Monday, July 24, 2006

Look out! He's got a gub!

Western Civ continues to circle the drain at some major newspapers:

'God' sighted on pet alligator
Letter-shaped markings amaze owner, who feels need to spread word

Chicago Tribune
SALEM, Wis. - Michael Wilk was tossing back a few beers with friends when he saw God on the side of his 4-foot-long pet alligator.

Without even squinting, Wilk noticed white markings pop out against a backdrop of black scales to form the letters G-O-D.

"When I first saw it, my jaw dropped," said Wilk, 25. "It's just sort of like a phenomenon on it."

Where to start?
1) When you're holding down the night city desk at your average major metropolitan daily and some guy from Wisconsin with a Category 3 buzz calls in to announce that he's just seen the Divine Name on his alligator, what do you figure your response ought to be?
2) And if you're on the wires when you notice that some other Fount O'Knowledge forgot the answer to Rule 1, what do you suppose you ought to do with the resulting tale?
3) We report, you decide, but ... Bubba, are you sure your gator doesn't spell G-U-D?

That's been the reaction of almost everyone who has seen the gator. They liken its markings to images resembling the Virgin Mary that have appeared on everything from a grilled cheese sandwich to a viaduct under the Kennedy Expressway in Chicago.

They do, huh?

Wilk said he and a friend, who houses the alligator, wanted to rehabilitate the reptile, which was skinny and small despite being 12 years old.

Then a couple of weeks later, when they were hanging out in Wilk's basement, the letters jumped out at them.

"It's not Wite-Out or anything; it's real," Wilk said.

(You think newspapers have cut back on news-gathering resources? Not the Tribune! Just watch!)

Alligators have naturally occurring, unique striping patterns that help camouflage them in the wild, said Harry Dutton, an alligator biologist with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

The markings appear to be legitimate and not done with a marker or by scratching the hide, Dutton said after reviewing pictures of Wilk's alligator.

Kent Vliet, an alligator biologist at the University of Florida, agreed. "That looks natural to me," Vliet said after looking at the photos. "I would suspect that's not been altered."

Genuine Florida alligator experts agree: That gator has G-U-D written on him by the hand of nature, not man. If either of the biologists commented on the divine origins of the marking, or on the journalistic capacities of the sort of guddamb J-school refugee who would double-source a question of this sort, we are not privy to the results. Alas.

Well, enough of that. Except for this:

"We just thought it should be out there," Wilk said of telling people about the reptile's markings.

Which at the originating paper is the simpler and vastly preferable

"We just thought it should be out there," Wilk said.

Oh, great. Just the right amount of inane overediting. For a minute there, we thought you guys weren't taking this one seriously.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's all very simple. The 'gator has come to spread the word of GUD to all us GUD-fearing Scandinavians, rather than the GUD-less Americans.

Or something.

8:41 AM, July 25, 2006  
Blogger fev said...

Exactly. Ever since that last Witches' Sabbath at the Supreme Court, we've been fearing a sign of just such a thing. IS IT A COINCIDENCE that the gator is manifest a mere three weeks into hurricane season?

2:14 PM, July 25, 2006  
Blogger melissa angle said...

Fred, you stole my joke.

From grammar to gators, you've got it covered.

9:49 PM, July 27, 2006  
Blogger fev said...

Ouch. Sorry about the joke. You can have the one about the neutron that walks into the bar, OK?

10:13 PM, July 27, 2006  

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