Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Liberals shop at Costco?

This was the headline in today's Los Angeles Times:

Costco halts liberal electronics return policy

Yeah, it's like that TV commercial with the young, hip, snarky and probably liberal "Mac" kid and the pudgy, stodgy, dopey and probably conservative "PC" guy.

So why would Costco only let Republicans return their electronics? Are Democrats planting anti-American messages in their exchanged iPods? Are leftists creating IEDs with Blackberries? Is there a vast left-wing conspiracy to brainwash children with hidden messages in cell phones?
Could it be that .... what's that? They meant "liberal" as in "easy"? You mean "easy" like Hillary Clinton? No? Ooooh, "liberal" as in "generous"!


Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Does this blog make my butt look fat?

Maybe I'm just feeling a little fat, but there sure seems to be a lot of news lately about pudgy people.

Two such stories hits the news today. In one, a court nearly took British mom's son away because the "tyke" was only 8 but weighed about 218 pounds (shown at left.) Mom gets to keep him, a court ruled today, but they'll be watching closely for any further signs of her inability to raise him on a healthy diet.

In another story, a sorority at DePauw University in Indiana just "happened" to dismiss all its fat members as being "uncommitted" to the house's recruitment goals (read: who wants to join a club of fat girls?) Also, the house's only minority members were dismissed, too. The ex-sorority girls are suing.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, overweight children have tripled in the United States in the past 30 years. Presumably in number, not size.

Of course, even as the controversy over too-thin models continues to rage, Americans are fatter than ever before. A recent Harris Poll found that more people are using seatbelts to save their lives ... and fewer are paying attention to what they eat and how they exercise. Americans remain the fattest people on Earth, and are getting fatter. I'm wondering if fat folks are the next target of political, cultural and media scrutiny. If so, they're a rather vulnerable group even if -- if the stats are to be believed -- they are a majority. It's easy to poke fun at the "doughboy" or the "fat actress" ... just like being a "follicularly challenged" American, I assure you that many people have no difficulty poking fun at bald guys. Our union sucks.

I don't know about global warming. The end of mankind might come when Earth gets too heavy to stay in orbit!

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Swimming in the Dead Pool

You might not think a weekend with a bunch of coroners, death investigators and medical examiners would be a lively one (pun intended), but you’d be wrong.

This past weekend, I addressed a gathering of such professionals. They didn’t invite me to talk about CSI stuff like cause of death, Y incisions or corpse-eating bugs. Rather, because my new book FALL explores a 30-year-old abduction, rape and murder that destroyed two childhood friends of mine and swept my small hometown up in its wake, they wanted to hear about the ripple effects of a single crime in a community and what lessons can be gleaned beyond the morgue slab.

There’s not much obvious parallel between coroners and newspaperman authors, but if you aren’t constrained by the obvious, you can see we are both explainers of death. Yes, we approach our “storytelling” in different ways, but the result is the same: We interpret dying for the living, and where we can, we try to find meaning. Most deaths defy meaning, but it’s a quirky habit of the not-yet-dead to try to rationalize it.

My only job was to address the coroners’ Saturday lunch, but I attended all the other convention sessions I could. I heard Special Agent Ray Lundin of the Kansas Bureau of Investigation dissect the investigation of the infamous BTK serial killings in Wichita. I heard professional death investigators and forensic pathologists explain autopsy techniques that led to solving a young girl’s cold-case serial murder, and reveal for the first time (in marvelously grotesque detail) the world’s only known case of autoerotic death by gunshot, as well as enough unusual forensic cases to fill a whole season of CSI. Some of these people had used the growth rate of pubic hair as a death indicator, or concluded that Pooky, your precious pet Pekingese, will indeed eat your head if you die and she doesn’t have any other food in the house. Trust me on this.

And pictures. Everybody had resplendently colorful PowerPoint presentations filled with crime-scene and morgue photos, swathed in all the pale, violent and congealing colors of death. I was the only amateur in the room, and while I long ago steeled myself against such visual proof of man’s inhumanity to man (and woman), I still avoided the spaghetti and marinara for dinner.
But all was not morbid … well, at least not as morbid as you might imagine.

