Thursday, May 31, 2007

U-S-A-F Air Force Dance

It seems like every other day we're learning about someone new who was caught on a hidden video camera. While it worked for a while with programs like Candid Camera, the novelty started wearing off when everyone and their cousin could get one of these devices. Of course, in today's ever-increasingly voyeuristic world, the number of times where the hidden camera got the viewers into trouble was almost as high as the number of hidden cameras in use.

And yet, every once in a great while, a hidden camera story actually manages to shine a little bit of happiness on the world at large, or at least those who find the footage through YouTube. No, we're not talking about yet another celebrity car crash, we're talking about the Dancing Cadet.

Admittedly, the cadet's video, captured by his roommate when he thought he was alone, is an old story. The video itself was called the best viral video of 2005 by The two men behind the video (well, one behind and one in front, techically) were given awards for improving academy morale. They also made it onto The Maury Povich Show, or at least the dancer, Second Lieutenant Jeff Pelehac did.

But what should have been a quick flash in the pan of the collective subconscious was recently brought back, as Pelehac graduated from the academy. During the commencement speech, Defense Secretary Robert Gates made mention of the dance, admitting that, "Yes, I've seen the video."

This goes to show one of two things. Either the mention indicates that Gates, and possibly other leaders, paid enough attention to learn who was behind the video, and when they were graduating, figuring that it might be nice for the Air Force to poke a little playful fun at one of their own. The other option is that Gates, and possibly other leaders, are still painfully trapped in the middle of 2005, and therefore have just learned about the video's existence. We can't be positive, but we suspect that Gates is really looking forward to the big Samuel L. Jackson movie about cobras and an airport, or something like that.

Maybe the kid that danced his way through the Tibetan mandala last weekend should've made sure that video cameras were around. If Pelehac can make it to Maury Povich, then this kid might just have a shot on So You Think You Can Dance?. It wouldn't be the worst thing on television.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

They just don't interrogate like they used to

Actually, according to a recent study, commissioned by the Intelligence Science Board, maybe they do. Or, at least, the United States seems to. In fact, while homicide detectives and many other nations have improved their interrogation techniques, the elite forces commissioned by the US government have been relying on tried-and-true methods, like torture. It's so bad that the study calls US interrogation strategies "outmoded, amateurish and unreliable."

The study points out that many of the techniques used date to the 1950's, or are adapted from practices used by the former Soviet Union. They also point out that it's been almost systematically proven that inflicting pain doesn't necessarily bring results, a point seemingly only disputed by the US government and by the writers of 24.

It could always be worse, we suppose. The government could step from amateurish to childish when it comes to their interrogation techniques. For example, they could threaten to hold their breath until an enemy spills the secrets they know. They could simply keep asking, "Why?" until they hear an answer that they want. Or they could threaten to pack up their toys and go home, not wanting to play with the others.

Actually, in light of the current global climate, maybe the US packing up its toys might not be a bad route to go. It certainly would be a better alternative to "waterboarding". And maybe, if the government takes the report into consideration, we might find new and improved ways of gathering information from people. Our suggestion here at the CSM? Put them on a program like Oprah or The View. It seems impossible for people not to talk about their deepest and darkest secrets when they've got a camera pointed at them.

Hey, if it worked for Rosie O'Donnell, why wouldn't it work for Al Qaeda?

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Worst pick-up attempt, ever

Welcome back after the long Memorial Day weekend. If you didn't get a long weekend, well, we feel your pain. Of course, our pain is induced by holiday hangovers, but that's besides the point. Anyways, to help ease us back into this week, we're going to play a quick game. It's simple.

First, imagine that you are a thief, intent on robbing, oh, let's say a U-Haul location in Milwaukee. Now make sure you bring a friend, because breaking the law alone just isn't any fun. And now, quiz time. Do you a) bring your friend who's going to end up hitting on the girl you just robbed; or b) bring any other friend, in the hope that they aren't anywhere near as stupid?

Well, if you're playing this game at home, you probably chose answer "b". If you were robbing a U-Haul this past weekend in Milwaukee, you chose answer "a". That's right, after watching a friend rob the store, the accomplice lingered for a bit to see if he could get a date from the girl behind the register. Thankfully, for all of humanity, she said "no" before he escaped.

We have to admit, this takes the cake as one of the worst potential pick-up scenarios in the long, sordid history of dating. Even Nero's "I'm the emperor, and you have to date me" tactic doesn't seem quite as bad. It certainly makes those gems like, "Wanna go back to my place for pizza and sex?", or "You must be tired, because you've been running through my mind all night" sound almost like music to the daters ears. It makes you wonder what happened to a simple, "Hi" at a bar, over a drink.

Of course, we are obligated to point out that the worst pick-up line in history still belongs to Josef Stalin, who once said, "Hey, I'm no Hitler."

Friday, May 25, 2007

Coffee-Soaked Awards - Week of May 21, 2007

Welcome to Friday, and another session of the Coffee-Soaked Awards. It's the start to the Memorial Day weekend, so naturally, we're trying to avoid the roads as everyone clears out of the big cities and heads into the country for a spell (except for a few of our readers, who actually made a point of heading TO a bigger city for this weekend). Of course, with gas prices as they are, we're pretty sure we could make it about ninety minutes before our wallets started crying. But that's neither here nor now. So let's get rolling with the awards, shall we? Our thanks once again go out to Robin W. for submitting us a few of the stories we're covering.

Sometimes, We Report Award
FOXNews has moved away from their previous "Fair and Balanced" tagline to "We Report, You Decide". Well, a recent study shows that, out of the three major cable news networks, FNC covered the Iraq war far less than the other two, with MSNBC taking the lead. But where did FOX reign supreme? In the coverage of Anna Nicole Smith's death, which they talked about almost as much as they did the war itself. This of course sparks the age-old debate of "bombs or boobs... bombs or boobs." Benny Hill couldn't be reached for comment.

