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.

Toronto Star:
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.


  1. I find the actual news of the day quite bizarre enough, thank you, without the tabloids. A world where a presidential candidate can call women bimbo's, insult any race not white and smirk about it is quite bad enough.

    1. Ed Anger's point of view, like Archie Bunker's, was always understood to be satirical in the extreme. Such talk was always best left to the tabloids that were never taken seriously.

  2. Love your squirrel, Susan, and your commentary. Hope you are staying warm up north there!

    1. I'm glad you do, Martha. We're having a snowstorm at the moment - I think it's called Sally. :)

  3. The first commenter took the words right out of my mouth! I think having it all online and in your face is even worse and sometimes even harder to avoid!

    Your squirrel, on the other hand, is welcome on my screen anytime, Susan! Love your work.

    Sorry to read about the snowstorm, stay safe and warm.

    1. I agree with you, Marja-Leena, that having so much nonsense interspersed with actual news is a serious problem. At least when 'weird news' was only in tabloids we weren't faced with it regularly. Now when I look up an article I want to read I can't help but be distracted by the side-bar click bait items.

      I'm happy you like my squirrel :) and the snow did stop falling before it got too deep. Thank heavens.

  4. Hi Susan,
    Given the increased news availability and rapid fire moves to mobile I think magazines are bound to continue their rapid declines. Even the better quality ones I still read such as Time magazine and National Geographic etc. suffer from mildly outdated news and informed opinion you can often get elsewhere from the various TV channels etc at a lower subscription cost.
    Newspapers on the other hand I gather aren’t faring quite as badly as I guess some folk like me still prefer to read the hand delivered papers with articles by full time investigative journalists each day rather than the much cheaper digital versions.
    I wouldn’t know much about glossy tabloids and there outlandish headlines you aptly depict but I would suspect that the same forces are at play- their competition and demise is coming largely from the unprecedented growth in mobile.
    But if your lovely squirrel graced the front page of a magazine I think I would be tempted to but it.

    Best wishes

    1. Hi Lindsay,
      I'm guessing it wasn't much different in Australia when decades went by with local news reports on television being followed by national and international news items as they were here in North America. Things started to go crazy in this part of the world with the 24 hour news networks and the internet has only exacerbated the problem. You can almost see things speeding up - never mind the changes so much information (whether true or false) begets in the world.

      What I've noticed with periodicals like Time and the National Geographic is that they've become much thinner over the years, and, particularly with news magazines, have information that's outdated before they cool down from their press runs. Of course, there are lots of very good journalists whose articles and editorials are available on the net for free or at reasonable prices behind paywalls.

      The success of tabloid journalism in major media signals the fact that while the original internet required literacy, the web does not and even the most respectable media play the game.
      All best wishes

  5. "We spoke to the man who lend the hammer to the murder".

    Alright then ... here are my peanuts. . . .

    1. Was it the Swiss Guards who caught Lazlo Toth?

      Thanks for the peanuts, sir. :)

    2. Huh, I do not know. You detected one of my many knowledge gaps.

    3. Oh, dear Sean, I didn't mean to sow confusion.

      He's in a Swiss Guard coat so when you mentioned hammer and murder I thought you were referring to Laszlo Toth who damaged Michelangelo's Pieta many years ago. You're probably too young to remember that.. :)

  6. I see you took the challenge :0) This picture is poster - worthy! If I had young children, I'd want one on the wall of their room. Every squirrel should have a swiss army knife. ....or maybe you've discovered a little-known secret.... they do! perhaps every squirrel child is presented with a swiss army knife when it reaches the age of majority.

    1. I just couldn't resist the idea :) I love your idea of every squirrel child getting a swiss army knife on his way out of the den.

  7. That squirrel! I'm guilty of clicking on some of the most outrageous and ridiculous headlines I see online. I can't help myself. Unfortunately, too many of them seem to lead to websites with a lot of sidebar clutter involving celebrities that haven't aged well or have gotten obese, coffee grounds placed on the under eye bags and something that looks like a large white worm/maggot mashup crawling on someone's finger.

    1. Heh! Yeah, I click on some of the wackier ones too - depends on my mood whether or not I want to see plastic surgery failures or small dogs riding on Roombas. What I detest is finding gross stuff in the sidebars when I clicked on something interesting.

      white worm/maggot mashup Yikes! Where do I go to find that?