A site of satirical musings, commentary and/or rhetorical criticism of the world at large.

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Location: Southeastern, Pennsylvania, United States

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Saga of The Balloon Boy

Legendary showman P.T. Barnum once observed that there is "a sucker born every minute". Barnum would be so proud of the American people today, because it would prove him correct. It would be easy to prove since most of the “suckers” in America today are employed as broadcast journalists! Case in point: the strange and still unfolding or unraveling (take your pick) saga of Falcon Heene, now known today and forever more as “the balloon boy”.

At first, the story seemed to be this: while helping his parents in his Ft Collins, Colorado backyard on a school holiday, young Falcon climbed into a small silver balloon and was launched into the atmosphere when the balloon got away from his parents. Frantic that their son was in danger, the parents called for help. Soon, the local police, the FAA, the National Guard and a local television station – not necessarily in that order — were dispatched to rescue the boy.

The story was picked up in no time at all by every television news outlet imaginable. MSNBC, Fox News, CNN, and even the Weather Channel (for God’s sake) visually tracked the balloon as it (and presumably the boy) hurtled thousands of feet above the ground in a direction far from home. There was no escaping this story! We finally found refuge on the History Channel, which was running a marathon documentary on the private lives of Franklin and Eleanor. (As a matter of fact, yes, we are on a first name basis with the Roosevelts, although there’s no way for them to know that.)

After some time had passed on an obviously very slow news day, the balloon finally landed 50 miles from its home, but no boy was found onboard. Then a miracle happened! The boy was found in the attic of his home hiding in a box. He had gone there after his father had yelled at him, or so the family told us. Everyone breathed a sigh of relief and the human interest story of the year was just beginning to take off.

The family participated in several televised interviews about their ordeal. During the course of one interview on CNN, young Falcon softly said to his father, “You said we did this for a television show.” Oooh, bad move, Falcon! This is something you don’t want to say while you’re being watched by MILLIONS of PEOPLE on a LIVE TELEVISION SHOW!

The local authorities, who only hours before had swallowed the family’s story hook line and sinker, immediately became suspicious. We now know that the little boy in the balloon was a carefully planned, elaborately executed hoax just to gain publicity for a reality television show the father, Richard Heene, hoped to sell. Charges are expected to be filed anytime now.

Now, everyone has lots of questions for the family, who (conveniently) have decided to clam up and hire lawyers. Questions like: Who would name their kid Falcon? Was Vulture already taken? And for what kind of reality show was the father angling? Stupid Parent Tricks? Or how about a reality show to capitalize on Falcon losing his lunch during another live interview when he realized he was doing something bad like lying. We could call it When Children Puke On Live TV!

And what about the national media? Was there really not that much going on that we trained all of our resources on a silver balloon gliding not so gracefully through Colorado air space? Weren’t Americans dying in Afghanistan that day? The surviving members of the Monty Python comedy troupe assembled in a New York City theatre for a 40th anniversary celebration. Did anyone cover that? Hell, no!

My advice to the Heene’s sons is:, if not sooner. Your parents are very sick individuals. I don’t know what term could be applied to describe their condition in layman’s language, but I’m sure any psychologist could sum up their ailment this way: they’re loonies! They’re displaying all of the usual systems of looney-itis: repressed memories of alien abduction, delusional thoughts about the world coming to an end, and an unhealthy, egotistical obsession of becoming stars on reality television. Tsk, tsk!

As for the media circus, fear not, it has barely begun. Ah, if only P.T. Barnum could have seen this. He would have proud.

(Thank you for reading. Please remember to have your children learn their script carefully before they are interviewed on national TV.)


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