Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Let There Be Light

Thought for the day:  No matter how you celebrate the holidays at your house, may they be filled with love, laughter, and joy.

Jews all over the world began celebrating Hanukkah at sundown yesterday. As a Christian, I'm certainly no authority on the subject, but I do know that Hanukkah commemorates a miracle.You've heard expressions about beacons of hope shining in the darkness, I'm sure. Well, Hanukkah celebrates the time a single day's supply of oil kept a lantern burning brightly through eight dark nights. So it is an 8-day festival of light that celebrates the triumph of light over darkness, of purity over adulteration, and spirituality over materialism. 

Seems to me, whatever our religion or non-religion may be, these are all things worth celebrating. So, Happy Hanukkah, everybody. May the light conquer darkness in all our lives.

Has it ever occurred to you to wish people could be as loving and caring year-round as they are during Christmas and Hanukkah celebrations? Wondered why the smiles and laughter aren't as heartfelt, and the hugs as warm, in March as they are in December? Why you don't get a mountain of wrapped presents every day, instead of just one measly time a year? (Only kidding about that one. Just checking to see if you were paying attention.) Anyway, Christmas is fast approaching. Anticipation builds, and as we all prepare to celebrate Christmas ... or Hanukkah ... I'd like to share a food for thought piece with you. It's an excerpt from Keeping Christmas, written by Henry Van Dyke, but it could just as well be talking about Hannukah:

There is a better thing than the observance of Christmas day, and that is, keeping Christmas.

Are you willing to forget what you have done for other people, and to remember what other people have done for you; to ignore what the world owes you, and to think what you owe the world; to put your rights in the background, and your duties in the middle distance, and your chances to do a little more than your duty in the foreground; to see that men and women are just as real as you are, and try to look behind their faces to their hearts, hungry for joy; to own up to the fact that probably the only good reason for your existence is not what you are going to get out of life, but what you are going to give to life; to close your book of complaints against the management of the universe, and look around you for a place where you can sow a few seeds of happiness.

Are you willing to stoop down and consider the needs and desires of little children; to remember the weakness and loneliness of people growing old; to stop asking how much your friends love you, and ask yourself whether you love them enough; to bear in mind the things that other people have to bear in their hearts; to try to understand what those who live in the same home with you really want, without waiting for them to tell you; to trim your lamp so that it will give more light and less smoke, and to carry it in front of you so that your shadow will fall behind you; to make a grave for your ugly thoughts, and a garden for your kindly feelings, with the gate open---

Are you willing to do these things, even for a day? Then you can keep Christmas. And if you can keep it for a day, why not always?


So, now let me wish you all a very Merry Christmas and Happy Hannukah. I'm gonna see the grandchildren, and you know the drill. They're the lights of my life. So, kids first, and computer? Fuhgettabout it.

        Until next year, take care of yourselves. And each other. Wishing you all much light ... and much love.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Looks Like a Tree to Me

Thought for the day: Beauty really IS in the eyes of the beholder.

In the middle of December every year, we used to make a trip to Santa's Christmas tree farm to pick out our perfect tree. Perfect for us, anyway. Some of the trees we chopped (and by "we" I mean my better half, of course) and hauled home were, shall we say, imperfect. If they were in a department store, they would've been relegated to the irregular bin. You know what I'm talking about. Slightly misshapen. Pregnant-looking. With an occasional bare spot. But our kids loved the whimsical "character" of those trees. (Me, too.)

My husband would set the tree in the stand, festoon it with lights, and then make himself scarce. Year after year, it was the same. The same decorations, the same carols playing in the background as the kids and I decked the sweet-smelling tree in all its glory. The kids groaning and giggling and begging me not to put those nasty old homemade ornaments on the tree again, but secretly thrilled that we still had them.

Then, the kids grew up, as kids will. Hubby and I decided to go with an (ugh) artificial tree. No more sweet scent. But, no need to remember to pour water into the darned stand every day, and no dried needles all over the floor, either. Hey, not so bad, after all. I put the same decorations on the fake tree, and listened to the same carols, but alas, the kids were doing their own thing, as twenty-somethings will, so I was doing the job by myself. Not nearly as much fun. But it was still a nice tall tree, and it still looked good, even if my enthusiasm for the chore was fading fast.

