Posts Tagged ‘journalism’

More fun facts from my hometown newspaper

May 20, 2011

He scores, she shoots

Police are investigating a shooting and robbery that occurred in two incidents Thursday morning at a Rock Hill motel.

A man claims the woman he met at Rock City Tavern took his gun and shot him in a hotel room early Thursday, according to a police report.

Officers found William Walker, 37, of Florida on a bed with a small hole in his abdomen, the report states. He was not specific on what had caused the shooting, only stating that the woman shot him then fled. He said he was about to drive himself to the hospital.

While investigating the shooting, a 21-year-old man who is an employee of Walker’s said he was jumped and robbed by four men in the Days Inn parking lot.

The man said four men wearing bandanas over their faces came up to him in the parking lot, and one pointed a handgun at him and said, “Give me all you got.”

The man said he pulled a knife from his pocket, threw it on the ground and began fighting with them, the report states. He said he knew one of the men.

The suspects took $70 from him and fled.

The man was unable to give more information because he was intoxicated, the report states.

You wouldn’t understand…

Two men have been arrested in connection with the Saturday night stabbing of a 58-year-old man at Wall-Bangers Social Club.

Timothy David Hill, 44, and William Holland Sosebee, 57, both of Rock Hill now face charges of attempted murder, attempted armed robbery, kidnapping, possession of a firearm during a violent crime and criminal conspiracy, according to police documents. Sosebee is a member of the Hell’s Angels gang, while Hill is a member of Red Devil, a nationwide group that supports Hell’s Angels, said Lt. Brad Redfearn.

When Jim Moye entered Carolinas Medical Centers-Steele Creek with stab wounds in his abdomen, a security guard called Rock Hill police to report the incident.

Moye wouldn’t give many details, only saying it was a “motorcycle thing.”

More theatening than karaoke?

Rock Hill Police officers were dispatched to a karaoke bar early Saturday morning in response to a man with a knife.

About 2:40 a.m. Saturday, officers were told a man was sitting on the curb with a knife outside Backstage Karaoke and Bar on North Anderson Road, according to a police report. The 32-year-old Rock Hill man appeared to be highly intoxicated, the report states.

Officers could see a large knife sitting next to him, according to the report. Witnesses in the area said he was making threats inside the bar, saying he would cut people.

The man was arrested and charged with public disorderly intoxication and a weapons violation.

Tased and confused

A Rock Hill teen was Tasered and arrested after he threatened to run over a neighbor and her children with his car Monday, police say.

Waylon Montana Johnson, 19, has been charged with public disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.

A woman who lives on Eagle Ridge Drive told officers Johnson regularly drives his Chevy “recklessly” in the neighborhood, according to a police report.

About 6 p.m. Monday she asked him to slow down as he drove by because her children were playing outside. He then made the threat to run over the woman and children, the report states.

While in the neighborhood, officers saw Johnson leave his address and walk toward another road, the report states. They could hear him yelling at a neighbor using obscene language.

When police went to arrest him, Johnson ran into his garage, according to the report. Johnson closed the door behind one of the officers and tried to enter his house. An officer had to use a Taser on Johnson.

He was taken to Rock Hill City Jail.

But his hat said “POLICE”

Two men reported being robbed by someone impersonating a police officer Saturday in two separate incidents in Lancaster County.

The suspect is a black male, approximately 6 feet tall and 185 pounds, wearing a dark baseball cap with “POLICE” on the front, according to a release from Sheriff Barry Faile.

In both instances, the victims were approached by the subject and questioned about their identification. The suspect handcuffed the victims and took their wallets. The suspect went through the wallets, pretending to be looking for identification. The suspect replaced the victims’ wallets and then left. Both victims immediately discovered that their cash was missing from their wallets, the release states.

“If confronted with a similar situation, the Sheriff’s Office recommends that you be compliant and do not fight with the suspect,” Faile said.

No arrests have been made in this case and it is being actively investigated.

The consequences of bad talking

A woman claims her ex-boyfriend assaulted her in the Rock Hill Galleria parking lot Friday afternoon.

