Friday, August 31, 2007

Coffee-Soaked Awards - Week of August 27, 2007

August is about to slink away, but we're not going to let it escape without another round of the Coffee-Soaked Awards. Sit the kids down and let them get familiarized with the news before they go back to school, so that they've got something to share with their classmates. Everybody strapped in? Alright, here we go.

Taking Our Toys and Going Home Award
We give this to NBC/Universal, for their decision to stop releasing episodes of their television shows on iTunes. The reason for the split? NBC has apparently been unhappy with piracy controls for some time, and feels that Apple hasn't taken proper steps to fix the problems. Now that NBC has made this decision, they can rest assured that nobody will be able to get free versions of their programming at their beck and call through any means, let alone distribute those copies to others. In the meantime, Apple is scrambling to build iTV, with hit shows like "iHeroes", "The iOffice", and "iWelcome Back, Kotter".

What's in a Name Award
Caren Ann Burke may be about to find out that some names don't have quite the same appeal as others, as she undergoes a process to legally change hers to "Caren Ann bin Laden". She is looking to change her name due to a divorce, and apparently thought that "Caren Ann Hitler" was just going a little too far. Well, that, and she didn't like the way that "Caren Ann Satan" sounded.

No More Doubleclicking Award
A Chinese woman, tired of playing second fiddle to video chats and online games, decided to stifle her husband's Internet addiction the only way she could fathom. After severing his right hand, she was arrested, which has led the husband to ask for her release, pointing out that he'd broken a promise which led to her actions. That, and he's tired of it always feeling like a stranger.

Don't Burn That... Yet Award
What activity at the Burning Man Festival could possibly yield criminal charges, and yet be seen by many as kind of a "Huh?" moment? No, not excessive drug use, and certainly not listening to The String Cheese Incident blaring their jam band music everywhere. No, the crime in question was perpetrated by Paul Addis, who lit the festival's namesake effigy on fire. The problem? He did it too early, thereby harshing the mellows of a large group of unwashed, unemployed hippies.

Get Off My Burning Man Festival Award
In response to the outrage caused by the early burning, some B.M. Festival goers have become disillusioned, claiming that the popularity of the festival has led to people forgetting about how it all started, as a celebration of counterculture creativity and spontaneity. In other words, the old unwashed hippies are now sitting around, complaining that the new unwashed hippies don't have the same connection to the true meaning of Burning Man. That connection has been replaced by drugs and nudity, which shames the old hippies. When they see through the haze of pot smoke, that is.

They Make a Calendar for Everything Award
Quick, name one group that has been underappreciated in society, and deserves it's own "Sexiest Men of..." calendar. Ok... time's up. Oh, and if you said "Sexiest Men of the Mortuaries", you're a little late in the game. We're just hoping that Mr. October didn't have to pose with any of the, um, props...

What About the Pirates? Award
Shaolin Temple in China has issued a demand for an apology. The Temple feels that its monks have been slighted, due to an Internet user claiming that a lone ninja had defeated a group of Shaolin monks. The monks are claiming that the story is a complete fabrication. For the record, it was not a lone ninja that defeated the monks, but instead it was a team of superpowered robotic pirate-ninjas, who were possessing of all of the strengths of both Chuck Norris and Bruce Campbell, but none of the weaknesses.

It Doesn't Seem Like You Understand the Concept Award
A while back, we mentioned a story about a burglar who, upon discovering he was in the wrong house, proceeded to ask for a hug. We've found one that tops even that, as he returned to a house he'd burgled to apologize, and return the belongings, along with leaving behind some other items and a note. And we were just starting to wonder what Dustin Diamond was up to these days.

Well, that rounds out our awards for this week, and for the month of August. We'll be back in September, after we enjoy the long Labor Day Weekend. And kids, remember, if your teachers don't quiz you on the stuff you've learned from us, then they need to get out and read more. Stay safe out there.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

The tenth time's the charm

Throughout history, people have made errors in judgement. Some mistakes, like attempting to fight a land war in Asia, are not caught until it's too late to do much to halt the flow of history. Other mistakes, like the Edsel, can be discovered before too many people have been hurt.

And then there are mistakes that seem fairly innocent, and, often, aren't caught as mistakes until long after the fact. Sometimes these errors slide through life without notice, although YouTube is working hard to fix that. Other times, forces will gather to let people know about their mistake, and make an attempt to fix them. Sometimes the message is gathered when key friends and advisers decide to leave their current employment. Sometimes, a hint comes from seeing people start a revolution. And sometimes, the message is delivered by way of motor vehicle crashing into the side of your house, causing large amounts of damage.

And even after all that, some people don't get the hint. In fact, for Manfred Sedlazek of Karlshoefen, Germany, it took ten different cars over time before he finally realized that maybe his house isn't in the best location. The Sedlazek house is built near a curve in a busy road, and the final straw may have finally come when a 40-ton truck barrelled through the living room. Luckily, the house was empty at the time, but that clear of a message is hard to miss.

We'd imagine that the previous 9 messages were probably met with comments such as, "Oh look, someone drove through the house again," "Hey, they're taking that turn a little too fast," and "You kids get your Audi off of my lawn!" And while it may have taken ten accidents before Sedlazek realized anything, he's finally starting to come to the conclusion that, perhaps, he built his own crypt. He's even acknowledging that he should probably leave the house, for his own safety.

We admire Sedlazek's persistence in not moving, but we have to wonder why a location that had been struck previously by any vehicles, let alone 9, still seemed like a viable place to live. Were his other options in direct flight paths? Perhaps he owns a plot of land on the side of a volcano, but figures that an eruption may just be a little too risky for him. Maybe he owns a houseboat, but can't find a pier to dock it at. Or maybe he was offered a home in Washington, D.C., and he turned it down because the people there "just don't learn very quickly".

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Give me (most of) your money

Let's pretend for a moment that you're looking to rob someone. Now, you're robbing them because you're a little short on cash for whatever it is you want. With that image firmly in your head, you find someone to rob, and proceed to try and get their money from them. They have more than you need, leaving you with the option of either waiting for them to get change, or simply taking the money.

