On the extraordinarily, mind-bogglingly stupendous value of editors…and how they just may help us find the interview with Carl Knox’s former secretary

Do we have any editors in the crowd? If so, I’ll bet you’d like to take a whack at that title right about now, wouldn’t you?  Any adherents to William Strunk and E.B. White’s little gem of a book on writing and editing, The Elements of Style, can see that I’ve gone way over the limit on adverbs and adjectives. But I’m sorry…I mean this and I’m ready to break some rules to say so: editors are the bomb.

So, let’s see, let’s see…where were we? The last time we chatted, I was promising not to bother you with any more talk about the interview with Carl Knox’s former secretary unless something really big happened. Well, “really big” happens to be a really subjective phrase. What may seem like a nothing burger to some people can actually be steak tartare to the rest of us. (Or at least to the meat eaters in the crowd.) What’s more, the true appeal of what I’m about to impart to you is that this very big thing has been staring in all of our faces for months and months (and months). (Sorry, Bill and E.B., but I feel the situation calls for a little redundancy as well.)

Allow me to cut to the chase. You know those two hockey tapes that I’ve been in a legal battle over that just ended? The ones that were both in very bad shape, with the second one being totally unwatchable?

What’s that word in parentheses on both tapes?




Right. So here’s the thing about the Oral History Project tapes: the folks who converted those tapes to DVDs were IT sorts of people.

They weren’t the content developer types.

It’s my understanding that, for the most part, the Oral History Project recordings weren’t edited—certainly not like the Broadcast News clip in the above link. But issues can and do happen—glitchy little tape problems or inaccuracies with the opening or closing credits or perhaps some issue that an interviewee had with what he or she said on a particular day.

I will venture to say that, on those rare occasions in which an edit or correction needed to be made to an Oral History Project recording, they weren’t made unless those edits or corrections were requested by a coordinator and/or program associate from the Oral History Project.

And the coordinators and program associates from the Oral History Project would have requested the edits after viewing the recording.

To the best of my knowledge, the Oral History Project folks had two ways of viewing the recording: as raw video footage through the viewfinder of their digital camcorder or as a completed DVD on their computers. Generally, they wouldn’t have viewed the recording until after it had been converted to DVD.

Do you see where I’m going with this? I’m saying that the presence of two edited hockey tapes is a strong indication that a DVD had indeed been made of the Miami hockey coaches. It also leads me to pose this question once more: why did Miami University officials send me damaged hockey recordings if there was a perfectly good unedited DVD lying around?

You may be thinking: that’s interesting, but how do we know if the DVD has anything to do with the interview with Carl Knox’s former secretary?

We don’t. But I subscribe to the saying that where there’s smoke, there’s generally fire. For me, if we can get past the smokescreens, we can find the answer.

Fortunately for us, we may be able to cut through the smokescreens soon. This past June, when several of us spent two days in University Archives trying to locate the Oral History Project recordings that weren’t posted to the bicentennial website, I was working from an Excel sheet of over 2000 recordings—many untitled—that university officials had sent me several months earlier. It was practically useless.

Practically. But now, it’s taken on new meaning.

Because after all of the waiting we’d done for “Hockey Tape #2 (Edit),” which has turned out to be utterly destroyed and impossible to watch (a nothing burger, if you will), I see that there’s another Miami Hockey Tape #2—one of the unedited variety, sitting in the same box as the edited tape, which is box number CDS 18 (hello, steak tartare!).

Obviously, university officials have access to the same Excel sheet I have. Why didn’t they send me that tape, the one occupying line 1718, instead of going to all of the trouble of securing a vendor and paying hundreds of dollars to attempt to repair the edited but unusable tape residing on line 1716?

I’ll just let that question hang there until we get a chance to view the unedited tape, which I requested this morning.

Wishing you a Happy Hanukkah, a Merry Christmas, and Happy Kwanzaa. Also, Happy New Year—which, on April 19, will mark 70 years since Ron Tammen disappeared.

Also, be sure to try out the new comments box, where you can easily (I think) upload photos of your pets having fun this holiday season!