Monday, September 18, 2023

Fishing for ideas... looking local

 HALLIE EPHRON: Writers get asked all the time where we get our ideas. And, of course, the answer is everywhere.

Sometimes I go fishing in my local police log. It's published weekly in my local paper. Here’s an entry that caught my imagination (and made me love my local police).
911   Caller reports male party about 5’5″-5″6″ with blue or black baseball cap, tattoos, and baggy sweat pants was going from door to door claiming to be door dash but had no car on the street or food. Officer reports he is a confirmed door dash driver that was lost and helped him find his way.
Already I’m envisioning a mystery with a directionally challenged Door Dash driver who inadvertently stumbles into danger. Or maybe the protagonist is the person (a woman?) who called the police and who had good reason to be frightened. Or maybe the protagonist is the investigating officer? Or the people who are (still) waiting for the food delivery that never arrived?

More likely a short story than a novel... but still. And I want to know what food was ordered. We all have our priorities.

Have you found inspiration in your local news and then turn it over in your head, imagining a story with different players as the main character?

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: I love this! And I lived for decades essentially inside the police blotter, right?

I remember when a viewer called me with a story that had happened to her–short version, an adoption agency had set her niece to meet her birth mother–but turned out it was not the right mother! And she said to me–"Can you believe it, Hank? They sent that woman the wrong girl!”

And that, of course, became my book THE WRONG GIRL.

Which wasn’t her story at all, but yikes, what a good beginning.

But the police blotter is always especially funny. Full of “what were they thinking?” would-be burglars who break into people’s homes and drink their beer and then fall asleep on the couch. And get caught.

And I think the Door Dash driver is a drug dealer. I mean, huh, who would know if it was french fries with a side of meth? Actually, this is a good idea. For a book, at least.

RHYS BOWEN: He wasn’t exactly dashing if he had no car and no food!

Clare and I use the NTT archives for every day we write about and have come up with many juicy stories, our favorite being the man who was being sued for luring away a man’s wife. He twirled his luxuriant mustaches and said “Can I help it if I’m so much more attractive than Mr X?” That would never make it to the Times today!

LUCY BURDETTE: This reminds me of old times! When I was writing the Advice Column mysteries, I followed the police blotter of the Shoreline Times religiously–so entertaining! I saved the very best of the listings and included them as a preface to each book.

Here are the ones that I inserted into the first book, Deadly Advice:
  • A Turtles Point resident reported that she had the sense that someone had been in her home six weeks ago, and she cannot locate her jewelry.
  •  A prowler was reported on the side of the building under a ramp. Police investigated and found a cat under the deck.
  •  A dog left his property on Dunk Rock Road and was very aggressive. There were no specifics as to the goals of the animal.
  •  A Canberra Court resident reported that someone wrote on her window, "I'm always watching."
  •  Neighbor trouble was reported on Great Hill Road.

Don’t you love “no specifics as to the goals of the animal”??

Now I definitely read the Key West papers for ideas, but they aren’t as lyrical as these old ones used to be.

JENN McKINLAY: I love this, Hallie! When I was writing the hat shop series set in London, I followed the Twitter account of the Kensington police department. Hilarious stuff as only the Brits can write it.

My favorite was a series of tweets that warned that a man was seen with a ladder and had been reported for trying to climb into open windows on second floors on a posh street. On the third attempt, he fell into the bushes and was apprehended but the police were advising residents to keep their windows closed for the time being.

I mulled that one over for a few days.

DEBORAH CROMBIE: Boo. We don't seem to have a local police blotter. But, like Jenn, I follow every Metropolitan Police account on Twitter. (Sorry, not calling it X. So stupid.) And the London Fire Brigade, and the Ambulance Service.

So far I haven't come across anything that is a brilliant inspiration for a story, but there is always hope! 

JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: My mother used to send me newspaper clippings of crime in the Syracuse area, of which, unfortunately, there was a lot. But the one that really stands out was the multi-day saga of the bear who beheaded a man (yes, really) and was the subject of a county-wide man bearhunt. I got a whole manila envelope full of this undeniably interesting story, with a note from mom: "There are plenty of bears in the Adirondacks!"

