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  • Rabid Nun Infects Entire Convent
  • Written by Tom D'Antoni
  • Format: eBook | ISBN: 9781588364999
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Rabid Nun Infects Entire Convent

And Other Sensational Stories from a Tabloid Writer

Written by Tom D'AntoniAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Tom D'Antoni

eBook

List Price: $11.99

eBook

On Sale: November 22, 2005
Pages: 128 | ISBN: 978-1-58836-499-9
Published by : Villard Ballantine Group
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Synopsis|Excerpt

Synopsis

CONFESSIONS OF A TABLOID WRITER WHO DOVE INTO THE CESSPOOL OF HIS OWN MIND AND CAME UP WITH INCREDIBLE TABLOID STORIES

“Some people aspire to greatness. A combination of bad parenting and coming of age in Baltimore, Maryland, at the same time as John Waters pushed me in a different direction,” writes Tom D’Antoni. After fifteen years as a journalist and broadcaster–fifteen years of going after sources and double- and triple-checking facts–D’Antoni was seduced by the dark side: a national supermarket tabloid. When he realized he could entirely make up stories and then quote people he’d just invented–and get paid (poorly) for it–he was hooked.

In Rabid Nun Infects Entire Convent, D’Antoni resurrects his favorite stories and reveals the (often sick) thoughts that inspired them. From the mild “Newborn Baby Sings Like Elvis” and “Denture Bandit Steals False Teeth from the Mouths of Victims” to the truly twisted, such as “Grandma Turns Pet Dog Inside Out Looking for Lost Lottery Ticket,” “Bag Lady’s B.O. Kills Five People on Bus,” and “Cult Uses Human Heads for Bowling Balls,” they all came straight from D’Antoni’s imagination.


From the Trade Paperback edition.

Excerpt

RABID NUN INFECTS ENTIRE CONVENT

I made up all of the stories I wrote for The Sun, a national supermarket tabloid newspaper. They knew it, and I’m proud of it. This is the saga of my dive into the cesspool of my own mind. And since I made up fake bylines too, never using my own name, it had been my own private cesspool until I outed myself in front of millions of TV viewers as having done these awful deeds.

Wait, that’s too dramatic, but not by much. I mean, it isn’t the New York Times we’re talking about.

And this isn’t “Shattered Glass.”

All of the facts in the narrative parts of this book are eminently checkable. The facts in the stories came from inside my head, except for one story which was suggested by a guy who was cutting my hair at the time.

I have re-written these stories, as the folks at The Sun re-wrote my originals, which were cut (unmercifully) to fit their space and standards. Yes, “standards.” I must admit, there were some parts of these stories that were a bit much, even for them.

The narrative was first a story for The Oregonian and The Baltimore City Paper. Upon publication, in Portland, I was invited to be on a talk show in Seattle. They asked me to make up a tabloid story on the spot. But they stopped smiling when I made up a story about how there was a talk show host farm where people just like the co-hosts were mass-produced from pods.

Over the years, I used the piece to introduce myself to women. It was good if they laughed, and just as good if they were horrified. Better to know at the beginning. I have read the Oregonian piece in public several times, and the jokes always killed. One night I was sitting around with pianist/writer David Vest who suggested this book.

I am supposed to thank the people who influenced me to write this book and these stories. But if you had inspired this stuff, would you want to be thanked? Think about it. I can’t thank deities, as athletes do. I might get struck by lightening.

I suppose I can thank poverty, drugs and my colleague Garey Lambert, with whom I was making one of the Baltimore Orioles’ pre-game radio shows when I first wrote this stuff. We weren’t making any money doing that show. I had to do something, so I ended up writing these stories.

We had put all the money we were making into production gear, and although I was being well-fed in the Orioles press box, I did not have the “luxury” of being the projectionist at an art film theater, as Garey did.

These stories helped keep the lights on in the apartment we shared. People called us “the odd couple.” He was gay, I was straight, and one of my ex-wives lived upstairs.

Garey “edited” these stories, to some extent, but mostly he was my friend and laughed at the jokes. He was also the brother I never had.

Garey became one of the top AIDS journalists in the U.S. before that disease took him in 1996. There’s hardly a week that goes by that I don’t have the urge to call him about something. Thanks, Garey.