Time for a change. Instead of using the whole tall tree in all its glory, why not just use the top part, and put it on the table in front of the window. Okey dokey. Worked for me. And somehow, I still managed to squeeze all of the same old ornaments on the smaller version of the fake tree. The cat we had (or to be more accurate, who had US) at that time was a gray Persian named Smokey who was too genteel to do much climbing, but I'd hang unbreakable ornaments on the branches closest to the chair, so he could lounge on it and bat them at his leisure. Other than one or two broken balls, and the occasional need to pull tinsel out of his butt, no problems.

Then, came a really big change. Smokey died in the summer of 2009, and that October, we adopted two kittens from the shelter.

There's nothing genteel about these girls. They're part mountain goat. Especially Dash, the calico. She's a regular Dora the Explorer, and no place is too high or too precarious for her to explore. Dot isn't as much of a climber, but she's the eater. She thinks any greenery she finds is her own personal salad bar. A couple days ago, she got into the room with all the wrapped Christmas presents. Ripped every single bow off every single package, and nibbled on them, like it was some kind of a smorgasbord. (Pffft, I taped 'em back on.)

So, anyway, the point is, no way we could put up a tree, real or artificial, around these two. So, since Christmas of 2009, our tree has looked a little ... different.

It's a cardboard cut-out, painted green, with regular and bubble lights on it, and a silver star on top. Serves the purpose, and it gets stored as is, so there's no decorating ordeal. Just pull it out of the closet, set it up, and plug it in. And our girls? They like it just fine. They can still sit on "their" table and look out the window.

                            What can I say? It looks like a tree to ME. (Especially if you squint.)

                                 Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Smiley Pete and the Amazing Dog Poo Lottery

Thought for the day:  Tough girls come from New York. Sweet girls, they're from Georgia. But us Kentucky girls, we have fire and ice in our blood. We can ride horses, be a debutante, throw left hooks, and drink with the boys, all the while making sweet tea, darlin'. And if we have an opinion, you're gonna hear it.   Ashley Judd

Is the grass really blue in Kentucky?
It's on to Kentucky today, where we can admire the lush blue grass growing in the fields, while tapping our toes to the jamming bluegrass music on the radio. The music is definitely bluegrass, but is that grass really blue? Darn it, not really. It's more of an illusion. Bluish-purple buds give a rich blue cast to a field of grass, especially from a distance, but the blades of grass themselves are as green ... as, well ... grass.

Here's an interesting tidbit. During the Civil War, although Kentucky ended up siding with the Union, the state really wanted to remain neutral, and it's no surprise. Both Abraham Lincoln, the president of the Union, and Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederacy, were born in ... you guessed it. Kentucky. Less than a hundred miles apart, too. Guess it was kinda tough having to choose between two favorite sons.

And a few more: Fort Knox stores more gold than any other place in the world, but you probably already knew that, right? Okay, how about this? In 1883, Thomas Edison brightened the world by introducing his incandescent light bulb to the world at the Southern Exposition in Louisville ... a place, by the way, once known as the graveyard to the west. Its vast swamps were a veritable cesspool of  insect-borne diseases during pioneer days, so many westward-bound settlers, who planned to pass through the area, succumbed to disease, and subsequently ended their journeys, and their lives, right there in Louisville. One last thing before we look at some pictures. How do you pronounce the capitol of Kentucky? Is it Loo-ee-ville or Loo-iss-ville?

Now, for those pictures:

Kentucky and horses go together, and the Kentucky Derby, at Churchill Downs,  is the oldest continuously held horse race in the country. Always held the first Saturday in May, it is one third of the Triple Crown.

Every car fan knows Bowling Green is the birthplace of Chevrolet's muscle car ... the Corvette.

Mammoth Cave is the world's longest cave, and was first promoted in 1816, making it the country's second oldest tourist attraction. (Niagara Falls is number one.)

