Within minutes after a local, national or international tragedy, say a mass shooting, we'll not only be inundated by sketchy facts surrounding the incident, we'll also learn that the shooter was a "quiet" and good guy (until, all of a sudden, he decided to wake up and shoot a bunch of people because he was rejected by American Idol).
We'll also learn, likely from Fox, ET or Nancy Grace, that he was not only wearing boxer shorts, we'll be informed of the exact color of said boxers and that he was wearing a novelty tee-shirt which read:
"It ain't gonna suck itself"**
**Note: We'll presume that the shooter is fat...This shirt decidedly does NOT carry the same "funny factor" when worn by skinny guys. We'll also assume that his clothes were clean provided that the alleged killer's mother wasn't also killed before she washed clothes and delivered them to her son's basement apartment.
News overload has become big business in the ratings department. Channel 7 decides to do evening news now at 4pm. Not to be out-done, channel 12 decides to begin their program at 3 pm...so, channel 5 throws caution to the wind by announcing that: "Your NUMBER ONE news, weather, Syria conflict, sports, Pinpoint Miley Cyrus Alert, end of the world, horoscope, political scandal source will begin news at 10am until 8pm...Screw The Price is Right! We'll also provide extra coverage beginning at 9am!" So Hoda and Kathy Lee can eat it too!
You'll even see news promo commercials during PRIME TIME hours. I think that I speak for many when I point out that there is no bigger buzz-kill than to watch a hilarious segment of Saving Hope only to be smacked in the face with a commercial break which promotes:
"Coming up at 11, Bob will tell ya' if the weekend weather is a washout. Plus, we'll tell you about a woman who was strangled to death with an i-phone charger by her estranged husband and why police are puzzled that the man then killed HIMSELF by closing his head in a lit bar-b-que grill.
News and information assails from many directions, in varied forms.
Example-- Recently, while lounging on my sofa doing what I normally do (wanting to be left alone), I received a random text message from Pontchartrain Press' Chief Research Machine, Eric from Philly:
Eric: Last night I was trying to gather a group for a bar outing where a friend of mine works. She's been goin thru a tough time and I wanted to help her out. I was scrolling thru my contact list to invite people and came to an unsettling discovery.
Jim: What? That the Android is much more functional?
Eric: No...I'm being serious. I realized that many of my contacts/friends are no longer among the living.
Jim: Sorry to be insensitive...were there more dead "contacts" or "friends?" Either way, that's unsettling indeed.
Eric: I'm only 39 Jim...I shouldn't have this many dead friends. However, if I were a better friend and/or decent human being, I'd probably be rolling in inheritance money right now.
Jim: Well, since you still have their numbers, try texting to ask for a cut of the loot. If the texts reach dead people we might then verify the claim that AT&T is indeed raising the bar in coverage area.
Eric: I grew up in Cambden, NJ...so I'm fairly desensitized to death and I've seen it all...shootings, Od's, junkies, hit by cars, jumping off buildings & bridges. I've even witnessed someone being struck by lightening!
Jim: Jesus Christ! Are you by chance the Angel Of Death?
Eric: Trying to find the silver or gold lining...is there any way to take out life insurance on people without their permission?
Jim: Nah...they must consent. On the other hand, I know a few people who have friends where each have life policies on the other, which is just odd to me. On the other hand, it's sort of like a same sex marriage deal only it's JUST friends. And, they don't have to wear Aeropostale clothes, live under constant fear of hate crimes and need not receive permission from the U.S. Congress.
Eric: Bah! ANOTHER dream dashed by the MAN!
Jim: With so many dead friends on your contact list, the bright side is that you might want to downgrade your talk-time or text package to save some cash. Just a thought. I'd enter you as a beneficiary for me and my lady friend, but ours is a special relationship.
Eric: How so?
Jim: Murder-suicide pact...which pretty much voids insurance policy stipulations. The upside is that we live in New Orleans so probability for a "botched" investigation is high, which means you'd get the money!
