The Week in Review
MONDAY, APRIL 1 This week of lifesaving dogs, life-ending television, and deeply upsetting herpes transmission kicks off with April Fools’ Day, the internationally recognized sub-holiday devoted to hoaxes, pranks, and playful mendacity. “In Italy, France, and Belgium, children and adults traditionally tack paper fishes on each other’s back as a trick and shout ‘April fish!’ in their local languages (pesce d’aprile!, poisson d’avril! and aprilvis! in Italian, French and Flemish, respectively),” writes Wikipedia, but maybe they’re just fucking with us. Meanwhile in the United States, April Fools’ serves primarily as an opportunity for corporations and media outlets to flaunt their less-than-serious sides, from Virgin Airlines announcing the world’s first glass-bottomed plane (April Fools!) to the New Statesman announcing (in laboriously humor-killing prose) its decision to publish all forthcoming issues in Comic Sans font (APRIL FOOLS!)
•• Meanwhile in Los Angeles, Lindsay Lohan was found guilty of 40 counts of arson and seven manslaughters, and sentenced to hang by the neck until death on pay-per-view.
TUESDAY, APRIL 2 The week continues in the wilds of French reality television, which has recently seen the sudden and perhaps show-related deaths of two participants. Details come from the Agence France-Presse, which tracks both deaths to the set of Koh Lanta, the French version of the reality show Survivor, which was shooting its 16th season on the tropical island of Koh Rong in Cambodia on March 22, when a contestant—25-year-old Gerald Babin—suffered a fatal heart attack on the first day of filming. In response, the French broadcaster TF1 immediately canceled the show’s 2013 season, suspending all Koh Lanta–related drama until yesterday, when Thierry Costa, a French doctor who’d been working on set when Gerald Babin died, killed himself. “[Babin’s death] sparked questions about the way the show was run, and Costa was at the receiving end of accusations he failed to do his job properly,” reports the AFP, adding that Dr. Costa cited these “unfair accusations” in his suicide note. “Meanwhile Françoise Laborde—a journalist and member of state media regulator Conseil Superieur de l’Audiovisuel—suggested that reality shows needed to be better monitored.”
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 3 In stupider news, the week continues with the godforsaken Carnival Triumph, the most reviled, mocked, feared, and feces-smeared cruise ship in the universe. As history buffs will recall, earlier this year the Triumph trapped thousands of humans in a floating brown nightmare, which seemed like the worst thing ever until today, when the Carnival Triumph broke free of its repair dock and maybe killed a man. Details come from Mobile, Alabama’s Press-Register, which reports the Triumph broke loose from its moorings early this afternoon after strong winds hit the Gulf Coast; soon after, the Triumph struck the pier on which John R. Johnson was working. After falling into the water, the 64-year-old Johnson was seen breaking the surface once, then disappeared. Tomorrow, authorities will suspend their search, with Johnson’s family acknowledging his likely death via “weather-related accident.” The rampaging monster ship has been re-secured to a dock at the Alabama Cruise Terminal.
THURSDAY, APRIL 4 In other bad news, the week continues in Saudi Arabia, where a man found guilty of paralyzing a friend has been sentenced to be surgically paralyzed himself. “The verdict, which was reported in the Saudi Gazette newspaper last week, is an example of Islamic sharia law, which allows eye-for-an-eye punishment for crimes but also allows victims to pardon convicts in exchange for so-called blood money,” reports the Independent. “The ruling, which has been condemned by human rights group Amnesty International, says that Ali al-Khawaher, 24, should be paralysed surgically unless his family pays one million Saudi riyals to the victim.” (About that victim: He is reportedly a childhood friend that al-Khawaher stabbed in the spine during a teenage dispute a decade ago.) Condolences to all.
•• In much better news, the week continues in Illinois, where a man who’s been homeless since 1978 has won the lottery. “I almost fell over,” said Dennis Mahurin to ABC News of his $50,000 Scratch ticket triumph. Among his plans for the money: dental work, a new tent, and some philanthropy. “With all the other homeless people around here, I’ve made up my mind,” said Mahurin. “I’m gonna give them each $100.” Congratulations to all.
FRIDAY, APRIL 5 In sadder news, the week continues with Roger Ebert, the freakishly beloved multimedia force who started the week by announcing his “leave of presence” from his never-ending film reviewing, blog writing, and tweeting, and ended the week by dying yesterday after a prolonged and well- documented battle with cancer. The death of Roger Ebert sparked an outpouring of online love too vast and eloquent to properly represent here. So allow us to focus on two precise points of admiration for Mr. Ebert. The first comes from Riz Rollins, DJ extraordinaire, who noted on Slog, The Stranger’s blog, how reading/watching Ebert as a kid made him hungry to be old enough to see the films Ebert was writing/talking about. (Us, too.) The second comes from Last Days’ own stupid heart, which will always love Mr. Ebert for the poise and bravery he brought to his fight against punishing illness. When he lost his voice, he found Twitter. When he lost his jaw, he bought a fucking turtleneck. But nothing stopped him from doing what he loved. Until now. RIP, Roger Ebert.
SATURDAY, APRIL 6 In happier but still bittersweet news, the week continues in Portland with an amazing tale of adventurous toddlers, unconscious grandmas, and heroic dogs. Details come from KGW News, which reports the drama went down at an apartment complex in northwest Portland, when 23-year-old Kerri Cooper noticed her dog Lucy barking at the window yesterday afternoon. When Cooper looked out, she saw a small child walking alone toward the large pond in the apartment complex’s courtyard. By the time she got outside, the toddler was already neck-deep in the pond. “She pulled him out and took him to the office while she called 911,” reports KGW. “After deputies showed up, the child’s grandmother, 58-year-old Rochelle Huegli came to the office looking for the child, [Sergeant David] Thompson said. Deputies then learned Huegli was the babysitter and had fallen asleep, unaware the boy was able to open the door and get outside. Deputies also determined she had been consuming alcohol.” The napping grandma was arrested on suspicion of criminal mistreatment and child neglect, and the 2-year-old boy was returned to his parents.
SUNDAY, APRIL 7 Speaking of youngsters skirting danger, the week ends in New York, where “two more infants have contracted the herpes virus after undergoing an ultra-Orthodox Jewish type of circumcision,” reports CNN. “In the ritual, known as metzitzah b’peh, after removing the foreskin of the penis the person performing the procedure places his mouth briefly over the wound, sucking a small amount of blood out, which is discarded. Antibacterial ointment is applied and the wound is bandaged. The health department says the procedure is dangerous because the contact with the mouth could transmit diseases such as herpes.” Last September, the New York Department of Health passed a regulation requiring parental consent for all infants scheduled to have their bloody wangs sucked by a knife-wielding rabbi. As New York City health commissioner Dr. Thomas A. Farley said in a press release, “There is no safe way to perform oral suction on any open wound in a newborn.”
May that phrase be embroidered on a thousand aprons. Send hot tips to email@example.com and follow me on Twitter @davidschmader.