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Preview: Obscure Store and Reading Room

Obscure Store and Reading Room





Updated: 2011-09-04T23:50:00-07:00

 



Dear readers: After 13 years, I'm closing The Obscure Store

2011-09-07T12:13:51-07:00

It was very tough to write that headline, but it's time for me to hit the REFRESH button and try something new. Some of you may know that I announced on Wednesday that I'm "semi-retiring" from Poynter and launching JimRomenesko.com.... It was very tough to write that headline, but it's time for me to hit the REFRESH button and try something new. Some of you may know that I announced on Wednesday that I'm "semi-retiring" from Poynter and launching JimRomenesko.com. Buried in the Huffington Post story about my decision is news that I'm closing the Obscure Store after next week. I'll post "best of" OS&RR stories -- some of the "hits" -- in the remaining days and let you recall your favorite ones, tell us when you discovered Obscure Store, and share any other anecdotes. HOW THIS SITE STARTED For nearly a decade -- starting in 1989 -- I published a print "fanzine" called Obscure Publications. Its mission was to review fanzines and profile their editors. In early 1998, I decided to start selling fanzines online through a new site called The Obscure Store. My challenge was to get "customers" to my website. I decided to do that by linking to stories that I found interesting. I had general interest articles on the top of the page and "Media Gossip" items on the bottom half. In May of 1999 I decided to create a separate site -- MediaGossip.com -- for those media stories. It was a life-changing decision: the Poynter Institute heard about Media Gossip (via this story), hired me, and let me work on my own out of coffee shops in the Chicago area -- while paying me a salary that I never thought I'd make as a journalist. THE OBSCURE STORE EVOLUTION Over time, Obscure Store shifted from a general-interest news site to a weird-news site. As a former police reporter (and the author of Death Log), I was always attracted to those kinds of stories. Over the years, many similar sites launched -- Fark! -- and many of my readers drifted away. Those other blogs allowed comments, while I resisted them for a long time. Readers will probably remember that I allowed comments for a while, then pulled them after the discussions got out of hand. I eventually (2005?) reinstated them, realizing that I couldn't (and shouldn't) control every word and thought on my site. I know I have some readers who've been with me from the start, and I'd love to hear their memories of the site's evolution. (I want to hear from Obscure Store "newbies" too!) What's always amazed me is how civil the comments section has (generally) been. While there've been dustups and disagreements, it's been rare when I've had to ban someone or delete an offensive comment. (Maybe I'm just missing them!) A great community has formed and one of my biggest regrets is breaking that up. But.... that doesn't have to happen. There's the Obscure Store page on Facebook where stories can be posted and comments can continue. It's up to you (and I'd be happy to put up stories, too). So, that's that -- the end of a long and memorable run. Thanks, readers, for being with me for the ride! > This Q&A about Obscure Store from 1999 remains one of my favorites Jump to the eighth page of comments. [...]



From 2006: Man sues over exposed genitals in yearbook photo

2011-09-02T14:36:38-07:00

My summary of the story on July 16, 2006, said that the offending photo showed the student shooting a basket on a day he wore boxer shorts instead of a jock strap to the game. The story from New Jersey...



From 2005: Mall Easter bunny charged with harassment

2011-09-02T08:15:58-07:00

We've had drunk Santas, pervy Santas, and this guy who disgraced the holiday rabbit uniform with his bad behavior. Here are some other "hits" from a few days in March, 2005: * Coach accused of climbing to ceiling to watch...
(image) We've had drunk Santas, pervy Santas, and this guy who disgraced the holiday rabbit uniform with his bad behavior. Here are some other "hits" from a few days in March, 2005:
* Coach accused of climbing to ceiling to watch girls undress
* Leprechaun robs laundry of $322 on St. Patrick's Day eve
* Auto-repair shop employee takes woman's SUV on 200-mile drive
* Man wants the right to have his eyes closed in license photo
* Woman who weighs 600 pounds is no longer allowed on city bus



From 2004: Killer/robber claims a "blue smurf" was in the bank

2011-09-02T07:50:13-07:00

It's just another page of weirdness on the Feb. 26, 2004, Obscure Store -- "Man in diaper, pink tights nabbed after making day care visit" -- that includes a creepy masked man armed with a Barbie doll; a kid suspended...



