Simpson superlatives make Pleiss laugh, cry, remember

Simpson superlatives make Pleiss laugh, cry, remember

by Mark PleissNews Editor

Like any bad movie or cheesy “Dateline” special, some things eventually do end.

My columns being no different.

Nevertheless, one thing is for sure; I’m looking forward to some more “me time.”

I typically spend my weeks in agony, trying to coax out stories from students and cull from blogs in the hope they’ll make for interesting reading, but I’ve always inevitably found myself hours before deadline with a jug of Carlo Rossi Sangria, a hammer and the incessant blinking of my cursor, pounding it out one word at a time until I wake up, and poof, a story has been written.

This Rumpelstiltskin style of writing is undoubtedly insalubrious, but it’s been fun.

As a final hurrah, I’ve decided to pull out a few “Simpsonian Superlatives” that lie cordially within my heart from my three years on staff (the fourth, my junior year, known to scholars as “the Pleistocene dark ages,” is noticeable), and I’m sure many of yours as well.

Favorite Breaking Story

In 2004, my freshman year, an infamous wave of dumpster fires rocked an otherwise peaceful Indianola town. Two of the three students arrested for the crimes happened to be members of Security. A copycat dumpster fire occurred a few months later before finally dissipating.

Favorite Column

Alumna ’05 Laura Dillavou’s sex columns, titled “Stormin’ up the bedroom,” in 2003 created an equal shock throughout campus, especially in one column, titled “Bedroom blunders” that single handedly created the funniest, most controversial Reader’s Advisory Board I can ever remember. Why? This prurient little line: “All right, so your body is moving in positions that are perhaps a stretch and not done everyday. Sometimes, a little passing of gas is bound to happen, also taking note of the night’s entrees.” Dirty genius.

Favorite Story Unfit to Print

I wrote a small chronicle in 2006, at the end of my sophomore year, concerning a true night out at Simpson. It began with Mark taking surreptitious shots of rum during a basketball game, asking fellow campus pedestrians whether they “wanted a shot at the champion” and finally winding up with myself running from and being caught by Security for attending a party underage where “alcohol was being consumed.” My editor said it was offensive and had no journalistic merit; I unsuccessfully argued the humor exceeded “journalistic merit.”

Favorite Story I Couldn’t Break

I spent a good deal of time these past few weeks trying to break a story Simpson holds hidden in its darkest, scurviest bowels. Unfortunately, finding sources on a story concerning feces and public defecation in Brenton Student Center is like trying to uncover hydrogen-bomb secrets at this school. Truly, no one will know the truth about “the mad crapper” or his alleged successor, “the copycat crapper.”

Dumbest Line I Ever Wrote

“You’ll be broke and pregnant before you know it.” I thought I was making fun of both sexes equally. I would find out later that was not the case. It was a stupid thing to write that had nothing to really do with the point of the story. At least it gives me a nice transition into my next superlative.

Favorite Criticism

“Mark Pleiss is a sexist and a bastard. You shouldn’t believe a word he writes.”

Favorite Line I Ever Wrote

This gem came from my freshman year in a column titled “Bathroom Humor: Your complete guide to dormitory bathroom etiquette,” and it concerns walking in on a UUS, Uncomfortable Urinal Scenario: “These accepted practices of middle school are no longer respected at the collegiate bathroom level. If you find yourself walking into the bathroom, accidentally stumbling upon such a rattlesnake scenario, just PUKE. P=Practice good manners; U=Understand it could have been you; K=Keep a straight face; E=Exit the bathroom (snickering).” The runner up concerns a line about sucking transplanted box wine directly from a bottle in the shape of a cat; it had to be edited.

I’ve always tried to find the right balance between funny stories and those with journalistic merit. Ideally, I’ve tried to find truth, whether it be a humorous situation we’ve all been through in the bathroom or simply covering the annual “End the ‘Isms” and “SIFE Wins Again” story that have been fixtures in our paper.

Practicing journalism for this campus has been a joy, and I hope my successors have equal fun. I’m off to Colorado Boulder next year to study Spanish because, as James Bond once said in bed, “I love studying foreign tongues.” Ideally, I want to find myself as a border reporter somewhere near El Paso in my near future.

Good luck with your dreams, and have a good rest of the year.