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Bear of a Course Requires Tiger's Touch --Cagle

December 2008

Bits and Pieces

IT STARTED out pretty innocently for John Abel, a press operator from West Berlin, NJ. He entered a Buick contest last March in the unrealistic hope that he would win one of the top prizes, a new Buick automobile. He would give the car to his wife of 32 years, Roe.

Quite naturally, Abel didn’t win the shiny new wheels. He won one of the other prizes—nine caddied holes at a golf course in San Diego. At face value, half a round of golf and full caddy services doesn’t seem all that thrilling, and certainly doesn’t carry the punch of a new ride.

Unless, of course, that course is Torrey Pines South. And, the caddy is Tiger Woods.

Abel captured the top prize in Buick’s “Tee Off with Tiger” contest, which granted him a tour of the back nine at Torrey Pines South—scene of last year’s dramatic U.S. Open playoff—with the major’s defending champion himself driving the golf cart and playing the role of caddy. Woods has dominated Torrey, winning six Buick Invitational championships there.

In late October, Abel—a 59-year-old who reportedly only picked up the game in the last 10 years—got to live out the dream of any golf enthusiast by having Woods shepherd him around Torrey Pines. It was a bittersweet encounter for Abel.

Earlier this year, his mother, a huge fan of Tiger, died of kidney failure. The pressman also learned that the Deluxe Corp. facility where he works will be closed in February, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune—the second time Abel has been shut out of his printing livelihood by a closure.

So, in some respects, the new auto might have come in more handy. But Abel was more than pleased with his “consolation” prize.

“There’s no way you can compare this,” he told the Union-Tribune. “Thinking about it, you get to play a round with the No. 1 golfer in the world. You can always buy a car.”

One thing’s certain. Abel will get plenty of mileage out of his Tiger Woods stories.

ABOUT FACE: Have you ever given much thought to the Helvetica font? Conceived in 1957 by a Swiss designer, the font has helped inspire 1,000 corporate logos and carry countless consumer products to the top of the marketplace.

Think you know your Helvetica? Think again. Start the new year off right by empowering your knowledge base.

Tune into your local PBS station on the evening of Tuesday, January 6, to the Emmy Award-winning series Independent Lens, hosted by Terrence Howard. The show will take an in-depth look at how Helvetica has impacted our visual communication and its possible globalization, and will also study the effects of technology on type and graphic design.

For all you graphic design aficionados out there, this is must-see TV. 

WATCH YOUR FINGERS: Perhaps a PBS study of fonts doesn’t quite heighten the senses for you. Maybe you prefer something a little more hands-on, a bit grittier, something more old-school hardscrabble.

For that, you’ll need to hop on over to the Discovery Channel for Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe. In a 2006 episode titled “Garbage Pit Technician,” Rowe visits the Garbage Pit then, later, a newspaper printing facility that produces, among other things, The Guardian.

For those unfamiliar with the show, the regular-Joe-guy Rowe bounces around each episode from job to job in search of the most dirty, slimy, greasy, filthy jobs in the world. Not surprisingly, many of the jobs deal with animal droppings and cleaning up situations that would gag a maggot.

In this particular episode, Rowe worked with fellow press operators who directed him in platemaking, registration and color adjustment, among other things. They also put him in charge of cleaning up ink after the job was done. 

A pressman who directed Rowe also talked about the frequency of workers losing fingers, then showed off his own half-missing digit. Another reminder that TV is at its most effective when it both educates and nauseates viewers.

TURN THE PAGE: By most accounts, 2008 has been a disastrous year. The economy went into a severe tailspin, a new president was elected after a protracted, acrimonious campaign on both sides, and Americans feel more insecure about their futures than they have in a long time. And not just those who lost their jobs or tens of thousands of dollars from their 401(k) plans.

But, as you watch the final seconds tick off on 2008 at the end of the month, take a little time to reflect on the positive things that bring joy to your life. Money may pay bills and provide some security, but as a life value, it rings quite hollow.

It cannot bring comfort when you need it most. Nor can it make you laugh, bring tears to your eyes, or provide love. Money doesn’t make memories. While you keep your eyes on the prize, be mindful that many of life’s greatest treasures are somewhat subtle. 

Here’s wishing you all the love, joy and success in 2009 and beyond. Happy holidays and, as always, thanks for reading. PI

—Erik Cagle


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