The woman said she and her friend were in the mall on Dave Lyle Boulevard about 3 p.m. when her ex-boyfriend approached them and started “talking bad,” according to a police report.

The two left the mall, but he followed them to the parking lot and took a swing at her. The friend avoided the punch, but the woman was caught in a headlock by the man, who put her to the ground.

After the assault, the friend said the ex-boyfriend walked to his car, grabbed his gun and put it in his waistband, the report states. A mall security guard called officers with the police department.

Officers were unable to locate the ex-boyfriend.

He’s 2 but he will cut you

A Rock Hill man was arrested after his 2-year-old son escaped through a window and was outside alone, according to a Rock Hill Police report.

Ronald Thompson, 36, of 1871 Springdale Road has been charged with non-violent cruelty to children after police responded to a call about a small child wandering around unsupervised.

Several witnesses said the child had been outside for more than 20 minutes, the report said.

According to the report, Thompson told police he had fallen asleep. Then, the child used a small pocket knife to cut the screen out of an open window and crawled outside, the report said.

Police found the knife lying on the ground near the window and marijuana and paraphernalia inside the residence.

He was booked at Rock Hill City Jail on a $2,000 bond.

Getting a woodie

An artistic mash-up of flesh and bark drew gasps and a chorus of police sirens Saturday at an impromptu photo shoot beneath the majestic canopy of the Angel Oak.

Some 25 people disrobed and posed around the wide, gnarled trunk of the ancient oak as California-based photographer Jack Gescheidt and a documentary film crew recorded the moment in celebration of the tree, which is rumored to be 1,400 years old.

The guerrilla photo shoot was designed to draw attention to the oak’s grandeur and raise concerns about a developer’s plans to build apartments and shops on a larger tract adjacent to the small Johns Island park where the tree lives.

A park staffer grew increasingly agitated as the group scouted out camera angles and possible poses in their initial “dressed rehearsal.” But when the clothes came off, the stunned staffer screamed for them to stop.

“No, no, no, no, no!” she shouted. “You can’t do that here! This is a family park!”

Within three minutes, Charleston police rushed in with sirens blaring and blue lights flashing. The volunteer models were busy hoisting their drawers at that point. They could have taken their time. They were in for long wait as police tried to decide what to do with them. All participants and photographers were detained by police for two hours while they investigated. No charges were filed.

Gescheidt had no permit for the shoot, which was part of his TreeSpirit Project, a collection of photographs featuring naked humans posing vulnerably around trees to call attention to their importance. He got the idea for the project in 2003 after stumbling across a massive oak while walking in the woods of Marin County, Calif.

Since that time, he has photographed hundreds of naked participants draped in the arms of trees in California and other states.

Plans for the happening spread quietly through word-of-mouth and attracted a variety of participants of all ages, shapes and sizes.

The group gathered at a small cafe beforehand and painstakingly went over their strategy. Be low-key, don’t attract attention. Be courteous. Do nothing to harm the tree.

They carpooled over around 4 p.m., with a civil rights attorney in tow. Then, they spent some time communing with the tree, feeling its bark, doing yoga beneath its branches. After arranging themselves and trying out their pose clothed, they shed their garments and hustled back to resume their places. A dozen or so tourists, including a few kids, looked on. Some gasped, some laughed, some took photos of their own.

The first police officer on the scene ordered everyone to stay put as the park staffer closed the gates, shutting them in.

Soon, some eight officers were on the scene. Police questioned Gescheidt and others, reviewed the photographs, took everyone’s name and information. Then they huddled.

Finally, after about 90 minutes, Lt. Chip Searson informed the group they were free to go.

No charges would be filed. But he asked them to please refrain from running around naked in city parks.

“It was amazing,” said participant Tom Steenhuysen of Johns Island. “I was not aware of anyone on the outside. Literally, you became one with the tree for a moment.”

