Rocking, At 85

Sean Daly: LARGO — Jim Priebe will never forget how he found out: Nine years ago, he called home to check on his mother, a routine how-ya-doin’ in the middle of the day. Margaret Priebe — in her mid-70s at the time — was just fine…in the garage, car doors open, stereo cranking.

Jim shouted into the phone:

“What’s that noise, Mom?!”

She shouted back:

“Metallica!”

Maxed Out

Lane DeGregory and John Pendygraft:

Much of the debate about health care reform has centered on the nation’s 47 million uninsured. But those pushing the nearly $1 trillion plan are also concerned about families who have insurance but find that it runs out or becomes prohibitively expensive when they need it most.

The Runner

Gary Smith: She’s the water boy on the football team. She’s president of the National Honor Society, a year from graduating as valedictorian. She can bench-press 180. She hunts deer with a bow and arrow. Anything might arise from this land. Something that never has in the history of U.S. sports is about to.

A freckle-faced ranch girl from the very heart of Texas is going to win the state track team championship.

All by herself.

Twice.

A Life Alone

From Soul of Athens: For 63 years, Tom Rose and his wife, Mary, built a life together on his family farm on Canaanville Road. Then last year Mary passed away, leaving Rose to face the future alone, surrounded by a lifetime of memories.

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Already Read

Artist Tracey Falcon: “As the roots and the rings on teh trees offer information on the land over time, the pages of the newspaper are steeped in human history. Information, truth, opinion, fact, lies, propoganda; fed through the thin pages for all to contribute to and all to feed on. … History echoing around the walls. The writing in the wall. Newspaper has everything, the rythm of life, land and people.”

Tough Bitch

Stephanie Hayes: ST. PETERSBURG — Alexandra Kensler had been working weird hours, not sleeping well.

The imposing teen with the blond ponytail and iron grip was awake at 6 a.m., alone in the house while her mother was out of town.

She trudged to the kitchen wearing a sports bra and boxers. She grabbed a bottle of water, hung a cigarette between her lips and turned for the front porch.

Then, she saw him.

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Weed Warriors

Dan Barry: MONTGOMERY, Ala.

The State of Alabama has just dedicated $6 million in federal stimulus money to combat a certain invasive weed, and the two men chosen to lead this ground war can already hear you laughing. Millions of dollars to kill some weeds? Sounds like another good-old-boy boondoggle. Heh-heh-heh.

But we’re not talking dandelions here. This weed is the killer weed, the nearly indestructible weed, The Weed From Another Continent — a weed that evokes those old science-fiction movies in which clueless citizens ignore reports of an alien invasion, leaving the heroes to rail in frustration:

The fools! Don’t they understand? This is cogongrass!

The Scribes

P.J. Huffstutter: The latest edition of the Budget had just hit newsstands and Amish family mailboxes, and already fresh updates were pouring in.

“Canning is coming to a close,” one person reported from Salem, Mo. “The weather is very humid to hot today,” wrote another from Grabill, Ind.

The big news from Cottage Grove, Tenn.: “Thomas Hostetler hurt his ankle while loading grain onto the truck from the grain cart.”

The Budget is not your typical newspaper. Since 1890, it has served as the primary communication link among Amish settlements across the country.

And at a time when papers big and small are struggling amid plummeting circulation and intense online competition, the Budget is holding steady.

Aftermath

Ever watch football?

Then read “Game Brain,” from GQ, by Jeanne Marie Laskas.

It’s got me fired up to do better work.

Here it is: On a foggy, steel gray Saturday in September 2002, Bennet Omalu arrived at the Allegheny County coroner’s office and got his assignment for the day: Perform an autopsy on the body of Mike Webster, a professional football player. Omalu did not, unlike most 34-year-old men living in a place like Pittsburgh, have an appreciation for American football. He was born in the jungles of Biafra during a Nigerian air raid, and certain aspects of American life puzzled him. From what he could tell, football was rather a pointless game, a lot of big fat guys bashing into each other. In fact, had he not been watching the news that morning, he may not have suspected anything unusual at all about the body on the slab.

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