Category Archives: Friends of Mike

How to Get Your Juju Working

Hart Seely’s The Juju Rules: Or, How to Win Baseball Games from Your Couch has received many deserved accolades since its publication in April 2012.  Part personal memoir, part ode to the New York Yankees and part manual for obsessive fan behavior, The Juju Rules is a book any fan of baseball writing would enjoy.

Juju has a long tradition in baseball and in baseball literature. It was a favorite topic of Henry “Author” Wiggen, the pitcher-writer-narrator of The Southpaw and other Mark Harris baseball novels. To Seely, “Juju is the anecdotal science of influencing the outcome of sporting events through seemingly unrelated acts, in the comfort and privacy of your home. ”

This got me to thinking, though: Does juju differ from mojo? After moving into Safeco Field in 1999, the Seattle Mariners used the slogan “Sodo Mojo” for a few seasons, and it worked better than any other slogan they’ve had before or since (including the ill-timed “Believe Big” (2008), which resulted in a 101-loss season and declining attendance). With Sodo Mojo, the Mariners won 116 games in 2001, an all-time record for Major League Baseball.  On the other hand, the Mariners are one of only two major-league franchises never to have reached the World Series, let alone win it (with better juju, the Yankees have won 27).

Muddy Waters

When the Mariners introduced their slogan, few fans understood it without a dictionary. “Sodo” refers to the area where Safeco Field is located (SOuth of the demolished KingDOme,  or alternatively, SOuth of DOwntown). “Mojo” is more-or-less a synonym for juju.  Wikipedia notes that mojo  is “a magical charm bag used in voodoo, which has transmuted into a slang word for self-confidence, self-esteem or sex appeal,” as in blues guitarist Muddy Waters’ signature song, “Got My Mojo Workin’.”

My exhaustive research could only deduce that both mojo and juju can refer to a spoken or otherwise transmitted spell or to an object manipulated for that purpose. Both of African origin, the words mojo and juju can denote a magic spell or hex, a magical power (as in he works his mojo on the tennis court, or the blues band has lost its mojo), or  to a fetish, charm or amulet and the magic they possess.

Well, Frank Sinatra called it “Witchcraft,” Dr. John called it gris-gris, the Mariners called it mojo, and Seely is calling it juju.   “All thinking fans instinctively recognize the secret influence we wield over sporting events,” Seely writes in an essay on Foxsports.com. “We know enough not to change seats during a rally or to announce that our favorite point guard hasn’t missed a free throw in his last 40 tries. We never mention the no-hitter in progress, and we keep doing whatever it takes, as long as the dice are rolling our way. We practice juju, a mystical connection to the sports universe that has been around since the first foot-race between man and lion.”

Juju or mojo? If you can’t pick the right word on your own, hire an editor.

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Filed under Behind the Words, Commentary, Friends of Mike, Strokes & Plugs, Uncategorized

Who’da Thank It?: Even Great Editors Make Mistakes

Mike and Roland at Nationals Park, 2008.

My close friend and frequent cohort Roland Sweet currently serves as the self-appointed Proofreader General of the United States (PGUS)–and I have his business card to prove it (Motto: Spelling Counts). But even the exalted PGUS can screw up.  

The current issue of Log Home Living, the magazine he edits, includes a typo in the Editor’s Note: “thank” instead of “think,” as in “Thank of it as Log Home Living in high-def.” Fortunately, as I’ve often told Roland, nobody ever reads editor’s notes. Nevertheless, he is prepared to defend himself.

“In case anyone does notice,” Roland wrote to me in an email, “I think (or thank) I’m on safe ground telling them that ‘thank’ is the pluperfect subjective conditional of  ‘think’ or that it’s hip-hop slang used to reach out to the next generation of log-home owners (similar to ‘thang’ and because ‘thank’ rhymes with ‘skank’  better than ‘think’). And who doesn’t remember Rodin’s sculpture, ‘The Thanker’ or Aretha Franklin’s hit, ‘Thank’: You better thank (thank) thank about what you’re trying to do to me. Yeah, thank (thank, thank), let your mind go, let yourself be free.

“But let’s not forget the 10,135 words I got right. At least I thank I did.” Thus far, no one has written the magazine to point out the error.

Roland Sweet's latest book.

As far as I know, there are no errors in Roland’s latest book, Log Home Secrets of Success: An Insider’s Guide to Making Your Dream Home a Reality (PixyJack Press),  a practical guide to planning, building and living comfortably in a log home. Roland’s tips and insights about the various facets of designing a log home, selecting suppliers and builders and evaluating log packages are invaluable. He explains how to calculate costs, what to look for when buying land, making energy-wise decisions, working with a builder and the importance of assembling a team that shares your vision. It includes photos, advice from log-home owners and a useful appendix.

Roland, of course, also chronicles news of human folly in a weekly syndicated newspaper column called Newsquirks (News & Blues in the Syracuse New Times, where we worked together). Although Roland is a terrific editor of his own work and rarely makes any mistakes, now that he’s been caught in one he no doubt understands the need for hiring an another set of eyes to review his writing before it’s published. If he ever needs another editor, he knows whom he can call.

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Filed under Editing Tips, Friends of Mike, Strokes & Plugs

Child Care Center Gets Press Coverage

I’ve gotten a great deal of personal satisfaction out of my ongoing professional relationship with Paula Jones, owner and founder of Our Beginning Child Care & Early Learning in Seattle. Paula first contacted me several years ago for help with her resumé and other documents related to a job search. She didn’t get that job, but a year or so later was calling again, this time to help her formulate a business plan to get financing for a child care center–a high-quality specialized facility that took a holistic approach to child care, early learning and parenting skills. It didn’t take her long to convince me she had a winning concept and the expertise to make it happen. Ultimately, all the lenders, certifiers, and realtors agreed, and about two years later, Our Beginning opened in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood.

The opening triggered another wave of activity for me. There was Web site copy to be edited, as well as job descriptions, hiring practices, and employee policies. And press releases, of course, heralding the grand opening and the unique philosophies behind the facility.

I thought the media would respond to Paula’s presentation, and early results indicate I’m right. KING5-TV and the Ballard News-Tribune responded, and more will no doubt follow. Congratulations to Paula for getting the attention she and Our Beginning deserve. With the dearth of quality child care facilities in the Seattle area, the center should be running at full capacity quickly. I look forward to doing many more projects with Paula and her associates in the future.

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