The Junk Drawer: Cursed Cars, Tiny Children and a Memorial Urinal

Welcome to this edition of the junk drawer. As we have outlined in previous junk drawer posts, this is a random collection of stuff that is important but didn’t fit anywhere else, much like that drawer in the kitchen of most of our homes. Hope you find value in it:




SYMPATHY FOR THE WEATHER REPORTER: I think at one point my career at the State Journal, I had written something like 400 bylined stories, and I think one-third of them were weather stories.

The weather matters to people. If the readers are Democrats or Republicans, men or women, Packer fans or other people, they are all affected by what happens outside. It is usually the job of the lowest person on the reportorial totem pole to scrape together a quote from whoever answers the phone at the National Weather Service, a county dispatcher who is way overworked and probably a tow-truck driver to build one of these things.

When I was driving home from Milwaukee on Sunday night, we had near white-out conditions, with a ton of state patrol officers and tow trucks trying to get people out of ditches. We also had plows flying in every direction and at least as many idiots in 1997 Honda Civics trying to pass them on the right-hand side of the freeway at 75 mph. When I finally got home, I found to my delight that the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel did not disappoint, nailing down a weather story like the ones I used to write for the sheer glee of seeing my name in the paper.

Please click here to read Jordyn Noennig’s look at the weather and give the piece a “like” or a positive comment. (Hey, we weather reporters have to stick together…)

Speaking of things from the past that still work today…

DOES THIS ADD SOMETHING TO THE SUM OF HUMAN KNOWLEDGE?: This quote popped up in one of my social media feeds for some reason and reminded me of the man who taught it to me: George Kennedy. George was the managing editor at the Columbia Missourian when I worked there and he was a longstanding faculty member at Mizzou. He used to ask us this whenever we were working on a story or a graphic or whatever else we were doing.

I borrow it from time to time, as needed, when a student is working on a “process piece” that isn’t processing much or an “explainer” that hasn’t explained anything. I also fall back on it because of a moment at the Missourian  involving, you got it, a weather story. We were heavily into graphics and it was a lousy weather day, so the graphics desk pitched a “helpful hints box” about driving in bad weather.

Given that we’d run these almost every week, it seemed to be redundant to me. Couple that with my “Wisconsin Chops” when it came to driving in snow, I asked if the box “was going to tell us anything that 75 other boxes we’ve already run and common sense would tell you about how not to drive like an asshole?”

After that, I bogarted the “sum of human knowledge” line. It seemed more dignified.

Speaking of somewhat undignified…

WHY YOU NEED A 12-YEAR-OLD BOY ON YOUR WRITING STAFF, PART 23,352,123: I don’t know who developed this car, but I’m buying one if I can find it:


Yep, it’s a real thing:

A new edition of the Subaru Forester on display at the 2020 Singapore Motorshow came with a rather eye-catching nickname: The Forester Ultimate Customized Kit Special edition. Or as people online were quick to note, the Subaru FUCKS edition:


Subaru told Business Insider that the car was from an “independent distributor” rather than the carmaker. However, Top Gear Philippines noted that the vehicle was inside the Subaru booth, sharing space with new models such as Viziv Adrenaline Concept and an updated Impreza.

It was unclear from this article what level of “market penetration” Subaru expected from this…

Speaking of marketing things…

WHAT COULD I GET FOR, SAY, $20? It always seems pretty awkward to me when we have to say that our favorite teams are playing at the Smoothie King Center, Tropicana Field or the KFC Yum! Center.

(To be fair, it used to be worse: the Astros used to play at “Enron Field.” Also, my beloved Cleveland Cavaliers named their new home after then-owner Gordon Gund, calling it the “Gund Arena,” which sounds like something your doctor diagnoses you with before giving you a shot of penicillin… Rocket Mortgage Field House is actually somehow an improvement.)

Well, my state’s university system is going one step further, offering rich people the chance to burnish their legacy with some additional naming rights:

Cash-strapped University of Wisconsin campuses have a new source of revenue to pursue: businesses seeking to put their names on academic buildings, colleges and schools.

The UW Board of Regents unanimously approved policy changes Friday opening the door for UW System campuses to sell naming rights to businesses, nonprofit organizations, foundations and other outside organizations. Previous policies restricted naming rights to individuals.

When UW-Oshkosh was constructing Sage Hall, the nicest academic building in which I’ve ever had an office, it had a lot of naming opportunities. We didn’t sell the building’s name, but classrooms, labs and even the courtyard got named after people and organizations.

I asked if anyone thought I could get “The Vincent F. Filak Memorial Urinal” set up in the men’s room near the office. A little plaque near the flusher handle, maybe my likeness painted in porcelain, urinal cakes shaped like my head…Hey, why not? If we’re going to sell out, let’s go for it.

My chair at the time told me that would be a “non-starter” with the building committee.

Oh, well. Dare to dream.

Until next time,

Vince (a.k.a. The Doctor of Paper)



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