Friday, June 29, 2007

Coffee-Soaked Awards - Week of June 25, 2007

Welcome back, everybody. It's Friday, it's the end of June, and, like a bunch of the news media this week, we're just going to phone this one in. Well, okay, we're not, especially since it seems that so many of them have been preoccupied with one particular story, at least during the early part of the week. Remember Monday, when we did the follow-up reports? Yeah, we didn't want to touch that other story... not without medication. So let's get these awards underway, shall we?

She's a Man, Baby Award
This award goes out to Elizabeth Edwards, who took it upon herself to call into a talk show, featuring someone who recently bandied around slurs like "faggot". No, not Isaiah Washington. Ann Coulter. Edwards took the opportunity to chastise Coulter, proving that she can stand up to cancer AND to a demon at the same time. Coulter, for her (his? its?) part, continued yelling, before speaking in tongues, falling to the floor amid burning green fire, and revealing the mark of the beast behind her (his? its?) hairline.

Maybe Not the Best Example Award
GDub has recently issued his newly revised hopes for the Iraqi people. He wants them to aspire to be more like Israel, who can "function as a democracy even amid violence." This seems to signify his resignation over the notion of the violence ever coming to an end. Of course, we all know how fondly Israel is looked upon, especially in the Middle East. Who knows? Maybe this whole sectarian violence thing can just be their mitzvah.

Worse Than Teeth Award
A young man was arrested 4 years ago, and given a 10-year prison sentence, for having had oral sex with a 15-year-old girl. The problem? He was only 17 at the time. Unfortunately, in attempts to get his sentence lessened, staunch resistance is being put up, even in light of the fact that the law has been changed since to be more understanding about minors engaging in sex acts with other minors. And you thought chlamydia was bad.

She Wore a REALLY Itsy-Bitsy Teeny-Weeny Yellow Polka-Dot Bikini Award
News reaches us out of Arizona that GapKids is beginning to market a new line of string bikinis. For toddlers. This amongst an overall industry-wide push to bring skimpier clothing to younger and younger girls. We shudder to think what would have happened to Lindsay Lohan and others like her if they hadn't had to wait until the ripe old ages of 10 before slipping on their first thong.

Come See the Softer Side of the Blue Light Special Award
Sears is moving in, and nobody can stop them. Well, since they're moving free-standing locations into some K-Marts, nobody is even planning on stopping them. Of course, we have a name for the two stores all planned out, should a merge go through, but we just can't picture Bruce Campbell stepping out of his lucrative Old Spice contract to help out.

Oh, Canada... Our Home and, um, uh... Award
While we've never doubted the overall wealth of ignorance and/or stupidity on behalf of our American brethren, but we've tried to hold onto the belief that our good neighbors to the north, with their hockey and their wacky mounted police, were a fairly intelligent lot. And now we learn that 60 percent of Canadian nationals would fail a citizenship test, if given one. Amongst the questions they couldn't answer were items like, "Who is the head of the state?" (Answer, the Queen), "How many provinces and territories are in Canada?" (Answer, 10 provinces and 3 territories), and "What is the big deal with Celine Dion?" (Answer, we shipped her to Las Vegas, so we don't care anymore).

Not in the Face Award
Of course, part of why Canadians may be losing their civic knowledge could be tied into headlines like this one; "Safety Goggles Prevent Injury". Thankfully, the article is more than just a helpful description of the intended purpose for safety goggles, and doesn't delve into the realm of describing other protective coverings. But the article does illustrate an incident involving water balloons, windshields, and exploding glass. The worker was unharmed, because of his goggles, proving that Canadian glass is sentient and aims itself at your face.

Philadelphia Fans Rest Easy Award
Well, not just Philly fans, but anyone who likes the national image of the United States (no, not the dollar, the eagle). The Interior Department announced on Thursday that the eagle was no longer considered threatened. Sadly, this announcement was followed by a rash of eagle-on-sparrow muggings, the likes were never seen when the sparrows could trust that hawks would keep the eagles in line with some harsh words and implications of violence. The announcement was given shortly before cameras faded to black over the sound of Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Freebird".

Let's Talk About Something Else Award
We give this award to Mika Brzezinski (warning, link goes to video), and we're actually quite proud of her. On the MSNBC program "Morning Joe", Ms. Brzezinksi decided that, shocklingly, news from the White House might have been a bit more important that news about *shudder* Parisite Hilton, much to the chagrin of host Joe Scarborough. We commend you, Mika. And, if the firing that we expect actually comes through, there'll always be a place for you here at the CSM. We can't pay you, but we won't ever ask you to lead in with fluff pieces about celebutards. But if we ever do, we'll give you all the lighters you want. Promise.

And that wraps up our awards for this week, and our posts for this month. We'll be back again for a shortened week next week, and then we'll return to our regular schedule the following week. In the meantime, tip one back for your homies this weekend. We certainly will. Stay safe out there.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Removing stigma from sex

The Justice Ministry of Britain has decided that a term used in a few pieces of legislation should be stricken from the records, and replaced with a more general term. The reason? The name draws a certain stigma when used.

The term? Prostitute.

That's right, folks. Over in Merry Olde England (you have to add the "e" to old, otherwise it doesn't mean the same thing), they've decided that people who happen to sell sex to make ends meet, and then get labelled prostitutes, suffer from social stigma, simply due to the usage of the word. And, well, bully to them, they want to see it stopped. After all, the term goes back to the 1820's, and obviously words created then no longer carry the same meaning in today's modern world.

