When the flu hits, it hits hard and fast.
Monday, October 30, 2006
Thursday, October 26, 2006
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
Sometimes, the wrong guy gets
`Deputy Shaq' part of botched Va. raid
By TRAVIS REED, Associated Press WriterWed Oct 25, 11:50 AM ET
Shaquille O'Neal was present during a botched child pornography raid last month while working in Virginia as a reserve sheriff's deputy, a Bedford County Sheriff's officer said.
The Miami Heat center, who pursues his interest in law enforcement during the offseason, denied Tuesday taking part in serving the search warrant at the wrong house Sept. 23. However, Bedford County Sheriff's Lt. Michael Harmony confirmed to The Associated Press that O'Neal was there.
O'Neal, in Orlando to play a preseason game Tuesday, was asked about the raid and several times somewhat playfully responded, "It wasn't me."
The 13-time All-Star has expressed an interest in becoming a Bedford deputy or sheriff somewhere else after his NBA career ends. He also works as a firearms-certified reserve police officer in Miami Beach.
"Of course, being sheriff is a seasoned political position, so we're not going to be out there knocking down the wrong doors," he said. "We just have to do the right thing."
A.J. Nuckols, who said his family has filed formal complaints, wrote in a letter published in the Chatham Star-Tribune that the raid at his Gretna, Va., home scared him and his family "beyond description."
He described being "held at gunpoint, taunted and led into the house," and said the home was ransacked by a "paramilitary search-and-seizure team" that took computers, cameras, DVDs and VHS tapes.
Nuckols said in a phone interview that he heard O'Neal was at his home, but didn't specifically see the 7-foot-1, 325-pound All-Star in all the commotion.
Authorities later realized they had been given the wrong IP address, which Internet service providers can use to identify users, leading them to the wrong physical address, Harmony said. It was the Internet company's mistake, he said.
Harmony said the sheriff's office apologized, but Nuckols mischaracterized the incident. Harmony said officers were wearing bulletproof vests and may have been in dark or camouflaged clothing, but were not carrying assault rifles or wearing helmets.
He said the sheriff's office conducted a successful search on the correct home Friday, finding child pornography and securing a statement from a man saying he knowingly distributed it.
The Bedford Sheriff's Office enlisted O'Neal to be the spokesman and public face of its anti-child pornography and child predator campaign, making him a deputy last year.
Harmony said O'Neal had been on previous search warrant executions.
There's something that bothers me about this story.
Nuckols said in a phone interview that he heard O'Neal was at his home, but didn't specifically see the 7-foot-1, 325-pound All-Star in all the commotion.
How can you possibly MISS him?! He's Shaq! And, in my mind, dressed as Kazaam.
This just further proves my theory that nothing is more humiliating than getting busted by Shaq.
"You been warned! Now give up the kiddie porn! Ka-ZAAM!"
Posted by Benari at 4:25 PM
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
Actual conversation I had today:
DK: It's what, two weeks until the mid-term elections?
Me: 15's the magic number for the Democrats.
DK: This is the year, this could be the turning point.
Me: I wonder if there's a way the Republicans lose, but don't give up control of the House.
DK: As opposed to just stealing it?
Me: If I were Karl Rove, I'd just fix the machines so that the Democrats win, then cry election fraud. Contest the results. They'd know the machines were rigged - they rigged them! Make every Democratic win look illegitimate.
DK: Hillary Clinton - 100% of the vote.
Me: Choose like 6 of the closest races, then rig it so every Democrat wins in a landslide. Refuse to give up the seats because the system is broken.
DK: Minnesota. The Muslim candidate. "They've infiltrated all levels of government."
DK: This is fun.
Me: Not in two weeks.
DK: When it happens for real.
Posted by Benari at 8:20 PM
Anyone know where I can snag some bootleg copies of this show?
From the NY Times:
Nearly every night here for the past month, Iraqis weary of the tumult around them have been turning on the television to watch a wacky-looking man with a giant Afro wig and star-shaped glasses deliver the grim news of the day.
In a recent episode, the host, Saad Khalifa, reported that Iraq’s Ministry of Water and Sewage had decided to change its name to simply the Ministry of Sewage — because it had given up on the water part.
