Sunday, January 14, 2007

BONG Bull 687

The Burned-Out Newspapercreatures Guild's World-Famous Encyclical
No. 687
Copyright © 2006 by BONG
Reprinted with permission for those needing an RSS feed.

For Jan. 10, 2007. Gee whiz, Mr. Blackwell, have some restraint! We agree that Britney Spears and Paris Hilton are fashion disasters, but to call them "two peas in an overexposed pod" is language we couldn't get past the copy desk, laments the Burned-Out Newspapercreatures Guild, and this is BONG Bull No. 687!

HUBRIS IS SUCH A PAIN. And once again, thanks to the University of Florida Gators' trouncing of the Ohio State Buckeyes in Monday's championship game, humility is on the agenda. Humble pie is such a bitter repast. But I must make amends with the guys back in San Antonio. With jibes and wisecracks I abused our friendship and their home town newspaper's slavish devotion to yokelizing national news, not only in sports (but there is very little truth to the tale that the Express-News bannered "S.A. Sisters Cut Vacation Short" on Dec. 7, 1941.

Anyway, arrogance and pride are put down. Yes, I ragged the home boys too often over Longhorn mishaps, plagiarisms and prohibitions. In coming decades, years, weeks, hours, whatever time I have left, my grandchildren will ask what I remember of the 2006 season, the one where the Buckeyes took a 41-14 hosing from the swamp reptiles in the most important game of their history, the game that Congress shut down to watch, and, voice cracking, breath wheezing, I shall be forced to recall, with a rueful and quavering smile:

"Ohio State 24, University of Texas 7."

And so will my grandchildren's grandchildren.

THE AFTERNOON OF THE INSURGENCY. The trend should've been obvious years ago. Mom called long-distance in about 2001 to demand, "Why aren't the God damned papers reporting that insurgents have taken over Rodman Naval Station and are shooting rockets at ships in the canal?"

Rodman was a little set of piers at the Pacific mouth of the Panama Canal. My mother is an aged former Zonian, one of those colonial American civil servants who for generations populated the Canal Zone. To this day they still pine for their little paradise. Most of the rest of us think it was about as charming as the back side of a Wal-Mart, but they remember mango trees, 15-cent Heinekens and maids for $25 a month. It all went away, and so did most of the Zonians, in 2000 with the Carter-Torrijos Treaty.

For an insurgent army, Rodman would be a dandy artillery position. It was in the shadow of the Bridge of the Americas and could cut off the Pan-American Highway. Tank farms, port works, the canal, a couple of airports and all of Panama City would be in range. Mom's telephone tree of disenfranchised colonials must have known that. They certainly were burning up the wires.

But of course the Panamanians who control the canal know it too, and anybody harassing ship traffic would be a smoking crater in about six minutes. So, though I was in Ohio and not following Panamanian politics daily, I had a pretty good idea why the damn papers weren't reporting what the gossipers were telling each other.

"Well," I speculated, "could the papers be omitting it because it isn't true?"

Thinking on it, Mom granted that it might be a reason. But at that very moment I could imagine some other grumbling Civil Service retiree phoning his local talk show and taking the ridiculous rumor on the air. They were the same people chasing mythic black helicopters bringing invasion troops to national parks, dodging radio beams focusing on the new money, bragging about aliens in Hangar 18 and quoting Rush Limbaugh and This Guy Down at the Plant with what the lying New York Times and
the liberal media keep hid.

Many of Mom's friends can still be jolted with alarming phone gossip.
I'd give you her number but it's probably busy.

HELD OVER. To the immense surprise of the Editorial Output or Immortality Committee, copies of our novels (you should excuse the editorial we, but modesty is among my most famous qualities) are still available in new or used markets. Seek out "Warm Spit" or "Stone Flute" in online venues for a fun read, as well as cheap.

SPEAKING OF FAMOUS PEOPLE. Bridget Fonda will be 42 on Jan. 27. Isn't she somebody's daughter? 42? It's so unfair. But then Jim Voigt ( points out some other heartbreakers whose calendars might hang yet in the old ITU locker room:

Brigitte Bardot, 71; Sophia Loren, 71; Gina Lollobrigida, 78; Angie Dickinson, 74; Shirley Temple, 77. And Joan Collins, 72, also a surprise since most of the back shop boys thought she was about 75 in 1980.

COMIX SECTION. The Further Adventures of Herman "Speed" Graphic, ace photographer for the Chagrin Falls Commercial Scimitar, and his Faithful Companion, Typo the Wonder Pig.

PANEL ONE: Speed marks his score, remarking, "Wow, Typo, if I do that well in the last frame, I'll have 113, my personal record!"

Fingering his personalized marble-print bowling ball with his handmade lambskin glove, Typo takes aim down the alley and responds, "You've been improving all week, Boss, but you were terribly slowed by circumstances! We never could've put regulation lanes in the newsroom before the staff buyout!"

PANEL TWO: While the automatic pinsetter does its thing, Speed tosses aside his trenchcoat, a deathbed gift from an ancient mystic wire service executive editor on a fog-shrouded eastern island, and asks, "So, do we have ideas for Features Editor Hyperba Lee's column on latest fashion tips for our few remaining readers?"

PANEL THREE: Typo pulls some notes from the pocket of his monogrammed silk team shirt, remarking, "Sure, Boss! And most of these we can illustrate with photos of editorial writers! Let's see: If you wear bifocals, avoid nose rings. Spiked hair only accentuates bald spots. A pierced tongue calls attention to dentures."

PANEL FOUR: Typo continues, "Worn together, a navel ring and gall bladder surgery scar make a poor impression at the beach. Always button disco shirts so as to conceal a heart monitor. Oh, and this one will get Hyperba's picture in the paper again: Inline skates and a walker, definitely a no-no on any red carpet!"

PANEL FIVE: Speed cheers, "Got them all in the pocket digital assistant, Typo! Let's grab the camera and get to work!"

Typo cautions, "Uh, one thing you're forgetting, Boss! With that gutterball, at a dime a point you owe me $192 so far this week!"

BONG Bull is the product of Chief Copyboy Charley Stough in Dayton, Ohio. E-mail for any reason. Or what the hell, for no reason.

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