Admittedly, a large portion of what the Justice Ministry is trying to do is to try and ease sex workers out of the industry, allowing them to use their talents in more legal pursuits, ranging from massage to preparing ice cream drinks at the local Dairy Queen. The new laws would begin to punish people considered "persistent offenders", y'know, those who are selling sex more than twice every three months.

Obviously, the best way to get people to stop being prostitutes is to eliminate the word, or to change the meaning. It seems like we've seen that somewhere else... like, perhaps throughout much of the GDub Administration's reign over the Americas. After all, we seem to remember times when "Mission Accomplished" meant something positive, when the Vice President was subordinate to the President, and when fooling someone more than once meant more than they wouldn't get fooled again. Looks like maybe the elder nation is learning more from junior every passing year.

In the meantime, we're thinking about visiting England, but no more than a couple of times every three months. Any more than that, and we're just being persistent.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

But he seemed so nice

A woman working for the Tuscon, AZ branch of Child Protection Services fought to help a man keep contact with his children. The man was reportedly abusive, and the oldest child had asked for help in the case. Oddly enough, one of the reasons why the CPS officer had fought to keep the father connected to his children was because (drum roll, please) she was dating him at the time.

This was in 2004.

So it should come as no surprise that the CPS changed it's policy regarding caseworkers dating the people they're investigating, to no longer allow it to happen. Okay, it should come as a little bit of a surprise, only in the notion that the CPS didn't outlaw this sort of activity before. But darnit, they took action, and they made sure that no future CPS caseworker could date the potentially abusive person that they were checking into.

And their change was largely based off of this case. It only took them three years and the general public learning about it to get them to change their tune.

Seriously? Child Protection Services didn't realize it was a bad idea when this happened at the time? They didn't think that it might be detrimental to the children they were charged with protecting to have their agents dating those under investigation? And they didn't correct their error as quickly as possible once it reached the light of day?

This is no giving children alcohol in a sippy-cup. This is leaving them in a dangerous situation, just because one of the CPS case-workers happened to get a bit of a flutter in their pants over their quarry. And it certainly shouldn't have taken the public getting involved before they changed their policies.

After all, the public doesn't have the best track record for paying attention to detail. Just look at the election of 2004 for proof.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Foster's... Australian for piss water

Foster's Lager has held a strange place in the thoughts of many beer drinkers. It's not quite as awful (or, in some cases, wonderfully awful) as the large market domestic beers available in the United States. And yet, it's still not as decent as even beers like Corona, which at least allows you to drop a slice of lemon or lime in to add to the general taste. Of course, the true beer connoisseurs will continue to rely on drinking either microbrews created domestically, or imported beers, generally coming from Europe. Foster's has often been considered a step up, albeit a very small step, from beers like Budweiser and Miller.

And yet, that could all change, very soon. For the next ten years, at least, Foster's is going to be brewed in the United States. By Miller Brewing Company (y'know, the makers of the "Champagne of Beers"). The beer is going to be marketed as trying to bridge that middle ground from the cheap domestics to the classier beers. Of course, for most Miller drinkers, that bridge will be stretching from Budweiser to Sam Adams, never mind beers like Smithwick's.

Naturally, this could be a good thing for both brands, giving Foster's a greater presence in the United States, while allowing Miller to claim a "higher quality" beer, without actually having to devote time to developing something better. And yet, somewhere, beer drinkers are crying. Crying over yet another piece of beer assimilation (like they could tell much of a difference between Foster's and Miller before). Crying over the loss of the relatively amusing commercials for the Australian beer. And crying because, when trying to stuff a lemon wedge into their Corona, they got a little juice in their eye.

So cheers to Foster's and Miller and all the rest. Cheers to bringing mediocrity to another beverage (something we thought was mostly left to the realm of Coca Cola). But, ultimately, cheers for giving us another reminder of why we drink the Irish or German beers. They may cost more, but they at least taste like something we would enjoy drinking.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Let's play catch-up

Today, while there's plenty of news making the world go around, we've noticed that there's a distinct lack of "new" in many of the stories. Truth be told, a fair number of the items that we've perused seem to be flitting around subjects that, at least, we've touched on before. So, given the conditions, we're going to try to play catch-up with some of these news stories, ourselves.

First up, you may remember that we've discussed Paris Hilton, and jail, more than once. We can't honestly help it. Not only is she just so easy to make fun of, but, well, when we try to avoid writing about her for too long, our fingers just take over. Trust us, line after line of "All work and no play makes Paris Hilton an oxymoron" just isn't worth the space it would take up. Of course, we haven't made too many mentions of the actual news agencies jumping all over each other, trying to get that first exclusive interview (with CBS considering convincing Katie Couric to get incarcerated herself just to scoop the rest of the networks). And, well, we've avoided talking about her supporters (all three of them outside of her direct family). And yet, thanks to the good folks at TMZ, we now know about someone who's been holding a vigil of his own. Paris has her own pirate-in-waiting, and he's showing his support by dressing like a thrift store version of Johnny Depp and holding up signs proclaiming his devotion from outside of the prison. Which just goes to prove that stupidity really does attract other pieces of stupidity, like moths to very very dumb flames.

Secondly, a couple of weeks ago, we talked about Angelina Jolie and her movie, A Mighty Heart. Today we learn how the movie fared at the box office, coming in a disappointing tenth behind teenage detectives, surfing penguins, religious toilet humor, CGI superheroes, evil rooms, and the third installments of series that wore out their welcome halfway through the second movie. Of course, some are believing that the movie was hurt by opening during the blockbuster summer season, a time when quieter films tend to remain quiet, and disappear from theaters before they can find their legs. Another possible reason? Our bets are on the fact that Jolie has been so ever-present as of late (and just so darned wholesome and good), that people are starting to get bored with her. Plus, with a film that's just so incredibly important, it's going to be a tough draw, especially when people can watch her jetsetting counterpart trying to outscam a scammer in the Oceans series. Our tip to keep her from disappearing faster than Helen Hunt? Go back to the wacky. Kiss your brother. Wear Pitt's backhair as a t-shirt. That way, you can keep being the good samaritan, and people will be excited to see just where you're placing your next tattoo.