Eric: For the WIN!
I'm convinced that anyone who intercepts messages between me and Eric would likely feel a great sense of concern. For that matter, if someone perused my Google Image Search history they'd probably alert the authorities.**
**(See end of this article for images that I've used to accompany previous articles. Search words include: Gay man sitting on Santa's lap with a musical instrument, decapitated giraffe, Blow-up doll, Panda bear having sex, Al Gore blow-up doll and Stabbing a kitten)
Elderly people are typically a ripe source for news-bombs...especially my mother.
Today's senior citizens were raised in an entirely different era where the music was clean, prices were low, times could be trying and manners were the rule of thumb. In many cases, with mom, news was often not good but she always exercised tact when wearing the messenger hat. Example--
After enjoying long overdue phone chats to catch up as to how the neighbors are doing or hearing about how well the room addition to her house was proceeding, our conversations usually concluded with an inevitable long pause...immediately followed by something like this:
Mom: Well...your cat died.
Me: WHAT? HOW?
Mom: She apparently was perched on a tree limb as the landscapers were trimming and she fell.
Me: Your trees aren't THAT high; that wouldn't kill her.
Mom: She fell into the wood chipper. She went peacefully though. You still coming to the house this Sunday?
I almost never hear of anyone receiving a random call or email which contains GOOD news. Such as-- "You got a promotion" or "Hey, that guy who used to beat you up in school contracted herpes." And, remember, NO good news comes in the middle of the night as brilliantly illustrated in our final news segment.
Anyone with teenage kids will assure you that the experience presents a special challenge in the parenting department. I don't have kids but enough of my friends do, so it must be true in that they always wear this uncomfortable grimace as though they're about to jump from an airplane.
Recently, a friend of mine, Marie, received a 4 am wake-up call from a deputy who informed her that her 17-year old son had been detained by the Coast Guard...along with his buddy. Also joining these crazy kids were two (barely clothed) young ladies.
I accompanied a clearly distraught Marie to the station to retrieve the lads. Upon our arrival the deputies informed us that the guys were found at 2 am in their boat and detained under suspicion of alcohol possession and reckless operation of a watercraft. The guys, however, held firmly to their story of NO alcohol. 50-yards of empty beer cans floating in the waters surrounding their craft seemed to be what the Coast Guard refers to as a "red flag" and/or "Bullshit."
It was at this point when I sensed that Marie was about to cry. Then, the deputy presented a box of condoms which were found on the boat and advised that the boys claimed to have simply fallen asleep with their lady friends while gazing at the stars. This is the point where I desperately tried not to laugh. Marie began to tremble as I suddenly recalled that NONE of my 12th grade astronomy class trips included condoms.
As I glanced to the two attractive young ladies, I turned to Marie and tried to calm her by assuring that they likely didn't fall asleep, thus averting a major maritime disaster and that the brighter news was that she had a 68 to 90-percent chance of NOT becoming a grandmother at age 42...according to the Trojan package. With that, Marie seemed to exhibit signs of a full-blown panic attack.
Just when I thought that it couldn't get any worse for my friend, the deputy also added that the kids reeked of Marijuana. I believe that Marie passed out at this point. I tried again to sooth her nerves by assuring her that there are any number of reasons why someone would smell like weed. Not expecting her to demand examples, she demanded an example. And so, yet another clear illustration is revealed as to why I failed debate class in college.
In the end, the boys became my new heroes and all four kids got off the hook with community service, a warning and no unwanted pregnancy.
No matter when, where or how it's presented, we can't escape the news. Perhaps, as George, a guy I worked with many years ago, best puts it: "There's no such thing as good news or bad news. It's just...the News...so don't worry bout' it"
It's important to note that George has been missing for approximately 73 days after embarking on a trek through Honduras. At least that's what his uncle told me last week.
copyright, Pontchartrain Press 2013
And now, a few Google image search tid-bits from Jim's laptop...
|MISSING! Good luck George!|