During a morning bathroom break, I found myself at the middle urinal with coroners on either side of me, and others waiting for their chance. The guy on my left mentioned how he’d recently been called out on a double homicide that turned out to be simply two drunks who froze to death together. The guy on the right one-upped him with a tale of a reported suicide that turned out to be merely a brain aneurysm. Suddenly, everyone in the loo was telling personal anecdotes of death gone bad. So if you have a taste for macabre Twilight Zone moments, just hang out with a gang of peeing coroners.

I delivered my luncheon speech without the benefit of colorful photos. To be honest, I now wish I’d shown some crime-scene photos, if only just to satisfy my audience’s professional jones for visuals. But, alas, I long ago set the photos of my two dead friends aside, hid them in a file I wouldn’t thumb through regularly. I never offered them to the publisher of my book simply because I feared they would be used gratuitously to snag the typical true-crime reader into buying it. They pop into my brain less and less now. My account of their deaths was delivered in resplendently colorful words, not pictures. But even so, those photos linger undeletable in the photo archive of my mind.

We Americans have succeeded in concealing death from view, and in the process, we have made talking about it bluntly difficult, even ghastly. We’re OK with TV shows like CSI or Cold Case that shine it up with makeup and computerized special effects for mass consumption, but we still prefer to treat it as a distasteful development rather than a natural process. We’ve come a long way since the days when Grandpa’s body would be kept in the back bedroom or parlor until we could dig his grave out back. Imagine living every day with Grandpa’s remains until after the spring thaw, when the frozen earth was dig gable again.. Today, we hand over Grandpa to the nursing home, hospital or, ultimately, the mortuary to handle out of our view. We’ll pay dearly to make him look, one last time, just like he did in life. Why pretend, even subconsciously, that he’s not really dead and that decay hasn’t already begun?

Ah, but I suppose none of us wants to be seen in a crime-scene or morgue photo. That generally means our end was unseemly, unexpected or undreamed. And, face it, if you think your driver’s license photo is bad, you’re gonna hate how you look in the morgue. I don’t know how I’ll die, but I hope that nobody must photograph it for the public record. That would suggest it didn’t happen the way I’d always hoped or imagined.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

How cold is it? Depends if you're in SE Texas

I've been living here in tropical Southeast Texas for three years now, after moving from Colorado. My house there was at 7,500 feet in the Rockies and I never missed a day of work because of a "snow day."

Down here, I am still struck by the thin-bloodedness of the locals. Parkas pop up when the thermometer hits 65. People keep their thermostats at 75. They actually think Winter exists here ... and I jump in my pool on New Year's Day every year just because I can. Natives think I'm an idiot.

Here are some other temperature "gauges" you might notice here:

60 above zero:
Southeast Texans turn on the heat.
People in Colorado plant gardens.

50 above zero:
Southeast Texans shiver uncontrollably.
People in Denver sunbathe.

40 above zero:
Italian and English cars won't start.
People in Colorado drive with the windows down.

32 above zero:
Distilled water would freeze in Port Arthur, if they had it.
The water in Golden gets thicker. Think beer.

20 above zero:
Southeast Texans don coats, thermal underwear, gloves, wool hats.
People in Colorado throw on a flannel shirt.

15 above zero:
New York landlords finally turn up the heat.
People in Colorado have the last cookout before it gets cold.

People in Southeast Texas all die.
Denverites close the windows.

10 below zero:
Southeast Texans would fly to Mexico
People in Colorado get out their winter coats.

25 below zero:
Houston disintegrates.
The Girl Scouts in Colorado are selling cookies door to door.

40 below zero:
Austin runs out of hot air.
People in Colorado let the dogs sleep indoors.

100 below zero:
Santa Claus abandons the North Pole.
Denverites get upset because they can't start the Mini-Van.

