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Our Dumb Century: The Onion Presents 100 Years of Headlines from America's Finest News Source by Scott Dikkers

1999; 164 pp. $15, Three Rivers Press.

Our Dumb Century ?from the publishers of that First Amendment bowsprit, The Onion?recapitulates one hundred years of confabulatory news headlines. Here's that whiff of authenticity?or something?a reader craves.

Call it the marginal, the prurient, and the vulgarized. Started by two University of Wisconsin undergrads eleven years ago, The Onion graduated from "sophomoric college-humor publication" (editor Dikkers's words) to the bastion of newspaper parody it represents today (www.theonion.com):

"Ralph Nader Killed in Pinto Test Drive"

"President Calls for Calm Following Nipple Sightings on Farrah Fawcett Poster"

"Jacqueline Kennedy Catches Husband's Brains with Grace, Aplomb"

Is this genius?

"Jim Henson Stuffed, Given Googly Eyeballs, Placed in Smithsonian"

I dunno. Punch, it's not. On the other hand,

"Author Ernest Hemingway Grits Teeth, Beds Nurse, Fights in War, Sits at Bar, Remembers Nurse"

Fun.

A compendium of classics...and a matter of taste?and thresholds.

"Zapruder Family Wowed at Home Movie Screening: The family of Abraham Zapruder of Dallas offered high praise for his most recent 8mm home movie, screened in the family den Friday.

"Wife Margaret and children Sally, Jimmy and Sue-Anne...reported being wowed by Zapruder's "spectacular, one-of-a-kind" footage of the President of the United States getting his head shot off. 'It was super neat!' said Jimmy, 11.

"Brother Unable to Spare Dime

"Hartford, Conn., Feb. 3. ?...Timothy Lawson, 39, a Hartford-area pedestrian, was unable to spare a dime on the corner of South Orchard and 8th Streets Wednesday.

"Charles Kriefski, an out-of-work Hartford resident, said in the report that he looked at Lawson and made a polite request for a dime at approximately 4:15 p.m., yet no dime exchanged hands at any point during the interaction.

"Lawson reportedly walked past Kriefski and shook his head quickly without looking up. According to Kriefski, such a motion is an indication that a dime cannot be spared.

"...According to the report, Kriefski's addressing Lawson as 'brother,' an effort to build an instant rapport via their shared humanity, was ineffective, as Lawson was not lured into a temporary and superficially familiar relationship with Kriefski that could have resulted in the exchange of a dime.

"Charleston State Prison, Mass., Aug. 23. ?Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti died in the electric chair today, having been found guilty on two counts of murder and larceny, and one count each of being greasy, violence-prone wops.

"...Even with the specter of death surrounding them, the unrepentant pair refused to renounce their ethnic ways, and met their demise utterly and completely Italian.

"INSIDE: Truman explains to Americans where North Korea is and why it must be destroyed; 'Why, that sounds fine,' say Mr. and Mrs. America".

 

ISBN: 0609804618

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