Truth in advertising

Here's what it should say on the vacuum-sealed, tightly packed foil pouch that encases my LavAzza coffee:

"To Open: Please consult surgeon, welder or other professional. Do not attempt to open while sleepy or caffeine-deprived."

Extra points: Doesn't "LavAzza" look like Italian for "wash one's hindquarters?"


I'd like to see more bikini crime

A woman in Mississippi has been arrested for carjacking another woman's vehicle and driving to a nearby RV dealership and trying to rob it, all while wearing a bikini.

Police in Southaven say the 24-year-old suspect was arrested after employees at the RV dealership didn't believe her claim that she had a gun (where would she be hiding it?) and refused to cooperate in the stickup.

Extra points: Police say the young suspect "appeared to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol." Ya thaink?

Full story here.



Today's crime prevention tip: If you're carrying a bag holding $120,000 in jewels, don't set it down, even "momentarily," during rush hour in Grand Central Station in New York City.

Some con men might have an identical bag, and they'll switch them and make away with the loot.

Extra points: The con men distracted the two jewelry store employees with a $10 bill dropped on the floor.

Full story here.


Surf Gator, USA

Folks in Topsail Beach, NC, have been warned to be careful after an alligator was spotted riding the waves. The alligator was spotted swimming in the ocean and clambering up onto the beach.

Authorities blocked access to the beach, and tried to catch the gator with ropes and nets, but it got away.

Police said the ocean-going gator was four to five feet long.

Full story here.


Headline of the day

From MercuryNews.com:

Authorities look at dead man in Northern California killings

Bwainz! Zombies eeet bwainz!

Full story here.


Jupiter's big hole

As I write at today's Corner Booth on http://www.anewscafe.com/, astronomers are excited about a giant hole the size of the Earth appearing in the swirling clouds of Jupiter.

Yikes! My house needs a sturdier roof.


King of Popcorn

NEWS ALERT: The Iowa State Fair has canceled its planned butter sculpture of the late Michael Jackson.

Sixty-five percent of respondents in an online poll opposed casting the King of Pop in buttery goodness, so fair officials popped fans' bubble and called off the sculpture.

The August fair will continue to have its traditional cow sculpture crafted from sweet, creamy butter. Also, this year, they're adding a butter moon with astronaut to celebrate the 40th anniversary of some other moonwalkers.

Full story here.


Giant weiner penetrates house

Okay, so you're sitting in your lovely Racine, WI, home, swatting mosquitos and watching "Oprah," when -- blam! -- something crashes into your house. OMG, it's a vehicle and it's plunged halfway into that room downstairs. Huh. It's the Oscar Meyer Weinermobile.

Honey, call the TV stations!

Full story, with delightful photos, here.


Naked truth

Today's tip: If you get caught walking around a park in the nude, making up a story about a robber stealing your clothes will only make things worse.

Police in Lincoln, NE, say a 19-year-old man removed his clothes because he was hot, and went for a stroll in Wilderness Park. An hour later, he couldn't find where he'd left his clothes. When approached by police, he told them an armed gunman had forced him to strip and taken his clothes.

The overheated hiker now is in the cooler, facing charges of indecent exposure and making false statements to the police.

Full story here.


Try new Drunken Burglar beer

A man in Bar Harbor, ME, awoke to find an intoxicated intruder in his bedroom. What to do? Offer him a beer, of course.

It worked. The intruder accepted the beer and went on his merry way. Police arrested him nearby a short time later after he was caught breaking into cars.

Extra points: He apparently didn't realize that the homeowner had given him a non-alcoholic beer.

When you can't tell the difference, it's time to quit drinking.

Full story here.


That's not cricket

Today's tip for aspiring armed robbers: If you must use a toy gun to knock over a gas station, you might want to first remove the orange plastic tip from the gun.

A robber in Pine Grove, AL, failed to take that step, and the clerk noticed that the gun was not real. Police say the clerk then picked up a cricket bat and chased the robber away.

Officers subsequently arrested a 22-year-old moron and charged him with first-degree robbery.

No word on the what the hell a cricket bat was doing in a gas station in Alabama.

Full story here.


Road rash

Today's tip for skateboarders: If you insist on boarding down a steep hill, running a red light and zooming into traffic on a busy four-lane boulevard, try not to run into the police car.

Police say Manuel Griego, 24, suffered a serious ankle injury when he careened into the police car in Pueblo, CO. He also put a big dent in the side of the car. The skateboard was a total loss.

Extra points: Police say Griego may have been drunk at the time. Surprise!

Double extra points: The officer driving the patrol car is named Dennis Furbush.

Full story here.


Up, up and arrested

New York police arrested Superman. Batman was handcuffed temporarily, but then allowed to go free.

Two men dressed as the superheroes were approached by cops in Times Square and quizzed about whether they had permits to perform in costume. Batman had no ID on him, and the cops cuffed him. Then Superman went wild and punched a female officer.