Cumberland Falls, AKA the Niagara of the South, is the largest falls east of the Rockies and south of Niagara. It is also the only place in the western hemisphere that regularly exhibits a moonbow.

Maker's Mark bourbon distillery
Kentucky produces more than 95% of the world's bourbon. Oddly enough, the state's Bourbon county is dry ... but Christian county is wet. (Likewise, Barren county boasts the most fertile land in the state. Go figure.) Ever hear of Carrie Nation? She's the Kentucky gal who famously fought tobacco, pornography, corsets, and demon rum. (but not bourbon?)

This is one of several plaques to be found throughout Lexington. They commemorate a dog, a "town dog" everyone called Smiley Pete. He was also known as the canine con man, the magnificent moocher, and the panhandling pooch. This friendly mutt made daily rounds through town with a "smile" on his face, finessing his meals, snacks, and plenty of companionship along the way. When he died in 1957, the whole town mourned him. Ergo, the plaques. You've gotta love a town like that.

Okay, time to check out the laws? What oddities are still on the books in Kentucky?

  • Throwing eggs at a public speaker was punishable by a year in prison. (This one was repealed in 1975, so I reckon you can pelt politicians to your heart's desire there now.)
  • One may not dye a duckling blue and offer it for sale unless more than six are for sale at once. (Anybody else remember seeing all the multi-colored dyed chicks and ducklings in the dime store before Easter every year?)
  • It's illegal to fish with a bow and arrow. (Guess they call this one the crappie law?)
  • All bees entering Kentucky shall be accompanied by certificates of health. (How in the world do they CARRY them?)
  • No females shall appear in a bathing suit on any highway unless escorted by at least two officers of the law, or armed with a club. (Wouldn't you love to know the origins of this law?)
  • Every citizen must take a shower at least once a year. (It's not hard to sniff out the reason behind this one.)
  • By law, anyone who has been drinking is "sober" until he or she "cannot hold onto the ground."  (Can't hold onto the ground??? Now, there's a low standard for ya.)
  • It's illegal for pigeons to fly over the town of Bellevue. (This one here's the poopy law.)
  • In Frankfort, it's illegal to shoot off an officer's tie. (Carry scissors.)
  • In Lexington, you can't carry an ice cream cone in your pocket.
  • In Fort Thomas, it's illegal for dogs to molest cars. (How about the legs of perfectly nice ladies?)
  • In Owensboro, a woman may not buy a hat without her husband's permission. (Houses, okay. Hats, no.)
               [Oh yeah, about the pronunciation of Kentucky's capitol? It's Frank-fort.]

Okay, it's once again time for (ta-DA!) 

The Weirdest News Stories of the Week

*** What a guy! I'm telling ya, this California man really knows how to personalize his endeavors for charity. With his unique hands-on approach, you could say he really puts himself out there and into his work. You see, thirty-six-year-old Trent Arsenault is a one-man DIY sperm clinic. Since 2006, he has most graciously donated his frisky little swimmers to between sixty and seventy-five families, resulting in fourteen children so far, with another four on the way. But alas, FDA officials have ordered him to (um) cease manufacturing. Apparently, his DIY operation doesn't comply with federal regulations and safety precautions, and his bedroom falls short of the high standards set by the government for a donor clinic involved in the transmission of human cells or tissues. (I'm thinking those dirty jockey shorts lying on the floor probably didn't impress the inspector.) But, fear not. This altruistic young man is determined to continue taking matters into his own hands, so he can continue helping low-income people who are struggling with infertility.

***  Six years ago, Italian bookstore Feltrinelli and Italian wine-maker Santa Margherita formed an unlikely alliance to encourage notoriously non-reading Italians to read. They sponsor a contest for amateur writers, and the most recent fruits of their labor will be hitting shelves soon. Three winning short stories will be published into tiny booklets, which will be attached to 700,000 bottles of bestselling wines. Hopefully, Italy's many wine drinkers will now at least read a little something while sipping their favorite beverage.

