Thursday, September 27, 2007

Coffee-Soaked Awards - Week of September 24, 2007

Welcome to Thursday, and an early end to our week here at the CSM. We're bidding a fond farewell to September, as well as kissing the chances of getting a murder conviction in California goodbye (it's not for us, don't jump to conclusions). Of course, the main story around us is in preparation for the weekend, as a bunch of guys in purple try to beat a bunch of guys from Wisconsin. But, since we're not focused on any sort of weird 4H rituals, we're going to dive into the news with our awards. So let's get this ball rolling, shall we?

In Soviet Russia, Baby Bears You Award
A while back, we made mention of a Russian politician, who was willing to grant extra vacation time to couples, all for the sake of trying to bolster the Russian population on one day. Well, a woman who doesn't need any incentive, Tatyana Barabanova, has recently given birth to her 12th child, who weighed in at 17 pounds, 1 once. Barabanova didn't know how big the child, named Nadia, would be until a cesarean section was performed, but did mention eating lots of starchy foods. Nadia's parents have also informed the world that we wouldn't like the baby when she's angry.

No Time For a Mocha Award
Speaking of babies, here's a quick rule of thumb for you. If your pregnant wife enters into labor, you do not have time to make coffee before leaving. The baby, born in the car, "may be the last addition to the family," however, given that Dad seems to think water breaking is a good time to start up the percolator, we're going to guess that at least one more child will be on the way within the next few years.

Bet That Hurts Eh Award
Moving on from people just near the beginning of their life cycle to people that are rushing headlong towards a premature end, we focus on a new trend surging through Ontario, Canada. Apparently, after learning of the flammable qualities of body sprays like Axe and Tag, Ontario teens are agreeing to be set on fire. Videos on YouTube showcase this activity, and the police are planning on informing the parents of this trend. Might be a good idea to also inform the parents that their kids have the collective brain power of Paulie Shore.

A Little Rock in the Road to Heaven Award
6 Catholic nuns in Arkansas have recently been excommunicated from the church recently, marking the first time in the history of the diocese that such an event has happened. The nuns were excommunicated for heresy, after refusing to give up membership in a Canadian sect, led by a person claiming to be possessed by the Virgin Mary. The church has spent years trying to bring the nuns back into the fold, and turned to excommunication as the final resort. When asked for comment, the woman possessed by Mary simply said, "It's not my face you keep seeing in your breakfast pastries."

Is Someone Tapping? Award
Oh, Senator Larry Craig. While others are being tossed out of their chosen professions, you made your declaration that you would voluntarily leave, due to your guilty plea. Now you've asked to reverse the plea, and you're sticking around. When people like you less than the President, and even Jim Belushi looks good in comparison, maybe you should just pack your bags, and tap dance your way back to Idaho and anonymity. Just saying, is all.

Just a Little Tinkle Award
A dog park in Oregon, named after a valiant police dog, was given what park officials saw as a fitting tribute; a fire hydrant painted like the American flag. After pictures showcasing the hydrant ran in a local newspaper, the hydrant was torn down, because of the disrespect of allowing dogs to use the image of the flag for their "business". Never mind that the hydrant itself was raised and protected, making it incredibly difficult and uncomfortable for any dog to use it as a urinal. It is nice to realize that, while we can't stop our elected officials from trampling all over the flag, and what it stands for, we can certainly do our part to stop dogs from peeing on it.

We Must Renovate. Schnell! Award
Moving on from commentary about a flag-painted fire hydrant, we focus our attention on naval barracks in California that, when viewed from the air, resemble a swastika. The design of the barracks was known when they were originally finished in 1967, but, due to a lack of ability to see them from the air, they were left as is. Now, thanks to things like GoogleEarth, the Navy is clamoring to change the image, not wanting to be associated with the Nazi symbol. Just wait until they find out what the Pentagon looks like from above.

I *hic* Remember Lasht Night Award
In our final story today, we discover that a new study is touting the benefits of low-to-moderate alcohol consumption on a fairly regular basis. If the results from rats carry over to humans, than drinking one or two beers per day can help improve memory. The scientists also noted that, when the rats had ingested the equivalent of four or more drinks per day, they became surly, spoke in think New England accents, asked the opposite sex for phone numbers, and were more likely to try and light their body spray on fire.

Well, that wraps up our awards for this week, and it'll close out September. We'll be back next week with more stories, as always. And, look on the bright side, we're only a few short weeks away from Halloween, which is always chock full of bizarre stories for your reading pleasure. Stay safe out there!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Just doing some research, honey

Patrick Mallucci may have found one of the few perfect jobs in the world. Either that, or he's trapped in his own personal hell, one where he can no longer even think about softly rolling hills without thinking of breasts. This scientist has crafted a career where he spends his days poring tirelessly over pictures of celebrity breasts, in order to help plastic surgeons determine the "perfect breast". Needless to say, many of the pictures that people find online designated as NSFW are part of the job requirements for Mallucci.

In fact, Mallucci takes his work so seriously, that's he's made his estimations as to who has the best, and worst, breasts in the business. His selection for the best work done is a British model, Caprice Bourret, which probably isn't a bad choice, given that she's since insured her augmented "gifts" for 50,000 pounds. As for the worst in the industry, Mallucci aims his sites squarely at Victoria Beckham, calling them "unnaturally round".