In another episode, he jubilantly declared that “Rums bin Feld” had announced American troops were leaving the country on 1/1, in other words, on Jan. 1. His face crumpled when he realized he had made a mistake. The troops were not actually departing on any specific date, he clarified, but instead leaving one by one. At that rate, it would take more than 600 years for them to be gone.
The newscast is a parody, of course, that fires barbs at everyone from the American military to the Iraqi government, an Iraqi version of “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart.” Even the militias wreaking havoc on Iraq are lampooned.
Debuting last month during Ramadan, while families gathered to break their fast after sundown, the show, “Hurry Up, He’s Dead,” became the talk of Baghdad, delighting and shocking audiences with its needling of anyone with a hand in Iraqis’ gloomy predicament today.
The acerbic newscasts, each lasting about 20 minutes, are broadcast on Al Sharqiya, an Iraqi satellite station that has at times run afoul of the government for its regular news coverage. They are continuing through Id al-Fitr, the Muslim celebration for the end of Ramadan this week. Officials at the station are in discussions about turning the show into a weekly program.
The show’s success is a testament to the gallows humor with which many Iraqis now view their lives — still lacking basic services and plagued by unrelenting violence more than three years after the American-led invasion.
Clever irony in the Arab world? Maybe there is hope for the future!
The show’s title appears initially as “The Government,” but the Arabic words split in half to reveal the actual name, another crack at the country’s plight.
Channelling anger and frustration into comedy? I'd say that's the clearest sign of progress I've seen. Like most important art, Sudani's comedy comes from pain.
Mr. Sudani, the writer, said he has lost hope for his country. Iraq’s leaders are incompetent, he said. He fears that services will never be restored. The American experiment in democracy, he said, was born dead.
All anyone can do, he said, is laugh.
Amen, brother. Amen.
Posted by Benari at 10:54 AM
Monday, October 23, 2006
The latest and final joke for this week's assignment.
My deepest condolences to all the Mets fans out there. I feel for ya. I really do.
NY Times article:
Mets Are Called Out; Cards Head to World Series
The Mets failed to make the World Series this year after losing to the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 7 of the National League Play-Offs. As a result, next year’s Mets will be updating one of their old slogans from “Catch the Energy” to “Catch the Ball.”
Posted by Benari at 8:36 PM
Friday, October 20, 2006
Here's the latest headline for this week's assignment:
FBI questions someone in NFL threat
I tried to go for pretty standard, straight-up football jokes.
The FBI investigated a threat to attack several NFL stadiums this week. Since the threat depended on throwing a bomb and hitting a target, Miami Dolphins Quarterback Dante Culpepper was immediately ruled out as a suspect.
The FBI made some progress in their investigation of a bogus NFL bomb threat after they intercepted an online message…then ran it up the middle for a gain of ten yards.
Posted by Benari at 10:02 PM
Thursday, October 19, 2006
The NY Times headline story:
Iraq Removes Leaders of Special Police
The Iraqi government removed the leaders of its special police unit on Tuesday, to address mounting American concerns. To further ease tension, Iraq will replace them with Richard Belzer and Ice-T, from Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.
I imagined this one as having a graphic and the L&O music sting: Dunh. Dunh.
Eh. Not my best joke, but cute image...
As the New York Times has reported, commanding Iraq’s special police force is one of the most dangerous jobs in Iraq. Also on that list: every other job in Iraq.
Big thanks to Ross for the assist on this one!
Posted by Benari at 9:53 AM
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
This week's assignment: write two jokes a day, starting yesterday. All joke premise lines must come from the top, right-hand column story of the New York Times.
This was yesterday's headline story:
Wal-Mart Said to Be Acquiring Chain in China
By DAVID BARBOZA and MICHAEL BARBARO
SHANGHAI, Tuesday, Oct. 17 — Wal-Mart Stores, the largest retailer in the United States, is laying the groundwork to become the biggest foreign chain in China with the $1 billion purchase of a major retailer here, according to people briefed on the deal.
The move represents a large step for Wal-Mart’s strategy in China, allowing the American retailer to more than double its presence in a country that, despite its size and growing middle class, remains largely untapped by foreign retailers.
“China is the only country in the world that offers Wal-Mart the chance to replicate what they have accomplished in the U.S.,” said Bill Dreher, an analyst at Deutsche Bank Securities.
