January 27, 2006

LinkNews Digest [01/27/2005]

The Word of God, Now Copyrighted

For the first time all papal documents, including encyclicals, will be governed by copyright invested in the official Vatican publishing house, the Libreria Editrice Vaticana.

The edict covers Pope Benedict XVI’s first encyclical, which is to be issued this week amid huge international interest. The edict is retroactive, covering not only the writings of the present pontiff, as Pope and as cardinal, but also those of his predecessors over the past 50 years. It therefore includes anything written by John Paul II, John Paul I, Paul VI and John XXIII.

Publishers will have to negotiate a levy of between 3 per cent and 5 per cent of the cover price of any book or publication "containing the Pope's words". Those who infringe the copyright face legal action and a higher levy of 15 per cent.
The Union of Italian Catholic Publishers and Booksellers said that it had not been consulted, and that the edict "flies in the face of what we do -- spreading the Pope's message to the world".

A Vatican spokesman said that the Holy See had to defend itself against "pirated editions". The move is also aimed at "premature publication". Journalists accredited to the Vatican are handed papal texts under embargo. The Vatican said that if embargos were broken in future not only would the journalist face sanctions but also his or her publication would face legal action. (LINK )

Haggis Makers Refute Unhealthy Image

Praised by the poet Robert Burns as the "great chieftain o the puddin'-race", haggis has fallen foul of nutritionists, who say its "honest, sonsie face" hides a high fat and salt content unsuitable for small Scots. Haggis producers are outraged, insisting that its natural ingredients, such as lamb's liver and heart, onions and oatmeal, put it in a different category from mere burgers.

Alan Pirie of James Pirie and Son, the reigning Scottish haggis-making masters, said: "With good turnips and potatoes, there's nothing more nutritious than haggis. It's made of all natural ingredients - there's no rubbish in it at all. To compare it with processed meat like chicken nuggets or hot dogs is just ridiculous. It's a big knock for us for it to be compared to those."(LINK via Guardian Unlimited)

Hooters Gets Priest's Blessing

As part of a private opening party, Monsignor Isidore Rozycki, the head Catholic priest for the Greater Waco area, plans to bless the chain's newest location at New Road and Interstate 35. The public won't be able to attend the event. But they can bask in the divine dedication starting Tuesday morning, when the restaurant officially opens.

About 60 local ministers signed a letter this fall in which they expressed their disapproval of the restaurant. They said they oppose Hooters because it exploits women and bases its marketing campaign on sexual innuendo.

But to Rozycki, offering the blessing is just another way he can reach out and serve the community. He pointed to the biblical story of Jesus eating with a tax collector, even though men in that profession were considered among the worst of sinners. He says he doesn't see how attending the Hooters event is any different.

"I think it shows we are just catching up with bigger cities," the retired priest added. "We can't be narrow-minded. People won't accept that anymore. If they don't get it here, they'll go somewhere else. I think Hooters is just one of those commodities people should use in moderation.(LINK )

Badly Named Product of the Week: "The BlowMonkey"

Dry your nail varnish the fast and fun way with the super-cute Blow Monkey. If you're tired of flapping your hands about like you've got some kind of nervous tic in an attempt to dry your nail varnish, this is for you. The Blow Monkey Nail Dryer is unlike any beauty gadget you've ever seen before. Press on his plate of bananas, and this sweet little simian blows cool air onto your wet nails. The air jet is just powerful enough to help your nails dry more quickly, but not so powerful that it blows your carefully applied polish off. It is the cuteness of this cheeky little chimp which will make you buy it. It is powered by 2 AAA batteries and it's auto-off switch helps to save power.

Normally getting a monkey to help you glam up wouldn't be something we'd recommend, but the Blow Monkey is different. How could you resist? (Pre-Order NOW for Valentine's Day! )

My New Favorite Phrase

Strong Bad Email #142: "Secret Identity" gives us this gem:

"Is there like, a sign on my door that says 'Wanted: Everyone That I Hate, Inquire Within'? " - StrongBad

January 25, 2006

Chattacon 2006 Trip Report

AOME - ChattaCon 2006 Trip Report

by Bill the Pony

Thursday night, with Berg, Nadine, Maddy, Rosie and Daniel staying over, and it being Berg's Birthday, we decided to throw a little surprise party for him. Merry, Heather, Wade, Ariana, Anya & Foe also dropped by to join in. ("Happy Berg-Day to you...")


8:30 AM - Packing the Cars
Daniel: This is my secret treat. VERY Canadian.
Chris: What is it?
Daniel: It's a SECRET! Don't worry, I'll let you all try it. (Looks at Nadine) Oh, sorry, you can't have sweets, can you?
Nadine: Do I LOOK like I can't have sweets?

9:15 AM - On the Road
Rosie: I once cut off a piece of hair from my Rosie wig, when I forgot my foot hair. I used it on my Hobbit feet for two days before giving up. It got too gluey.

11:20 AM - Met with Foe @ Cracker Barrel for Lunch
Rosie: Okay folks, if my phone rings, everybody be quiet. My company's corporate HQis in Atlanta, and they don't know that I really came down here to dress as a hobbit.

11:31 AM
Mel: The first time I dressed as Frodo, I was so embarrassed to wear it anywhere.
Foe: Yeah, and now if you have to take OFF your costume, it's a hassle. 'Oh No, I have to change into jeans and a shirt to go across the street and pick up something. I'm so embarrassed.'

11:33 AM
Berg: Is that a costume, or just an old lady?
Nadine: Both. It's a very good costume OF an old lady.

12:15 PM - Getting the Checks
Berg: I was at Olive Garden one time. This waitress spills three full glasses...BOOM... in my lap.
Nadine: Oh no.
Berg: So my spaghetti was free, but I had to walk out of there looking like... you know, like I peed my pants
???: Hah. Peein' your pants is cool.
Foe: If Peeing your pants is cool... I'll be Miles Davis.

2:50 PM
Took an initial loop in the Dealers Room. We found "The Ear Dealers" (Aradani Studios) and the Pirate Artist (Studio de Sade). Mel is checking out some Katanas for her Samurai costume.