Well, if you happen to be James Mitchell of Mount Vernon, NY, you'll give your victim the chance to break that $10 into something more manageable, before you take the $4 you so desperately need.

Yes, you read that correctly. Because Mitchell only need $4, he allowed his victim to go into a pizza parlor to get change for the $10 he was carrying. This lead to Capt. Joseph DeCarlo pointing out the uniqueness of the case, due to Mitchell not taking all of the money. To us, this is something of a "Well, duh" statement.

Of course, we want to believe that Mitchell had good reason to turn down the extra $6. Therefore, we've been trying to figure out just what it could possibly have been that drove him to steal only $4 from an 18-year-old. Perhaps he was just a little bit shy of being able to afford that extra case of Coors Light. Maybe he really needed a pack of cigarettes, and didn't want to pay with quarters this time around. It's possible that he was looking to try and set a new all-time record on Donkey Kong, and figured that 16 plays through the game would be enough to secure the title.

Or maybe, just maybe, he was looking out for the kid's well being. After all, with $6, the 18-year-old could almost get into a movie (but not be able to afford popcorn), he get most of a value meal (but not get it in a large size), or could gorge himself on ramen noodles for almost a month.

Yeah, that's it. Mitchell was really looking out for his victim's health, and took the $4 to try and keep the kid from overeating. That makes about as much sense to us as letting the kid get change in the first place.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The golden ratio

Many thanks to Agent P Berry for passing this one along to us.

Apparently, when it comes to having a sexy walk, a lot of it comes down to crunching both abdominal muscles and numbers. In fact, a group of mathematicians at Cambridge engaged in exhausting research, trying to determine just what makes the sexiest walks work. They eventually arrived at a hips to waist ratio of 0.7, claiming that this ratio would provide the utmost in both swing and bounce. As for who holds the claim to the mathematically sexiest walk, look no further than Jessica Alba.

That's right. The group of math geniuses proved their smarts by engaging in a study that allowed them to watch beautiful women walk, trying to determine which walk showcased the best assets. After arriving at the "ideal" measurements of a 25-inch waist and 36-inch hips, they then had to spend hours (possibly days) pouring over detailed information about some of the most famous actresses, all in order to learn who had the best proportions for the walk.

We're certain that they were compensated well for all of the time that they spent being forced to watch beautiful women.

Seriously, though, perhaps this is why the stereotype of mathematicians not being able to get dates is so prevalent. Their obsession with numbers can prevent them for seeing things as anything more than more equations, and, well, unless your phone number uses 314-1592 somewhere, you probably don't have much of a chance with them. And don't even get us started at how often they refer to things as being irrational, or imaginary, only to find that those terms can apply to thoughts and friends, too.

Alright, that last part isn't fair. They know that friends can be imaginary.

Ultimately, while scientists are busy learning what happens by injecting (or suppressing) hormones in lab mice, this group from Cambridge has finally proven that there's use for algebra and other mathematical concepts outside of school. Math may not be able to bring sexy back, but it can certainly quantify it.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Some questions don't need answers

There are times when people will ask questions that they don't want the answers to. There are other times when people ask questions that they already know the answers to. And then, of course, there are rhetorical questions, sitting around being smarmy about their lack of answers.

We're not entirely sure where exactly in the spectrum today's story falls.

After having been friends for a couple of years, James Gilders and Taukiri Christopher Keen had a bit of a falling out over a girl, unsurprisingly. It seems that the friendship soured when Keen suspected that Gilders was sleeping with his girlfriend. Keen decided that the only way to handle the situation was to invite his friend to hang out at an abandoned prison.

Once the two got over the wall, Keen proceeded to stab Gilders, drop a rock on his head twice, and stab him again. After the second stabbing, Keen proceeded to ask if Gilders was dead, to which he received the response, "Not even close, brother". Even more bizarre, the two shook hands before heading on their seperate ways.

Of course, we're wondering just what answer Keen was hoping for. Maybe he was just trying to scare Gilders off of his girl, in which case the rock would've probably sufficed. Maybe he was wondering if Gilders would say "Yep. Dead as dead can be," thereby allowing him to either feel powerful in his vengeance, or upset that his friend was lying to him. Or maybe he was expecting the response to be nothing, informing him that the friendship was well and truly over. Either that, or Keen was really hoping that he hadn't mortally wounded Gilders, although the fact that he forced the bleeding man to make his own way to the hospital brings that into question, too.

To us, this is akin to asking Lindsey Lohan if her career is still alive, or to asking Paris Hilton if she's finished sleeping her way through Los Angeles. You may get an answer, or you may get a blank stare. Either way, you can't really be sure if you've received the answer you were expecting or hoping for. Hell, with these types of confused situations, we can't even begin to guess at what the desired answers could be.

It's almost as frightening to think about as Keanu Reeves in a remake of "The Day The Earth Stood Still".

Friday, August 24, 2007

Coffee-Soaked Awards - Week of August 20, 2007

Welcome back once again for our weekly collection of whatever random news stories we happened to grab! This week, we've seen the President FINALLY find a way to spin the Vietnam/Iraq comparisons in his favor, and we've watched one of the leading Democratic candidates mention that any act of terrorism will only help the GOP in the upcoming election. We've seen floods drive through the Midwest, and a football star admit his guilt. And, here in Minnesota, we've begun our yearly subjugation of all foods, first by placing them on a stick, and then by dropping them into a deep fryer. So let's get the awards underway, shall we?

Bad at Math and Too Trusting Award
With the jackpot skyrocketing in the Powerball drawings, we've seen more individuals ignoring one of the truths of the lottery; it's a tax on people who are bad at math. Of course, sometimes being bad at math is nothing when you're also bad about selecting who to trust. A lottery winner in California asked a clerk to check to see if he'd won. She told him no, and then pocketed the $555,000 winnings herself. Well, in truth, she told him that he'd won $4, which he used to purchase gas station nachos, in order to console himself.

Let's Just Cuddle Award
New research out of the University of Wisconsin indicates that, perhaps, men can achieve more than just a sexual reawakening through the use of Viagra. The drug apparently can help the men rediscover emotions of love, as well. This explains why we see so many senior citizens spooning in the parks nowadays. And they still want us off of their lawns.