The work must have been intensive, and yet, we can't help but wonder if Mallucci was truly exhausting in his studies. True, he took the time to determine the perfect ratio for plastic surgeons to go off of, but we really have to question his choice of Posh as the worst breast implants in Hollywood. Obviously, the man has never been subject to seeing the rapidly-deflating balloons that Tara Reid keeps barely under her tops.

Oh wait. He was focused on current celebrities. That explains it right there, as Ms. Reid has firmly entrenched herself as somehow less-deserving of glory than even Kathy Griffin.

Still, where was the love for Meat Loaf? Didn't they do a good job with him for Fight Club?

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Just a little off-target

There are many different ways to protest something, and many different things to protest. Truth be told, if something happens anywhere in this great big world of ours, there's a good chance that someone might be upset by it, and they may decide to protest. And yet, some displays of disapproval simply rank amongst either the most futile, or just the most ridiculous ways to go about driving your point home.

Take, for example, the case of circus animals. For years, people have complained about the treatment of these performing beasts, wanting to see them run free with the portions of their species that don't know the first thing about burning hoops. Cities have taken it upon themselves to decide whether or not someone sticking their head into the mouth of a lion is something they want to be seen within their borders. People have boycotted circuses that rely on elephants standing on their hind legs, a trick learned because of the inability for Shriners to do the same thing.

And yet, in Spokane, WA recently, someone decided that the best way to protest against the Ringling Brothers Circus was to rescue an animal from a cage, leaving PETA fliers in their wake. Of course, they took a pet rabbit from a bunch of preschool children, but that's completely besides the point. What really matters is that a point was made, at that now Sugar Bunny is free to live out his days raiding Farmer Brown's fields.

Let's just gloss over the statements from PETA themselves, who point out that, due to the domestication of rabbits, they would never endorse such an activity (at least, not publicly). Let's completely ignore the children who miss the bunny, because, as young Zion said, "Somebody stoled him". Neither of those are important, because this particular citizen, obviously concerned about animal safety, took it upon himself to make sure that those preschoolers were aware of the harsh treatment of circus animals. After all, we're all well aware that the true holders of the purse strings in today's society are those who are just beginning to get a grasp on "The Cat in the Hat".

Seriously, when you're looking to take a stand on something, take a stand that doesn't make you come across as either a lunatic or a bastard. Protesting the treatment of circus animals is fine, if you feel passionately enough about it. But leave the children and their pet bunny out of it. After all, this would be like stealing matches from a bar because you feel that forest fires have gotten out of hand, or like roller skating to work every day until GDub brings the troops back home. Sure, you may firmly believe that your heart is in the right place, but an act like this is just going to get made fun of.

And we should know.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Good reporting there, Bob

A reporter for the Telegraph, a UK newspaper, decided that it was time to blow the lid off of a "disturbing youth trend" in his home town of Faversham. His story cut to the chase, causing people to learn about this new development in the community. Was it a new surge of drug use? Perhaps a crime wave? Maybe he found that politicians were filtering money from the government's coffers, spending it all instead on hookers and re-election.

No. Instead, he discovered the trend of teens "drinking to get drunk". Because, after all, no group of teenagers across our long and storied history has ever set out specifically to get drunk when they start drinking. Heck, we'd even bet that the first time that young Trog, at the ripe old age of 14, got blitzed by eating some fermenting grapes, his first thought was "Ugga oog app", which translates to "I swear I will never do that again."

Of course teens are drinking to get drunk. Especially in cultures where drinking has any sort of a stigma associated with it. Admit it, if you aren't drinking yourself, how often do you find yourself shaking your head when the first thing someone orders at a restaurant is a cocktail? Now, we're not advocating excessive drinking (unless you've had a really bad day/week/year, or there's just an awesome party going on). But we certainly wouldn't refer to the concept of teens drinking to feel intoxicated as a disturbing trend. If anything, we would call it a continuation of history.

Maybe this reporter needs some other story ideas. In the wake of his hard-hitting story about teens and their habits with alcohol, maybe he should write a story about the elderly starting to lose their memories. Or maybe something about dogs barking when threatened. How about the long-term effects of a lack of oxygen, or the fact that many people enjoy sex just for the sake of having sex? If we can help him find other "disturbing trends" in the world, then we're sure he'll be able to get himself an award.

Or he'll start opening his eyes and realizing that some of these disturbing trends aren't that disturbing after all. It's not like he found a politician only willing to speak the truth.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Coffee-Soaked Awards - Week of September 17, 2007

Well well well. We've reached the official calendar end of summer, and yet we're all still plugging along. Of course, in Minnesota, summer ends as soon as the State Fair sells its last piece of food-on-a-stick, but that's besides the point. There's still living to do, and the sun is still shining over the fields. If we were more religious, we'd be thanking a certain someone, but, well, He's indisposed. So let's get going with the awards, shall we?

Thou Shalt Not Sue Award
Remember a couple of days ago when we talked about the Nebraska State Senator who sued God? Well, God responded. His main defense? Well, since he created Man, He's not subject to all of the laws of Man. So maybe GDub is in the right when he makes his signing statements, as it's obviously being done by a higher power, as well.

Um, I Guess They Can Marry Award
What's the quickest way to get the mayor of a large city to switch his position on gay marriage? Have his daughter admit to being a lesbian. That's just what happened to San Diego mayor Jerry Sanders, who is now supporting gay marriage. When asked for comment, Sanders said he "decided to lead with his heart", and that he has developed a new found appreciation for the Indigo Girls and KD Lang, although he still doesn't find Ellen DeGeneres all that funny.