460 below zero:
ALL atomic motion stops (absolute zero on the Kelvin scale.)
People in Colorado start saying..."Cold 'nuff fer ya?"

500 below zero:
Hell freezes over.
Denver public schools will open 2 hours late.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Celebrities who look like me (LOL)

A face-recognition program at created this collage of celebrities who (allegedly) bear some resemblance to me. I admit, it took a little risk to try it ... I assumed Don Knotts, Peter Boyle and the guy who plays Paulie in "Rocky" would pop up.

But luckily, the software is pretty good and it nailed the guy for whom I am ALWAYS mistaken: Richard Gere.

Thousands may die .... run!

A headline in today's Houston Chronicle says:

Thousands may die if giant tornado hits Houston

Undoubtedly, tomorrow's big news will be:

Thousands may die if enormous asteroid hits Houston

Followed on Thursday by:

Thousands may die if Mongol horde hits Houston

Then expect to see on Friday a headline that says:

Whoever's left will die ... eventually

Monday, February 19, 2007

Internet addiction? Oh please

A New York man who was fired from IBM because he visited adult chatrooms while at work has slapped his ex-employer with a $5 million wrongful termination lawsuit, saying he was "an Internet addict who deserves treatment and sympathy rather than dismissal."

(IBM responds that its policy clearly prohibits surfing sexual Web sites, and that the guy was warned four months before his firing that he could lose his job if he persisted.)

Now, I like the Internet as much as anyone ... OK, maybe not as much as this guy ... but if my boss says no Internet at work, then I either obey him or risk being disciplined. That's how it works. And when did "addiction" become a protected status? Frankly, I don't want a cocaine-and-rum addict flying my next plane, and I don't think his employer should be particularly understanding about it. "Treatment and sympathy"? How about dropping him off at 35,000 feet?

Why do we let these chuckleheads clog the courts when we have more important things to do, like deciding who gets to embalm Anna Nicole Smith?

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Sweet home ... Alabama Theater

A view of the Alabama Theater Bookstop's beautiful main floor from the 'balcony'

It's easy to think that if you've seen one Barnes & Noble, you've seen them all ... bargain books up front, New in Paperback in main aisle, fiction to the right, nonfiction to the left, kid stuff in the back, the scent of Starbucks everywhere ... well, OK, maybe you've seen most of them if you've seen one.

But not-so-hidden in Houston's Montrose District is the Alabama Theater Bookstop. Built in the restored shell of a 1930s-era Art Deco movie palace, with a few distinctive upgrades, it might just be Barnes & Noble's most unique store. Manager Cathy Nezuh gave me a personal tour before my Saturday book-signing at the Alabama, from the "balcony" (now the Starbucks Cafe) to the "stage" (now the newsstand.) The screen area is intact, and my name appeared on the marquee where the names Brando, Peck, Hepburn and Bogart once appeared.

Many of the Art Deco touches remain in the theater/bookstore, which could seat 1,130 theater-goers. The screen (where "The Sound of Music" flickered for 90 weeks in 1965-66) is still there and the lighting feels more like a movie house than a chain bookstore. Today, the seats are gone, replaced by bookshelves and thousands of books, but wandering through this grand old place, you still whiff the ghostly aroma of buttered popcorn, not Starbucks coffee. Ah, but it's all in your imagination.

Houston preservationists say the theater is endangered. A big developer owns the building, not Barnes & Noble, and has reportedly said it plans some redevelopment in that area. The theater's proponents fear that "progress" will run roughshod over her and we will lose yet another grand old movie palace. I don't know how likely it is, but what a shame that would be. One hopes the people of Houston have at least a small place in their hearts for history.

How fun it was to sign autographs at the Alabama, which the spirits of great films and great actors still seem to haunt. Even if you're not shopping for books, you should drop in at the Alabama. But, of course, if you're looking for good reading material, I can make a suggestion ...