No Booze, No Problem Award
A topless bar in Los Angeles is going in a new direction, after having been denied a liquor license. Exploiting a California law, the establishment is going fully nude, while waiting to hear on the results of an appeal. Whatever the result, Slippery Nipples will always be on the menu.

Time is but an Illusion Award
If you live in Venezuela, be prepared to have to adjust all of your clocks. President Hugo Chavez, in a move to try and maximize the amount of daylight for the country, is going to shift the time zone for the entire nation by thirty minutes. And all Cher ever did was talk about turning back time...

If the Shoe Doesn't Fit Award
What's one of the quickest ways to get arrested for a crime? Perhaps returning to the scene, carrying a piece of stolen merchandise, and attempting to exchange it because it doesn't fit. That's exactly what happened in Jerusalem, however. The biggest travesty of the whole thing, however? The woman was returning a stolen pair of Crocs. We're rather surprised she didn't have arrows tattooed on her face.

For Those Hard-to-Shop-For Austrians Award
Have you ever wished you could get lederhosen? How about diamond-studded lederhosen, at a cost of $114,000? Finally, there's clothing that you can get for the all-celebutards version of "The Sound of Music". Which begs the question, what is the German word for "bling"?

There's a Hole in the Universe, Dear Liza, Dear Liza Award
Researchers at the University of Minnesota recently discovered an anomaly in space. That anomaly? A gaping blank spot, without stars, planets, black holes, or even old recordings of Saturday Night Live sketches. While "holes" in the universe aren't uncommon, this is one of the largest ever recorded, only matched in size by the gaping hole in talent found within the writer's rooms of most ABC sitcoms.

And that finishes our awards for this week. We'll be back next week to share more of our random observations. We'll also let you know if we broke down and decided to try some food on a stick, or if we just sat back and listened to the sounds of Dennis deYoung trying to hit notes that he hasn't found in a decade. Stay safe out there.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Too distinctive?

Within our society, people are always trying to make themselves stand out. They are looking for that little extra kick that will make them unique; something that will make it almost impossible to mistake them for someone else. We've seen people achieve that goal through their distinctive inability to keep their nipples covered, through the color scheme of their wardrobes, through their hair (or lack thereof), and tied into the cars that they drive.

And yet, there are some that have taken that extra step. With these people, they have created such a unique and original look, that it would be highly improbable to mistake them for anyone else, simply due to the nature of their modifications. While there may certainly be two people with those exact markings, the odds are so astronomically small that it's safe to call these individuals one of a kind.

For this portion of society, here's a tip. Don't engage in criminal activity.

Obviously, this lesson was never imparted to Eric Hardcastle, who was recently arrested in Portsmouth, NH, after a teenager described a heavily tattooed man that approached him with baggies of marijuana for sale. Given that Mr. Hardcastle has tattoos in place of his eyebrows, across his scalp, and on both cheeks, the police are fairly certain that they just may have found their suspect.

While we certainly respect Mr. Hardcastle's individuality, and we reserve no small amount of fear towards people willing to tattoo their freaking head, we do have to question his decision-making skills somewhat. After all, when you look like you've been attacked by a band of pen-wielding maniacs, perhaps selling pot isn't the best plan. At the very least, claim that you're a professional wrestler unable to wash off all of the face paint before running to the farmer's market to buy oregano. The mental disconnect alone should get some of the heat off of your back.

Sadly, Mr. Hardcastle, largely due to his distinctive features, has found himself relocated from a homeless shelter to a prison. On the plus side, what are the chances that he could possibly get any more tattoos while behind bars? He's already a few dangerous steps away from looking like Sharpie the Clown.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Totalitarianism for future generations

China has apparently decided that they aren't content ruling over the citizens of Tibet. The nation is now looking to exert their influence over those who have left, and they're even making plans regarding the Tibetan future. How are they doing this, you might ask?

Well, a recent declaration by the Chinese government has banned reincarnation without government approval, specifically as it relates to Tibetan Buddhists. The new regulations have led the Dalai Lama to declare that he will reincarnate somewhere other than Tibet. Of course, this move will likely create a situation where two Dalai Lamas co-exist. That is, naturally, provided that the two never meet and physically touch, because that could lead to an explosion of epic proportion.

Looking at the big picture, it's obvious that China's decision to regulate reincarnation is largely an extension of their ongoing feud with the current Dalai Lama and his followers. However, we're going to let the big picture speak for itself, and we're going to focus on the details. Specifically, the details of how this entire thing could (or could not) work.

For example, when a Buddhist is about to die, do they have to get themselves to a government office to fill out reincarnation paperwork? Are they given a list of future bodies that they can select from, or is it a grab bag type of deal? If all of their choices are already taken, do they simply wait in queue until an opening comes up, or are they asked to make new choices?

And what about the flip side? What about the Buddhists that will declare that they won't follow the new edicts? Can China actually prevent them from coming back in a new form for a new life? What about people that select one form for reincarnation, but fool everyone and sneak out in a new body? And would anyone want to be the next Keanu Reeves?

Overall, it seems a little silly to us to try and regulate reincarnation. In fact, we'd have a similar reaction if our government decided that they wanted to try to regulate the Rapture, or possibly NASCAR. It may be a worthwhile idea, but you're just going to end up running into a brick wall before too long.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Making up for lost time

We feel bad about yesterday. Due to circumstances outside of our control (and at least one that we probably could have done something about, with a little more initiative), we left our regular readers hanging. Sure, there weren't many decent stories, but we could at least have made a couple of "We hope he doesn't shoot anybody" jokes about the guy who held up some bookies with a vibrator, but we failed even at getting that story under our belts.

And that brings us to today. We're going to try and make it up to you, in the hopes that we never fight again. Okay, maybe we didn't fight in the first place, so we're just assuaging our guilt over having missed you all on Monday. And, as our penance, we're delivering two stories to you. One comes from Iowa, and the other comes straight from our wallets to the homeless guy on the street.

