Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Triplets of Trouble

Perhaps you've never heard the phrase triplets of trouble. Quite likely, as I just made it up. Unless maybe you know someone whose infertility treatments were a little too successful - but that's not the kind of triplets I mean.

Cultures develop their own genres for expressing what really matters most to them.

In Japanese literature, it's seventeen delicate sounds (or, as we English speakers have it, syllables) of seasonal celebration: Haiku.

In Irish folk form, it's five lines of AABBA bawdy humor: Limerick

In American news media, it's three words of horrific import: Triplets of Trouble.

My squeeze the Cheez and I noticed this last category some dozen or so years back. Specifically, we noticed the tendency for crap news reporting (as found in most newspapers, all local TV news, and any news radio peppered with ads for things like how to erase your debt) to fall back on its own set of three-word clich├ęs.

You don't even have to follow the story to the end to know the news is bad once the phrase parking lot altercation or strange flu-like symptoms or disgruntled former employee is bandied about. These stories are ubiquitous (ubiquitous being the SAT word for when a freaky news phenomenon is so widespread it's not even restricted to Germany or Florida).

I hadn't thought about the triplets of trouble for years. Until yesterday. When the O, as our hOmetOwn paper, the Oregonian, is affectiOnately knOwn, reported (ooh, I just mistyped that as repeated, which is actually appropriate, since like everything else in the damn paper except maybe the Tailgate sports blog, this story was off the AP wire) a prison yard melee.

How could we have overlooked that one for so long?

To honor this exciting season of updating the triplets of trouble list, I penned the following:

Prison yard melee
parking lot altercation
for the imprisoned

I thought that was a better tack to take than the one that started
There once was a prisoner with bum luck

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