With Dallas romance author Rebecca Russell in the Alabama's 'lobby'

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Even a newspaperman dad worries about his photojournalist daughter

Victim of Salt Lake City mall shooting (Photo by Ashley Franscell)

I remember the day my daughter told me she might be interested in a journalism career. I was shocked. After all, I and her mother -- also a newspaperwoman -- had tried mightily to convince her to pursue something more lucrative and less corrosive to your personal life. Now, in retrospect, we should have encouraged her to go into newspapering if we'd ever hoped that she wouldn't.

But she did. She studied photojournalism in the best journalism school in America (maybe the world) at the University of Missouri-Columbia, and is now a professional news photographer in Utah. She's traveled to Europe, and Central and South America, studied with Pulitzer Prize-winner Eddie Adams, and is just starting her career.

Dads worry about daughters (and sons) ... especially if Dad knows the lengths to which a journalist must sometimes go on a news assignment. I was mildly worried when she was shooting in the slums of Ecuador and El Salvador, but I knew Ashley was nothing if not careful.

Besides, I wasn't exactly the best role model. I'd wandered around the Middle East after 9/11, flown in a stunt plane, gone hunting for radical militiamen in backwoods Montana (after which a bullet hole was found in the back panel of my Jeep), spent the longest night of my life at the scene of a grisly murder, and stumbled into the middle of a store robbery after beating cops to an emergency call ... all to get a story.

When Ashley told me she'd been sent to Monday's mall shooting in Salt Lake City, I shuddered like an Accountant Dad, not a Newspaperman Dad. Why was she taking such risks? Couldn't they use wire photos? What imbecile editor was sending my sweet little girl to a mass murder?

But the Newspaperman Dad took charge. Did she get the shot? What obstacles to access did she have at the scene ... and how did she get around them? What did she do differently from everyone else? Did she zig when they zagged? What questions did she answer for readers with her camera?

When we finally talked about it and I saw her grim photos of death and fear, I was neither the Accountant Dad nor the Newspaperman Dad. I was just Dad.

"Are you doing OK?" I asked her.

"I cried," she said. "But I'm OK now."


Read Ashley's blog-posting about the shooting here.

Mother and child leaving shooting scene (Photo by Ashley Franscell)

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

My weekend with a Playmate

I spent a delightful part of my weekend talking to Debra Jo Fondren, a Southeast Texas native who was Playboy's 1978 Playmate of the Year. Who better to give a glimpse inside the life of a Playmate ... and the vagaries of post-Playmate life? In the wake of Anna Nicole Smith's death at age 39 last week, she's among a very few who could give us a front-row seat on the landscape of that tragedy.

Debra Jo turned 52 last week, but she's as pretty as ever. She's also wiser, after a brief reign as Playmate of the Year, a 10-year cocaine addiction, a string of jobs and marriages, and all the dreams and disappointments we humans share.

Debra Jo met Anna Nicole only once, at a Playboy Mansion party. It's described in my story for The Beaumont Enterprise today:

It was a New Year’s Eve party at the Playboy Mansion in 1995, just months before Anna Nicole’s billionaire husband J. Howard Marshall would die at age 90.

Anna Nicole wore a flowing evening gown and dripped with diamonds. Barely 27, she was the reincarnation of Marilyn Monroe in both her appearance and in Playboy’s breathless publicity. She symbolized a reinvigoration of Playboy’s faltering brand, a sudden beauty in a string of fake pearls. She was to be the new face of Playboy. She was a star.

To Debra Jo, who watched her from across the famed Playboy pool, Anna Nicole was the most fascinating and elegant woman at the party – and maybe was having more fun than anyone, as she was clearly loaded.

Suddenly, Anna Nicole dove into the pool — gown, diamonds, buzz and all. As she swam in the aqua-glow of a new year, Fondren saw her chance to meet the sex goddess she had only admired from afar. She dashed into the pool house, grabbed a towel and met Anna Nicole poolside as she emerged from the water.

“Hi, I’m Debra Jo Fondren, and I’m also a Playmate of the Year and I’m from Texas, too,” she said, a little star-struck, as she wrapped the towel around Smith.