Iowa Just Got a Lot More Interesting
When you think of Des Moines, Iowa, what do you think about? A bustling metropolitan center, surrounded on all sides by vast cornfields? One of the refuges of civilization remaining in Iowa? A place where the Amish are outnumbered on a semi-regular basis? Those awesome onion rings?

How about a naked woman with a hammer attacking vans and people? Because that's what happened Sunday night, when police responded to a call. The rear windows of a nearby van had been shattered with a bed frame and Satin Delfrano, who later assaulted a police officer, was found inside the nearby home naked and wielding a hammer. According to the reports, Delfrano had been intoxicated when she began her sky-clad rampage through the neighborhood, and some of the highlights included attempts to gouge out another woman's eyes, and tearing a phone cord from the wall during a 911 call, not to mention kicking the police officer.

Naturally, this is more action than Des Moines has seen in a while, and it also goes to prove a point that we've been trying to make offline for quite some time. That point? The people who you least want to see naked are the ones most likely to engage in public nudity. The hammer, however, was just that extra touch of class to really bring the whole incident to a new level.

Of course, with a first name like Satin, we're also fairly positive that this isn't the first time she's been naked in front of a large group of people.

So They Aren't Going to McDonald's?
We actually want to thank the good people of the Metropolitan Improvement District of the Downtown Seattle Association for the campaign that they launched earlier this summer entitled, "Have a Heart - Give Smart". If it wasn't for this group, we may never have learned that panhandlers have a tendency to spend their money on drugs and alcohol.

No, seriously. We could have sworn all this time that we were helping them put their children through college, and that they really did need that couple of bucks to get a burger at McDonald's. Even more to the point, we had faith that the beggars we encountered were honest, down-on-their-luck types, just trying to scrounge up some change to use the laundromat. We never would have imagined that some of them might have been seeking money just to get drunk or high.

And every time that we hear the story about the guy who's just run out of gas a couple of blocks away with his pregnant wife/girlfriend/poodle in the car, we just tear up a little inside, and we freely hand over our wallets, credit cards, and banking information. We just can't bear to think of the newborn outside of medical care, no matter how many nights in a row the guy ran out of gas on the way to the hospital/veterinary clinic/liquor store.

Seriously, we know that not all beggars are bad people. There are plenty that really do need the money, and they will use it to get a can of Hormel chili, which they'll nurse for days. And there are others who are honest about their intentions to get drunk, and that little slice of honesty makes it a little easier to be honest and/or generous with them back. But we also know of panhandlers who make more money begging than we do. We know of plenty who will turn down a free meal because they'd rather have the money for drugs, but don't want to admit it. And we certainly know of more than a few who are college-aged kids wearing the latest in "homeless chic", just trying to scrounge up those extra couple of bucks to go see Coldplay on tour, all while bathing in patchouli and tastefully applied dirt.

Really, think of panhandlers like you think of just about everyone else you run across in your daily lives. If you think that they're being honest about what they're doing, give them a little something, whether it's your time, your attention, or that bottle of cheap brandy you carry to ward off pit bulls. And if you're fairly certain that they're serving you a steaming pile of lies, then take the only recourse possible.

Convince them to either run for office or start a blog. After all, liberal dosages of untruths are necessary in both businesses. And we should know.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Coffee-Soaked Awards - Week of August 13, 2007

Welcome to Friday. Weather patterns have been crazy all over the place as of late, and the news has kept us on our toes. So, before another round of storms threatens to knock down some more trees and disconnect our power, let's get this ball rolling, shall we?

Without Subsidies, How Can They Afford Clothes? Award
This award goes out to the people that produce the Naked News in Japan. The company recently lost a government subsidy that helped them produce the program, which includes a newsreader stripping while delivering headlines in sign language. Supporters have been advocating for the ability for deaf audiences to have access to the same type of programming as viewers that could hear. Because obviously you need to be able to hear to understand the nuances behind a woman stripping while showing the dexterity of her hands. It also explains why a recent headline read, "President Bush Signs Forms for Wireless Removal of Bra".

Does This Shirt Make Me Look Cool? Award
We could ask that question if we can only get our hands on a new type of shirt being produced in, you guessed it, Japan. The shirts come with their own form of air-conditioning, and are equipped with mini-fans and a battery pack. The creator of the shirts has also already admitted that his daughter won't wear one, because of the billowing effect caused by the fans. We think that, perhaps, another reason lies in the notion of trying to accessorize the fans with a good handbag.

Then They Came for the Frowners Award
We all know about the recent laws for airline security as they pertain to things like cigarette lighters and bottled liquids. Well, now you can add frowning to that list, as specially trained security officers will be on the look-out for "micro-expressions" that might indicate an intent for disruptive (and possibly terrorist) behavior. They will be looking for indications of fear or disgust, which, oddly, could both be caused by going to an airport and simply waiting to board your flight. This also explains why our friend, Joe "Shifty Eyes" Nelson can't get on a plane anymore.

The Exodus Award
If recent trends continue, it won't be long before GDub is the only person remaining in his offices, as the recent announcement that an early departure from press secretary Snowball continues the spate of early departures. Of course, Snow's reason for planning to leave are largely financially based. Apparently $168,000/year to lie to the press wasn't enough to support himself, especially in light of the fact that he earned more doing the same thing for FOXNews. At this rate, we half expect Laura to announce that she'll be resigning from her position as First Lady by January.

Check the Job Description Award
When you take a job as a coroner, you can expect that you'll be dealing with dead bodies fairly regularly. And yet, the trauma of dealing with the dead has led a Norfolk coroner to sue the police. While the incident in question was most certainly horrific, the coroner certainly couldn't have expected that every body he would process would be clean and looking as if they were merely sleeping. We expect that we may soon see McDonald's employees suing their bosses, due to having to deal with faulty soda machines and frozen burgers if this continues.

It's So Sad Award
According to Professor Gordon Parker, people are being diagnosed too easily with depression, especially in cases where the patients are merely suffering from normal sadness. An opposing professor, Ian Hickie, says that the relaxed thresholds have actually improved care for the depressed, and allowed more of them to seek treatment. We'll get around to a joke about that, once our Prozac kicks in.