But Is She Electable? Award
Speaking of lesbians, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton has had to spend some time this week denying the rumors that she is a lesbian herself. "It's not true, but it is something that I have no control over," she was quoted as saying. She followed up with a very boastful, "Besides, how many lesbians have balls this big?" Bill could not be reached for comment.

But He Was Trying to Bite Award
When Robert Henry Stahl, 62, gets into a fight, he fights to win. And that's why, when facing an opponent 6 years younger than him, he pulled out one of the nastiest tricks in the book. He stole his opponent's false teeth. The victim, one Billie Townsend, later said, "Mwfef, ak wmaf."

In Soviet Russia, Arctic Claims You Award
Just when you thought that Russia had all of the cold climate and barren landscape that they could ever want, now they want the Arctic. They apparently have a claim to it, too, based on soil samples linking it to Siberia. What does this mean for the rest of the world? Well, longer bread lines at the North Pole, and even more disturbingly hot tennis players.

Let's Hope They Never Learn Text Messaging Award
When visiting the Fuzhou Zoo in China, maybe it's best to keep your cell phone in your pocket. That lesson was learned the hard way by Zheng Dong, who's phone was stolen by monkeys at the zoo. The monkeys, for their part, were able to download their own ring tones within mere moments, but continually selected the "Crazy Frog" tone when given the option.

Gonna Make You Cry Award
A Des Moines man was arrested recently for throwing an onion at his wife. Yes, you read that correctly. An onion. Public figures the world over are complaining that they've been assaulted by an Onion for years, and they've never been given any sort of consideration. Smoove B was unavailable for comment.

Mawwiage Is What Bwings Us Apawt Today Award
A German politician is trying to pass a new law pertaining to the institution of marriage. Taking a cue from a Marilyn Monroe movie, Gabriele Pauli wants Germany to limit marriages to no longer than 7 years. Naturally, couples that want to stay together still could, by renewing their vows every time their marriage expires. Britney Spears feels that such a number is unfair, because she can't imagine doing anything for seven years.

New English Light: Now De-Hyphenated Award
Possibly due to "the Internet age", thousands of words are dropping their hyphens. For example, bumble-bee, ice-cream, and cry-baby have all lost their hyphens. While the hyphen is still necessary in some instance, plenty of other words stand alone just fine, not needing a silly little dash to connect them. But never fear. The hyphen will still find work. You can always see it as the "nose" in an Internet smiley, which means it's more employable than Judge Reinhold.

And that brings us to the end of our little awards post for this week. Next week, we'll be competing with the beginning of the new television season, but we'll find some way to deliver the goods to your monitor. Just wait until sweeps week, is all we've got to say. Stay safe out there.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Would that make it a cat nap?

Six burglars had made plans to rob a house in Hendersonville, TN. On the night of the proposed robbery, four of the men were dropped off, to lurk in the bushes until the other two returned. After four hours had passed, the four men abandoned their scheme, and set out in search of their leaders.

Had the two men decided to set-up their companions, and run to the police with information? Had they realized that crime doesn't pay, and embarked on a life as law-abiding citizens?

No, they had simply fallen asleep in the getaway vehicle.

Needless to say, after the group of six reunited, it was only a matter of time before they were arrested. We can only assume that part of the reason for the arrest was due to the first four having set off the burglar alarm while leaving the intended house. We also postulate that they men were arrested for fighting with each other. We can practically hear the angry cries of, "How the hell do you fall asleep in the middle of a robbery?" echoing off of the buildings in Hendersonville.

Actually, that's a fairly good question. After all, when you're planning something large-scale, be it a wedding, a trip to follow your favorite band, or (we assume) a robbery, you're probably going to make every effort to stay awake and alert. We just can't imagine that anyone would want to be known in prison as "Sleepy", who was always the least popular of the seven dwarfs. It's not like caffeine products are difficult to find, or procure. And, if you're the type of person to make plans to rob a house, you're probably the type of person to be willing to risk a lot to stay awake for it.

It's not like these men were listening to Radiohead or watching a Vikings football game. Maybe they shouldn't have planned that big pre-heist turkey dinner.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The pants strike again

You know, it seems like only yesterday that we were mentioning once again the case of the missing pants, and the completely reasonable judge who decided to sue for $67M for their return.

Wait, it was just yesterday? Wow.

Anyway, it turns out that, while he may have lost his lawsuit (and half of his business suit), Roy Pearson may still be able to get the last laugh. Due to both the financial and emotional burdens of fighting Pearson's claims over the years, Soo and Jin Chung have decided to close Custom Cleaners, the alleged site of the pants-swapping debacle.

During the trial, support was largely in favor of the Chungs and their dry cleaning store, and they were even the recipients of $100,000 in donations to help cover the legal expenses. However, after years of stress and battling in court over a pair of pants, plus the loss of business in the neighborhood due to Pearson's aggressive tactics, the family has decided that their only recourse is to close their doors. They will continue to operate Happy Cleaners, which was their original location.

It's fairly tragic that, even with an Internet full of support, Custom Cleaners had to close. And to think, it's all because of a pair of pants, which may or may not have been lost, causing a lawsuit that may or may not have been completely insane.

