anyway.
More importantly, on pages 4-5, you will see a simple tribute to Hal, penned by Cheever, that still hits me in the feels when I read it.
I’ve been busy SCLers! These past few weeks I’ve been putting together the final bits and pieces to the handbook, creating the first Ear, and publishing the last LOL! I also helped judge the Publications, and I have to say they all look spectacular. Even though they aren’t SCL, give the JCL newsletters a look through. It’s so cool to see everything they’re up to throughout the year.
With convention approaching at WARP SPEED, I wanted to promote a few things and discuss a little of what I’ll be up to there. First thing’s first though, if you’re looking to be involved in the Ear — or have a great idea for an article — message me or @me in the NSCL FB group. I’ll respond, and we can work something out!
At convention, you’ll find me either
a) doing my adult duties as a zombie, or
b) working on ears, or
In either case, I’ll be accessible to chat about the Ear. Give it a read through at meals too (pls).
I hope you’re all excited! I know I am — especially since it’ll be my first year as a FULL TIME SCLer! I am a bit nervous though, since again, first year as an SCLer.
Drop me a line though, and let’s connect! I’m looking forward to seeing you all there.