“Oh, hi,” Anna Nicole said, still more than a little high. “Will you take me home?”

After that night, Fondren never saw Smith again, but she often thought of her. Debra Jo had survived her own post-Playmate tribulations, and she knew what Smith didn’t until it was too late.

Debra Jo (right) with a sopping Anna Nicole, poolside at the Playboy Mansion in 1995
(Photo courtesy of Debra Jo Fondren)

Monday, February 12, 2007

See you in Houston Feb. 17!

If you live anywhere within a comfortable drive of Houston and you're free next Saturday (Feb. 17), come to the Alabama Theater Bookstop, 2922 S. Shepherd Drive in Houston for my next book-signing! It'll be 2-4 p.m. Saturday afternoon, and any time spent with a reader is time well spent. Y'all come!

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Anna Nicole Smith dead at 39 ... why do we care?

Anna Nicole Smith has died in Florida. She was 39, and the cause of her death isn't known.

The Texas girl was a Playboy Playmate, reality TV star, jeans model, mother, billionaire's widow, a stripper and ... well, there are other descriptions of Anna Nicole's celebrity but they are all similar: She seems to have been famous only for being famous. The story of her death will likely be on my newspaper's front page tomorrow.

I don't mean this disrespectfully, but more to start a conversation: Why do we care so much what happened to Anna Nicole Smith?

Where 'friendly' is just a word

Larry Euglon was forgotten before he died. That's merely sad.

What's especially melancholy is that he died in his bed in his nicely kept Beaumont, Texas, home (pictured) as long as 18 months ago -- maybe during Hurricane Rita in September 2005 -- and nobody missed him until his skeleton was found on Tuesday.

Authorities report that 51-year-old Euglon had a breakfast table and a dinner table set with "nice china, wine glasses and table mats." The couches in his neatly tended living room appeared to have been placed in a way "for talking." He originally moved to the neighborhood with his mother in the early 1980s, but his mother later moved into the nursing home where she died in February 2006.

When Euglon didn't show up for her funeral, nobody called or visited. They just grumbled about it. Family members live here, but nobody ever checked on him. He might have been a loner, but he had family. Larry Euglon simply wasn't missed.

The county had red-tagged his home for non-payment of taxes. Mail was piling up somewhere. Electric, phone and cable bills presumably went unpaid by the slowly decaying body on Larry Euglon's bed. And the detritus of a long-ago hurricane remained untouched in the yard of the otherwise well-kept house for almost six seasons. But nobody apparently ever got past picking up the phone or ringing the doorbell. Nobody cared that much.

The South in general and Texas in particular likes to tout its friendliness, as if it were a tourist attraction. Well, in many ways, it's like a lot of tourist attractions: Not as genuine up close. When it came right down to it, Larry Euglon didn't have anyone friendly enough to see if he was safe and well. When it came down to it, nobody cared. Shame on us and our fake "friendliness."

If you died tonight in your sleep, would anyone miss you enough to look for you?

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Lew Burdette, 1926-2007

I was just 9 years old, but it was my first-ever Major League baseball game. It was 1966 and my grandfather took me to the Big A in Anaheim. Angels vs. Yankees. I saw Mickey Mantle giving an interview near the dugout and Jimmy Piersall was playing in the Angels' outfield. Whitey Ford was on the mound for the Yanks, closing out his last season, and the starting pitcher for the Angels was another old guy, Lew Burdette, who was then 40. The Angels won in extra innings, on an inside-the-park home run by Paul Schaal. Life was good and the memory stuck.

I didn't know back then that big Lew was probably a spitballer, but he never got caught, so maybe he wasn't. Or he was the best ever.

Let's say the best ever. Lew Burdette died Tuesday at his home in Winter Garden, Fla. He was 80 and had lung cancer.

One crime, two visions

"It all depends on how we look at things,
and not how they are in themselves."

