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As a demonstration that today's sensory-overloading news all swims together in our heads ... Let's Talk enters the year 2019 with a new, recurring feature:

BLURRED HEADLINES

• Two guys made news for cold-weather-area firsts: Colin O'Brady, who hails from Oregon, is the first man to cross the continent of Antarctica, alone and unassisted. Then there was an unnamed dude who, just before Christmas, was arrested in the first armed bank robbery on Santa's turf -- in Longyearbyen, Svalbard, halfway between Norway and the North Pole and the world's most northerly settlement. It's rumored that both men got lumps of coal in their holiday stockings; it's just that O'Brady's coal was to help warm him back up.

• The U.S. Office of Personnel Management has suggested that federal employees who are not being paid because of the government shutdown "barter" with their landlords, providing sample letters in which the employee could offer to provide such services as painting and carpentry for a break on overdue rent. We see that the OPM refrained from suggesting employees use their "special stashes" as barter, like Andrew Gallagher, the Florida man who tried to pay for his McDonald's meal with a bag of marijuana.

• Margaret Gieszinger, a California science and chemistry teacher, was charged in early December with counts of child cruelty and battery over cutting the hair of one of her high school students while belting out the national anthem. Rumor has it she plans to open a barber shop with Alan Maloney, the referee who forced a young competitive wrestler to consent to having his dreadlocks shorn on the spot or forfeit his match.

• When it comes to life and freedom, it's a mixed bag for pigs and hogs in Florida. Layla and Luna are two Miami pigs that were recently pardoned from becoming roasted lechon -- roasted pigs -- for Christmas dinner. Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez pardoned the piggies several days before Christmas as a new holiday tradition similar to the turkeys pardoned by the president each year at Thanksgiving. Around the same time, a "massive" wild female hog, weighing nearly 400 pounds and bearing a "mean" disposition, was captured near a school bus stop in Palm Bay, Fla., then euthanized. Too bad she couldn't have hung out with Layla and Luna rather than deciding to try to pull a Colin O'Brady and cross Palm Bay alone.

• The folk at Monterey Bay Aquarium in Cali have apologized after tweeting some black slang words and remarks about Abby, a sea otter. Let's just say that the otter is "not thin"; the tweets described Abby as "thicc," "chonk" and one declared, "OH LAWD SHE COMIN." We shudder to think what they'd said about the Palm Bay hog. Meanwhile, in the human-body realm, there's apparently no body-shaming Mark Roberts. The 53-year-old United Kingdom resident claims to have gone streaking, as in gone running in his birthday suit, at more than 560 events around the world. These include such major goings-on as the Super Bowl, the Olympics and the Cannes Film Festival. Roberts obviously needs to get with Gregory Brannigan -- the Green Bay, Wis., guy who, according to police, got drunk the other week and shed his clothes to tear down his neighbor's Christmas decorations -- and show him how to go for broke!

• Scandal-battling companies Facebook, Uber and Wells Fargo are running commercials trying to win back consumer trust after selling them down the river in various ways. They're trying to offset loss of profits just like Offset, the rapper, is trying to win back his singer wife Cardi B, except that Cardi B got some expensive Christmas gifts as an olive branch while all we got from these companies are these stupid ads.

• A man recently booked, and successfully took, six airplane flights just to be able to spend time with his flight-attendant daughter, who had to work Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Say those whose holiday flights were delayed or canceled by bad weather and drones? Grrrrrr.

• Colin Kaepernick still can't get a pro football-playing job because of his kneeling in protest at NFL games. But some celebrities are still defending him via protests of their own, namely backing off from performing at the Super Bowl. If only he'd been like that other Colin and crossed Antarctica as his act of protest ...

Eeee-mail! You know we want it:

hwilliams@arkansasonline.com

Style on 01/06/2019

Print Headline: LET'S TALK: In 2018, news was just weird. Really.

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