You Better Watch Out Award
In some stores across the country, it's already time to get into that holiday spirit. Correction, for some craft stores, it's been Christmas since June, if not earlier. This does make some sense, when you think about the people that do engage in crafts to make their own holiday decorations. What disturbs us is that the over-commercialism of Christmas is completely stepping on the over-commercialism of Halloween, Independence Day, and Flag Day. Oh right... like you didn't celebrate Flag Day...

And Then We All Bought Our Favorite Albums... Again Award
Last week, we celebrated the birthday of Legos. This week, we turn our attention to the venerable media form, the compact disc. That's right, a mere 25 years ago, which is forever in today's disposable media market, the CD debuted and music lovers across the world began replacing their scratched vinyl versions of "Frampton Comes Alive" and replaced it with a shiny, coaster-sized version of the same album. The downside of the CD? Pot smokers were no longer able to find the double album jackets that were part of their "experience", and it became easier for Yanni to produce an album.

That wraps up our awards for this week. There's always more news out there, but we've got a finite amount of space (and an even more finite attention span), so we're going to duck on out. We'll see everyone on Monday. Stay safe out there.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Name Game continues

There are certain things that you simply shouldn't do to your children. Giving them a fork and telling them to go play with Mr. Power Socket is pretty high on the list, as is telling them that paint chips taste better with real butter. And, as we've discussed here before, naming them completely off-the-wall names really needs to be on that list. After all, there was the couple that fought to name their son "4real" before settling on "Superman". There are all of the celebrities that decide that they want to name their kids something really weird (prime evidence comes from the Zappa family, with Moon Unit, Dweezil, Diva Muffin and Ahmet).

And then there are the people who want to name their children a symbol. Of course, this particular story comes out of China, where thousands of characters stand in the place of the Western alphabet, so choosing a symbol might not seem so weird. Unfortunately, when the symbol chosen is "@", it gets filed right into the bizarre category.

Yes, you read that correctly. A Chinese couple applied to name their child "@", largely because the pronunciation by Chinese speakers sounds very similar to a Mandarin phrase meaning "love him". Of course, the more common usage for the symbol was known to the parents, who didn't merely think they were being clever with their usage of an "a" with a wraparound tail.

This all comes during a time when the Chinese are trying to change their naming conventions, complaining about the outdated and ancient symbols used to represent many names. The government recently issued new rules (one of which, oddly enough, would have put the whole "4real" debate to rest right away), but there is still some resistence.

Interestingly enough, no indication was given whether young "@" will be keeping his name, or if he'll be given a new moniker. If a name change is necessary, might we suggest avoiding things like "$", "&", and "*", and maybe even shy away from things like "Kal-El" (Nic Cage's son), "Peaches Honeyblossom" (Bob Geldof's daughter), or, for obvious reasons, "Suri". Oh, and definitely shy away from any name Chris Tucker could make jokes about, which means include at least two syllables. We'd suggest "Moxie Crimefighter", but that's already taken.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Losing their religions

Our stories for today are thematically linked. In one, showcasing religion led to an arrest. In the other, an arrest still happened, but there was no joy in Prayerville.

In our first story, we learn that dancing around a bonfire while wearing a t-shirt and underwear, chanting for the new moon, and referring to yourself by a name including the word "Raven" may or may not get you arrested. However, when you compound that with resisting arrest, disorderly conduct, and having your unsafe bonfire 10 feet from your home, you can bet that your witchy behind is going to get handcuffed. And that's just what happened to Waukesha, WI resident Brenna K. Barney, or Brenna Raven Moonfire for a little crazy. The cops were called by neighbors awoken early Tuesday by the chanting woman, and, when she refused to cooperate because it infringed on her religious practices, they were presented with little choice but to take the woman into custody, after a brief visit to the hospital.

Our second story teaches us that being angry with God doesn't give you the right to drive your truck into His house. This incident happened in St. Augustine, FL, as 23-year-old Thomas Nursey decided to take his anger towards God out on a local church, and also to his Ford F-150, which he used as the instrument of his rage. Estimates of the damage have not been made public, but we're fairly certain that, somewhere, a deity is mourning. Never mind that their property value just went down.

Of course, what story of religious exploits would be complete without a lesson to be learned from it? From our first sampling, we learned a number of things, with the most important being that, if you follow a nature-based faith, burning plastic may not be the brightest idea. Neither would drinking. And that whole adage about "Do what ye will, and that it harm none" thing for Wiccans? Yeah, that applies to waking up your neighbors at ridiculous hours of the morning, too. At the very least, be considerate enough to pass out earplugs to the rest of the block. And, for crying out loud, turn down the Bel Canto and wash off the patchouli already.

As for our second lesson, we've read our Bibles, and we know that there are plenty of instances when people get angry with God. We've also learned that He gets a lot more upset if you start worshipping some metallic animals or taking his name in vain. Knocking on a church door with your truck? That's really more along the lines of collateral damage.

Although we have it on good authority that it will take the Holy Spirit weeks to get all of the sawdust swept up.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Take that, Lance Armstrong!

Sure, a lot of people look up to Lance Armstrong. We really can't argue with that, as the man fought against adversity and cancer to take home the top prize in cycling an unprecedented seven consecutive times. And, well, he did it all in France, which is no small feat for any American.

But he never continued going after losing a limb. Which means that a motorcyclicst in Japan has, um, one leg up on Armstrong. And before you ask, yes, we already feel bad about the wording of that last sentence.

Apparently, a Japanese motorcyclist, travelling in Hamamatsu, was unable to negotiate a curve, bumped into a safety barricade, felt some extreme pain, and then kept right on riding. The biggest problem? He'd left his right leg behind, and a friend was forced to retrieve it. The man didn't even notice that he'd severed his leg until he reached the next stop, over a mile down the road.

Now, we know some bikers ourselves, and we've met some people who've lost limbs during our time, but we simply cannot imagine putting the two of those concepts together into one event, and then failing to notice. Sure, this was in Japan, and that culture did spawn kamikaze pilots and ritualistic suicide for dishonor, but this goes above and beyond the call. If nothing else, we would have expected the rider to have found trouble getting leverage for later turns, or, maybe starting to feel a little faint from the loss of blood.