Carl Jung

One dark night, two girls, two killers, and one desolate bridge. And as time passes, the players all rearrange themselves in the wake turbulence of an enormous tragedy ... which plays out its next act, on another night many years later, on the same desolate bridge when the survivor returns to face her demons. The facts are known, the memories still a little too vivid, the sense of justice a little murky.

Ah, but that's all a long time ago. Now, all we have are stories. The girls were my friends in the small town where we grew up. Thirty years later, I went home to write about the crime on Fremont Canyon Bridge ... and the endless ripples it caused in my hometown, and my heart. I told the story the best I could, relying on a lifetime in newspapering, and the whispers from deep down inside.

But someone else was telling the same story, at almost exactly the same moment. The result was a display of the fascinating mystery of art, vision and perspective.

My book is "FALL: The Rape and Murder of Innocence in a Small Town," a true crime/memoir about real people in a real tragedy. But for moments of introspection and a harrowing glimpse inside a killer's rotten mind, "FALL" is a narrative nonfiction in the mold of Truman Capote's "In Cold Blood," at least, according to reviewers.

But when poet Robert Cooperman (at left) told the same story -- a story he heard from a friend in my old hometown -- he elevated it to a different plane, imbuing it with an otherworldly quality. Indeed, he took the story to a completely new world, the 19th century Colorado Rockies, and he transmogrified the real victims and killers into imaginary ones whose lives, histories, dreams, tragedies and betrayals could be more powerfully dissected for the reader.

The former English professor at the University of Georgia and Bowling Green wrote "A Killing Fever" ($13.95, Ghost Road Press, 82 pages.) This collection of related poems explores the abduction of sisters Mercy and Merry Goodwin, who are dragged by miscreants to a sheer cliff and thrown off by their assailants. One lives and one dies. The endless ripples go on for years, until the survivor returns to that precipice to face her demons.

"If Mercy lives, it'd not surprise me
to see her back at that cliff someday:
her body a dragged log of pain.
This time, she'll make sure."

Cooperman, who lives in Denver, captures the cant and voice of 19th century poetics marvelously, but more fascinating is his telling of the story with which I have lived for more than 30 years -- and told myself in "FALL." I have long marveled at a reader's intuition about messages in my own books, how they can see some gem I never saw, or never intended. Here Cooperman, a storyteller, has taken a painfully true story and turned it into a beautiful work of fiction that captures the essence of tragedy as well as the truth can.

One crime, two visions.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

In a land far, far away, the Bears have won the Super Bowl

Barely a nanosecond passes before thwe winning team is wearing championship T-shirt or cap at the end of the Super Bowl. But did you ever wonder what happens to all those hats and T-shirts they make for the LOSING team in the Super Bowl?

I thought they were destroyed, but I was wrong. They go to needy kids in poor African countries. No kidding! Someday soon, some kid in Niger or Uganda will wear a T-shirt proclaiming the Chicago Bears the champions of Super Bowl XLI.

According to a marvelous New York Times article, the 288 sets of caps and T-shirts that the losers WOULD HAVE gotten, go to a warehouse and are ultimately destined for some developing country, where they likely don't know who won the Super Bowl ... or even know what the Super Bowl is. For them, a Super Bowl is one filled with food.

Major League Baseball, in fact, destroys the losers' gear. The NBA gives it to a charity. But as the NYTimes said, the NFL's loser-gear goes far, far away and "there, and only there, the losers get to be winners."

Monday, February 05, 2007

The coming firestorm over HPV

Get ready for a firestorm of debate over Texas Gov. Rick Perry's order to vaccinate all sixth-grade girls against a virus that could later cause cervical cancer. Parents can opt out of the mandatory but free vaccinations for reasons of conscience, including their religious beliefs.

And Texas is merely the first state to do it ... 49 others are weighing it.

HPV is the most common sexually transmitted disease in the United States. Today, about 20 million people in the nation are infected, including one in four 15- to 24-year-olds. Certain strains of HPV cause most cases of cervical cancer. Texas has the second highest number of women suffering from HPV. In 2006, there were 1,169 new cases and nearly 400 deaths from cervical cancer here. In the USA, cervical cancer will strike about 11,150 women this year -- and 3,670 will die.