Here are my two jokes:
Wal-Mart will spend $1 billion to purchase a major chain in China. This is roughly $1 billion more than Wal-Mart will spend to purchase healthcare for their employees.
Pretty straightfoward, matter-of-fact joke.
Referring to Wal-Mart’s expansion in China, one analyst said, “China is the only country in the world that offers Wal-Mart the chance to replicate what they have accomplished in the U.S.” - unprecedented violations of humane labor laws.
I like the idea behind this joke, but it's kind of wordy. I'm sure there's a better, more precise way to say this.
Stay tuned for more hilarity...
Posted by Benari at 9:15 AM
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
Last night, we were handed a about three dozen premise lines and had to write punchlines to them. We had an hour.
Of the ten I wrote, three of them were decent. Here they are:
This weekend, former Congressman Mark Foley, who claims to be an alcoholic, was seen inside a bar. Foley’s staff members are just relieved that he wasn’t seen inside a Congressional page.
Sources in Iraq say the verdict in Saddam Hussein’s trial could be announced just days before next month’s US election…unless it’s an innocent verdict, in which case it will be announced after.
This week, Mel Gibson began visiting synagogues across the country to apologize for the Anti-Semitic things he’s said. Gibson said that he was surprised by how humble the synagogue buildings looked, since the Jews have so much money.
Here's one that didn't make the cut, but I like it in a Junior High sort of way:
This week the University of Wisconsin placed its marching band on probation for “inappropriate sex acts.” Apparently, students are no longer allowed to play the skin flute.
Posted by Benari at 9:30 AM
Monday, October 16, 2006
The day of the tragic Lidle plane crash, I'm on the phone with Ross (shocking, I know) and almost by nature, we slide into that morbid world of tasteless jokes and ghoulish fantasy. In an inappropriately callous way, I mention all the possible Law & Order: CI plot lines and conspiracy theories - faked death because of gambling debts, wife kills him for the insurance, disliked by the players because he was a scab during the strike, etc. And naturally, the obvious one: stuck with overpriced contracts and underachieving choke artist players, Steinbrenner takes matters into his own hands, carrying out swift and terrible vengeance.
"A-Rod better watch his back!" I snidely comment.
Saturday morning, I wake up to this story:
A-Rod's plane goes off runway
Oct. 14, 2006. 01:00 AM
A private jet carrying Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez and six others overran a runway at Bob Hope Airport in Burbank, Calif., yesterday and was brought to a halt by an arresting system.
"I spoke to Alex. He's fine," agent Scott Boras said.
None of the seven people aboard the Gulfstream G-II, coming from Las Vegas, were injured, federal officials said.
*That's the Law & Order sting music.
Meanwhile, I provide the Lowell Sun with some local flavor for the tragedy.
A momentary flashback to 9/11 -- then relief
By ROBERT MILLS, Sun Staff
It was a moment that you could see on people's faces.
"It was like, 'Oh my God,' " said Andover native Bernadett Vajda.
Vajda was on a cross-town bus, driving through Manhattan. The news was that a plane crashed into a high-rise. Thoughts of Sept. 11 were automatic.
"When you first hear something like that here, you can immediately see it on people's faces," Vajda said.
In New York City, though, people carry on.
The bus kept rolling, and people went on with their routines.
It was not long at all before word came that the crash was merely an accident, not terrorism.
It was about 3 p.m., and Chelmsford native Benari Poulten got the news when he was in work at New York University, where he is a graduate student in Lower Manhattan.
He learned of the crash from a Google news alert, and within moments his phone was ringing.
"People just started calling to see if I was OK or if I knew anything," he said.
Poulten, who like Vajda used to work for U.S. Rep. Marty Meehan, knew almost immediately that the crash was not an attack, but said it still sent chills down his spine.
"It's definitely on everyone's mind here," he said of terrorism.
It was the same last week when Vajda was in midtown, near 53rd and Lexington, when there was a bomb scare caused by a suspicious package.
"There's always something happening in New York," she said.
The plane crash briefly sparked fears across the entire city, but Poulten praised how quickly officials figured out what had happened and got out word that the city was not under attack.
It turned out that the single-engine plane was carrying New York Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle and another man when it slammed into the side of The Belaire -- a red-brick tower overlooking the East River -- and sent flaming debris onto sidewalks below.
