Ghost-Writer In The Machine

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Vol 35 Issue 32

Study: 82 Percent Of Americans Want To Run Over Nathan Lane With A Tractor

PRINCETON, NJ—According to a Gallup poll released Monday, 82 percent of Americans describe themselves as "wanting very much" to run over Broadway and film star Nathan Lane with a tractor, with 60 percent of respondents preferring that a trailer loaded with pig iron be attached to the rear of the vehicle. "These figures reflect a 12 percent rise from last year," Gallup official Tom Ross said. "That's remarkable when one considers that Mr. Lane's cancelled NBC sitcom Encore! Encore! was on the air at that time." Of the dissenting 18 percent of respondents, 11 percent wanted to bind Lane's ankles with a cable attached to the Space Shuttle, and 7 percent wished to strap him to a stone slab and force him to watch The Birdcage for 800 hours on continuous loop.

Man Who Didn't Get Joke Acts Like He Did

LAS CRUCES, NM—Comprehension of a joke involving Jeffrey Dahmer and Lorena Bobbitt was unsuccessfully feigned Monday, when area resident George Browner, 31, laughed along with tablemates at the Steaks Alive! eatery in Las Cruces. "Whoa! There you go," said the confused Browner, offering an intentionally vague response to what he suspected may have been the joke's punchline. "You got that right." Browner added, "Well, she's sure crazy enough to do it," making his non-comprehension all the more obvious.

God Legally Changes Name To Jake Steele

CINCINNATI—In an unprecedented image makeover for the eternal deity, universal creator God legally changed His name to Jake Steele at the Cincinnati Municipal Courthouse Monday. "Let the word ring out across Heaven and Earth," said Steele after obtaining documentation of His new moniker. "I shall now be known as thy Creator, Jake Steele. And thou shalt have no other Jake Steeles before me." In the wake of the change, the Vatican has announced that the Lord's Prayer will now begin, "Our Father, Jake Steele, who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy new name." The decision was reportedly prompted by the former Jesus Christ's changing of His own name to "Shane Chance Steele" in July.

Report: Some Americans May Not Work In Offices

EVANSTON, IL—Despite strong evidence to the contrary on television sitcoms and in USA Today, a Northwestern University report released Monday claims that some Americans do not work in office settings. "The non-office-employed worker, long thought to be a fanciful creation from the realm of business fiction, may actually exist and walk among us," said Tim Irving, professor at Northwestern's Kellogg Business School. "Many offices, for instance, receive materials from outside, such as mail and food. While these items are undoubtedly produced in other offices, the people who bring them from one office to another do not necessarily appear to have an office of their own." It has been further theorized that, given the existence of jobs outside offices, workers may exist who do not wear business suits.

Strapping Young Man To Address Congress

WASHINGTON, DC—Congress will receive a visit later this week from strapping young man Johnny Armstrong, Beltway sources reported Tuesday. The robust, corn-fed 20-year-old is expected to discuss numerous key issues and impress legislators with his sturdy frame and genial, easygoing manner. "What a fine young man," Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) said of the all-American boy with the winning grin. "Johnny Armstrong gives me hope for the future of this nation." "I don't know what he is going to speak about," Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV) said, "but what a charming, handsome young fellow--much better than the pale, uncharismatic sort we usually get around here."
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Ghost-Writer In The Machine

This morning, I awoke to find my ingrate son M. Prescott prodding my rib-cage with his gold-tipped walking stick. He wanted an old "Message" of mine from the era of the Second World War to commemorate the end of the century. But when asked to recall an appropriate column, I was at a loss. The heart-less whelp pronounced it senility, but I must now admit some-thing I've never made public before: A lot of the "Messages" I wrote throughout the century weren't actually by me. For nearly 20 years, from 1934 to 1953, I used a ghost-writer.

Yes, yes, I know that means I'm not the world's longest-running news-paper columnist. That honor belongs to one of those twin lady advice-columnists with the concrete hair. But why should I have to write a column day in, day out? Dammit, I had other fish to fry and more important goals than keeping you low-lifes amused. Feeling that my true talents were cramped by the briefness of my columns, I wanted to pen long, ambitious books of history, biography and political commentary, and that's what I did. Those schooled in American letters will recall my classic work Cram All The Immigrants You Can Find Into A Giant Cannon, Aim The Cannon Toward Europe, And Light It, and, of course, my best-seller The Boil On My Bottom Is Now As Big As A Hen's Egg.

My ghost-writer was none other than my long-time secretary, Mildred. This may seem odd to you, as I stead-fastly oppose the participation of women in the news-paper trade. But I also knew you could pay women tiny wages and get away with it.

At first, Mildred was quite good. She could uncannily mimic my writing-style, and no-one was the wiser. But sometime in the late '40s, she discovered that my column could be used as an instrument for political and social change. Soon, she was writing about giving the Negroes more rights, increasing the wages of migrant workers, and harnessing the atom for peace. In fact, "Message" won the Pulitzer for Distinguished Commentary in 1948.

It took me a while to notice this shocking abuse of my name, but the moment I did, I fired Mildred and once again under-took the writing duties. Never-the-less, it took me years to restore my reputation. It just goes to show, you can't trust any-body.

Incidentally, I'm not returning the Pulitzer. I'm also not giving back the Grammy I won in 1958 for my phonograph album, Zweibel Sings!, on which my voice was dubbed by Mario Lanza.

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