Friday, January 29, 2016
yer peanuts or your bootlaces! *
I don't know if it's the same where you live but around here the tabloid newspapers and fan magazines that always occupied the supermarket checkout chutes have all but disappeared. Sometimes you can spot a few on the odd rack but the area officially designated for impulse purchases has been taken over by candies, chocolate, snack items and beverages - things that people (or their children) will pick up while waiting in line. Why anyone would decide to offer a dozen different flavors or TicTacs is beyond me, but that's another story. Meanwhile there's no more room for periodicals nobody ever admitted reading. Which is a shame. Of course, despite the fact I never read them either it was always kind of amusing to look at the covers with lurid pictures of pop stars and brash headlines about what so and so looks like without makeup or who they may be sleeping with this week.
I ought not to have made an unequivocal denial of reading tabloids since the Weekly World News was a family favorite for years until it went out of business in 2007. The WWN had long specialized in the sensational and weird - Elvis sightings, UFO abductions, the continuing adventures of Bat Boy - and in attention-grabbing headlines like 'Garden of Eden Found: Original Apple Recovered!' and 'Grossed-out Surgeon Throws Up Inside Patient.' Then there was Ed Anger who would tell us every week about some subject that made him 'pig-biting mad', routinely criticizing Communists, immigrants, women, overweight children, liberals and pretty much anyone who is not a conservative white American male.
Well, it turns out I worried too soon and all of those people who never bought a tabloid newspaper at the supermarket checkout counter simply have to open any online newspaper to get their fill of craziness. Here are just a few from today:
The Daily Telegraph:
Woman says she is a cat trapped in the wrong body - she hisses at dogs, hates water and claims she can even see better at night.
The London Guardian:
Cereal offenders: Tony the Tiger begs furries to stop tweeting him porn.
New York Times:
Italians Mock Cover-Up of Nude Statues for Iranian’s Visit
The Washington Post:
The real problem with Donald Trump retweeting those provocative pictures of Megyn Kelly.
Goat-tiger bromance blossomed, but then things went awry.
One way or another it appears that every single news source you can think of indulges in placing 'click-bait' items on the side bars of their web pages. No longer do people have to be embarrassed to be seen browsing through tabloids or fan magazines while waiting in line at the grocery store, now you can impress people by telling them you're reading the Star or the NY Times. How could they guess you're indulging a yen to learn more about goats and tigers?
Despite all the 'news of strange human behaviors' available in our daily newsfeeds I must say I would really miss the sheer lunacy of the WWN (which moved to the web under new management - and not recommended) if it weren't for the fact that so much more weirdness can be found on the internet. The problem now is in separating interesting anomalies like the latest conspiracy theory, UFO sighting, OBEs and NDEs, or cases of spontaneous human combustion from crocodiles taking up residence in Florida pools, inadvisable prosthetic implants, extreme tattooing, or a woman asking an Italian fire crew to cut her free from her chastity belt after losing the key.
Strange phenomena as fodder for popular media is fascinating in its own way, but perhaps its status as a carnival sideshow shortchanges the possibilities inherent in the unknown. While we may prefer to face our fears in a safe environment, turning the unexplained into a manageable quantity, our choices are to turn mystery into a quest with heroic possibilities or diminish the unknown with absurdity and ridicule. I know which one I prefer.
Quote of the week: “May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds.”
~ Edward Abbey
* Guerilla Swiss Guard.