• April 26, 2019

THE IDLE AMERICAN: Telling headlines - Odessa American: Guest Columns

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THE IDLE AMERICAN: Telling headlines

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Posted: Sunday, April 14, 2019 1:00 am

It was bound to happen, and finally, it did. I overheard the words “artificial intelligence” and “fake news” mentioned in the same sentence.

Maybe we need more “real thing” topics. Coca-Cola sold gazillions of its products with its “real thing” claim years ago.

During our youth, we placed great trust in mass media news, and were wary of products deemed to be “artificial,” far removed from the “real thing.”

Many playground arguments played out between giggling school girls claiming that their “diamond rings” bought at Woolworth’s were indeed diamonds. Some of these tendencies carried over into adulthood. How many guys do you know who roll up their shirt sleeves up a few inches to make sure others see their Rolex watches?

At a speaking engagement years ago, I was seated with three couples; each man was wearing a Rolex. I mentioned that I was probably sitting at the wrong table since I’ve never owned a Rolex.

I relaxed upon admission by all three men—a pilot, a lawyer and a physician—that their watches were fakes.

A minister friend who carefully avoided trappings of opulence thought he would never be worried about wearing a Rolex. One day, a little old lady of considerable wealth handed him a beautifully wrapped gift when she exited the church.

What to do? It was a Rolex. He didn’t want to offend her by giving it back, but he didn’t want to wear it either.

His solution? He never wore it on weekdays, but come Sunday, he’d strap it on, careful to thrust his “Rolex arm” in her direction several times when he was making his strongest points.

During my “sports writing career”—confined to my undergraduate years at Howard Payne University—one of my pieces won an award in intercollegiate competition. It was one that “wrote itself,” and was cited for its headline.

HPU distance runner Glenn Petty, later athletic director for Abilene, TX, Public Schools, was running cross-country with his team in Omaha, NE, where it was bitterly cold, and snow was falling. He lost a shoe, but kept running, finishing 21st among more than 100 entries in the national event, and enabling his team to take runner-up honors.

The headline: “Snow Flies, Shoe Flies, He Flies.”

For decades, periodic guffaws resulted when there were “hiccups” (sometimes downright foul-ups) by mass media. They were mostly unintentional, or were they?

One classic example occurred when radio announcer Harry Vonzel introduced the president: “Ladies and gentlemen, the President of the United States, Mr. Herbert Hoover.” Problem was, he said “Mr. Hoobert Heever.”

Some of the “doozies” occurred in newspaper headlines. Here are a few that continue to warrant chuckles, if not side-splitting laughter. (Sources are not revealed; the innocent are protected even if they’re guilty!)

“Marijuana Issue Sent to Joint Committee…Editor’s Wife Rented to 2 Suspects, FBI Says…County Spelling Bee Postoned One More Time…Health Officials: Pools, Diarrhea Not Good Mix…Boring Issues Discussed at Length…Owner Denies Lying, Admits Not Telling the Truth…Animal Rights Group to Hold Meeting at Steakhouse.

Save the Whales’ Boat Trip Cut Short After Boat Rams Whale…Black History Month Will be Held Feb. 23…One-Armed Man Applauds the Kindness of Strangers…Federal Agents Raid Gun Shop, Find Weapons…State Population to Double by 2040, Babies to Blame…

Homicide Victims Rarely Talk to Police…Parents Keep Kids at Home to Protest School Closure…

City Unsure Why Sewer Smells…Meeting on Open Meetings is Closed...Miracle Cure Kills Fifth Patient…Bridge Helps People Cross Rivers…Total Lunar Eclipse Will be Broadcast on Northwoods Public Radio, and Bugs Flying Around With Wings are Flying Bugs.”

Since there has been much “warring” historically between Dallas and Fort Worth, this one deserves attribution.

The source was a long-ago edition of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, appearing under the corrections headline. It said: “The Dallas Sportatorium wrestling results published Sunday were incorrect. They were not this weekend’s winners. They were next weekend’s.”

You are now free to flee to reality.

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