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Commentary: When it comes to laughs, filler stories beat the funny pages

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Dr. Lucas Boyd, Columnist

Dr. Lucas G. (Luke) Boyd is the retired principal of Battle Ground Academy. He lives in Franklin and may be contacted at

Although I have written for several newspapers, I don’t pretend to know how editors get everything to come out even. There’s so much space, and it all must be filled. It would not do to have half a column just left blank.  

That’s where I think “filler news” comes in. I suspect all editors have a file of little, short, odd stories that they can throw in as needed.  

You find them scattered about in most newspapers. Not only do they adjust space, they also help to relieve the tension of stories about bombings, shootings, gang wars and other mayhem that seems to get most of the attention these days.  

Here are a few “filler” items I’ve run across recently.



This short blurb was on the religion page announced that a visiting preacher/magician would preach/perform the coming Sunday, at the 11 a.m. children’s service, at XYZ church.  He was slated to do canes, coins and comedy magic as well as “gospel magic.”  

The piece did not say what “gospel magic” was, but I would think people would want to attend just to find out. Free transportation was provided and a live rabbit was offered as a prize to the child bringing the most visitors. You could just tell this was going to make one set of parents awfully happy.

Stupid runs north and south

A riddle: What are the last words said by many Southern rednecks?  The answer: “Hey, watch this.”  

Apparently, this mentality and behavior is not confined to the South. In Maine, no less, a group of young males was shooting off fireworks when one fellow decided to shoot off one of those large, three-stage skyrockets from the top of his head. He was killed instantly. Fortunately, most of these poorly thought-out escapades do not result in fatalities, but injuries are common.

This fellow was from the South — South Carolina, to be precise. He figured out how to set up a homemade zip line. He chose a steep hill and two sturdy trees.  Afterward, while speaking from his hospital bed, he said that as he began to pick up speed, he realized that he had not built in a braking system and the only thing that was going to stop him was the tree at the bottom of the hill.  

He put out his feet to ease the shock, but they slipped to each side of the tree.  His crotch took the brunt of the blow, which broke his pelvis and a few other things, but he lived to zip again.

Miser vs. misery

The story proposed a woman named Hetty Green for the title of world’s greatest miser. Green was worth millions, but she delayed trying to find a free medical clinic for her son for so long that he had to have his leg amputated.  

When she died in 1916, she left an estate worth $95 million. 

Laws and guffaws

A woman in Florida was arrested and charged with abusing a protected species after she was photographed riding a sea turtle.  

Apparently, she was not in a big hurry to get where she was going.

A man was recently arrested inside one of the libraries in Knoxville. He was crawling around underneath the tables smelling women’s feet. He was charged with invasion of privacy and a few other things.  

I suppose there are all manner of foot fetishes. Some of you may remember Nashville’s foot stomper of a few years ago. In public places he would, without warning, begin stomping a woman’s feet. He was jailed several times for assault but when released, he would stomp again.

State legislators are featured in many short blurbs for the inane bills they propose or threaten to submit. As a general rule, these laws create more problems than they solve.  

A lawmaker from a nearby state was considering proposing a law that would outlaw hoodies. His bill would have banned any piece of clothing with a hood. He touted it as an anti-crime law, since there had been several robberies in his state committed by people using a hood to help hide their identity.   

Fortunately, cooler heads — covered and uncovered — prevailed.

And closer to home, one of our Tennessee legislators floated a law to ban yoga pants. Apparently he thought them to be too revealing. After getting no support from fellow lawmakers, he did not file the bill.

Was it


A news filler that raised more questions than it answered came from a small nearby town. 

A woman filed a police report one morning saying that she had gone to bed the night before with $200 pinned to her bra. When she woke up, the money and her bra were gone. The police reported that they had completed their investigation. 

No other explanation was forthcoming, which raises all sorts of questions and imaginative answers. I’ll let you readers make up your own.

So, my advice to you is to be sure to read the “filler news” items. They will brighten your day.

  Dr. Lucas G. (Luke) Boyd is the retired principal of Battle Ground Academy. He lives in Franklin and may be contacted at

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