When Emo's Attack Award
The good folks of Utah are just a little behind the times. In fact, a recent investigative report on ABC4 discusses a dangerous growing trend amonst Utah teenagers. That trend? Not drug abuse, not teen pregnancy. No, the trend is being "emo", which the reporter helpfully describes as being "an abbreviation for emotional." Apparently, this reporter believes this to be a new trend, obviously unfamiliar with things like My Chemical Romance or even The Cure. We fully expect that, next year, Utah will talk about the dangers of being a "hipster" at some point, and possibly even start mentioning that great new FOX program, "The O.C." It also makes us wonder what's more dangerous to teenagers, being emo, or being in Utah?

Day Late and a Dollar... Well Award
When the police in Oslo, Norway, decided to enact a new pickpocketing prevention program (ah... alliteration... anyways, back to the story), they didn't realize that they'd be starting it too late to help someone in need of such a policy. That person? The chief of police for the Norwegian capital. The chief even was following the suggestions of the department as to where to carry his wallet, and said the theft "wasn't very nice". Expect Oslo to enact a new policy next week, where the police learn how to stop crimes happening to them.

What Could Go Wrong? Award
We give this to Wal-Mart. Admittedly, we don't talk much about the megolithic chain store, but that's because they're generally so bland that they don't show up on our radar. Well, apparently they decided that, since places like Target and J.C. Penny have their own clothing lines, the low-cost giant should get involved in the mix. After a year where they created clothes that incorporated the SS "Death's Head", amongst other ill-conceived notions, they've decided to fold the line. Reports are that some of the clothes were so bad, that shoppers actually went elsewhere to avoid accidentally picking out something. Thrift stores are already crying foul at the expected glut of ill-fitting and poorly designed clothes headed their way, preferring to rely on the old stand-bys of military surplus and workman's coveralls.

Bees on a Plane Award
What happens when you combine a swarm of bees with the engine of a passenger plane? Well, in Bournemouth, England, you get the plane coming to a swift landing to try and get it back up to snuff. Neither Samuel L. Jackson nor Jerry Seinfeld could be reached for comment.

You Light Up My, Um... Award
Are you afraid of getting lost on a dance floor, or out at a sporting event? Perhaps you need to use yourself as a beacon to help the helicopters find you and other stranded passengers after you crashed into that deserted island. Well, fear no more, as David Lee has brought to the world the GloFur collection, complete with light-up bikinis, skirts, and fur coats. We fully expect the next development to be the "mood bikini", letting everyone know how you're feeling based off of the color of your breasts.

Parole or a Good SPF Award
Speaking of bikinis, that's exactly what some women in Sweden are asking for. But these aren't your average women. No, these women are in prison for various crimes. The women are complaining that they are being discriminated against, because they don't get to sunbathe properly, the way the rest of Sweden does. Expect Cinemax to show up soon with a box of bikinis and a film crew.

You Can Dance If You Want To Award
Sometimes, when the spirit moves you, you just have to dance. And sometimes, the spirit moves your dancing right into the middle of a mandala created by Tibetan monks, destroying the image that created eight monks two days to make. Followers of other religions prepared stones to hurl at the boy until the monks simply shrugged, rubbed their bald heads, and simply vowed to work harder next time. Meanwhile, the dancing boy has been contracted to work as a judge on next year's "Dancing with the Deities".

Well, we're going to dance our way out of here for another week. It's been an eventful turn of the calendar page this time around, but next week could be a bit quieter, what with it being a shorter week, after all. We'll be back on Tuesday. Until next time, stay safe out there.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

They'll make a sequel for anything

Remember last summer, when the big buzz for movies was Snakes on a Plane? And remember how it ended up being very disappointing, largely because it had been built up so much in people's heads? Well, that, and the fact that Samuel L. Jackson and a bunch of CGI snakes together could only do so much to keep an audience entertained up through the line of dialogue everyone was waiting to see.

Well, in Cairo, it almost appeared as though a sequel was in the works, except that this time, it would be a documentary, instead of a fictional account. But Yahia Rahim Tulba was stopped before he could bring the carryon bag with 700 live snakes aboard, thereby averting a disaster.

Tulba had planned on bringing the snakes with him to Saudi Arabia, in the hopes of making some money off of their sale. Needless to say, Tulba was accused of violating export laws, and endangering the lives of other passengers, especially given that two of the snakes within his carryon were venomous.

They say that art imitates life, and that, every once in awhile, life imitates art. Well, maybe it's just us, but ever since SoaP started getting all of the hype, we've seen a dramatic increase in the number of snake-related incidents. There's this example with the plane, the snake that was released in the Google offices, and the firings of the attorneys by the Justice Department (try to convince us there's no snake there... good luck). By the same token, since the release of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, we haven't noticed more candy-related stories popping up into our consciousness. This means either that snakes have a better marketing department, or that chocolate just isn't as newsworthy.

Well, we say that there should be more stories about chocolate. There should be more stories about life imitating comedies in general. Except for I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry. Nobody should ever imitate that. Once will be more than enough, thank you.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Psst... got something to tell you

Usually, when someone is fired from a job, it is due to something fairly severe. Gross negligence, theft, sexual harassment, and absolute incompetence are amongst the reasons often cited when employers decide to cut some of the dead wood. Of course, there are also lay-offs, scaling back measures, and other "staff overages", but those are often somewhat kinder than the straight Trumpian "You're Fired."

And yet, four women in Hooksett, NH, were recently fired from their jobs working for the city. Were they guilty of tax evasion? Perhaps skimming from the town coffers? Did they insist on dotting all of their "i"s on the official paperwork with a smiley face?

No, they were gossips. And, after speaking to a lawyer hired to root out the sources of a salacious rumor, the four were let go from their positions, without so much as a "Have a nice day." Of course, the women are appealing to get their jobs back, but the group reviewing their appeals is the same group that fired them in the first place.

