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© St. Petersburg Times, published March 3, 2002
But first, the news:
Meddling With Medals: We have come to expect less than world-class officiating in the Olympics. Again it looks like the only true amateurs on site last month were the judges.
Didn't the foreign ref declare boxer Evander Holyfield the loser after he beat the daylights out of his opponent way back when? And remember the American fighter who was denied a victory after giving a decisive boxing lesson to his Korean opponent -- in Korea? Then there was the famously shameful mess in the USA-USSR basketball finals, in which a Soviet official came down out of the stands, no less, to back up the clock and give the Russian squad an extra couple of seconds to sink the "winning" bucket.
Imagine how it must feel to a pair of figure skaters, performing their hearts out in expectation of just rewards, to learn they had lost before they even set skate on the ice, due to corrupt judging. I wouldn't wish that kind of officiating on Tonya Harding.
You do your best, then look up at the scoreboard to see that inept and unethical number juggling has railroaded you right into the dumper. Now I know how Al Gore feels.
Who can you trust anymore? Some silly souls want to trust their "psychic" and what do they get? Miss Cleo. Investors want to trust the wisdom of their corporate wizards and what do they get? Enron. You'd like to trust your crematorium to do right by Aunt Phoebe's remains and what do you get? A goon who dumps the deceased, gives you an urn of potting soil to put on the mantel -- and takes your money.
In a novel back-twist on that egregious note, there was the thoughtful, considerate, compassionate funeral home in Springfield, Mo., that left a man's corpse on his front porch when the family failed to pay for his cremation. (I wouldn't have paid, either, until the job was done.) Just dumped the fella on the front stoop, they did. The family was lucky it wasn't hit with a delivery charge. I wonder if that's the policy at other funeral homes: No tickee, no ashee.
We've become so justifiably jaded that when a truly honest person comes along, we start to wonder what his racket is.
You'd like to be able to trust airport security personnel to be courteous and professional and what do you get? Reports of women being groped at airside by extremely unprofessional male pat-downers. I, like you, find such behavior totally unpardonable and, by gosh, I want some answers. Where do these frisky friskers get off? How did they ever wangle their way into these positions of authority? Who hired them in the first place? Are there no screening procedures? Are there no standards? And if not, where do I apply?
Q: How many large male deputies does it take to wrestle a teenage babysitter to the ground?
A: All of them. How do we know her cell phone isn't loaded?
Strait Shooting in the Mouth of the Med: We've all read about police raids on wrong houses. An easy mistake to make. But the British Marines did our cops one better. On maneuvers, they accidentally invaded Spain instead of their intended beachhead at Gibralter. Not until some fishermen poked their heads up long enough to correct them did the queen's gyrenes back off. Well, what do you expect? All those foreign countries look alike.
Smallest news item of the day: Did you realize that this year, 2002, is the first palindromic year we've had since . . . um . . . 1991? It'll take a little longer to get to the next one. That'll be . . . uh . . . 2112. Maybe you'll want to check my math on that.
Latest rumor is that Osama bin Laden, said to be about 6 foot 6, was trying to remain inconspicuous in his movements by hanging out close to an American pro basketball team. When they got off the bus, he was the one described as "the short guy."
How desperate can the government get? A friend e-mailed me an item from London's Sunday Times reporting that in America, the feds were seriously considering bringing in "psychics" to help find Osama bin Laden. Come on, America. Let's cut the pussy-footing fol-de-rol and go directly to the voodoo doll.
Ever notice that some Northerners like to think a Dixie dialect denotes ignorance? Take it from one who has lived in Florida since 1945. Some of the wisest words I've ever heard were uttered with a Southern accent.
Here are some wise words especially for football teams that like to try trick plays: You can fool some of the defenses all of the time and all of the defenses some of the time, but if you can fool the TV cameraman, by golly, you've pulled off a great fake.
In Tallahassee, 10 sheep went missing from the flock hired to munch away kudzu in the state capital. Theories are few. Either they went looking for greener pastures or there's a mutton glutton at large in the Panhandle.
You make do with what's handy: Under attack by a guy with a beer bottle, it says here, a man in Madeira Beach grabbed a nearby trophy swordfish and stabbed his assailant with it. That's what I like to see: creative recycling of our marine resources.