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November 19, 2013 8:30 am

Weird news and wild headlines

Written by Doug Blough

The great philosopher Rodney Dangerfield once said, “The only people I appeal to are ones that can do me absolutely no good.”

Some might say that about my newspaper/TV addiction — it’s totally useless information I won’t even remember.  

But not so fast. Admittedly, I’m an “Infomaniac,” driven by a fear of losing forever some undigested tidbit of knowledge vital to my being. Throwing away unread newspapers or deleting unwatched DVR recordings can be borderline tragic.  

I’m glad I rejected the reckless advice from well-meaning friends to “Just shovel all them old papers into a pile and throw ’em away; out-of-sight; out-of- mind.”

But now that critical mass has compelled me to begin the overwhelming task of finding my carpet underneath the newspapers, I still can’t discard without scanning for jewels.

I’ve already uncovered potentially life-changing articles. From the toilet I spied this one on the bathroom floor (where part of my collection is stored), “Amount of arsenic in rice is small, FDA study says.” What? The one supposedly healthy carb that’s been my diet staple for the last 30 years? Well, that really chaps my keester! I don’t care if it’s “… less than originally thought,” the fact “… they’re still studying long-term effects …” is disturbing on so many levels.

What grinds my valves most is “The highest arsenic level is in brown rice.” Decades of feeling healthier than the “white rice eaters,” and now I learn that brown rice is often fed to unsuspecting husbands by disgruntled wives seeking life insurance windfall.

Disheartening as it is, thanks to this outdated article I now know ice cream and Copenhagen have a highly recommended accomplice in hastening my demise.

“Man sets himself on fire at the National Mall” a more recent headline blared. It stated “reasons unknown,” but I’ve found that people rarely set themselves on fire without a good reason.

In that same issue, “Man in Spain crushed to death by grapes.” This hapless klutz fell into a winery-grape reception bay just before a truck unloaded five tons of grapes ready for crushing. Like “Man Bites Dog,” “Grapes Crush Man” is the better story. A good editor though would have led with “Spaniard Meets Grapes of Wrath.”

Another article begins “Man shoots golfer who hit home.” Jeff Fleming of Reno, Nev., shot the golfer who had broken Fleming’s window with an errant shot. Unable to find his ball on the 16th hole, the man was taking a “drop shot” when he was shot three times. A neighbor explained that balls striking their homes is an expected occurrence, and “It’s one of those stories you can’t make up.”

Exactly, and I’m thankful I didn’t overlook it. Again though, my lead would have been, “Golfer takes three-shot penalty for hitting out of bounds.”

Flashy names have always intrigued me, even affecting my sports wagers at times. I knew Teddy Bridgewater and Andrew Luck would be great quarterbacks long before the sports world caught on. I’m assuming the Panther volleyball team is successful because of players like Breanna Donarski, Cassidi Partridge and Tori Sleep. These are winner names.

And visa versa, this headline: “Poplar man sentenced for hit-and-run death.” Nothing extraordinary about that — Who among us hasn’t intentionally run someone over in the midst of a bad day — until I noticed the flattener was “Elmer Muskrat” and the flattened “Reuben Blackdog.”

I suspect neither has thrown a completed pass in their sad lives. They were destined for obit and arrest pages — not the sports page.

Outdated articles can be extremely educational. Case in point: In an August Outdoor section, I learned a new word — invaluable for someone claiming to be a writer. The word for nocturnal behavior is “Crepuscular,” from the Latin word “twilight.” Animals burning the midnight oil — bats, insects and some birds — are crepuscular, but I too am crepuscular.

Most of you are “diurnal,” another one for my repertoire, meaning “active by day.”

And to my children reader base, the beauty of it is that unlike the word “purple,” crepuscular can be rhymed in a poem. Try “The moose lifted weights at night, becoming muscular via crepuscular.” Had I thrown away this particular edition, the kids and I would be equally cheated.

Even past comic strips are a shame to throw away unread. Often timely though, I’m glad I uncharacteristically read my “funny paper” yesterday on Halloween. Hilarious, but also informational, new strip “Tundra” announced “The Ironic Demise of Frankenstein’s Monster.” In a thought bubble above a frustrated Frankenstein holding a fork over a toaster were these words, “Oh poo! My toast is stuck; maybe I can get it out with this fork.”

Even if I hadn’t read that gem until Christmas, as the saying goes, “Better to have laughed late than never to have laughed at all.”

In an Oct. 22 Non-Sequitor came this classic: As a couple are entering Hell, the guy says to his wife with a “glass half full” optimism, “Yeah, but look on the bright side; we’ll never have to go through moving again.”

It’s funny because it’s true!

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