Tuesday, December 2, 2008


I don't watch much TV, but I was channel surfing the other night and saw that "Citizen Kane" was on. Well, that's a major undertaking for a weeknight, but I decided to take it on. I can't remember the last time I've seen it...probably at least 20 years ago. It really is an incredible movie...particularly regarding its cinematography techniques. Anyone who has an appreciation of black and white photography has to love it.

I did some research on-line while I was watching it and learned that this film literally changed the world of cinematography. One of the techniques that the movie is most famous for is “deep focus.” This was achieved through the use of a wide-angle lens to create a large depth-of-field...in other words, everything is in focus. Once I learned that, I began watching for it and could see that it was used many many times.

If you haven't seen it...watch it...and find out what Rosebud means.

On a more superficial side (for those who have seen it), remember when he builds Xanadu for his second wife? Geez, the fireplace in the main room was the size of my living room! And when she is telling him she's leaving him, she's holding a muff. A muff! Anyone out there remember muffs?? I used to have one when I was a kid! A white one made out of rabbit fur with a little black speck of fur on one side. I loved that thing. When is the last time you've even HEARD the word "muff?" (Well, at least in THAT context...let's keep it clean here!)

Anyway, watching "Citizen Kane" brought up some other memories. If you're not familiar with the story line, Charles Kane is the owner of several newspapers. I have a background in journalism so it makes it a little more personal for me. I've recently worked at the New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung...newspaper for a bustling metropolis of 50,000 people...which was a far cry from my days at The Washington Post back in my BC ("before children") years. That seems like a lifetime ago now.

I worked there in the early 80s...after the Watergate era. Carl Bernstein had left by then, but Bob Woodward was (and still is) there. I didn't work in the newsroom, but for their broadcast division (Post-Newsweek Stations) when they owned TV stations WDIV in Detroit, WFSB in Hartford, WPLG in Miami, and WJXT in Jacksonville, FL. They own two more now. When I first started working there, Post-Newsweek was a separate entity and we had our own office in Georgetown. There were three big TVs in the conference room. If we didn't go out to lunch, we would sit in there and watch "All My Children" on all three TVs. Ha! Good times. One of my most vivid memories was when the plane fell into the Potomac River during a snow storm because it wasn't de-iced. That was only a couple miles away from our office. What a night. None of us could get out so we watched everything on those three TVs until the snow let up.

Eventually we moved to the corporate offices at The Post's main building downtown. It was there that I had the distinct honor of meeting owner and publisher Katharine Graham, a truly remarkable woman. After her husband, Phillip, committed suicide, she took over the paper and ran it herself...and was extraordinarily successful at it.

We had lots of parties and social events. While I was there, they teamed with Larry King to do a news show. I don't think it lasted for even a year. But I did get this shot of him at one of our Christmas parties. He wouldn't know me from the man in the moon now. This was taken in either 1981 or 1982. He looks a little older now.

Newspaper times are VERY different than they were years ago. Everything has gone to the internet, so newspapers are folding up all over the world. As a result, the quality of newspapers has gone down because of low pay and high stress...which is sad. There was such an excitement about it back then with breaking stories and investigative reporting. To put it in a more succinct journalistic style, "It just ain't the same."

On a final note, Washington DC was a very exciting place to live. There was always something going on and the energy was always high...not to mention all the museums, festivals, memorials, history, etc. There are only two things I don't miss - the traffic and the cost of living.


Vee said...

Deb, where to begin? I had a muff, although I'd forgotten all about it, and the term does sound dirty now. Mine was white, and I loved it more than mittens or gloves. What memories you conjure!

Citizen Kane - haven't seen it in years, but remember it well. Yes, I know what Rosebud is, and I've also read about the cinematograhy involved. You selected some great examples to illustrate your point.

Larry King - my boss at Nortel married a woman who worked on his show in the 1980s. Larry probably looked a lot like he does in your photo then. And I worked on the Hill in the 1970s when Ford was in office, but as a receptionist, not a journalist. That came later for me.

What you said about newspapers is so true. It's a topic that I follow closely here, as I watch the changes and the sad fade of the medium. I still love my morning paper, and I hope it continues a few more years.

Great post, Deb!

Vee said...

Oh - and you met Katherine Graham. Now that is really cool. Have you read her autobiograhpy? I keep meaning to, but haven't yet.

Isla Deb said...
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Isla Deb said...

Thanks, Vee. Maybe we could get a group started for the revitalization of muffs! lol

No, I haven't read Katharine Graham's autobiography, but now that you have brought it up, I'm going to. I just finished a book I was reading today, so I'm going to look into that. She was a very impressive lady. I am so glad I had the opportunity to work there and meet her.

Vee said...

Deb, how about Muffs are Us. Bet that would invite some naughty comments!

Let me know how you like the autobiography if and when you read it, please. I almost bought it last summer at the used book store I frequent. I love memoirs, biographies, and autobiographies.

Isla Deb said...

"Muffs are Us"...that made me laugh out loud. Too funny! And I'll let you know about the book!

Vee said...

Deb, I thought you'd get a few chuckles from this site:


Isla Deb said...

Thanks, Vee! It's on my "Blogs I Read" list now. And I definitely got a chuckle out of his #666 Layoffs. "When is it too early to start drinking..." lol Thanks for sharing this!

Jill said...

Deb- just today both major papers in Seattle- the Times and PI- made major adjustments to their format..combining sections, etc. in order to be more cost efficient. my coffee and my paper are my morning ritual...it's sad to see the print newspaper on it's way out. as an environmentalist i always think i *should* be reading it online and not wasting the paper, but there is just something about the actual paper which i love...
i didn't know you hadworked at the post! i must get better at checking your blog!

Isla Deb said...

Jill - It IS sad, and probably most newspapers will eventually have to go strictly with an on-line version...or will have to close completely. Probably the only ones that will remain are the big city papers...New York Times, The Washington Post, etc. But who knows for how long.