Image by Unlisted Sightings via Flickr
Perhaps you’ve heard of The Onion, the often profane, usually funny, totally made-up news source, which now boasts print newspapers and a multifaceted web site. I was first introduced to The Onion by my then college aged son, who could grab a free copy of The Onion on the University of Michigan campus from a corner newspaper box. The Onion’s theme, which is fully disclosed in its editorial details is this: 1) all stories are fiction, and 2) many stories are R-rated and not appropriate for children. Stories in The Onion start out sounding like genuine news, often about well-known public figures. They cite quotes from real or real-sounding people, give names of actual people and places, employ legitimate-sounding statistics, and use photos of real folks, although with heavy application of Photoshop. They often spoof a current news crisis issue, and take it to extremes, such as in this gem about President Obama:
Obama Earns Money for US by Appearing in Japanese Television Commercial
Someone unfamiliar with The Onion, who just happened across the paper or website, may at first glance think they’re reading a plausible news story. But in short order, stories go from somewhat plausible to sketchy, to improbable, all the while laced with satire and hilariously ironic details. As one gets farther into the newspaper/website, the stories are often cruder, vulgar, and R-rated – too risqué for my tastes, which shows that even the best satire writers are only great part of the time. I stick to and endorse only the few front page stories that are cleverly written and funny, and leave the crude ones for those who appreciate that kind of writing.
My appreciation of fine, made-up satirical news has led me to dabble in some my own made-up news stories at times, to the point that I’ve decided to start my own onion-like category, aptly titled Onionesque. Look for some new Onionesque posts soon. In the meantime, you can revisit some of my old Onionesque posts if you’re feeling ready for a dose of healthy news-related satire.
Senate Bill 2274: McCain-Logan
Angry Bloggers Storm WordPress Headquarters
Set for Life
© Huffygirl 2011
Maybe some of you have heard of the writing contest on NPR called “Three Minute Fiction.” (TMF) Readers submit an original short story based on a required theme. The story must be 600 words or fewer, and be able to be read aloud in three minutes or less. I missed round one of TMF. For round two of TMF the story had to start with “The nurse left work at five-o’clock.” I thought about that one; even began formulating a story in my head, but I had heard about it while in the car, and didn’t get back to it once I got home. This time, round three, the story had to be inspired by a picture posted on the TMF website. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=105660765 The picture showed a newspaper lying open on a table in a café, and a man walking by on the street, visible through the café window. This time I entered my story.
Well, no surprise – I did NOT win the TMF contest. Many talented writers entered and I didn’t have a chance. But, it was great practice and fun to try. I’ll try again when round four rolls around. Meanwhile, If you like, you can read my submission for TMF below, titled “The Reader.”
“Doesn’t anyone believe in recycling anymore?” Abby looked down in disgust at the recently abandoned table. The newspaper lay open; the last dregs of coffee spilled across the page, before the cup had crashed to the floor. Why had he been in such a hurry? The man had been lingering at the table over coffee and the paper for hours while other customers came and left, clicking away on laptops and playing with their phone apps. Now it was late, the diner deserted. Jake the cook, having abandoned the kitchen, sat slumped in the alley, chain-smoking, watching the clock for closing time. Abby allowed herself to flop down at the man’s abandoned seat, and let her eyes skim over the paper. Her shift was almost done, her feet ached. The thought of the empty house waiting, no one to rub her neck and feet and make her tea, was depressing. Not much better here; no one appreciated servers any more – this man hadn’t even left a tip. She swiped her towel over the damp coffee spill and started to fold the paper for the recycle bin. Then she saw it. Was this what the man had been looking at so intently before abruptly taking his leave? “Suspect sought in armed robbery” There was a blurry surveillance camera photo – why did these photos always look so bad? She peered closer. The man in the photo was wearing the predictable hoodie, baseball cap pulled low over his face. What had her man looked like? “We never really see people any more, what they’re wearing, how tall they are,” thought Abby. A slight cough startled Abby from her reverie, then the voice saying “I think you’re in my seat.” As Abby slowly looked up, she instinctively slid her arm over to cover the blurry photo.