Friday, January 31, 2014


William Shakespeare claimed, “Brevity is the soul of wit”—a self-supporting line if ever there was one. Another genius wordsmith, Mark Twain, once admitted, ‘I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.” Which, as any writer knows, has a kernel of truth to it. This was typical Twain because it was both pithy and profound. It makes you chuckle and ponder at the same time.

With that in mind, it’s time to celebrate a form of writing that isn’t often championed—headline writing. What’s that you say? How hard could it be? Well, simply take a trip to the Newseum in Washington, D.C., a remarkable museum devoted to celebrating the First Amendment. Walk into any bathroom on any floor of the museum There you’ll find tiles embedded in the walls that reveal failed headlines from history, headlines like BABIES ARE WHAT THE MOTHER EATS and RED TAPE HOLDS UP NEW BRIDGE.

So headline writing can be a bit of an art form. And, of course, as Twain so brilliantly exemplified, satire is, too. If you can combine the two—the succinct and the satirical—well, then you can strike literary gold. And there’s no better example of that combination than “The Onion,” which in 2013 celebrated 25 years of laconic lampooning.

Start touring “The Onion” headlines from over the years, and you’ll soon realize that it’s a hard habit to break. So I’ve taken it upon myself to gather 85 of the best ones. Of course, this being a Why Not Books blog, we’ll start with a publishing parody (and end with another):

1. Children, Creepy Middle-Aged Weirdos Swept Up in Harry Potter Craze

2. Winner Didn’t Even Know It Was Pie-Eating Contest

3. CIA Realizes It’s Been Using Black Highlighters All These Years

4. Wealthy Teen Nearly Experiences Consequences

5. Jurisprudence Fetishist Gets Off on Technicality

6. Archeological Dig Uncovers Ancient Race Of Skeleton People

7. Christian Rock Band Cleans Up Hotel Room

8. Expert On Anteaters Wasted Entire Life Studying Anteaters

9. Sub-Orbital Ballistic Propulsion Engineer ‘Not Exactly A Rocket Scientist’

10. Dolphin Spends Amazing Vacation Swimming With Stockbroker

11. ‘I Am Under 18’ Button Clicked For First Time In History Of Internet

12. Clinton Deploys Vowels To Bosnia; Cities Of Sjlbvdnzv, Grzny to Be First Recipients

13. Kansas Outlaws Practice Of Evolution

14. North Korea Celebrates As Kim Jong-Un Becomes First Man To Walk On Moon

15. Standard Deviation Not Enough For Perverted Statistician

16. Garage Band Actually Believes There Is A ‘Terre Haute’ Sound

17. Powerful ‘His And Hers’ Towel Lobby Stalls Gay Marriage Legislation

18. World Death Rate Holding Steady at 100 Percent

19. Ghost Of Christmas Future Taunts Children With Images Of Playstation 5

20. WA-(Headline Continued on Page 2)

21. Area Man Passionate Defender Of What He Imagines Constitution To Be

22. Scientists Trace Heat Wave To Massive Star At Center Of Solar System

23. Evangelical Scientists Refute Gravity With New ‘Intelligent Falling’ Theory

24. Bush: ‘Our Long National Nightmare Of Peace And Prosperity Is Finally Over’

25. Man Prone To Lying Beds Woman Prone To Lying Prone

26. ACLU Defends Nazi’s Right To Burn Down ACLU Headquarters

27. Gay Teen Worried He Might Be Christian

28. Study: 72 Percent Of High-Fives Unwarranted

29. Ninja Parade Slips Through Town Unnoticed Once Again

30. Microsoft Patents Ones, Zeroes

31. God Angrily Clarifies ‘Don’t Kill’ Rule

32. Drugs Win Drug War

33. Kitten Thinks of Nothing But Murder All Day

34. Supreme Court Rules Supreme Court Rules

35. Bush Refuses To Set Timetable For Withdrawal Of Head From White House Banister

36. National Funk Congress Deadlocked On Get Up/Get Down Issue

37. Lance Armstrong Wants To Tell Nation Something But Nation Has To Promise Not To Get Mad

38. Bleary-Eyed Cosmopolitan Staffer Cranks Out 10 Billionth Way to Bring Out the Animal In Your Man

39. Field Trip Mishap Fulfils Child’s Wish To Be Oscar Meyer Weiner

40. Hate Crime Bill Stalled By Pro-Hate Lobby

41. Soulmate Dropped For New, Better Soulmate

42. Shell Executives Accuse Oil-Covered Otter Of Playing It Up

43. Kuwait Deploys Troop

44. Rest of U2 Perfectly Fine With Africans Starving

45. Bush Determined To Find Warehouse Where Ark of Covenant Is Stored

46. Pen Pal Becomes Pen Foe

47. Taylor Swift Now Dating Senator Joseph McCarthy

48. Fall Canceled After 3 Billion Seasons

49. Earthquake Kills 54 Rescue Workers’ Weekend Plans

50. 62-Year-Old With Gun Only One Standing Between Nation And Full-Scale Government Takeover

51. Desperate Vegetarians Declare Cows Plants

52. Study Reveals: Babies Are Stupid

53. Obama Begins Inauguration Festivities With Ceremonial Drone Flyover

54. Area Boyfriend Keeps Bringing Up Scrabble Victory

55. Man Who Likes to Move-It Move-It Still Searching For Perfect Song

56. Denver Optometrist Not Sure Why He Has a Gay Cult Following

57. Snackistan Ceases Chiplomatic Relations With Frito-Laysia

58. Loved Ones Recall Local Man’s Cowardly Battle With Cancer

59. Rotation of Earth Plunged Entire North American Continent Into Darkness

60. Star Trek Introduces Alien Character With Totally Different Forehead Wrinkles

61. Basketball Star Blames God For Defeat

62. Report: Unemployment High Because People Keep Blowing Their Job Interviews

63. Scissors Defeats Rock

64. U.S. Mint Employee Disciplined For Putting Own Face On Nickels

65. Decision To Ask Girl Out Made Using 10-Sided Die

66. Pop Culture Expert Surprisingly Not Ashamed of Self

67. Head Deadhead Dead

68. Side Effects Sound Awesome

69. Jesus Surprises ‘700 Club’ With Walk-On Appearance

70. Grandma Knitting Escape Ladder

71. Perky ‘Canada” Has Own Government Laws

72. Cool Dad is Horrible Father

73. New Report Finds Climate Change Caused By Seven Billion Key Individuals

74. Parents Finally Cave and Buy 33-Year-Old Son Playstation 1

75. Hijackers Surprised To Find Selves In Hell

76. Zombie Nutritionist Recommends ‘All-Brain’ Diet

77. USDA Rolls Out New School Brunch Program For Wealthier Districts

78. Even Radioshack CEO Doesn’t Know How They Stay In Business

79. Obama Finishes Deal To Get Every American A Free Parrot

80. U.S. Deploys Very Special Forces To Iraq

81. British Royal Family Sadly Announces Death of Prince Charming

82. PR Firm Advises U.S. To Cut Ties With Alabama

83. Road Kill Squirrel Remembered For Being Frantic, Indecisive

84. Nabisco Discontinues Wheat Thicks

85. Grisly Remains of 15 Hobbits Discovered in Peter Jackson’s Attic


  1. Random Reader Predicts Onion Headlines Most Popular of the Why Not Lists.
    Bored Worker Laughs Out Loud Repeatedly At Funniest List Ever.

  2. The more I think about it, the more I like WINNER DIDN'T EVEN KNOW IT WAS PIE EATING CONTEST