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WSJ reporter’s 85-year-old mom goes viral

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A cute story about how a Wall Street Journal reporter's mom, who does food reviews in North Dakota, wrote a column about the Olive Garden that suddenly went viral - and how 85 year old mom is handling her new-found fame.

Some people pursue celebrity. Others stumble into it as they are rushing off to bridge club.

My 85-year-old mom, Marilyn Hagerty, a newspaper columnist, is in the latter category. When she wrote a review of the new Olive Garden restaurant in Grand Forks, N.D., last week, she wasn't expecting anyone other than her thousands of loyal readers in North Dakota and northwestern Minnesota to take note. She didn't worry about how her story would play on Gawker, partly because she had never heard of Gawker.

She's too busy to bother with blogs, Facebook or Twitter. She writes five articles a week for the Grand Forks Herald. Her specialties include local personalities, history and, yes, restaurants of high and low repute. Those whom she dubs in her column as "cheerful person of the week" consider it a high honor. She also cleans and maintains her house, cares for an unreliable dachshund, visits her eight grandchildren and volunteers at church.

On Thursday, bloggers happened on her review of the Olive Garden, where she found the portions generous and the décor "impressive." Some wrote clever notes suggesting there might be some sort of irony in writing an unironic review about a chain restaurant like Olive Garden. Others, including media and news websites Gawker and Huffington Post, chimed in. Soon news hounds from Minneapolis, New York and even Fargo were calling Mom and demanding interviews. Basically, they wanted to know whether she was for real and how she felt about being mocked all over the Internet.

She felt fine about it. But she didn't care to scroll through the thousands of Twitter and Facebook comments on her writing style. "I'm working on my Sunday column and I'm going to play bridge this afternoon," she explained, "so I don't have time to read all this crap."
He says her book, Echoes, is on Amazon. I couldn't find it. I did find an e-version of her food reviews, and linked to it above.

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