Of course, it could be worse. The Chungs could have to be removed from their house by forklift. But we're fairly certain then that pants would be the least of their problems.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Need more proof where lawyers will end up?

Throughout judicial history, there have always been lawsuits that many would call frivolous. Decisions handed down, either in the course of the trial or afterwards, may easily be ridiculed by the general populace. In fact, we're thinking it's a safe bet to assume that cavemen may have been mocked for trying to settle disputes over the intellectual property rights of stick figure drawings.

Recently, this trend has continued with people suing over a pair of pants (again, for millions of dollars... we've covered this story quite a bit), or a judge deciding that the words "rape" and "victim" should not be used during the course of a sexual assault trial. Consequently, State Sen. Ernie Chambers of Nebraska, who is also a lawyer, decided last week to up the ante for stupidity in lawsuits.

He's suing God.

That's right. Chambers has decided that, due to God causing "widespread death, destruction and terrorization of millions upon millions of the Earth's inhabitants", it was about time that someone sued him. And, because the deity is everywhere, Chambers feels that the lawsuit could be brought any place on the planet. He just happened to be the one to actually file the paperwork in Douglas County, Nebraska.

So let's just see if we've got this right. Because of some silly court decisions, specifically tied to the assault case, Chambers has decided to go all out and firmly establish himself as the creator of the most inane lawsuit ever. We almost wonder if he expects the defendant to show His face in court, but, given that Chambers himself is not Christian, we kind of doubt it. Although, if He did, it would certainly put a number of questions to rest.

So now that there's a legal precedent set to sue a deity, what's next? Will Buddha be taken to court for failing to follow through on his promises of reincarnation? What about calling Satan in, for unfair treatment of the damned? And don't even get us started on people wanting to sue the Earth, for harsh living conditions.

On top of all this, we feel bad for the officer of the court that is tapped to deliver the summons. After all, unless a special case is made, that's going to be a one-way trip.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Worst robbery ever

No, we're not talking about the fiasco in Las Vegas surrounding OJ Simpson (although the fact that he's involved in this shows that he doesn't learn well). We're thinking more about an attempted robbery from over the weekend in Virginia. Why was it the worst robbery ever?

Well, to start with, the intended victim had nothing on him to take.

Secondly, the getaway car wouldn't start, forcing the thieves to run if they wanted to try to evade capture. Naturally, they were arrested.

To make matters worse, the police believe that these suspects may be linked to other robberies in the area. So not only did they get nothing (and, in fact, lost a car) during the most recent attempt, but they could be found guilty of other crimes, adding to their sentencing.

Now, we've never tried to commit a serious crime ourselves. Sure, we've all had our youthful indulgences, but never have we attempted to do anything major. Heck, we feel bad when we take bread away from someone (or something) that shouldn't have it. So we can't really imagine what could have been going through the minds of these suspects. However, we're fairly certain that their thought process shortly after the robbery attempt was something like Charlie Brown's "Aaaugh!". After all, picking a victim with no money and then not being able to start your car is akin to running towards a football, only to have Lucy pull it away at the last moment.

And just think. These guys may have only been a few hundred rewards points away from getting a free money laundering.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Coffee-Soaked Awards - Week of September 10, 2007

Summer is almost over. We can see it in the changing of the leaves. We can feel it in the cool air temperatures. And we can practically taste it in apple cider. Of course, we also can look at a calendar for confirmation, but where's the fun in all that? After a week where we talked about people living in hotels and conceptual art, we're ready to get our awards underway. Strap yourselves in, because we never know what kind of a ride it's going to be.

Looking for the Real Thief Award
OJ Simpson has had his share of the media spotlight. From a successful professional football career to a stint as an actor, and then the murder trial and all the fallout that's surrounded it, Simpson has been firmly within the public eye for quite some time. Well, he's being written about again, due to a potential break-in at a Las Vegas hotel. After a confrontation over sports memorabilia, Simpson declared the items his. The police and district attorney are still determining if charges will be filed. Simpson, for his part, has already started writing "If I Stole It", a tell-all book detailing how he would possibly go about committing a burglary.

The Big Sting Award
It's a well-publicized fact that rock stars like to spend their time surrounded by adoring fans. It's all fairly well-known that many rock stars enjoy it when said fans are of a more liberal sexual mindset than many others. And, when you're a rock star that's proclaimed an affinity for Tantric sex, and you're near one of Europe's most famous brothels, what do you think could happen? Well, as a shock to nobody, Sting was spotted leaving a brothel in Hamburg recently. The only questions we have is exactly how many hours was he there, and was he allowed to bring his lute with him? Every breath you take, indeed.

You Think So, Mr. Candidate? Award
Fred Thompson hasn't been in the running for the GOP nomination for very long. By that, of course, we mean that he hasn't been "officially" running for very long. When recently asked about the Terry Schiavo case of 2005, said that he didn't "remember the details", but then made a comment that perhaps Congress had overstepped it's bounds by directly intervening. Other things that Thompson has said include a confession that the night sky is dark, that the moon really isn't made of cheese, and that, no matter how hard you squint, he still won't turn into another Ronald Reagan.