An intense fire raged inside the apartments where the plane had struck. Firefighters put it out within an hour, but at least 21 people were taken to the hospital, most of them firefighters. Their conditions were not immediately available.
A law-enforcement official in Washington said Lidle -- an avid pilot who got his license during last year's off-season -- was aboard the plane when it plowed into the 30th and 31st floors.
He and the other man, who was not identified, were killed.
It was not immediately clear who was piloting the plane at the time. It had taken off from New Jersey's Teterboro Airport barely 15 minutes earlier. It was not immediately known where the plane was headed.
The FAA and NTSB are investigating.
Despite the momentary scare -- which even prompted the launch of fighter jets over several cities, including New York, Washington, Detroit, Los Angeles and Seattle, according to Pentagon officials -- New York City kept moving.
"You can see the reaction on their faces, but they just pick up and go and keep moving," Vajda said of those in her city. "You can't slow down in New York. You'll get run over."
Robert Mills' e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.
Posted by Benari at 9:24 AM
Friday, October 13, 2006
Just received an e-mail that's going to change my life! I know, I know...we've all seen those spam scams, e-mails from some African Prince with a lot of cash. But this one is different. This one is from BURKINAFASO. And the money's from a German crude oil merchant and federal contractor. It's got to be on the up and up!
FROM THE DESK OF ABUMANI IBRU
MANAGER AUDIT AND ACCOUNTING DEPARTMENT
BANK BANK INTERNATIONAL DU BURKINAFASO.( B.I.B
I am ABUMANI IBRU Manager Audit Accounting Department Bank International Du Burkina
(B.I.B). I would like to know if this proposal will be worth while for your acceptance. I have a Foreign Customer,Andreas Schranner from Germany who is an Investor, Crude Oil Merchant and Federal Government Contractor that was a victim with Concord Air Line, flight AF4590 killing 113 peole crashed on 25 July 2000 near Paris leaving a closing balance of Twelve Million Eight Hundred Thousand United States Dollars ($12.8m in one of his Private US Dollar Account that is been managed by me as the Customer's Account Officer.
Base on my security report, these funds can be claimed without any hitches as no one is aware of the funds and its closing balance except me and the customer (Now Deceased) therefore, I can present you as the Next of Kin and we will work out the modalities for the claiming of the funds in accordance with the law. If you are interested, Please call me to discuss in further details and our sharing ratio will be 60% for me and 30% for you.while 10% will be for the naccasery expenciss that might occur along the line.
N.B.In other for you to beleive me honestly try and go through this
(website)before you start with me.
He says I should call him, but he didn't include his number! In other for me to believe him honestly, I'd like to give him a call. If anyone has Mr. Ibru's number, please let me know. I really want to work out the modalities for the claiming of the funds...taking into account the naccasery expenciss, of course.
Posted by Benari at 10:33 AM
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
The story just got weirder.
NEW YORK - A small plane with New York Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle aboard crashed into a 50-story condominium tower Wednesday on Manhattan's Upper East Side, killing at least four people and raining flaming debris on sidewalks, authorities said.
There was no immediate confirmation Lidle was among the dead.
A law enforcement official in Washington, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Lidle was on the plane. And
Federal Aviation Administration records showed the single-engine plane was registered to the athlete.
It's a strange thing, living in New York. When something like this happens, suddenly my phone is buzzing and everyone wants to make sure I'm okay. Which is very sweet. But I don't live on the Upper East Side, I wasn't on a plane or planning to be on a plane today, and I'm not a Yankee.
Also, just because I live here doesn't mean I automatically get the news first. Sometimes, I get a call and THAT'S how I find out!
Anyway, I'm now fascinated by this unfolding story...more news, as it happens!
Posted by Benari at 5:19 PM
To all those people calling and checking on me, I'm totally fine. Thank you for your concern.
Not that anyone had any reason for actual concern - I was not on the plane, near the plane, or even aware of the plane. People just called me - concerned - because I happen to be in New York.
For those who don't know, here's everything I know:
NEW YORK (Reuters) - A small aircraft crashed into a building on Manhattan's Upper East Side on Wednesday, but a U.S. official said there was no evidence it was terrorism-related.
The Federal Aviation Administration said it was not clear whether the craft was a helicopter or a small plane, but the New York Fire Department identified it as a helicopter.
