The simple things in life sometimes provide the most pleasure. Mornings spent on our sitooterie (back porch) reading newspapers is an absolute craic (enjoyable time) for me. Things get even better when I come across news items that are surprising. Luckily, these are surprisingly easy to find.  


For example, I have some good news for you. If you duct tape a banana to a wall and claim it's art, you probably won't be sued. “A US district judge for the Southern District of Florida ruled against a California-based artist concluding a yearslong copyright infringement claim.” The judge said the banana art did not technically copy another artist's work because one artist used a plastic banana and the other used a real banana. I guess banana beauty is in the eye of the beholder. (


As is pretty evident, I love discovering and using new words. An Illinois man has unwittingly minted a fresh term. You know what sleepwalking is, but sleepshooting is newborn. “Police say a man dreamed that someone had broken into his home and he shot the intruder. He woke up to find that he had shot himself in the leg.”  (


Another newfangled word has been generated to describe something the airline industry hates – skiplagging. “Simply, skiplagging is when you book a flight that has a connection—but your true destination is that connection city. You simply never arrive for the second portion of your planned journey.” 


People are skiplagging because a round-trip ticket is sometimes cheaper than direct fight ticket. “This hack can save you anywhere from $50 to a couple hundred dollars, depending on your destination.” (


If you skiplag and want to invest the money you've saved, Heinz has a deal for you. In fact, you may already be on your way to riches. “If you’re in the habit of ordering takeout food, there’s a pile of sauce packets in your home somewhere. This year, Heinz is working to turn that drawer of shame into a point of pride—the brand has announced a new line of condiment packets designed to be collectibles. The limited-edition Saucemerica Packet Collection includes 50 United States–inspired condiment wrappers.”  There's even a contest with a $100,000 grand prize. (


Who would have guessed condiment packets could someday be worth real cash? Hmmmm...I wonder what became of those few thousand jelly “samples” my mother accumulated.


Also in the food realm, you may be surprised to learn that there are wine pairings for one of America's favorite foods – pizza. “Pizza originated in Italy, so it makes sense that the two are so compatible. In fact, one winery is so passionate about the match between pizza and wine that it created a hotline to help you decide on the perfect pairing. Francis Ford Coppola Winery recently launched the Coppola Pizza WineLine to guide inquirers towards the best vino to go with their pizza. Consumers can text 601-706-WINE (9463) to get pizza-related advice from some of the winery's sommeliers. The line will be open from p.m. PDT until August 31, 2023.”


If you consider yourself a pizza aficionado, you can even generate some dough (bad pun). “The WineLine is part of Francis Ford Coppola Winery's Perfect Your Pizza Competition, which you can enter. In order to win, contestants must create a unique pizza recipe and choose a wine to pair with it.” Read more:


While you're enjoying your wine and pizza, you may also be streaming a movie.  If so, a screaming headline may surprise you: “In a shocking turn of events, Netflix subscriptions rise after password-sharing crackdown.” 


This seems counter intuitive, but the stats don't lie. “Netflix’s password-sharing crackdown already appears to be working in the US. Netflix saw a huge spike in subscribers in the four days after it notified users about its paid sharing policies on May 23rd. The streamer added 100,000 subscribers on both May 26th and May 27th.” (


If you do snag a new Netflix subscription, you should not pay for the service by check. This is because of some startling advice. 'Americans are being advised not to mail checks anymore. If a check needs to be mailed, don't send it via your mailbox.'


There's a reason for the warning. “Check fraud is back in a big way, so much so that postal authorities and bank officials are warning Americans to avoid mailing checks if possible, or at least to use a secure mail drop such as inside the post office. Banks issued roughly 680,000 reports of check fraud to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network last year. Today's check fraud criminals aren't small operations or lone individuals. They're often sophisticated criminal operations.” (


Finally, stories with a high “yuck” factor are always interesting. It's sometimes shocking to see what some people have to do to endure unthinkable yuckification.  Take the poor folks from Elko, Nevada for instance: “Blood-red crickets invade Nevada town, residents fight back with brooms, leaf blowers, snow plows.” (


It's a plague! “Tens of thousands of the red critters have been invading swaths of northern Nevada and causing chaos. The invasion of the cannibalistic crickets has hit especially hard in Elko.” 


How yucky is this? “The big red bugs leave behind a stench so horrible, akin to burning flesh. The critters stick to tires and the bottoms of shoes, and their carcasses are everywhere. State officials have erected signs throughout Elko County warning drivers of slick highways. The red creatures blanket highways creating something like an oil slick.” 


This is something you have to see for yourself to get the full yuckiness of the situation. Go to: View with caution because the video is not for the fainthearted.  


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