Hello, 911? Um, Never mind Award
Sometimes, the most appropriate thing to do when you've been victimized is to call 911. In other situations, the last thing you'll want to do is call the police. Patrick Hunt of Shelby, NC, should have kept that in mind, when he called 911 to report that, among other things, a half-pound of marijuana was stolen. To make matters worse, Hunt proceeded to swear at the 911 dispatcher. If only he could have taken something to help him mellow out a bit.

Titillation Ain't What It Used to Be Award
Do you ever wonder what we did without the Internet? Without a large collection of scantily clad figures, many of them celebrities making poor fashion choices? Well, as it turns out, we used to get a lot more excited (both in bad and good ways) over a little bit of nudity. With the deluge we've been subjected to in recent years, people are starting to react as though racy photos are old hat. Which still doesn't explain the number of people that bought Paris Hilton's sex tape. For the same price, you could probably get the real thing.

Which now makes us understand why people bought the tape instead.

Now Where Did That Grenade Go? Award
Sometimes, vigilante justice can backfire. A man in Lansing learned this the hard way after rigging his home with booby traps to stop burglars. A neighbor said that the explosion "about took his hand off." Meanwhile, OJ Simpson has promised to hunt down the real bombs, along with releasing a tell-all book, "If I Set It".

Surging All the Way to Nowhere Award
Recently, GDub made a big announcement about the War in Iraq. That announcement? Next summer, some of the troops are going to be leaving. Unfortunately, the vast majority will remain until after he's left office, thereby leaving the results up to his successor. Shockingly, the press isn't expressing much faith in the Great Decider's plans for the Middle East, with some even postulating that the President is ignoring his own advisers with regards to troop levels. Well, we here at the CSM know that to be blatantly untrue. GDub listens closely to his brain trust, which includes the Lil Guard Duck from "Pearls Before Swine", his plush Garfield, and a pair of monkeys with free reign of the Oval Office.

You Can Updated a Classic, But Sometimes You Shouldn't Award
Kids these days. Not only do they get new-fangled lead-painted toys, but apparently, a good old broken (or filthy) glass bottle isn't good enough for them anymore. No, someone had to go out of their way to create an electronic Spin-the-Bottle game. But it's not your standard Spin-the-Bottle. It includes Truth or Dare, and has a feature allowing you to "Forfeit" if you don't feel comfortable. Now that we've updated Spin-the-Bottle (complete with flashing lights) for the current generation, how about we work on Kick-the-Can, by making said can out of foam, equipping it with lights, and encouraging kids to "Retire" if they just can't make contact. And then we can play Tic-Tac-Toe complete with sound effects and a hilarious "Wah wah wah" noise.

Well folks, now that we've gotten ourselves completely disgusted by the concept of an electronic Spin-the-Bottle game, we're going to close this out. We'll be back next week to look at the new events that are bound to pop up. We're fairly certain that none will be quite as uncomfortably hilarious as watching Garrison Keillor say, "Really? After a semen ad?" on basic cable, but we can always hope. Stay safe out there.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Imitating life a little too closely

The modern art movement has had more than it's fair share of critics. After all, when someone can paint a yellow circle onto a white canvas and still demand a high fee for it, it's not surprising that people both inside and outside of the artistic community feel that the form has been diminished. Also, with modern art pieces that look as though they were crafted painstakingly over upwards of thirty minutes by small, childlike hands clutching crayons, well, needless to say that Botticelli and his contemporaries don't have much to worry about.

Conceptual art gets even harsher criticisms, because of the overall strangeness of many of the pieces. From Duchamp's "The Fountain" to Rauschenberg erasing another artist's sketches and beyond, conceptual art has had more than its fair share of detractors. When followers of the movement also create pieces such as taking out blank space in a newspaper for people to submit their own art (Frederick Forrest, 1972), imploring audiences to write down "one authentic secret" (Douglas Huebler, 1970), or a video of a sexual encounter between an artist and a collector (Andrea Fraser, 2004), it's no surprise that conceptual art is often viewed as simply little more than a poke in the eye of long-standing artistic traditions.

Well, the Mills Gallery at the Boston Center for the Arts is about to showcase an installation of a Turner Prize winning piece, created by Martin Creed. The title of the piece? "Work No. 227: The Lights Going On and Off". The piece, naturally, will feature lights turning on once every five seconds before turning off again.

In an otherwise empty room.

And the lights will all work together, leading to either a bright, albeit bare, room, or a darkened enclosure, with nothing to see anyway.

This work, of course, is a somewhat logical follow-up the artist's earlier pieces, one of which featured a crumpled piece of paper, and another of which filled half of a room with white balloons. In speaking about "Work No. 227", Creed himself has said, "I don't think it's provocative. It's just the lights going on and off. What's provocative about that?" He later made the comment that he doesn't "think of (him)self as making meaning," obviously in attempts to calm critics who feel like he is extending a middle finger towards figures like Michelangelo and Rubens.

However, we can admit freely that Creed is causing a bit of a stir in the artistic community, and that doing so could be considered as provocative. By creating art that is mostly a darkened room, he might just be suggesting that current art is better viewed when we can't actually see it. Or he could simply be making a lot of money coming up with ideas that seem so commonplace, nobody else tries to market them. We may not know until we see further examples of Creed's work. Might we suggest a few titles for the future? How about "Work No. 284: The Shoes I Couldn't Get Tied This Morning"? Or maybe "Work No. 591: Last Night's Leftovers"? Perhaps even "Work No. 872: My Favorite Tivo'd Episode of 'According to Jim'" might work.

