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Tom celebrates being old with old journalism and musings of living in crazyland

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There's a scene in "The 40-Year-Old Virgin" where two guys are sitting around, trying to one-up each other in a game of "Do you know how I know you're gay?" (Sample answer: "You listen to Coldplay.") Being the sensitive soul that I am, I never watch that scene unless I'm in the company of at least one of my gay friends and if they're not laughing, then I'm not, either.

In the same vein, there's the game "Do you know how I know you're old?" which is permissible because it's still OK to make fun of old people. The number one way to tell that I'm old is that I still read newspapers. Not online stuff; actual newspapers. The kind that you hold in our hand and get ink smudges on your fingers. (A few years back, I wrote about a book called The Shallows, which details some stunning research that shows that a person reading an article online will have about half the reading comprehension that he/she would if the same article had been read in a hand-held magazine or newspaper. And holding a Kindle counts the same as online.)

I will read newspapers until the day I die. When I travel, I love to pick up the local paper(s) and see what is being done to keep real journalism off life support. And you never know when you're going to read something that gives you a "Wow!" moment.

Here are a few things that I've read recently that you might have missed:

There was an item in the local daily paper last week about a 15-year-old kid in West Virginia who died when he was struck in the head while playing a game of "dodge the arrow." Poor kid; he never got the opportunity to vote for Donald Trump.

The LaPorte, Indiana City Council voted unanimously to ban the use of cell phones by motorists within 1,000 feet of a high-school football game. No, really.

That may seem kind of silly, but it's actually more intelligent than anything that has come out of the Arizona State Legislature on that subject in the past ... well, ever. You see, Arizona State Senate President Andy Biggs has way more power than any single brain-dead, redneck politician should have. (Actually, I don't really believe that he's brain-dead. His online bio says that he has a degree in Asian Studies from BYU. There isn't enough space in this entire publication to go through all of the possible punchlines to that fact.)

Actually, if Biggs did have mental problems, then his behavior would be somewhat understandable. Instead, he's like what the General played by Noble Willingham in Good Morning, Vietnam told Sergeant Major Dickerson (J.T. Walsh): "I used to think you were crazy. But you're not crazy; you're just mean."

You may remember that Biggs tried to singlehandedly kill the restoration of JTED funds which had been stupidly (and probably illegally) cut during the previous legislative session, even though the restoration was favored by 90 percent of all legislators and by the douche-y governor, as well.

Biggs eventually caved on that one, but for the past several years, he has been (again singlehandedly) keeping Arizona in the Stone Age when it comes to dealing with the deadly passion of those who text while driving (with complete impunity). Biggs, who lives out in that southeast part of Maricopa County where decent Mormon civilization is encroaching upon the survivalists of the San Tan Valley, thinks it's just good clean fun to devote only 10 to 20 percent of one's total attention to operating a 2,000-pound vehicle that is barreling the street. Through his (mis)use of Senate presidential powers, great and small, he has managed to keep any and all bills dealing with texting-while-driving bottled up in committee(s).

The good news is that Biggs is taking his brand of thug conservatism to the next level, having been hand-picked by retiring Matt Salmon to take over Salmon's District 5 Congressional seat. I hope when Biggs is driving home from his victory celebration in November, he gets crashed into by someone who is texting the message, "I love Arizona. It's the only place where it's legal to text and dr—"

How many of you couldn't help but laugh when you read about the Tucson woman who pulled off a jail break after having served four days of her 18-day sentence? Yeah, she had two weeks left when she came to a realization. "I can't take it any more! I'm bustin' out of stir, see?!"

I'm actually curious as to how somebody receives a sentence of 18 days in the first place.

Perhaps my favorite newspaper moment came when I was in Kanab, Utah recently. I picked up the Southern Utah News and turned to the sports page. There was an article (sadly, with no byline) about how the local high-school girls' basketball team had lost to visiting Paiute. A line in the second paragraph read (word for word): "The gals from Paiute must have been a little groggy getting off the bus." Yes, "gals."

Later in the article, it says, "I don't know what happened to Kanab, if they fell asleep or what, but the visitors put it all together in the final frame, outscoring the hosts 19-2."

As Mel Brooks once wrote, "That's authentic frontier gibberish!"

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