Posts Tagged ‘news of the weird’

When the news came out last week that NASCAR driver Kurt Busch testified in court that his ex-girlfriend was a trained assassin, and he cited the things that made him think so, like a lot of people I had one thought:

There are perfectly reasonable explanations for each of those things.

For instance, the time that his ex, Patricia Driscoll, came home wearing a trench coat over an evening gown that was covered in blood. The exact same thing happened to me. My wife had left our house, as Driscoll did, wearing camouflage gear, and she said she was going to meet some friends. Four or five hours later, I came out of the kitchen with a snack of microwaved hot wings, and suddenly Jane was standing there in the foyer, her hair mussed, wearing this stunning, off-the-shoulder, white dress that had large, red spatters all over the left side. I didn’t even hear her come in, which happens all the time – we joke that she moves like a ninja.

“I should have told you, it was an engagement party, but a few of us decided our group should arrive as just us girls, so we didn’t tell our husbands and changed clothes on the way,” she explained, and I was so relieved, because I get so bored with her friends’ talk of travel to places like Moscow and Baghdad and their midnight meetings in dark alleys.

And she said the red on the dress was just chocolate syrup with red food coloring, just like they use in movies for fake blood. The bride-to-be, she explained, loves red – it’s going to be a big color in the wedding – so there were red Kit Kats and red-velvet-cake bites on sticks that everyone could dip in this fountain of red chocolate, which someone who had way too many red mimosas fell into and knocked to the floor, and the chocolate spattered everywhere, and Jane happened to be standing fairly close it.

There’s always a reasonable explanation.

Again, take the testimony by Richard Andrew Sniffen, a friend of Busch’s who is a Christian music minister, that after Busch broke up with Driscoll, she said to Sniffen that she would take Busch down.

“I will destroy him,” Sniffen said Driscoll told him.

That reminded me of one night recently when I thought Jane was really mad with me after I yelled at her for having left her Bushmaster Carbon 15 with collapsible stock and red-dot sight leaning up against the bed, where I tripped over it.

“I’ll murder you,” I thought I heard her mutter.

“Did you say, ‘I’ll murder you’?” I asked.

“What? No,” she said, smiling. “No, I said, ‘I’m really sorry.’” She came over to me and caressed my face. “You’re so silly,” she said as she tugged a lock of my hair. She tugged it a little too roughly, really. It hurt. She’s stronger than she looks, I keep reminding her, and I have the bruises to prove it.

But she kissed me, picked up her rifle and went to the study to finish reading this month’s “Soldier of Fortune.”

If I hadn’t asked what she really said, think of the misunderstanding and hurt feelings that could have resulted.

Really, it’s obvious why Busch and Driscoll broke up. Clear communication and understanding are the cornerstones of any serious relationship.


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As I sat at the office daydreaming about a coming shipment of fresh, raw Liberian monkey meat – it’s Africa’s sushi, you know – a friend posted a link on Facebook to a list from Britain’s Daily Mirror of the top 10 tips for avoiding catching the Ebola virus.

This, I thought, fits the very definition of “news you can use.” On “Morning Joe” just this morning, one of the show’s guests was practically beside herself over what she saw as clear parallels between the Ebola cases in Texas and the 1995 movie “Outbreak.”

“How can anyone say no one could have guessed what would happen when things are playing out exactly, exactly, like they did in that Hollywood movie,” she said more than once, which was big news to me because I had not realized until that very moment that the Ebola virus has mutated and become airborne so that it is as easily transmitted as the flu, which is the entire basis of the movie and the earlier novel by the same name. She had to have meant that because she repeatedly used the word “exactly,” which I believe the FCC forbids unless you have first read a dictionary and know what the word means so you can use it without sounding like an idiot.

So, knowing that the virus now is spreading “exactly” as it did in those works of fiction, I was eager to read these tips on how to prepare myself for avoiding the coming plague.

For the most part, though, the tips were disappointing.

“Wash your hands.” Wash my hands? I need medical experts to tell me this? My mother told me this all the time, and her college degree was in journalism, which anyone, including my state’s governor, can tell you means she had no skills.

“Avoid contact with anyone you believe is infected.” Uh huh. Got it. If you see me walking down the sidewalk toward you and I suddenly cross the street to avoid you, go see your doctor because clearly you don’t look right.

The Mirror added that “should you need to go near someone with Ebola you need to be wearing protective gear, including a face mask and gloves,” and it helpfully provided a link to Amazon (use the link or go to Amazon and search for “ebola protection”), where you can buy a Honeywell Liquid Tight Safety Coverall with integrated Gloves and Overboots for about $110.