After all, they've still got to be better than Thomas Kinkade, and Creed doesn't have any movies being made about his work.


Wednesday, September 12, 2007

A tale of two stories

Well, today we've skimmed over the news, and we've decided to bring you two stories, both alike in dignity, but very very different from each other in subject matter. In one story, we find two cities in America fighting (well, playfully bickering, at least) over a bizarre record. In the other story, we zoom over to Ulyanovsk, Russia, and their newest holiday.

So let's start out on our own shores. It appears that Houghton, MI, and Bismarck, ND have decided that they need to go toe-to-toe, city-to-city with each other over a world's record. Given that both of these cities are in the northern part of the country (relatively far northern part, to be specific), it should come as no shock that the record they're fighting for is snow-related. Is it for building the world's largest snowman? Could it be for removing the most snowfall with a single plow? How about the most children conceived during a blizzard?

Nope. The record in question is over the most people creating snow angels at one time. The record, initially established by Bismarck in 2002, was shattered by the easily-entertained people of Houghton earlier this year. Well, that just didn't sit right with the entertainment-starved citizens of Bismarck, who have decided that December 26 will be their day to reclaim the title.

A quote from Travis Pierce sums up a lot of our views on this "friendly" competition. "I think it’s great and a really neat opportunity for two cities that are pretty much out in the middle of nowhere to have this kind of competition." That may be part of the issue. Both cities are in the middle of nowhere, where there's little to do other than drink, fall over in the snow, and flail around until a friend can help you up. Which, admittedly, gives both cities a bit of an advantage in the snow angel-building competition.

Moving on from winter recreation to something that's easy (and fun) to do year round. The governor of Ulyanovsk, Russia, issued a decree pertaining to September 12. That decree? Well, to sum up, it breaks down to "Stay home from work and get down with the loving." That's right, according to the proclamation, Sept. 12 was Ulyanovsk's Day of Conception.

In effort to raise the incredibly low Russian birthrate, Ulyanovsk Gov. Sergei Morozov created the national holiday, giving workers a paid vacation if they only went about their, um, business with spouses and/or significant others. But getting paid to skip work and have sex wasn't the only incentive Morozov had in mind. In fact, any couple that gives birth on June 12, which happens to be Russia's national day, could walk away with an infant, plus valuable prizes.

This is the third year of the "competition", with a top prize of an SUV, and it has worked wonders to help turn around the birth rate in Russia. Naturally, each year more participants have entered to receive the bonus time off (and on and off and on and, um...), resulting in more babies. Given that the nation has also given subsidies to couples with multiple children, it's entirely possible that the Russian population will experience a boom.

We almost think that something along similar lines could happen in America, but we see a few problems with the concept. For one, in this country, we know that people would want to verify exactly what the couple was doing at the time, so some sort of monitoring devices may need to be used. Secondly, the people most likely to enter into a contest such as this one are already the ones who have trouble understanding that a uterus and a clown car are vastly diferrent from each other. And third, the top prize of an SUV would need an upgrade, since most of the country already owns at least one, and probably more.

Still, we can't think of many better things to do when given time off of work. It certainly beats making snow angels.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

You can check in any time you like

Maybe they just really liked the lyrics to "Hotel California". Maybe they fell in love with the continental breakfast. Or maybe they're just trying to set the world's record for most TripRewards points.

But when David and Jean Davidson invite you over to visit, you may want to ask reception for another chair, or a roll-away cot. The couple has been living in different Travelodge hotels for the last 22 years.

Don't worry that the two have been staying in the same room this entire time. Oh no, in 1997, they decided to move. To a different hotel.

Admittedly, the Davidson's are saving money over moving into a retirement home by continuing to live in the hotel, and they are treated to their own housekeeper, plus a staff that's become a second family. But their original apartment remains empty, and the two have adjusted to life in a hotel, admitting that they have to be pickier about what belongings they decide to keep. Also, to their credit, when they travel, they maintain their loyalty by staying in other Travelodges whenever possible.

And yet, there's something just a little bit off about deciding to move into a hotel, especially when such a decision is made shortly after the death of a family member. And it's not like they moved into a four-star hotel, or hit the opposite end of the spectrum by staying in a dingy motel. They took up residence in a middle-of-the-road comfort lodging environment, and have liked it so much that they've just decided to stay. We're even willing to be that, while it may not be common in other Travelodges, the Davidson's may just get that special treatment of a mint left behind on their pillow as part of the turn-down service.

Of course, when you've lived in a hotel for 22 years, you may get a little tired of mints and staring out the window. Makes you wonder if they start getting free movies on request.

But man. Continental breakfast. That alone could be worth a good couple of months of hotel living.

Monday, September 10, 2007

They had to sell something

We've all heard and read stories about how bad the housing market is right now. We've been told about the struggles people have with sub-prime mortgages and financing. And all of this just a short time after the "It's not a bubble" housing bubble from a couple of years ago.

Enter Richard Werner and Heather Mezzenga of New Rochelle, NY. The two, who are both mortgage brokers, saw firsthand just what the housing slump can do. After attempting to sell and then rent a second property, they took the only measures that they could conceive of to get their money back.

They turned the residence into a brothel.