Of course, this is also a culture who often creates game shows wherein the more you suffer, the higher the chance you'll achieve some small prize. So it's entirely possible that the subject of our story was training for "Happy Fun Time Go Go Bike Race Super Prize Show", and figured out how to get an edge on the rest of the competition.

Monday, August 13, 2007

When faux-leather just won't do

Sure, a lot of things have happened throughout history on this day. Stainless steel was invented, Fidel Castro was born, and Mickey Mantle died. It's also the day that KRove announced that, at the end of August, someone in Washington will be looking for a brain. But, of course, this is the Coffee-Soaked Mind, and we just can't rest on our laurels, covering the big news of the day. As usual, we focus our lens on the smaller stories, the stories that seem a little off-kilter.

And few things in this world strike us as being as off-kilter as the concept of a camouflage Bible.

Now we know what some of you out there may be thinking. "But, CSM, we NEED our camouflage Bibles. If we don't cover them with a pattern similar to one found in nature, then the terrorists have already won." At least, we think that someone is thinking that. We're actually fairly certain that anyone who reads us hasn't actually put together that particular thought quite yet.

Still, the reason given for the camo Bible, by Christian Outdoorsman, who is producing them, is that they want to be able to help outdoorsmen communicate their Christian sensibilities. That's why they're selling not only the camouflage Bible, but also ones that are waterproof. After all, God's words shouldn't be damaged by acts of said deity. And nobody wants to try to open up their New Testament only to find that rain has caused the pages to look less-than-pristine.

Another benefit to the camouflage Bible, of course, is that it will enable hunters to carry their prayerbooks, all while disguising it from their prey. And who hasn't heard a story about a deer hunter foiled while attempting to land that 14-point buck, all because the animal saw the gold filigree and red leather cover of the Good Book, causing them to sprint in the opposite direction.

We think that this could simply be a beginning. Not only should Christian Outdoorsman be producing camouflage Bibles, but they should look into other possible ways to spread the message. How about a canteen that blesses tap water? Or maybe a crucifix that can double as a scope? After all, when you're planning on finding ways to make the Bible and its tenets work better in a hunting environment, the sky isn't the limit. It's the ultimate goal.

Well, that, and some tasty venison.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Coffee-Soaked Awards - Week of August 6, 2007

Friday has once again come around to us on the calendar, and that means it's time for us to kick off another rousing round of our Coffee-Soaked Awards. Of course, we're sure that, by now, you're all aware of the US weaponry that's gone missing in Iraq, and we're willing to be that a bunch of you discovered the story about suicide rates in women with breast implants. But did you know about the decapitated rattlesnake that still bit someone? Or that Amy Winehouse is now following the lead of other celebrities, allegedly with her upcoming tour of a rehab clinic? And yet, none of those stories are what we're covering today, so let's get the ball rolling.

Stay Away From the Paintings. He Really Hates These Paintings Award
For some people, if they had a hammer, they'd hammer all day long. For others, they'd simply take their hammer and attack some paintings in London. Mark Paton, a homeless man, attacked a painting of Samuel Johnson with a hammer and was arrested Wednesday. Paton's lawyer said that he gave no reason for the attack, and added, "He has nothing against (the painter) Sir Joshua Reynolds or Samuel Johnson." No word on whether Thomas Kinkade should be on alert.

Oh I Wish I Were An... um, Nevermind Award
Few vehicles in the US have as much notoriety as the Wienermobile. Even fewer get articles written about them when they get a parking ticket. Oscar Meyer spokesperson Syndey Lindner issued a statement, expressing the company's stance against illegal parking. Two blocks over, the lesser-known Bunmobile received no tickets, parked properly in front of a "gentleman's club".

Passing on the Jam Award
AT&T recently delivered live performances of Lollapalooza through their Blue Room website. One of the bands featured was Pearl Jam, who are upset due to AT&T muting some politically inflammatory lyrics. We're just as shocked as you are. We had no idea Pearl Jam was still around.

Homeless Math Is Hard Award
How many homeless people does the city of Chicago have? According to a recent census, 24, directly contrasting Mayor Daley's number of close to 6,000 earlier this year. Critics feel that the city is trying to downplay the numbers, in hopes of securing an Olympic bid. Of course, no less than 40 homeless were gathered around a gigantic hot dog recently, unsure if the Wienermobile would be more or less appetizing than an actual hot dog.

Sweet Transvestite Award
If you ever find yourself planning on committing a crime, and you think that perhaps you should wear tights of some sort over your face to hide your identity, don't follow the example of Edinburgh's Kenneth Dinse. Dinse, angry that a girlfriend had left him for another man, decided that there should be a stabbing, and wear a pair of tights over his face. The problem? The tights were fishnets. Dinse is doubly regretful over his choice of attire, as they didn't keep his identity secret, and he now has a new prison nickname. We're betting on either "Frank" or "Rocky".

Art Imitates CSI Award
Krystian Bala, a Polish author, may have had a little too much inspiration for his novel, "Amok". Turns out that the novel's storyline follows very closely an unsolved murder case, including details that could only have been known by either police or the murderer themselves. Bala claims to have culled his story from press releases, and then imagined the remainder. This is exactly why Stephen King relies so heavily on supernatural themes for many of his stories, people...

Running on Empty Award
Cindy Sheehan, who became well-known for her outspoken protests of the ongoing war, has announced that she's planning on running for political office. The seat she's looking to take over? Nancy Pelosi's, because Pelosi has not made moves to impeach GDub. Listen, Ms. Sheehan. We understand your grief, but there's only so much room for single-issue candidates in this country (about 535 or so, by our count). Perhaps you'll have more luck in the judicial branch.

Building a Better Tomorrow, Today Award
Finally, we want to take a moment here to give a hearty congratulations to Lego, which turns 75 today. If it wasn't for the Lego building blocks, millions of children would never have learned the joy of begging Mom and Dad for that $250 Star Wars play set. They also would never have discovered how to cope with the loss of all but three of the wheels and seven of the red bricks needed to make a fire engine.

Well, that wraps up our awards for this week. And just remember, no matter how often someone claims that Jesus was gay, just remember that a gay Messiah would never have worn a crown of thorns without some flowers. Stay safe out there.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Meat... tasty murder...

