Internet's most popular Web sites.
Darwinawards.com now receives some 7 million page hits a month, she says.
Northcutt compiled her favorite stories into two best-selling books. The most recent hit shops last month.
This woman is not without critics, of course.
Northcutt, in fact, receives regular hate mail from members of the tight-undied crowd. Fear of being attacked by some loon is why she won't show her entire face in photographs.
Some people with no appreciation of irony think it is always sick and wrong to guffaw at anybody's demise. Even if it is someone who kills himself while filming a forklift safety video.
Fortunately none of these spoilsports was at Auntie's Bookstore on Tuesday night. Northcutt regaled an enthusiastic audience with tales from the Darwin files.
The stories she gets are submitted by the thousands from those visiting her Web sites. Northcutt tries to confirm the best ones through newspaper accounts. The ones that can't be authenticated are labeled as unconfirmed or urban legends.
One of the most popular stories, for example, centers around an Arizona dolt who supposedly installs a rocket on his Impala. When he fires it up, the force launches the Chevy into a cliff.
Alas, says Northcutt, the story is bogus. "The Arizona Highway Patrol still gets a couple of calls a month about that one," she says.
The real stories are plenty good enough.
Like the guy who electrocuted fish and then waded in to scoop up his catch.
Without turning off the power.
Yep, he's Darwin material, all right.
Pam Smith, a high school art teacher who attended Northcutt's talk, believes she knows why so many of us can laugh at the fatal miscues of others.
"I'm glad it wasn't me," she says cheerily. "I'm just glad it wasn't me." •Doug Clark can be reached at (509) 459-5432 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.