HNC Home Page
News Business Arts & Life Sports Opinion Calendar Archive About Us
ONE TWISTED SISTER: Musician Dee Snider flashes the devil's horns to the crowd at Monster Circus, a rock mecca in Vegas. Click Arts&Life or a link to story. / Photo by Ben Hansen, special contributor

Today's word on journalism

May 8, 2009

The Last WORD

The Fat Lady Sings, Off-Key, Drools

At about this time every year, like the swallows to Capistrano or the buzzards to Hinckley, Ohio, the WORD migrates to its summer musing grounds at the sanitarium —St. Mumbles Home for the Terminally Verbose.

The reason is clear, and never moreso than as this season —the WORD's 13th —peters out.

It's been a fraught year of high palaver and eye-popping transition, both good and not-so-much. An interminable presidential campaign saga finally did end, and in extraordinary and historic fashion. Meanwhile, the bottom and everything that's below the bottom fell out of the economy, with families, homes, entire industries and —of particular interest to WORDsters and the civic-minded —dozens of daily newspapers ("I don't so much mind that newspapers are dying--it's watching them commit suicide that pisses me off." --Molly Ivins). . . all evaporating. What replaces them, from the individual to the institutional to the societal? Are we looking at a future of in-depth Tweeting?

As any newsperson or firehorse knows, it's hard to turn your back on day-to-day catastrophe --we just have to look at the car wreck. But even the most deranged and driven need a rest. As philosopher Lilly Tomlin once observed, "No matter how cynical you become, it's never enough to keep up."

So this morning, as a near-frost hovered over northern Utah, the unmarked van pulled into the driveway and the gentle, soft-spoken men in the white coats rolled the WORD out of bed and into a straitjacket for the usual summer trip to St. Mumbles, where the blathering one will be assigned a hammock and fed soothing, healthy foods --like tapioca, dog biscuits and salmon --while recharging the essential muscles of cynicism, outrage, sarcasm, social engagement and high-mindedness, in preparation for the next edition.
Summer well, friends.

Speak up! Comment on the WORD at


Feedback and suggestions --printable and otherwise --always welcome. "There are no false opinions."

Ducknapping on April 1

By Seili Lewis

April 2, 2009 | 'Twas the night before April first; two girls were invited to a flirtatious evening of movie watching. One of the girls was engaged so she stuck to her roommate like glue and made minimal contact with members of the opposite gender. The other of the two girls, however, enjoyed the endless attentions of two young men. The evening was entertaining enough with less attention spent on the movie than energies exerted in the pursuits of hormones and pheromones.

One young man introduced a rubber duck, which was decorated to look as if it were dead. The body of the duck is black, the beak aglow in the dark green, with no eyes -- just glow-in-the-dark X's. The girls decided that it would be interesting to tease the owner of the duck by acting as if they might take the duck with them when they went back to their apartment that evening.

It was clearly midnight by the time the girls got back home. They sent the owner an ominous message, "I'm holding your duck for ransom. How much to you think he's worth," said the first girl.

With escalating messages of empty threats, and silly pictures depicting the poor duck's plight, the negotiations came to a close in the wee hours of the morning. The girls went to bed, and when they awoke the plans to get cookies for the safe return of the duck continued. The duck, now dubbed Mortimer, as a play on words for his deathlike appearance, was now the center of a witty war. The plan was simple: they would meet in the basement of the girls' apartment for the exchange, one plate of cookies for the safe return of the duck. The girls had even more devious plans in store in light of the holiday season.

Anticipating an ambush, the girls enlisted the aid of their other roommates and went to their local dollar store to get the necessary weaponry. Their water guns were sparkly and lovely colors including purple, pink and blue. They lay in wait for their intended victim at the bottom of the stairs. The code word was a simple caw, caw.

He arrived nearly 20 minutes late at the appointed drop site. The girls intended to search his person but felt too shy to be too inquisitive; after all he is a boy.

The young man had with him a cane, a plate of cookies and a shoulder bag reportedly filled with homework. They blindfolded him and led him on a slow (because he has a bad knee) goose chase. Finally the young man stood before three girls with water pistols in the boiler room of the building. Three other girls were hiding just outside the room. The room was dimly lighted, warm and filled with the ominous sounds of the boiler. The blindfold was removed and a few short remarks were exchanged before the signal was given and the young man found himself surrounded by women with water pistols. This would have been quite the predicament for him had he been unprepared, but he whipped out a can of pressurized party string and an epic battle over a duck ensued.

The incident ended peaceably enough once everyone concerned was out of ammunition. The young man was soaked and the girls were covered in foam string. The room was a bit of a mess but they quickly cleaned it up and sat around enjoying the cookies. Because it was April first one of the girls didn't dare to even touch the cookies for fear that there was a laxative in the mix. The others ate the cookies happily enough and finally the reluctant girl finally ate a little bit of cookie. Satisfied with his efforts the young man stood, telling the girls that he'd better be off. He tossed them a roll of toilet paper and smiled a suspicious smile, "You're going to need this," he said, and left the girls wondering.


Copyright 1997-2009 Utah State University Department of Journalism & Communication, Logan UT 84322, (435) 797-3292
Best viewed 800 x 600.