Tuesday, June 30, 2009

2009 Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Results Are In! Won't Somebody Think of the Children?

The Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest is a writing contest designed to see who can come up with the worst opening sentence for a novel.

"It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents--except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness."

—Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, Paul Clifford (1830)

The website explains it best:
An international literary parody contest, the competition honors the memory (if not the reputation) of Victorian novelist Edward George Earl Bulwer-Lytton (1803-1873). The goal of the contest is childishly simple: entrants are challenged to submit bad opening sentences to imaginary novels. Although best known for "The Last Days of Pompeii" (1834), which has been made into a movie three times, originating the expression "the pen is mightier than the sword," and phrases like "the great unwashed" and "the almighty dollar," Bulwer-Lytton opened his novel Paul Clifford (1830) with the immortal words that the "Peanuts" beagle Snoopy plagiarized for years, "It was a dark and stormy night."

All I can say is, thank God this is parody. Some of these are real stinkers. Great job, writers! Here are some of my favorites from this year's winners.

"Folks say that if you listen real close at the height of the full moon, when the wind is blowin' off Nantucket Sound from the nor' east and the dogs are howlin' for no earthly reason, you can hear the awful screams of the crew of the "Ellie May," a sturdy whaler Captained by John McTavish; for it was on just such a night when the rum was flowin' and, Davey Jones be damned, big John brought his men on deck for the first of several screaming contests."

David McKenzie
Federal Way, WA

David McKenzie, the winner of this year's contest, is a 55-year-old Quality Systems consultant and writer from Federal Way, Washington. Excellent job, David. Truly awful.


The wind dry-shaved the cracked earth like a dull razor--the double edge kind from the plastic bag that you shouldn't use more than twice, but you do; but Trevor Earp had to face it as he started the second morning of his hopeless search for Drover, the Irish Wolfhound he had found as a pup near death from a fight with a prairie dog and nursed back to health, stolen by a traveling circus so that the monkey would have something to ride.

Warren Blair
Ashburn, VA

Winner: Adventure

How best to pluck the exquisite Toothpick of Ramses from between a pair of acrimonious vipers before the demonic Guards of Nicobar returned should have held Indy's full attention, but in the back of his mind he still wondered why all the others who had agreed to take part in his wife's holiday scavenger hunt had been assigned to find stuff like a Phillips screwdriver or blue masking tape.

Joe Wyatt
Amarillo, Texas

Runner-Up: Adventure

(This one's my favorite.)
In a flurry of flame and fur, fangs and wicker, thus ended the world's first and only hot air baboon ride.

Tony Alfieri
Los Angeles, CA

Runner-Up: Detective

The dame sauntered silently into Rocco's office, but she didn't need to speak; the blood-soaked gown hugging her ample curves said it all: "I am a shipping heiress whose second husband was just murdered by Albanian assassins trying to blackmail me for my rare opal collection," or maybe, "Do you know a good dry cleaner?"

Tony Alfieri
Los Angeles, CA

Dishonorable Mention: Adventure

(Also my favorite)
The appearance of a thin red beam of light under my office door and the sound of one, then two pair of feet meant my demise was near, that my journey from gum-shoe detective to international agent had gone horribly wrong, until I realized it was my secretary teasing her cat with a laser pointer.

Steve Lynch
San Marcos, CA

Winner: Fantasy Fiction

(You know, I think I've read this one! Looks like every fantasy fan fiction I've ever read, and the biggest reason I gave up on the genre years ago.)
A quest is not to be undertaken lightly--or at all!--pondered Hlothgar, Thrag of the Western Boglands, son of Glothar, nephew of Garthol, known far and wide as Skull Dunker, as he wielded his chesty stallion Hralgoth through the ever-darkening Thlargwood, beyond which, if he survived its horrors and if Hroglath the royal spittle reader spoke true, his destiny awaited--all this though his years numbered but fourteen.

Stuart Greenman
Seattle, WA

Runner-Up: Fantasy

(Why is it all the runners-up are my favorites?)
Towards the dragon's lair the fellowship marched -- a noble human prince, a fair elf, a surly dwarf, and a disheveled copyright attorney who was frantically trying to find a way to differentiate this story from "Lord of the Rings."

Andrew Manoske
Foster City, CA

This makes me want to enter next year. If you're interested, you can enter too. Just go to the Bulwer-Lytton website.

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Monday, June 29, 2009

British City Council Bans Library Group Over Hot Coffee Fears

Thank God for the Peterborough, England City Council in their never ending fight to keep Peterborough's children safe from danger. It takes real commitment to freedom from harm, danger, and . . . coffee?

According to the London Daily Mail, the Peterborough City Council have banned a seniors group that meets in the Eye Library, in Eye, Cambridgeshire, citing health and safety concerns.

Ah, "health and safety," the mating cry of the mentally stagnant, the dogmatically unenlightened, the cretinously obtuse. There's a reason people make fun of British city councils. It's whenever you do something like this.

This time, the city council is worried that the members of the Over 50s group — a group of seven people — might spill hot coffee on children who use a nearby nursery.

Coffee club member Derek Taylor told the Daily Mail the club members always finish their coffee by the time the little tykes show up at the library for their 30 minute visit.

"It is just laughable really. It is health and safety gone through the roof," Taylor told the Daily Mail. "Nearly four years ago we set up a coffee morning at Eye Library after the librarian at the time came up with the idea, and since then about seven of us have been going there every Tuesday."

Retired office worker Patricia Owen, 70, and her husband Ray, 69, have also been attending the coffee mornings since they were launched.

"We are being told we can't have a hot drink. Health and safety is a silly excuse," Patricia Owen, 70, said.

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents has basically called for the Petersborough Council to pull its head out of its bureaucracy.

"While the last thing anyone would want is a toddler getting scalded, risk assessments shouldn't only be based on hazards," said Carl Christopher, spokesman for the RSCPOA. "They should also be based on the probability of these hazards occurring. This would seem to be a disproportionate reaction to risk. I'm sure a sensible compromise could be found that does not leave these pensioners on the streets."

You can find more — many more — stories about British Health and Safety stupidity concerns here:

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Sunday, June 28, 2009

Phone It In Sunday: Will Ferrell in Celebrity Jeopardy from May 2009

I'm actually watching the rerun of this right now on NBC as I post this. My wife loves Celebrity Jeopardy. Tom Hanks is hysterical in this one.

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Saturday, June 27, 2009

Portland, ME School Superintendent Suzanne Lukas' Job In Jeopardy

Superintendent of Portland, Maine schools raised the ire of a lot of students and their families a couple weeks ago when she denied Justin Denney his diploma because he blew his mom a kiss as he crossed the stage.

