The Advocate Chat is a recurring series where the Valley Advocate staff talks about a topic on their minds. The text below has been lightly edited.
dave.eisen (Managing Editor Dave Eisenstadter): Last week we got the surprising news that longtime News of the Weird feature writer Chuck Shepherd is retiring! Like, very surprising, because we had no idea this was coming. BUT, the Advocate is all about weird news, so we’re going to keep it going ourselves!
kristinpalpini (Editor-in-Chief Kristin Palpini): You live how you die (or retire) – weird.
kristinpalpini: As far as I can remember. I grew up in the area and have been reading the Advocate since I was a teen … so like, 18 years. No matter what was in the paper, I always knew that I could read News of the Weird … and the back page ads.
dave.eisen: Hah, well thankfully the back page ads aren’t going anywhere… at least that I’ve heard!
kristinpalpini: We might be talking about different ads … But I always thought of News of the Weird as light, quick, funny stories to brighten my day while on a standing break during the lunch rush. I worked restaurants.
dave.eisen: Any that you remember specifically?
kristinpalpini: Only when local news made it, like the chicken/rat foot found in the guy’s Chinese food in Noho.
dave.eisen: Nice! And I guess they never found out whether it was a chicken or a rat?
kristinpalpini: Oh no they found out. I just can’t remember. A photo of it was (Daily Hampshire Gazette Managing Editor) Dan Crowley’s desktop wallpaper for a looooong time.
cgoudreau (Staff Writer Chris Goudreau): Either way, that person had a foot in their mouth.
dave.eisen: What do you think makes a news story weird? I’m going to be the one compiling these (working title: “Dave’s Zany News Headlines”).
kristinpalpini: Unexpected actions by shameless people. Also, I like “Dave’s Zany News Picks” better, it’s punchier and dare I say zanier.
cgoudreau: It’s one of those things that you know when you see it. It has to be bizarre and you have react by thinking or saying, “What?!”
kristinpalpini: The dictionary defines zany as: amusingly unconventional and idiosyncratic.
dave.eisen: What about Dave’s amusingly unconventional and idiosyncratic news picks?
cgoudreau: The Dave Files?
kristinpalpini: Dave’s zany files??????
dave.eisen: Chris, have you followed any weird stories of your own?
cgoudreau: I once reported on an election in East Longmeadow in which Megatron received a dozen or so votes for Board of Selectmen. That was amusing.
dave.eisen: Would have been great if that was enough votes to get Megatron on the board! One weird one I remember is from last year when Scott Merzbach reported on the FBI confiscating an Amherst elderly woman’s single pot plant in a major raid.
kristinpalpini: Here’s something weird … am I the only one who hates Henry David Thoreau – like reeeeally hate him?
dave.eisen: Yes, that is weird. Thoreau is great!
cgoudreau: Yeah, Thoreau is a little overrated.
kristinpalpini: He’s white male privilege personified.
dave.eisen: Well maybe you’ll like this story, a preview of what’s coming this week that will hopefully do Chuck proud.
A 25-year-old Jacksonville, Florida, woman was surprised when a 38-year-old man came to her door in a panic and ran straight to the bathroom. She followed him and saw he had a gunshot wound to his penis. The man told her he accidentally sat on a firearm that was on the driver’s seat of his car. She took him to the hospital where he underwent surgery.
kristinpalpini: Wow … um, how could she tell? Wouldn’t there be too much blood?
dave.eisen: Ugh, don’t really want to think about that.
cgoudreau: Did you hear about the faceless fish found in Australia?
dave.eisen: Ooh, nice, weird sea creatures, like how seahorses mate. I would love to read Weird News of the Sea.
kristinpalpini: The Xmas-time stealing and return of manger baby Jesus in Easthampton is always weird.
dave.eisen: It’s weird that it happens so often. Greenfield gets it, too.
kristinpalpini: It’s the return that I think is weird. It’s like, why? For the rush of stealing a baby Jesus?
dave.eisen: So weird news can have a bit of mystery element to it, too. Mainly, why the hell would anyone ever do this?
cgoudreau: Maybe it’s a tradition at this point.
dave.eisen: One other thing is that it is weird what passes for normal these days.
kristinpalpini: Yes, I’ll agree on that one.
dave.eisen: It’s weird that the Trump video of body slamming “CNN” was a major headline. Maybe that’s why Chuck left the weird news biz! Too much competition.
kristinpalpini: When all life becomes weird, is there a place for a news of the weird?
dave.eisen: Maybe not. But hopefully there’s still room for some “zany” news picks.
kristinpalpini: Keep it zany.
Have an idea for an Advocate Chat? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.