Which is right, of course, but not so useful for a murder mystery, unless the bear has been trained as an assassin by the real, behind the scenes bad guy. 

I dunno, maybe Paul Doiron can use that news item.

HALLIE: How's crime in your neighborhood? Because we're always in the market for a good idea.

95 comments:

  1. Julia's bear beheading a man is downright scary but the carless/foodless Door Dash driver is too funny. Sadly, there's no longer a police blotter type of story in our paper . . . it was always good for a "can you believe that?" or, most days, a shake of the head and a roll of the eyes . . . .

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    1. Yes, I do not think I could put a beheading bear in a novel. Actually, any kind of beheading unless it's floral. Too scary.

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  2. These are priceless. We also have the small time police blotter and sometimes hilarious ones pop up. I'm going to have to start saving them. Recently I read about a woman reporting what she thought was a mass-murder scene. Turns out it was a yoga studio with a classful of people in the Savasana (corpse) pose.

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    1. AND wouldn't that make a great book title: Savasana. I'll bet it's been used. (A series with a yoga instructor as the sleuth? Each book a different pose?? Paula Munier? Your next series?? Or surely it's been done.)

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    2. I do seem to remember a book titled "Corpse Pose." Can't recall the author, though. And Tracy Weber wrote a fabulous series called the Downward Dog Mysteries. She and I were Agatha nominees together for Best First and bonded over both of us having been yoga instructors.

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    3. Yeah, I read CORPSE POSE. The author is Diane Killian. And I loved Tracy's Downward Dog mysteries. I met her a few times at conferences but she's no longer writing mysteries. Tracy''s busy with animal behavior training & finishing her Master's degree.

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  3. Hmmm, we don't have a police blotter/log that is published in Ottawa so I don't get to hear about the petty crimes. One of the downsides of living in the historic Byward Market is that I am in Ottawa's "crime hotbed". Lots of drug dealers, homeless, home/car break-ins, violent assaults & even a few murders each year.

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    1. Real crime is scary and sad. Something that, as crime fiction writers, we need to remind ourselves.

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  4. I love police blotters. The reports in my local paper are on the boring side, but I follow several small police departments on social media, and always find something chuckle-worthy. And occasionally, book-worthy.

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    1. Yes, miscreants aren't always the brightest bunch. In my local police blotters, a lot of it is just sad, people who've fallen and can't get up.

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  5. All the newspapers here are in Portuguese, so I can't really follow them for story ideas, but I loved the ones you all posted. Especially the police advice to neighbors after the would be burglar fell off his ladder to keep their windows closed.

    But I take BBC online, and, Edith, I saw that article about the yoga class being reported as a mass murder. You have to wonder what the police thought about it all.

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    1. If I wrote it, I'd have the woman reporting it just about daily, and on the nth day it turns out there really is a corpse. Or a roomful of mannequins?

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    2. I love that! The idea that there really is a corpse.

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  6. Loved the door dash sap who couldn't find his way around! Somehow you can use that, I know. I used to keep clippings of interesting things like that I would see in the paper. Now that i no longer get an actual printed paper (not my choice) I don't do that. Seems there aren't as many interesting things any more anyway. The local weekly has a police blotter but doesn't say much more than name, date, and crime. Hard to find the story.

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    1. Yes, sadly not so easy to "clip" and save. I've taken to taking screen grabs and emailing them to myself and saving in an IDEAS folder.

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  7. Long before "Recipes for Love and Murder" I loved reading "agony aunt columns" Had to mix and match bits to use in short stories.

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    1. Now that's something we should do a blog on here... agony aunts (the British term for advice columns). I found an interesting article about them in The Atlantic which doesn't seem to be behind a pay wall: https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2020/11/an-ode-to-agony-aunts/616482/

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    2. Hallie, I can't access the article because of a paywall. Bummer.

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    3. Love the agony aunts! Always inspiring some plot twists :)

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  8. Love the door dash scenario! I don't have a local crime blotter (the police post crime photos on Facebook), but I do have nextdoor.com, which posts all the juicy stuff plus doorbell photos of porch thieves. Theft, assault, scams, vandalized cars, license plates of chronic speeders...it's all there. In fact, last week a woman posted about a door dash driver sexually assaulting her daughter and asked for help. Nextdoor.com was on it! They helped the local police arrest the perp within a week.