Exclusive: Inside SEAL Team 6

May 19, 2011

Few first-hand accounts have emerged from the recent operation to take out terrorist mastermind Osama bin-Laden. The Navy SEAL team that conducted the raid has been sworn to secrecy, and the few details that have become public are murky, as most are based on hearsay and suppositions.

Now, for the first time, an insider has come forward to offer precious insight on how the heroic team prepared itself for the mission, then carried it out in nearly flawless fashion. A CIA contractor, not covered by national security restrictions but who nevertheless has asked to remain anonymous, offers the following first-person narrative.

I was a copy editor for SEAL Team Six.

In September of 2010, I got a call from Langley, Va., offering me a six-month stint of freelance work. I was asked to provide an estimate of how much I would charge to make the daily drive to CIA headquarters, where I would review a confidential training manual and offer editorial suggestions on how its readability might be improved. They quickly accepted my rate of $40 an hour, which makes me think I should’ve asked for $50.

Soon I discovered that the booklet I’d be editing was the complete operational instruction guide for the elite squad of soldiers known as the Navy SEALs. The manual had been compiled from several sources — the Army Rangers, the Green Berets, an unnamed “black ops” outfit — and needed a consistent editorial voice. I pulled out my red pen and set to work, knowing that the fate of our war against terror could lie in the balance.

A quick scan of the document revealed that it was a grammatical disaster area, a virtual Ground Zero of misplaced modifiers, subject and verb disagreement, and inconsistent punctuation. The serial comma was used in some lists and not in others, creating the potential that trainees studying how to “kill, capture, or neutralize” the enemy might be confused or distracted. The usual inadequacy of spellcheck was apparent throughout; one reference to a contingency that would cover unexpected events mentioned plans that might go “a rye,” while elsewhere an attack on the enemy’s lair was written as an “a salt.” I wondered, was this a blueprint for knocking out al-Qaeda or a cookbook?

Word choice was not appropriate for the reading level of most soldiers with a high-school education. The terrorist hideout, for example, was called a “redoubt.”

“Redoubt?” asked one particularly gung-ho soldier. “We have no doubt at all.”

As my work on the manual unfolded, I got the opportunity to expand beyond the original specifications of my duties. I don’t consider myself a graphic designer, but I was able to point out that a serif font would be much more legible in the field than the Helvetica sans-serif that was the CIA’s standard. I suggested they use more call-outs with bullet points, something you’d think a gun-toting military writer would have already considered. As the editing process neared completion, I was even able to squeeze line leading to eliminate a short page, reducing the page count from 65 to 64 so the CIA could save on its paper purchase.

On what was to be my last day of work, the bureau chief stopped by my cubicle with an offer I couldn’t refuse. He asked me to accompany the SEAL team on its secret mission deep into Pakistan, to make sure any written communications needed during the assault were unambiguous and to offer a generalized “quality assurance” to the operation.

“I can’t tell you who we’re going after,” he said cryptically. “Let’s just say I don’t want our men encountering a typo that will send them after ‘Obama’ instead of ‘Osama.'”

Next thing I knew, I was getting off a troop transport plane in Jalalabad, Afghanistan. I could tell already my assistance would be crucial, as the passenger list carried a heading with one too many “ala’s” in “Jalalabad.”

The next few days were a whirlwind of activity as we prepared for the May 1 D-Day. I met with top brass on the code name for the operation, guiding them away from “Uranus Spear” and toward the ultimate title of “Neptune Spear.” I suggested they brand themselves as “SEAL Team Six” rather than the clunky “United States Naval Special Warfare Development Group (or DEVGRU).” I came up with a great hook of a name for the technique of firing two kill shots, one to the chest and one above the left eye.

“How about ‘double tap’?” I asked the lieutenant general in charge of preparation.

“Fabulous,” he said. “Where would we be without you? You’ve saved us again!”

On the night of the attack, I joined the 24 SEALs as we loaded our gear from the helipad onto the choppers. I suggested a last-minute switch that would employ Black Hawks instead of the harder-to-spell Chinooks, concerned that newspapers around the world might inadvertently obscure the message of might we were bringing down on the perpetrators of 9/11.