Finally, it really is all about the pants. Yes, those pants. After a long struggle, during which the pants saw a claimed value of over $65M, the whole thing has finally been put to rest. Unless, of course, the original defendants decide that they want to reclaim their court costs and lawyers fees from the judge who was suing them in the first place. And yes, if you haven't gathered by now, the case was ruled in favor of the defendants, with the judge ruling over the proceedings citing that, "A reasonable consumer would not interpret 'Satisfaction Guaranteed' to mean that a merchant is required to satisfy a customer's unreasonable demands." Of course, believing that Roy Pearson was a reasonable consumer requires one to forget completely about that fact that he had just lost his attempt to secure $54M (the adjusted number for the lawsuit) because of a pair of pants, which may or may not have been lost in the first place. The verdict does restore our faith in the justice system a little. However, the knowledge that Pearson is still a judge, and can still assess penalties reminds us to never visit Washington, unless we really need some pants drycleaned.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Coffee-Soaked Awards - Week of June 18, 2007

It's Friday, and, as we close out another week (one that has threatened storms on us, and yet failed to deliver to our own area), we look once again at the news, dissecting it with our scalpel of love. Well, maybe not love. Maybe biting commentary. But hey, who hasn't gotten those two things confused at some point in their lives? Anyways, let's get this ball rolling, shall we?

One of Us... One of, Oh, Nevermind Award
In civics classes, we all learned that there were three branches to our government, the legislative (basically, Congress), the judicial (again, basically the Supreme Court), and the executive (or the White House). News comes this week that VP Cheney has made it clear that, at least as far as he's concerned, the office of the vice president is not part of the executive branch in the slightest, which means that he shouldn't be overseen by a committee that investigates executive branch actions. Ultimately, this would mean that Cheney, as VP, would not have to listen to the Chief Executive, GDub. We're guessing that either a) his kitten battery was running low on power, causing him to say things he didn't intend, or b) like the rest of the country, Cheney has grown tired of pretending to listen to GDub.

Next Up, Vertically Challenged Stars Award
How many times have you heard the term "black hole" and immediately thought about how offensive it could be to African Americans? Okay, stop counting. Now how many times have you heard the term "black hole" and immediately thought about Dane Cook's contribution to comedy? Even so, black holes will now be called "super high gravity locations". The new name was decided on by the International Space Nomenclature Council, which is renaming itself as the Multi-national Non-Earthbound Group in Charge of Naming Things.

This Makes Public Sex a Lot More Difficult Award
Police in Indian Kashmir are focused on a new group of lawbreakers. That group? Teens displaying affection in public. The reasoning is that the teenaged antics fly in the face of traditional Islamic values. If only we could get the same in this country, specifically targetting celebrities that don't seem to understand the value of underwear.

Look Out Below Award
Speaking of sex in public, one spot that sometimes sees a little more action is the roof of a building. A couple of simple rules to follow would be to avoid being near the edge, to be careful about gravel or shingles (just a good idea no matter where you are, really), and definitely don't try the deed on a slanted roof slick with morning dew. Unfortunately, a South Carolina couple forgot that last one. The pair were discovered by a homeless couple sleeping in a nearby garage, who were later heard to mutter, "Those kids and their roof sex. There's a reason we slept in the garage."

It's a Sin Award
Or is it? According to the Pope, and his Ten Commandments of Driving, it's considered a sin to use a car "as a means for outshining other people and arousing a feeling of envy". No surprise here, but Ferrari disagrees. Yeah, tell that to the guy still driving around in the early 80's Volvo.

Who's Your Decorator? Award
Police in Fitchburg, Mass., are investigating a potential grave robber, under suspicion that he stole bones from gravesites to craft ashtrays and pipes. The man has decried the charges as "bogus", but won't comment on his "Ed Gein's Decorating for Dummies" book.

Have You Checked Under the Couch? Award
It's one thing to lose car keys, or a cat. Quite often, those items can be found in a different area of the house, and, if the cat is like most felines, the odds are pretty good that you'll find both items together. It's another thing entirely to lose a lake. Admittedly, the lake didn't get lost so much as drain into the ground through a fissure, but nervous Chileans are taking extra precautions by making extra spare keys, getting another cat, and checking their wading pools for cracks. Meanwhile the Scottish are hoping for a similar phenomenon, if only to finally be able to put to rest the legends of Nessie.

Science Hates Second Children Award
A recent study, conducted by the journal Science (creative name, eh?) has proven that, more often than not, the eldest child of a family has the highest IQ. The difference is marginal, but fairly consistant. We're going to take a quick moment here to point out that GDub is the oldest of his family, and then we're going to alternately panic and weep.

Well, on that bit of slightly depressing news, we wrap up our awards for yet another week. We hope that everyone took the time to enjoy the longest day of the year (in the Northern Hemisphere... sorry Australia) yesterday, and we're already looking ahead to when the number of hours in the day is fewer than the number of awards we hand out on Friday. We'll see you all next week. Stay safe out there.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

It's seriously 4real

It's finally happened. "Leet speek" has infiltrated even deeper than we'd originally feared. For those unfamiliar, leet is the "language" (and we use that term loosely) used by millions of teenagers and young adults to communicate with each other over the interwebs, though online games, and in text messages. Ostensibly, leet makes it easier and quicker for people to type things, by substituting numbers in place of letters, and/or simply requiring fewer keystrokes to enter a word. In truth, what leet has done is created a new way to annoy other game players, and led to the formation of the LOLCats (and their ilk).