From 2003: Traffic offenders get reprieve by singing Christmas carols

2011-09-01T14:12:04-07:00

There are a lot of "keepers" on this OS&RR page from December 2003, including: * Man is tired of woman sneaking into his yard to take care of his dog * Seniors citizens calling for tax info get adult chat...
There are a lot of "keepers" on this OS&RR page from December 2003, including:
* Man is tired of woman sneaking into his yard to take care of his dog
* Seniors citizens calling for tax info get adult chat line instead
* Drive-thru customer gets a bank bag instead of her usual bagel
* Teen suspended for five days for swiping nuggets from the lunch line
* Mascot pops the question during high school basketball game



One thing we've learned: Fast-food lovers can get awfully testy!

2011-09-01T08:17:47-07:00

The many excellent (if I may so myself) OS&RR offerings from October 1, 2003 included a story about a Burger King drive-thru customer who got out of her car, went into the restaurant and slapped an employee over a screwed...
The many excellent (if I may so myself) OS&RR offerings from October 1, 2003 included a story about a Burger King drive-thru customer who got out of her car, went into the restaurant and slapped an employee over a screwed up order. There's been a lot of fast-food violence reported on my site over the years!



From 2003: Cops catch semi-nude suspect fleeing in wheelchair

2011-09-01T06:49:19-07:00

When people were nude in public and made the news, there was a good chance they'd be mentioned on The Obscure Store. My summary of a Jan. 30, 2003, story read this way: Shane Michael Walton, 25, is suspected of...
(image) When people were nude in public and made the news, there was a good chance they'd be mentioned on The Obscure Store. My summary of a Jan. 30, 2003, story read this way:

Shane Michael Walton, 25, is suspected of breaking into and vandalizing two museums. He was nabbed as he tried to roll away from the scene of one crime in a wheelchair -- wearing only a top hat and cape that he apparently took from the museum.

There were a lot of great stories on this page (with a new design!), if I may say so myself. (You have to wait a second for The Wayback Machine jumps to the archived OS&RR page.)




From 2001: Man, 80, drives to funeral home and dies in parking lot

2011-08-31T13:55:09-07:00

I ran this story a decade ago: Sylvia Saber got up one morning and noticed her husband gone wasn't in their condo. He was later found slumped over the wheel of his 1991 Olds Delta 88 in the parking lot...



We learned over the years that lots of guys are "intimate" with animals

2011-08-31T06:50:23-07:00

Horses, pigs, dogs, chickens ... you name it, and it's been posted here! In this March 29, 2001, story a 33-year-old man videotaped his sexcapade with a male beagle. The tape was found by police who were at the home...



From 2001: Another great excuse for committing a crime

2011-08-31T06:42:32-07:00

My line-up of items from Jan. 31, 2001 included this story: "Trucker: I used kiddie porn to stay awake at the wheel." Here's the summary I wrote: Dana Turner says he kept child pornography because it made him so angry...
My line-up of items from Jan. 31, 2001 included this story: "Trucker: I used kiddie porn to stay awake at the wheel." Here's the summary I wrote:

Dana Turner says he kept child pornography because it made him so angry that he couldn't fall asleep while driving. Try to pitch that defense to a jury, sir. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)



The perv beat has been an unending source of amusement

2011-08-30T12:19:06-07:00

On May 10, 2000, I posted this story about a man who duped several women into taking part in phony sex research. He paid them $10 an hour to study the changes in a woman's body after orgasm. He also...



Stories about drive-thru antics? I've posted a million of them!

2011-08-30T07:27:38-07:00

Well, several dozen at least. My summary of this story from March 10, 2000, says astonished fast-food workers were stunned to see the car whisk in reverse. Deputies couldn't conduct a field sobriety test because the suspect couldn't stand up...
Well, several dozen at least. My summary of this story from March 10, 2000, says astonished fast-food workers were stunned to see the car whisk in reverse. Deputies couldn't conduct a field sobriety test because the suspect couldn't stand up without falling over. || ALSO ON THAT DAY: I posted a story about the shocking truth about theater hot dogs.



From 2000: Beaver College - the butt of jokes - mulls name change

2011-08-30T06:18:40-07:00

This 11-year-old story pointed out that many filters were blocking the word "beaver," preventing prospective students and their parents from getting information on the school. One freshman woman told the newspaper that her friends back home laugh at the name,...



If I had a buck for every really-young-kid-steals-car story I posted!

2011-08-29T08:39:07-07:00

I could have semi-retired much earlier! This is from the October 8, 1999 Obscure Store (wait for a second for Wayback Machine to jump to the page): Girl, 12, spends 50 cents on gas and steals car Cops say the...
I could have semi-retired much earlier! This is from the October 8, 1999 Obscure Store (wait for a second for Wayback Machine to jump to the page):

Girl, 12, spends 50 cents on gas and steals car
Cops say the girl took a neighbor's 1992 Chevy, gassed it up with two quarters, and headed to school -- although she had never driven before. On the road, a teacher passed the young driver, but failed to recognize her. The sixth-grader was nabbed after showing up late for school, explaining she had to stop at the gas station.




