Friday, August 28, 2009

Coffee-Soaked Awards - Week of August 24, 2009

Welcome to the final Friday for August of 2009. Already, we're looking at the end of summer, and wondering where all of the time went. But no matter, because as soon as we get past autumn, winter, and spring, we'll be able to go through another week or so of summer. So only ten months to wait. In the meantime, we'll get this week's awards fired out for everyone.

Just Relax Award
The British have come up with a way to get parents to go along with their children on roller coasters and other rides. No, they aren't increasing the alcohol provided. Instead, they're providing the parents with the option of being hypnotized. We're not sure how being told you're a chicken who is freezing will help, but we're not the experts.

The First Rule of Spatula Fight Club Award
We're fairly certain the first rule would be that nobody talks about Spatula Fight Club. As for a second rule, might we suggest that fighting can only be done with spatulas. That might keep the level of belt-related injuries down. Does nobody fight with fists anymore, or is it just fighting with spatulas, and that's all?

Not the Brightest Award
We love stories about stupid criminals. We don't often get to see about criminals with highly distinguishing characteristics getting stopped in the middle of their crime, getting away, and then reappearing at the police station asking for a handout. That's what happened to a crook in Illinois, who tried to steal a car, was stopped by the driver, and later went to the police asking for bus money. To make matters worse, the man had different sets of instructions about how to break into a vehicle. If only he would have followed the set that said, "if you fail, don't ask the cops for money".

Right-Wing Comedy Tour Award
When is the most appropriate time to make a joke about hunting a politician? Unless you're Idi Amin, the answer is never. Too bad an Idaho gubernatorial hopeful didn't get that memo after making a joke about taking out hunting tags on Barack Obama. He later said that he never advocated assassination, which is technically true, whether he was joking or not. A hunt implies that the prey might escape.

Looking Pasty Award
It seems like everywhere you look, there another overly-sexualized image being presented to your eyes. Into this atmosphere, it seems bizarre that burlesque, with an emphasis on "tease", would be experiencing a resurgence, and yet that's exactly what's happening. We're sure that there's a joke in there somewhere, but we're, um, busy.

Patterned Award
Sometimes, having a habit can be a good thing, as it can help ground you. Other times, a habit can be a bad thing, like when you rob banks exclusively on Thursdays. In the burglar's defense, however, his "Thursday" underwear were also his lucky bank-robbery underwear.

Presidential Tubes Award
There is a bill being considered in the hallowed halls of government that would allow for additional security measures. Of course, these security measures would be very specific, as they would give the President control over the internet. Given the number of porn sites that were created during the Clinton term of office, we're not sure if this bill isn't already in existence.

Nerdy Cool Award
Seriously, this is just nerdy cool. Someone had too much time on their hands.

That wraps up our awards for yet another week. We'll be back on Monday, after we've taken the weekend to see if there's a place where the Venn diagram was wrong. Stay safe out there.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Protected by policy

Every year when school begins, students are faced with new policies. Sometimes, those policies are simple, and don't require much of a change, such as using only mechanical pencils. Other times, the policies are much more drastic, like being told that seniors are strongly encouraged to avoid putting freshmen into lockers. Still, most of the time, the policies are created because they are filling a void that wasn't really covered before.

Which is why we don't quite understand why Houston schools have decided that they need to set down a ban concerning the act of "sexting".

To be clear, it's not that we think that students should be given carte blanche with regards to the practice. Quite the opposite, actually, as there should be a concern about the oversexualization of students, and the potential for misdeeds due to a broken relationship. After all, teens are more likely to follow (and adhere) to celebrity trends than their adult counterparts, and it's painfully obvious that plenty of celebrities have problems keeping their private text messages private. The reason we don't see much of a call for such a ban is that the act of "sexting" already carries potential criminal charges.