And now, leet speek has led to a New Zealand couple possibly not being able to name their child according to their wishes. The couple, shortly after an ultrasound that confirmed for them that they were actually about to become parents, decided that they wanted to name the child "4real". The problem? New Zealand law currently does not allow for numbers to be part of a registered name, and, at the very least, any "unique" name has to be examined on a case-by-case basis. The real kicker? If a compromise can't be reached by July 9, the baby will be given the name "real". And no, we're not kidding.

So it's come down to this. It was one thing when alphanumeric words were simply the domain of computer passwords. It's an entirely different thing when people start trying to use it to name a child. A child, it should be noted, that would undoubtedly suffer years of torment from fellow classmates (although, with parents ready to name them "4real", maybe the classmates aren't the ones we should worry about).

Of course, it could be worse. At least, we hope it could be worse. Quite honestly, we can't think of many things that would fulfill that requirement, but we do continue to live in hope that, where there is an opportunity, someone on this planet will find a way to do something far dumber than what has been done before.

After all, someone has to keep providing FOXNews with headlines.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

How to lose the lottery... twice

A Dutch woman lost the National Postcode Lottery, and attempted to sue over it. Of course, the Dutch National Postcode Lottery draws postal codes at random, and awards the people who play the lottery with winnings, in this case close to 14 million euros. Unlike her neighbors, however, Helene De Gier didn't win a thin European dime. How could she have been left out of the winnings?

She didn't play the lottery.

When it came to her lawsuit, she lost again, even though she attempted to argue that not having won was contributing to mental duress. She was even having problems sending postal mail, being forced to relive her loss every time she wrote her postal code. Nevermind the audacity of the neighbors that did play, won, and celebrated by purchasing new cars or making improvements on their houses.

Ultimately, it's a good thing that the case was thrown out. If she'd won, then we could have seen a glut of new cases everywhere there's a lottery, as people who didn't play suddenly were confronted with mental anguish over the fact that they didn't pick those exact numbers. Nevermind the people who allowed the machine to select numbers for them. Obviously, it was rigged from the start, and they should be able to get damages from that snub. It could even go further, as people who never thought of auditioning for a reality show could find themselves trying to sue the television networks for not having been selected as the audience favorite.

Although, the thought of suing the networks for reality shows is an appealing one. Admittedly, we'd be suing to get the shows off of the air entirely, but it's still an interesting concept.

And we'd have a higher chance of succeeding than we would of winning the lottery. Which we don't play.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

I'll sleep when I'm dead

Today's title is a notion that some people seem to follow, and we include ourselves in that grouping. Sometimes, there's just too much to do within the confines of the day, and, with our busy, run-all-the-time world, sleep seems to be the one notion concept that gets pushed aside. And when sleep does come, there are a very large number of people that cannot remain in a slumber unless it's almost deathly quiet.

And that's exactly where today's story comes into play. A 17-year-old German car crash victim, having difficulty sleeping in his hospital room, took the phrase "deathly quiet" a little too seriously. To eliminate some of the noise that was keeping him from getting his requisite amount of shut-eye, he unplugged his roommate's life support machine, citing it as being too noisy. Luckily for the 76-year-old hooked up to the breathing machine, hospital staff realized what had happened before he entered into the uninterruptable sleep.

We've heard of people needing white noise generators, and we've heard of those that have snores that can, seemingly, be heard from miles away. We've never heard of someone so irritated with the machinery in their hospital room that they started unplugging the devices, simply to get a little rest. Well, until this incident. And this is in a place where you can easily get sedatives to help ease you into slumber.

Needless to say, the 17-year-old was turned over to the police after the incident. Here's hoping that, whatever happens, he'll be able to get that quiet, peaceful sleep that he was dreaming about. Of course, if he doesn't, we're fairly certain that it'll be a lot more difficult to unplug any potential noisemakers around.

Of course, this all could have been averted if the teen had just tuned into a marathon of According to Jim, or tried to sit through Epic Movie. Either of those options would have put him into a sleep rivaled only by the coma patients down the hall.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Works for teething

Ever wonder how to get a fussy child to finish his apple juice? Consider yourself lucky, as two families in the last couple of years have had to figure out how to get their children to finish the alcoholic beverages they were served at Applebee's restaurants.

Now, it must be noted that the parents didn't order the alcohol for their kiddies. They obviously save that for when sitting at home, and the baby is fussing because their teeth are just starting to come in. And even then, it's a little bit rubbed on the gums, not a sippy cup full of the potent potable. And yet, for the second time in two years, apple juice has been replaced at Applebee's with something a bit harder.

The first instance, the child was given a Long Island Iced Tea (which means, either the bartender was REALLY confused and mixed up a high ball glass with a sippy cup, or the chain uses a pre-fab, and therefore bland, LI Tea mix). The most recent occurrence? A margarita, which happened to be stored in a similar jug to the apple juice (and again, pre-fab and bland).

The most recent incident has led Applebee's to change their practices with regards to apple juice, and they are now going to start leaving the juice in the original jugs. This, of course, is much cheaper than trying to stake out advertising to the much sought-after 4-year-old refined drinker demographic.