"There's no fooling around up here," she told Denney, and sent him back to his seat empty-handed. She also cracked down on students who inflated some beach balls and a giant rubber duck, and one student was nearly arrested.

Needless to say, a lot of people were upset at the way Lukas handled the graduation at Bonney Eagle High School that day, and many angry reactions followed.

In my column from June 18, I said, "(I)f I were a betting man, I would wager Superintendent Lukas won't be available to distribute diplomas next year or any year after that."

It looks like I may be proved right. In a story on KeepMECurrent.com, Ben Bragdon says that Lukas' future is on the line. The school board voted this past Monday to set a meeting to evaluate her performance.

Lukas has been the superintendent in School Administrative District (SAD) 6 since 2004, and has just finished the first year of a five-year contract that paid her $118,000.

Apparently, she was widely sought after too.

"We must have interviewed three or four dozen people in Kennebunk, and there was unanimous support for Suzanne's abilities, her intelligence and her leadership. She was very highly thought of in Kennebunk," Bruce Avery, chairman of the search committee told the Lakes Region Weekly on June 11, 2004.

And now, thanks to a couple poor decisions on her part, her actions have become national news, she has been humiliated and embarrassed, and her career and future are in the hands of someone else with more power than her.

That just sounds so familiar. I can't quite put my finger on where I heard it though. . .

I've got mixed emotions in this story. On the one hand, Lukas was doing what she thought was right, and she could very well lose her job for it. On the other, she embarrassed students in front of an auditorium full of people and sent a few away empty-handed for very minor offenses.

While I love irony and poetic justice, I can't help but feel sorry for Lukas. Her entire career may come to a humiliating end because she's got control issues.

Maybe now she knows what she put her students through.

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Friday, June 26, 2009

Karl the Curmudgeon Hates the Oxford Comma

"So, Kid, what do you think about this whole serial comma business?" asked Karl, my friend and part-time curmudgeon. He was referring to the second comma that appears in a list, like "red, white, and blue."

What serial comma business? I asked. Has something happened to it?

"No," said Karl. "I was just wondering what you thought of it." We were sitting in The Maudlin Moose, a Nova Scotian bar and grill. We were watching the Nova Scotia provincial curling quarterfinals on satellite TV, and hoisting a couple of Canadian beers to celebrate. The Chedabucto Curling Club was locked in icy battle against the 14 Wing Greenwood Curling Club. Chedabucto was leading 7 - 3.

Well, first of all, it's called the Oxford comma, I said. Second, I'm a big fan. I'm thinking about getting one tattooed on my shoulder.

"Seriously, Kid?" Karl plonked his beer on the bar, like he usually did when he was annoyed or surprised. I ignored it. "You like the serial comma—?"

Oxford comma.

"Whatever. Isn't it also called the Harvard comma?"

Yes, but "Oxford comma" sounds smarter, more refined, and just plain spiffy, I said, employing my beloved comma.

"And Harvard's not 'spiffy?'"

Not like Oxford.

"I figured that as a newspaper columnist, you would be dead against it. The Associated Press Style Guide says not to use it."

Yes, but it's widely used in the American Psychological Association's style guide, and I used the APA style guide all through college.

"Well, I've been writing a whole lot longer than you, and I refuse to use it."

Never? Not even once?

"Not in my columns, my articles, or my books."

You just used it right there.

"No, I didn't. You put it there."

Why would I do that?

"Because you're sneaky, underhanded, and would do it for a cheap laugh."

See, you did it again.

"Now cut that out!"

I ordered a couple more beers. This was turning out to be a fun evening. I think it's important for writers to use the serial comma for clarity, I said.

"Bull. A good writer can be clear without it."

Oh yeah? What about the guy who dedicated his book to "my parents, the Pope and Mother Teresa?" If he had used the Oxford comma, it wouldn't have looked like his parents were the two holiest people in the world.

"That story's apocryphal anyway."


"Apocryphal. It means dubious, untrue, or inaccurate."

Gotcha. You did it again.

"Kid, now you're just putting commas in my mouth!" Karl plonked his beer so hard, some of it sloshed over the side.

What about this? There was a story in Time magazine about a Dallas church that had "3,500 members, a full choir, a violinist and long-stem roses in the bathroom." And since the journalist didn't use the Oxford comma, we're led to believe the church has a violinist in the bathroom.

Karl folded his arms. "Well, maybe it does."

Don't be that way, you big baby. There is no reason whatsoever to leave out a comma. It doesn't change anything, and it doesn't use up a lot of extra ink.

"I've got one for you. 'Ken, a writer, and a horse went to the baseball game.' Does that sentence mean that Ken is a writer and he took a horse to the game, or did Ken and a writer take a horse to the game? That right there shows me why Oxford commas are bad news."

No, that right there shows why you need to be a better writer. You could say "Ken, a writer, took a horse to the game," or you could say "Ken and a writer took a horse to the game." If you think the sentence is unclear, then it needs to be rewritten.

"That's easy for you to say," said Karl. "Anything to save your precious comma."

Well, I don't see why people are so dead set against it. It helps with reader clarity, and it lends a touch of class and tradition to writing. I think too many people like to dismiss it because they think they're supposed to.

"What about journalists? Don't you think they know what they're doing?"

Yes, but a lot of them have a knee-jerk reaction against it. But when they eliminate it, they end up with violinists in church bathrooms.

"I think I'm going home now."

Oh come on, I said. Don't be a big baby.

"I'm not being a baby," Karl said. "I'm tired, I'm hungry, and I've got a headache."

You also keep using those pesky commas.

"That's it, I'm tired of this, you're bugging me, and—."

And what?

"Never mind."

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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Small Town Traffic Report

This is WTNY radio, country music, news, and traffic for Tiny, Indiana.

Traffic looks pretty good, but we've got a bit of a backup on County Road 32. Bob Hatcher is sitting in the right lane, talking to Mrs. Ethel Harris. You may remember, Mrs. Harris' sister, Mrs. Evelyn Whitson of Evansville, recently fell and broke her hip. Mrs. Harris told Bob that Evelyn is back home and on the mend.

Over on County Road 28, a tree was knocked over by last night's storm, and Carl is on his way with a chain saw to clear it off. So you cars who are backed up — let's see, the traffic chopper says it's Steve and Mrs. Johnson – you'll be on your way to your destination in a short while. By the way, Steve, your wife says to pick up some milk on your way home.

That's all for traffic this half hour. We'll have an update for you at 8:20.

Now to sports.

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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Orange Barrels, Orange Barrels, Everywhere I See

Every summer, I'm reminded of the Todd Yohn song, "Orange Barrels," as I navigate the maze of construction around the city. And every summer, I'm reminded that there are some careers where common sense is not one of the job requirements. Nor do they provide on-the-job training for it.