We came in low over the Pakistani countryside that night, certain we had done everything necessary to prepare for a successful mission. On the approach into Abbottabad, I learned the disappointing news that, as a civilian contractor, I would not be allowed to slither down the descent ropes and join in the expected firefight. I could watch everything unfold from my perch above the action, vigilant against any miscommunications that might lead to failure. Also, I was asked to clean up after Cairo, the now-famous tracking dog that would ultimately help to corner bin-Laden.

Explosions and flashes of light filled the hot evening air. We lost one of the choppers when a rotor came too close to the wall of the compound. As the wounded Black Hawk settled into a soft crash landing, I offered a quiet prayer of thanks that I’d made the right decision to leave the larger and bulkier Chinooks behind.

After about a half hour into the operation, word came via radio that a man believed to be Osama bin-Laden had been killed. Soldiers on the ground were unsure how to positively identify the body. They had a photo of the victim’s bloodied face, but were unsure that facial recognition software back in CIA headquarters would be able to make an ID.

“Take another photo, and this time, position the head so the face is more in profile,” I suggested. “That angle is a lot more flattering for most people.”

The Navy SEALs heeded my word and, within another few minutes, it was confirmed: the hated bin-Laden was dead.

We high-tailed it out of Pakistan as fast as we could, heading for the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Carl Vinson in the North Arabian Sea. Plans to bury bin-Laden’s corpse at sea were finalized, and I was brought forward for one last piece of editorial advice. Could I look over the traditional Islamic service that would be delivered as the body, now wrapped in a white sheet and placed in a weighted plastic bag, was slid into the sea?

“I don’t know Arabic,” I protested to the vice-admiral of the fleet.

“Just give it a quick once-over to see if any typos jump out at you,” he said.

The squiggles looked about right to me, and I signed off on the proof just before it was delivered to the chaplain.

Later that afternoon, I was put aboard another transport plane for the 20-hour return flight to the U.S. After an exhausting several months on the front line of history, I slept most of the way back across the Pacific.

I had made a significant contribution to America’s efforts in ridding the world of Islamist terrorism. Justice for the thousands of innocent victims had been served. And whether you spell it “Usama bin-Ladn” or “Osama bin-Laden,” whether you spell it “al-Qaeda” or “al-Qaida” or simply “Qaeda,” there was now a little less evil in the world.

Thanks to me and Navy SEAL Team Six.

Revisited: Citizen journalist covers one too many

May 15, 2011

It had been since my days working at the college newspaper that I had covered an event as a reporter, then went back to my office to make up quotes and fabricate an account of what had happened. On Friday, there I was, back in the media, a journalist covering a political rally in the race for the office of South Carolina governor.

It was all a little intimidating at first. The candidate I was covering — tea party favorite Nikki Haley — had little trust and considerable antagonism for what she and her compatriots referred to as the “lamestream press.” So it was perhaps understandable that when I spied a pizza joint near the site of the early-evening appearance, I decided to kill a few minutes waiting for the candidate by having a slice and a beer.

Haley, the Palin-esque Republican who’s been in the news for alleged dalliances with conservative bloggers and lobbyists, was making a whirlwind tour of the upstate prior to Tuesday’s primary, and was running a little late. I grabbed a spot in the small outdoor seating area, nursing my Yuengling and listening to white, middle-aged women yearn for low-carb Italian food and the ability to take their country back.

“I heard that Obama just doesn’t like any of us,” said the woman behind the pole.

I tried to blend into the group without looking like one of them, not an easy task considering my whiteness. One Palin operative was handing out “Haley” lapel stickers; I accepted one rather than raise suspicion about my progressive Democrat loyalties. Another supporter, Republican state legislator Ralph Norman, was working the crowd before Haley’s arrival, shaking hands and chatting up his own fortunes. I gently wiped the surface of the pizza with my hand, so that if he did try the grip-and-grin with me, I could make a subtle-but-greasy protest that I don’t endorse his brand of right-wing populism.