Superman, secret identity Maksim Katsnelson, 23, put up a heckuva fight, but finally was subdued by seven officers, who fortunately were armed with kryptonite.

Full story here.


Crime headline of the day

From the New York Times: Officer Shoots Man in Bronx After Robbery Attempt With Fake Gun

If you're ever been shot in the bronx, you know it's really painful.


Jittery with a java jones

In summer, when temperatures are as sultry as a debutante full of sloe gin, nothing’s more refreshing than a hot cup of coffee.

You heard me. Coffee. Give me coffee, no matter what the weather. First thing out of bed every morning, rain or shine, steamy or snowy. Coffee. I gotta have it.

I’ve got a caffeine addiction that won’t quit, and I’m not the only one. The whole country’s got the coffee jitters. How else to explain the sprouting of drive-thru coffee joints on every vacant corner in North America? No wonder all the bad drivers are on the phone, talking really fast. They’re all juked on java.

In some places, you don’t even have to cross the street to get coffee. Winter before last, I found myself in midtown Manhattan on a Sunday morning, the one quiet time of the week. Everyone was still in bed, but not me, because I don’t sleep in hotels anymore, especially in New York, where honking is acceptable behavior at 3 a.m. So I’m up, and I visit the Starbucks in the hotel lobby and I go out for a walk. It’s cold, but dry, and I walk briskly and I’ve got my paper coffee cup to warm my hands. Most all the businesses are closed, but up on the corner, there’s another Starbucks, all lit up and warm. Across the street and down the block, another Starbucks. I walked around Grand Central Station before I ended up back at the hotel. In those 12 blocks, nine Starbucks.

At its current rate of growth (and allowing for recent closures), Starbucks will, by 2032, have crowded an outlet into every home in America. I don’t know about you, but I’m looking forward to having my own barista.

My java jones is so bad, I select hotels on the basis of whether they have coffeemakers in the rooms, so I can get an initial fix before dressing in the morning. Those little machines never make coffee exactly how you want it, which is intravenously, at bedside.

At our house, we’ve got the fastest coffeemaker on the market; I can barely finish yawning and scratching before it’s ready.

I start downing coffee at dawn, and I drink it right through lunchtime, or until I get so jittery that I burst into flames, whichever comes first.

Worse yet, I use an embarrassing amount of sugar and/or artificial sweetener, so the coffee has the overall sweetness and slightly chewy texture of molasses.

No cream, though. That’s for sissies.

And none of those fancy coffees for me, those lattes and cappuccinos and mochachokas and frappagrappas. I’m sure they’re very tasty, but I freeze up, trying to decipher the menu, where many of the words appeared to be Italian and nothing is “small” or “medium.” I mutter, “Coffee,” and take whatever they give me and pour in an embarrassing amount of sugar, and I’m out of there.

It’s probably not healthy to consume six to eight cups of coffee per day, or maybe it is, depending upon which study came out last. Coffee either prevented colon cancer or caused heavy users to grow antlers. I forget.

It doesn’t matter what the doctors say. I’m sticking with coffee. I’ve given up nearly all my other bad habits. I’ve got to have a reason to get out of bed in the morning.

They can have my thermal mug when they pry it out of my cold, lifeless hand. Which could be any minute now.




An 18-year-old in New Zealand was told to clean out the garage and get rid of unwanted items. Among the items he found: Nude photos of his mother.

Does he:

A) discard the photos to save her embarrassment
B) show her the photos and lord her past over her
C) attempt to sell them on New Zealand's version of Ebay with the headline: "five naked photos of my Mum."

If you picked "C," then you clearly know something about teen-agers.

Extra points: The 44-year-old Mum called her son a "cheeky little git" for posting the photos, but approved a subsequent posting of other "glamour shots," including one of her in lingerie.

Double extra points: The Trade Me website pulled both sets of "inappropriate" photos out of auction. A spokesman said, "We don't really want to be the place where people list photos of their mums in their underwear."

Full story here.


Litterbugs and housewreckers

Ever notice how dirty dishes multiply? Or the way one wayward sock on the floor soon results in a room’s total disarray?

Dutch scientists have proven the civic equivalent. A messy neighborhood, they found, led to an overall decline in behavior.

Lead author Kees Keizer of the University of Groningen reported in the journal “Science” that most people act appropriately to the circumstances, but some act lazy or selfish. When their actions are allowed to stand, others soon follow suit.

This is related to what law enforcement officials have long called the “broken window theory,” which says that signs of urban decay -- broken windows, graffiti, litter -- encourage petty crime.
Keizer told The Associated Press that while the researchers weren’t surprised that the theory held up, “we were, however, surprised by the size of the effect.”

For example, the scientists found an alley in a Dutch shopping area where people parked their bicycles. A “no littering” sign was on the wall. The researchers attached store flyers to the handlebars of the bikes, then watched to see what happened.

They found that 33 percent of the riders littered the alley with the flyers. But after the researchers sprayed the alley wall with graffiti, the number who littered jumped to 69 percent.

