Friday, March 07, 2003

For March 7, 2003. All right, all right, we give up, Mr. French Ambassador! You can have all our Jerry Lewis videos, films, comic books, recordings, autographs and bar napkins! Just no more Renaults! Bomb us and get it over with, says the Burned-Out Newspapercreatures Guild, and this is BONG Bull No. 615!

LITERARY THRILLS. It's amazing what inspires newspaper readers to write letters to the editor. Religion, politics, yeah, maybe a wisecrack or two when their deepest roots are shaken. But the longest and clearest response to modern technology came after a story about water-conserving toilets in the San Antonio (Texas) Express-News. It came from a reader who went at his loo with bulking fiber-added laxative. See it below.
(And yes, those who have been in orbit or, worse yet, New Zealand for the last couple of years, the Chief Copyboy now works at the selfsame Express-News. The sendoff from the Dayton Daily News was so heartfelt that we decided to stay away (There: 18 inches of snow. Here: 80 degrees F.). But we've heard all the jokes about Red River wetbacks, so enough, enough.)

BONGERS ON THE BALL. There was no shortage of finds on the source of the quote in BB614, "Going to war without France is like going deer hunting without your accordion." It was Jed Babbin, former
deputy undersecretary of defense in the first Bush administration,
during a Jan. 30 appearance on the political talk show Hardball. See
Finder David Jacque added, "BTW, I've seen the phrase 'cheese-eating surrender monkeys' attributed to both Homer and Bart Simpson. Please set the record straight: it was Willie the Groundskeeper. Ach.

HI, MOM. We're getting so we would rather look at CNN live on the scene of a smoking crater somewhere where you can't drink the water, like Punjab or Sarajevo or Paris. In those places you don't see as many cellphone geeks in the background (or even foreground), waving gleefully at the camera, enjoying their lives' finest accomplishment.

STILL A FEW LEFT. The News Gorilla store now offers colorful if enigmatic posters of our mascot, as well as Captain Gorilla's News Cadets lunchboxes (be the envy of the lunchroom if not perennial wedgie target of the J-school). That's at

RIDDLE. What do you call a reporter who has lost his pencil? Middle management.

WELL YEAH, BUT IF HE HAD SAID SOMETHING AFTER THAT, THEY STILL MIGHT HAVE BURIED THE LEDE. The Ohio State student newspaper The Lantern ran a story last month about the execution of convicted murderer Richard Fox. Fox didn't have any last words, which the paper conveyed with this headline: "Man put to death declines comment."

A NICE DAY FOR A WALK THROUGH THE HEDGEROWS. Alex Yaron rudely notes, "Since we're frog bashing, Q: Why are the roads in France lined with trees? A: Because the Germans like to march in the shade. (Kaching!)."

THEY KNOW HOW TO CATCH THE EYE. Hal Davis found this about the great philosopher-editor I. F. Stone:
"The great thing about The New York Times and The Washington Post," he used to explain, "is that you never know where you'll find a front page story."

WE MAY BE BASTARDS, BUT THEY SPELL 'DEFENSE' WRONG: Circulating on the Web, this Canadian Apology from 'This Hour Has 22 Minutes:'
"On behalf of Canadians everywhere I'd like to offer an apology to the United States of America. We haven't been getting along very well recently and for that, I am truly sorry.
"I'm sorry we called George Bush a moron. He is a moron, but it wasn't nice of us to point it out. If it's any consolation, the fact that he's moron shouldn't reflect poorly on the people of America. After all it's not like you actually elected him.
"I'm sorry about our softwood lumber. Just because we have more trees than you, doesn't give us the right to sell you lumber that's cheaper and better than your own.
"I'm sorry we beat you in Olympic hockey. In our defence I guess our excuse would be that our team was much, much, much, much better than yours.
"I'm sorry we burnt down your white house during the war of 1812. I notice you've repainted it! It's very nice.
"I'm sorry about your beer. I know we had nothing to do with your beer, but we feel your pain.
"I'm sorry about our waffling on Iraq. I mean, when you're going up against a crazed dictator, you wanna have your friends by your side. I realize it took more than two years before you guys pitched in against Hitler, but that was different. Everyone knew he had weapons.
"And finally on behalf of all Canadians, I'm sorry that we're constantly apologizing for things in a passive-aggressive way, which is really a thinly veiled criticism. I sincerely hope that you're not upset over this.
"We've seen what you do to countries you get upset with."

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 and Typo brave early flurries on the sidewalk outside the Bait Shop. Speed shudders, "No one told me about the new barmaid."
Typo sympathizes, "Wow, Boss! It's amazing what a couple of extra inches in neck size will do for bar-tab collections!"
PANEL TWO: Buttoning up his trenchcoat, a deathbed gift from an ancient mystic wire service executive editor on a fog-shrouded eastern island, Speed admits, "Well, we're supposed to be out in the freezing gale, covering the bean harvest! Let's see if that new airport bar has heard of us yet!"
PANEL THREE: Sipping nogs under a Boston fern, the Deft Duo are startled by a loud clanging. Typo gasps, "Boss! That kid's trying to get on the plane to Abilene with a can of Play-Doh! Grab your camera!"
Speed shouts, "Already on it, Typo! If we head out the back door, we won't be here when the press arrives!"
PANEL FOUR: In the alley a phalanx of 3-piece suits barks, "Homeland Security! Freeze!"
PANEL FIVE: Jogging along beside the paddy wagon, Typo yells, "Got it, Boss! And if the bartender won't float for your lawyer, what then?"

BONG Bull is the product of Chief Copyboy Charley Stough, a copy editor at the San Antonio Express News. Phone (210) 250-3191 after 6 p.m. central time.