Needless to say, the concept of being fired for gossiping about someone seems a bit overly harsh, especially with all of the people that do get to keep their jobs for poor performance or outright criminal violations. By the same token, the "Hooksett Four", as they've been dubbed, could theoretically band together, and use their love of gossip for a new purpose. We even offer them a few examples to help get the ball rolling.

Example #1, start your own television program. Think along the lines of "The View", except less Rosie, all the time. After all, if a group of celebrity women can gossip for money, maybe non-celebrities can too.

Example #2, start a feud on MySpace. Online feuds seem to be all the rage these days, and it might help propel their stars, possibly even landing them example #1 above. At the very least, it should get them a spot on Montel (he's bald, and he cares about your pain), or Maury (he's still got hair, and he cares about your daughter's prostitution ring).

Example #3, write a blog. After all, nothing will better serve those who like to gossip than writing online to an audience that's fairly small, and probably knows the author personally.

Um, wait a minute. Ignore example #3. Just move right along.

And, if the "Hooksett Four" can find a way to profit off of their pain, maybe we'll one day see a movie made of their story. Starring whatever castoffs from next season's failed television shows we can gather into one room.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Well, they are pink

Carlos and Fernando are much like many other gay couples across the planet. They care about each other, they have a rich and fulfilling life, and they just want to be parents. After six years together, their dream can finally become a reality.

Of course, we should probably take a moment here to point out that Carlos and Fernando are a couple of male flamingos, and have spent years chasing other birds away from the nest, in the hopes that they could sit on an egg themselves. The two birds won the right to become parents when a nest at the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust near Bristol, England, was abandoned.

WWT spokeswoman Jane Waghorn even went so far as to say that she thought that "it seemed like a good idea to make them surrogate parents." She also pointed out that gay flamingos are by no means uncommon, especially in situations where there simply aren't enough breeding pairs.

Naturally, we're sitting here wondering how long it's going to be before the conservative flamingos, the "right wing", if you will, start coming out of the woodwork to squawk about how Carlos and Fernando are not suited to be parents, and that they shouldn't even have been allowed to cohabitate in the first place. Then it will only be a matter of time before the liberal flamingos band together to get a television program on the air detailing how gay flamingos can defy stereotypes and have straight female friends. It'll be a smash hit on NBC.

The real tragedy here, though? The fact that the birds are named Carlos and Fernando. Ok, maybe Carlos isn't so bad. But Fernando? Sure, it used to cause people to think of a kicky song about a hideaway, but now it just makes people think of Abba. And really, if you're already bright pink, do you really need a name like "Fernando" to really drive the point home? Here's hoping that the chicks don't get named anything like "Chiquitita", "Angel Eyes", or "Super Trouper".

Monday, May 21, 2007

New Degree for Hindu gods

What do you do when the idol in your designated place of worship begins to sweat?

If you're in America, you worry that maybe there's just too much humidity in the air, and you start planning a vacation someplace tropical. If you're in eastern Nepal, you flock to the shrine, in order to pay homage.

A temple in Dolakha, Nepal, is the site of a sweating idol, which is causing devout Hindus to worry about major upheaval, either of the political or natural sort. In fact, the last time that the statue was seen sweating, it was mere months before the royal family of the country were shot dead by the crown prince, who finished the day with a suicide. Some of the worshippers are even planning on making sacrifices to the gods, in an attempt to appease them, hoping to hold off the devastation that may soon be coming.

Of course, in America, the last time we really saw any of our idols sweating was when they were worried that they'd get voted out before Sanjaya. And we think that sacrificing roosters is a bizarre concept. Then again, don't get us started on a crying Virgin Mary being found on our English muffin. Even if it does simply inspire us to buy a lottery ticket.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Coffee-Soaked Awards - Week of May 14, 2007

Welcome to another run-down of the week's news, with the Coffee-Soaked Awards. The air is warm, and the news is as fresh as we can hope for it to be. And we wouldn't have it any other way. So let's get this show on the road.

Do as I Say Award
We give this award to Hector Pulido of Bridgeport, Connecticut, for deciding to demonstrate to his 3-year-old nephew that biting people is wrong. Of course, Hector demonstrated this by proceeding to bite the child himself. No surprise, but the nephew refers to Pulido as "Uncle Bitey", while calling his other uncles, "Uncle Giving-Me-Presents-That-Make-Noise-and-Not-Biting-Me". No report on whether Pulido gave the child a fork to demonstrate that sticking things in light sockets is also wrong.

Springtime for Nudists in Brattleboro Award
You don't generally think of Vermont as being a large nudist destination. And yet, the town of Brattleboro is being plagued by residents who, like the trees and flowers, are deciding to show a bit more of their own foliage. Rev. Kevin Horion even stated, "I am concerned we don't know where they are going to strike." Um, they're nudists. They don't really strike. They do, however, flounce, bounce, pose, and stroll.

Return of the Knoll Award
Conspiracy theorists have long surmised that Lee Harvey Oswald was not solely responsible for the assassination of JFK. New research put forth suggests that the "evidence used to rule out a second assassin is fundamentally flawed", thereby creating more room for speculation. Neither Fox Mulder or Dr. Sam Beckett could be reached for comment.

Special Needs Award
We give this award to Rosie M. Costello, who forced her two children to act as though they were mentally retarded, so she could collect extra Social Security money. The real crime for Costello is that she didn't realize television producers would pay millions for people to pretend just that (we cite Johnny Knoxville, Andy Dick, and Paris Hilton).

Doing Drugs to Move Drugs Award
We can only assume that the woman responsible for packing 17.4kg of heroin into a refrigerator before trying to ship it via DHL had ingested some of the heroin herself before coming up with the scheme. Everyone knows that, if you want to ship drugs quickly and efficiently, you use FedEx.