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    1. I subscribe to a NEXT DOOR, too... but have gotten to where I feel like it's just too negative. People complaining about their neighbors or "strangers" parking on their street (or lost Door Dash drivers) - Seems like all of them have doorbell cameras.

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    2. I can't stand to get on Next Door these days. It's all complain complain complain and (at least where we live) crazy hateful political stuff. Makes me despair for humanity.

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  9. No police blotter here, but I can see that reading the local 'agony aunt' column could provide, if not whole stories, then germs of ideas for whole stories. Will have to amend my reading habits!

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    1. Dear Amanda, I suspect your reading habits are perfect.

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  10. I think it's wonderous where writers get their ideas. Too funny. Love the ladder, Jenn.

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    1. Made me remember a story about a burglar who got stuck in a chimney. For days.

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    2. Not sure if it is Reader's Digest or another publication. I remember reading a column called "Dumbest Criminals".

      Diana

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    3. Remember the Darwin Awards? https://darwinawards.com/

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  11. My city is riddled with crime. I do read the online police blotter. It does make for interesting read.

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    1. I'm sorry... Yes, real crimes, close up and personal, are anything but amusing.

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  12. If you read NextDoor Neighbor is a network where you connect with others in your neighborhood area. They post all sorts of interesting stuff that is going on - breakins, school activities, lost pets, stolen stuff from people's back yards, everything you can imagine. It is often stuff the police don't post.

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    1. I was following my local one, but it got to be too much for me. Complaining about people in the neighborhood who didn't look like they belonged there. Of course it's nothing new. My daughter once left her bike in front of our house and of course, it got taken. Long before NextDoor.

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    2. I quit NextDoor for the same reasons as Hallie. There was too much bashing of homeless people. My local neighborhood Facebook group is a bit easier to follow. I can see how it might be a good source of details for minor or unusual crimes.

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    3. Nextdoor denizens seem very kind to animals of all kinds, except homo sapiens. Not quite as generous to them, alas.

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    4. Haha! Yes so true. There was a post a few years ago of a picture of a beautiful home with a white picket fence in a quite serene neighborhood with the caption, "Your neighborhood home." And right next to that was a picture of a house with flames shooting upwards toward the sky and people running away, with a caption, "Your home on Nextdoor."

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    5. Ha ha! Exactly. I belong to a Facebook group for my town and it's full of KUDOES for local service providers and recommendations for where to eat and ways to contribute to the local food pantry... I use it all the time when I need to get advice or give something away.

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    6. I tried Next Door but we live on a school with a middle school and the incessant complaining about the kids (some of it deserved) got to be too much.

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  13. Hallie, love this! Funny incidents in the police blotter like no specifics on the animal - a dog?

    The story about the man being sued for luring away someone else's wife reminded me of a radio play based on a legal case where my grandfather was the defense attorney in the 1920s or 1930s. His client Killed a wealthy man who had kidnapped his wife. His client was not wealthy at all. I think it was a crime of passion? At least that man was sued, not murdered.

    And I agree about refusing to call it X. Twitter is a better word anyway. X makes me think of the movies with Ian McKellan, Patrick Stewart and Hugh Jackman.

    Speaking of inspiration for stories, I recall reading an interview with Maeve Binchy. She overheard a conversation while waiting at the airport that inspired one of her stories. I wonder if the Lindbergh kidnapping case gave Agatha Christie the idea of writing Murder on the Orient Express?

    Still laughing about Door Dash guy. Why am I reminded of the old Mission Impossible series where the agent has to say certain words to get the audiotape that set up the Mission for the team?

    Have not read the local crime blotter for a while. Used to read the Agony Column. I am following the Scottish Police on Twitter. I will see if I can find the Kensington police blotter for England, not the Kensington police here in California.

    Diana

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    1. Diana, your grandfather was a defense attorney in the 20's/30's? I'll bet he had a lot of interesting stories to tell.