Soon Nikki arrived, bounding across the plaza as much as someone can bound in 3-inch heels. She was met enthusiastically by onlookers before beginning her 15-minute speech.

Careful, Nikki — don’t trip on those wires

She read them the usual laundry list of offenses that the political establishment had committed against the people of South Carolina, conveniently overlooking the fact that there’s only one non-Republican currently serving in statewide office. She was against big government, taxing and spending, and in favor of small business and the forgotten everyman. She endorsed “real American values” in what at first I thought was a plug for the nearby sale at Ross Dress for Less, but turned out instead to be a call to guns and God. And she promised there’d be a “tea party everyday” if she were elected governor.

After the address, she greeted supporters by posing for pictures and thanking them repeatedly for coming out. I grabbed a few close-up photos …

Look out! There’s a black guy!

 … before heading back to the perimeter. I had a reporter’s notebook in my pocket and thought briefly about gathering a few quotes. But the same pocket also held about three dollars and change from my earlier purchase, so I figured I’d get another beer instead. Haley masterfully worked her way through the remaining throng. I quickly downed the second drink so I could be ready to approach the candidate when she took a few questions from the media. Unfortunately, I hadn’t eaten much for lunch that day and the two beers were rapidly going to my head.

I tried to think of a good question that wouldn’t betray my lack of sympathy for her narrow-minded agenda. “Where do you stand on off-shore drilling?” would be a good one; “Are you still auditioning for illicit lovers?” was maybe not quite as on-point. I imagined there was some kind of security detail nearby that would react to any inquiry deemed too hostile, and weighed that against her demonstrated affinity for South Carolina bloggers, of which I was one.

Then I fell down, and the whole internal debate I was having became moot. I snapped one last photo while climbing up off the ground …

Hugging a lucky supporter, I think

… and soon the candidate was boarding a bus for her next stop in Greenville. She wouldn’t be able to talk to this reporter, until later that night in my inebriated dreams when she noted that I was “cute” and asked “what’s a strong fiscal conservative girl gotta do to get a new-media star like you to buy her a beer?”

At least, that’s the quote I’m making up.

Letters from those with all the answers

May 6, 2011

According to the folks who write letters to my small hometown newspaper, there are a number of definitive steps that can be taken to get this great nation back on the right track.

One, we can get rid of that socialist Muslim who’s pretending to be our president. Two, we can communicate in short, imperative, poorly punctuated sentences. Three, we can use lots of exclamation points.

But even better than these options, the American public can rise from their slumber and take in the scent of their favorite caffeinated brew. Waking up, and then smelling the coffee, seem to be just what we need at this point in our history.

Please enjoy the following excerpts of wisdom from the ultra-conservative masses of South Carolina who are not only already awake and finished with their coffee, but are ready to move on to the looming challenges of orange juice, scrambled eggs and an English muffin.

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I believe our country is facing desperate times, and we cannot continue living beyond our means. Somehow, we have to force our political leaders to wake up and smell the coffee.

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The recent events in Pakistan that ended with the killing of Osama bin Laden once again prove that America has the greatest fighting force in the world. The brave men and women who carried out this raid are to be commended!

It would not surprise me to see this president pursue charges against the Navy SEAL who fired the kill shot. After all, they did pursue charges against two other brave soldiers who bloodied another terrorist’s lip when he resisted efforts to take him into custody.

Let’s hope this doesn’t happen, but don’t be surprised by anything this administration does!

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On April 6, The Herald ran an ad for the South Carolina State Museum (specifically for the “Animal Grossology” exhibit). I would have written this letter to you then, but I was totally speechless and have just now regained my composure enough to write.

I have taken The Herald for over 40 years and naturally there have been things throughout the years that I have taken exception to, but I believe this ad is absolutely the most tasteless thing you’ve ever printed.

I’m a nanny, and I have raised other people’s children for my entire adult life. I like to think that I am raising young gentlemen and little ladies, not rude, crude and socially unacceptable street urchins. I want you to know that animal bathroom humor is no more socially acceptable than human bathroom humor, and anyone who thought this image was amusing is a really sick human being.