From 1999: Catholic newspaper stops taking ads that thank saints

2011-08-29T07:01:07-07:00

The goofiness of many religious practices -- and the hypocrisy of religious institutions and their members -- has been a frequent theme here. This Cincinnati Post story from March 10, 1999 says the ads would typically give thanks to a...



I've been posting homeowners association disputes from the start

2011-08-29T06:20:18-07:00

You might remember the one from 2006 involving a woman who put up a peace-sign wreath and was slapped with a $25/day fine from the homeowners association. In 1999, I posted a story about a woman who dared to paint...



The great Toronto sexcapade scandal of 1999

2011-08-29T05:18:00-07:00

People still remember the 2008 incident in which a man was caught trying to get off with a picnic table umbrella, but equally bizarre was a 1999 Obscure Store report headlined: "Man linked to imaginative sexplay." My summary on the...



Here's what The Obscure Store looked like in 1999

2011-08-29T05:06:02-07:00

I actually had an online store back in those days. There was a lengthy blogroll -- as everyone had a decade or so ago. Otherwise, the story format has pretty much remained unchanged over the years -- a headline and...



'I am so f*cked,' says drunk woman after crashing into cars

2011-08-26T10:08:01-07:00

Rebecca Ward, 19, told officers that in addition to downing a number of shots at a party, she'd also taken a Lunesta a few hours earlier. "No wonder she failed to satisfactorily perform roadside maneuvers and didn't even understand the...
(image) Rebecca Ward, 19, told officers that in addition to downing a number of shots at a party, she'd also taken a Lunesta a few hours earlier. "No wonder she failed to satisfactorily perform roadside maneuvers and didn't even understand the difference between an alcohol breath test and a blood test until it was explained to her twice," writes Michael Roberts.
> "I am so f*cked," woman says after crashing into cars (Westword.com)




Former high school principal is now a Hugh Hefner-lookalike

2011-08-26T09:03:52-07:00

Impersonating the Playboy founder pays handsomely for 72-year-old George Kane, but he doesn't want his mother to know. Hef is just a "dirty old man" to the nursing home resident. Kane's wife isn't thrilled about the hubby's gig, but "I...
Impersonating the Playboy founder pays handsomely for 72-year-old George Kane, but he doesn't want his mother to know. Hef is just a "dirty old man" to the nursing home resident. Kane's wife isn't thrilled about the hubby's gig, but "I figure it’ll last about four or five years."
(Fort Myers News-Press)



Man breaks into ex's home, takes a dump on her photo ID cards

2011-08-26T07:15:20-07:00

The woman found him on the toilet and called police. > Toilet break at ex-wife's home lands man in jail (GoErie.com)
The woman found him on the toilet and called police.
> Toilet break at ex-wife's home lands man in jail (GoErie.com)



Man checks electrical meters and waters plants without his pants

2011-08-26T07:04:02-07:00

He was wearing a long sleeved shirt and nothing else while carrying a mop and bucket outside of his apartment building. He told one woman: "If you can get the mop to work right, I will cook you a steak...
He was wearing a long sleeved shirt and nothing else while carrying a mop and bucket outside of his apartment building. He told one woman: "If you can get the mop to work right, I will cook you a steak dinner."
> Police arrest man for indecent exposure (Gainesville.com)



Man arrested after sticking tongue out and taunting police dog

2011-08-26T05:59:15-07:00

Douglas Carncross, 26, had his face near the window of a police car and was taunting the dog inside. "He was sticking his face close to the cage, yelling and screaming at the dog and sticking his tongue out and...
(image) Douglas Carncross, 26, had his face near the window of a police car and was taunting the dog inside. "He was sticking his face close to the cage, yelling and screaming at the dog and sticking his tongue out and making faces," says a cop. As the officer began to run toward the scene, the taunter allegedly opened the door of the patrol vehicle, which allowed the to stick out his head. Alarmed, Carncross then slammed the door on the dog's head. He's OK though. Screaming man taunted, injured police dog (TribLocal.com)