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  14. Funny story about food delivery service. My friend’s son lived in a cul-de-sac area in Calgary. He was in the first house and it was numbered 1. During covid, there were a lot of deliveries to the area. Unfortunately, the delivery guys did not read the address correctly, so that every day he had at least 1 meal delivered, doorbell rung, and meal left. One day he chased them yelling down the street, saying this is not mine. The reply was ‘can’t take it back – eat it!’ He rarely went more than 24 hrs without a free meal. The big joke was his usual morning thought was ‘I wonder what I will be having for dinner today?’ He has since moved to Nova Scotia, where apparently delivery guys are smarter, and he has to buy his own food.
    My father, in his collection of anything and everything, has a court book of cases that came up before the local town magistrate, circa 1920. It tells interesting tales of the cases before him such as routine robbery of someone’s knickers from the clothesline, to privy overturning – or shifting to the left or right (not a nice sit-down experience), to painting the mayor’s pig black and letting him out the fence – pig, not mayor. (This was usually perpetrated by the magistrate’s nephews and on a regular basis. Somehow, they were always suspected, but never found.) All this to say what about a local prankster unknowingly ‘interfering’ in the investigation of a perfectly straight forward murder offering nothing but confusion to the investigation. Then again you could turn it around and have the prankster who can’t help himself, still going about doing his tricks, but as the story evolves, he solves the crime.

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    1. OOOh, I like the way you think, Margo. Sounds like the kid is a sort of Baker Street Irregular before Holmes put them to work.

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    2. My dad used to tell tales of pranks the kids played on Halloween. One was moving an outhouse from a farm to the Town Green. Kids could get into all kinds of mischief and noone was recording it on their cell phones! Just imagine which flagpoles held whose unmentionables back when laundry was dried outside!

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  15. Depending on where you go in my town, there is serious crime and not-so-serious crime. I don't know of a blotter though. Usually I see stories in the neighborhood paper.

    I used to follow a Maine (Bangor?) PD account on Facebook, I think, that would post their stories. Some were pretty funny.

    I did use a story of a fire to kick of HEAVEN HAS NO RAGE, but of course I fictionalized and exaggerated the details.

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    1. And of course it all depends on what kind of story you're telling and what your readers are expecting. Surprising the reader is good, but not to bait and switch.

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  16. We used to have a weekly paper, sadly now gone these many years, but it did have a police blotter for our community. I wish I'd kept some of the more puzzling/hilarious entries. And I miss that paper. Nextdoor is a much less interesting alternative, nearly fact-free, at times.

    Speaking of which, when I read Lucy's entry about the dog leaving his property, I was picturing his bowls and leashes left in the yard. Still trying to wake up, I guess!

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    1. Dog leaving his "property!" Yup, this is why we all need editors.

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    2. Property, pup-erty, poop-erty?

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  17. As a 9-1-1 dispatcher, I received many calls that were silly or odd, and we laughed a lot at the time--but it's hard to remember the details now. But I do have a story of a call that made the paper: When my son's dad was a deputy sheriff, he was sent (by himself) on a strange light that floated down from the sky and had landed and still flickering in a tree. When he arrived, about 30 neighbors were looking down into this large field from their backyards and he could see the light undulating in the trees. He walked through blackberries and scotch broom approaching the light, remembering every horror movie he had seen that included police officers approaching deadly threats. When he finally got up to it, he could see that it was a large paraffin candle someone had made in a coffee can, with taped dry cleaner bags to create a balloon 10'-20' high. He looked back and the crowd had grown to 50-75 people. He said that just for a second, he thought it would be really funny if he waved his flashlight and screamed and maybe fired off a couple of shots from his pistol. Instead, he pulled the thing down from the tree and took it back up the hill to show the folks. The headline in the Columbian (Vancouver, Wa) read, "Deputy Captures UFO."

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    1. I LOVE this, GIllian, and I love the way you told it!! You absolutely put me there. Oh my that would be great in a book.

