Well kidlings, it's time for another round of "You Can't Make Up This Stuff," the game based on my brother Big Rob's theory that reality is stranger than any fiction. As usual, we begin with an item from Rob's stomping grounds of Flint.  


Flint gets a lot of hard knocks, but the city also is striving for some positive notes. As a way to combat the winter blues, they've come up with a cool idea – Back to the Bricks Chrome & Ice car show in February. The show will be held indoors, but It's a great way to create enthusiasm for the main event held during the summer in downtown. “Spectators can vote for their favorite cars using QR codes and the top ten will receive a personalized plaque with their cars on it.”  (


The elections next week are contentious, but there is one thing about which all sides are in agreement. There’s not enough paper. “That’s a problem because, even though it is the year 2022, US elections still require reams of the stuff—thirty million pounds of it for the midterms. And now, election officials are worried they could run out of ballots, envelopes, and voter registration forms.”


There's a reason for the shortage. “As the world went digital, paper production in the US decreased with dwindling demand. During the pandemic, many paper mills shifted production to more in-demand shipping materials. To fulfill regular paper orders, they relied on their stockpiles. Industry groups say paper production capacities are expected to remain tight potentially into 2023.” (


Just in time for the elections, the Collins Dictionary has named its 2022 word of the year – Permacrisis. “Permacrisis is a term that describes an extended period of instability and insecurity. Collins highlights that the word relates to ongoing crises in the world, including: political instability, the war in Ukraine, climate change, and the cost-of-living crisis.”  


That's a good word, but I like one of the other contenders – splooting. It's “the act of lying flat on the stomach with the legs stretched out.” Come to think of it, splooting could be a dandy way to deal with a permacrisis. (


One topic in the elections has been the job market. If you work hard for your money, you may be interested to know that some people make a whole lot of cash even though they are dead. “For the first time ever, each of the top five people in Forbes 2022 list of highest paid dead celebrities have made more than $100 million. It’s by far the biggest haul since graveyard earnings were begun tracking in 2001.”


The list includes Kobe Bryant ($400 million), Elvis ($110 million), and Dr. Seuss ($32 million). The number one earner was J.R.R. Tolkien at $500 million. (


In the land of the living, what good is wealth is you can't display it to others? “For the ultra-rich, statement trees have become the new way to flaunt wealth. Since the Covid-19 crisis led many wealthy people to stop traveling and spend more time at home, they’ve given their spaces a facelift.” One trend is to line driveways with  olive trees that cost $10,000–$15,000 each. 


Ah, but if you really want to go big just contact Conifer Kingdom in Oregon. They sell “trophy trees” to customers from coast to coast. “The towering trees can cost as much as $75,000.” (


If you want to afford a trophy tree, there is a way to generate income that requires almost no skill – make some white noise. “There's no tune, no lyrics and you can’t dance to it. Don’t let that put you off: white noise is the music industry’s next big thing. Streaming services have seen an explosion of tracks in the last year consisting entirely of hissing, humming, fizzing and other varieties of radio static, as well as recordings of rainfall, ocean waves and crackling bonfires. Some of the recordings have earned their creators millions of dollars.” 


Apparently there are also variations of this noise. For example, “brown noise” consists of “lower frequencies that sound like rustling leaves.” I have no idea how to pull it off, but this time of year in northern Michigan the falling leaves could be a financial bonanza, right? (


Finally, with winter just around the corner you may be thinking about the upcoming ski season. If so, did you know that in the early 1970s Mackinac Island had a downhill ski resort? 


“The television televangelist Rex Humbard purchased some Mackinac Island land in 1971. Construction on the ski resort lasted from September to December in 1971 and included cross-country trails, an ice skating pond, two ski jumps, a 28-chair ski lift, two ski runs, and a toboggan run. This sports center was named Mount Humbard.” (


The intentions were good. “The resort was commercialized and publicized as the only island ski resort in the world.” The hope was that the resort would attract families. 


Alas, Mount Humbard could not overcome its most obvious problem – location.  “It was too tough even getting to the resort in winter and a proposed ski team never materialized. With not enough funds, the whole shebang – nicknamed 'Humbard's Folly' – shut down in 1973, less than two years later.” 


Jim Neff is a local columnist. Read Neff Zone columns online at and