***  Many dog owners think their hairy four-legged "children" are worth their weight in gold. In Taiwan, it turns out Fido's feces may lead to a veritable pot of gold. In a brilliant campaign to clean the piles of pooch poo from the city, authorities are giving a lottery ticket to anyone who brings in a bag of dog waste. So far, the city has collected 14,000 bags of smelly stuff, but in the end, the winner will come out smelling like a rose ... with a brand new bag of gold ingots worth about two thousand dollars.

So, there ya have it, although I must admit, the truly weirdest news story lately is about a certain politician who shares his name with a lizard leading the polls for the Republican nomination, and the even weirder rumor that if he gets it, he may select another certain somebody with the world's worst comb-over as his running mate. Talk about a swell Christmas present for the dems ...

                                         Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Let's Hit the Road

Thought for the day:  No matter where you go or how far you travel ... there ya are.

Time for another road trip, folks. Not a real one, of course. A virtual one.
An opportunity for me to slack off share some more of those terrific billboards with you. You know, the ones from the great folks at dribbleglass that come straight out of someone's fertile, and sometimes naughty, imagination. (And another huge thank you to them for allowing me to take a nap share them with you on my blog today.)

And so, my friends this post was what we technical people call a quickie. (I hope it was as good for you as it was for me.)

                              Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Inflated Dreams

Thought for the day: We don't stop laughing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop laughing.

No telling how many years this wreath has graced our front door.
We never made a huge production out of outdoor decorations, but every year, our kids made the same proclamation after we cruised our decorated-out-the-wazoo neighborhood.

"AAAH, the best one of all!" they'd say as we pulled into our driveway.

They weren't really lying through their teeth. Anticipation of presents (with their names on them) hiding somewhere in that house may have added a certain luster to their perception.

Anyhow, I'd say decorating styles can pretty much be divvied into three categories: traditional, enlightening, and inflated. Us? We're traditional. That means, except for an occasional new acquisition, I've pretty much used the same decorations every year. For a LOT of years. Like the ornaments that hung on my parents' tree when they were first married, some of which are now paper thin, and considerably faded with age. And a slew of decades-old goodies fashioned by our children with copious quantities of felt, glue and glitter, construction paper, walnut shells, clothespins, eyeglass lenses, and even a Mason jar lid. A black spider in a golden web and a huge decorated crab shell, both made my by sister-in-law. Boxes of tinsel painstakingly applied, strand by strand, and then painstakingly removed to store in a box for yet another year. Like I said, traditional. Well, to be more accurate, I suppose we've become more traditional cum lazy, because each year, I use less and less decorations, and some of them don't even make it down out of our attic anymore. For sure, our formerly traditional tree is considerably NOT traditional these days. (I'll give you a peek at it next week.)

These singers once belonged to my grandmother.

Everybody knows the enlightening type of decorator. They're the ones with so many lights blazing in their front yards, they risk causing a blackout across three states every time they turn 'em on. Very flashy. Sometimes, they even incorporate animation and music, too, and carloads of people stop by every night to ooh and aah over their winter wonderland. It isn't at all unusual for a competition of sorts to begin when multiple enlighteners live in close proximity. (Those neighborhoods can be seen from the space station.)

And then, there's the inflated. This is a fairly recent category. I sure don't remember seeing this sort of display when I was a kid. Nowadays, you can purchase just about any character you can think of ... inflate it ... and stick it on your front lawn. And if you can't find a particular character, for the right price, you can probably have someone make one for you. Then, all those characters can weave and bob all over your yard.

Now then, to the point of today's post. Time for a tale about a Christmas inflatable of an entirely different ilk. This story originated in 1999, and was alleged to be the winning entry to a Louisville Sentinel contest about the wildest Christmas dinner. Turns out, no such newspaper ever existed, and the writer remains unknown, but the story lives on, thanks to the good ol' Internet. (WARNING: Better put your drink down before you read it.) Now here, after a bit of minor editing on my part, is that story:

As a joke, my brother Jay used to hang a pair of pantyhose over his fireplace every Christmas Eve. He said the only thing he wanted was for Santa to fill them, but what they say about Santa checking his list twice must be true, because every Christmas morning,  the other stockings would all be bulging with treats, but Jay's poor pitiful pantyhose were still dangling empty.