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  18. OK. Here's one for Julia: in my little hamlet in the Adirondacks (mostly seasonal camps) there has been a spate of break ins this summer. The suspect has been caught on door bell cameras on a number of occasions, and this past weekend was surprised in a neighbor's shed. He gets in, turns off the circuit breakers and noses around. In one case, the owners were expecting an appliance serviceman when they weren't in, so they left the key with the service company, and a tip in an envelope on the kitchen counter. It was taken. In another case, the burglar found a skeleton key in one of the interior doors, and proceeded to lock every door that it fitted. Despite the photos of the fellow (an adult) being widely shared, and broadcast on the local tv station (60 miles away), no identifications have been forthcoming. I must tell you I am puzzled at the motivation here, and flummoxed by the fact that his face is all over the news that the fellow has persisted in his activities. I never lock my doors when I am at my house because this has been such a safe community for all of my 70 years. I go out to the store, leave the house open, and never thought a thing about it before. On the subject of old newspapers, I love the 19th and early 20th centuries ones that have short columns of "news" from various neighborhoods or sections of counties. Who is visiting from out of town, who gave a party, who was ill.

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    1. Why no ID? Sets the storyteller's brain whirring. What do you think... this burglar knows people in high places? or maybe it's someone everyone EXPECTS to be around all the time. Is a reclusive hermit that's been living in the woods right under everyone's noses?...

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  19. I loved the police blotter in the local newspapers. Afraid there isn't one here, darn it. When we lived in Minnesota the local paper reprinted the report of a crime from 100 years ago. I saved it but don't know where it is right now. The gist was several men were casing the outside of the bank in the wee hours and must have disturbed the neighbors. One called out, "Dowse the glims!" Another shot out the street light to comply. I can just hear a gravelly voice saying dowse the glims.

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    1. That's straight out of a movie scrpt: DOWSE THE GLIMS.

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  20. We still have local papers with police blotters from the sheriffs' departments (2 counties) as well as local towns. Sometimes sad, sometimes face-palm-worthy stories.

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    1. You wouldn't want the posts to be too exciting.

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  21. I used to enjoy reading the crime report in the newspaper, but they haven’t included it for a long time. Illegal taking of a goose is an entry we would see from time to time as we have a large population of Canada geese here. You can still get access to the daily incident reports for both police and fire online but they are very cut and dried with date, time, address and type of call like medical or trespass. None of the juicy details are included. And this morning they appear to be about 4 days behind on posting it. I was checking to see if I can get any inkling as to why there were 3 officers and a dog in my yard yesterday evening and one drew his weapon and entered the open side door to the garage on the house next door. He came out, shut the door, and they left. Their 3 vehicles were parked in front of a house two blocks over. So far, I haven’t found any news reports. It was a nice cool day so we had had the back patio door open all afternoon. My husband shut it and looked around all the rooms just in case. Perhaps they were chasing a wayward Door Dash driver.

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    1. BTW I live in a nice, quiet neighborhood in a town of 120,000 people. Although crime is on the rise, having police with a dog in my yard is not an every day occurrence.

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  22. Now I am reminded of a news item that was in the local paper when I lived in NC. A teen-age couple were out for a drive when they were car-jacket by a "man with a gun." Said man proceeded to force the young man to drive the car (by holding a gun on him) while the gunman then raped the girl in the back seat. Still while holding a gun. "Somehow," the gunman was persuaded to let the couple go and then the gunman fled. That was the story the teenagers told. No arrest was made because the teenagers were too "freaked out" to notice anything descriptive about the bad guy.

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  23. These are wonderful! From the much missed Fiddlehead Focus. "Man called 911 dispatcher to say nothing was going on, but he wanted to share the good news and wish the dispatcher a good day."

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    1. Those calls are lovely. We used to have a guy named "Sarge" who called 9-1-1 to check in with us every afternoon. Much better than P, (initial only to protect anonymity) who called frequently to say F you, although the way he said the F word, it sounded like Fut, which was not quite so offensive. We had his dad's phone number so we would call dad when P was making repeated 9-1-1 calls.