The crash occurred at East 72nd St. and York Avenue, near the East River.
"I have no reason to believe at this point that the crash in New York City is terrorism-related," said a U.S. official who declined to be identified.
CNN, citing a police source, said the craft hit a 20-story residential building.
Several helicopters have crashed over the years into or near the rivers flanking Manhattan.
Posted by Benari at 3:47 PM
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
In our latest assignment, we partnered up. We had to read the news and write up 20 premise lines for our partners - the premise lines being the actual set-ups for the jokes. I wrote 20 for my partner, he wrote 20 for me...
Then, based on our partner's premise lines, we had to write up our own punchlines. So, for the following jokes, my partner provided the set-ups, I provided the punchlines. Got it? Good.
Since we had to write up 20, I will spare you the full onslaught of my underwhelming mediocrity and only post the semi-decent ones. For my sake and yours.
Okay, enough of the preamble. Here are some of my jokes this week, based on my partner's premise lines. His premise lines are in italics; my punchlines are in bold.
This week, North Korea issued a statement claiming it needs atomic weapons to stop the United States from attacking.
Pointing to the current war in Iraq, Kim Jong Il observed, “The US only attacks countries that DON’T have atomic weapons.”
Russia announced today that it plans to impose sanctions and crack down on its one million Georgian immigrants working in Russia.
US officials have offered their help, asking “Have you guys thought about building a fence?”
As the New York Times is reporting, President Bush is backing embattled Republican House Speaker Dennis Hastert, who's been criticized for his handling of the Mark Foley sex scandal.
Bush said that considering Foley’s behavior, no one should be surprised that Republicans have a problem with HANDLING things.
US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice visited the Kurds in Iraq, praising their leaders but expressing concern over their desire to have autonomous control of their oil fields.
She stated, “Come on guys, we want the oil. That’s why we’re here. D’uh.”
Last month, Apple announced plans to recall thousands of Sony laptop batteries. This week, Hitachi announced it also plans to recall 16,000 of the Sony batteries.
An Apple spokesman remarked, “Do they have to copy EVERYTHING we do?”
This week, the Bush Administration announced that while job growth has slowed, unemployment has dropped down to 4.6 percent.
Of course, the Administration now defines “looking for a job” as “employment.”
Two American scientists received the Nobel Prize for their work on "space ripples."
Upon presenting the award, the disappointed Nobel committee realized it was mistaken, as the scientists were not working on “Space Nipples.”
Researchers found that Alcoholic drinks made with "diet" beverages make you drunker because Diet drinks pass through your system faster.
It’s a double win for frat guys: it’s cheaper to get their dates drunk…and with fewer calories, it’s South Beach friendly, too.
A new report suggests that there may be no direct link between breast-feeding and intelligence.
But men across the globe insist that they’ll keep on researching, dammit!
And my personal favorite of the bunch:
New research shows that Marijuana may be more effective in combating Alzheimer's than commercial drugs.
Unfortunately, patients can’t remember where they left their stash.
Posted by Benari at 9:13 AM
Sunday, October 08, 2006
An open letter.
TO: The U.S. Congress
RE: Planning to spend $20 Million on an Afghanistan/Iraqi War Victory Party
To Whom It May Concern,
A Concerned Citizen-Soldier
Posted by Benari at 1:33 AM
Friday, October 06, 2006
October 6th? What? How does that happen? How can this be? I'm losing weeks at a time here, folks!
If only it were some sort of alcoholic blackout - at least I'd know I had fun during THOSE lost days. Alas, no. Alack. Does anyone even use the word alack anymore? The answer is, of course, I'm a geek.
Writing's been keeping me pretty busy - funny how one does not feel like updating a blog when one spends every waking hour writing.
So, in lieu of any actual content, I give you:
Pets in Halloween Costumes!!
While I remain morally opposed to dressing up animals for our own delight and amusement, I must admit that pets dressed up as Super Heroes are adorable. And dressed as characters from Star Wars? Too...cute...for words....must not look....
I mean, Doggie Leia, people:
May the Force be with us all.
Posted by Benari at 2:18 PM
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
Spiritually cleansed, but buried under an ever-growing pile of work. So here's a fun little link - via Rich Johnston - to the Merry Marching Marvel Society's 1965 raucous record!
Posted by Benari at 12:02 PM