I seem to have misplaced it, but for years I saved a copy of a 1992 issue of the Weekly World News with “Aliens Endorse Clinton” on the cover. The article included a photo of an alien shaking hands with the future president. These were not the kind of aliens who come from Latin America, so it was a pretty big political story, and only the Weekly World News had it.
The News would publish many scoops before it folded this month. A Washington Post eulogy recalled “Dead Rock Stars Return On Ghost Plane,” “Elvis Tomb Is Empty,” and “Bat Child Found In Cave.” (The adventures of the half-human, half-bat creature familiarly known as “Bat Boy” would appear in the newspaper periodically.)
I didn't buy the News often, but I always looked at the headlines while waiting to check out at the supermarket. It'll be missed. Other publications may pick up some of the slack, though. I'm thinking of a recent headline in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette: “Nursing-home cat harbinger of death.” The subhead maintained the same high standard: “Staff members trust feline's foresight.” All nicely done, and the writer had to deal with an element of truth in the subject matter too. The World News never imposed such a handicap on its staff.
Apparently there really is a nursing-home cat — named Oscar — that makes a habit of lying in bed with ailing patients. These patients die within a few hours, according to nursing home employees, who say that a benevolent Oscar is providing companionship for people he knows to be terminally ill. Personally, I wonder if the explanation mightn't be more sinister. We know that a cat will take a baby's breath away, and some nursing home patients are just as helpless.
But whatever Oscar's motives, the headline was prize-worthy. Work “Harry Potter” in and you've got a book title.
A magazine article on alleged prison slang said that convicts call a lethal injection “a doctorate in applied chemistry.” A spokesman for the Arkansas Department of Correction says no. Maybe our convicts just aren't as witty as others.