Think of it this way. Many of these students are under the age of 18. They are distributing nude, or semi-nude, pictures of themselves electronically to other students, who may pass those along to others in a moment of anger, revenge, or simply having lost their phone. Technically, this does fall into levels of child pornography, even if it is a somewhat more palatable form. After all, given the sexually charged nature of the teen years, a fair number of the students who are prone to "sexting" are prone to other sexual acts. And ultimately, placing a ban on these activities is going to do very little to curb either the curiosity or the rebellious nature of teens in the area.

Although, if a ban does work, we would strongly encourage the Disney company to looking into one for their television stars.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Asking for trouble

Sometimes, you just have to know that your actions are going to draw attention, potentially of a negative variety. Those times, it might be good to plan ahead, and possibly avoid the actions that will bring about the unfavorable result. If you simply cannot avoid doing what you know will cause problems, then you should at least prepare yourself for the consequences.

Oh, and if you're a ten-year-old, you should probably consider looping your parents into the discussion. Not that doing so is guaranteed to help.

That's what a girl in Florida discovered after she was sent home for not following the dress code of the school. In most cases of students ignoring dress code, it's easy to at least imagine that they were rebelling against their parents, or the rules set forth by the administration. In this case, the girl definitely deserved being sent home, due to her decision to wear an offensive shirt. Even worse, the girl's father, who happens to be a pastor, was perfectly content to let his daughter walk into school with clothing proclaiming that "Islam is of the Devil".

Honestly, we're not sure what's worse, the fact that the girl wanted to wear a shirt like that, or that her father, a man supposedly chosen to teach people to love one another and to look kindly on his fellow man, allowed her to wear it (and, if we're right about the included photo, had a shirt made in his size, as well). We know that people have their prejudices, and that it's difficult to avoid them. We'd like to think that perhaps people aren't going around making t-shirts that show their hatred. Of course, we'd also like to think that those with the power to influence large groups of people would not so willingly flaunt their own prejudice and bigotry.

What's probably the most depressing thing about the entire story is that girl was "expecting that from the first day". Right, because if she'd just waited a week, nobody would have noticed the insult to a major religion. After all, while the devil is oftentimes in the details, sometimes those details are magnified and put onto articles of clothing.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Taking it all too seriously

Up in this part of the country, people seem to be a little too obsessed about one person in particular. Depending on who you listen to, either this person is the savior for an entire state, or he's bound and determined to bring everything and everyone crashing down into failure along with him. We never thought that anyone would get that kind of power just for wearing a jersey with the number 4 emblazoned on it. And yet, while many people view this lone person as a guaranteed hero, many others view him as an impending goat.

About that goat thing, though. It probably isn't something that should be taken too seriously. Certainly not with an actual goat, and plans for slaughter.

A automotive repair shop was greeted with a purple-and-gold goat when a woman pulled in, asking for a belt to be replaced. Apparently belts get worn out pretty quickly when you're driving a goat around town. We would have thought that any sort of maintenance would be done before carting around a live animal inside an enclosed space, but we just don't quite speak crazy, apparently. Oh, we also probably wouldn't have alerted the shop, not only to the animal, but to what we planned to do with it.

Fine, we understand that people are sports fans. We even get the level of hero-worship and doom-and-gloom that tends to go along with people rooting for their favorite teams and/or players. But once you bring a goat into the picture, all bets are off.

After all, everyone knows that goats are St. Louis fans.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Coffee-Soaked Awards - Week of August 17, 2009

Friday has once again come to our door, and that means it's time for our awards. Let's get this ball rolling; we're afraid that, if we linger too long, Brett Favre will come and take our jobs.

Who Wears Short Shorts? Award
It must be summer, and reporters must not have enough news to cover. Why else would people be making a big deal out of the notion that Michelle Obama was wearing shorts while leaving Air Force One? If this had been in the dead of winter, or on an expedition to the South Pole, we could understand. If she was wearing the shorts at a state dinner, we'd probably be slamming her for her lack of formality. But wearing comfortable clothes, in August, while simply being herself? Goodness, it's like she's not allowed to be a person anymore.