Buying that means I’ll have to tell my wife we need to skip a couple of “date night” dinners downtown to keep my credit card bill down, but for the sake of escaping Ebola, I know she’ll agree it’s worth the sacrifice.

“Avoid dead bodies.”

I’m waaaaaaay ahead of you there.

“Do not touch bats, chimpanzees, monkeys or gorillas,” the Mirror warned.

OK, define “touch.”

“Or their blood or fluids. And do not eat raw meat prepared from these animals.”

What?! No raw monkey meat treats?!

There goes my weekend.

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Now just a cotton-pickin’ minute here.

Do you mean to tell me that someone is trying to move Mayberry out of North Carolina to some spot way up North?

Uh-uh, naw sir, that won’t do. That won’t do ay-tall.

The Indianapolis Business Journal reports that the town of Danville, Indiana, is planning a two-day “Mayberry in the Midwest” festival in May. The idea apparently sprang from a Mayberry-themed restaurant in the town.

Now, you might not have been able to tell it from the accents of many of the people populating Mayberry in “The Andy Griffith Show” – the mayor, the lady druggist, Barney, Aunt Bee, Otis, the chorus director and any member of the state police who passed through town, to name a few – but Mayberry was set in North Carolina, not central Indiana barely more than a hop, a skip and a jump from the home of the Indy 500, where the cars may all keep turning left but look more like cigars than anything in a dealership’s stock.

Andy Griffith, of course, grew up in Mount Airy and based the fictional Mayberry in great part on his hometown. There has long been a Snappy Lunch there, just like in the show, and you might recall the frequent references in the TV show to the nearby town of Mount Pilot and notice on a map that Mount Airy is very near Pilot Mountain. Mount Airy, in turn, has been a top attraction for fans of the TV show and long ago adopted Mayberry as its alter ago. It hosts an annual Mayberry Days festival, and the actress who played Thelma Lou moved to Mount Airy a few years ago to escape California and settle in to a place where people make her feel like family.

Considering all this, you just have to ask yourself two questions. One: Do the good people of Danville, Indiana, think folks don’t remember that the show was set in North Carolina and won’t notice the decided lack of any Andy-like way of talking in those parts? That hardly seems likely.

Now, what would all those folks up in Indiana think if we down here tried to take up one of their better-known attractions and make like it was ours? Maybe the “World’s Largest Ball of Paint” in Alexandria, or the Giant Lady’s Leg Sundial in Lake Village.

They might not like it one bit, and who could blame them?

No, right is right, Mayberry belongs in North Carolina, and anyone who knows anything about Mayberry knows exactly what Danville, Indiana, has to do to make this here sitchyayshun right.

Nip it. Nip it in the bud.

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A damp Wednesday morning in a small town in central North Carolina. People file into a tiny church (seating capacity approximately 100) for the funeral of a beloved writer, who was my wife’s mentor. A woman sits down next to me. She is a writer, from Winston-Salem. We three chat. She asks whether I, like my wife, am a writer too. I explain I am in the netherworld between newspapers and online: “I have a website where all of my company’s newspapers, which include the Winston-Salem Journal, can share th–”

“You ruined a perfectly good newspaper,” she says.

“I didn’t do it.”


Somehow I don’t feel up to a discourse on the economics of advertising, especially classified advertising, and how little any newspaper reader actually pays of the total cost of producing a newspaper.

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The Guardian has a new advertisement for its “open journalism” (essentially the intersection of traditional journalism, crowdsourcing and social media) that is the most fun ad ever for a news outlet. I wish I could embed the video here, but it isn’t working. (Warning when you go to the page: It’s an extremely slow-loading page.) The ad’s explainer text:

“This advert for the Guardian’s open journalism, screened for the first time on 29 February 2012, imagines how we might cover the story of the Three Little Pigs in print and online. Follow the story from the paper’s front page headline, through a social media discussion and finally to an unexpected conclusion.”

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The video carries the title “Best Local News Bloopers of 2011,” but it’s quite a range on on-air mishaps, from accidents and flubs to anchors mocking interview subjects on the air (what the heck are they thinking?) and one case of what appears to be someone changing a reporter’s script to make him look foolish (I’m not sure why else a reporter would end his story by saying that one thing money can’t buy is “yo mama — she’s for free, and everyone knows it”).

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This is funny, but I hope the people who got in trouble are the ones who inserted words into the on-air script just to make a public spectacle of their co-worker. There are worse things than getting a guy to say, “I love lamp,” on the air, but letting that go would just encourage them to try something else later. You don’t insert your personal, inside jokes in headlines in the newspaper or online, so I don’t know why anyone would think it’s OK to use a TV broadcast for such a thing.

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