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Laugh, and Maybe World Will Laugh at Him Again

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I did not belong in the newspaper last week.

Many of you, of course, have been saying that for some time.

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NOW, I’VE never taken sports all that seriously, regularly poking fun at the people who do, but last week nearly everyone was of the mind that sports was inconsequential, which meant if USC President Steven Sample had finally called to respond to my questions about Paul Hackett, I wouldn’t have been interested in what he had to say.

Tuesday was also the day laughter stopped across the country, which certainly made the Page 2 column more out of place than what it normally is. And as far as entertainment goes, no matter the approach in any medium, it was all replaced by the hypnotic draw of televised disaster.

That’s where most Americans have been sitting the last week, parked in front of that TV, the frustration, the fear, the anger all bottled up, and not much there to help relieve the stewing pressure.

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A renewed interest in patriotism has helped, and there’s the return of sports now. Pretty soon, there’ll be a chance once again to vent via e-mail.

Not everyone, however, may be ready to laugh again.

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THERE IS no humor in death, of course, but for the living, it’s hard to imagine going on without it. I know this for a fact--I’ve been married for 29 years.

I remember the night before we buried my father some years ago, the entire family gathered together, the laughter filling the room, someone picking up the plugged-in lamp he loathed and ripping it out of the wall, sparks flying to uproarious chants of delight, everyone moving outside into the Chicago snow to plant the monstrosity in the front lawn.

Someone else watching might have been outraged--the image of a coroner’s vehicle and death prematurely visiting this very home still fresh in an outsider’s mind and the sound of laughter both unimaginable and out of place.

We were right at home, however, which is where Page 2 is again with the start of games and the entertainment they provide--although for some that entertainment will remain out of place.

Here’s a test: When I first heard the Dodgers had closed practice for two days, I wondered out loud if they were teaching Tom Goodwin how to bunt. I would think they’d need at least a year for something like that.

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Now, if you find yourself rushing to your computer to dash off an angry e-mail to our Saturday Sports Viewpoint page, we’re going to be OK again.

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UNFORTUNATELY, SOME of you might have lost the touch. To give you a better chance of being published, I offer these critical tips in writing your e-mail.

I would begin with something punchy like, “You have no idea what you’re writing about.” Don’t worry about hurting my feelings, that’s how Dwyre greets me every day.

You might even want to suggest there’s no place in the newspaper for such nonsense, because it’s a proven fact anyone who agrees with the viewpoint of our Saturday Sports Viewpoint editor gets his letter printed. I know I’ve written three or four e-mails praising Page 2 and none of them have gotten in.

As an aside, I wouldn’t include any advice on how to write a Page 2 column unless you get a kick out of receiving nasty e-mails in return.

By the way, for motivation purposes in writing your e-mail, I would tell you the chances of a softer, gentler, more sensitive approach here are about the same as the chances of Marquis Grissom making contact.

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You’re going to be competing with a lot of e-mailers to get published. Citing examples of ridiculous things that have been written here will be very helpful in separating yourself from the pack. Our Viewpoint editor likes that, although I would think it would be very difficult to find anything like that. Make sure if you think you have found something that you’re not mistaken and it was written by Plaschke.

Originality makes a difference, if you want someone to pay attention to your e-mail. For example, if the Rev. Jerry Falwell, who blamed recent tragic events on homosexuals, abortion-rights supporters and liberal civil-rights activists, had included Page 2 in his diatribe, there’s no question his epistle would be given letters-to-the-editor space.

Now if you can’t get around to it today, don’t worry, I’m pretty sure you’ll have good reason in the next day or two to vent once again.

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I WAS listening to sports talk radio Monday--and you have problems with Page 2?

Anyway, ESPN’s baseball columnist, Tim Kurkjian, was on the Tony Kornheiser show, saying he hopes there is more civility in baseball now because of recent events, “less arguments with the umpires, less booing

Does a columnist like this really mean what he says, or is he just trying to be politically correct in these troubled times and say what he thinks everyone wants him to say?

Sometimes I wonder about columnists ... especially when I disagree with their point of view.

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It’s baseball. It’s a game. We watch it to have fun, cheer for the team we like, root against the team we want to lose, and if someone argues with the ump, the ump’s going to toss him.

Stop the booing? You mean embrace the Giants? I think it’s time I sent an e-mail to Kurkjian.

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DOUG KRIKORIAN, a newspaper icon in Los Angeles and now writing for the Long Beach Press-Telegram, composed a moving love letter in the newspaper Monday morning about his wife, Gillian, who died of cancer Saturday.

My sympathy and best wishes to Doug.

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TODAY’S LAST word comes in an e-mail from Tom:

“Consistency is one attribute that makes athletes great. You, as a writer, have achieved that standard--your column is consistently bad.”

It didn’t take Tom long to get back into the swing of things.

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T.J. Simers can be reached at t.j.simers@latimes.com.

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