Saturday, August 25, 2012

Incomprehensible hed of the year

A reminder for all you kids out there: Heds are meant for people who haven't read the story. not for people who have.

Despite some advantages (I've been writing or otherwise playing with heds for many years, including 11 at the paper in question, and have a pretty good store of local, state and regional trivia to fall back on), I was left without an idea. Guesses, initial readings and random speculation about the meaning are invited, and all will be made clear after the jump.

The online hed, alas, gives the entire game away:

Charlotte theater director wins $75,000 prize

You'd almost think it was written for readers, rather than people who shouldn't be giving awards in headline contests. I mean, you don't even have to know that "Talley" refers to Quentin Talley, founder and artistic director of a theater group called On Q Productions.

The cloying pun is a little less incomprehensible* in downstyle, where proper nouns like Talley and On Q stand out and the "up for on" sequence isn't quite so goofy.** But "talley up" still wouldn't work; you can tally things up, or things can add up for you, but things don't tally up for you.

Granted, feature heds aren't the same beast as news heds. Feature heds can summarize or set a mood; news heds are about who did what to whom. In neither case is the purpose to confuse and annoy.

* This is not the same thing as "better."
** What did you put that book I was being read to out of up for?

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Blogger The Ridger, FCD said...

Possibly if you're local you get the word play?

At any rate, the online version of this (found by Googling the hed as you show it) is now "Charlotte theater director wins $75,000 prize" - though the URL bears mute witness to the original.

ps - your capchas are getting worse. I have to try two or three times to be able to read the distorted text.

9:26 AM, August 25, 2012  
Blogger fev said...

We seem to have crossed in the mail, Ridge. Cursed Blogspot! I published the first graf to see where the image fell and was still updating when you commented.

9:48 AM, August 25, 2012  
Blogger Brian B said...

I lately lost a preposition;
It hid, I thought, beneath my chair
And angrily I cried, "Perdition!
Up from out of in under there."

Correctness is my vade mecum,
And straggling phrases I abhor,
And yet I wondered, "What should he come
Up from out of in under for?"
-- Morris Bishop

4:07 PM, August 26, 2012  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From the San Diego Union (as then it was) decades ago: "Hazard Low on Sharp Wing." The Hazard Construction Company had submitted the low bid on a contract to add a new wing to the Sharp Memorial Hospital. IANMTU.

11:25 PM, August 26, 2012  

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