3:45 PM - The Hunt for Red Oktoberfest
Finally found the Con Suite. It appears to be an old USO Hall, or possibly a fallout shelter. It's about a mile and a half away from the front of the hotel. Damned map, not drawn to scale. (Damn you, Peter S. Beagle!) It took a while to find it, but I followed my nose to the sweet, sweet aroma of hops like some alcoholic Toucan Sam, and the rest just tried to keep up.

4:30 PM - Finished Unpacking
Chris: Maddy, you might want to put up the top on your car. 60% chance of rain tomorrow.
Daniel: Oh, that's not so bad.
Chris: You're right. I need to be Positive. I was thinking all "Glass-is-Half-Empty."
Mel: But if she doesn't close the roof, her CAR will be half full.

5:40 PM
Mel: Aaah! A Roach!! That's one of my worst fears. That and tornadoes.
Chris: What about a tornado of cockroaches? Wouldn't THAT be fun?

5:51 PM
Foe, Dressed as a Slytherin student, comes with me into the Star Wars room.
Anakin Costumer: Hey! Muggles only in here!!!

5:57 PM
Rosie finishes tearing a Star Wars fan a new one for saying "Stargate is sucking in all KINDS of new ways this season..." Then she turns to us.
Rosie: Sorry if I'm being a bit of a fan girl.
[Silence from the group of us dressed as Hobbits, Pirates and Wizards.]

6:20 PM - 4 Restaurants & Nothing to Eat
Chris: Well, we could pay $9 for a pizza here in an Authentic Dining Car...
Foe: ...which we can get in the Con Suite for free...
Mel: OR we go somewhere outside the hotel to eat. That's it. Stand up! We're going.

6:42 PM
Berg: (singing) Chim-chimney Chim-chimney Chim-Chim Cha-ree..
Chris: (laughs) Sorry, It's just...a pirate singing show tunes.
Mel: He's a Show Pirate.

7:12 PM - Conversation Tangents, Take 2
Mel: Look! There's a Klingon on the phone up there in that window.
Foe: Are you sure it isn't Gallegher? I think I saw a sledgehammer up there...

7:35 PM - Dinner at Q-Doba
Mel: Yeah, it's kind of like a "Moe's"
Foe: I like Moe's. I always get that 'WifeBeater' burrito.

7:42 PM - Punchline Overheard without the Joke
Foe: Yeah, he's Wade's personal nemesis. Like that baby with the uni-brow on The Simpsons.

7:52 PM
Passerby: (to Berg) Hey, why you dressed like that?
Berg: Ever seen 'Pirates of the Carribbean?'
Passerby: OH! You're supposed to be a DUDE?!?

8:52 PM - The Birth of a Catch Phrase
Berg: Dude! There's a rat in my toilet! *tsk* Small Con.

The phrase "Small Con" had already been uttered many times when people commented on certain shortcomings. Then it just became an excuse for ludicrous things. Our new scapegoat phrase, to be used in company with "Damn you, Peter S. Beagle. It's all your fault!"

9:50 PM - Meet up with "SurferDude" Daniel
Daniel2: Yeah. I dressed up as a geisha for Halloween this year. It was really hard to pee in that thing!

10:10 PM - En Route to the Con Suite
Daniel: Uh oh. (fart)
Jo: Eeew!
Guy walking towards us who was 30 feet away when it happened: Dude, did Frodo just fart?
[This happened a lot over the weekend, earning Daniel the nickname "The Canadian Muffler"]

10:35 PM
It's officially a Con now. (1) Two drunken 20-something girls just made out with each other on a dare in the middle of the Con Suite, making sure not to spill their beers. (2) Another girl stood up on a table and did a striptease down to her bra. to mixed reactions from the crowd, and left the room in tears 15 minutes later.

11:02 PM - Quiz Time
Half of this hall is set up with a DJ and a disco lighting rig, the other side is the "Free Beer" Con Suite. We've got a hotel full of geeks. You tell ME which side is deserted right now, except for a drunk guy dressed as a pimp swaggering to AC/DC, and an emo kid breaking up with his girlfriend.

11:?? PM
Not sure what I was thinking, but I have a doodle here of a magician pulling a hat out of a rabbit. It was probably the Free Beer.

11:10 PM - A Discovery
On the way back to the room, across the parking lot, I find a pair of pants laying in a tree planter. There must be a story there...

11:45 PM
Berg (Dressed as Will Turner): Ooh, I wish I hadn't had all that rum!
Chris: You're a Pirate, and you say you've had too MUCH rum?
Berg: I told you, I'm not a Pirate, I'm a Blacksmith!
Foe: He's a PieSmith!

12:15 AM - A Hotel Employee Delivers a Roll-away Bed
Mel: Look! The Murphy Beds in this hotel come with a GUY!
Guy: Ahaha. Not Really. (He dashes out the door in three steps, climbing over the bed in the process.)



9:12 AM - "Ain't Dropping No Eaves"
Maddy puts her ear up to the door to the adjoining room.
Foe: Are they up over there?
Maddy: Shh. (She listens.) The lights are on in there.

9:51 AM - Story Time
Deb: My son Justin came out of the bathroom one day putting his fingers together and pulling them apart like this. I asked him what he did and he said "Momma, I put spirit gum on my fingers." So I say why'd you do that? He says "Because I have dry skin." I asked him again why he did that and he got all huffy and said "Well Momma, it SAYS right there on the bottle, 'Apply to dry skin only'."

10:11 AM - Room Service is Delivered
Foe: Did anyone order the Peter S. Bagel?

10:52 AM - Room Service Part 2
Berg, Foe, Maddy & Nadine get their breakfast brought up. Berg cues up the Star Wars "Melancholy Theme" on Maddy's laptop.
Berg: A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, The Force was strong. And it brought us...waffles. Free Waffles.

10:52 AM - Error #404
Rosie, the tech support guru, explains why we don't have wireless internet access this morning. It has something to do with IP addresses and she recommends they use "10-Dot" numbers instead, but I can't really transcribe the rest.

11:02 AM - Maddy's Upset
Maddy: I'm just a little ticked. Everybody keeps asking to [use my laptop and] get online, but the internet's DOWN!
Chris: What, the whole internet? Call Al Gore. He invented the damned thing.
Rosie: Well, what if the whole internet DID go down?
Chris: Then George W. Bush would make an Historic Tech Support call to Bill Gates' personal line. I'd pay a large sum of money to hear that.
Rosie: Yeah, "This call may be recorded for customer service..."
Chris: "--or Domestic Spying purposes."

