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NAX: Lunar and loony just happen to sound alike - Odessa American: Ken Brodnax

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NAX: Lunar and loony just happen to sound alike

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Posted: Friday, July 24, 2009 12:00 am

A long-held theory that a full moon somehow causes bizarre behavior in human beings has had at least a foothold in the newspaper business since I started putting words to newsprint in 1968.

But this could be more of a self-fulfilling prophecy than anything else. It’s easy to fit the actual facts around a thesis than the other way around.

It goes this way. When a particularly disturbing crime happens, or a series of incidents that used to be known as a “crime wave” occur, newshounds just have a habit of checking to see if this activity took place during, or around, a full moon.

If that is the case, the moon theory is reinforced. If not, the notion just gets forgotten. (The same reasoning is applied to the thought that celebrity deaths happen in trios. Of course, the period of time between the deaths is not spelled out, and the definition of celebrity is fluid. So the facts can be neatly tied into the theory package almost every time.)

But I’m going to state for the record that I don’t believe the full moon thing at all.

Actually, my 40-plus years in the business has led me to believe that you can stumble across a nut just about any time. And let me tell you, newspapers attract the folks who believe they are being tracked by the microchip that some mysterious agency or force implanted in their heads.

Naturally, there are degrees of imbalance. I’ve had to shoo a few of the worst cases from the building because they were causing such a fuss that they scared employees in other departments who aren’t trained mental health experts like the editors in the newsroom.

(We earned on-the-job training and field promotions to psychiatrists, or at least psychologists, because some of the stranger individuals who found their way into the newsroom actually were employed here.)

Anyway, I learned early on that it’s best to start out trying to humor the loonies. A lot of times, they just want somebody to listen and occasionally nod. One such fellow assured me I’d be the new CEO of our newspaper chain when he bought the company and erected the world’s tallest building to house the operation.

In my cub reporter days, we got an old fellow on the phone (several of us were listening in) raving about how poorly his grandson was being treated by his son. Wanted us to do a story on how the grandson had been thrown in jail on a trumped-up charge by his father that caused the younger man to be AWOL from the military. We gently told the caller it was a family matter that we couldn’t write about. He said he’d take care of it.

We laughed and shook our heads about the crazy old man. Then, the next day, the grandfather shot his son to death on the courthouse steps of a nearby town after the father refused to drop the charges against the grandson.

That’s why you humor the people who are a little out of the norm when they show up. Some have weapons.

And if any theorists want to continue to believe in the full-moon thing, I’m with ’em all the way.

Odessa, TX

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