While this is a little disturbing, especially for other people in the neighborhood, the ingenuity of Werner and Mezzenga is at least a little laudable. After all, when other people are losing their homes, the brokers decided that they would enter into a side business, albeit an illegal one, as a way to keep their investment. And the red ribbon to denote that the brothel was accepting customers is both a historic nod to the red light districts, and a nice little piece of decorating flair.

Still, if Werner and Mezzenga learn nothing else out of their experience, we hope that they will take away this tip. When turning your house into a brothel, consider a more secretive parking spot for your clientele. And at least try and keep up appearances that people are using the house for more than just illicit sexual encounters.

But, man, do we just love that red ribbon thing.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Coffee-Soaked Awards - Week of September 3, 2007

Well would you look at that. We woke up this morning and could have sworn we had another day before we got to put together our awards for this week. Then, in our sleep-addled haze, we remembered that this was Labor Day week, and, while at least one labor union is on strike right now, the work never completely stops, even in a shortened time frame. So now that we've got a firm handle on the fact that today is actually Friday, let's get these awards rolling, shall we?

Maybe We Should Take Tips From a Coyote Award
This may come as a huge shock to people, but a recent poll conducted by CNN showed a distinct lack of faith in America's ability to capture or kill Osama bin Laden. This, of course, was prompted by the news that a new video was being released, a video where bin Laden has apparently dyed his beard to look more youthful. That could be part of the problem, as we were busy looking for someone with a graying bounty of facial hair. Our use of Acme products probably isn't helping much, either.

And Taking Names Award
But don't worry, because hope isn't lost. Even though we may have difficulty tracking down bin Laden, according to our President we are currently "kicking ass" in Iraq. And that's just great news. Of course, this is coming from the guy who got Australia and Austria confused during a recent speech in Sydney, so maybe we should take that with a grain of salt.

Covered in Bees Award
Some people like bees. Some like them enough to set up hives, working to extract honey or simply to provide the bees a safe home. Charmaine Albert of Katy, TX, may never want to be near honey again, after hundreds of thousands of bees invaded the walls of her home, creating multiple hives (including one that stretched six feet into the house). An exterminator working to remove the bees has referred to Albert as being "lucky", proving himself to be unfamiliar with the definition of the term.

And Sometimes, the Postman Doesn't Ring At All Award
A Belgian postman may not have a job to return to after it was discovered that he has been stockpiling mail in his apartment, rather than delivering all of it along his route. A postal service spokesman has illuminated the unusual nature of this particular incident, because, generally in Belgium, when a postman doesn't want to deliver the mail, he'll simply throw it away. No word yet on whether "The check is in the mail" will be accepted as a valid excuse for people along this route.

What's Good for the Calf Award
When raising children, it's common to want to discipline them in some way. Admittedly, some parents go a little too far with their punishments, leading to a cycle of rule-breaking rivaled only by most professional athletes. In the case of Kip and Dana Smith, they decided to use a tool that has worked in the past, albeit not with regards to children. The tool? An electric cattle prod. Looking at the mugshots, we're thinking that the philosophy was, "Well, my pappy shocked me and his pappy shocked him...". We expect scientists to soon engage in a study testing cattle prods and sterility in turtles. Just because.

They'll Never Put Cameras There Award
When planning a robbery, think long and hard about the type of place you're going to rob. For example, don't rob a gun store that's staffed 24/7 by someone with a twitch. Avoid stealing from a biker bar, just before last call. And definitely don't try and get free video equipment from a video surveillance manufacturer. If you are going to go ahead with that last plan, maybe check to see if any cameras are in plain view, or wear disguises. The whole thing sounds to us like the plot behind a bad Steven Baldwin-Jim Belushi-Rob Schneider movie. As if there could be any other kind.

911? Yes, I'd Like A Large Award
Residents in Ashwaubenon, WI were given a very important message after placing a 911 call Sunday evening. That message? Do not call 911 if your pizza is burned by the delivery place, as it doesn't qualify as an emergency. Meanwhile, college students across the country have now taken to calling 411, looking for information on what to do about a burned pizza.

The Mouse Does Not Approve Award
How many people across this great land of our have thought it might be cute to take naked pictures of themselves and give them to a significant other? And how many people have ended up regretting that decision? Probably none quite as much as Vanessa Hudgens, who may find herself on the outside of the "High School Musical" phenomenon, maybe running spot lights or box office. Because we all know how much Disney likes to distance themselves from stars (or former stars) dressing (or undressing) like whores. Just ask Britney, Christina, Jessica, Lindsey, Justin...

Come Buy the Stuff Nobody Would Steal Award
Labor Day Monday. Northglenn, Colorado. A DollarTree store that wasn't scheduled to open. 15 customers wandering around inside, due to a faulty lock. Lights on and music playing, thereby confusing the customers, giving them a false sense of fiscal security. And yet, when it was discovered that nobody was working, the customers returned their products and walked away, leaving everything behind. The chief of police chalks the incident up to the decency of people. We chalk it up to the total value of the goods in the store being in the vicinity of $326.59

That wraps up our awards for this week. We'll be back next week, taking our first bite out of fall weather and maybe enjoying an apple or two. Besides, the second week of September is a great time for a pop quiz, so be sure to study over the weekend.

Before we close completely, however, we do want to bid a fond farewell to Luciano Pavarotti. While we aren't huge opera buffs, we can definitely respect the career and life he had.