Herald readers, please, if you have young children, go to the computer and find out what is being presented to them and called “education.” There is a woman who has written an entire series of children’s books about this “Grossology,” complete with recipes for concocting various disgusting simulations, like fake nasal mucous (of course, that’s not what she calls it ). Isn’t that just wonderfully educational?

I am trying to find out if the “Animal Grossology” exhibit at the SC state museum is being funded by tax dollars. If it is, I will have to regain my composure yet again before I can deal with that.

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Two weeks ago, I treated my daughter to a trip to Las Vegas. Much of what we did — a Cirque du Soleil show, a ventriloquist, and VIP tickets to the “Donny and Marie” show — was beyond fabulous.

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Sen. Lindsey Graham announces a million-dollar grant from Washington for the Lancaster County Airport. Is the money coming from a different Washington?

Will the governor be outraged if Washington, in an effort to save money and cut taxes as advocated by both senators and the governor, decides to close one of the Marine bases? Or is that again different Washington money?

We, in this state, need to wake up.

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Your recent article presenting on the 150th anniversary of the start of the War Between the States was little more than a one-sided political statement against our Southern heritage.

The writer’s typical Northern attitude that all Southerners must be stupid was made plain by his choice of those persons he used to bolster his opinion.

He chose two black citizens and a liberal as his source of information. If he were a true, honest student of journalism, he would have chosen someone connected with the sons of Confederate veterans or some other pro-Southern individual in order to give balance to his article.

We Southerners have a very difficult time trying to understand why Northerners think as they do. This writer has come to the conclusion that something must be missing in their basic ability to comprehend important subjects.

My conclusion is that for hundreds of years with very little sunlight, they are deficient in vitamin D.

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The Obama-controlled unions have decided to attack South Carolina. They intend to shut down our new Boeing assembly plant here in Charleston.

That would end 3,000 jobs and cut much-needed paychecks for South Carolina. If the unions succeed in their war against S.C., we all lose. We all must join together and fight Obama unions for the good of South Carolina.

We all complain about the current president. I, for one, will say Jimmy Carter is no longer the worst president in history. The current president has taken that role now.

Why not give a businessman a shot at getting our country back on track? Donald Trump and Herman Cain both are going to make a run for the White House. These men know how to run a business, and that is what this country needs.

Google Herman Cain. Watch him on YouTube. You will be impressed.

It is about time to give a true American the chance, not a politician.

God bless our red conservative state of South Carolina.

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Last week, I took some visitors from Indiana around town to show how pretty Rock Hill was but was really sorry I did, as I could not believe the piles of trash in streets.

I can’t understand why people have pretty houses and yards but are allowed to throw their trash in the street any time they please.

I was out in San Diego about a year ago, and I did not see a single piece of trash on any street at any time. They use dumpsters.

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I have recently discovered that “classes” on homosexuality are being taught in public schools in New York. I never cease to be amazed at what is being taught to children today to “enlighten” them.

Physicians and psychologists often differ with theologians as to whether homosexuality is a “natural” thing that occurs in some births. It is still open for debate, as many doctors and psychologists say it is a “choice.” Others may say that the child may “turn gay” as the result of a perverted childhood experience.

One might think that “alcoholism” is a “choice,” a “hereditary condition” or that the environment or genes lend themselves to alcoholism or drug abuse.

Some will raise their ire at me for even mentioning the issues of alcoholism/drug addiction with the subject of homosexuality. Along with promiscuity and adultery, all are addictions and can be treated as such if one understands their addiction.

While I do not wish to get into a discourse on the three major religions, I do want to make a point that Christianity offers a way out, which, in my estimation, should be taught along with the classes on “homosexuality.” However, since the advent of the ACLU and other anti-Christian groups, this choice will never be offered our school children. What a terrible, terrible shame!