While such tests no doubt provided special insight into human behavior, the Dutch scientists could’ve skipped all that work. They could’ve simply asked those of us who are responsible for housework. We’re quite familiar with the broken window syndrome.

Take your kitchen, for example. If it’s clean and tidy, most people who use it are more likely to keep it that way. They’ll pick up after themselves, put their dishes in the dishwasher and mop up spluts on the countertops.

But leave your coffee spoon sitting out on the counter and see what happens. Within minutes, dishes and greasy utensils litter every surface, the sink is full and the floor’s freckled with sticky spots.

Say you move into the living room for some televised sports viewing. It’s lovely in there. The furniture gleams and the carpet is clean. But maybe it’s a little warm. So you remove your socks and set them in a tidy pile by your bare feet. Aah, that’s better.

By halftime, every horizontal surface is covered by open bags of pork rinds and pretzels, spilled salsa, random peanuts. The coffee table has more rings on it than the Olympic Games symbol. The carpet bears a fine coating of orange Cheetos dust. Perfect strangers have wandered into the room and are drinking your beer.

One little slip leads to a little mess, which results in ever-bigger messes until finally someone calls the Health Department and you have to move.

The slippery slope is steeper if there are children or teen-agers in the household. They go from “broken window” to complete slum faster than you can say “Pick that up!” One toy hits the floor, and the house soon looks like Santa’s sleigh blew up. Allow one stray sneaker and you’ll come back to a room that looks as if it’s been ransacked by looters.

Next thing you know, the children are engaged in petty crime. Then they’ll really be in Dutch.


Building distractions

I was still on my first cup of coffee when I heard men shouting and the grumble of machinery outside.

I went to the front window, and found that the street was lined by trucks and other equipment. Not one, but two backhoes were being unloaded from trailers. Through sheer deductive reasoning (and the company logo on the nearest truck), I surmised that my neighbor across the way was getting a swimming pool.

Which meant my workday here in the old home office had just been shot to hell.

Neighborhood construction brings all work to a halt for office rats like me. It's not just the noise; we've got headphones and "ear buds" to block that out. It's the overall commotion. Things are happening out there, men are doing things and machines are growling and beeping. The very earth itself is being shoveled up and hauled away. How can I focus on my computer screen when real men are doing real work right over there? Shouldn't I go watch?

Yes, I should. And there go the next several hours.

A lot of us guys never got over the sandbox. Give us some Tonka toys and a pile of dirt and pretty soon we're crawling around, sputtering vroom-vroom noises. Show us a construction site, and we’re set for hours, just watching.

The construction process is the magic of something from nothing. A concrete result, so different from the ephemera that most of us generate all day. It's simply fascinating to guys, which is why they cut peepholes in fences around big-city building sites.

Most of the time, I can withstand the siren song of the Caterpillar. But when construction comes right to my own neighborhood, it's too compelling to ignore. Workmen swoop in like the team from "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition," bringing bulldozers and dump trucks and concrete pumps. Churning up dust and noise.

And I'm there at the window, staring at the bustle like it was ESPN.

There's the obvious allure of heavy machinery. But there's another dirty little truth at work here, too: Nothing is more satisfying than watching honest, hard, sweaty work being performed by someone else.

At the last house we owned, we paid some guys to build a large covered patio in our back yard. The floor of the patio was brick, and the bricklayers spent days on their knees, under a brutal sun. I felt sympathy for the poor devils, sure, maybe even a little guilt because I was indoors in the air-conditioning while they suffered. But I couldn’t tear myself away from that window.

Then there was the day I looked up from my desk to find a man dangling on ropes in my neighbor's towering elm trees. He swung like Tarzan from limb to limb, lopping off branches with a screaming half-sized chainsaw. Guys on the ground gathered up the fallen limbs and fed them into a big yellow -- grrrzzzzzt! -- shredder. Oh, my.

Grrrzzzzzt! There went my productivity.

Eventually, I was forced to ask: What kind of man was I, sitting all day at a keyboard, peck-peck-peck, while real men were out doing manly jobs like bricklaying and chainsaw trapeze?

What kind of man was I? The air-conditioned kind, that's what. The kind who'd rather remain seated indoors, thanks very much. I'll take cool and safe. Nobody ever cut his arm off, typing.

But I'm always happy to watch the Construction Channel when it happens by. Forget about lost man-hours. Make popcorn.


This is a robb-- Oof! Ow!

Today's tip for aspiring criminals: If you're planning to break into a house, choose one that's not occupied by a retired boxer.

A 23-year-old British man learned this lesson the hard way. Authorities in Oxford, England, say Gregory McCalium was armed with a knife when he entered the house of 72-year-old Frank Corti and his wife Margaret.

Corti dodged the knife and punched McCalium twice in the face, knocking him down, then held him until the police arrived.

The judge who sentenced McCalium to more than four years in prison said he got what he deserved for trying to prey on the elderly.

Full story here.