Monday, November 20, 2017
Human Interest

Serial killer cats, rat defenders and other hot-button issues

RECOMMENDED READING


A word of advice to any cash-strapped editors out there. (Sorry, delete cash-strapped; redundant.) Don't waste money on reader surveys. If you want to know who your audience is, or if you have an audience at all, just run a piece about cats. Get a seemingly gentle soul like Jeff Klinkenberg to write something despicable, like "Cats kill birds." Or inhumane, like "Cats would live longer and happier lives cuddled on your lap rather than outdoors where they might get hit by a car and in the meantime eat a lot of birds." Commission a piece along these lines, fellow editors, and watch the letters roll in.

Don't just take my word for it; this month's in basket bristled with letters of outrage on behalf of cats. (Not one wanted to discuss the arduous life of Iris Kroener, a 95-year-old human being profiled in the same issue, though I was cheered to learn that some readers wrote to Leonora LaPeter Anton directly.) I offer a small sample below.

The one reader who didn't write about cats was upset about rats. She called for my head because I gave Susan Thurston the room to write her amusing account of dispatching a rat with the help of a stranger at a bar. If I am to be fired for this, I intend to go out swinging. That rat had it coming.

I say this because of the rat that I once failed to kill in my attic. Hunched under the sloping eaves, sweat trickling from the tip of my nose, I slathered peanut butter on the trap's trigger and cocked the spring. The trap slipped in my greasy fingers and gouged a chunk out of my thumb as it clapped shut. The trail of blood drops is still there. And as far as I know, so is the rat.

This news may cheer a certain fan of rattus rattus in Indian Shores. But I can assure you, my thirst for revenge is as fresh as the memory of my bloody retreat. So if you've got a story that involves a dead rat and a hungry cat, please send it my way.

I get lonely when no one writes.

Bill Duryea is the Tampa Bay Times' enterprise editor.

Comments
Forget the Pizza Rat. Meet St. Petersburg's Pizza Squirrel

Forget the Pizza Rat. Meet St. Petersburg's Pizza Squirrel

New York, it seems, doesn't have a monopoly on pizza-chomping rodents.
Published: 11/17/17
The Volunteer Way strives to fight hunger in Pasco

The Volunteer Way strives to fight hunger in Pasco

PORT RICHEY — On the second Monday of the month, Joseph Scagliozzi lines up early for a box of food at The Volunteer Way warehouse on Congress Street. It’s a modest offering — a godsend of donated canned goods, peanut butter, rice, pasta, sweets, bev...
Published: 11/15/17
This Scout earned every possible merit badge. Then came cancer.

This Scout earned every possible merit badge. Then came cancer.

LAKE WALES — Ron Cain strolled lakeside at a Boy Scout camp on a crisp November day, the exact spot where he finally earned all of Scouting’s 137 merit badges."I had to survey this field, which was ridiculous because there were hurricane winds," he s...
Published: 11/09/17
Updated: 11/10/17
Wisconsin man got locked in a walk-in beer cooler. He had ‘everything that he needed,’ police say.

Wisconsin man got locked in a walk-in beer cooler. He had ‘everything that he needed,’ police say.

Ten minutes to midnight on Tuesday, Jeremy J. Van Ert stepped into a walk-in beer cooler at a Kwik Trip convenience store in Marshfield, Wisconsin.When the doors locked behind him at midnight, he decided that rather than shout for help, he would just...
Updated one month ago
Last-minute Halloween '80s costume idea: Bruce Springsteen's 'Born in the USA'

Last-minute Halloween '80s costume idea: Bruce Springsteen's 'Born in the USA'

The last-minute mania to find the perfect '80s Halloween costume continues. You can thank Adam Sandler for this one. In the movie Grown Ups 2, his gang of friends from childhood throw the wildest '80s costume party I've seen to date on film.  Bu...
Updated one month ago
Last-minute Halloween '80s costume idea: The one-armed violin player

Last-minute Halloween '80s costume idea: The one-armed violin player

The stress is real. Every year. What are you dressing as for Halloween? Will it be an '80s costume? Because, you know, you've been writing a blog about the '80s for 13 years now, so we figure you have some good ideas.  I do. Sorta. And I'll try ...
Updated one month ago
New Orleans celebrity chef John Besh steps down after sexual harassment allegations

New Orleans celebrity chef John Besh steps down after sexual harassment allegations

Celebrity chef John Besh became a symbol of the rebirth of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina leveled the city. Now he faces a storm of his own. On Monday, Besh stepped down from the restaurant group he founded and co-owns after more than two dozen ...
Updated one month ago