Timely Award
School is starting soon, so the time for summer vacations is pretty much over. What better time to release a list of the top ten national parks in the country? We can't wait until their big story on ski resorts in April.

Friendly Skies Award
Well, maybe there's a limit to just how friendly those skies should be. Tell that to an Oakland man, who decided that he just didn't want to be clothed anymore while on his flight. We'd hate to think about him returning anything to its original upright and locked position.

Trashed by the Trashed Award
It's a fairly good bet that, when you trash a business and leave blood all over the place, you're probably going to get caught. It's even more likely that you'll be caught if you end up underneath a filing cabinet in the very business you broke into. This is exactly why you won't have nice things.

Doing the Dryer's Work Award
Arizona may have a dry heat, but they also have a very bizarre thief. The crook has apparently stolen dozens of socks from a clothesline in the state, as they were being hung out to dry. Either we're looking at the creation of a new sock puppet acting troupe, or the Maytag repairman has really hit on hard times.

Paying the Heathens Award
For a while now, people have been preparing for the upcoming Rapture. Some people are just making sure to have their affairs in order. Some people are making money off of the whole deal by offering to leave messages for those that don't get to participate. Well, looks like a group of atheists are joining the fun, and offering to accept money to watch after pets left by Raptured owners. Apparently, not all dogs do go to heaven.

And on that note, we're going to wrap up our awards for yet another week. We'll be back next week, after the dust has cleared on the whole purple #4 thing. Stay safe out there.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Play some Skynyrd, man

Musicians all over the world have to deal with requests. While most will at least make a game attempt to play through a song that they are at least passably familiar with, and still other will express regret, and then immediately start working to learn the song, there are always those who will simply ignore the requests, and play whatever they feel. This holds true whether the performers are appearing at an arena, inside a local bar, or simply busking on the street corner. Of course, most of those musicians, whether they accept the request or not, know more than two songs.

Not the case with a couple of buskers in the UK, who were recently given "anti-social behavior orders", largely due to their renditions of "Wonderwall" and "Faith". And nothing else.

Well, when you only know two songs, you have to deal with circumstances just like this. You can continue, playing bravely in the face of adversity, hoping that you don't find yourself on outs with local law enforcement for potentially harassing behavior, or simply creating a nuisance. You can hope that locals will find the humor in two guys only being able to play two songs, over and over and over and over again, like they were some sort of sadistic ride at a theme park.

Or you could take another route, and maybe try to learn a third song. You know, for a little variety. Unless, of course, your rendition of "Wonderwall" happens to include a thirty-minute guitar solo that sounds nothing like the original song.

If you are going to stick with option one, however, make sure to sell it. Be dedicated to that one song. For plenty of artists, that's really all they ever needed.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

You don't say

Guess what, folks? There's something that can be done to help curtail childhood obesity. In fact, there are a number of things that can be done. And there's even a group that can do many of those things.

That group? Parents.

Crazy, right? Who would have ever expected that parents might have some control over the development of their children? We certainly didn't think that a mother or father could do anything more than simply contribute genetic characteristics. After all, it's just crazy to think that something like activity levels, concepts of nutrition, moral character, and other positive things could possibly originate with the people who are responsible for raising children. Especially when you take into account that apparently, if you believe the stories about video games, music, movies, and television, parents can't possibly be held responsible for any of the negative things that children do. We just figured that there's no way that the good could possibly be affected.

Seriously, this is something that people aren't aware of? After all, when you look at the developmental years of a child, the adult figures that spend lots of time in their lives have a direct impact on the things that the child is bound to do, learn, and emulate. If they see an adult eating poorly, and making a point of avoiding exercise, the child is more likely to do the same. If the adults in their life are active, and setting a good example, again, the child will generally follow suit. Admittedly, things get a little skewed when you start reaching the teenage years, but that's largely due to children struggling to establish their own identities.

