The start of corny joke? Not exactly. It’s based on the observation that bears in Washington state prefer Rainier over Busch. Personally, I’d disagree, pointing out that the bears have not had a chance to sample local brews down at Lou’s in Sandpoint. They even serve a Huckleberry Ale, which seems to me would be far more appealing to bears than weak-water beer.
As to observation, it’s based on the true story of a black bear which sauntered into a campground one night. Not unusual. Bears like the food campers bring — watermelon rinds, tortilla chips, hot dogs. This bear discovered beer in the coolers. The next morning, campers awoke to a passed out drunk black bear.
How do we know he preferred Rainier? Because the lush had options. He tried one can of Busch Beer and downed 36 cans of Rainier. That’s a preference.
The reason this story comes to mind is because a local media outlet that I follow (Idaho Pandhandler), posted a link to the 2004 story. It’s an old story, but one recently revived by the never-ending social media voracity for such tales. It made me think about news in general.
I’m not one for tuning into the corporate-biased news stream that permeates American radio, television and print. I used to work for newspapers and magazines back when they were independently owned and still upheld journalistic morals of objective and honest reporting. Now days, everything is either a distraction, heated opinion or regurgitated spin benefiting one political party over another.
So give me drunk bears in my newsfeed.
Not only that, but the Idaho Panhandler gives me updates on when the local lakes are going to be stocked, how the huckleberry picking season is going, and where the sheriff’s action is at. It’s local stuff; headlines for home when one lives in the remote countryside of the northern Rockies.
Yet, I’m reminded to not get too jaded. After all, I’m a writer and I know plenty of worthy journalists who do not stoop to the antics of corporate news.
My eldest, a science writer for MIT (no, not that MIT, but Michigan Tech), recently posted a link to an Op-Ed in the New York Times. It addresses the blurred lines between advertisers and editorial. My daughter, Radio Geek, is inclined to wonder about podcasting verses hard news because the former is trying innovative ways to report stories and remain profitable in order to do so.
I also want to point out the vitality of Op-Ed pieces such as this one. When I went to LA, our keynote speaker talked about the power of thought leaders and how Op-Ed pieces were a tangible way to change the world’s conversation.
Like the Panhandler that delivers reliable (and sometimes funny) local news, this can also be done at the grassroots level. Think about the #1000 Voices for Compassion movement, or Twitter memes like #MondayBlogs. It’s a chance to have one’s voice heard outside the off-note orchestra of mainstream media.
So what can fiction writers make of the news? We are observers, whether we note characteristics, human frailty or triumph, or simply glean the newsprint like huckleberry pickers for stories. Bad news, good news and faux news lends many possibilities. Back when I watched television (now I watch things like Blue Heron Burlesque), I watched Law & Order. It was a show that often portrayed stories ripped from the headline news.
And that is your assignment, should you dare to look, find and write.
July 29, 2015 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that is ripped from the headlines. Look at local, regional or global news. You can link to an article if you choose to. Put your own fictional twist on it to make it unique to your story-telling.
Respond by August 4, 2015 to be included in the weekly compilation. Rules are here. All writers are welcome!
One Rock at a Time by Charli Mills
Ramona waded into Grouse Creek. Mica glittered beneath cool pools. She searched for flat ones, the size of a salad plate. Shiny didn’t matter.
Once she had a pile, her t-shirt, cut-offs and scrawny white legs were soaking. It was hot and the cool creek felt good on aching joints. One rock at a time, she built a cairn like a small pyramid. For Vic. On the bank where they picnicked over many years.
Widowhood ached most of all, she thought. And then a sharp pain. What about that river rock she found by the wild roses at home?
Based on “The Sentinel Man of the Spokane River” from the Idaho Panhandler.