On one side of this simmering debate, you have public-health advocates who say we could greatly reduce a woman-killing disease with a simple shot.

On the other side, you have opponents who say it's de facto permission for girls to have safer sex, invades personal liberties and usurps parental decision-making, might not be totally safe, and make a pot-load of taxpayer money for Merck, the vaccine's maker. A great deal of the opposition so far is coming from the radical religious bloc and the extreme conservatives (members of which also believed that measles vaccinations and water fluoridation were secret government control conspiracies.) But all government vaccination programs have had similar opposition.

The vaccinations are a good idea, and the opt-out provision makes it even more palatable for parents who'd rather not take steps to protect their daughters. That's rather dull of them, but it's their choice. We have long vaccinated children with any number of disease-fighting shots, but along comes a vaccination against a sexually transmitted disease and you can almost hear the radical religious assholes snap shut. (But you'll also hear some untoward glee in the radical Left that is more about sticking it to the radical Right than about saving girls' lives.) And who isn't discomfited by the idea that huge pharmaceutical companies can go into state legislatures and strong-arm their way to friendly drug policies? I am, but I think the benefit of saving girls' lives outweighs my discomfort (but hey, Big Pharm, don't try to sell us on the idea of taxpayer-subsidized Viagra.)

Alas, I guess that means that in the future, men, you might want to avoid marrying a home-schooled Christian girl with a father who wears O'Reilly Factor T-shirts. She'll be the most likely to be carrying HPV ... and the most likely to die early from cervical cancer.

Friday, February 02, 2007

All the news that didn't fit

Jerry Seinfeld once wondered how it happens that the day's news always fits exactly into the space a newspaper has available. I know the answer, but I'm not telling.

OK, I'll tell. We simply decide that some news isn't news.

You didn't see these stories in my newspaper today, therefore they didn't officially happen:

DON'T EAT ORANGE SNOW: A smelly orange snow has fallen in several Siberian villages, according to the ITAR-TASS news agency, and Russian scientists have been dispatched to find out what it is. Gosh, just when people were starting to get the message about yellow snow ...

STONED THIEF: After a Nebraska fellow died, his family found a storage locker full of stolen headstones, some dating back to the 1800s. The Lincoln Police Department has posted photos of the stones in hopes somebody will recognize them and they can be returned to their rightful owners ... who probably haven't missed them.

PENNY FOR YOUR ... : A 66-year-old Nevada man popped a penny in a slot machine and won $18,799,414, the largest penny slot jackpot in history. He still has no plans for the bulk of the money, he told me when I called him this morning to offer my heartfelt congratulations and explain my mother's dying wish.

TAMPON TAMPERING: The citizens of Sheboygan can rest easy ... the person breaking into tampon machines at the courthouse has been caught.

NO TOUCHING: Apparently some New Jersey medical student thought a stripper was so good, he gave her a hand. No, really. A hand.

A KNIFE IN A GUNFIGHT: OK, so some guy uses a machete to rob a gun shop, thereby becoming an early front-runner for the Stupid Criminal Award.

PRISON LOVE: At least 30 Texas death-row inmates have pages on dating Web sites, according to a recent Associated Press story, and these killers apparently describe themselves "in cuddly terms." According to the report: Convicted cop-killer Randy Halprin wrote, "I think I'm a pretty funny guy. I have a wacked (sic) sense of humor. I can be a big kid at heart. I'm a hopeless (and I mean hopeless) romatic (sic)." And the story says Calvin Bennett, 26, a suspect in two Arkansas murders, was traced by police to Rothschild, Wis., by the personal ad he had placed on a dating Web site, describing himself as shy and giving his ideal evening as "a nice romantic dinner with soft music, followed by a romantic walk or a carriage ride."

What, no barefoot walks on the beach at sunset?

Thursday, February 01, 2007

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