Friday, July 31, 2009

Big News from a Small-Town Newspaper

A shoebox filled with zucchini bread was in my mail yesterday, courtesy of my mother. To prevent the loaves from moving around, she had crumpled up pages of her local newspaper and inserted them between the bread and the walls of the box. As I crossed the kitchen to throw away one of the pages, I scanned the headlines. (It's an obsession for me: If it can be read, I'll read it—food packaging, notices on trees, fine print in junk mail.) One headline jumped out:

"100 canaries seized in bird fighting ring"

What? Was my hometown news rerunning articles from The Onion?!

Surely canaries was short for Canary Dog, or Perro de Presa Canario, powerful canines originally bred in the Canary Islands. Maybe a proofreader stuck bird into the headline (proofreaders can be exasperatingly literal-minded).

So I took a closer look. The article was written by the reputable Associated Press and the "ring" was brought down in Connecticut of all places. Perhaps when you're driven to watch animals fight yet stay under the radar while doing it, canaries are the discreet choice. Oh, they had finches, too. (I'm not linking you to the disgusting details. If you want them, you can Google them yourself.)

I don't always pay attention to the news; it's too distressing. As you know, job-seekers have to keep their chins up. But if fiction and reality continue to converge—if I can't tell the difference between The Onion and The Herald—then there's no refuge from human folly.

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