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  24. check out Couple together for 57 years survives infidelity, murder plot, and prison time

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  25. Door dash drivers seem to be in the news quite a bit lately. Just this past week I saw this story about one in Cincinnati https://www.kttc.com/2023/09/17/doordash-driver-licked-womans-face-during-delivery-911-caller-says/?fbclid=IwAR051TsC-yFl2ixpcFuKdaBJ-6PlIiQkLFH3U7XQXEKH9dsTvvKz7HkMfz0_aem_ARauCjQJB2J15R3fzgAPYKeqHU1owMUOi2wtAHAhcRkVhhjyQkimdnSFjJh5lMAlyes#lmp135uc512qze8ijp
    And I also heard a radio talk show host talking about his Door Dash driver calling to say he wouldn’t be getting his meal because he had been in an accident enroute. It was legit, the driver was okay, and a new meal was dispatched with a different driver so all ended well.

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    1. Holy cow, Brenda! Blue Ash isn't far from us--or from Margaret Hamilton's!

      We never call Door Dash, but our elderly neighbors do. I'll have to warn them, thanks for the link.

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  26. SO funny! And it reminds me of "Florida Man"--the meme that started because so many of the police blotter entries start with the name of the city or state where the incident was: "Florida man crashes into store because alligator sat on his accelerator" or "Florida man mistakes snake for garden hose and..." and things like that. As if all of the incidents happened to the same guy. Which is hilarious.
    And there is a town here in Massachusetts called Orange. So I always laugh when I see a headline that begins "Orange man... "

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    1. Sounds like a story for Tim Dorsey or Carl Hiassen

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    2. Yes, they both wrote them, right?

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    3. I can highly recommend Dave Barry's novels for hysterically funny takes on Florida Man.

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  27. Ahh the police blotter, the bringer of so much hilarity at times and then the sad realization of just how far or screwed up someone is when you know them.

    Back when I was still coaching as the kids aged out of the program and into high school a fellow coach of mine and I would look through the blotter printed in the paper to see if there was anyone we knew from the league.

    Almost weekly, it seemed there would be someone. Sometimes a player we'd coached or just someone that had been in the league. But we saw crimes running the gamut from stuff like DUI to car jacking, breaking and entering to some far more heinous stuff like rape and in the granddaddy of them all, four kids charged with murder. That last one was particularly galling to me for a couple of reasons. At various points in their youth league days, I'd coached all four of them separately. And when I heard some of the details of their arrest, it was kind of galling that they were so pathetically bad at being criminals. Some of those turned things around, some are now dead, some are still in prison. But the hilarity definitely faded quickly when I learned who it was getting in trouble.

    And on a personal level, I had one experience that was a "HOLY SH*T!" moment. I'd been trying to locate someone for years on Facebook. I couldn't believe that they didn't have an account. But for years I also never bothered to type her name into Google either. About a year or so ago, it dawned on me to do that Google search. And I REALLY wish I hadn't and had just left her disappearance alone. Why? Well, it turned out that the fourth search result on the list was her listing on the Massachusetts sex offender list!

    I couldn't believe it. I had to check to make sure it was her (because she has something like four different names these days.) When I clicked on the link, lo and behold there was a gallery of yearly photos from all the way back to the last time I saw her about 10 years ago. And it was indeed her.

    I think I would've been less surprised to learn she'd passed away or something. But my killing curiousity really screwed up my rather nice memories of the person I thought I knew. Especially when you consider she was apparently arrested in TWO states no less.

    And then the ridiculous idea of "how would I turn this into a story plot for a book" popped into my head. I'm not going to do it because it is just too horrid to think about writing. And I've learned my lesson about searching through the past for people I knew for sure, regardless if it would give me a great nugget with which to write a story.

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    1. Sorry, one thing to correct. The last time I saw said person was in 2007. It was 10 years ago that she apparently got arrested.

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    2. My former middle school colleagues and I have these discussions when former students are in the news. Rarely do we spot a story that is for something good they have done or are doing. I don’t know if that is commentary on where the news is focused or on the type of students we had.

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    3. Jay, your story reminds me of the J. Geils Band hit, "Centerfold."

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    4. Judy, I have a story about that song but it is definitely not appropriate for this site.

