Truth is always stranger than fiction

Published 10:17 pm Saturday, November 7, 2009

Do you ever wonder why one thing makes newspaper headlines and something else doesn’t?

I can tell you that picking a handful of national or world stories to run in limited space can be among the most difficult — and sometimes humorous — parts of working at a newspaper.

Our philosophy is that local news takes precedence in most cases and that key issues that affect people’s lives — like swine flu, health care reform and the economy — should be part of the focus.

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But what about the things that maybe don’t fit that bill but have significant reader interest? Isn’t that still news?

Of course it is and maybe it is time for readers to see what else is going on in this crazy, mixed-up world.

Here are a few headlines straight from the Associated Press.

Man charged with DUI after 911 call

SALEM, Ore. — Oregon police have charged a man with drunken driving after he called 911 to report his marijuana as stolen but the dispatcher couldn’t understand him because he was vomiting while on the road.

Where do you begin with this guy? He puts the “stupid” into “stupid criminal” for sure.

Woman passes test on 950th time

SEOUL, South Korea — A woman in South Korea who tried to pass the written exam for a driver’s license with near-daily attempts since April 2005 has finally succeeded on her 950th time. The aspiring driver spent more than 5 million won ($4,200) in application fees, but until now had failed to score the minimum 60 out of a possible 100 points needed to get behind the wheel for a driving test.

Boy, I sure am glad she is in South Korea. Something tells me she won’t do so well on the driving test either. How much collateral damage will she rack up along the way?

SUV nearly slams into elephant

OKLAHOMA CITY — It’s not unusual to see a deer or a cow crossing Oklahoma’s rural highways. But an elephant? A couple driving home from church nearly slammed into a giant pachyderm that had escaped from a nearby circus late Wednesday.

“Didn’t have time to hit the brakes. The elephant blended in with the road,” driver Bill Carpenter said Thursday. “At the very last second I said ‘elephant!’”

Carpenter, 68, said he swerved his SUV at the last second and ended up sideswiping the 29-year-old female elephant on U.S. 81 in Enid, about 80 miles north of Oklahoma City.

I am speechless.

‘DWI’ chair nets big money on eBay

DULUTH, Minn. — Operating a motorized recliner while drunk apparently drives up the chair’s value. Police in northern Minnesota listed the “DWI chair” on eBay after the owner was arrested for driving it into a parked car last year. It sold Thursday for $10,099.99.

Are they serious? I don’t drink much or have a recliner with a motor on it but I certainly would be willing to get a little tipsy and put a La-Z-Boy on a couple skateboards and go for a spin if this helps me earn that kind of money.

This odd news might not be the most important items that come across in the thousands that move on the wire, but it does offer some interesting insights into the world in which we live.

And there is some definite entertainment value.

So, from now on, The Tribune will collect some of these strange news briefs and print them each Monday.

These will certainly reinforce the idea that truth is stranger than fiction. And it seems to get stranger each and every day.

Michael Caldwell is publisher of The Tribune. To reach him, call (740) 532-1445 ext. 24 or by e-mail at