Whenever I come to a one-lane construction zone, there's always some Gomer whose job it is to turn the SLOW/STOP sign. He's on the radio with the Gomer on the other end of the lane, and they're telling each other when to turn the sign so the other lane of traffic can proceed.

As they make the switch, and my lane of traffic proceeds to move, my Gomer will wave the cars around him into the open lane of traffic. If it's a particularly long line, the rest will realize what's going on, and move into the lane of traffic.

And Gomer will continue to wave.

I could be the 20th car in that line, and we all got into the other lane seconds earlier, and Gomer will wave me through, as if I somehow failed to notice the 19 in front of me driving around the giant yellow backhoe and big hole in the ground.

At times like this, I like to make eye contact with Gomer, point at the lane, and mouth the words "This way?"

Oftentimes they'll nod seriously, as if they've provided some service beyond spinning a sign 180 degrees every 5 minutes.

One time, when I was driving around southern Indiana, I was the last in line on a particularly long stretch of one-lane road dotted with orange cones. I had been let through by one of the brighter Gomers I had ever seen, in that he did not wave me around, but assumed I was smart enough to figure it out.

His older, dumber brother was a little further down the line, however. As I was making my way down the obviously-marked single lane of traffic, he was at the halfway point, waving us through some more, like we might get lost if he weren't there, providing valuable guidance.

Since traffic was light, and I was last in line, I slammed on the brakes and rolled down my window.

"You're doing that like we have a choice," I hollered to the guy. "Where exactly do you think we would go?"

The guy looked nervously up and down the lane of traffic. He had never been presented with this puzzle before. I drove off before his head exploded, like the computers on Star Trek that have been smacked around by Captain Kirk's circular logic.

I looked in my mirror to see he had shoved his hands in his pockets, still looking nervously at my disappearing car.

Photo: Brick1083

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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

English Bureaucrats Ruining English Language. Again.

It's only fitting, the creators of the English language should also be the ones to ruin the English language. And they're doing it at an earlier age.

The British government has released some new guidance that tells teachers not to teach the "i before e, except after c" rule, because "there are too many exceptions.

According to a story on the BBC, the new "Support For Spelling" document was sent to over 13,000 primary schools. The government employees responsible for whacking the English language with a +5 vorpal blade of stupidity said the rule "is not worth teaching" because it doesn't account for words like 'sufficient,' 'veil' and 'their.'"

This from the same country where a city council quit using the apostrophe on city signs because they had too many problems with it.

Blah blah blah.

I think the British government is deceiving us. I personally can't conceive of any way British students will receive a quality language education without some basic rules. Teachers can always discuss the exceptions to help dispel any preconceived notions the students may have.

The bureaucrats are only deceiving themselves by thinking this tried-but-true rule has no place in education. I understand their desire to make learning easier, but I perceive a lot of problems will arise in the future.

Photo: Anselm23
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Monday, June 22, 2009

Lemonye, PA Asks Pedestrians to Carry Flags When Crossing the Street

Lemoyne, Pennsylvania is giving England a run for their money as Biggest Nanny State in the Western Hemisphere. They have taken the last step before requiring all pedestrians to wear helmets and knee pads.

They're asking people who cross the street to carry a day-glo orange flag.

According to a story in the Harrisburg Patriot-News, the borough of Lemoyne has placed bins filled with orange flags at the corner of 3rd and Market, and 12th and Market. The idea is that you'll carry one high above your head — without feeling like a complete doofus, one presumes — as you cross those intersections.

The project was inspired by the Nanny State formerly known as Kirkland, Washington.

The project has two goals, Lemoyne Councilman John Judson told the Patriot-News. "(T)o make pedestrians more visible and to remind drivers that pedestrians have the right of way."

Judson says if the program is well-received in Lemoyne, they'll consider adding flags to other locations.

Do you hear that, Lemoynians? If the program is well-received, they'll add flags to other locations. One can safely assume that if the program is not well-received, they will not place flags at other intersections. They will also not require pedestrians to wear helmets and kneepads, or put bicycle bells on their wrists. They will not pad all car bumpers with bubble wrap.

I'm not that confident the program will continue. Dickinson College in Carlisle, Penn. had a similar program last year. But according to college spokesperson Christine Dugan, the nannying only lasted a year, as more and more people stole the flags.

"In theory, it's a great idea, it really is," Randal Ray Robertson, owner of Triple R Guitar told the Patriot-News.

I agree with you, Randal — in theory. In theory, Communism works. In theory.

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Sunday, June 21, 2009

Phone It In Sunday: What if Clients Treated Other People the Way They Treat Freelancers?

As a freelancer, I've seen this several times. I may start showing this to clients who pull this.

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Saturday, June 20, 2009

Jeffersonville, IN City Attorney Found Asleep in Neighbor's Trash Can

No one is saying attorneys can't get drunk. No one is saying they can't get drunk with friends.

They are saying you can't fall asleep in your neighbor's garbage can to sleep it off.

At least that's what they're telling Jeffersonville, Indiana city attorney Larry Wilder, who was found by police, after neighbors called them upon finding Wilder in their trash can.

"Someone's throwing away a perfectly good man," said the neighbor.

"It's okay, he's an attorney," said the police.

Jeffersonville Police Chief Tim Deeringer told the Floyd County Tribune that Wilder cooperated with police, and was able to walk home, which was just right next door.

Neighbor Roberta Embry said her husband found the non-recyclable attorney when he went for a walk that morning.

“He (Wilder) took all the trash out and laid it (the trash can) on its side,” Embry told the paper.

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Friday, June 19, 2009

Student Denied Diploma For Blowing Mom Kiss

Student Denied Diploma For Blowing Mom Kiss

Erik Deckers
Laughing Stalk syndicate
Copyright 2009

The end of a school year is always great fodder for this column. Lawsuits by high school students unhappy with their grades, senior pranks ranging from the very minor to the outrageous, school administrators who crack down on small incidents,controversial or weird commencement speeches, and general high school shenanigans that makes normal people roll their eyes and say, "Meh, what are you gonna do?"

So I wasn't too surprised when I heard that Justin Denney, a graduate of Bonney Eagle High School in Portland, Maine was denied his diploma because of his wild, over-the-top antics on the graduation stage.

When he crossed the stage, he bowed to his family, and blew his mom a kiss. Crazy, just crazy.

Apparently, Denney broke some sort of double-secret rule of appropriateness, because Portland Schools superintendent Suzanne Lukas told him to go back to his seat, allegedly saying, "there's no fooling around up here." She refused to give him his diploma, and he had to walk back to his seat, empty-handed. In fact, she still hasn't given it to him.

