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Latest Rough Draft column: My mailbox

I may be running out of material. This is the nightmare scenario. I figured I could last as a weekly magazine columnist for at least six months, but perhaps that was delusional. I had a backlog of columns, but we've eaten through them lately, and now I'm facing a week of not only trying to finish a gigantic Battlestar Galactica of a cover story, but also cobbling together a column (not to mention posting daily to this blog, though to be honest the blog is really easy, since it doesn't have to be any good). [Just heard from Hal, the god of blog technology over at, and, I might add, a full-time schemer who wants to take over the blog, and he contends that I am obligated to produce something decent in this space. But when I started this thing in January I stipulated that Quality Is Optional. Also I have to save some good stuff for the novel I am writing in my head, and for allegedly spontaneous "bon mots" at cocktail parties.]

The Rough Draft column about my mail may be the first telltale sign of columnistic desperation. (A column about the mailroom! Talk about scrounging the bottom of the creative barrel.) Next I will write about my desk, and the electronic controls that allow it to go up and down. Or maybe I'll write about the elaborate telephone console next to me. ALL THOSE BUTTONS YOU NEVER USE. That's definitely a column. We all have phones that are too elaborate. There are four gray buttons near the top that have no label whatsoever, and I've never pressed them. What would happen? Do I dare? Should this be the week when I finally depress the "Menu" button? Why is there a button labeled "Make Call." If I hit that, will the phone just automatically make a call? And to what person? The button labeled Mute, how is that helpful? Can't I just put people on hold? When I call other people, are they routinely Mute-buttoning me?

This is good material.

Watch out, Andy Rooney!

By Joel Achenbach  |  April 17, 2005; 7:27 AM ET
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