Saturday, November 28, 2009

Supermodel wife to Tiger: Fore(head)!

Every so often a story comes along that makes me wish I were working, just so I could write a headline that would get me fired all over again. (Editor's note: Actually, I was "restructured," as opposed to being fired but over the years I'd ruffled enough feathers of the loony birds in charge of the Bergen Record that I might as well have been fired).

Nevertheless, the headline above, tongue in cheek as it is, although in the case of Tiger Woods it might have been cheek in tongue, is an example of what you might call my signature headline. That is, taking one word, adding a prefix or a suffix, and giving it an altogether different meaning, or, in the converse, using a part of a word that fits into the headline yet keeping the rest of the word.

That sounds pretty complicated even to me, so here's an example. My goddaughter, who's in medical school, went to California this week, where she had Thanksgiving dinner with her brother and her little nephew, who I would guess is sixish. My goddaughter noted on her facebook page that said nephew felt badly for all the turkeys but gobbled up his dinner nonetheless. Then she noted that his prefrontal cortex won't be fully formed for a few more years, so what can you expect? I commented that she could send him a cortex message.

Without further deconstruction, that was one of the primary tools of my headline writing craft over the years. I'm sure I wrote hundreds of headline using that particular type of pun, but while I used to think I should keep examples I never did, so this will have to do.

Of course any competent editor would flat out reject my Tiger Woods headline with the remark that it hasn't been proved that his wife whacked him in the face with a golf club. He might have just been leaving the house at 2:15 a.m. to go wait in line at Walmart so he could buy a $299 42-inch HDTV for the den. Or said editor might say "Tiger might have been seriously hurt. You can't make fun of such a situation."

In either case, the editor would be right. But this is my blog and I'm sticking to it.