Meanwhile, Justin's mother, Mary, is what clinical psychologists call "wicked pissed." She is demanding an apology from Lukas, and she wants Lukas to personally hand Justin his diploma. She doesn't see any problem with what Justin did, and believes he has a right to be proud of his accomplishments and his family.

In fact, a lot of people are upset with Lukas. From what the Portland Press-Herald is saying, there were a lot of students and families who were upset with Lukas' fascist response to the antics of some of the students, and they're holding her responsible for turning the ceremony into a fiasco.

Admittedly, some of the students got out of hand, bouncing around a couple of inflatable beach balls and a giant inflatable rubber ducky. The police escorted one student out of the ceremony and nearly arrested him, and now Justin hasn't been given his diploma because he wanted to honor his family and show his love.

Needless to say, parents are writing angry letters and emails to the school board and to Lukas, demanding that something be done.

According to an article on local news station websites, the SAD 6 school board had an emergency executive session on Wednesday to discuss Lukas' "performance at the graduation," the administration's version of being called to the principal's office.

There was no word whether Lukas would be expelled, suspended, or sent to detention. Maybe they'll tell her "there's no fooling around up there," and withhold her paycheck.

Now I'll admit things are different today from when I was in high school. When I graduated in, uhh, 1985, we were a lot more staid and boring. When the person at the front of the auditorium said "hold your applause until the end," by God, we held it. There were always a couple of families who yelled and cheered, but most people shot them dirty looks and whispered about the impropriety of it all.

People were aghast in those days. We were offended, bothered, and disturbed by graduation antics, which is why no one cheered for me. (Of course, that's also because I had gotten into serious trouble that morning, but that's a whole other story.)

Not anymore. When my younger brother graduated from college a couple years ago, and the guy up front asked us to hold our applause, my normally-reserved mother informed me she was going to cheer for my brother.

"But we're not supposed to do that," I said, shouting to be heard over the families of other graduating seniors. "That guy said not to."

"You haven't been to a graduation in a while, have you?" said my mom, and then whooped and clapped like she had just won the lottery when Andrew's name was called.

Okay, I did too. A little.

Like it or not, craziness is just a part of graduation these days. And while Lukas and her ilk would like it to be a staid, boring ceremony like it was 24 years ago, they need to remember this is a celebration about the kids, for the kids, because of the kids. Let them have their moment of fun. Don't ruin it by clenching your iron fist, or you won't like the fallout.

Because if I were a betting man, I would wager Superintendent Lukas won't be available to distribute diplomas next year or any year after that.

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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Birmingham U.K. Drops Apostrophes Because "They're Too Hard"

I'm going to change the spelling of Birmingham, England.

They're having a whack at my beloved apostrophe, so I'm going after them.

Apparently, their City Council thinks the apostrophe is too hard to understand, so rather than learn how to use it properly, they're just getting rid of it.

According to a great post by Denise Baron, if you live on O'Dell street, you now live on ODell. If your street is D'Arcy Avenue, it's now Darcy Avenue. St. Paul's Square is now St. Pauls Square. You get the picture.

So I'm fighting back. The city in England is not pronounced the same way as Birming-HAM, Alabama. They pronounce it Birming-um. No 'H.'

And since they're getting rid of the apostrophe because they can't use it, I'm changing the name of their city since no one pronounces the 'H.'

Birmingham, England is now Birmingam.

Ow do you like tat, Birmingam City Council? Don't piss me off, or I'm dropping the M's too.

John Richards, founder of the Apostrophe Protection Society, told the London Daily Telegraph, "The council should aim its efforts to ensuring that apostrophes are used correctly, not deciding to erase them altogether. It is choosing the easy way out, dumbing down and showing contempt for the large number of area's residents who take a pride in the English language."

One Birmingam councilor explained his backing of the stupid decision: "I don't see the point of them."

Frankly, I don't see the point of City Councilors either, but apparently they're necessary to clarify rules, bring order to the community, and serve a general purpose.

Sort of like an apostrophe.

In the meantime, Birmingham is now Birmingam, and I will refuse to use the H in their name until the rescind and amend their stupidity.

And while, I'm at it, here are some extra apostrophes to hold my apostrophic brethren in Birmingam over until this dark period is lifted.

' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' '

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Lehigh County School Officials Overreact to School Prank

When I was in high school, a few friends and I played a senior prank by sticking some For Sale signs in the front yard, and spray painting "EAT ME" on a white sheet, then hanging it from the roof. The coup de grace was hanging a dead possum over it. Nothing too dramatic, but still enough to get us in trouble.

Still, it was nothing as harsh or terroristic as the young destructive punks at Southern Lehigh High School in Allentown, Pennsylvania. School officials suspended 17 students for five days because they scaled the school walls and blew up three biology labs.

No, just kidding, they — wait for it — camped out inside an enclosed courtyard.

According to an article in the Allentown Morning Call, school officials not only suspended the 17 students, but three of them may lose their membership in the National Honor Society. They were also banned from participating in their own graduation.

Later, two students were also suspended after they emailed the Morning Call criticizing the administration and its handling of the prank. But after a major protest on the part of the students, the administration caved in like a house of cards in a tornado, and waived the two whistle blowers' suspensions.

School officials around the country are blaming a post-Columbine/post-September 11 mentality for wrecking the lives of students who play a harmless prank.

"No question we live in the context of the times," said Mel Riddile, a director with the National Association of Secondary Schools. "Breaking into schools and letting animals loose was a prank in the '70s and '80s. Today, that could be considered a terrorist act."

"The problem is nowadays you don't know whether something is supposed to be a joke or is real," said Daniel Domenech, executive director of the American Association of School Administrators. "And there have been too many incidents where what appeared to be a prank was not. It's a pity, because we all remember our days as students and the pranks we pulled as a rite of passage."

Actually, there are a few general rules you can follow:

  • Climbing the walls of the school and sleeping inside an enclosed courtyard without causing any damage: prank.

  • Sticking 35,000 forks into the lawn of your high school, spelling "We will never Fork-get you:" prank.

  • Bringing guns or explosives to school: terrorist attack

Leave finding terrorists to the FBI. The general rule is if it's something a bunch of students do near the end of the year, and nothing is broken or blown up, have a good laugh and get over yourself. Quit trying to wreck the lives of a bunch of 17-year-olds who made a stupid choice by trying to spend the night in the school.

For Sale signs would have been the smarter way to go.

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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Shaker Heights (Ohio) Yearbook Cover Contains "Mother" of All Cusswords

It must have been a slow news day for this to make national news, but the cover of the Shaker Heights High School yearbook has a bad word on it.

The mother of all bad words: Fudge

Only it didn't say "fudge." It said THE word. The big one. The queen mother of all dirty words. The F dash dash dash word.