We all know how people will attempt to latch their ideas onto current events. It makes them seem more topical, and their causes more justified, if only they can find something to compare or contrast their views with. And, well, the Michael Vick dog fighting story is no exception. Animal rights advocates have come out of the woodwork to lambast Vick for even the smallest of roles that he may have had in these events, and, quite honestly, we can't really blame them. But some people carry things a little too far. And by some people, we mean this lady.

So, having taken the time to read her spiel, is anyone surprised that a founder of a vegetarian food business is taking the animal cruelty in dog fighting, and using it to bring out the old calling card about animal cruelty in the practice of eating animals? We thought about being shocked for a few milliseconds, but then moved on when we thought about hamburgers, eggs, and some sushi.

Before people get up in arms, it's not really a surprise that some of the methods used to slaughter animals for food are less-than-kind. After all, they are being killed to provide sustenance for others. But espousing a vegetarian diet for everyone, under the notion that it's "easy"? That's ignorance of the fact that humans are omnivorous. Trying to play on people's guilt by lumping those who like a nice juicy steak with those who like watching dogs fight each other to the death? That's just crass. In this case, it's crass commercialism.

Oh, and for those playing at home, there is a HUGE difference between killing animals for food (no matter how it's done) and killing animals for sport (again, no matter how it's done). Just saying.

As for other loose connections that don't really work, we're going to lump in trying to tie together video game playing with any sort of melanoma, WMD's with the actual cause of the war in Iraq, and "According to Jim" with any claim of development of taste. After all, the network with "AtJ" is letting Donal Logue slip through their fingers, but they'll greenlight a half-hour show based on a thirty-second commercial. And they keep paying Jimmy Kimmel.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Two birds with one stone

First off, we would be remiss if we didn't update you all on a story that we covered earlier this year. Remember the couple in New Zealand that wanted to name their baby 4Real, because, well, seeing the ultrasound made them realize that it really was "for real"? Well, the Kiwis have decided to give in, and will not actually be naming their child with a number in his name. Instead, they've opted for the much classier Superman.

That's right. They are naming their child after the first major superhero. Apparently Wolverine is being reserved for their first daughter. But don't worry... they won't be calling their child Supes, or anything along those lines. Because the father is "not a quitter", he will be referring to his child, Superman Wheaton, as 4Real. And this is why people should have to pass tests before they can breed.

Of course, in our other story today, we find that, perhaps, even the most stringent of tests won't keep certain people away. Why do we make that leap? Because, on the same day as a man was getting sentenced to an 18-month prison term for drug possession, he was legally married. And you guessed it, the couple is expecting a baby in December. The judge did commend the groom for his desire to turn his life around, and the bride for her faith in her husband. He did not proceed to also validate the parking for anyone else in the courtroom, obviously deciding that two services at once was more than enough.

This could actually lead to a new service industry. After all, by getting married and sentenced in the same day, Ernest Stroming was able to save time, and probably even costs, involved in the planning of either event. Just think of what other activities could be combined. How about a newspaper delivery combined with the postal service? EMTs who also deliver pizza? Or what about sensual massage parlors that are also marriage counselors? And don't even get us started on grocery delivery/repo men.

Of course, now that we really think about it, there's simply one service that is in dire need, and it shouldn't be combined with anything. This service should simply be around to thwack people about the head whenever they've done something profoundly stupid. We don't really expect this to lead to fewer acts of stupidity, but at least there'd be a visceral lesson for those involved. 4Real indeed...

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Smell the love

It seems like every time we turn around, more evidence is presented that shows that, within the scientific community, there's some research being done thats perhaps just a little bit on the silly side. Sure, there's research being done to cure cancer, to stop the spread of AIDS once it has started replicating in people, and to determine whether or not stem cells will really be able to help usher in a brave new world with fewer health problems.

And then, there's research being done to find out what happens when you remove the vomeronasal organ from female mice. This organ helps the mice to process pheremones, and, when you remove it, the females start acting more like males, especially with regards to sex drives. In fact, they sometimes had difficulty differentiating between male and female mice (something that we can only attribute to the incredibly small balls on the male mice).

So now, thanks to the research being done, we can rest easy. No longer will we wonder what happens when you put make-up directly into the eye of a dolphin. No longer will we be concerned with whether or not hair replacement technology will really work in the long term. And no longer will we be curious as to exactly what it would take to give a female mouse the sex drive of her male counterparts.

Thank heavens for all of that. Of course, now we're starting to wonder if you can use nail clippings from otters to make tiny little armor, and whether or not you can train spiders to weave intricate afghans. Thankfully, we can rest assured that even questions such as these are not outside the realms of certain scientists, who fill their days with government-supported experiments for answers that nobody really wondered that much about, and fill their nights with the most exclusive domestic beers that their livers can handle.

And now we're really wondering why nobody every tried to greenlight "Ernest Goes to the Animal Testing Labs" while Jim Varney was still around. We can just imagine the hilarity now.

Monday, August 06, 2007

The fat of the dead

So we've all been told about how we're getting fatter. Not just in the sense where our doctor is pointedly concerned about just us, in particular. No, we've heard the clarion call of calories from on high for decades, and each generation is finding itself fatter than the ones before. High calorie and high fat foods have combined with sedentary lifestyles to really help our planet pack on the pounds.

Of course, instead of working as a society to try and stem the tide, we've taken special steps to cater to our larger citizens. Vehicles with increased interior space. Airlines with larger seats. Motorized scooters to help the overweight maintain their elephantine figures by not even forcing them to walk around the mall. But, in Australia, they're starting to see some of the effects of long-term obesity on a culture.

Specifically, as people are dying, their fatter corpses are creating for problems within mortuaries. Hoists and trolleys are straining under the increased weights. Crematoriums are requesting larger openings to be able to actually incinerate some of the clientele. And cemetaries are considering "luxury plots" (a term we may have created ourselves), with greater dimensions to accomodate the extra bulk. Of course, there are always the complications that mortuary staff will encounter with larger bodies, ranging from back strain to simple difficulty preparing the bodies due to their size.

