Media outlet speculates on what long-lost gun would think, say

winchester rifle

State workers in Nevada’s Great Basin National Park recently came across a Winchester Model 1873 rifle propped against a tree in the desert. It’s unclear how long the rifle had been resting in the desolate location, but from its condition and the fact that it was produced in 1882, it would seem it’s been a long time.

Here’s how CNN began its story about the find:

“If this rifle could talk.”

If that rifle could talk it would probably say something along the lines of “I’m really, really bored” or “Where the hell have you been?”

CNN opted to give the gun a more colloquial tone in its musings:

“In a gravelly voice, it may recite a yarn of weary settlers swaying on horses’ backs in the parched, rocky Nevada wilderness. It may talk about riding in a saddle holster across neighboring Utah more than a decade before it became a state of the union.”

Left out is the possibility that the Winchester’s owner went off to use the bathroom and forgot where he put his gun, or that he got himself so gooned up on cheap firewater that he couldn’t find his horse, never mind his rifle.

Of course, if the rifle could talk, it would be a pretty amazing rifle because none of the rifles, shotguns or handguns I’ve seen or handled has so much as uttered a single word. It would be worth a pretty penny, I’d imagine, whether it was 130-plus years old or not.

CNN goes on to speculate further:

“Who knows how many years the rifle stood there, after someone left behind the model called ‘the gun that won the West.’ Did they have to depart in a hurry – running from danger? Or did they not see it, as it stood neatly camouflaged against the arid trunk of the juniper tree?”

Ah, unfounded speculation, the secret garden of the reporter with space to fill, a deadline to meet and few actual facts.

What is known is that the gun was manufactured and shipped in 1882. The Great Basin National Park staff was able to determine that from the weapon’s model name and serial number, which are still legible.

A couple of facts CNN didn’t have to imagine: The rifle will be conserved in the condition it was found, and it will become part of the display commemorating the park’s 30th birthday in 2016.

No word on whether the Winchester will have a speaking role.

(Top: Winchester Model 1873 rifle found propped against tree in Great Basin National Park. Photo Courtesy: Great Basin National Park.)

Dad ‘stunned’ to learn teen apathetic about religion

simpsons church

As my four younger daughters and were I were en route to the local library last night I asked Daughter No. 3 how her most recent Sunday evening religious education class had gone. Three of the four are preparing for confirmation and are in the first year of a two-year program. They are about as enthusiastic as any young teen would be about having to spend 75 minutes every Sunday evening learning about religion.

Daughter No. 3 was quick with her response: “We didn’t learn anything.”

Me: “What do you mean, you didn’t learn anything?”

D3: “We had a party because we won’t have another class until after the holidays.”

Me: “Well, that must have been nice, right?”

D3: “Oh, yeah.”

I then decided to see how much or – more likely, in her case – how little she was enjoying the class. “How about I ask you some questions about what you’ve learned this year?” Her sisters, sitting in the back seat, and likely hoping for a repeat of this memorable Q-and-A session, immediately voiced their assent.

“Dad!” Daughter No. 3 broke in. “No! You always ask me hard stuff. About the bible. You know I don’t know bible stuff!”

Now, to be fair, Daughter No. 3 is an exceptionally bright young lady. She has a very good chance of finishing the current semester with straight A’s and just last week learned she had earned recognition as a South Carolina Junior Scholar.

That said, she is not on the fast track for a doctorate in Theology.

“Okay,” I relented, “how about if I ask you about the sacraments? I’m sure you’ve gone over those, right?”

D3: “No.”

Me: “Really? You haven’t gone over the sacraments?”

D3: “Dad, we’ve only been to class a couple of times.”

Me: “You’ve been going since October, so it’s been more than a couple of times. Just name the sacraments. I’ll give you a hint: There are seven of them.”

D3: “Um, marriage, baptism, communion … confirmation … “

And then the fun began.

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Bellicose man in zebra outfit gets 90 days for drunken antics


In the nearly 20 years of daily journalism I never had the pleasure of penning a quote as delicious as that which appeared in last week’s Edmonton Journal.

“Grappling with a drunk zebra is not the easiest thing in the world,” John Huget told the publication, referring to brawl he was forced to engage in earlier this year after a “confused and extraordinarily drunk” Marshall Ron Mann, garbed in sunglasses, a baseball cap and full-body zebra costume, wandered into Huget’s home.

Mann had been at a costume party earlier in the evening, then had taken a taxi. He thought he had made his way to a friend’s house, but wound up at a row of duplexes that looked alike.

Huget found the striped intruder in his living room at 1:30 a.m., as Huget’s wife and newborn daughter slept nearby.

According to the Journal, the situation quickly turned violent when Mann refused to depart.

“When I told him he had to leave, he got hostile with me,” Huget said. “He said no.”

The situation quickly deteriorated. Mann threw a drunken punch that glanced off Huget’s face. The pair struggled and Huget eventually forced Mann back outside and onto the lawn while his wife called police.

