Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Truth is Stranger Than Fiction

Angel started something with her mention of cleaning. I decided to do some more straightening in my office because the clutter was beginning to win. In the process I came across a spiral notebook where I keep ideas for short stories. In some cases I just jotted the idea on a page. In other cases, I have a newspaper clipping. And many are print-outs of news articles I've seen online.

So since I have nothing else to blog about today, I thought I'd share from my "Truth is Stranger Than Fiction" Files.

1. Barge Capsizes When Passengers Ogle Nudes
This happened on a lake near Austin, Texas. A group was having a celebration at a nude beach called Hippie Hollow when a party barge went by. All the passengers rushed to one side to ogle and the barge tipped over. I'm not sure this could be turned into a story but it's definitely interesting. Serves those people right for gawking.

2. Jilted Bride Turns Wedding into Charity
A woman learned that her fiance was cheating and canceled the wedding. However, she couldn't get her money back for the reception so she turned it into a benefit for a local children's charity. She sent out invitations for drinks and a four-course dinner in hopes the guests would make a donation to the charity. This one has definite possibilities, especially if the cheated-on-bride puts the extra expenses on the cheating slob's credit card.

3. How a Donor Sperm Boy Traced His Father Using the Internet
In short, he used a genealogy website that has a DNA database. Not sure I could do this one since the magazine wants stories to be from a woman's POV. On the other hand, I could write it from the POV of the donor's wife who's surprised when a boy shows up on her doorstep asking to see his daddy. Surprise! Happy Father's Day! Could have some real emotional impact especially if they are dealing with infertility issues.

4. You Don't Have to Say 'Drop Dead' -- the Rejection Hotline Can Do It For You
If a guy just won't take the hint and keeps asking for your number, give him a special number and he'll get this message: "The person who gave you this number did not want you to have their real number. Maybe you suffer from bad breath, body odor or even both. Maybe you just give off that creepy, overbearing, psycho-stalker vibe. Maybe the idea of going out with you just seems as appealing as playing leapfrog with unicorns." This site is the brainchild of Jeff Goldblatt and has even spawned National "Get Over It" Day next March 9 (which is the halfway point between Valentine's Day and April Fool's Day). This is a favorite but I have to work out the angle from a woman's POV.

5. You've Got Mail: 'We're Letting You Go'
The pink slip has gone high tech and people are being "cyber-fired" instead of being told in person by their employers. Sad but true, but not sure there's enough for a story unless I can create some huge backstory for a woman and have her firing really unjustified. Maybe she slept with the boss. Or maybe her best office friend thinks she slept with the boss and spreads rumors since best friend has her own designs on the boss.

6. Praying for a Sale: Home Sellers Bury St. Joseph Statues
A statue of St. Joseph, patron saint of house hunters, buried upside down next to the "For Sale" sign can speed the sale of your house according to many. One website,, expects a 250% increase in statue sales this year. Poor woman is about to be foreclosed on (maybe it's the one from #5 who was unjustly fired) and in a last-ditch effort she spends her last dollars on a St. Joseph statue to bury in the yard. Whammo! A contract comes through at higher than her asking price. Might work; might not. I actually did this last year when we had our house on the market. Whenour first contract fell through two days prior to closing, I figured I had nothing to lose. And as I skulked into the Catholic book store and asked for a St. Joseph statue, I was surprised when the woman showed me to a display of ones made just for this purpose. Another contract came through within weeks.

7. Woman Pleads Guilty in Fake Penis Case
A man urinated into a fake penis and gave it to a woman who planned to use the urine to pass a drug test. They stopped at a convenience store and asked the clerk to microwave it so the urine would be at body temperature. The clerk thought it was a severed organ and called the police. The woman plead guilty to disorderly conduct charges and the man agreed to pay to replace the microwave. This is one for the "dumb criminals" file and I don't think it's what the magazine is looking for. But I got a good laugh.

8. Viagra Works, but Chocolate Works Better
A Nigerian doctor claims that chocolate is not only safer than the little blue pill, but more effective. According to her, chocolate is not only the best antioxidant, but can also enhance your mood and sexual appetite. Oh yeah. A sex-deprived woman starts making her hubby a cup of hot cocoa before bed every night to kick-start his... well, you know. Or maybe she melts chocolate and uh... . Moving right along.

9. N.Y. Woman Wins $1 Million Lottery -- Again
With chanes estimates at 1 in 3,669,120,000,000 (that's 3 trillion), a New York woman has won her second million dollar lottery jackpot in four years. Great "second chance" story idea. She let her greedy relatives mooch off her the first time and ended up with zilch after two years. But this time, her first act is to hire an attorney, a financial planner and Dr. Phil, who teaches her how to say "Hell no!" to her leech of a sister.

10. Chicken Dies, Wife Shoots Husband
An Oregon woman shot her husband in the back after he killed her pet chicken. Officers were not certain if the man intended to shoot the chicken, but were certain the woman intended to shoot her husband. They were also certain both had been drinking. Another one for the "dumb criminals" file. But Jeff Foxwortyh might be able to work this into his routine. "If you try to shoot your wife's pet chicken after a few beers, you might be a redneck."

And in a last effort to prove that truth really is stranger (and a heck of a lot funnier) than fiction, here are the top ten unintentionally bad company URLs on the Internet. If the Playfriends kick me off the blog for this, will y'all pick me up, brush me off and set me back on the path of good behavior? Or maybe they'll just re-name me Problem Child II. *g*

1. A site called "Who Represents" where you can find the name of the agent that represents a celebrity. Their domain name is... wait for it... is

2. Experts Exchange, a knowledge base where programmers can exchange advice and views at

3. Looking for a pen? Look no further than Pen Island at

4. Need a therapist? Try Therapist Finder at

5. Then of course, there's the Italian Power Generator company...

6. And now, we have the Mole Station Native Nursery, based in New South Wales, Australia, at

7. If you're looking for computer software to interface with PCAnywhere, there's always

8. Welcome to the First Cumming (Georgia) United Methodist Church. Their website is

9. Then there's these art engineers and their wacky website

10. Want to vacation in Lake Tahoe? Try their website at

So... got any good headlines or unintentionally bad website URLs to share?

Until next week,

The Playground Monitor

P.S. The Playground blog had its 18,000th hit yesterday!


Angel said...

Marilyn, you have way too much time to spend on the computer. :)


Kathy said...

I second that!


Playground Monitor said...

Hey now. The first part is research. Research I tell you. Whenever I see a crazy headline, I print it out and add it to the file. The URLs came from an email my hubby sent me. And typing those headlines up did stir up the juices a little bit.

Angel said...

I do find an idea file useful. I've added to it over time so that when, if ever, I have time I can go through it and write up something.
I'll probably be pulling an old book idea from it for my next book, since the one I had on the backburner isn't really right for the line I'm targeting.
And I've been printing all the hot hunks from the blog for my hero idea file. :) Yep, it IS research. Or so I assure my husband.


Patricia W. said...

Ya gotta laugh!

Problem Child said...

Everything is book fodder...

Real life: you can't make this stuff up! Truth is always stranger than fiction. Who was the writer that said the difference between real life and fiction was that fiction had to make sense?

Smarty Pants said...

I worried about my ship tipping when we were looking at glaciers in alaska. Granted, the ship is much larger and probably wouldn't do that, but I was still a little nervous with 2000 people struggling to get a view on one side.

But its true, the strangest stuff can be useful. I spend a lot of time thinking "hmm...wonder how I could work that in" and coming up with some great ideas.


Lee Morrison said...

Oh, those websites are too funny!