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Tuesday, May 04, 2004


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New item: Texas Postage Stamps in real sticker form, suitable for office mail, cubicle defilement or convincing mystery mail left where your cubicle mates can't miss seeing it. Like in your file drawer with the Snickers bars.

For May 4, 2003. Nightline's casualty list? Go ahead and call it politics, Sinclair Broadcast Group, and when the vets throw their medals over YOUR fence you can even call it littering, says the Burned-Out Newspapercreatures Guild, and this is BONG Bull No. 645!

REALITY NEWSROOMS. Bachelor Aid, baby selling, roommate angst, capitalist crapshoot, island-hopping? Give it a rest, reality-program directors: Newspapers are onto the sleeper hits of the season, monster TV.
We've got Monster Garage, with a lot of nutbusters slapping together weird vehicles like popsicle-vending hearses and 18-wheel toasters. We've seen Monster House, where the boys remake a perfectly good middle-class ranch home into an unsellable bordello replica. Even MTV has Pimp My Ride, wherein some mouth-breathing beach dude's $300 jalopy comes back a $20,000 paint job with Nintendo attachments.
Not to be outdone, the BONG Professional Standards and Late-Start Fads Committee has a surefire print hit for us all: Monster Thumbsucker!
Here we have it, folks, a competently written 3-graf traffic fatal blurb of the kind reporters used to do. But what can the Projects Committee need with this bit of fluff? Oh-ho, glad you asked.
-- From the Computer Room, sparing no expense, here is a 19-graf bulleted insert displaying every similar blurb occurring within a 3-mile radius of the subject crunch. Never mind that 16 of those grafs were pirated out of our sister TV station's morgue file from when we used to laugh at the camera guys for chasing ambulances.
-- From the defunct USA Today Web site "Jack Kelly's Muffin-Spitters 'R' Us," a first-person eyewitness sidebar on a Gaza bus bombing, pirate attack on a Dubuque school bus and birth of septuplet 7-foot Ukrainian hermaphrodytes, simultaneously (what were the chances?)!
-- From the Jimmy Breslin Notebook Found Behind the Coffeemaker file, 33 paragraphs of quotes from a Bible-thumping picket captain who had it directly from his motel-room angel in 1991 that National Geographic collectors are hellbound. With a snappy transition graf they'll fit right in (no sense letting good stuff go to waste).
--- 44,000 words of interviews of African chieftains, missionaries' moms, Newfoundlanders and retired Mato Grosso soccer players testifying that they didn't do it and besides the victims deserved it, gathered with two years' worth of reporter travel budgets.
-- 23 stock shots of safe and economical SUVs and 14 bar charts from the PR Newswire. Art is everything.
And there it is, as closing credits roll, a sure Pulitzer contender, as recent entries attest.

WHY YOU GOTTA LOVE TEXAS. Magic ballot boxes and nobody even blushes. State legislators who flee to Oklahoma, then wise up and flee to New Mexico. Section-page designers who wouldn't put ketchup on fries until the Dallas Morning News does it. How could you help but adore this place?
So it is with immense pride that the Chief Copyboy announces the latest additions to the Texas Postage collection of Cubicle Art. Download it for $3 and print it out for your desk, or use it as a screensaver, or iron it on your T-shirt; love this computer age.
Themes so far include Jukeboxes, Ugly Trucks, Cheerleaders' Moms, Crooked Governors, Dry Holes (17,000 uncapped, abandoned oil wells in the state and no matter how many milliseconds the Republican Legislature spends on it, they can't figure out what to do about the threat to public health and safety), Big Hair, Tailgaters, Stetsons and Really Manly Boots.
See them at http://www.lulu.com/charley. Or you can just hit HERE.

