2003.12.31 All the news that fits, we'll print

Written by David Green.

BY RICH FOLEY

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.nok Hok
    GAMES DAY—Finn Molitierno (right) celebrates a goal during a game of Nok Hockey with his sister, Kyla. The two tried out a variety of games Saturday at Stair District Library’s annual International Games Day event. One of the activities featured a sort of scavenger hunt in which participants had to locate facts presented in the Smithsonian Hometown Teams exhibit. The traveling show left Morenci’s library Tuesday, wrapping up a series of programs that began Oct. 2. Additional photos are on page 7.
  • Station.2
    STRANGE STUFF—Morenci Elementary School students learn that blue isn’t really blue when seen through the right color of lens. Volunteer April Pike presents the lesson to students at one of the many stations brought to the school by the COSI science center. The theme of this year’s visit was the solar system.
  • Front.leaves
    MAPLE leaves show their fall colors in a puddle at Morenci’s Riverside Natural Area. “This was a great year for colors,” said local weather watcher George Isobar. Chilly mornings will give way to seasonable fall temperatures for the next two weeks.
  • Front.band
    MORENCI Marching Band member Brittany Dennis keeps the beat Friday during the half-time show of the Morenci/Pittsford football game. Color guard member Jordan Cordts is at the left. The band performed this season under the direction of Doyle Rodenbeck who served as Morenci’s band director in the 1970s. He’s serving as a substitute during a family leave.
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.
  • 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.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.

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