So one year, I decided to make his dream come true. I put on sunglasses, a fake nose, and a ski cap, and went in search of an inflatable love doll.

Know what? They don't sell those things at Wal-Mart. I had to go to an adult bookstore. By the way, if you've never been in an X-rated store before, two words: don't go. You'll only confuse yourself. I was there for an hour saying things like, "What does this do?" "You're kidding me!" and  "Who would buy that?" 

So anyway, I finally made it to the inflatable doll section. I wanted to buy a standard, uncomplicated doll that could also substitute as a passenger in my truck so I could use the car pool lane, but finding what I wanted was difficult. Love dolls come in many different models. The top of the line, according to the side of the box, could do things I'd only seen in a book on animal husbandry, but I settled for the bottom of the price scale: Lovable Louise. To call her a doll took a huge leap of imagination.

On Christmas Eve, with the help of an old bicycle pump, Louise came to life. My sister-in-law was in on the plan, and let me in during the wee morning hours. Long after Santa had come and gone, I filled Jay's pantyhose with Louise's pliant legs and bottom. I also ate some cookies and drank what remained of a glass of milk on a nearby tray. Then I went home, and giggled for a couple of hours.

The next morning my brother called to say that Santa had been to his house and left a present that had made him VERY happy but had left the dog confused. She would bark, start to walk away, then come back and bark some more. We agreed that Louise should remain in her pantyhose so the rest of the family could admire her when they came over for the traditional Christmas dinner.

My grandmother noticed Louise the moment she walked in the door. "What the hell is that?" she asked.

My brother quickly explained, "It's a doll."

"Who would play with something like that?" she snapped.

 I had several candidates in mind, but kept my mouth shut.

"Where are her clothes?" she continued.

"Boy, that turkey sure smells nice, Gran," Jay said, trying to steer her into the dining room.

 But Granny was relentless. "Why doesn't she have any teeth?"

Again, I could have answered, but why risk it? It was Christmas, and nobody wanted to spend it in the back of an ambulance saying, "Hang on, Granny, hang on!"

My grandfather, a delightful old man with poor eyesight, sidled up to me, waggled his eyebrows, and said, "Hey, who's the naked gal by the fireplace?"

I told him she was Jay's friend, and a few minutes later, noticed Grandpa standing by the mantel, talking to Louise. And not just talking. He was actually flirting. It was then we realized this might be Grandpa's last Christmas at home.

The dinner went well. We made the usual small talk about who had died, who was dying, and who should be killed, when suddenly Louise made a noise that sounded a lot like my father in the bathroom in the morning. Then she lurched from the pantyhose, flew around the room twice, and fell in a heap in front of the sofa. The cat screamed. I passed cranberry sauce through my nose, and Grandpa ran across the room, fell to his knees, and began administering mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. My brother fell back over his chair and wet his pants, and Granny threw down her napkin, and stomped outside to sit in the car.

It was indeed a Christmas to treasure and remember. Later in my brother's garage, we conducted a thorough examination to decide the cause of Louise's collapse. We discovered that Louise had suffered from a hot ember to the back of her right thigh. Fortunately, thanks to a wonder drug called duct tape, we restored her to perfect health.

After that, Louise went on to star in several bachelor party movies, and I'm pretty sure Grandpa still calls her whenever he can get out of the house.

                                                May all your dreams come true.

                                Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Beware of Killer Bananas

Thought for the day:  I don't think we're in Kansas anymore, Toto.  Dorothy Gale

Kansas is the Sunflower State
So, what do you associate with Kansas? Storm cellars and tornadoes, maybe, thanks to The Wizard of Oz? Sunflowers? Oh, and wheat. Lots and lots of wheat. Kansas is actually tops in the country's wheat production, and their Sumner county touts itself as the Wheat Capital of the World. Gotta have something to go with all that bread, right? No problem. They've got it covered. The state is second only to Texas in beef cattle. Another thing the state has had in abundance, but prefers to do without,  is grasshoppers. Matter of fact, when the First United Methodist Church was built in Hutchinson in1874, the grasshopper plague was so horrific, thousands of the little buggers were mixed right into the mortar. (Giving the church a "green" foundation long before it became cool.)

