‘Road Kill Zombies’ – the movie?

Procrastination and ’possums

o'possum

A morning visitor at the bird feeders

There was a ’possum snacking beneath the bird feeders this morning. I went out to shoo him away before the dogs got to him. I grabbed a bucket of birdseed on the way out the door, which is about as close as I come to multitasking.

As I approached, he went on eating the sunflower seeds on the ground. I nudged him with the bucket and he gave me a halfhearted baring of teeth before keeling over.

I figured he’d lie there until I left then get up and trundle off into the woods. (This raises a good semantics question; is it “lying” or “laying” if the subject is just playing dead?)

I filled one feeder and started on another. Content that I was preoccupied with the feeders, the ’possum waddled off and hid under a pine tree.

Later in the morning, while I was meditating, my mind wandered back to a movie script I’d written about 20 years ago, while I was  publishing Hoot, the humor newspaper. The movie was entitled “Road Kill Zombies.” As I recall, it was a parody of horror flicks in which road kill came back to brutally murder the people who ran them over.

One of the regular contributors to Hoot, Dave Barnes, and I got as far as videotaping a scene. But it never progressed beyond that.

I’d be willing to sell the movie rights. Cheap.

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Happy Holidays from Irv

Irv’s last-minute gift guide

bubblewrap

Bubble wrap, the gift that keeps on giving

How I used to dread Christmas Eve — always finding myself pressed for gift ideas and pressed for time.  Then one year, I came up with the perfect solution. Bubble wrap!

It’s the perfect gift for children and grownups. And it’s cheap. At Staples, you can get a 25-foot roll for $6.49.

Children love popping the bubbles. In fact, they get pretty creative with it. One year at a family gathering, I gave all my nieces and nephews their own rolls of bubble wrap. They started out busting one cell at a time, which amused them for awhile. It wasn’t long before they were jumping up and down on it, seeing how loud the could make it pop by bursting several  bubbles at a time.

They made short work of the bubble wrap. Which is pretty much what they do with more expensive toys anyway.

As for the adults, popping the little plastic bubbles was therapeutic. Which offset the effect of a roomful of kids stomping on rolled-out strips of bubble wrap.

Buying bubble wrap for everyone that year had an added benefit. I think it brought my family closer together because, the following year, instead of inviting me to the usual get-together, they told me they had decided to spend a nice, quiet Christmas at home.



The Life and Times-Gazette of Irv Oslin

Speechless

From time to time I’ve been invited to speak to college classes about my journalism experience. After my last speaking engagement I told the professor that, the next time I was asked to address a group of journalism students, I would walk into the classroom, put a telephone on the podium, take off my shoe, beat the phone to smithereens and walk out without saying a word.

I was never asked to return.

Canoe Trip Journal

Walhonding and Muskingum Rivers  •  Nov. 22 – 24

joehughes

Joe packed light for this trip

I asked my buddy Joe to come along  because it had been so long since he’d been out. Plus, he’s handy to have around in case you run into black bears. For one thing, he’s loud enough to scare off a grizzly bear. If not, I can easily outrun him.

We spent three days floating from Six Mile Dam to Dresden on the Walhonding and Muskingum Rivers.

When we put on the river, the weather forecast called for rain all three days, but we lucked out. It only rained the first night we were out — and that was from sometime after midnight until about 7 a.m., so we slept through it.

It rained hard, but our tents didn’t leak and we’d had the foresight to put firewood under a tarp for our breakfast fire. The river came up about 3-4 inches overnight and stayed up for the rest of the weekend.

The first night we camped on an island past Coshocton. There are several spots along the river where you can camp between Coshocton and Conesville. Unfortunately, the coal trains going to and from the AEP power plant go through that area. The first island past Coshocton is the farthest away from the tracks, so the trains generally don’t disturb you. At least not if you drink enough beers before stumbling into your tent.

The second night, we camped at Wills Creek Island. Why? Because it’s about 12-14 feet off the water and I just wanted to hear Joe whine and moan as he lugged all his stuff up the bank. That’s his way of pretending not to enjoy himself. We could have easily paddled around the foot of the island to a much easier landing, but I didn’t want to spoil Joe’s fun.

He was still whining and moaning when we landed at Dresden the next day. Since he was having so much fun, I invited him to come along for the New Year’s weekend trip. I don’t think he will, though. He mumbled something about sticking pencils in his eyes. Must be some sort of New Year’s ritual.

-Irv

The life and Times-Gazette of Irv Oslin

The stories behind the stories

A crash course in journalism

crash scene investigation

Trooper Tyler Anderson investigating a crash in northern Ashland County

In her parting column, our business writer, Ginger Christ, said she disliked covering crashes and fires. She’s not alone.

In the 13-plus years I’ve been at the Times-Gazette, I’ve yet to see reporters scrambling for the door when a serious injury crash or house fire comes across the scanner. In fact, I’ve never seen so many reporters suddenly remember that they had a pressing interview scheduled or an overdue writing assignment.

In all fairness, the reporters we have now are far more willing than their predecessors to go out on crashes and other catastrophes.

Regardless, I’m generally the one who ends up going. Years ago, it was decried that I should cover crashes because I’m the cops and courts reporter and, after all, cops investigate crashes. By the same token, my beat also has also come to include many of the social service agencies presumably because poor people, the mentally ill and those with substance abuse issues sometimes commit crimes. In that case, I should also be covering politics and business.

Covering catastrophic incidents isn’t something I look forward to. Yes, there are people who actually find that sort of thing gratifying, but I’ve never relished the sight of blood. (Particularly my own.)

But, if you’re going to survive in this business, you have to suck it in and go get the story.

And, if you’re going to thrive in this business, you have to do so with respect, decorum and compassion. That means keeping a low-profile at crash and fire scenes, i.e. staying out of the way, knowing how and when to get your information and even helping out when asked. Over the years I’ve helped carry victims, retrieve equipment, direct traffic or assist the Red Cross. I got flack for it once just after I started here. But there comes a time to put down the notebook and become part of the solution.

When I first came here in 1997, it was baptism by fire. We had 16 traffic fatalities in the county that year, many of them teenagers. For some time, it took its toll on me psychologically. I found myself going through stages — much like those people experience in coming to terms with the death of a loved one or in the grieving process., things like anger, denial, etc.

I tended to use defense mechanisms to distance myself.

About five years ago — maybe longer — I realized that this wasn’t right. It wasn’t healthy, for one thing. I recall seeing a face of a young man killed in a crash. Reflexively, I started blaming him, thinking “What the hell were you thinking, driving like a bat out of hell on icy roads?” That was typical of my internal reaction with the fatal and injury crashes I had covered.

Then, for some reason, I backed off on that thought and allowed my true feelings to run their course. I let myself to internally feel compassion for him and his family.

This has proven to be healthier psychologically. It’s also worked on an external level. I feel as though I’m able to write stories with more sensitivity for the victims’ families.

-Irv