Talk about your tough acts to follow.
If there's one thing history has taught us -- I mean, besides the fact that North Korea makes Randy Quaid look positively sane by comparison -- it's that only a fool would try to replace a legend.
Don't believe me? Try this little test:
1) Name the 16th president of the United States.
Too easy, you say? Abraham Lincoln, you say? OK then, how about this one:
2) Name the 17th.
Just as I suspected. Crickets.
Unless you're some freakishly wonkish history nut, chances are you didn't know Andrew Johnson was No. 17. Why? Because frankly, after a president like Lincoln, who gives a fig about the next guy?
Well, guess who just became the Andrew Johnson of newspaper columnists -- the man charged with attempting to fill the void left by the retirement of local legend Charles Trentelman, aka the Wasatch Rambler.
The fact is, I could never replace Charlie, and I have no intention of trying. I'm afraid you're stuck with me -- at least until editors wise up. And hey, don't blame me for this mess, either. I'm not the one who went and retired on you, opting to spend my days sitting in an easy chair and telling my grandkids, "Come over here and pull my finger."
Ordinarily I won't write about myself in this space, but since one of the goals of a local columnist is to coax folks into opening up and sharing their lives, it only seems fair that I tell you a bit about myself:
I'm 53 years old, born in Portland, Ore., and raised in Southern California and Northern Utah. I served an LDS mission to the South and studied journalism at the University of Utah.
The love of my life is a certified public accountant; we raised our family in Riverdale, where we lived for two decades. We now live in Farmington.
I've worked at the Standard-Examiner since 1985, first as a sportswriter and then in the features department. I left the S-E in the late-1990s to work in media relations at the University of Utah, but found I missed both journalism and Ogden way too much, and returned 16 months later.
My wife and I have three children -- our oldest lives in Southern Utah with her husband and three children, our son attends Weber State University and works for the student newspaper, and our baby girl has four months left on her LDS mission to Vancouver, Canada.
In my spare time I love to play the guitar (I'm very bad at that) and play with the grandkids (I'm very good at that). I also love puppies, long walks on the beach and faking back injuries to get out of yardwork.
I'm a happy, active member of the predominant religion around here, but I also know some Mormons consider my church views too liberal for their tastes.
And finally, you should know that years of writing for public consumption has given me an incredibly thick skin. I know not everyone will like my columns, and I'm surprisingly OK with that. I don't offend easily, and don't have much use for those who do.
So there you have it. That's me, in a nutshell. In case you have any other questions or comments -- or something you think belongs in this space (And please don't say, "Some other columnist") -- my phone number and email address are at the bottom of every column. Contact me. I'm actually a pretty nice guy.
Ah, but enough about me. Let's talk about you ...
Contact Mark Saal at 801-625-4272 or firstname.lastname@example.org.