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I read in the The Herald that “Tea Party influence wanes.” Just a little reminder to those left-leaning progressives and news organizations that are doing a lot of talking and using a lot of newspaper ink trying to dupe the country into thinking the Tea Party is declining: They’re nuts.

This type of ploy by the liberal-leaning media is not new. Left-leaning thinkers hope if they keep repeating themselves day after day, it will come true. But the Tea Party folks are not stupid; we watch all the polls, not just the left-leaning polls.

President Barack Obama’s overall job approval keeps dropping like a brick. The country is broke, as are many states because of wasteful out-of-control spending, government entitlements and pensions.

Tea Party folks are educated, resilient and aware of their surroundings, and will not be fooled. Tea Party people are not “waners.” We are winners.

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I wish to publicly applaud Sen. Jim DeMint for having the courage to speak out against the so-called stimulus bill.

All the other politicians who voted for the bill should be tried for a treasonous act against this nation and dealt with accordingly.

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The York County Council’s unanimous vote for a countywide smoking ban violates the freedom of York County residents to make their own choices.

The members of the council allowed themselves to be intimidated by the anti-smoking pressure group, and allowed that pressure group to decide what’s best for the rest of us.

Sacrificing some constituents to the wishes of other constituents is something tyrants do. A free nation protects the rights of every constituent — not just some at the expense of others.

Hitler would feel right at home.

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With our illustrious trio of President Barack Obama, Rep. Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Harry Reid preparing to print and spend over $1 trillion, I had to stop and ask myself, just how much is 1 trillion?

If you laid 1 trillion dollar bills end to end, they would reach around the earth nearly 4,000 times.

Assuming the population of the U.S. is 306 million, the government could give $3,267 to every living person in the nation.

Using 1 trillion cubic yards of concrete, we could build a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico that would be 1,969 miles long, 10 feet thick and 50 feet tall.

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I am a little confused about President Obama. I am a Christian and did not vote for him because my salvation is more important than risking it on voting for a political party that goes against the commandments in the Bible and Jesus. All the supporters of the president say he is a good Christian.

How can that be when one of the first things he does in office is sign a bill for financing international abortions? He is for all different kinds of social programs — Satan’s failed economic foundation — to enslave us to the government. I don’t know about other Christians, but my Jesus said he would supply all my needs, not the government. Christians, don’t be blinded by people who talk the talk but do not walk the walk.

Perhaps I’m stupid …
 
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I have, in times out of ignorance, held to the belief that it’s the woman’s right of choice to decide life or death for the unborn. I was wrong; God was right. Thou shall not murder.

Where we are as a free-independent country is a place I call “enslaved liberalism” which gives way to abortion, homosexuality, legalized gambling, same-sex marriage and pornography.

We have allowed a host of liberal ministers to shove abortion down our throats, saying that abortion is the woman’s choice. Now we will have the new president who will eventually legislate same-sex marriage which leads me into: where are we going?

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Front-page coverage of old white men apologizing to old black men! Now, the “Friendship 9” deserve an apology! Get over it! These were things that happened more than 30 years ago! Chalk it up as a lesson learned.

If these people deserve an apology, then I deserve one from Sally and her friends who belittled me and called me names in high school!

This is 2009! Practice what you preach: We are all equal!

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The Republicans may be called hypocrites but we can’t be called baby-killers either!

Two-hundred million dollars for insurance for honey bees. Boy, that is a great stimulus. I guess that is the Democratic way.

All Americans, not just South Carolinians, should be alarmed at how easy it is for the Congress to obliterate the Constitution and the voters’ will.

Folks had better wake up, because once you start eating from the Washington trough, you will never be allowed to leave because it comes with chains, not strings.

What are the idiots in Washington thinking about?

The local and national news media will not bring any of this up, so nobody will know any of this. Thank God for conservative talk radio.

Did any of you know that during the Clinton years we sent $400 million overseas to pay for abortions?

Bush cut this out during his years and, out of the blue, Obama started this back up again. This is unacceptable. And then he gave his first major interview to a Muslim TV network. His true Muslim faith has come out. But the 57 million Americans who voted against the socialist knew this.