Couple other interesting tidbits: The first national burger chain, White Castle, opened in Wichita in 1921. That's also where Pizza Hut opened its first location. Going back nearly fifty years earlier, to serve railroad travelers, Harvey Houses, the very first restaurant chain in the country, opened in Leavenworth in 1876. And according to one source, the state (ready for this?)  banned fog in 1793. Yeah, fog. I could understand frogs and grasshoppers, what with the plagues and all that, but FOG? Wonder how that's gone so far ...

Yeah, yeah, yeah, that's all well and good. (And about as cut and dried as a field of wheat.) How about some cool stuff?

Remember the Long Branch Saloon on the TV show Gunsmoke? A saloon with that name really did exist in Dodge City in the 1880s. William Harris, one of the saloon's original owners, hailed from Long Branch, New Jersey. Ergo, the name. The saloon can still be seen today at Dodge City's Boot Hill Museum. (Alas, I don't think you'll find Miss Kitty behind the bar.)

Talking about Dodge City, ever wonder where the term "red light district" came from? Yup, you guessed it. Dodge City. There was a Red Light Bordello located there, and its front door was made of red glass. When the interior lights were lit at night, the glass produced a distinctive red glow. Eventually the term carried over to include the town's entire brothel district. (See what valuable information you get here?)

Who says Kansas doesn't have a sense of humor? Not me! Check this out. Would you believe "hot" and "cold" water towers? The town of Pratt, Kansas erected theirs in 1956. Evidently, the folks in Canton got the joke, because they followed suit. That's the Canton towers in the picture.

Now, this is totally cool! Located in Goodland is the world's largest easel, standing eighty feet tall, and constructed of forty thousand pounds of steel. It holds ... what else? A giant replica of Van Gogh's painting, Sunflowers.

While we're talking about the "world's largest," how about the world's largest ... ball of twine? You betcha. Located in Cawker City, this ball is thirty-eight feet in circumference, weighs seventeen thousand pounds ... and is still growing.

The Hollenberg Station, near Hanover, is the only original Pony Express station still standing in its original location. It is now a museum.

Kansas Exodusters

In the years following the Civil War until 1880, approximately forty thousand black people left the South to settle in Kansas, a wave of immigration known as the Exodus. These settlers built numerous all-black towns, only one of which remains today: Nicodemus. Although virtually a ghost town now, Nicodemus is a National Historic site. (An interesting corollary: Kansas was the first state to ratify the fifteenth amendment ... giving black men the right to vote.)

Civil War veteran S.P. Dinsmoor used more than one hundred tons of concrete to build Garden of Eden, which you could say is a folk art paradise in the town of Lucas. The buildings, sculptures, fencing, everything here ... including the flags ...  are made of cement. Mr. Dinsmoor started his heavy project (sorry) in 1904, at the age of sixty-four. Not sure how long it took him to complete it, but it was no short-term undertaking. He was one tough dude.

Some of the Garden of Eden sculptures.

Okay, let's get on with it. Let's take a gander at some of the laws still on the books in fine state of Kansas.