Of course, we didn't realize that this means that the parents of so many of today's celebrities didn't believe in underwear, but we do suppose it was a different time.

Monday, August 17, 2009


The first time you ever saw a go-kart, did you dream about taking it off of the track, perhaps even to see how it could fare against full-size cars? Did you drool over the thought of taking it out on the freeway, or engaging in some sort of off-road race? Did you wish that they didn't strap you in quite so tightly?

Well, a couple of teenagers in Kansas lived the dream, as they proceeded to take some go-karts on a joyride.

Now this wasn't the type of wacky go-kart ride that was epitomized by a Frenchman making a live-action MarioKart game. It wasn't even the kind of experience you would expect out of an Ashton Kutcher movie. Oh, no, these kids stole the 'karts, and then took them out onto the freeway. In fact, if other motorists hadn't thought it odd that go-karts were out on the highway, they might have been able to get away with it.

But, no, freedom was not meant to be. The teens were arrested for their shenanigans, with nary a YouTube video to show for their efforts. Of course, the article felt it important to mention that the go-karts weren't damaged, and the teens weren't hurt.

Good thing they brought along extra red shells.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Coffee-Soaked Awards - Week of August 10, 2009

So this is that summer that people have been threatening would hit for a couple of months now. We'd almost forgotten what it feels like to alternate between cooking while outside and freezing while inside. It's a good thing that we've got a pile of awards to go over today.

A Little Trim Award
No, we're not referencing our story from yesterday. This is about an entirely different kind of bush. All because the Scottish government is considering dictating height limits for hedges in an effort to curb "hedge rage". Roger the Shrubber could not be reached for comment, but there is a lovely path.

The Next Step Award
What do you do when you are on of your state's best-known lawyers when it comes to fighting frivolous lawsuits? Why, it's obvious. You sue the state for towing your car after you parked it illegally. Next week, we'll cover a story about vampires that donate blood.

A New Grade Award
A British Columbia university wasn't happy with simply awarding an F to cheating students. So they just went and created a new grade, FD. The university plans on only using it in the most egregious examples of cheating. If only there was some other way of dealing with students that don't follow the guidelines set forth by their chosen learning institutions. Thank goodness the new letter grade has been created.

Cash for Kids? Award
This should come as no real shock to anyone, but as it turns out, when you give away money to help people as part of a "back-to-school" stimulus, maybe you should find a way to keep tighter controls on how that money can be spent. Otherwise, you'll find yourself in a similar situation to New York, where the sales of video games and electronics have increased right around the time of the financial boost. Now, we will admit that the timing could simply be serendipitous, but we also won't be surprised when students try to input the Konami code into their tests.

Don't Bring a Car to a Knife Fight Award
Oh, Australia. How you continue to thrill us with your novelty. After all, where else can you read about someone getting stabbed in their backside over a parking space? Well, aside from Detroit...

Kids and the Web Award
It's almost time for school to restart, so that must mean it's time for the annual "what kids did over the summer" news stories to come out. Today's focuses on their web surfing history, at least according to one company that did some compiling of top searches on Google. While some people would be shocked over the adult themes included on the list, we're only shocked at the inclusion of Michael Jackson. Actually, we're more surprised that MySpace appears, because we didn't think it was still being used.

That wraps up our awards for yet another week. We'll be back next week, unless we melt thanks to the heat.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

You do that at home

There are a multitude of activities that are intended to be performed in the privacy of your own home, and get more interesting if done just about anywhere else. After all, when was the last time that you made a big deal out of taking a shower? But do that same activity away from your own bathroom, and it can become more fascinating. And we're thinking about places like the swimming pool, where modesty still reigns. There are also activities that should really be kept to your own abode, because doing them anywhere else just starts getting weird.

Things like trimming your pubic hair, for example.

A Connecticut man did just that after breaking into a woman's home. Even worse, he left behind some leftovers to be remembered by. But don't worry, there's a happy ending. The man later returned to the home and admitted his act to the woman who lived there. Because an apology totally makes up for a random stranger grooming themselves below the belt in your home.