Jerry the Matchmaker Award
We thought about calling this, "I Now Pronounce You Dumb and Ass", but the story doesn't contain a marriage. A Minnesota man decided that he would try and win his ex-wife back in the most romantic of ways. His steps? First, get a restraining order placed against him. Second, go on "Jerry Springer". Third, watch as hilarity ensues, complete with landing in jail for violation of your restraining order, amongst other things. We fully expect him to appeal to the highest court in the land, The People's Court.

Well, that wraps things up for us here. The sun is shining, the day is bright, and we'd rather not wade into the morass of either Wolfowitz or Hilton. Come back next week, when we're fairly positive that there'll be even more (possibly inane) stories about these two, and whether or not GDub thinks that either one did a "heckuva job" (which seems to be a death knell for his appointees). Stay safe out there.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Bang your head harder

Stem cell research has been a bit of a hot-button issue. Politicians on both sides of the argument have fought long and loud about whether the benefits or the risks carry more weight. And yet, a new development discovered by scientists at the University of Pennsylvania may lead to a new breakthrough for the technology.

But this isn't your average run-of-the-mill creation of new organs, or finding ways to regenerate lost nerves. This discovery could truly lead to a new and more beautiful future for mankind (and some of womankind who suffer from the malady as well).

Thanks to researchers at the U of P, we can now rest easy with the knowledge that, aside from a lack of pigment, stem cells can actually help regrow hair in places where it was formerly lost. But how did they find this discovery? The scientists studied mice, creating wounds in the laboratory animals, and were amazed to find that, once the wound reached a certain severity, the healing process also brought with it new hair growth, much like that seen during the embryonic stages of development.

Just imagine the possibilities! With a deep enough head wound, people who have suffered from early hair-loss can regrow the lush locks that they once were so proud of. No more fears that the current generation of Samsons will fall victim to new (and biological) Delilahs, with the newest research. Heck, even the Hair Club for Men is considering just sending out pipe wrenches to all of its clients.

The scary thing is that with the discovery that baldness can possibly be cured through the use of stem cells, we may actually see more funding in this area. After all, while cancer, heart disease, and any of the other problems that plague humanity may certainly carry more gravity, none are quite as sexy as the prospect of regrowing hair once lost.

Don't believe us? Just as The Donald. He'll tell you.

Thanks to Robin W for the story for today's post!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The little engine that, um...

Riding the train in India just got a whole lot more interesting for a group of passengers, when their train hit one of many "neutral zones" in the power grid. Normally, these zones don't pose any sort of a problem, as the train can keep right on going, thanks to its momentum. This time, however, apparently the train hadn't quite gotten its full head of steam and, when it hit the "neutral zone", it proceeded to stop.

Until the passengers got out and helped push it the 12 remaining feet to live wires.

Naturally, a spokesman for the railways announced that, "In so many years of service in the railways, I have never come across such a bizarre incident." Well, we'd certainly hope not. After all, if this was a more common occurrence, we can only assume that there would be fewer "neutral zones" in existence.

Or that there would be a new advertising campaign, along the lines of, "Ride our trains. It's an adventure waiting to happen!" complete with a World's Strongest Man contestant pulling one of the engines with a rope.

Of course, in America, we could've expected a very different reaction from the spokesman. Instead of admitting that such an incident was "bizarre", we might've heard words like "opportunity" and/or "exercise" bandied about. Then again, the odds of getting a bunch of American train passengers to help push their ride are pretty slim, so the story wouldn't have that extra edge of heroism and sacrifice.

At this point, we're just going to assume that the odds of this story being turned into an uplifting children's book are pretty slim. Who wants to read, "I think I can, I think I can, I think I-- um, nope. Can you give me a boost?"

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

One house, furnished

When buying a house off of a bank foreclosure, it's always a good idea to take a little walk around the property, if possible. When you're the bank in charge of the auction, you most certainly should investigate the house. Otherwise, you may have to deal with what a Spanish bank in the town of Roses recently did.

When the bank repossessed the house, they didn't both checking into its condition before putting it up for auction, preferring to sell the place as is. If they had been a little more thorough, they might have discovered that the home was being sold, not only with the living room furniture still intact, but with the former owner as well.

We've heard of provincial charm, but we're fairly certain that finding the mummified corpse of the former owner inside the house might just put someone a little off of their desire to have coastal property. If nothing else, it may cause people to remember the old horror cliches, either about houses built on graveyards, or of any place where people died. And if healthy teenagers can't avoid the pitfalls of such a location, how could anyone with enough money to afford a whole house possibly have a hope?

We just wonder if the ads for the home mentioned that it was fully decorated, with both that special lived-in quality, and the more exclusive died-in feel.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Hair today

The German health insurance system has received a slight overhaul, thanks to a recent ruling by a court in Rhineland-Palatinate. Due to the ruling, German men will have to start paying for something that a fair number of them enjoy, as opposed to having the state-run health insurance provide for it.

But what could this mystery benefit be? Is it for Viagra, or similar drugs? How about surgical enlargement of certain portions of the anatomy?

While we can't be certain if those items are covered under the German insurance, the ruling by the court applies to hair replacement and toupees.

That's right, folks. The country that loves David Hasselhoff will have fewer men attempting to look like him, now that they have to pay for their own baldness treatments. While women and children are still covered, men are being told that, "The hair's protective function against the sun and the cold can easily be replaced by a hat."

Of course, this comes as no real shock to Americans, who have long had to pay for their own toupees (with the exception of Robin Williams, and other men like him, who can simply transplant hairplugs from their backs to the top of their heads). Of course, when the rug is coming out of your own money, your choices will be somewhat limited, and you may not choose the best model for your head, but hey, if Donald Trump can be brave enough to wear the 'do he does, then why should the rest of the gender be any different?