According to a story on Cleveland's Fox8 website, seems a particularly gift student artist was given the honor of designing the cover of the yearbook, and created a crowd of Red Raider mascots. Hidden inside the crowd — and you have to turn it upside down to see it — is the phrase "F--- all y'all."

Oopsie. (If you click the picture below, you can go to the Fox8 News story where they're very helpful in showing you how to find it.)

Principal Michael Griffith was not amused. He wrote a letter to students and their families saying they were suspending yearbook distribution, because "an obscenity was cleverly concealed in the cover artwork."

At least he gave the student some credit for cleverness.

So the school covered up the offending K, U, and C (not necessarily in that order) so they could be given out before the school year ended. They did offer to fix any books that had already been given out, although I can't imagine they had many takers.

Principal Griffith's letter also contained a note — a "sincere apology," said Michael McIntyre from the Cleveland Plain-Dealer — from the artist, which said "I cannot begin to explain the miserable feeling I brought upon myself when I betrayed the trust of all of you."

McIntyre, who may also believe in the Easter Bunny and the merits of high school class basketball (it's an Indiana thing. Sorry.), said:

The sincere apology worked. At the Shaker graduation ceremony Thursday, the student artist received the loudest, most sustained applause of any fellow student as he accepted his diploma.

Uh, Michael, that wasn't in appreciation for a sincere apology. Think back to when you were in high school and one of your classmates pulled some prank right before they graduated (mine was sticking a bunch of For Sale signs in my school's front yard. . . I was a bit of a weenie back then). Didn't the students yell and cheer for the prankster when he or she crossed the stage?

That's what happened in Shaker Heights. No one gave a rip about a sincere apology. They were just excited to see someone pull a prank that lasts longer than a high school relationship and live to tell the tale.

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Monday, June 15, 2009

Glenora Distillery Wins Right to Use "Glen" in the Name of its Whisky

The Scotch Whisky Association lost a momentous nine-year battle, trying to stop Cape Breton (Nova Scotia) Glenora Distillery from using the word "Glen" in the name of its single malt whisky, Glen Breton Rare Canadian Single Malt Whisky.

They still can't call it Scotch though, since that's reserved only for products made in Scotland. But the SWA also thinks the name "Glen" should be similarly reserved. So they sued Cape Breton Glenora Distillery several years ago to put an end to it. (They're reportedly considering a similar lawsuit against actress Glenn Close.)

They lost. So they appealed. And lost again.

According to a story on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's website, the Supreme Court of Canada refused to hear the SWA's appeal of a lower court's ruling. To really kick them in the pants, the Supreme Court dismissed the appeal "with costs," which means the SWA also has to pay part of Glenora's legal fees.

"The Association is disappointed by the Canadian Supreme Court's decision refusing leave to appeal," said the SWA. "If only we had some way to drown our sorrows, some sort of amber liquid."

The SWA's entire argument was based on the idea that by using the name "Glen," it might confuse Scotch drinkers.

I wouldn't worry too much. I'm guessing the big "Made in Canada" label is going to clue people in.

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Sunday, June 14, 2009

Phone It In Sunday: Lindsay Lohan's eHarmony Profile

It's nice to see that Lindsay can laugh at herself, and let the rest of us do it too.

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Saturday, June 13, 2009

France's First Lady Dope-Slaps PETA Over False Fur Accusations

The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) — the same PETA that kills family pets in their Arlington, Virginia animal shelter — got bitch-slapped by Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, France's first lady, after they sent her a letter condemning her use of fur in some outfits sent to her by fashion designers.

According to a story in the Washington Times, PETA's US chapter had sent a letter (which was "mysteriously" leaked to the Associated Press) to Bruni-Sarkozi, citing some concerns they had about some photos that showed the former super model wearing what looked like fur.

So Bruni-Sarkozy leaked a letter back to them, by way of Dan Mathews, senior VP for PETA.

"Every designer who kindly lends me clothes for public appearances can tell you that I do not accept to wear fur pieces, even when they're only a small part of the outfit."

"I hope this letter answers the questions you may have had," said Bruni-Sarkozi. "Do not hesitate to write to me directly in the future or if you prefer to go through wire service, please take the time to check facts before publication."


Don't waste your breath. PETA has never been known for letting simple things like facts get in the way of a good publicity stunt.
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Friday, June 12, 2009

Don't Mess With Indiana

Don't Mess with Indiana

Erik Deckers
Laughing Stalk Syndicate
Copyright 2009

I love Indiana. I love the people, I love the cities and towns, I love everything we stand for: corn, car racing, and the belief that any high school basketball team anywhere can win a state championship and have a movie made about them.

I moved here with my family when I was two, moved away for a couple years in my mid-20s, and immediately came back. I'm a Hoosier through and through. I grew up in Indiana, went to an Indiana college, and have started a family here.

I've traveled throughout the United States, and have been outside the country several times, but I'm always happy to come home. Once, I had an opportunity to interview for a job in Wisconsin, and as I was making travel plans for the interview, I chickened out. I didn't want to leave my home, even for the cheese.

Unfortunately, Indiana has gotten a bad rap outside the Midwest. New York City and Washington DC think we're a bunch of politically unsophisticated hicks. California and Oregon think we're backwoods Neanderthals who still haven't given women the right to vote.

Of course, I can brag about how Indianapolis has a Super Bowl team. New York got their Super Bowl a year later, but Los Angeles hasn't had a football team, much less a Super Bowl trophy, since Arnold Schwarzenegger played a pregnant dude in "Junior."

Personally, I'm tired of the urbane snootiness that oozes from the two coasts. You're not that special, coastal states. We're the freaking heartland of the entire country, you guys are the flabby arms.

In psychological terms, Indiana is the middle child of the country, between angry older brother New York, and California, the baby who was given free run and no rules. (And don't tell me Hawaii is younger than California. Hawaii is Cousin Oliver.)

We're not very fashion forward here in the Hoosier state either. The East Coast fashion Nazis never have anything nice to say about us Midwesterners, no matter what we wear, thinking we only wear overalls and flannel shirts. I'll admit, we're not always up on the latest fashion, but then again, we have more important things to spend our money on than a $500 pair of shoes.

Because here in the heartland, where the real people live, we dress for comfort and appropriateness. Not for style, not for fashion, not to impress other fashion Nazis.

See, here in Indiana, we don't feel the need to take arbitrary color and fashion advice from a bleach-blonde bag of hangers. We don't want to wear the latest in haute couture. We don't want an extreme fashion makeover. This is Indiana. We wear whatever the hell we feel like.

Weather is another thing that separates us from the rest of the country. We don't have problems with typhoons or hurricanes. We're safe from that kind of business. We realize we're not on the ocean, but then again, the term "ocean view" doesn't mean it may be the last thing we ever see during bad weather.