We just can't imagine why the man would have done such a thing. Sure, there are some criminals that want to leave a calling card, so that the press can come up with a clever nickname. But "Pubic Bandit" just doesn't have a good ring to it. Neither does "The Short and Curly Crook". As for returning to the scene of the deed, was it really out of remorse, or was it out of a misguided attempt to try and impress the resident.

That only works on Paris Hilton.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The best policy?

It's nice to see that some of the lessons from childhood are still being remembered by people. Sure, lessons like how to tie your shoes get used almost every day by the vast majority of the public, but we're talking about things that are a little more moral in nature. Things like sharing, and treating others with respect. The important stuff, like being honest.

Although there are definitely times where being honest isn't really going to help your case out too much. Like when you're being asked why you robbed a bank.

Admittedly, this may not be a case of complete honesty. Self-deprecation may actually play a bigger part in the whole thing. After all, the man did refer to himself as "an idiot" when asked about why he had decided to try and attempt the robbery. Mind you, plenty of people would have to agree with him, but without a solid universal definition for "idiot", the man may not be truly being quite as honest as it would seem. Still, it's hard to argue with the man, especially given his admission about how he spent the money that he stole.

Who knows? This could lead people all over the world to follow suit. Politicians may come forward and declare themselves liars. Dentists could admit to a small level of sadism. And reality TV could finally own up to it's scripted nature.

Just as long as the people who are famous for being famous don't catch wind of this. We'd hate to see their egos deflate simply by becoming self-aware.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Locations gone awry

We've discussed before just how important location can be. Of course, given the types of stories that we tend to find, you can guess that today is going to be yet another example of location being a key component.

Take, for example, the story of a man holding a yard sale. It's a ritual of the summer. But it isn't every day that someone decides to hold a yard sale just a few doors down from the house they robbed. Even worse, the man was selling some of the stolen items.

We'd like to imagine that the exchange was like something out of a sitcom, with the original owner seeing something of theirs, asking how much it is, the seller giving it away for free, possibly while saying something clever, and then a Benny Hill-esque chase. Of course, it was probably more like an episode of "Cops", complete with swearing and a random person flashing the camera. We just didn't think that anyone would decide to set up their resale shop just down the street from their robbery victim.

We didn't think that people would be willing to purchase a vehicle from a strip mall dealership, either. Well, maybe it wasn't really a dealership. Maybe it was more of a guy in a parking lot selling cars that he didn't even rightly own. Although, for all we know, he did own the car that he sold. He may just have gotten the license plates illegally.

And that's why location is so important. If both of these alleged criminals had chosen more wisely, they might have been in the clear longer.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Language barrier

Like it or not, America is becoming a country where speaking Spanish is almost as important as speaking English. While we haven't reached the type of blend that Quebec, Canada has with regards to French, there are definitely many places where a good working understanding of the Spanish language can help smooth things over.

We just didn't expect to see that importance underscored for criminals, as well.

A would-be robber in Florida attempted to rob a church while the faithful were gathered for service. The problem? He attempted to rob them in English, and they were a Spanish-speaking congregation. While there were definitely parishioners who understood him, we'd certainly like to think that one of the things that helped prevent him from actually stealing anything was the lack of understanding. After all, the confusion on the faces of some may have been enough to spur on those that subdued him.

Of course, the first thing that we have to look at to prove that maybe this crook didn't have the best plan is that he was trying to rob a church during service. Common knowledge alone would expect that he would be looking for fewer witnesses to be present, not as many as possible. The language barrier was just another roadblock in the overall execution.

Besides, it's probably not a great idea to rob any place that might have more than one Jesus.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

You don't say

Workers digging up land find human remains. Seems like something fairly newsworthy, right? Especially if the number of bodies is in the hundreds.

