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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Crash Blossoms

If you like words, and who doesn't... I personally use them all the time, then you'll enjoy crash blossoms. This is a relatively new term for something we used to call 'double take' headlines. You know... like "Squad Helps Dog Bite Victim" or "Red Tape Holds up New Bridge."

Crash Blossoms (which got its name from the headline: "Violinist Linked to JAL Crash Blossoms") was the first topic covered by new columnist Ben Zimmer as he took over the On Language column in the New York Times Sunday Magazine. The column had been authored for 30 years by Pulitzer prize winner William Safire, who ran out of words recently (i.e... he died).

As a journalist at heart, I have long loved these misunderstood headlines typically found atop newspaper stories. Such headlines were usually written by a news desk editor on deadline, working feverishly to make his story title fit a specific column width and space available. And, every so often, they were purposely crafted as an 'inside joke' to amuse his colleagues at the news desk. Late night editors sometimes got a little 'punchy' in the heyday of newspapers.

Some favorites are classic:

"MacArthur Flies Back to Front"
"Eighth Army Push Bottles Up Germans"
"Doctor Testifies in Horse Suit"
"Vineland Couple to Take On Missionary Position"
"Judge to Rule On Nude Beach"
"Blind Woman Forced to Clean Up by Police After Her Guide Dog
  Accepts Settlement"
"Stiff Prices at Auction of Erotic Art"
"Gator Attacks Puzzle Expert"
"British Left Waffles on Falklands"
"Missouri Gas Chamber is Unsafe"
"Dentist Receives Plaque"
"Giant Waves Down Queen Mary's Funnel"
"Panda Mating Fails; Veterinarian Takes Over"
"Women's Movement Called More Broad-Based"
"Flaming Toilet Seat Causes Evacuation at High School"
"Urologist Censored by His Peers"
"4-H Girls Win Prizes for Fat Calves"
"Blind Bishop Appointed to See"
"Tuna Biting Off Washington Coast"

Well, you get the idea. These darned things are infectious though... like eating potato chips, it's hard to stop. OK, just one more... "Judge Blocks Discharge of Gay Seaman"  OK, one more... but this is absolutely the last one: "Two-Headed Baby Recalls Similar Birth in 1970"

The End.

"Blind Woman Gets Kidney from Dad She Hasn't Seen in Years"  Whoops! Couldn't help it.
"Deaf Mute Gets New Hearing"  Sorry

                                                                       (so it's a reprint from April, 2010... boo hoo)

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