  • Rabbits may not be shot from motorboats. (Not even killer rabbits?)
  • Pedestrians crossing highways at night must wear taillights. 
  • No one may fish with his bare hands. (Wear gloves.)
  • Nude women can't teach science without a permit. (Better stick to math.)
  • It's illegal for anyone to cut off an arm or leg so they can earn more money from begging.
  • The use of mules to hunt ducks is prohibited. (Really? After all that time teaching him how to shoot straight ...)
  • If two trains meet on the same track, neither shall proceed until the other has passed. (This one has me completley bumfuzzled. Sounds like a stalemate to me.)
  • Motorists in black cars must always allow red and green cars to overtake them. (Guess they don't like black cars.)
  • In Derby, it's illegal to hit a vending machine that stole your money. (Kick it. Works better, anyway.)
  • You also can't screech your tires, or ride any animal down any road.
  • In Dodge City, you can't spit on the sidewalk.
  • In Lawrence, all cars entering the city must sound their horn to warn horses of their arrival.
  • And no one may wear a bee in their hat. (That's the buzz, anyway.)
  • In Overland, it's illegal to picket a funeral. (Hear! Hear!)
  • Musical car horns are forbidden in Russell. (Even a-OOOO-ga horns?)
  • Sorry, but you can't sing the alphabet on the streets at night in Topeka. (Can't take the grandkids there.)
  • No snowball fights allowed, either.
  • Also in Topeka, dead chickens may not be hauled across Kansas Avenue. (But it's darned near impossible to make them walk ...)
  • It's also illegal to scream at a haunted house. (Um, but aren't haunted houses supposed to scare the bejeesus out of you?)
  • Here's the last Topeka lulu: it's illegal to sexually annoy squirrels. (And how would one go about doing that? Never mind. I don't want to know.)
  • In Wichita, before proceeding through the intersection of Douglas and Broadway, a motorist is required to get out of his vehicle and fire three shot gun rounds into the air. (They could at least shoot into the ground! Don't they know that what goes UP must come DOWN?)
  • And finally, also in Wichita, a father is not allowed to frighten his daughter's boyfriend with a gun. (A snarl will usually suffice.)

Okeydoke, it's that time again. Time for (ta-DA!)

The Weirdest News Stories of the Week

*** Killer bees, killer sharks, man-eating tigers, and killer tornadoes. Betcha you've heard of all those things, but have you heard of the dreaded ... killer banana? An epic email hoax about flesh-eating bananas made a real monkey out of shoppers in Mozambique. I'm telling ya, the alleged news story didn't just go viral; it went bacterial. The bogus email warned of a virtual invasion of necrotising fasciitis-infected  bananas from South Africa. No matter that no bananas were actually infected. No matter that Mozambique doesn't even import bananas from South Africa. Mozambique shoppers simply stopped buying bananas, until the health minister finally convinced frightened non-consumers that they were in absolutely no danger from rogue bananas. Just goes to show you ... some people ... many people ... will believe anything they read in an email if it's written with just the right tone of authority.

*** Beauty, and art, are in the eye of the beholder. Everyone's heard of Picasso, but I'm gonna tell you about another artist, a British artist who's known by some as Pic-cars-so. This 28-year-old, whose real name is  Ian Cook, drives his fine arts degree down a whole new avenue. In a nod to his love of motor sports, he covers radio-controlled cars in paint, and then uses them to create what some say are wheely good works of art. He's frequently commissioned to paint in front of an audience, and has been generating up to one hundred, usually car-related, pieces per year. His most famous was done several years ago, when he was commissioned by Reebok to paint a three-story portrait of Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton. More than 17,500 people came to the temporary studio to watch him work on it, and the final product was displayed near the tower bridge in London. I'd say this young man is well on the road to success.

*** I think it's safe to say that most people love the water. Love water parks, too. Because it's good clean fun, right? Evidently, a tourist couple visiting a water park in Poland weren't entirely satisfied with the level of fun to be found on the park's giant water slide. Guess they wanted a little something more. So they improvised. Observers say it took them a good five minutes to prepare to launch down the long blue water slide, and when they finally achieved take-off, they'd already taken off their suits. And the woman was, shall we say, sitting on the man's lap. The thing is, security cameras caught them in the act, and when the amorous pair reached the bottom of the slide, attendants dampened their sizzle with buckets of cold water, and booted them from the park. Minus their clothes. On the plus side, that couple won't have to send postcards to their family and friends to let them know what they did on their vacation. Their picture made quite a splash throughout the European media, and can be found online with a simple google search. (Won't their mothers be proud?)

                                        Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.