When Life Begs for a Little Comic Relief
October 4, 2012
Comic relief, though harder to find, is still around. Maybe “comic” is too strong; “mild amusement” may be a more accurate descriptor.
The “grim grip” of problems throughout the world threatens to overshadow whatever might otherwise make us smile.
Ongoing sources for brighteners are persons who compose newspaper headlines. Some of ‘em makes us smile unknowingly. We tend to forget that smile muscles sometimes prevail. They can overrule frown muscles, their bullying cousins that are overworked–even into overtime–in these tense times.
Clever headlines provide temporary relief from the rigors of reality.
How about an “A+” for whoever wrote the classic headline heralding the 70th annual State Fair of Texas? (Reporters grimace annually, striving to avoid writing “same old/same old” stories about the annual three plus weeks of throngs crowding exhibits, overwhelming the midway and consuming tons of “no-no” foods.)
A clever Dallas Morning News wordsmith, noting Big Tex’s 60th year, strikes a familiar chord. Keying on the fifty-two-foot icon’s “howdy-ing” drawl that welcomes visitors, the headline genius guides us straight to the fair.
The headline: “Big Tex says: It’s ‘howdy’ duty time.” (Buffalo Bob would be proud.) We pucker to whistle the happy State Fair tune–not wanting to “miss it or even be late.” Never mind the twice-made movie centered on the Iowa State Fair.
Uvalde deserves kudos, too, for a curiosity-piquing headline: “Soar Spot of Texas.”
I don’t know enough about soaring to fold a paper plane, but ever-present “Mr. Google” is gleefully into gliding.
Uvalde, as it turns out, is on the world map for folks whose passion is to glide through the air in ships without benefit of mechanical locomotion. (One definition: “Ships what don’t have engines.”).
Two of the first thirty-two world gliding championships have been held there, the most recent in August of this year. Responses make Convention and Visitors’ Bureau folks drool, since the event attracts thousands of visitors. (The only other world competition in US “air” was held several years ago in Marfa.)
Conditions are ideal in Uvalde, but may be threatened by the “fattening” of America. Total weight of flyer and craft, you see, can be no more than a ton.
So far, all entries have featured ships that outweigh their pilots.
Creative juices also drive sports page headlines. Keep in mind that in many cases, these guys/gals have minutes–maybe seconds–to select “well-chosen” words….
The Cincinnati Enquirer hit a “headline homer” on Homer Bailey’s no-hitter with “Homer’s Epic.”
At a long-ago California game, the Dallas Cowboys were “Fried in Frisco.”
Other old headlines warrant re-visiting.
A musty one may be dusted off if the Texas A&M Aggies stumble in Southeast Conference football. It was penned long ago when the UT Longhorns sprung an upset.
“Longhorns are Rotten to the Corps” was the intro.
This one dates back to 1959.
It describes the plucky run of a freshman track star at the NAIA cross-country event in Omaha, NE. It was twenty-four degrees, and the four-mile race was held in bleak, snowy conditions. The white stuff was in drifts; the runner’s shoestring was loose.
You can guess the rest. He lost a shoe at the one-mile mark, but still finished twenty-first among more than two hundred runners. The headline: “Snow Flies, Shoe Flies, He Flies.”
Media in the Permian Basin hustled recently to describe flooding–a rare event in the barren area.
I mean, whoever heard of rain closing schools in Midland?
Surely some headline read: “Rain Reigns.” In Fort Worth, a Star-Telegram sports headline said: “Rangers Facing Reign Delay.”
Rain did a number on Ohio University years ago.
President Vernon Alden dealt with thorny issues, none of which were mentioned in his job description. He prevailed when students protested cafeteria food. Later, the workers rose up with a “mad” against the students, and President Alden defused the issue. Then, gushing rains lapped against window sills, threatening university closure.
The TV weather guy observed, “A week ago, students tried to close Ohio U. with food protests, and President Alden ruled supreme. Then, angered cafeteria workers threatened closure, and again, Dr. Alden prevailed. Last night, God tried to close Ohio University, and President Alden is holding his own.”
Dr. Newbury is a speaker in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. Comments/speaking inquiries to: [email protected] Phone: 817-447-3872. Twitter: @donnewbury. Web site: www.speakerdoc.com.
Humorist Don Newbury is author of When the Porch Light’s On.