It should also be noted that, amongst other things covered by the German insurance system, day spa retreats and breast augmentation can still often be received at little-to-no-cost. Which just goes to prove that it's better to be a small-breasted (for now) woman, than a man with no hair. There is no just love for the balding.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Coffee-Soaked Awards - Week of May 7, 2007

Spring is in the air, the pollen is bursting out of every available flower (and some very unavailable ones), and allergies are running high. Nature itself seems to be having a bit of an allergic reaction, with wildfires breaking out across the country, and a very premature tropical storm appearing in the Atlantic. Meanwhile, the news has continued to cough up real gems. So let's examine a few of those with the Kleenex we call the weekly awards round-up.

Welcome to (R-Rated) Flavor Country Award
The Motion Picture Association of America has long used a ratings system based off of the amount of sexual content or violence portrayed in films, and has also determined ratings due to language. Well, a new ruling by the MPAA may allow for harsher ratings due to the portrayal of smoking in the film, as well. Guess this means that Curious George and the Marlboro Red Pack will be getting at least a PG-13, thereby prohibiting the only group of viewers who could tolerate the sequel.

Hey Grandpa, Listen to this Song. Grandpa? Award
A recent study presented at the Heart Rhythm Society in Denver, CO determined that iPods and other mp3 players may cause interference with pacemakers. Just keep that in mind the next time you want to play the newest Killers track for your grandparents. The band's name may just become prophetic. In other news, the majority of pacemaker wearers thought that an iPod was something you found iPeas in.

Insert Downhome Catchphrase Here Award
With reports of flooding in Missouri, we have now learned a new system of measurement. Holt County Sheriff Kirby Felumb has been quoted as saying that the water rose to "a hillbilly's whisker from going over in several places." In the metric system, the "hillbilly's whisker" has been replaced with the rougly equivalent "aristocrat's eyelash", with 100 of those equalling 1 "American's mullet".

Hey, Kool-Aid Man! Award
We never really wanted to imagine that someone would combine the super-sweet flavors of Kool-Aid with the familiar tang of dill pickles, but then again, we never imagined that Paris Hilton would ever see the inside of a jail cell. Oddly enough, both of those things seem to be happening, and gaining plenty of coverage this week. As far as the Kool-Aid pickles goes, their prime market seems to be children. We feel that now is a good time to point out that kids also eat tape, paste, and lint. No reason.

You Call That a Fifth Movement? Award
The Boston Pops had rehearsed in preparation for their concert to open the current season. What they didn't prepare for was a fistfight breaking out in the balcony. The fight started in the middle of a rendition of "Gigi". Apparently, the men believed it to be a rendition of "Gigli", and believed that fighting was the only way to save themselves from the horror. The Pops is now regretting its decision to pull "Eye of the Tiger" from the opening night concert.

Crossed Off Award
We give this award to Milan's Mangiagalli maternity clinic, for their decision to remove crucifixes from their rooms, replacing them with images of the Virgin Mary. The clinic didn't want to offend immigrant women, and wanted to use an image that was less religious than the cross. Other things that the clinic believes to be less religious than the crucifix include the Bible, crowns of thorns, and a coupon for a free baptism.

Does This Dress Make Me Smell Drunk? Award
Fashion designers are always on the lookout for new materials, but who would've expected them to find any in a vineyard? Gary Cass, of the University of Western Australia, found a way to form dresses out of the cellulose produced as wines turn to vinegar. Of course, for the time being, the dresses must be kept wet to keep the thin "fabric" from becoming brittle and tearing. The Kennedy family has already perfected their own similar fashion trend, called "drinking ourselves silly and spilling on our clothes".

Hello, 911? I'm Lonely Award
This award goes out to a woman in Juneau, WI, who decided to call 911 in order to request a nanny. The woman specifically referred to the call as a "Nanny 911". She has also recently been depressed to learn that her "ER" isn't full of attractive doctors with dramatic life stories, and that, due to excessive television watching, she wouldn't be much of a "Survivor" in an "Amazing Race". She has also been found praying to her patron saint, the all-powerful Oprah of Winfrey, in hopes of finding keys to a new car randomly under her dining room chair.

Kneedeep in the (Hula) Hoop-la Award
Ashrita Furman, NY, receives this award, for deciding that he was going to make yet another mark in the Guinness Book of World Records, this time for underwater hula hooping. Furman is also the holder of a number of other world records, most notably the record of holding the most world records. In related news, everyone pretty much agrees that Furman (and the news team that followed his latest attempt) has too much free time on his hands.

Well, that wraps up another week of awards, as we scour the news in our own fashion. Thanks for coming along on the ride yet again. Special thanks to RW for connecting us to a number of the stories we ran down today. Come back next week, when we find out not only how long Paris Hilton will actually spend in jail, but how long it will be before FOX decides to make a series out of it. Stay safe out there.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

The camera adds ten pounds

Framingham State College in Massachusetts recently suffered a rash of thefts. The items stolen? The campus newspaper, with anywhere from 150 to 1,000 of the approximately 2,000 issues disappearing from various distribution points. The culprits? Female students who were photographed wearing mid-riff baring clothes. The motive? They felt the pictures made them look fat.

At least, that's what the paper's faculty adviser is saying. The photo in question revealed seven young women wearing shorts and tank tops, with the words, "I (heart) N-O-O-N-A-N" written on their stomachs. According to reports, two of the women decided that the pictures didn't show them in the best light, so, as one of the two stated, they "got caught up in the moment and grabbed a whole bunch of copies." Of course, the faculty adviser for the paper has also been quoted as saying that, of the four times the paper has been stolen, the implied body image issue is the "most stupid reason" yet. And yes, the girls involved in the theft could face disciplinary action.

What we're seeing here is a prime example of people not planning ahead. Generally, if you attend an event of any kind, be it a lacrosse game, a concert, or a professional knitting seminar, and you paint parts of your body (or wear ridiculous but hilarious costumes), your intention is to get seen. Heck, your intention is quite possibly to get photographed, so that people can see how wild you are, and how devoted you can be towards your favorite athlete, rock star, or stitch. Therefore, getting their picture in the paper was fairly closely tied into the original aim for these girls. For a couple of them to later regret their decision because they felt the photograph made them look fat, well, that's akin to trying to sue Sacha Baron Cohen for getting you to say something stupid for Borat (yes, we know that people tried that, too).