Of course, this also explains why it takes us at least five Long Island Iced Teas to get a bit tipsy at Applebee's, but only two apple juices. And hey, we can ignore the sippy cup, if it also helps us ignore the rest of the customers around us.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Coffee-Soaked Awards - Week of June 11, 2007

Well, June has definitely busted out all over our thermometers as of late, with temperatures and humidity soaring, and storms lingering on the outskirts of our radar before fading away into the extreme heat and the ether. And just think, we've only got a few more months of this before the temperature starts to plummet again.

As the weather has gone, so has the news, with things heating up all over the place. So let's get these awards going before any of our subjects have to go in for heat exhaustion.

I Don't Wanna Play Anymore Award
Internet giants Google and EBay used to be pretty good friends. They shared their toys, and it was a healthy relationship. Well, that all changed when Google announced its Checkout service, which would compete directly with PayPal. EBay, unhappy with the development, has decided to respond by pulling their ads from Google sites, even though Checkout has been cancelled. Isn't it just sad when two hugely popular and successful internet companies can't get along? It reminds us of that episode of Happy Days, when the Fonz couldn't stay friends with the other tough kids without becoming a vampire like them. That was Happy Days, right?

Back in a Jiffy-Pop Award
In Seattle, there is a new annoyance/culprit in the workplace. It's leading to emergency response teams being sent out, and complete evacuations of buildings. The cause behind this? Burned microwave popcorn, which may find itself banned from Seattle's municipal buildings. First, they came for the popcorn, and we said nothing. Then they came for the bagels...

How Do You Say "MILF" in Spanish? Award
Are you a mom, looking to show that you've still got what it takes to be a beauty queen? Are you Spanish? If you can say yes to both of those, and you don't want to vie for the title of "Mrs." anything, you can try your luck as a contestant to become Miss Spain. A rule prohibiting mothers from competing for the title has been overturned, delighting many across the country. Donald Trump has expressed glee over the notion, and intends to help as many mothers become beauty queens as possible, and vice versa.

2+2 = Marriage Award
We give this award to 73-year-old Shiv Charan Yadav, who decided in his 30's that he wouldn't marry until he bettered himself, and passed his high school exams. The trouble is that he's no closer after almost 40 years and 38 attempts. Should he actually pass, he wants "to get married to a girl who's under 30". Yadav arrived at that number using his math skills and his belief that his bride should be 5 years younger than he is.

Life Imitates Art Award
With last week's return of the #1 celebutard to jail, we now find ourselves discovering stories about her family visiting. Apparently, her sister (who's just as bright as she is) has recently made the discovery that "It's sad. It's like right out of the movies. The glass partition, the orange jumpsuit. Everything." It's almost as though prison movies had some sort of source material that they could research. Maybe they can even visit different locations to try to lend some authenticity to their stories.

The Lord Shall Set You Free Award
Some prisoners in Papua New Guinea took that notion literally, using a prison church service as cover for their escape. No word yet if the prisoners were later recaptured because of someone known only as J.I. They were denied their dinners three times, however.

Too Much Time On My Hands Award
When you receive a $65 parking ticket, what is a reasonable course of action? Should you pay the ticket? Should you dispute the validity, only to see the fine dropped, and then pay it? Or should you spend $10,000 to get the ticket thrown out? Guess what Sanford Young, a Manhattan lawyer did. In a related story, clients of Sanford Young are about to see higher fees for his services. We should definitely pit this guy against the pants judge in a fight over the craziest legal professional.

I Swear, I Only Paid for the Sex Award
Sometimes, things just aren't going your way. Just ask the 39-year-old Lake City man who hired a prostitute, ran out for some beers, and returned to find her dead in the bathtub. This is so not how Pretty Woman turned out.

And that wraps up our awards for another week. We'll be back next week with more of our observations on what's going on around us, provided that we don't suffocate in our cars as soon as we enter them. Might we suggest plenty of iced coffee and ice cream for everyone this weekend? Don't want any of you melting on us, either. Stay safe out there.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Reporters Given Borders

Ah, celebrity. That special level of notoriety within a given culture that, apparently, allows you to change the rules at your slightest whim, so long as they serve what you believe to be the greater good. It's kind of like being President, without having to worry about all the little details like elections and a system of checks and balances. And, while some celebrities use their power for evil, some set out to do good in the world. When it comes to celebrities acting favorably, none springs more readily to mind than Angelina Jolie.

Of course, we're talking current with-Brad-Pitt Angelina, not former with-Billy-Bob-Thornton-or-Jonny-Lee-Miller Angelina. That Angelina was a bit frightening. But the present one seems to be trying to set things right, and has made her altruism part of the public record. She's turned her image around so far that she was selected to play the wife of a slain journalist in the based-on-true-events A Mighty Heart.

Nevermind that the woman Angelina is playing is of a completely different racial make-up than Jolie herself. Nevermind that there are other actress of similar ancestral backgrounds to Marianne Pearl that could have played the role, and probably done quite well. Angelina was selected, and put into a modern form of "black face", and we can't be certain that her globally focused image didn't help in that aspect. And, well, we certainly can't argue too much about a film that will benefit the Reporters Without Borders organization, trying to help news media expand their ability to cover events, no matter where they happen.

And yet, Ms. Jolie doesn't really seem to get the message. We're not talking about her lockouts of grocery store periodicals until she gets exclusive coverage in her personal favorites. We're talking about the contract she asked reporters to sign before even considering an interview for the upcoming film. And her attempt to ban an entire news organization from the red carpet premiere. While the term "news organization" tends to be a little loose when referring to FOXNews, they still carry that designation, and, consequently, would be amongst those who would benefit from Reporters Without Borders.