12:48 AM - Jedi Maddy
Maddy needs some leggings to go with her Jedi outfit, so Foe decides to use the hotel pillowcases. Alas, they are too short. So the pillowcases valliantly give their life in the service of costuming, as Foe slits them longways with his knife.
Foe: [RIP] You hear that Nadine? It's the sound of the room deposit being swiped on your credit card!

Merry and Heather are dressed as Rag Dolls. Pretty well done actually, complete with seams that are showing a bit of cotton from the inside. Foe and Mel are on Hogwarts duty.

1:15 PM - Changing Sides
Melissa decides to go as Harry Potter, So she changes out her Slytherin tie and scarf for a Gryffindor set, and Nadine draws her a lightning bolt scar.
Mel: Well, this looks great! Oops, forgot something. Better get out of this skirt. If I'm playing a boy now, Harry's gone through some CHANGES!

1:27 PM
A Teenage girl passes a 9 year-old boy in a doorway.
Teenie: Oh my GAWD! Scott! I haven't seen you all weekend!!
Scott: Uh oh. (runs off the other way)

2:09 PM - Dietary Restrictions
Maddy devours a cupcake in the Con Suite.
Foe: What flavor was it?
Maddy: Good.
Foe: "Good" flavor? Really?
Maddy eats another cupcake and 2 Kosher Dill Pickles before the Con Suite staff tells her they just made some turkey sandwiches, since she couldn't eat anything else.
Foe: Damned Kosher Jedi...

2:28 PM
Two free beers into lunch, the bartender's iPod cues up "Come Sail Away" as performed by Cartman from South Park. And it just... gets... funnier... the more that we drink.

2:39 PM
Daniel: Are there balconies at the Marriott? For DragonCon?
Mel: Yeah, I guess so. Why?
Daniel: I was thinking of repelling down a floor, maybe, and surprising someone. It's not really illegal.

3:30 PM
There’s no room at the “Costuming on a Budget” panel (seats 20), so I hang out in the lecture hall next door and sit in on a panel about Carnivals in SciFi/Fantasy books. (seats 85, with 6 attendees)

3:41 PM
The Carnival panel manages to rouse me from a nap with a left-handed Lord of the Rings tie in. There’s an [http://savelibertyland.detourmemphis.com/index.html ] online petition to save the LibertyLand amusement park, and one of the oldest roller coasters in America, the “Zippin’ Pippin”

4:00 PM - ‘Jedi Mind Trick’ Practice
Panelist to Berg: Yes, do you have a question?
Berg: (Dressed as Anakin Skywalker, waves his hand at him) I don’t have any questions.
Panelist: You … Don’t… have… any questions. Ah. Moving along…

5:05 PM – Bad Dog
Chris: Hey Mel, see what that guy holding?
Mel: A dog!
Chris: Yes, but what KIND of dog?
Mel: A… Beagle?
Foe: Bingo!
Jo: Actually, that’s a Bassett hound.
Chris: Then… Damn You, Angela Bassett!!

5:12 PM – A Geek Father / Geek Son Chat
Geek Dad: Hold on! Before you take off. How am I supposed to find you again?
Geek Son: I’ll be around. Somewhere.
Geek Dad: Great. So you’re a Random Encounter. I’ll find you if I roll a Zero.

6:07 PM
We are brainstorming for a skit to put on at the Costume Masquerade tonight. The group wants to stay together, but the question is how we explain why we’re dressed as Pirates, Harry Potter, Star Wars AND Lord of the Rings characters. We were originally going to go with “Attack of the Clones” since we had three Frodos and three Eowyns, but that didn’t work. We settle on “The Real World: Chattacon:” [What happens when you put four fandoms in the same hotel for a weekend… When people stop being nice and start being real.] I write up a script on Rosie’s Laptop before we catch a bus to dinner.

7:10 – Dinner at the City CafĂ© Diner Restaurant
Jo: The way we’re seated, we look like a messed-up “Last Supper.”
Chris: Yeah. “This is my Lembas Bread, broken for you. And this is my Ent Draught….”

8:30 PM
Of course, the bus driver failed to tell us that the buses stop running at 7:30, and he was the last one out. So we start walking back to the Hotel, with Deb’s bad leg. The Diner was just slightly farther away from the hotel as the Con Suite, and that’s saying something.

9:12 PM
We’re late, but we head out to the Masquerade hall for pre-judging. On the way, we see Wade & Becky arrive, and they follow us to the theater. It’s all red velvet and padded rocking seats inside. The group goes up for close-up inspection of their costumes and we run the script a couple of times.

10:10 PM - Backstage, at the Masquerade
Guy with headset: Attention everyone! All right. Look ahead of you and see these two women here. These are your Fluffers. They will get you ready to go on.

10:23 PM – The Masquerade
  • Video of our skit: LARGE | small
  • The Transcript of the Skit (if you missed anything).

    11:00 PM – The Judges’ Verdict
    Michael Cook’s fantastic armor took Best in Show, to the surprise of no one. We got “Best Reality TV” for our “Real World – ChattaCon” skit, but it actually came with a trophy. Michael has agreed to create some artwork for us to use on the ArmsOfMiddleEarth.com website!
    We were announced second to last, so it’s like we’re runner up. That’s close enough to victory for us, so we head back to the room to celebrate. “Norrington” and “Elizabeth” join us for some Rum and Cheesy Poofs.

    11:17 PM
    I accompany Wade and "Elizabeth" on a smoke break, since I've got a key to the building.
    Wade: Dude! Chris now I know who you remind me of! Jim Davis!!
    Chris: You mean the guy who draws Garfield?
    Wade: Yeah! John! Arbuckle! The owner!
    Chris: Ah yes, the one who's a total loser and always striking out with women. You sure know how to flatter a guy.

    11:25 PM
    I return to the room to find my bottle of Rum gone. I thought it was safe, since I was out with Wade, the Rum Runner himself, but there were still pirates left in the room. I test Foe’s flagon and sure enough, you could strip paint with it. 90% Rum with a splash of Coke for color. And I have a feeling Berg was also in on it, because he’s suddenly become a giggly drunk since I left.

    In any case, the situation requires that I head over to the Con Suite to get the full value out of my registration fee. Timing is on our side, and a shuttle bus pulls up to our building, ready to ferry us over to the Con Suite. (Ever hear of a Con that required a shuttle bus to get people to the Con Suite?)

    We arrive 15 minutes later. (okay, two minutes) and are greeted by the sight of the guy dressed as the Burger King, bending over into the bushes, lifting up his plastic mask to vomit. The Mirror Queen was none too pleased with him. Inside, “Bob the Pirate” from the Masquerade was going around with a bottle of Captain Morgan Private Stock Rum the size of your head, pouring it in random people’s cups. A few sips of that stuff kicked what buzz I had going into high gear.

    Foe and I are stopped at the exit of the Con Suite, and asked to finish our beers before we leave. No problem. While we’re waiting, a drunk man with no shirt passes by. Foe and I notice he has a large tattoo covering his entire back. “Ouch!” we say. Then the guy turns around and we see that his Con Badge is pinned through his right nipple. The bouncer knew, a man who likes pain that much, you just let him take that beer wherever he wants.

    1:40 AM
    Foe, the Pirates and I return to the room, all of us three sheets to the wind from free Shiner Bock and expensive Rum. The others won’t let us in, despite our knocking, and they all enjoy seeing us all flustered and drunk outside the door.

    Becky (the future Mrs. Wade the Pirate) says “Ok, let me see, let me see!” and runs up to the peephole to look. Then she realizes that even on her tip-toes, she’s still shorter than the peephole. “And, I can’t see anything…”

    1:45 – 3:00 AM - OFF DUTY


    11:30 AM - Hair of the Dog
    Wade, Foe and Merry allegedly stayed up until 5 AM. Berg is having a hard time getting up this morning. Oddly enough, the hangover from very good rum is not so bad as one from the cheap stuff. Have to remember that.

    Berg: You know, they say the best way for getting over a makeover is…
    Chris: Makeover? How about HANGover.

    12:42 PM
    Last Lap around the dealer’s room. It’s Deal Time! Maddy picks up a pirate bandana and “Pirate” tank top, Melissa gets that sword from “The Last Samurai” at her requested discount because of the frayed handle. She drives a hard bargain.

    2:00 PM
    We postponed our goodbyes by agreeing to met at the Cracker Barrel a few exits down for a farewell lunch. We took up all the rocking chairs in front of the place, and the other guests are a bit disconcerted by the long, rippling wave of people across the entire porch. Then the waitress calls for “Beagle, Party of 14.”

    3:17 PM – Slytherin Stories
    Maddy: My dad found a really poisonous snake one time, and he beat it over the head with a board? And when he went back later to make sure it was really dead, it was GONE.
    Chris: You have to watch those snakes, because they can really hold a grudge. One day, your dad will open up his mailbox and that snake will jump out and get him – BAM! And he’ll lose that hand.
    Foe: Yeah, when he least expects it, that snake will pop out of the toaster. Cha-Chink! POW!!!

    3:40 PM
    Rosie has a plane to PA to catch, and since the food was slow, she takes most of it to go. I missed most of the big farewells because I was rearranging some baggage in the cars. But I don’t feel bad. We had a great time, and I know I’ll see everybody again soon. Heck, I’ve got the Canadian Muffler in my house for the next week.

    7:28 PM – Pit Stop at Bag End
    Maddy Berg and Nadine stop back at our house to repack the cars. Mel’s parents drop Matthew off with – joy of joys! – a bucket O’ Play-Doh! They stay for sandwiches and we watch the old Rankin-Bass animated Lord of the Rings on VHS. Everyone seems to get a kick out of Matthew’s energy. He puts all of us to work, rolling the Play-Doh into balls to make clay “Snowmen”.

    After teaching Matthew everybody’s name, she points to herself: Who's this?
    Matthew: That's Maddy!
    Maddy: (points to Berg) And who is THAT?
    Matthew: That’s BOOGER!!!


    As I’m writing this: wrap your mind around this communication fubar:
    I am on Yahoo Messenger with Melissa’s ID, because Rosie can’t see mine. But I’m invisible because I’m typing up the report. Rosie is sending me the 30MB video of the masquerade skit. Meanwhile, Melissa is on Daniel’s computer talking to Foe, who is relaying info to Dustin, who is on AIM, while she is holding a conversation with Nadine. And Daniel is talking to Jo using our home phone. Got all that?

    See The Pictures
  • January 23, 2006

    Sleepy Time Down South

    I've just returned from a 3-day convention filled with drinking, late-night parties and running around, and I'm now working from home.

    I have a son who is currently napping in his room, a wife who is currently napping in her room, and a French-speaking Canadian napping on the futon. It's been raining all day and I have yet to see the sun.

    The Couch... the couch is calling to me. "Come ON... slack off for a bit... you're a good worker. Just rest your eyelids for a few minutes. You can make it up in Flex-Time."

    No, I must be strong. I'll only slack a little. Just enough to write about this.

    Update: It's even scientifically proven that this is the worst day of 2006. Although, calling it this early is like those movie previews that claim it's "The Biggest Hit of the Year" when it's only 2 weeks into January.

    For Berg

    Before I even start transcribing my trip report to Chattacon, I just had to make this for Berg, our resident Anakin/Will Turner/Legolas.

    (Now available in JPG and LJ-friendly GIF formats)

    January 19, 2006

    LinkNews Digest [01/19/2006]

    Chuck Norris Update

    Mr. Norris respons to "The Facts" on his site, and plugs his book:
    I'm aware of the made up declarations about me that have recently begun to appear on the Internet and in emails as "Chuck Norris facts." I've seen some of them. Some are funny. Some are pretty far out. Being more a student of the Wild West than the wild world of the Internet, I'm not quite sure what to make of it. It's quite surprising. I do know that boys will be boys, and I neither take offense nor take these things too seriously. Who knows, maybe these made up one-liners will prompt young people to seek out the real facts as found in my recent autobiographical book, "Against All Odds?" They may even be interested enough to check out my novels set in the Old West, "The Justice Riders," released this month. I'm very proud of these literary efforts.
    ~ Chuck Norris

    Also, we have A Bad Video of Tony Danza reading "Chuck Norris Facts" to Mr. Norris

    Man Jailed for Hitman Non-Performance

    A 53-year-old woman was so depressed and desperate to end her life that she agreed to pay a friend to arrange for a hitman to kill her, a court heard. Christine Ryder ended up handing over a total of £20,000 to Kevin Reeves after he agreed to murder her himself.

    But Reeves, 40, of Saltings Road, Snodland, near Rochester, failed to keep his side of the bargain and she shopped him to the police. Now he has been jailed for 15 months after being convicted of deception.

    A judge told the married father: "While it is clear you had no intention of arranging for someone to kill Mrs Ryder and didn’t propose to yourself, you deceived her into believing it would happen."
    Mrs Ryder gave Reeves a cheque for the amount and it was paid into his account. He told her she would be killed in a drive-by shooting on June 11 2003. But shortly before, he telephoned her and cancelled it. "He later said he had to kill the hitman and the money had gone to his widow," said the prosecutor. "Mrs Ryder was desperate to end her life, so she asked Mr Reeves if he himself would kill her.

    "He agreed but said it would cost £10,000. She gave him a cheque but there was no further contact for some time. When he eventually contacted her, he said the money had been taken by his bank because he was a bankrupt.(LINK )

    Stephen King's "The Dark Half" Becomes Reality

    A 35-year-old tractor operator, Igor Namyatov, has undergone surgery to be relieved of what had initially been diagnosed as a tumor, but turned out to be the embryo of his unborn twin brother, the Komsomolskaya Pravda daily reported Monday.

    Doctors said the embryo belonged to Namyatov’s unborn brother who had spent 35 years in the body of the patient. The "little brother" first made himself known when Igor was 15. At that time the boy complained about pains in his back, but doctors played down his complaints saying it was only a harmless fatty tumor.

    Twenty years later the pains came back. The doctors decided to operate at once. They were genuinely surprised to see that the tumor was in fact an embryo with little legs and hands.
    And the caring, fostering community that he came from expressed their... disappointment?
    Namyatov’s fellow villagers doubted the explanation given by the doctors. Some even surmised the object removed from Namyatov’s body was an extraterrestrial organism. "It is a pity they have removed it. They should have waited to see what would become of it later on. That would have been a great scientific find," one of the villagers said. (LINK )

    NoDuh Research: "TV in the Bedroom Decreases Libido

    A study by an Italian sexologist has found that couples who have a TV set in their bedroom have sex half as often as those who don't.
    "If there's no television in the bedroom, the frequency (of sexual intercourse) doubles," said Serenella Salomoni whose team of psychologists questioned 523 Italian couples to see what effect television had on their sex lives.

    On average, Italians who live without TV in the bedroom have sex twice a week, or eight times a month. This drops to an average of four times a month for those with a TV, the study found.For the over-50s the effect is even more marked, with the average of seven couplings a month falling to just 1.5 times.
    (LINK )
    Just in time for this study's publication, a company called Hypnos has released "The Ultimate TV Bed", A bed frame with a flat Panel TV that pops up right out of the footboard! Now you don't even need to get out of bed to get the remote! I wouldn't call it "Ultimate" though, until they eliminate ANY need to get your ass out of bed, by working in a chamberpot system and a mini-fridge.

    Volkswagen Concept "Motorcycle"

    "Three wheels, two seats, and off you go in the carpool lane"

    Just premiered at the Los Angeles Auto Show. Classified as a motorcycle, this peculiar little two-seater has two wheels in the front a one in the back. Combining the efficiency and pep of a motorcycle with the stability of a small car, the GX3 could be a great personal mobility option. VW claims it can get 46 mpg in the city, and can do 0-60 mph in 5.7 seconds. Yes, it is a concept car, but VW claims they are seriously considering production if customer interest is sufficient. They would go for about $17,000 or less. Yes, you would need your motorcycle license; yes, you would need to wear a helmet; and yes, you could drive in the carpool lane. (LINK )

    Satanist Runs for Minnesota Governor

    Minnesota gubernatorial candidate Jonathan Sharkey prefers to be known as "the Impaler". Like other politicians, he worships Satan, but Sharkey "doesn't hide his dark side." He claims to speak for the "Vampyres, Witches and Pagans," political party, and most likely does so in a scary-monster voice. He promises that if he's elected, he will impale terrorists on pikes.

    Of all the photos on Mr. Sharkey's candicacy website, this is my favorite. The sword says "forceful," the white home siding and unkempt grass says "America," and the long hair and Celtic batik wrap say "Rock and Roll, hoochie coo." That's my kind of overlord. Oh, and happy Friday the Thirteenth! (LINK via BoingBoing.net )
    I guess he figured that after a professional Wrestler, the state was ready for anything.

    January 17, 2006

    Yeah I want some Cheesy Poofs!

    Like any child does, Matthew developed a taste for cheap cheese curls. And Melissa and I, pop culture addicts that we are, told him they were called "Cheesy Poofs".

    What we failed to realize is that a 4 year-old can't properly say "Cheesy Poofs", and instead, mangles it into "Jesus Poops". And hearing your kid ask you for some "Jesus Poops" to go with his PB&J... is rather disconcerting.

    We're trying to de-program him over the next month.

    January 16, 2006

    Peter S. Beagle - Part 2

    You know that post about our new absurd saying, "Damn you Peter S. Beagle, It's all your fault" complete with my LiveJournal icons? Well, if you look at the comments, Mr. Beagle himself and his agent apaprently found this post in short order. I removed Mr. Beagle's email address, but we DID verify that it was actually him. He said:
    "I don't even KNOW "Arrested Development," and I think it's funny. I think I'm honored..."

    This is so weird, it just HAS to be my life.

    So here's the explanation we sent him back:

    There is a LONG story to this. This all stems from DragonCon when we were standing outside your panel. We were waiting for the next panel to start and someone from our group (Arms of Middle Earth) asked what the hold up was. Another member pointed out that it was your panel that was still going. So naturally our member said "Its all Peter S. Beagle's fault". So occasionally when something goes haywire a member of the group will make this statement. It is all in good natured teasing.

    So now comes the creation of the icon. Our group's website was hacked into the other week. After spending a week trying to find the culprits, the member from DragonCon once again decided it would be funny to revive the old saying, and claim it was all your fault.

    Some of us are also big fans of the TV show Arrested Development. Gob (pronounced with a soft G), one of the show's characters always comes to conclusions that are so far from the truth that they are funny. So we put two and two together and there you have it. Your name with that character's picture.

    Yes, please take it as a compliment. Normally when one of our members says it we cue up music from "The Last Unicorn". Most of us grew up with your stories and continue to enjoy them to this day.

    If you do change your mind and dont find this funny anymore then please let us know. We will take it off and Blame Gollum
    He is apparently satisfiesd with this, and replied:
    Don't fret about it, guys - I certainly didn't. It did make me imagine myself as a melodramatic international villain, which I've always wanted to be, because they get all the best lines. Even without knowing Arrested Development, I really did crack up; it brightened my morning more than I'm ever likely to tell you.

    Anyway, as the Scots are always saying, "Dinna fash ye'ersel'." Leave the line where it is, and I'll see you in Atlanta.

    Best regards,
    Again, so weird that it HAS to be my life.

    "And that's.... The REST of the story."

    January 13, 2006

    "Damn you, Peter S. Beagle!"

    "Damn You, Peter S. Beagle!! It's all your fault. "

    One friend started this silly phrase, and another put it in the voice of Gob the Magician from Arrested Development. And it's suddenly caught on in the chats. So here's my little Gift to my LiveJournal friends:

    Thing is, I actually LIKE Peter S. Beagle's work, notably "The Last Unicorn". (Even though the soundtrack by AMERICA gives me the urge to put a gun in my mouth. So sorry, Mr. Beagle, should we ever meet, it was just a bit of fun.

    LinkNews Digest [01/13/2006]

    Green Eggs and Ham? Halfway there!

    Scientists in Taiwan say they have bred three pigs that glow in the dark.

    The pigs are transgenic, created by adding genetic material from jellyfish into a normal pig embryo. The researchers, from National Taiwan University's Department of Animal Science and Technology, say that although the pigs glow, they are otherwise no different from any others.

    Taiwan is not claiming a world first, [but] They are the only ones that are green from the inside out. Even their heart and internal organs are green, they say. (LINK )
    Now all we need is some green eggs. But for that, we need some green chickens, and since green chickens come from green eggs....

    In addition to helping advance gene research (Green Genes as well), this is a windfall for the Special Effects department for Pink Floyd concerts. "Imagine it," Says pyrotechnician Clive Wenslydale, "a 60-foot, flourescent green pig coming out during 'Comfortably Numb'... that would be some SERIOUS S**T, man."

    Levis to Make iPod Jeans

    The new Levi's RedWire DLX jeans have been developed to be practical and leading-edge in their aesthetic. A crisp white leather patch and joystick, bluffed back pockets with hidden stitching, and clean minimalist buttons and rivets allude to the iPod's famously pure design. Special care has been taken to marry the physical design with a great-fitting jean.

    Design features include:
    - Easy Pocket Storage -- An iPod docking cradle is built into the jeans and is "invisibly" housed within a side pocket. The Levi's design team took special care to ensure the iPod unit remains neatly and securely stored in the jean, while the iPod "bump" in the pocket is virtually eliminated. The cradle is equipped with sophisticated technology housed in a red conductive ribbon that allows users to quickly and easily remove their iPod from the pocket to view its screen while staying connected. The jean is machine washable once the iPod is removed.
    - "Hip" Controls -- A special joystick remote control is externally designed into the jeans' watch pocket to enable operation of the iPod. Four-way controls allow the wearer to easily play/pause, track forward, track back and adjust the volume control without ever removing the iPod from the pocket.
    - Handy Wire Retractor -- A handy retractable headphone unit has been built directly into the jean to help prevent tangles and efficiently manage the iPod earphone wires.
    (LINK via Digg.com )

    For "Earwax Boy": Super-Soaker

    A 45-year-old male complained of a profound reduction in his left ear acuity while staying at an island cottage in rural Ontario. His hearing loss was reducing his ability to hear his newborn son cry in the middle of the night, requiring his wife to carry out all late-night child care. As a result, correction of the problem was considered urgent.

    D.K. (a family and emergency physician) assessed the utility of the Super Soaker Max-D 5000. He was surprised to note that it was able to deliver a superbly pressured narrow stream of water equivalent to, or perhaps exceeding, the quality of that achieved with standard ear-syringing instruments. The owner of the Super Soaker Max-D 5000 was sought out; after hearing an explanation of its intended application, he granted permission for its use.
    Verbal consent (covering risks and benefits) was obtained from the patient. He then changed into swimming shorts, located himself on an ideal location on the deck and held a Tupperware container (product number 1611-16) to the side of his neck, in lieu of a kidney basin. The Super Soaker Max-D 5000 was filled with body-temperature water and then mildly pressurized using the blue hand-pump. The trigger was depressed, releasing a gentle, narrow jet of water, which was then aimed along the posterior wall of the ear canal (Fig. 1). After approximately 15 seconds, the jet was aimed along the anterior wall. This cycle was repeated (with occasional repressurizing) until the Super Soaker was empty.

    Midway through the second load's stream, wax particles began to run out of the ear. Just after starting the third load, a large plug of wax burst forth from the patient's ear. The 3 generations of family members present took turns admiring (or recoiling from) the specimen. The patient exclaimed in joy, "I can hear again!"


      Acknowledgements: The authors would like to particularly thank Mr. Charlie Bannister, age 4, for his gracious loan of his Super Soaker Max-D 5000 for this pressing clinical and social need.
    (LINK )

    Denzel Washington in "Mouse on Fire"

    FORT SUMNER, N.M. - A mouse got its revenge against a homeowner who tried to dispose of it in a pile of burning leaves. The blazing creature ran back to the man's house and set it on fire.

    Luciano Mares, 81, of Fort Sumner said he caught the mouse inside his house and wanted to get rid of it. "I had some leaves burning outside, so I threw it in the fire, and the mouse was on fire and ran back at the house," Mares said from a motel room Saturday.

    Village Fire Chief Juan Chavez said the burning mouse ran to just beneath a window, and the flames spread up from there and throughout the house. No was hurt inside, but the home and everything in it was destroyed. (LINK )

    UPDATE:There is some speculation on whether this is a hoax or not

    RIP Digisette

    Alas, My first ever MP3 player has finally bit the big one. In it's time, the DigiSette was a revolutionary piece of hardware. Forget a tape adapter, the player *IS* the tape adapter!!

    It had a good run, but as more and more cars switched to CD players as standard, and when 64MB of storage was no longer even CLOSE to enough space, it faded into obscurity. Rest in Peace, old friend.

    Email from my Brother

    Rob: Had a dream involving you, so I wanted to warn you -do NOT try to rescue any hostages or kidnapees by yourself - it will turn out badly.

    Me: Um. Thanks. I'll make a note of it. I'll have to call Tom Clancy and cancel our weekend camping trip then.

    Rob: Also, if you ignore my advice and do try, just remember, make your move BEFORE they get the mom and doughter hostage in the car - its over once they're in the car.

    BTW, glad you enjoyed the Chuck Norris info. You can never know too much about Chuck.

    January 12, 2006

    When the Lord Calls Us... Take A Message

    Our church had our annual Parish Dinner, where we all get snockered on table wine, gorge ourselves at a buffet and THEN discuss church business. One of the items up for business was the election of three members to the Vestry (a lay or "civilian" council for the church), and I was one of the candidates.

    I was perplexed when I was nominated, since I'm probably the second-youngest guy at that church that is old enough to shave. But I figured that it wouldn't hurt, and if I could help out the church during this difficult time (our pastor is retiring tonight and we have to look for a new one), I would do it.

    I was up for the position, along with my choir cohort, Lindsey. Neither of us made it, and both of us were relieved. She's a busy mother with four boys at home, and this would have been a stretch for her. She would have been a good Vestry person though, she has no TIME for political B.S. and will tell you EXACTLY what she thinks.

    January 10, 2006

    FWD:Chuck Norris

    My brother sent me this Email forward. I hadn't actually LAUGHED at one for a long time, so here it is

    Chuck Norris Facts

    Chuck Norris does not sleep. He waits.

    Chuck Norris is currently suing NBC, claiming Law and Order are trademarked names for his left and right legs.

    The chief export of Chuck Norris is pain.

    If you can see Chuck Norris, he can see you. If you can't see Chuck Norris, you may be only seconds away from death.

    Chuck Norris has counted to infinity. Twice.

    Chuck Norris does not hunt because the word hunting implies the probability of failure. Chuck Norris goes killing.

    Chuck Norris doesnt wash his clothes, he disembowels them.

    Chuck Norris is 1/8th Cherokee. This has nothing to do with ancestry, the man ate a fucking Indian.

    In fine print on the last page of the Guinness Book of World Records it notes that all world records are held by Chuck Norris, and those listed in the book are simply the closest anyone else has ever gotten.

    Chuck Norris once roundhouse kicked someone so hard that his foot broke the speed of light, went back in time, and killed Amelia Earhart while she was flying over the Pacific Ocean.

    Crop circles are Chuck Norris' way of telling the world that sometimes corn needs to lie the fuck down.

    Chuck Norris is ten feet tall, weighs two-tons, breathes fire, and could eat a hammer and take a shotgun blast standing.

    If you ask Chuck Norris what time it is, he always says, "Two seconds 'til." After you ask, "Two seconds 'til what?" he roundhouse kicks you in the face.

    Chuck Norris sold his soul to the devil for his rugged good looks and unparalleled martial arts ability. Shortly after the transaction was finalized, Chuck roundhouse-kicked the devil in the face and took his soul back. The devil, who appreciates irony, couldn't stay mad and admitted he should have seen it coming. They now play poker every second Wednesday of the month.

    There is no theory of evolution, just a list of creatures Chuck Norris allows to live.

    Chuck Norris is the only man to ever defeat a brick wall in a game of tennis.

    Chuck Norris doesn't churn butter. He roundhouse kicks the cows and the butter comes straight out.

    When Chuck Norris sends in his taxes, he sends blank forms and includes only a picture of himself, crouched and ready to attack. Chuck Norris has not had to pay taxes ever.

    The quickest way to a man's heart is with Chuck Norris' fist.

    A Handicap parking sign does not signify that this spot is for handicapped people. It is actually in fact a warning, that the spot belongs to Chuck Norris and that you will be handicapped if you park there.

    The opening scene of the movie "Saving Private Ryan" is loosely based on games of dodgeball Chuck Norris played in second grade.

    Chuck Norris once bet NASA he could survive re-entry without a spacesuit. On July 19th, 1999, a naked Chuck Norris re-entered the earth's atmosphere, streaking over 14 states and reaching a temperature of 3000 degrees. An embarrassed NASA publically claimed it was a meteor, and still owes him a beer.

    Chuck Norris once ate a whole cake before his friends could tell him there was a stripper in it.

    Chuck Norris has two speeds: Walk and Kill.

    Someone once tried to tell Chuck Norris that roundhouse kicks aren't the best way to kick someone. This has been recorded by historians as the worst mistake anyone has ever made.

    Chuck Norris is not hung like a horse... horses are hung like Chuck Norris

    If Chuck Norris is late, time better slow the fuck down.

    In an average living room there are 1,242 objects Chuck Norris could use to kill you, including the room itself.

    There are no weapons of mass destruction. Just Chuck Norris.

    Chuck Norris built a time machine and went back in time to stop the JFK assassination. As Oswald shot, Chuck met all three bullets with his beard, deflecting them. JFK's head exploded out of sheer amazement.

    Chuck Norris doesn't read books. He stares them down until he gets the information he wants.

    There is no chin behind Chuck Norris' beard. There is only another fist.

    January 09, 2006

    Hostel Apostle

    Ends up the ArmsOfMiddleEarth.com site was hacked into a few days ago. Most of the files were deleted, but luckily I had almost the entire site backed up. It's back now with a festive "Pirate" theme to the header to celebrate our first hacking. You aren't a big web site until someone hacks you!

    In Other News: Last month, when Melissa and I watched a commercial for a horror movie called "Hostel", she said "Wow, I have absolutely no interest in seeing that." I said "That would be a cool movie to go and see with Justin!"

    So I went out and caught HOSTEL in the theater with Justin yesterday. A creepy movie done very right. A good amount of gore, but most of it was implied rather than outright. A lot of tension built up as the audience sees where the film is headed slightly before the unlucky protagonists... and of course, gratuitous nudity and sex scenes. In fact, it's kind of like "Euro Trip" as done by Quentin Tarantino. The violence is compared to "SAW" a lot, but Hostel doesn't use as any cheap "gritty" video editing to instill the sense of fear, that comes from the subject matter. An Honest, creepy horror movie that could be real. No supernatural killers who you think are dead 25 times, but a chilling possibility that a place like this actually exists in today's world.

    January 06, 2006

    LinkNews Digest [01/06/2006]

    Cat OK After SUV Undercarriage Ride

    VOORHEES, N.J. - Curiosity didn't kill one cat on a wild ride on the New Jersey Turnpike. The kitten, now known, for obvious reasons, as Miracle, hitchhiked a ride on the underbelly of a sport utility vehicle just before Christmas.

    Dixon-Aquino said the cat probably climbed into the guts of the SUV in Newark and was asleep when the journey began. Somehow, the cat avoided being mangled by fan blades and other moving parts as he clung to the car for the ride.

    The kitty, estimated to be about 8 or 9 months old, was not unscathed, though. "He was pretty freaked out," Dixon-Aquino said. "His paws were burnt, one claw was missing and his fur was singed." (LINK )

    Cubans Behind Kennedy Assassination?

    Wilfried Huismann spent three years researching "Rendezvous with Death," based on interviews with former Cuban secret agents, U.S. officials and a Russian intelligence source, and on research in Mexican security archives.

    The film, shown to journalists in Berlin on Wednesday, says Oswald traveled to Mexico City by bus in September 1963, seven weeks before the Kennedy shooting, and met agents at the Cuban embassy there who paid him $6,500.

    Oscar Marino, a former Cuban agent and a key source for the documentary, told Huismann that Oswald himself had volunteered for the assassination mission and Havana had exploited him.

    Laurence Keenan, an officer of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) who was sent to Mexico City immediately after Kennedy's death to investigate a possible Cuban connection, said he was recalled after just three days and the probe was aborted.

    Keenan, 81, said he was convinced Kennedy's successor, Lyndon Johnson, blocked further investigation because proof of a Cuban link would put him under irresistible pressure to invade the island, a year after the Cuban missile crisis had brought the United States and Soviet Union to the brink of nuclear war. (LINK )

    Letterman Loses it on O'Reilly

    O’Reilly: This is important, this is important. Cindy Sheehan lost a son, a professional soldier in Iraq, correct? She has a right to grieve any way she wants, she has a right to say whatever she wants. When she says to the public that the insurgents and terrorists are 'freedom fighters,’ how do you think, David Letterman, that makes people who lost loved ones, by these people blowing the Hell out of them, how do you think they feel, waht about their feelings, sir?

    Letterman: What about, why are we there in the first place? The President himself, less than a month ago said we are there because of a mistake made in intelligence. Well, whose intelligence? It was just somebody just get off a bus and handed it to him?

    Bill O’Reilly: No.

    Letterman: No, it was the intelligence gathered by his administration.

    O’Reilly: By the CIA.

    Letterman: Yeah, so why are we there in the first place? I agree to you, with you that we have to support the troops. They are there, they are the best and the brightest of this country. [audience applause] There’s no doubt about that. And I also agree that now we’re in it it’s going to take a long, long time. People who expect it’s going to be solved and wrapped up in a couple of years, unrealistic, it’s not going to happen. However, however, that does not eliminate the legitimate speculation and concern and questioning of ‘Why the Hell are we there to begin with?’

    O’Reilly: If you want to question that, and then revamp an intelligence agency that’s obviously flawed, the CIA, okay. But remember, MI-6 in Britain said the same thing. Putin’s people in Russia said the same thing, and so did Mubarak’s intelligence agency in Egypt.

    Letterman: Well then that makes it all right?

    O’Reilly: No it doesn’t make it right.

    Letterman: That intelligence agencies across the board makes it alright that we’re there?

    O’Reilly: It doesn’t make it right.

    Letterman: See, I’m very concerned about people like yourself who don’t have nothing but endless sympathy for a woman like Cindy Sheehan. Honest to Christ.

    O’Reilly: No way. [waits for applause to die down] No way you’re going to get me, no way that a terrorist who blows up women and children.

    Letterman: Do you have children?

    O’Reilly: Yes I do. I have a son the same age as yours. No way a terrorist who blows up women and children is going to be called a ‘freedom fighter’ on my program.

    Letterman: I’m not smart enough to debate you point to point on this, but I have the feeling, I have the feeling about 60 percent of what you say is crap. But I don’t know that for a fact. (LINK )

    January 05, 2006

    2005 Holiday Wrap-Up

    We took a break from everything this Christmas. Even Blogging. My new toy DID add to the factors keeping me from going out.

    Melissa got me the "X-Rocker", an on-the floor rocking gaming seat with built in speakers and subwoofer. *Grunt Grunt OOOh aaah Ahhhh!* Niiiiiice. Blaring the rock and crash noises in "Burnout Revenge" really raises the pulse rate, and hearing the zombies BEHIND ME in "Resident Evil 4" makes it all the creepier. Me Likey long time.

    Since Melissa and I are in the church choir, Christmas eve meant Midnight Mass. We got there at 9, had a half-hour music concert, then service until after midnight. We went to get Matthew from the nursery, and every kid in there was passed out from exhaustion and the late hour...except him. He sang "Jingle Bells" all the way back home. We tucked him in bed at 12:45, and I headed downstairs. This was the first year I had "Some Assembly Required" duty, and it won't be the last, I'm sure. Ron and I had the Train table together by 2 AM.

    Christmas was a flurry of paper and gifts, but it was amazing to see Matthew's face light up. He is now fully into the holiday. And what DID people do before the introduction of the AMAZON.COM WishList??? I got ALL stuff I wanted this year, and my Parents and In-Laws shopped off Amazon.com exclusively. I had a bad turn of events for Mel's gifts though. One was a Pre-Order iPod accessory that was due in December and STILL hasn't been released yet, and the other was a Costume that didn't quite fit, and I had to send it back to Japan. So Melissa wins this year for best gift, by no fault of my own.