But maybe these girls are in the right. Maybe the lighting of the picture really did make them look heavier, causing their friends to mock them. Or maybe their friends were mocking them because, after three days, the painted on letters still weren't washing completely off. We've had pictures taken that make us look incredibly pale and a little gaunt, but you don't see us clamoring to have them removed because they make us look dead.

Heck no. We order extra prints, so that we're prepared for a before/after set-up, after we've gorged ourselves on Twinkies, Cheetos, and plenty of sun worship.

And, as far as feeling that you looked fat in the photos, girls, you've got nothing on Kirstie Alley. And if she can suck it up for Fat Actress, you can deal with a little playful teasing over the font size for your personal declaration of fandom.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Taser vs. Sword

Truthfully, this article is really more about the importance of alternate levels of force for police officers, and providing a bridge between the always effective "deadly force" of handguns, and the not-quite-as-effective "blunt force" of fists and/or nightsticks. And yet it also serves to show that there are times when foresight just isn't on the side of those breaking the law. But we should probably explain a little of what happened before getting too far off track.

A man in Port Charles, TX, apparently confused and angry from watching recent episodes of "Heroes", decided to chase his son through the streets, wielding a machete. When he was met by police, he switched weapons from a machete to a samurai sword. The police, not wanting to pull firearms on the man, instead pulled tasers and subdued the 300-pounder with electricity. The chief of police, Mark Blanton, is planning on using this incident as justification for a request for even more tasers for his officers, all while refusing to have one of his own, citing his fear of electricity.

The family of the tasered man are, naturally, thankful that a method other than gunshots was used to subdue the sword-bearing father, and have admitted to his history of mental illness. The man himself, of course, faces potential assault charges, as well as a need to see a mental health professional. We do feel obligated to point out that, unless you're on a television program, in a movie, or trapped in a post-apocalyptic world where gunpowder no longer exists, it's probably a good idea to leave swords sheathed, unless you want your mental stability questioned.

Overall, though, this really does showcase that there are options that aren't always being looked at for law enforcement. Far too often, police in this country are forced to rely either on bludgeoning instruments (like fists and clubs), or firearms. If more police can be trained in the proper usage of tasers, and more research can be done into the effects of their use, then a viable new level can be brought into the police's arsenal of tools. Although, we do have a leg up on the British, as their police are forced to rely on blowing a whistle and looking sternly in order to get criminals to back down, before moving to deadly force.

And hey, if we can get tasers accepted within law enforcement, think of the benefits it could have for less-serious crimes. Sure, there'd be the electro-shock junkies that would intentionally try to get tasered, but they're the ones who also wire things poorly in their house on purpose, just hoping to get a little jolt. And, with proper usage of electricity, we could see an end to celebrities unable to keep their garments in the proper place, or knowing when to keep their car parked. And who hasn't thought about filling Paris Hilton with a few thousand volts?

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

You're to blame! No, you are!

After the tornado that ripped through Kansas last week, one could assume that it was a time for healing. A time for support. A time where the last thing on the minds of our elected officials would be to point fingers and level blame at each other.

And yet, this is exactly what Kansas governor Kathleen Sebelius and the White House did, with regards to National Guard support for the recovery effort. Sebelius stated that the war in Iraq has stretched the Guard so thin that any recovery would undoubtedly take longer, simply because of the lack of supplies. Meanwhile, the White House decided that the reason for any delay was caused by Sebelius not properly requesting everything that she would have needed to help expedite things. WH Press Sec'y Tony Snow even went so far as to say that Kansas had merely requested FM radios, a far cry from the full list of supplies that the state had asked for.

Of course, even in a heated political climate, it should surprise no one that, a day after the accusations were first fired, both sides had backed down. The White House admitted to the full list of requests from Sebelius, and the governor's spokeswoman stated that the implied message was that there would potentially be problems down the road. Nevermind that Sebelius has long believed that the use of the National Guard in the war has led to a lesser state of disaster preparedness, while the White House has continuously stood by the standard that, yes, there are fewer troops, but there are still plenty to fulfill every need.

So now we can all rest easy, knowing that, should a disaster hit our homes as well, the odds are good that our elected officials will start working to repair the damage, and then quickly de-evolve into grade school children on the playground, fighting over whether to play four-square or kickball. It makes us realize that American politics needs something more, something outside of the norm. We need someone that we can look to, who can keep the petty childishness that's popped up over the last few years and still bring the bad guys to justice.

We need some sort of Kindergarten Cop.

Whoa, there, California. We don't want your current incarnation of Arnie. We don't want the politician, deftly moving through the legislative machine. We want the machine itself. And we won't rest until you return to us mid-1980's Schwarzenegger. True, he's just as likely to kill us as to defend us, but we're willing to take that risk.

After all, it'd keep us from having to deal with 4 years of either McCain or Hillary. And maybe, this time, it will be a tumor.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Slashing prices... and dignity

Let's just imagine for a moment, shall we? Let's imagine that you're the type of person to shoplift from Wal-Mart. Ok, now some of you have already imagined that your computer is gone, and therefore you have no way of reading this blog, so we're going to have you step back closer to the edge of reason. For the rest of you, imagine that you're not only the type of person to shoplift from Wal-Mart, but that you get caught. Now can you imagine what your punishment might be?

If you said, "Walking around outside of the store for four hours wearing a sandwich board proclaiming my guilt," you've won a prize! Or you've already read the article somewhere else. But that's exactly what two people in Attala, Ala. were forced to do after getting convicted of shoplifting from the mega-store. And yes, by wearing the sandwich boards, the two shoplifters were able to escape actual jail time, but at what cost?