Who knew that, while trying to tear down the borders in other places around the world, Angelina Jolie would quickly be erecting them around her own whims and pet projects.

Here's a better idea, Angie. Next time you don't want FOXNews to appear at one of your events, just schedule it around something stupid that either Paris Hilton, Michael Jackson, or Lindsey Lohan do. Shouldn't be hard to sneak a peak at their calendars, and, if you can happen to hit all three, you've ensured yourself of the trifecta. It's a lot easier, and less damaging, than trying to establish freedom of the press as you see fit.

After all, you aren't President.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Seemed like a dumb idea at the time

This may come as a shock to some people, but there actually are some very important rules to follow when taking pictures to later post on the internet, specifically with regards to social networking sites like Friendster and MySpace.

Rule #1 - Don't take photos of the marijuana that you've got growing in your closet. And, if you happen to get busted by the cops, don't then claim that you don't know how the pictures got onto your site.

Rule #2 - Don't take pictures of yourself engaging in risque behavior with your friends/significant others/statues in a park unless you really don't mind people seeing you as merely a face floating above your other "assets".

Rule #3 - Don't get a friend to take a picture of you attempting to fake a possibly dangerous stunt, as things will probably go badly in the long run.

A 17-year-old Californian boy obviously did not know Rule #3 when get "pretended" to fall in Mt. Diablo State Park, so that his friend could take pictures for the boy's MySpace. Before too long, the pretending stopped, and the boy fell 75 feet, luckily suffering non-life-threatening injuries. The boy was lucky, as last year a college student fell from a greater height, and later died of head injuries. The police were also quick to point out that neither drugs nor alcohol seemed to play a part in the recent incident, although they tactfully left out the large role stupidity played.

Here's just a friendly little tip from the CSM. If you want to fake a photo of yourself falling, rig up a harness of some sort that will drop you about three feet onto a mattress or other soft cushioning. As you are falling, have a friend snap a picture. Then proceed to use Photoshop to manipulate the heck out of the photo, leaving the image of you falling into a dangerous location.

We suggest either using the Grand Canyon or Paris Hilton as the backdrop. Both are known for being gaping spans of emptiness. True, Hilton's is in her head, but she's still known for it.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Does it come in salmon?

News has reached our desks today that the Pentagon has been looking into possible non-lethal ways to combat the enemy. Of course, we're not talking about things like beanbag guns or even something as seemingly logical as diplomacy.

No, the Pentagon confirmed that, relatively recently, they sought federal funding to help them produce a "gay bomb".

What is a "gay bomb", you may be wondering? Well, it's not a bomb that waves a rainbow flag and loves Judy Garland. The bomb was conceived with the idea of filling it with strong aphrodisiacs, with the intention of turning enemy troops into homosexuals. Homosexuals with such a strong attraction to each other that they simply laid down their weapons and, well, got it on.

This sounds like something taken out of an action comedy movie, along the lines of Austin Powers. Seriously, though, the Pentagon actually believed for awhile that this type of chemical warfare would work. But they didn't look at the full effects of creating such a bomb. Nevermind the sex on the battlefield, what about the dramatic increase in the number of interior decorators? And how would our troops handle showtunes being sung at them?

Before anyone gets up in arms, yes, we are aware that these are stereotypes. Besides, the world already has a "gay bomb". But really, how many times can you unload Elton John before someone retaliates?

Monday, June 11, 2007

Oh, Joe

Times have been hard for Senator Joe Lieberman (D R I-Connecticut). Not only did he stand strong on his position towards the Iraq war, but doing so cost him his party primary, forcing him to play his hand and toss himself to the wolves as an Independent candidate. Then when, unsurprisingly, the Democrats couldn't rally around their candidate, Joe came out the ultimate victor, in a prime example of having losing the battle but winning the war.

Maybe we shouldn't be so quick with the war analogies with Lieberman, but, well, he just keeps making it so easy. And this time, he's picking on a new target, apparently having grown tired of talking about the war in Iraq.

Good ol' Sen. Joe wants the US to consider attacking Iran.

That's right. Apparently Joe has decided that the war in Iraq is going so well that we can now worry about focusing military might on the neighboring country. Nevermind the debacle that we're currently embroiled in. Let's just expand this thing, and show that we really don't have any sort of exit strategy that doesn't move further east.

Hey Joe, is it too late to fully embrace the GOP? Or are even they starting to look at you like the elephant in the room?

Friday, June 08, 2007

Coffee-Soaked Awards - Week of June 4, 2007

Welcome back to another round of the Coffee-Soaked Awards. It's June, and we don't really have any sort of witty introduction planned, so let's just get this thing going, shall we?

Down With the Sickness, Pt. 1 Award
This award goes out to GDub, who missed out on some of the G8 meetings due to what appears to be a stomach flu. A similar bug had apparently struck Laura Bush earlier in the week, causing her to cancel absolutely none of her very important shopping trips in some of the main European shopping centers.

Down With the Sickness, Pt. 2 Award
Remember the guy with tuberculosis? The one who prompted the first quarantine in a long time? Yeah, well, he was on Larry King, and, when asked about his honeymoon, he referred to it as "the most pitifully non-physical honeymoon you could possibly imagine." Obviously, he's never imagined a honeymoon between Roseanne Barr and Andre the Giant. Or, really, Roseanne Barr and anyone who's not as desperate for attention as Tom Arnold.

Down With the Sickness, Pt. 3 Award
The Parisite in jail! Out of jail, and sent home (possibly without her supper), due to an undisclosed illness! Called into court, but decides to phone it in! Activist judge decides that the celebutard actually needs to be physically present! We have now summed up the remainder of the world's news coverage, and we can return to our awards.