Naturally, we could try and improve overall health, encourage exercise, and promote better eating habits. But instead, we're going to rest a little easier with the knowledge that, when the dead walk the earth, the freshest zombies will be too heavy to propel themselves forward even at their shambling gait.

Let's just hope that they forget how to operate their Rascals. If they remember that, we're all in trouble.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Coffee-Soaked Awards - Week of July 30, 2007

What a surreal week this has been, at least for the last couple of days. We continue to send our thoughts towards all those touched by the tragedy, but we also recognize the need to push forward and return to something approaching normality. And that's why we're here to bring you this week's awards.

I'm Sure the Dancing is Impressive Award
When it comes to new musicals, there've been a few major successes in the last few years. We have to wonder if somehow "Jihad the Musical" will end up more like "Spamalot", or if it will end up like "Carrie". Critics, not taken with songs about bomb-building or the "Jihad jive", are already saying that the musical fails to either be horrible, or to be horribly offensive. Of course, if they ever do a musical of "I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry", they'll be able to achieve on both levels.

Everybody, Stop Working For the Weekend Award
A new survey conducted in Germany showed an amazing connection between people having either poor or no sex lives, and their drive towards being workaholics. It's unclear whether the extra work is leading to the unsatisfactory sex, or vice versa. Maybe everyone should just take the rest of the afternoon off.

It's the Tubes Award
An article on Government Technology wonders if the Internet, and the Information Age itself, is causing people to become less intelligent. The author points out news aggregate sites, and, well, really any site that allows user-generated commentary. For the author to ask this question, however, we can simply assume that they don't read celebrity blogs, and have never played MMORPGs. Although neither of which can explain the genius behind trying to market a sitcom around insurance-pitching cavemen.

Go To Your Chambers, and Think About What I'm Doing Award
GDub has decided that it's time to deny Congress a break. The governing body will remain in session until they modernize US eavesdropping laws, as they relate to foreign terror suspects. The President has said that the Democrats "have not drafted a bill I can sign." Which really means that, until Congress gives GDub all of his toys back, and includes a bright shiny new Optimus Prime, they don't get to go play with their other friends. Congress, for its part, is willing to offer two styrofoam cups and some string.

This Seems Familiar Somehow Award
There is a movement being formed to get atheists to proudly proclaim their lack of religious affiliation. It's called the Out Campaign, and part of its efforts include trying to get proud atheists to walk around with t-shirts, emblazoned with a giant letter "A". In bright red. This should go well... after all, it's not like there's any sort of previous historical (or even simply literary) context from which to gather information. If only someone would make a movie....

Don't Pat Yourself Too Hard Award
So it's fairly common knowledge that fewer than 1 out of every 4 Americans approve of the way that GDub is handling the current war. Everyone proceeded to assume that Congress would save the day, and that they would pick-up the support he was dropping. Now, thankfully, we can see just how well the country thinks they're doing. Wait... 3%? That's it? Oh, wait. There's a margin of error. Thank heavens. We can rest much easier knowing that the results could be skewed by another +/- 1.1%.

We Could Be Heroes Award
This goes out to all of the emergency personnel, hospital workers, first responders, average citizens, and anyone else who has had a hand thus far in helping to recover from the I35 tragedy. From the people donating blood for victims to those jumping into the water, trying to search the river, from those putting out fires to those offering their words of support, our hats off to each and every one of you. You are all heroes.

And that wraps up our awards. Stay safe out there.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

And go to your room without dinner

We weren't going to post anything today, in light of the bridge accident in Minneapolis. Then we started thinking, and realized that, while tragic, it's not going to stop the world from spinning, it's not going to stop the candidates from running for office far too early, and it's certainly not going to stop people from wondering if every major (and quite a few minor) accidents have a link to terrorism. It is a tragedy, and we definitely have the deepest sympathy and heartfelt prayers for those experiencing it more directly than we are.

Thankfully, one of the other things that this event won't stop is the continuation of bizarre news stories from around the world. And, well, since that's kind of our bread and butter, we're going to let the real news people handle the bridge, and we're going to talk about the person who was recently denied his allowance and locked out of the house. Why would we talk about such a thing?

Because he was 61.

That's right. A 61-year-old had his allowance and house keys taken away by his mother, because he stayed out too late one night. The Sicilian man was taken to the police station, because his mother wanted them to "convince this blockhead" that his behavior was improper.

Of course, we're wondering just what kind of behavior a 61-year-old can really engage in that might be considered improper to his mother. The first thing that pops into our heads is that he was, well, living with his mother at the age of 61. We're also betting that he beat her to the punch at telling people to get off of the lawn, and he probably cheated a few times at shuffleboard. Then there was the time where he brought home his 47-year-old fling, just to show the rest of the boys in the neighborhood that he could still get the ladies.

Thankfully, the police were able to solve the dispute between the two, and the man has had his keys and allowance reinstated. Other terms of the agreement include him agreeing not to move her cane without prior notice, and she's no longer allowed to cook brussel sprouts. Oh, and if he doesn't eat all of his vegetables, he can damn well drive himself to the local gelato stand and buy his own dessert, thankyouverymuch.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

What a load of bull

There's a chance that Hamdija Djuric will refer to his cellmate as being an animal, nothing more than a beast, and a poor conversationalist that has no place in a china shop. This is because his cellmate will be a 1.5 ton bull.

The 4-year-old bull, who's name in Micko, is being moved to a prison farm so that Djuric, his owner, can look after him. If the bull hadn't been moved, there was a good chance it was going to end up going to a slaughter house. Now, with the new arrangement, Djuric will be able to continue to look after the animal, while serving out his own prison term for a stabbing incident.

Of course, we've all heard stories about how prison can change a man, and turn them into something more akin to an animal. Maybe this will be an interesting experiment. We can only wonder if Micko will slowly gain more human-like characteristics, possibly even gaining, over time, the ability to barter cigarettes for prime locations in the food lines.

The only thing we're positive about is the Micko will be one of the few inmates that doesn't have to worry about a cellmate named Bubba, and possibly becoming a June prison bride. Just don't let him near the fine dishes.