After all, even store manager Neil Hawkins realized the high level of embarrassment involved in wearing such a disclaimer. Hawkins failed, however, to realize the high level of embarrassment involved in wearing his bright blue vest, complete with name tag, indicating his position as a Wal-Mart manager.

Of course, this type of punishment could be the beginning of a groundbreaking new school of thought for dealing with convicted criminals. If a shoplifter will be forced to wear a sandwich board proclaiming their guilt, maybe graffiti artists should have to tag their own clothes or home. Perhaps those found guilty of violating a restraining order should be locked into a glass cage on their front lawn. And maybe drug dealers should be employed to work at McDonalds.

It would certainly help with the overcrowded prison system. It would also make sure that there's a bed available within the next month, for Paris Hilton's arrival. Then again, it's not like she's really guilty. She just didn't know that "Your license is suspended" meant "Don't drive, you bimbo." It's a common mistake, really.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Coffee-Soaked Awards - Week of April 30, 2007

Hard to believe, but another month has zipped past, leaving only a trail of dust, and the vague recollection of a presidential debate, in it's wake. We're now dealing with May, and the inherent allergies, and presidential debates, that the fifth month of the year brings. So, as we inch ever closer to the first real outdoor party weekend of the year (we, of course, are speaking about Memorial Day), we've got another slew of awards to present. So let's get it started.

Racism Unedited Award
This award easily goes to Don Imus and his lawyers, for their lawsuit of his termination. Apparently, the major argument they have is that the producers of his program could have easily edited out the offensive commentary, and, when they didn't, they proved that it was fairly standard language from him. Or, y'know, Imus could have edited the comments himself. By not saying them.

Gettin' to Know 'Em Award
This goes out to the GOP presidential hopefuls, who held their first debate of the campaign last night, only one week behind the Democrats. Where the Dems didn't do much to differentiate themselves from each other, the GOP had few difficulties making those distinctions. Rudy Giuliani made it clear that he's not as staunchly anti-abortion as his opponents, John McCain trumpeted his war platform, and Mitt Romney reversed on an earlier position about the lengths the US should go towards capturing Osama bin Laden. Meanwhile Thomas Tancredo and Ron Paul joined forces in an aborted attempt to form Voltron, hoping to court the ever-present geek vote.

Gilmore? More like Gil-less Award
We don't often focus on television or films, but every once in awhile, we feel the need to step into that portion of the world. News has hit us that, after a successful seven-year run, Gilmore Girls will be finishing it's story this season. Now, we didn't watch the show much ourselves, but we did hear that it was famous for rapid-patter dialogue, and a "parent as best-friend" feel to the two main characters. Of course, the cancellation of the series will lead perpetually baby-voiced actress Alexis Bledel hoping to mine the Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants series until we reach the penultimate installment, Motherhood of the Travelling Muumuu.

400 Years in the Making Award
Queen Elizabeth II is on American shores, and part of her travel arrangements include visiting the historic Jamestown Settlement in Virginia. The settlement was the first permanent English colony in America, and was originally founded 400 years ago. The Queen is visiting Jamestown with the first leader of the colony, VPCheney.

Sweet. Morbid, but Sweet Award
We give this award to Basanta Roy of India, who has spent the past six years mourning for his deceased wife. From the grave. When Roy's wife died in the 1990's, he dug his own grave near to hers, and has been waiting there for his own demise. Meanwhile, Courtney Love is continuing to profit off of her own husband's death, but is still unable to find her own Nirvana.

Canada Gets Edgy Award
Oh, those silly Canadians. Not only do they have too little for their legislature to do, but now they're tired of being branded as a nice, friendly place. To counteract this, The Beaver magazine, published by Canada's National History Society, is holding a poll to find Canada's worst villains. Near the top of the pack are Celine Dion and Shania Twain. Howie Mandel is being considered solely for his contribution of "Deal or No Deal".

Worst Fire Drill Ever Award
We give this to the bosses of Robbs department store in Hexham, Northumberland. Apparently, with an imminent store closing, the bosses pulled a fire alarm, and then met employees in the parking lot with the cheerful news that, while their response time was good, their time left at their job was not. Fired employees have been quoted as saying, "That's the last time I respond to a fire alarm." No reports from the boy who cried, "Wolf" simply to see if his parents could settle their divorce amicably.

Nice Work, Take the Rest of the Year Off Award
We know it's only May. But maybe Time magazine hasn't gotten that memo. The people at Time have already released their top 100 of 2007, thereby taking the pressure off of everyone. If you didn't make the list, well, there's no need to try any harder for the rest of this year. And if you did, congratulations. You can coast through until December. Noticeably omitted from the list is GDub, because quite obviously the creator of "30 Rock" had far more influence than the man who continues to lead a nation with nothing more than a dartboard and a couple of marbles.

Well, since Time has given us all a bit of clear sailing for the rest of 2007, we're going to wrap up our posts for this week here. But don't worry, we're going to keep plugging away, and we'll be back on Monday, nursing a slight hangover from the margaritas and Dos Equis that we'll be imbibing. After all, to get ready for Memorial Day, we've got to celebrate Cinco de Mayo properly. And that means tequila and siestas. Stay safe out there.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Where are my pants?

That very question was posed by Roy L. Pearson, Jr., of Washington, D.C. in May of 2005. As it turns out, Pearson had taken some suits to a local dry cleaners, and, when the suits were returned, a pair of the pants was missing. Pearson requested the full price of the suit, in lieu of the missing pants. The South Korean owners later found a pair of pants that matched Pearson's, but he insisted that they weren't his.

And that's where things started getting weird.

After Jin Nam Chung, Ki Chung, and Soo Chung refused to pay for the suit, Pearson sued them. The Chungs, through their lawyer, offered a few settlements to Judge Pearson, first for $3,000, and then moving up until settling on $12,000. For a pair of pants.