Stay safe out there.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Not tonight, dear

There's an old stereotype about sex. Actually, there are quite a few, but the one we're thinking about in particular relates to the old stand-by excuse for why heterosexual couples may not be having as much sex as they could. You know the one we're talking about... the old "Not tonight, I have a headache" stereotype, which firmly places the blame for a lack of libido on the woman.

Well, we've finally found a researcher who's work we can get behind, and her name is Professor Monica Andersen. She's a Brazilian sexual health specialist, and she's recently determined that couples not having sex cannot attribute it to whether or not women should be taking more ibuprofen. In fact, the blame rests with men, and the fact that too many are depriving themselves of sleep.

But how can sleep deprivation lead to a loss of sex? Well, according to Professor Andersen's research, not getting enough sleep lowers the libido in men, and can lead to other symptoms, such as erectile dysfunction. She points out that often these problems get blamed on things like stress, when a good nap could help to set things back to right. This lack of sleep can even lead, in rare cases, to sexsomnia, where sex is initiated (and performed) while asleep.

Of course, some men reading this may be thinking, "Well, of course, I'm too tired for sex. I work a lot of hours, and it takes a lot out of me." This, of course, is wrong thinking. After all, sex is part of the human condition, being one of the species that engages in sexual acts for something more than procreation. And, if anyone wishes that they would be lucky enough to have sexsomnia, may we just point out that you're asleep when this happens? Which means that your own benefit would be akin to a vivid sex dream, or perhaps watching Cinemax after 10pm?

We cannot let this trend continue, people. Make time for yourselves. Steal naps when you can. Take something like Sominex before bedtime, to ensure getting enough sleep. Duck out of work early if you have to, so that you can get some rest. If nothing else works, have sex in the morning, when you're refreshed from a night of rejuvenating sleep. We have to take a stand to make sure that the long work days don't lead to a lack of long "work" nights.

And if none of those things work, may we suggest turning to the old standby of alcohol? After all, if simply getting more sleep won't increase the libido, maybe lowering inhibitions will help out. It's worked for centuries, so why should we turn our back on it now?

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

In search of a mastermind

It isn't difficult to become a criminal. Simply find some laws that you're interested in breaking, possibly even something as minor as disorderly conduct, and go crazy. To become a criminal mastermind, on the other hand, is a bit harder to do. Naturally, there's the implied need to break the law, possibly flaunting your distaste for the legal system while you do so. Then, of course, there's the mastermind element, which requires planning, forethought, and the ability to think quickly in order to outwit those attempting to capture you and bring you to justice.

Notice that nowhere in that list was there mention of writing your name on the wall of a crime scene. Take note, Peter Addison.

That's right, young Peter Addison, who, along with some friends, decided to have a good time by trashing an area at a camp for underprivileged children, also decided that it would be genius to leave a calling card, much like Batman villains. Unfortunately for Addison, his calling card wasn't a clever playing card or riddle, but the scrawled message "Peter Addison was here".

Needless to say, the message quickly led to Addison being arrested, and found guilty. The police even stated that "to leave your own name at the scene of the crime takes the biscuit" when it comes to criminal stupidity. So obvious was the message that those burgled thought that perhaps it was a red herring left for the police, only to be shocked when Addison was arrested.

Of course, this case provides some very good lessons for all of us. First off, before doing much of anything, make sure that you have the intellect to actually accomplish what you're trying to do, whether that be commit a crime, work at McDonalds, or fly a jumbo jet. Secondly, if you're going to bring friends, ensure that at least one of them is smarter than you, and will (hopefully) stop you from doing something absolutely moronic. And third, while it may be funny at the time to write your name above a piece of paper with the message "British Garden Birds R Gay" (guess which part was added), be sure that you either take your message with you, or that you use water-soluble ink, to erase any embarrassing evidence.

With the details of this story, we're frankly rather surprised that Addison wasn't shocked that they could possibly track him down. After all, we're willing to bet that he gets shocked when his shoes match.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Brought to you by the letter "Duh"

Apparently, there really is almost nothing left of value to study. Why do we say that? Well, honestly, it's because of two separate studies who's results were shown today. While the two studies were vastly different in their subject matters, they bore strong resemblances to each other with regards to a lack of overall worthwhile analysis.

Don't believe us? Well, that's more than fine. Be skeptical. In fact, if you hold some level of skepticism, then it's possible that fewer studies such as these will be conducted. But, for those of you wondering just what we're talking about, let's just lay them out on the table.

According to researchers, men tend to date because of physical looks, and rock stars are more likely to die early. Frankly, with those ground-breaking discoveries, we're somewhat shocked that they didn't combine their research, to prove that male rock stars are prone to dying early after having dated on sheer physical attraction.

A secondary portion to the dating study showed that, while people will state certain preferences, they won't necessarily follow them. Oh, and here's another shocker from the research. Women are apparently aware of their own attractiveness, especially how it relates to the men they might be pursuing.

Ultimately, when we see that two studies such as these are being performed, we really have to wonder about what else could possibly be getting done with that kind of money. After all, is it more important to find out that a career path with easy access to drugs and alcohol leads to early death, or should we spend time wondering why peanut butter and chocolate is such a popular combination? Do we need to be reminded that men are fairly shallow in their dating preferences, or could we maybe be finding out which leg of the pants people generally put on first? Really, who decides which inane question is the most important to be answered?

Now, if you don't mind us, we've got an intensive study going on as to how people tie their shoelaces.