Once outside, the 24-year-old Mann proceeded to urinate on Huget’s tree. Along the way, Mann dropped his wallet, allowing Huget to call and inform a 911 dispatcher as to the belligerent zebra’s identity.

This didn’t sit well with Mann, who charged Huget, arms swinging.

“He eventually got tired of trying to punch me and started biting me,” Huget, 32, said. “Grappling with a drunk zebra is not the easiest thing in the world.”

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CNN noted for diligent efforts to ignore journalism protocol

CNN parody

MAD magazine’s latest issue, titled “The 20 Dumbest People, Events and Things of 2014” includes the above graphic, which focuses on CNN’s relentless – and some might argue, mindless – coverage of Flight 370, the Malaysia Airlines flight which disappeared on March 8 while flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

In the wake of the disaster, CNN proceeded to devote hundreds of hours hypothesizing about the fate of the flight, filling air with random speculation, countless “experts,” many of whom really had little to offer viewers other than the fact that they had no idea what happened, and a number of truly bizarre theories.

Among “lowlights“: A CNN anchor asking a former U.S. Department of Transportation inspector general if a black hole might have sucked the plane out of the sky; and the idea that something “supernatural” happened to the flight.

Yes, other networks didn’t acquit themselves much better in their coverage of Flight 370, but CNN certainly seemed most desperate to make a silk purse out of sow’s ear.

Expect more of the same when the one-year anniversary of the flight’s disappearance rolls around in three months.


Falcons’ marketing department takes a short siesta

falcons graphic

It’s long been a running joke that football players are better known for brawn than brains. Apparently, the marketing department of at least one professional football team didn’t pay all that much attention in college, either.

The Atlanta Falcons will be in London this weekend to play the Detroit Lions, part of the National Football League’s effort to broaden its fan base.

To give Falcons fans an inside look at the team’s journey across the Atlantic, the club posted the above infographic detailing the travel schedule.

Someone’s lack of geography knowledge could have proven costly, as the graphic showed the team traveling first to Baltimore and then to somewhere in Spain, rather than London, which would have left them more than 900 miles south of Wembley Stadium.

Fortunately, the Falcons were alerted to the mistake and corrected the error, greatly diminishing chances that a group of extremely large, muscular and no doubt irate men would be left wandering the confines of Barcelona Airport.

(HT: Deadspin)

11-year-old me on why ancient man steered clear of Office Depot


Word is we had a lunar eclipse down our way early this morning. The event offered me an opportunity to recall how utterly obtuse I was 40 years or so ago.

Last night, as I dropped my girls off at their mother’s house, we discussed the eclipse. They explained how they were considering getting up around 5 a.m. to view the unusual celestial occurrence. They had a basic understanding of what caused the event and were excited to see it.

As I drove home, I recalled that when I was the age of my youngest daughter, 11, I not only didn’t understand what an eclipse was, I was utterly unfamiliar with the word. As evidence, I can recall the first time I heard about the concept of an eclipse.

My mother was attempting to explain that people can be afraid of that which they do not understand and was describing how ancient societies were often very superstitious and fearful of rare phenomena. Among things that confused and frightened prehistoric people, she explained, were eclipses.

As I was unacquainted with the word, and not a particularly bright 11-year old, my ears only caught the second part of the word, “clips,” and my mind immediately wandered to “paper clips.”

With an ignorant arrogance not unknown among 11-year-old boys, I immediately thought, “Wow, what a bunch of morons – afraid of paper clips! Ha! Ha! Ha!” Mind you, I wasn’t confident enough in this anthropological assessment to voice this view to my mother; I simply sat there in smug, silent awe that a group of people could be afraid of office supplies.

Sure, paper clips could be exasperating when they got all looped together, and they could cause some really agony if the end of one got under a fingernail, but any society that was afraid of paper clips must have been a pretty pathetic one, I reasoned.

Looking back, I don’t know at what point I finally learned what an eclipse actually was, or at what point I realized what it was my mother had been talking about, but some years later I made the connection that I’d been off base – way off base.

Needless to say, my girls – who are a bit wiser and certainly more intuitive than their father was at their age – always get a chuckle out of that story. And there’s certainly no shortage of similar tales for me to regale them with. I guess that’s one of the few benefits of having been a dense kid.

(Top: Lunar eclipse seen earlier this year. Not pictured: Paper clip.)

Simpler, natural lifestyle of ‘olden days’ left something to be desired

dead by 35

In fairness, infant mortality likely kept life-expectancy figures low for prehistoric man.

But among those who made it into adulthood, even the most mundane problems associated with lack of medical care – i.e. rotting teeth, hemorrhoids, sinus infections, etc. – probably made them wish they were dead.

And, as far as I knew, deaths due to injuries incurred during mastodon hunts are way down over the past few millennia.