School holds special meeting to OK students wearing skinny jeans

2011-08-25T13:19:54-07:00

The oh-so-fashionable jeans were banned at one point, but parents complained they were having trouble finding jeans that weren't skinny. The board acquiesced after deciding such jeans could still be appropriate. "We're trying to take the suggestive clothing out," says...
(image) The oh-so-fashionable jeans were banned at one point, but parents complained they were having trouble finding jeans that weren't skinny. The board acquiesced after deciding such jeans could still be appropriate. "We're trying to take the suggestive clothing out," says one board member. "There's skinny jeans and there's skinny jeans."
> School adopts uniform policy that allows skinny jeans (Mcall.com)



Unhappy man sets Happy Garden Chinese Restaurant ablaze

2011-08-25T10:27:07-07:00

The guy will spend up to two years in state prison for igniting his ex-girlfriend's bed and starting a blaze that damaged three city apartments and the Happy Garden restaurant. He then tried to off himself by drinking bleach, but...
The guy will spend up to two years in state prison for igniting his ex-girlfriend's bed and starting a blaze that damaged three city apartments and the Happy Garden restaurant. He then tried to off himself by drinking bleach, but that didn't do the job.
> Man gets prison sentence for Allentown arson (Mcall.com)



Married politician who paid teen boy for "good time" denies he's gay

2011-08-25T06:43:00-07:00

When asked by a reporter whether he had previously arranged such encounters with males, Indiana State Rep. Phil Hinkle quickly answered, "We're not going there." I'd say that means he has -- and that he's locked himself deep in the...
When asked by a reporter whether he had previously arranged such encounters with males, Indiana State Rep. Phil Hinkle quickly answered, "We're not going there." I'd say that means he has -- and that he's locked himself deep in the closet. "People keep asking: 'What were you thinking?' I honestly don't know. It's as simple as that." I suspect he knows.
> "I don't know what I was thinking," says politician (Indy Star)



Newlyweds steal food to put out at their wedding reception

2011-08-25T06:19:47-07:00

Arthur Phillips III, 32, and Brittany M. Lurch, 22, had their wedding reception set for 5:30 p.m. Saturday, but at 2:30 p.m., they were caught putting food items valued at about $1,000 in their shopping cart, and walking out to...
(image) Arthur Phillips III, 32, and Brittany M. Lurch, 22, had their wedding reception set for 5:30 p.m. Saturday, but at 2:30 p.m., they were caught putting food items valued at about $1,000 in their shopping cart, and walking out to their car without paying. The couple didn’t make it to the reception.
> Police say newlyweds stole reception food (CentreDaily.com)



Man caught trying to steal snakes by stuffing them down his pants

2011-08-25T05:41:29-07:00

Eric Fiegel, 22, was arrested after police reviewed surveillance footage from a pet shop that shows a man stealing baby albino boa constrictors by placing them in his pants and exiting the store. He then went to another pet store...
Eric Fiegel, 22, was arrested after police reviewed surveillance footage from a pet shop that shows a man stealing baby albino boa constrictors by placing them in his pants and exiting the store. He then went to another pet store and traded several of the snakes for $175 and a large reptile tank valued at $175.
> Man suspected of stealing snakes stuffed in his pants (AZCentral.com)



Judge who handed out condom-filled acorns can return to bench

2011-08-24T09:15:00-07:00

The judge claims he uses the stuffed nuts in his courtroom to help raise awareness of safe sex and the effectiveness of condoms against pregnancy and disease. The Court of Judicial Disciple said that "his preoccupation with acorns is mystifying,"...
The judge claims he uses the stuffed nuts in his courtroom to help raise awareness of safe sex and the effectiveness of condoms against pregnancy and disease. The Court of Judicial Disciple said that "his preoccupation with acorns is mystifying," but the guy is still fit for the bench. The incident that sparked the misconduct complaint involved the judge giving two women acorns for a "nice afternoon snack."
> Judge who handed condom-filled acorns cleared on ethics charges
> Charge dropped in district judge-acorn case (Lancaster Online)



Teens who use social media more likely to become boozers, druggies

2011-08-24T08:00:58-07:00

This back-to-school study is getting mocked on Twitter, although some students interviewed by the Chicago Tribune believe the findings. One says: "When someone constantly sees photos of parties, they sort of feel they're missing out. It sort of glorifies the...
(image) This back-to-school study is getting mocked on Twitter, although some students interviewed by the Chicago Tribune believe the findings. One says: "When someone constantly sees photos of parties, they sort of feel they're missing out. It sort of glorifies the whole thing. Especially if you haven't done it before, it could be a gateway to make them think it's all right" to drink and use drugs.
> Study: Teens who use social media more likely to use drugs, booze (Poynter)