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  28. Wow. That's fascinating, Jay. So interesting what you find when you look up people you once knew. Too bad about your old friend. And truly sad about those young men you coached... and in whom it sounds as if you saw potential.

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    1. Brenda, luckily there are some who have turned out good. One former player became a doctor, one's a social worker, another is a teacher. There are a few nurses in there as well.

      Hallie, too bad about the old friend is putting it mildly. When I saw the crimes, I quite literally said out loud, the longer version of "WTF?". Some kids I thought had potential. One of the murderers however, my reaction was "It was only a matter of time".

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    2. Our daughter has been teaching high school chemistry in the same school for several years. This year one of her former students joined her team as a high school chemistry teacher! Our Rachel is so proud!

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  29. I’ve always been fascinated by the news in Police Blotters. I’ve been reading the police news since I first began reading the newspaper as a kid. I no longer get a print newspaper but I read the police news in our local Patch. Also, our local police department has a Facebook page in which they post news of arrests. I also subscribe to our local police department’s Police Reports. A few years ago I attended a talk by the police department’s spokesperson, on safety for senior citizens. He urged us to subscribe to their news reports so we could be aware of what kinds of crimes were happening in which neighborhoods. My town is very safe, and I don’t worry about crime. But it’s unnerving to occasionally run across the name of a neighbor or acquaintance in the police news, especially if they were arrested for a crime that you would never expect them to commit!
    I can’t remember any recent unusual crimes around here. But many years ago I was visiting my sister and brother-in-law when they lived in Maryland. I was reading the police blotter in their local newspaper. There were a lot of amusing items. My favorite was a report that a resident reported a prowler. He said he was eating lunch when he heard a commotion in his chicken coop. He went outside to investigate. His chickens were fine. When he went back into the house, his sandwich was gone, and he saw the back of a man running out his front door. I was laughing as I was reading this. My sister told me that that was the typical sort of crime in her area!

    DebRo

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    1. DebRo, that sounds like my town. There are lots of farm animal or deer related items on the police blotter in the regional weekly, combined with Dumb Kid Drives Drunk.

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  30. Coralee (or Florida Woman)September 18, 2023 at 12:04 PM

    I live in the Sulphur Springs area of Tampa. Before the Depression, it was known as a good place to winter over if you could get past the odor of the springs. The neighborhood took on any and all counter culture folks during the '60's leading to some parties that live in folk memories. All the hipster action drove out the snooty class. To this day, the Sp;rings can be red lined by some folks.
    Me? I am so glad my neighbor is not measuring my grass, or muttering about the size of my mailbox.
    Sure there is crime, where isn't there these days? We did note someone who painted their house lavender - we thing door dash can always find him now.

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    1. If I lived in Florida, I'd paint my house some wacky color as well, Coralee.

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  31. Reddit is a great place to find police blotter info too!

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  32. I live in a small town so our local paper only comes out once a week. The police blotter is pretty cut and dried these days but it used to be hilarious. Comical descriptions of neighbor disputes, etc. Lots of “Mrs. Ramey’s chickens went a-missing.”

    These days we still don’t have much crime. Sadly the incidents we do have seem to be drug-related. There was a gruesome murder recently where a man unknowingly picked up the murderer hitchhiking and was able to help police find him .

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  33. I really want to see what is really going on with that door dash driver. Short story collection? I can see a range from cozy to noir for that one.

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  34. The local Contra Costa County California newspaper runs a daily column titled "News of the Weird". And it is. Today it was the yoga mass "murder" scene in England

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  35. I do use the local newspaper for book ideas, but I've never figured out how to access Bern's police news (which is certainly not in the paper.) You all have convinced me to make tracking this down a priority--if only for laughs. As for dumb criminals, are any of you familiar with the Darwin Awards? (Sorry if someone above already mentioned this--I'm about to go to sleep, so I only skimmed comments today.) Maybe a bit nasty, but so funny: https://darwinawards.com/darwin/

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  36. Here's a good one from today's NYT: Disney World: Rides and attractions were closed after a bear was spotted inside the theme park.

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    1. Deborah, was it Winnie or Baloo?

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    2. It was Pooh! ( A bear of very little brain….)

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  37. So much fun to read about process!

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