Clothes Don't Make the Designer Award
This award goes out to all of the celebrities that firmly believe that, because they have a bit of fame, it gives them a license to create "fashion lines". Look, it's a well-established fact that nobody really wants to look like the Olson twins, so please stop trying to convince us otherwise. Leave this to the real designers, many of whom will create brilliant fashions, and then proceed to show up at their runway shows wearing clothes Johnny Depp wouldn't be caught dead in.

We All Scream For Award
We give this out to Italian legislators, who have decided that, in order to improve their quality of life, they deserve to have ice cream in their cafeteria. American lawmakers are following suit, and are now requesting either tofu or high quality beef, dependant on party lines. One special request for kittens has, thus far, been ignored.

Bob Barker Would Be Proud Award
The state of California may be about to do something no state has done before. No, not fall into the ocean during a tremendous earthquake (although that's still expected at some point). They may be about to pass a law forcing the average pet owner to spay or neuter their pet, or face a large fine. This is an attempt to curb the large numbers of abandoned animals discovered each year. Californian pets are already sitting cross-legged at the border to Nevada, waiting to see if the bill passes or not.

Did You Check Under the Couch? Award
A contingent of Polish troops assigned to Afghanistan may take several more weeks to become combat ready, due to the unforeseen circumstance of having lost their keys. Well, in all actuality, the keys were stolen, but the bigger shock is that it will take weeks for new keys to be sent to them. Meanwhile, in New York, a man is expecting to be out of his apartment for a whole four hours, while he waits for his wife to return home, so that he can make a spare key in thirty minutes.

In the Navy Award
You'd think that, when the Village People write a song about you, you wouldn't be so hasty to enter into a potential controversy, centered around a homosexual man. And yet, the US Navy has enlisted, then released, then re-enlisted an openly gay man, placing him into their reserve branch. On one hand, there is the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. On the other hand, there isn't a single "Hey, sailor" or "seaman" joke that this guy hasn't heard.

So that rounds up our awards for this, the first full week of June. We're inching ever closer to that bright shining middle point of the year, where the days are sweltering, the nights are mildly less so, and where firecrackers and gunfire trade places in the nighttime soundscape. We're looking forward to it, actually. Stay safe out there.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Only the important laws

It's relatively comforting to know that there are states in the US that have figured out everything major (and, apparently, most things minor). Of course, we refer to those states that have time to declare a new state Nerf ball, or a new state Kleenex color, or just making bizarre regulations to help the day to day life of its citizens. And, well, it looks like Massachusetts, having solved every other problem afflicting its residents, has decided to look into a pesky problem.

The bathroom stall door.

Pushed for by a resident of Bellingham, but voiced in front of the legislature (we assume to a certain lack of laughter) by State Rep. James Vallee (D-Franklin), the state is now looking into whether building codes should be amended with a stipulation about which way the bathroom stall door swings. Shockingly, this egregious oversight wasn't brought to the state's attention before.

Seriously, if your state legislature honestly has nothing better to do with its time than decide whether bathroom stalls should open out or in, please, by all means, scatter them around the country. After all, with their efficient legislating, they may be able to help other states seemingly trapped with too much work. Of course, these legislatures will lose their home court advantage, but maybe the good will of other states could help ease that somewhat.

It would certainly be better than suffering through a two-year campaign season.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Hostel, Pt. 3

Welcome to lovely Varanasi, India. Hope you aren't planning too long of a stay. Two weeks, tops.
Ah yes, Varanasi, one of the holiest cities in the Hindu religion. Consequently, elderly Hindus who believe themselves to be at death's door flock to the city, hoping to die within its borders, and have their ashes spread over the Ganges. The belief is, if they can achieve this, they will be able to escape the circle of rebirth and attain moksha early.

This has led to a number of hostels through the city establishing an interesting limit to the length of stay. Once you check in, you need to have shuffled off of this mortal coil before two weeks have elapsed, or you're forced to return home. In fact, there aren't even any medical practitioners to try to make sure that things go smoothly. Instead, there are simply priests attending to the sick and dying, easing their passing. In a culture that reveres death almost as much as life, it seems almost fitting.

And yet, it also seems foreign. Whereas Western culture fears death, and even goes out of its way to prevent it for as long as possible, the notion of an entire city practically devoted to the process of dying seems strange. Sure, we have Florida, but not everyone expects that their visit to the Sunshine State will last a mere two weeks. And we all know that there's no way we'd be able to get Grandpa back up to Montana once he made it to Tallahassee.

But maybe the concepts being used in Varanasi could be brought into our culture. And we could find ways to apply it to other things, as well. For example, According to Jim would have been cancelled long ago, if it hadn't been allowed life support for all that time, or been encouraged to just hang on for a little longer, instead of dying quietly in its own time. George Lucas would never have revived the Star Wars movies, letting them return in their new life as Firefly. And Robert Jordan may actually have to finish his "trilogy".

Then, of course, there's Keith Richards. But, well, we all know that the man has somehow preserved himself far beyond his usual life expectancy. Medicinal marijuana, indeed.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

O'er the land of *hum hum*

Here in America, we have a benefit that we've taken for granted. In fact, most nations in the world have this same liberty, and we all seem to downplay the importance. And yet, Spain seems set to take the steps necessary to join our ranks, and rectify a situation long overlooked.

That's right, everyone. The Spanish national anthem may be about to get lyrics.

