Didja Hear the One About the Dead Two-Year-Old Child?

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Aug. 6 2010 10:02 PM

Didja Hear the One About the Dead Two-Year-Old Child?

Marc Lacy, Phoenix bureau chief of the New York Times, knows that any old reporter can write about the accidental death of a two-year-old—but only a special reporter can find a way to make it snappy :

Body of Missing Boy Is Found in Desert About a Mile From Home

MARC LACEY

PHOENIX — It was not a needle in a haystack but a toddler in the desert, both of which are extremely challenging to find.

When sheriff’s deputies in Arizona’s rugged Yavapai County finally picked up the tiny footprints of 2-year-old Emmett Trapp on Wednesday morning after a 40-hour search, it was too late. The boy had already succumbed to the elements.

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See, it's not just a lost kid who died alone in the desert—it's a figure of speech, which explains that looking for a lost kid in the desert resembles a timeless cliche, except the cliche is about something trivial and irritating, rather than something tragic and horrifying. That probably never even occurred to the search parties, that the desert was like a big, big pile of hay and the missing child was like a sharp bit of metal. Too bad they didn't have a great big magnet that they could sweep over the desert and pick up the child. That's totally what I would do with the haystack thing, if it were ever a real-life problem instead of a nearly meaningless old string of words.

Somebody get this Lacey guy out of the Southwest and put him on some more stories!

HIROSHIMA — It was a special gathering of 55,000 people, but please don't say the event was a big blast.

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FUJIARAH, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES — Like thwarted lovers, they were two ships passing. In this case, though, the unseen ship was a real boat, loaded with homemade explosives.

Tom Scocca is the managing editor of Deadspin and the author of Beijing Welcomes You: Unveiling the Capital City of the Future.

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