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Showing posts from June, 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 …

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 re…

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 perfor…

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 …

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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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 …

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 quali…

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 tha…

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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Student Denied Diploma For Blowing Mom Kiss

Student Denied Diploma For Blowing Mom KissErik 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, "th…

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, fo…

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 adm…

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 h…

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 Associat…

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 d…

Don't Mess With Indiana

Don't Mess with IndianaErik 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 …

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 Go…

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 goin…

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 …

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…

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.

My Life In Ruins, and Nia Vardalos is thinking... from Nia Vardalos

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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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:…

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

You Think It's Funny, But It's NotErik 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…

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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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 Ro…

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'…

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…