Earthquakes are very rare here too. We had an earthquake last year, and we're still talking about it. Unlike some other, more earthquake-prone states I could name, we don't worry about the southern third of Indiana snapping off and floating away down the Ohio River.

On the other hand, our big weather drawback is tornados, but we're used to it, having come from a long line of Republican politicians. We're in Tornado Alley, which means we get as many tornados before breakfast as California gets all year.

Hoosiers are a hardy, resilient bunch. When we get knocked down by a tornado, we jump up, shake our fists at the departing funnel cloud, and shout, "Is that all you got?!"

And we're nice people, unlike some other major metropolitan cities I could name. (*cough* New York *cough cough*) We've got such a reputation for being nice, there's even a name for it: "Indiana Nice."

We're America's Canada.

In Indiana, we don't like to hurt other people's feelings (not like those jerks from Ohio!), so we try to avoid telling people no. We'll put people off, tell them we'll do something later, and then never do it at all.

We call this the "Indiana No," which can be annoying and inconvenient, especially when you're dealing with the business world.

But if that's our only problem, it's a nice problem to have. We don't have a reputation for being rude and obnoxious, or shallow and self-absorbed. We're Indiana, and we like it that way.

So keep the $&^%#! out!

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Thursday, June 11, 2009

Seattle School District Spends $18,000+ to Cut Budget

From the Unclear On The Concept Files:

The Seattle School District is losing state funding as part of next year's budget, so to help cut costs, the Seattle School Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson struck upon an idea: ask members of the teachers union to lose one day of work to help make up for the lost funds. Otherwise, they just wouldn't have a job next year.

Pop quiz:

You're Maria Goodloe-Johnson, and you need to communicate this news to 3,300 members of the teachers union. Do you:

a) Send an email to every teacher fully explaining the situation.
b) Send a letter to the teachers union and ask them to relay the information to all of the members.
c) Send a note to every teacher through the school district's mail system.
d) Send a certified letter to each teacher for $5.63 each, and bypass the teachers union completely.

Regular Laughing Stalk readers always know to pick the stupidest possible answer — it's always D — in these quizzes. 'Cause that's what Maria Goodloe-Johnson did (she must have peeked at the answers).

According to a column by Seattle Times columnist Nicole Brodeur, Goodloe-Johnson spent $18,579 to communicate what I could have done for free with a computer and a Gmail account.

"(T)o spend thousands to cry poor is like driving to your kid's school to tell him to take the bus," Brodeur said in her column. "Do that, and you squander faith and respect from not just your charges, but the people who supply the cash. Taxpayers. Surely the district can find a way to not look like a bunch of hypocrites."

You would think so. But then you would think they would have come up with a different way to make up the losses than actually penalizing the teachers. They could have cut adminstrators' salaries, asked them to take a furlough, or you know, cut the postage budget by about $18,579.

It's like a large car company or bank cutting the salaries of its main workers so they could keep their executive bonuses. No company is actually dumb enough to — uh, never mind.

Brodeur said many of the teachers were so pissed, they protested in front of the district offices with well-written, grammatically correct protest signs. So she went down for a visit and to see if her math was right.

It was. Seattle teachers don't raise up no dummies.

"It's a waste of money," said David Fisher, a teacher at Cleveland High School. (Seattle teachers ain't no dummies either.)

As a further protest, Fisher is leaving his certified letter at the post office. That's $5.63 down the drain right there, so suck on that Seattle School District.

But district spokesman David Tucker defended the boneheaded move letter campaign.

"We have to make sure that the affected employees have the information at hand as soon as possible," Tucker said, adding that the only way to ensure that is by certified mail.

Hmm, now I don't know much about technology — oh wait, I totally do. That's why I know they could have sent the letters out by email, put a delivery and read receipt on them, and sent them all for free.

Or since this all happened in May, they could have sent copies to each school and asked the school secretaries to photocopy them and put them in each teacher's mailbox.

Or ask the dues-collecting teacher's union to send them out.

Or if you want to get really creative, put up a website with a sign-in page. Send an email asking teachers to visit the page, get them to sign in so you know who read it, and then do it all electronically.

"We need to confirm receipt and ensure that the information gets to them," Tucker said.

I'm telling you, David, Microsoft Outlook, which I'm sure you're using, lets you set delivery and read receipts on every email. You'll get notified about people who read the email. Then you can send letters to those who never did.

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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

U of Washington Art Professor Settles Lawsuit Against Snohomish Police

Shirley Scheier, a University of Washington art professor, who was arrested for taking pictures of power lines settled her lawsuit against the city of Snohomish (Washington) police for $8,000.

In 2007, Scheier was handcuffed, frisked, and held in the back of a squad car, because they believed she was a terrorist.

Although she was released a short time later, she sued the Snohomish police for being overly aggressive and generally going overboard in their reaction.

According to a story in the Seattle Times (official motto: at least we're still printed on real paper), the settlement was reached a year after a U.S. District Court bitch-slapped the three cops who frisked and arrested Scheier, saying they "lacked a reasonable justification for their aggressive tactics in completely restraining Scheier's personal liberty."

Larry Bauman, the Snohomish city manager, told the Times they settled the lawsuit was a business decision, and not because they were convinced they were going to be bitch-slapped all over again to the tune of the entire GDP of Moldova.

"The decision to settle was made by our insurance pool," Bauman told the Times. "They determined that going to trial would have cost $30,000 and that an $8,000 settlement was a good business decision."


I'm no legal expert, but I have a feeling it had to do more with the fact that a jury is going to look at three burly police officers and a middle-aged art professor, and come up with a verdict that includes the words "wildly inappropriate," "jack booted," and "millions."

"We believe our officers acted appropriately and with courtesy," said Bauman.


Even the U.S. District Court judge wrote, "'(g)eneralized, unsubstantiated suspicions of terrorist activity' does not give police the right to ignore people's constitutional rights," said the Times article.

Look for police to begin arresting Girl Scouts for "unauthorized residential surveillance" during the upcoming Girl Scout Cookie sales season.

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Tuesday, June 09, 2009

British Nanny State Bans Swimming Goggles for Schoolchildren

England is back in the news for another short-sighted and stupid health and safety decision. This time, they're banning children from wearing goggles during swimming lessons.

The decision — made by the Department of People Who Don't Understand How Swimming Goggles Work — believe goggles are a "hazard and can cause permanent eye injury."

The ruling was issued by the British Association of Advisors and Lecturers in Physical Education about a school, Ysgol Bryn Coch primary in Mold, Flintshire.

Lifeguard trainer Tom Ingram told the London Daily Star this decision could stop children from learning swimming.

