A.C. Snow

Snow: Making a speech? Keep it short

Perhaps it’s because I’ve heard so many over-long and dull ones during my more than half century in journalism, but I’m super-sensitive to long speeches.

Governor Pat McCrory’s recent State of the State address went on for an hour and 20 minutes – 20 minutes longer than President Obama’s State of the Union address in January, which some criticized for being too lengthy. I doubt many listeners were spellbound for that long.

Former President Bill Clinton also was given to verbosity when delivering his reports to the nation.

President William Henry Harrison, back in 1841, set the record for presidential over-run when his inaugural address ran for nearly two hours and more than 8,400 words.

Furthermore, the address was delivered out of doors during frigid temperatures. He died of pneumonia a month later.

How many speeches have you heard that ended too soon to suit you? There’s much to be said for brevity when it comes to speech-making.

Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg address ran only 272 words, according to the Lincoln Presidential Library.

Also, the Bible summed up the Creation in 10 words: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”

When, in my work, I traveled about making speeches here and there, my wife, a veteran speech teacher at Broughton High and NCSU, would inevitably remind me, “Stand up, speak up (I have a soft voice), and shut up. (Don’t go on too long.)”

Those rules will well serve every speaker – including governors and presidents.

Laptop doing fine

Thanks to all of you who expressed sympathy during my unfortunate encounter with the laptop I dropped on my foot. And I forgive those of you who first asked, “Did it break the laptop?”

Local colloquialisms

Beth Conley of New Bern was amused by my use of the expression “slipped on my jacket,” suggesting to her that I perhaps I had fallen.

“We are from Maine, where we slipped into sweaters and jackets or boots and sandals depending on the weather,” she wrote. “Each region does have some unusual ones. We were ‘gobsmacked’ by the local expression of tiredness as being ‘rode hard and put up wet’ when we moved to North Carolina. No doubt we will discover other such gems.”

Yes. More than one newcomer has commented on the strength of Southerners who “carry” their cars to the garage for oil changes, etc.


I thank those of you who called to my attention the fact that I was recently “hacked.”

I vow that those who peruse my Internet correspondence find poor gleanings, nothing that will set their hearts pounding with passion or of such literary value as to keep them burning the midnight oil reading my emails.

I feel that most of you by now know who I am and what I’m about. So when you read something supposedly from me about collecting souvenirs of the male anatomy, please know that’s not from A.C. Snow.

Coach K coverage

Our readers are often our critics. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

I was not surprised by subscribers’ comments over the N&O’s decision to cover the front pages of three sections of a recent edition with stories and photos of Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski’s 1,000th victory.

Even while trying to put aside my UNC partisanship, I was surprised by the precedent.

“It’s the Southern worship of basketball,” one critic observed. “I do believe that if the newspaper learned from a ‘reliable source’ that the world would end the next day, and the editors had to decide whether to feature that event or Coach K’s 1,000th basketball win as the lead story on Page One, they would have said, ‘Let’s go with Coach K.’ ”

Anyway, congratulations to Coach K.

Not empty boots

The most overused expression by TV’s talking heads these days is “boots on the ground.”

Translated, the phrase means ground troops sent into an active military operation.

Ah, if only it were possible just to send empty boots to do the fighting.

Let’s not forget that in each pair of boots is a young man or woman in the prime of life about to be put at great risk by the misfortunes of war.