TRY THIS ON ONE BREATH. Hartford (Conn.) Courant Travel Editor Dennis Horgan must have found a first-sentence-free sale at the telegraph office. Here's the opener on his April 18 dispatch:
"HONG KONG -- Maybe the light changed; maybe the wind changed; but in a single instant, the crowd moved, hundreds of people, thousands of people, hundreds of thousands of people surged across the streets, past rattly old wagons and limousines a block long, rushing as people here always rush, people in slippers and flip-flops and shoes that can cost more than what the flip-flop wearer makes in a month, moving together quickly, elephant-quiet in their enormous numbers and variety under soaring, gigantic, sky-scratching towers that bring in the world's architectural and engineering magnificence and mix it with artistry, astrology and electric imagination so that at night the buildings actually change colors and become themselves billboards for some unnamed excellence of spirit, one captured just as equally in the steady, powerful, purposeful, heads-down churn of scores of ferries shuttling even more of the uncountable millions across the harbor from Kowloon to here, from here to Kowloon, sliding past the best of the world's freighter fleet and the most exotic boats under sail and power, ships and junks that chug alongside the Morning Star and Evening Star and Celestial Star and all the others of the crowded bustling Star ferries that have made their quick passage for a century or more delivering the most industrious people on Earth, the most disciplined, the most sparky and the most numerous on their busy assignments, carrying vegetables or portfolios with tens of millions in securities, moving with a quiet that belies their astonishing, busy mass but which cannot begin to mask the awesome, truly awesome energy that flows through the streets with the same force that drives trams up the mountains and cars by the thousands down the lanes, and which lights dazzling neighborhoods of Alps-high apartment buildings and a Himalayan silhouette of office towers, all sheltering the enormous human shuffle below, which, when maybe the light or wind changes yet again, suddenly stops, all at once."

WHY WE LOVE LEAH SO MUCH. The SF Chronicle's gossiper Leah Garchik, it isn't widely discussed, could have become a Buddhist nun but instead delights bayside readers with her finds again and again. Well, the Seventh Circle of Enlightenment's loss is our gain. Consider this:
"In Italy, the Blue Valentine Italian Fan Club invited Tom Waits to attend a seminar and exposition about him. Waits declined the invitation because he was recording a new album (for September release), at a schoolhouse in Mississippi. His letter says he's 'feeling good about it all," and the as-yet unnamed album includes: songs about Mama, liquor, trains and death. Politics, rats, war, hangings, dancing, pirates, farms, the carnival and sinning. In other words, the same ol' dirty business."

THE THING ABOUT CLICHES, THEY ALWAYS COME IN HANDY. Dayton Daily News's Hal Davis mailto:hdavis@coxohio.com respondeth: "Love the news cliche Web site. I once worked with someone at UPI who loved cliches. He once changed my reference to a Turks playing 'oud-like kaftas' (I probly shudda said 'a cousin to the guitar') and made it 'native instruments.' His dream lede would have been a rock- and bottle-throwing mob attacking a Democratic presidential hopeful on a war-torn island nation." The site: http://tommangan.net/banned/.

COMIX SECTION. The Rehashed (BB316) Further Adventures of Herman "Speed" Graphic, Ace Photographer for the Chagrin Falls Commercial Scimitar, and his Faithful Companion, Typo the Wonder Pig.
PANEL ONE: Trying to look like discarded bundles under Speed's trenchcoat, a deathbed gift from an ancient mystic wire service executive editor on a fog-shrouded eastern island, the Deft Duo review the outcome of the staff meeting.
Typo suggests, "Well, it wouldn't have gone so bad if you hadn't sat with the sports writers, Boss! You know what they can do to a cheese-and-Beer Nuts tray!"
PANEL TWO: Speed retorts, "I really thought someone would catch it before it hit Absentee Publisher Gimlet Peen's Persian carpet, Typo! Who knew what raspberry jam would do to the dyes?"
PANEL THREE: Typo offers, "Well, you could have helped Features Editor Hyperba Lee clean up the mess, Boss! You heard her yelling for someone to go get the broom!"
PANEL FOUR: Speed defends, "I admit I was a little slow on the uptake there, Typo! But I logically asked ... !"
PANEL FIVE: Typo consoles, "Yes, I know, Boss! It's an easy mistake! But every time Hyperba takes up a broom, it isn't because all the staff cars are out and she has to make a quick escape!"

A production of BONG Chief Copyboy Charley Stough, San Antonio Express-News. E-mail bongstuff@yahoo.com.
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