More Messages: Heads Up

The headline over the Denver Post's February 1 story about the closure of Bruce's Bar, a Severance, Colorado, landmark known for its signature Rocky Mountain oysters, reads: "UNFATHOMABULL." A pun that's been tortured within an inch of its life? Sure -- but it's also emblematic of a welcome change in the Post's approach to headline-writing that's become increasingly noticeable of late.

For many years, the Rocky Mountain News has employed punny headlines on lighter articles and features, whereas the folks at the Post have tended toward more straightforward -- and, therefore, blander -- banners. Recently, however, Posters are loosening up -- and that's all to the good.

Because some readers either won't like or won't get certain jokes, there are risks involved in this strategy. Take "Black Power," a headline on a January 21 sports piece about Tony Dungy and Lovie Smith, the first two African-American head coaches to face off in a Super Bowl, which struck one of my regular correspondents as offensive. (To me, it merely felt forced.)

Still, I'll happily accept the occasional clunker of a headline -- hell, I've written plenty of them in my day-- if it means others demonstrate a spark of wit. And that's no bull.-- Michael Roberts

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts