2003.12.31 All the news that fits, we'll print

Written by David Green.


Lots of interesting news failed to make it to these pages this year. Let’s look at some of the best before we call an end to 2003...

The demise of the Concorde passenger jet was sad news, but the rich and famous enjoyed the last flight, then looted the plane, according to wire service reports.

Passengers aboard the final British Airways flight, from New York to London, include supermodel Christie Brinkley, actress Joan Collins and television personality David Frost. Cuisine included caviar, lobster, smoked salmon and lobster cakes which Frost, who is believed to have been the plane’s most frequent flier, declared to be “outstanding.”

An array of souvenirs were distributed to passengers on the final flight, but that apparently wasn’t enough. Reports described a “frenzy of looting as people stuffed their bags with monogrammed cashmere in-flight blankets and silverware.” Other passengers allegedly stripped the aircraft of armrests and even one of the toilet seats. No word on whether Frost tried to make off with the leftover lobster cakes.

A happier landing was had by a San Francisco chicken, which went for an unscheduled flight when a prankster attached the hapless bird to 100 helium balloons and set her aloft. Police sharpshooters gradually popped balloons with a pellet gun, eventually dropping the hen down to waiting rescuers. The director of the animal shelter the bird was taken to reported several hundred animal lovers volunteered to adopt the chicken.

Animal lovers in south Florida with money to burn are making possible the proliferation of at least ten doggie “day camps,” according to The Week. For $750 a month, doggie campers “socialize on playgrounds, play games with human counselors, and eat gourmet food.” At a additional cost, some camps offer transportation in an air-conditioned bus, with your pet strapped into a seat belt, riding side-by-side with other canine campers.

And, if you still have money left over, how about buying the dog a life-size NBA player made of Legos? Available for only $40,000 each, professional Lego artists will replicate the basketball star of your choice in plastic blocks and dress it in an authentic uniform. From a distance, they look pretty good, but up close, the plastic blocks give a strange look to the athlete’s complexion.

Then there are the scientists with not enough to do. A study at Georgetown University has determined that some caterpillars are especially adept at waste removal. The skipper caterpillar has the ability to “ballistically eject Grape-Nut sized pellets of excrement, called frass, over long distances.” Studies have shown that the older the caterpillar, the farther it can toss the frass.

One caterpillar was observed to fling a pellet 60 inches, which Georgetown evolutionary fecologist Martha Weiss says is “the equivalent of a 76-yard field goal in football.” Detroit Lions please note.

Tasteless ad of the year honors should go to a Holland, Mich., Ford dealership which ran a “Johnny Cash Memorial Sale” the week after the singer’s passing, advertising “In tribute to Johnny Cash, all black vehicles on sale.” Each featured vehicle’s description mentioned a Cash song title, such as the 2000 Ford Focus, which was called “a perfect car if you are A Boy Named Sue.”

The survivors of a New Mexico man are suing a Catholic priest who told mourners at his funeral that the deceased was going to hell. Ben Martinez’s family says he didn’t attend Mass regularly the last year of his life (he suffered from emphysema) and Rev. Scott Mansfield was upset about it.

Mansfield told mourners that Martinez was “lukewarm in his faith” and “the Lord vomited people like Ben out of his mouth to Hell.” That’s kind of a scary picture, the more I think about it. I can’t really blame them for suing.

Let’s try and end this on a happy note. We may not be millionaires, but now we can drink like one. Donald Trump’s  “Trump Ice” bottled water is now ready for retail purchase. Once available only at Trump’s casinos, the water, featuring a likeness of The Donald on the label, comes from a spring in Laurel Run, Penn.

Finally, something suitable to drink with those McDonald’s hamburgers Trump was advertising last year. What a shame that it’s too late to serve it on the Concorde. I’m sure the high-flying looters would have loved it.

     – Dec. 31. 2003
  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.base Ball
    UMPIRE Thomas Henthorn tosses the bat between team captains Mikayla Price and Chuck Piskoti of Flint’s Lumber City Base Ball Club. Following the 1860 rules, after the bat was grabbed by the captains, captains’ hands advanced to the top of the bat—one hand on top of the other. The captain whose hand ended up on top decided who would bat first. Additional photos of Sunday’s game appear on page 12 of this week’s Observer. The contest was organized in conjunction with Stair District Library’s Hometown Teams exhibit that runs through Nov. 20.
  • Front.chat
    VALUE OF ATHLETICS—Morenci graduate John Bancroft (center) takes a turn at the microphone during a chat session at the opening of the Hometown Teams exhibit at Stair District Library. Clockwise to his left is John Dillon, Jed Hall, Jim Bauer, Joe Farquhar, George Hollstein, George Vereecke and Mike McDowell. Thomas Henthorn (at the podium) kicked off the conversation. Henthorn, a University of Michigan–Flint professor, will return to Morenci this Sunday to lead a game of vintage base ball at the school softball field.
  • Front.cross
    HUDSON RUNNER Jacob Morgan looks toward the top of the hill with dismay during the tough finish at Harrison Lake State Park. Fayette runner Jacob Garrow focuses on the summit, also, during the Eagle Invitational cross country run Saturday morning. Continuing rain and drizzle made the course even more challenging. Results of the race are in this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.
  • Front.crossing
    Crossing over—Jim Heiney was given a U.S. flag to carry by George Vereecke (behind Jim in the hat), turning him into the leader of the parade. Bridge Walk participants cross over Bean Creek while, in the background, members of the Morenci Legion Riders cross the main traffic bridge on East Street South. Additional photos appear on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.hose Testing
    HOSE safety—The FireCatt hose testing company from Troy put Morenci Fire Department hose to the test Monday morning when Mill Street was closed to traffic. The company also checks nozzles and ladders for wear in an effort to keep fire fighters safe while on calls.

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