"In 10 years of training lifeguards and watching pools I have never known an injury from a pair of goggles," Ingram said. "In fact, it may be worse for kids not to wear goggles as it will stop them developing their stroke, make them strain their necks and leave their eyes exposed to the pool chemicals."

The ruling only allows goggles on medical grounds by children who suffer excessively from the effects of water chemicals.

Despite three families pulling their kids out of swim lessons, and at the risk of becoming a national laughing stock, headteacher Lynne Williams told the Sun, “It has been recognised that goggles can pose a real risk to children and this has been accepted by the governors.”

Said another way, "It has been recognized we have no idea what we're talking about. This has been accepted by everyone else in the entire world."

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Monday, June 08, 2009

Can You Tase Me Now? Goo-YEEOWWWWW!!!

A Penn Hills, Pennsylvania high school student was Tasered last week after he brought a loaded weapon to school and waved it around the school hallways.

Just kidding, he was Tasered because he allegedly refused to stop talking on a cell phone and pushed a police officer.

According to a story in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, a Penn Hills police officer did what's called a "drive stun," which involves pushing the Taser against a portion of a body, like a leg, it immobilizes that part of the body.

"The kid refused to listen," Chief Burton told the Post-Gazette. "The officer took him by the arm and said, 'You have to go to the office.' The student resisted, pushed the officer. The officer, defending himself, took out his stun gun and did a drive stun."

"NNNNGGGKKKK!" the student said.

Chief Burton said after the student had collapsed on the floor, he was still resisting, and so was cuffed by the macho, burly police officer who shocked him into submission, rather than just wrestling him to the ground.

The student said he had a headache and was dizzy, so he was taken to a local hospital.

Photo: HermanTurnip
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Sunday, June 07, 2009

Phone it In Sunday: Nia Vardalos Asks Us to See Her New Movie "My Life in Ruins"

From FunnyOrDie.com, Nia Vardalos (@NiaVardalos) pimps her new movie, My Life in Ruins. It came out this weekend. If it's as funny as My Big Fat Greek Wedding, it'll be hysterical.

Nia, if you're reading this, I'll do a 750-word review of your movie on this blog for 2 free passes to the show. And popcorn. Or Jujubes.

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Saturday, June 06, 2009

British Range Rover Owner Gets Revenge On Rover Dealer

Word of mouth advertising. Nothing beats it. If you have a good experience, you tell your friends. If you have a bad experience, you tell your friends.

If you have a really sucky experience with your £50,000 ($82,143) Range Rover, you list all the problems in vinyl letters and park it outside the dealership that sold you the car.

That's what an unnamed owner did with his Range Rover HSE at the Lookers Land Rover dealership Colchester, Essex.

He was not happy with the quality of his car, and even more unhappy with the dealership's efforts in fixing his numerous problems. So he listed his complaints on his windows, and parked the lemon in front of the dealership.

The beauty of it all? It's a public road, so the dealer can't have it moved.

You've got to love freedom of speech.

The owner plastered "If you want trouble free motoring do not buy one of these!!!" on the Rover in large yellow letters, and then on the side and rear windows, he listed the problems he had: "6 front ball joints, 4 front arm bushes, new seat base, front and rear n/s (nearside) struts, full n/s suspension unit, anti-roll bar bushes, air con."

Several people thought it was a manager's sale special, listing all the features. Until you got a closer look.

One bystander told the London Daily Mail, "It looks really realistic until you actually read what the words say. Then it’s obvious someone has put it there to have a dig at the dealership. It’s a brilliant idea."

Mark Foster of Jaguar Land Rover told the Daily Mail, "All necessary repairs to this vehicle over 42,000 miles have been carried out under warranty. However, we are disappointed this customer’s experience has been unfortunate and as such we have made a goodwill offer towards helping him into a new vehicle."

My guess is this goodwill offer was in the form of a discount on a new car. If Jaguar Land Rover were smart, they would do their very best to fix this problem, because now it's not just making national news in England, it's making worldwide news.

Costs for a global PR campaign can get into the hundreds of thousands of dollars, and the costs for overcoming a negative PR campaign can get into the millions and still never succeed. If Jaguar Land Rover were smart, they would just fix this guy's problems for free, possibly even giving him a free car, just to make the pain go away.

Otherwise, visitors to the Lookers Land Rover dealership will be greeted with this for weeks and weeks. And weeks.

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Friday, June 05, 2009

You Think It's Funny, But It's Not

You Think It's Funny, But It's Not

Erik Deckers
Laughing Stalk Syndicate
Copyright 2009

Erik is out of the office this week, so we are reprinting a column from 2003.

Ask any parent about the worst part of parenting, and they'll all tell you the same thing: "I hate it when my kids get sick." The cries of "I don't fe-e-e-e-e-l go-o-o-o-o-d!" are always met with a heavy sigh, closed eyes, and a brief, but fervent prayer for strength and patience. Mostly patience.

It's not that we're unsympathetic to our children's illness — any parent would willingly take the illness upon themselves to spare their child the agony of a head cold or stomach virus. It's just that when our kids are sick, they wear on our nerves.

They whine. They fuss. They won't sleep when you want them to. They think that watching TV will help them get better. They think playing will help them get better. They want to eat pizza after two straight days of vomiting. And they're filled-to-overflowing with snot.

I've been a father for over 12 years, and in that time, my wife has dealt with more colds, flus, and runny noses than I care to remember. (Okay, I helped.) We've wiped noses, blown noses, and used that little snot vacuum, the plastic nozzle with a ball on the end that sucks the snot right out of the kid's head.

Forget all other the other things your kid spews out in a normal illness. It's the snot that creates the biggest headache for parents.

As everyone knows, a young child is normally filled with all sorts of runny, icky, sticky goo you'd care to name. And on a normal day, they expel enough of it to fill a small garbage can. Which also means it ends up on our shirts, pants, fingers, and shoes.

So when your child is sick, take the daily output of the average two-year-old, and double it — twice the snot, twice the tears, twice the "uh-oh-we-shouldn't-have-given-her-peanut-butter-and-bananas."

It's situations like this that separate new parents from the seasoned pros. Anytime something comes out of a child, new parents scramble around like their little bundle of joy just belched fire. Veteran parents, on the other hand, just sit calmly with a look of resigned defeat and mumble, "Oh great, I got snot on my favorite shirt again."

When new parents get their child's snot on their hands, they'd gladly use a belt sander to wipe it off. When it happens to seasoned parents, they wait to wipe it on the other parent when they're not looking.

Of course, snot and mucus play a big part of any child's illness, and it's the reason for the heavy sighs when our kids start whining about how they don't fe-e-e-e-e-l go-o-o-o-o-d. That's because, with the exception of potty training, it's the big milestone that most parents pray for: blowing the child's nose for the very first time.

