Wednesday, January 31, 2018

The Poop on Pees: A Commercial Appeal Headline Gone Wild

Posted By on Wed, Jan 31, 2018 at 2:31 PM

Some names present special challenges for headline writers who have to pack a lot of information into only a very few words. Clarity can be especially difficult if the headline writer needs to identify a person whose name is also a verb. The sports section in today's Commercial Appeal provides us with a classic example of how  inconsiderate word placement can transform the meaning of a sentence.
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How hard would it have been to simply reverse the names? — "Titans Vrabel scores twice with Pees, LaFleur?"

Way too hard for Gannett. Dammit.

Marsha Blackburn's Hair Identified as Brain-Eating Parasite

Posted By on Wed, Jan 31, 2018 at 8:49 AM

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Astrobiologist Tom Ichbaum opened his Twitter account Monday afternoon and typed out a dire warning about U.S. Representative Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and women who seem to wear their hair like U.S. Representative Marsha Blackburn. According to Ichbaum the Tennessee legislator's trademark mane isn't a mane at all, it's a brain-eating alien parasite "that's dangerous and probably self-replicating."

"Look, I don't want people to get the wrong idea," Ichbaum explained. "This isn't some kind of blonde joke. I'm not the kind of person who'd ever make fun of how other people look or dress, especially not women. That's a terrible double standard in this country and I would never be part of perpetuating that. But holy shit, have you listened to some of the stuff Marsha's says?"

Although Ichbaum's worried about Blackburn for some time, it wasn't her behavior that ultimately led him to begin his strange inquiry.

"I started noticing all these other women with the exact same hair," he says. "At first I told myself, 'This isn't weird.' It's not an unusual look. I'm just being paranoid. There's no way that hairdo's really a brain-eating visitor from another planet. That's crazy. But then I started listening to what all these people were saying. And everything they said sounded like the kind of crazy stuff Marsha says. It's like they didn't have minds of their own and were just repeating the most insane things they've heard on American Family Radio."

To illustrate his point Ichbaum played a clip from a CNN segment about conservtive evangelical women who believe Donald Trump's affair with porn star Stormy Daniels was okay because "God ordained" the President.

"I don't think I can watch this again," Ichbaum said, averting his eyes. At that exact moment one CNN panelist with Marsha Blackburn's hair defended her President saying, "We all have gotten a Mulligan because of Christ Jesus, and so that's the bottom line."


"Who talks like that?" Ichbaum screamed into his laptop. "Jesus didn't play golf! Golf was invented in 15th-Century Scotland for Christ's sake! What the hell is wrong with you people?!?!?!"

According to Ichbaum there is only one scientific explanation for all this homogeneity: Alien parasites.

"Technically they're symbiotes," he says describing an exotic, otherworldly life form that bonds with human beings in order to survive on Earth. "On one hand they take over your brain and feast on your mental energies," Ichbaum explains. "On the other hand, you do look fabulous."

Ichbaum believes there's currently no good defense against this kind of invasion. "But if somebody you know or love just shows up one day looking like Marsha Blackburn stay alert and try not to get too close," he says. "Chances are very good this person is no longer your friend. It's possible they never were."

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Commercial Appeal Illustrates Local Earthquake Story with Non-Local Disaster Photographs

Posted By on Wed, Jan 17, 2018 at 12:19 PM

Dear mom and dad,

I'm sorry I didn't check in safe on Facebook after the earthquake in Memphis and West Tennessee. But jeepers, I didn't even know there was an earthquake in Memphis and West Tennessee. Still, I can understand how you might be concerned after seeing pictures of collapsed buildings like this one published by the USA Today-owned version of The Commercial Appeal. It looks bad. 
Pretty bad, huh?
  • Pretty bad, huh?
But that picture's a video still somebody found on the web —  this video published in 2016 to be specific — and not a current picture from Memphis or West Tennessee.

Or maybe you saw this picture. It's super-scary, right? 
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It also wasn't taken in Memphis. Or Dyersburg. It's from...
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Anyway mom and dad, I don't want to be dismissive. It's possible that this quake (which I didn't feel) caused some damage somewhere. But near as I can tell no multi-story buildings from New Zealand collapsed in Memphis today.

Anyway, I love you and I'm sorry, and I promise to check in in the future. Stay warm!

Chris

PS: I think I'm creating a new tab for my Fly on the Wall blog called Dammit Gannett. I used to just file all this stuff under media but I think with this one the CA's parent company has earned its own special place in the cabinet.   

Monday, January 15, 2018

What Prophesy Does this Fulfill?

Posted By on Mon, Jan 15, 2018 at 1:58 PM

Fly on the Wall has a long, proud tradition of pointing out things that look like dingalings but aren't, in fact, dingalings. The latest faux phallus is made of snow and OMG it's coming right at us!!!
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