From the Trade Paperback edition.
Author Q&A

Author Q&A

A Conversation with Tom D’Antoni,
Author of
RABID NUN INFECTS ENTIRE CONVENT:
And Other Sensational Stories from a Tabloid Writer

Out of all the outlandish pieces you wrote for The Sun, which ones are your most/least favorite and why?
Favorite is a tricky word. There are stories I am most proud of and least proud of at the same time. Proud of my imagination and horrified that something like that could come out of my head.
The title tune from the book, “Rabid Nun” could be my favorite, but that may be only because it gets the biggest laughs. I like the “easy listening” one-liners that still make me laugh, like “Woman Gets Pregnant, Has Baby Same Day.” First of all it hits you funny and then you think about what the hell could have caused that.
There are other stories that still make me cringe and continue to wonder how they could have come out of me. “Cult Uses Human Heads As Bowling Balls” is one. When I was re-writing my original stories for the book, I had to stop in the middle because I was beginning to feel the same dread, the same standing-up of the hairs on the back of my neck as the story hit me again. Of course, I finished re-writing it. It was too scary/funny/sickening/hilarious not to.
When Oprah interviewed me, she asked me what my most horrifying story was. I told her “Rabid Nun.” I couldn’t tell her the real story, it was too shocking. It’s in the book.

In what ways were the tabloid stories you fabricated harder or easier to write than the pieces you did as a journalist and broadcaster before The Sun?
They were much easier. I mean, I didn’t have to check facts, get quotes right, worry about somebody suing if I messed up. People can’t sue you if you make them up.
It was heaven to put words in the mouths of your “sources.” But let’s not confuse the fiction I wrote with journalism. It had the form of journalism but it was all made up.
Now that I think about it, that kind of thing is not unusual. Isn’t that what Bill O’Reilly does?

Where did you find your inspiration for most of your stories?
My greatest inspiration was my birthplace, the city of Baltimore, Maryland, where I was a contemporary of John Waters. It is a place of great and depressing surrealism. I wrote one of the first reviews of “Pink Flamingos” and said that I thought it was funny but that since I knew a lot of the people in it, I wasn’t really that surprised in their actions….except for the dog-doo on the sidewalk, I guess.
I had been inspired by a magazine called The Realist, by Mad Magazine, Hunter Thompson, Ernie Kovacs, and of course the supermarket tabs, themselves. I was thrilled to learn that my editor had been the editor of Midnight. It was something that spurred me to even greater grossness.
Are you my therapist?

How did writing these sensational tabloid stories change the way you view journalism as a whole? Do you find yourself more sympathetic to the light-hearted journalist?
Well, most of these stories are anything but light-hearted. Ok, “Clown Ghosts Save Dying Boy” and “Villagers at Shrine Worship Statue of Elvis” were. In that one, a tribe of South American Indians were found dancing around a nude statue of Elvis and chanting what sounded like “Viva Las Vegas.”
Journalism likes to wrap itself in the Ed Murrow mantle, but in reality the history of journalism is sleazy, manipulative and based on selling newspapers or ratings…period.
When the movie “Network” came out, I was working in commercial TV as a story producer/reporter. I told people outside the business that this wasn’t much of an exaggeration and that TV people were really like that and that TV would get much worse in the years to come. I have been proven right.

Why do you think people are fascinated by tabloid headlines and still read them and believe them after writers have admitted to fabricating the stories?
Why do you think people slow down and watch auto accidents? Why do people still watch professional wrestling years after what was left of any shred of credibility? Don’t you hate people who answer a question with another question?
They read them for the same reason they read or watch anything, to be entertained, tickled, horrified…to be made to feel something. Secretly, I think they want to believe this stuff. It would be a better world if “Your Dog Can Smell Like a Pizza” were true, wouldn’t it?

What do you think to yourself when you see tabloids on the shelf while waiting in line at the grocery store? Do you ever find yourself reading the headlines?
Yes, I always read the headlines. When I read a good one, first I get mad because I didn’t write it. Then I start feeling sorry for the poor guy who wrote it because I understand what it takes to make these things up. There seems to be a trend away from the gruesome stories. It things had been going in that direction when I was writing I might have kept at it. No I wouldn’t have. I’m pretty happy to have done it and be done with it.
Of course, for the right money…


From the Trade Paperback edition.


  • Rabid Nun Infects Entire Convent by All made up by Tom D'Antoni
  • November 22, 2005
  • Humor - Parodies; Humor
  • Villard
  • $11.99
  • 9781588364999

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