Somehow, though, $12K wasn't enough for Pearson to drop his lawsuit. In part of his suit, he's asking for $15,000, to cover the costs incurred of renting a car to visit a different dry cleaners. After all, we all know that living in America, especially in the nation's capital, we're all promised the right to life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and reasonably located dry cleaning. Well, obviously, when Pearson decided that he could no longer visit the nearest dry cleaners, one of his inalienable rights was being violated, so of course the cost of the rental car should be part of the suit.

But that's not all. Pearson, being a judge and familiar with legal loopholes, exploited one of his own to amass a total of 12 violations, commited for a length of 1,200 days, and performed by three people. With each violation carrying a potential penalty of $1,500, Pearson found he was able to sue the Chungs for a grand total of $65M.

For a pair of pants.

We're familiar with the concept of fraudulent or frivolous lawsuits. We're used to the criminals who sue homeowners because of injuries onsite (possibly a workman's compensation issue, really), and then there's the obese individuals who have sued fast food restaurants for making them fat. But we liked to think that those who dispense justice would be above this. Obviously, at least in Pearson's case, this isn't always true. Hopefully, the June 11 trial will restore some faith to us.

Of course, we're relatively thankful that it wasn't a fedora or a bowler that had gone missing. If Pearson is willing to sue for $65M over a pair of pants (which, while part of a suit, could have been replaced relatively easily, if indeed the Chungs didn't find his original pair), imagine what he might've tried to get for a distinguished hat. It's fairly safe to assume that over such daunting headgear, Pearson may very well have filed a lawsuit that would dwarf the budgets of most Hollywood blockbusters.

On the flip side, for $65M, the only thing we can hope for is that the pants walk themselves, increase virility, and repel stains not only from themselves, but from the immediate surrounding area. Otherwise, they're just pants.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Seriously, let's just play hockey

Well, the Stanley Cup playoffs are continuing, but it's also time for IIHF World Hockey Championship. This is the tournament where NHL players who aren't still trying to take home that world's largest champagne glass get to showcase their skills with a bunch of guys from their home countries. For hockey fans, it's kind of like pre-preseason. And, of course, leave it to Canada to stick their noses into the goings-on of the tournament, at least in relation to their team.

Some of you may remember that a few select Canadians decided to try and pass legislation prohibiting the NHL from airing telecasts of playoff hockey on Saturday afternoons. Well, now a parliamentary committee has decided to call Hockey Canada officials, to defend their choice of team captain. It seems that the Official Language Committee of the House of Commons has some issues with Shane Doan, and alleged remarks made to a French-Canadian referee in 2005. Nevermind that Doan was cleared of the supposed slur. He's apparently not fit to lead Team Canada on the ice.

We understand, Canada. We know the pain that you must be feeling right now, with the realization that, most likely, those who hoist Lord Stanley's Cup this year will once again come from a location that doesn't see ice outside of the hockey arena. We even get that, sometimes, the pressure of making actual decisions that affect the lives of your constituents is just too much to bear. After all, look at our President (who's still probably in shock that he wasn't voted off of American Idol). We'll also accept that, because Hockey Canada gets governmental funding, you technically have some level of say.

But come on. Trying to dispute the choice of captaincy simply due to an alleged comment, made during a game, when emotions run high? It's not like he stepped out and made these statements during a radio broadcast. And he was talking about a French-Canadian. You remember... they're from the part of Canada that even you aren't that fond of.

Tell you what, Canada. Let's meet in the middle on this. You let Shane Doan remain as the captain, especially since the Phoenix Coyote could use the boost after his team's last season. We'll pretend that we don't send people across your borders simply for cheaper products and medicine. And we'll both pretend that Vancouver is a suitable replacement for every city in America when it comes to filming television episodes.

Then we can sit around together, drink beer, and hope that someone can knock Anaheim or San Jose out of the Cup chase. At least the other teams are familiar with snow.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

That's not what we meant by diversity

From the outside looking in, one would assume that college campuses are fairly diverse places. After all, white students, while they still appear in large numbers, are no longer the overbearing majority on the campuses. You can find both men and women in practically every classroom, and every major. And the number of international students grows every semester.

And yet, there are some saying that the issue of diversity hasn't really been corrected within the university system.

Yeah, we're a little confused, too. Apparently, the people who are having the issue believe that the initial reason to push for diversity was to correct racial injustices against African Americans. Now that the number of first- and second-generation black immigrants is growing, possibly even replacing some of the native African Americans from the schools, there are some who are complaining that diversity has failed.

Now, we were always of the perspective that diversity meant trying to bring together as many different perspectives as possible. That's why we would play games during our youth where GI Joe and the Transformers would team up, with assistance from the Masters of the Universe and My Little Pony to accomplish their goal. And the world would be a brighter place for it, especially when the wise Care Bear would impart to them their great message, and cause all of the toys to see the message in a new light. But now we can see that diversity means something far different and, perhaps, a little more sinister.

Apparently, to those who feel that American universities are failing to become more diverse, diversity only means that you accept more of their specific minority demographic in. The message that they seem to be driving home is that it only matters to black women if you open the door for more black women. The same holds true for Asian men, and German transsexuals. If you start allowing other minority groups in, possibly standing in the way of your own demographic, then diversity has failed, and you're simply helping to perpetuate racial injustices of past centuries.

Maybe we're a little off-base here, but, well, we've been known to eat tacos and bratwurst in the same day, polishing it off with a little beer before ending the night with some kung pao chicken. We may not actually have the best idea as to what diversity truly entails, but we're pretty sure that the more varied the perspectives and upbringing of a group, the higher the chances of intelligent discourse and conversation leading to new opinions. We never knew that diversity was a one-way street, only applying to specific groups trying to champion the cause.

Not that we're surprised. Racism tends to go the same direction. For proof of that, just ask the purple Smurfs. They know all about it.