Oh sure, there are other, more momentous events like the first time your child crawled, walked, and went to the big boy potty. But nose blowing is a pretty important one, because it marks the first time the parents don't have to race for a Kleenex because of the huge lava stream streaming out their nose, or grabbing the child's hand to keep him from smearing it on his cheek.

Unfortunately it's also the milestone that parents don't discuss. No one cares when a child learns to blow their nose. It doesn't get recorded in the baby book. There aren't any in-depth articles about it in parenting magazines. Parents don't call the grandparents and shout "Bobby just used the big boy hanky!"

Most kids don't learn to effectively blow their nose until they're about two-and-a-half. And even then, it's only a half-nosed blow that's about as effective as pouring a glass of water on a forest fire. It's not until a child hits three that they can trumpet with the adults and really clear out their sinuses.

That's the day parents pray for, so they can stop wiping noses, using the snot vacuum, or hearing that blasted snot whistle over and over and over until they just can't take it any more and they turn on the radio to some really obnoxious static just for some relief from THAT FREAKIN' WHISTLING!

But it's at that point, that wondrous magical day, when taking care of sick children finally gets easier. That's when you can plop your sick kid on the couch, turn on cartoons, and just toss them an industrial-sized box of Kleenex.

And hope they don't get diarrhea.

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Thursday, June 04, 2009

Australians Worry The Simpsons "May Prompt" Smoking

Australian researchers believe that despite Krusty the Klown's pacemaker, or Selma and Patty's, well, overall nastiness, Australian children may still take up smoking because it looks cool.

According to a story in the Melbourne (Australia) Age, researchers Dr. Guy Eslick and Marielle Eslick had the coolest job in all the world: studying 400 episodes of the first 18 seasons of The Simpsons.

Most notably, they did it without Marielle once yelling at Guy to "get off his ass and do the effing dishes."

The Eslicks also found 795 instances of smoking or references to smoking. They're disturbed by this, because smoking was only portrayed negatively 35% of the time, 2% was positive, but the rest was neutral.

The Eslicks were also worried that the influence of the popular US cartoon would lead to an increase in rebellion, laziness, and eating one's shorts.

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Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Miami-Dade Prosecutor to be Prosecuted for Punching Pizza Delivery Woman

Do you remember the movie The Doctor, starring William Hurt, who was a know-it-all doctor until he became a patient? Miami-Dade prosecutor David Ranck is about to find out what it's like to be prosecuted.

He's being charged with punching a pizza delivery woman because he was upset she didn't get his pizza delivered to her on time.

According to the Miami Herald, Ranck was suspended without pay on Monday after he allegedly punched Yudisceus Rodriguez de Armas.

Police found him standing next to Rodriguez's car, while she was locked inside, "shaking and in tears."

According to the police, when Rodriguez delivered Ranck's pizza, she couldn't get inside his gated condo building, so she called his cell phone. So he started yelling at her from his balcony, came downstairs, and then knocked her Domin's visor off her head.

Then, and this shows what a class act he is, he supposedly punched her in the arm, "leaving a bright red mark."

Ranck said he hit Rodriguez, but only after she hit him with her cellphone. She only hit him with her cellphone, says the report, because he yelled at her from his balcony. And since she only speaks Spanish, she didn't know what he was yelling about.

The best line from the whole article:

His lawyer, Allan Kaiser, declined to comment on the case. But he did say: "At this point, I'm wondering where his pizza is. He never got his pizza."

That's good. A guy who's charging at least a few hundred bucks an hour, and he's more concerned about the pizza? Dude, for what you're charging, I think you can get another one.

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Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Maine Police Seize $500 for Charity as Evidence, Charity Can't Feed Poor Now

Maine State Police raided a charity event that was supposed to feed the needy, and seized all assets and equipment, citing licensing regulations.

The Narragansett Pythian Sisters Temple was trying to raise money for the Buxton Community Food Co-Op in Buxton, Maine, which is in dire need of money and food to give to the poor. So they were hosting a Texas Hold'Em tournament to raise money.

According to a story on the WMTW website, state police said the game was illegal. Whenever a group hosts a gambling tournament to raise money at its headquarters, they need a permit, but the co-op didn't have one.

The police were tipped off by a anonymous coward concerned citizen, and so four plainclothes officer and two uniforms raided the place.

So the Maine State Police — whose motto is Integrity, Fairness, Compassion & Excellence — seized the cards, chips, and $500 in cash, and is currently holding it for evidence.

Meanwhile, Joann Groder, a member of the co-op is very upset by the MSP's response.

"We've had a lot of people who come here -- people who are out of work, people who have cancer. We have a lot of people," Groder told WMTW.

But the police are hiding behind the rules aren't backing down.

"In this particular case they weren't licensed, and they knew they weren't and they knew they needed one," said Lt. David Bowler of the Maine State Police.

The co-op is now planning a pot roast dinner to raise money for the co-op, and hopefully get some much-needed funding for the poor of Buxton, Maine. If the state police wanted to redeem their good name, they would all attend the pot roast dinner and leave a little extra in the donation plates.

Maybe $500 extra?

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Monday, June 01, 2009

Texas HOA Tells Vet to Remove Marine Stickers From His Car or be Towed

Frank Larison of Dallas, Texas served in the Marines for more than 14 years, including a year tour in Vietnam. He displays seven Marine stickers on his car to show his patriotism and that he served.

But his home owners association (HOA) is telling him to remove his stickers or they'll tow his car.

According to a story on the KRIV Fox4 website, the HOA says the stickers are advertisements for the Corps, and thus violates the rules. They are demanding Larison cover or remove them.

If he doesn't, they'll tow his car (at his own expense) and fine him $50 each time he parks for any future displays of patriotism.

Thankfully, some of his neighbors aren't rule-grubbing tyrants and martinets who don't understand what being a Marine means.

"That is his identity," Mary Castagna told KRIV. "He goes to a lot of the veteran meetings, and it means a lot to him. Everyone else agrees with it; it doesn't bother anybody."

According to the KRIV/Fox4 story, Larison's letter says they will not allow any form of advertising on any cars, but they spotted several bumper stickers for political parties, health causes and other "non-commercial interests" on the property.

One board member, Art Bradford, told Fox4 he didn't know anything about the issue, and was not aware that Hardy had sent the letter.

"I will be looking into it," Bradford said. "I didn't know anything about this. I haven't seen this."

So if anyone has any complaints, questions, or believe that the HOA president, Darenda Hardy, needs to remember what sacrifices veterans like Larison have made, you can reach her here:

Woodlands on the Creek II
President – Darenda Hardy
8550 Fair Oaks Crossing
Dallas, TX 75243
Phone: (214) 503-8826

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