Yeah, except when the bodies are found while relocating a graveyard that contained mass grave plots, potentially for yellow fever victims.

Sorry, but when you're excavating a graveyard, you don't get to make a big deal out of finding human remains. In fact, it would be newsworthy if you DIDN'T find any bodies. The simple fact that bodies were found pretty much means that the land was used for the exact purpose designated. That would be like people complaining about a pet store smelling like animals.

Now, if the new construction ends up having strange happenings, including attacking trees and people vanishing into the television, then we've got a story.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009


For a number of people, the faith and beliefs instilled in them as children may shift over time, causing them to change from one religion to another. Sometimes, it's a minor shift, moving ever so slightly to very similar religions, such as becoming Catholic after having been raised Lutheran. Sometimes, it's a more extreme move, like a Buddhist becoming Jewish. And sometimes, the decision is made to eschew religion altogether, and become atheist.

However, if you're eschewing religion, maybe you should avoid the trappings of ritual tied to religion as well. That means no "de-baptizing". And definitely no "de-sacrament".

Look, we understand. We're not the most religious people ourselves. We can definitely see where the lack of ritual can be a comforting thing for people who felt smothered by an excess within their various systems of faith. And while plenty of other things done over the course of a life can involve some sort of negation, we don't think that the rituals performed by any religion qualify. Not because of any sort of power, or because of fear of reprisal from either side.

Simply put, we really feel that, by enacting a ritual meant to negate, or worse, mock, an existing ritual of a church, you aren't really stepping free of the ties that you were looking to escape. If you claim atheism, shouldn't you be avoiding the trappings of the religions that you are standing outside of? Isn't a "de-baptism" just as full of ritual and pomp as a baptism, and isn't part of atheism contingent on rejecting the ritual and pomp of religion?

What's next? The "Secular Ghostbuster"?

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Let's define "threat"

There are certain things that are almost universally considered threats. Live grenades, verbal assaults, and any rumor involving Jim Belushi and a camera should all definitely fall into that category. Of course, many people would also place a person with an axe on that list.

Especially if they're wielding it inside of a liquor store.

Whether or not the axe-wielder was a threat or not is a point of contention between his family and the local police, after an Oakland liquor store incident. The police were called to the scene by reports of belligerence, and the man brandished the weapon. To make matters worse, he refused to put the axe down when told to, instead choosing to advance towards the police. The family, on the other hand, simply say that he carried an axe as a tool for his work as a handyman, and that he never would have done exactly what surveillance cameras seem to show him doing.

Listen, if you're walking around with an axe outside of an area where axes would normally be used, you should be considered a threat. For example, picking one up from a store? Not a threat. Wandering around the fairgrounds with one? Threat. At a lumberjack competition as a competitor? Not a threat. As an audience member? Threat.

Just don't ask about taking one camping. At that point, it's anybody's guess.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Drink to your health

There's an old saying about what one should do when one visits Rome. Well, it looks like Russian sporting fans are being encouraged to act more like citizens of the United Kingdom when they head to Wales for a World Cup qualifying match.

How so, you may ask? They're being encouraged to drink whiskey, to help prevent the spread of H1N1 flu.

To be fair, the Russian Health Ministry is actually not encouraging citizens to make the trip, because of fears about how the virus is spreading. But that's not going to stop hardy Russians who are itching (and, possibly, coughing) for the upcoming match against the Welsh team. After all, the Russians are just behind Germany when it comes to qualifying points, and that makes the match more important than people's health.

We would be appalled by this, but we see just as flagrant examples of fandom taking over for common sense in our own country. After all, how often can you see fans in Green Bay or New York with their shirts of, during January? Sometimes those images are enough to make us want to reach for whiskey ourselves, either to drink to erase the memories, or to splash into our eyes to prevent having to see them again.

So we say drink up, Russian fans. And let us know if whiskey proves to be effective at stopping the spread of the disease. After all, it could make St. Patrick's Day a day where we could eradicate swine flu once and for all.