You heard correctly. One of the oldest anthems in the world has been an instrumental piece since its creation, and, well, Spanish national teams just can't take it anymore. They're tired of humming or standing mutely while other nations get to sing along to the joyous refrains set down by their forefathers (or, in the case of some of the newer countries in the world, that guy down at the pub who's always scribbling away at a notepad). They want to sing, and they want their voices to be heard amidst the tangled international throng.

Who knew that lyrics could be so important to a sportsman's morale?

Of course, what the Spanish aren't looking at, aside from completely different regional dialects utilizing different words, a nation full of strong views that don't always mesh, and people possibly mistaking their anthem for a restaurant jingle, is that, even in many countries where lyrics are present in the national anthems, not everyone knows the words. How often have you been to an event where any anthem is played, and everyone is singing along, without ever resorting to mumbling through words similar to "watermelon and banana"?

However, we have suggestions. If you're looking to put words into your nation's mouth, then look to the pop artists of today. After all, even though many of the lyrics are mindless and insipid ("My Humps" springs to mind), they still stick in your head. For days on end. And not even the musical crowbar of "It's a Small World" can pry them out. Or better yet, get a bunch of contemporary beatniks to scribble out free thought. That way, if nobody can remember the lyrics, it won't matter.

Or you could hire John Mayer, and kill two birds with one stone.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Keep it down back there

For five students at an Illinois high school, their graduation day came and went with a certain amount of fanfare and cheering. So much cheering, in fact, that the school decided to withhold their diplomas.

Yes, you just read that correctly. Because of the exuberance of their families and friends at the announcement of their names, five students at Galesburg High School were not able to receive their diplomas. In what the school claimed as an effort to keep the commencement ceremonies from getting too rowdy, they had students and parents sign papers that they would act in a respectful and dignified manner. Apparently, being respectful and dignified also meant, to the school at least, that the graduates name be greeted by a chorus of crickets chirping.

If it turns out that the school simply was following the policy it set down, and not engaging in some other form of discrimination (all five students were minorities), then we may see this type of thinking take root in other venues. Imagine going to the theatre and being requested by the ushers to hold your applause to a lower level. Certainly abandon the thought of giving any sort of extra acclaim to other performers, as it might make those that didn't receive the hoots feel badly about themselves. Or picture going to see a concert, and when the band turns the microphone out for the audience to sing along, the sound of nothing fills the air.

Although maybe asking for a little less from audiences could be applied to sporting events. After all, do we really need to hear that small group of painted and drunken fans, shouting over and over again about what exactly a certain player's off-field antics are? Or how much they can't do for their team? Or how the peanut and hot dog vendors just need to get them another couple of brews? That's a sound of silence that we could wholeheartedly support.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Coffee-Soaked Awards - Week of May 28, 2007

This week, we bid a fond farewell to the month of May, and usher in June, which, according to all reports, is most certainly busting. This is the month where the weather really starts to act summeresque, and weddings pop up faster than the dandelions you mowed down last night. Of course, we're not really preoccupied with that stuff, so let's get moving with the weekly awards, culled from the news of the world.

Better Late Than Never Award
We give this award to the good state of Alabama, who just yesterday signed a resolution apologizing for slavery. To quote Governor Bob Riley, "Alabama's a different state today and we should be proud of it." Other things Alabama is looking to apologize for include moonshine, the Crusades, and the band Alabama.

The Air That I Breathe Award
If you visit Rome, you might find yourself being a little more light-headed than normal. The reason why? Traces of cocaine and cannabis have been found in the air around the city. On a related note, the Rolling Stones, the Moody Blues, and the Doobie Brothers are all planning on visiting the Italian capital, just to "hang out".

Smells Like New Balance Award
This story comes to us via Agent P Berry, and it just goes to show that Wisconsin just keeps being weird. A man in Waukesha, WI stole over 1,500 pairs of shoes, getting arrested for the same crime that he was previously convicted of in 2005 in Kenosha. The man was stealing the shoes because "he liked to smell them." The Badger State is now looking into ways to export their crazies to Illinois, where they won't be noticed.

Do You Want a Bigger Award
Seattle police arrested Robert Alan Soloway earlier this week, putting a stop to one of the most prolific spam artists in the business. Why they felt the need to arrest someone who uses a spiced ham product in sculpture is beyond... what's that? Spam emails? Oh... um, nevermind. Nothing to see here.

I'm in Ur Vacation, Emailing Ur Reports Award
Before anyone asks, yes we feel bad about using LOLCats verbage for this award. Anyway, turns out that 1 in 5 people are bringing their laptop computers on vacation with them. The same number are using parts of their vacations to check up on work projects while away. Bloggers around the country are all blinking and wondering, "What's a vacation?" A good percentage are wondering, "What's work?"

Bury Me in Your Velvet Award
What can you possibly do with over 8,000 stolen pieces of women's clothing? Well, if you're Maeyasu Kawamura, you sleep in it. Kawamura apparently enjoyed sleeping buried in the mounds of stolen clothes, because, "He seemed to like the smell." Honestly, people, get yourself some scented candles or something.

What Do We Want? Brains... Award
The family of an Indian man decided that they would exhume his body three days after he died, due to the fact that his mother received a dream wherein he could be brought back to life. The family hired a witch doctor, sat near the body, and waited. Unsurprisingly, after two days, Arun Mahji remained dead, causing the family to rebury him. George Romero and Roger Corman have both criticized the attempts by the witch doctor, claiming that the only way to revive Mahji would have been through a chemical reaction, possibly spread through a bite.

And that wraps up our final post for the month of May, as well as our first post for the month of June. We certainly hope that everyone had a good Memorial Day weekend, but, if not, don't be afraid to try to recapture one for yourself this weekend. After all, you've probably earned it. Stay safe out there.