We are headed to a socialist country that is being put in place without the American people raising a cry!

Revisited: Warning — Post contains (typo)graphic violence

April 30, 2011

Recently, a near-panic on Wall Street dropped the Dow almost a thousand points in just a few minutes. It was later discovered the plunge might be attributable to a trader who meant to sell a million shares of stock but instead typed the word “billion.”

Then, I published a post on this blog titled “Thre Magic Words.” Some 159 people viewed the defective headline, though probably only about half of those skimmed the article while roughly a quarter gave up after a few paragraphs and perhaps as many as three noticed that “thre” was misspelled.

Two events — one bringing the world to the brink of financial catastrophe and the other bothering the heck out of me till I corrected it about an hour later — with one thing in common: both involved that bane of written communications, the typo.

Typographical errors go back as far as written history itself. When cultures were passed from one generation to the next through the oral tradition, it was instead the “speak-o” that confounded perfectionists and resulted in some nasty misunderstandings, most notably the ritual sacrifice of humans when all the village elders actually wanted to burn was “cumin.” The advent of cave paintings and hieroglyphs and ultimately movable type allowed such mistakes to be recorded for centuries. (Today we can reprint or “update post” if necessary, but the Neanderthal had to blow up his whole cave if he drew a bear but meant to draw an antelope.)

I’ve been an aficionado of proper spelling my entire life. At Miami Norland Elementary School, I won the fifth-grade spelling bee, advancing to the school-wide finals against a taller, stronger and more athletic sixth-grader who “posterized” me when I stumbled on accrued while he monster-dunked inchoate to take the championship. My two best subjects throughout grade school were spelling and geography, and I was crestfallen to learn from the vocational counselor in high school that you couldn’t enter either subject as a career.

With my dreams dashed of opening a specialty boutique where customers could ask how to spell the capital of North Dakota, I instead went to college to study journalism. It was the early seventies and Florida State was gripped with the revolutionary zeal of the times. However, as much as we questioned the establishment and cultural mores and business-as-usual and why Mary Bess wouldn’t allow me to touch her chest, we never challenged the time-tested rules of written communication. Our manifestos demanding the resignation of the president and ROTC OFF CAMPUS NOW! were carefully edited and exquisitely punctuated.

Only once during my tenure as an editor of the school paper did we dare to question The Man (Noah Webster) on the subject of proper spelling, and that was at the prompting of The Woman. Amy Rogers was head of the local feminist coalition, and came to my office one day demanding that as good liberals we abandon the misogynistic term “woman” in our reporting of campus news.

“We repudiate the word, because it comes from the origin ‘womb-man,’” she told me. “We prefer ‘womyn’ instead, and strongly urge you to prefer it too.”

We convened an editorial meeting and debated for several hours the merits of the request. Ultimately, I moved that the proposal was stupid and got a slim majority (all the guys) to agree with me. Then we closed down the paper and had a sit-in, just for the fun of it.

After leaving college, I took numerous part-time jobs in the closest thing I could find to professional spelling, which was typesetting and proofreading. I was a fast and accurate typist, and to this day can churn out 100 words-per-minute with 98% accuracy (just ask “Typer-Shark”). What I didn’t get right while typing I would correct while checking my work. In 1980 I consolidated the part-time work into one full-time job in financial printing, where I continue to make my career today.

Though my first love is typing – as you can probably tell from this and many other examples of sentences in my posts that run on and on and on – where the company needed me most was in proofreading. That can be a difficult and stressful job, primarily because your entire reason for being is to find and point out the mistakes of others. After identifying the minute deficiencies of other people’s performance all day long, proofreaders typically go home to a lonely existence watching for mistakes in movie credits. Family members fled a long time ago, sick of having every move critiqued. (“Are you sure you meant to say you’re going to the bathroom, dear? Isn’t it really the toilet you intend to use?”).

We’re left to form our own little cult of petty purists, laughing amongst ourselves at how incompetent everyone else is with the language. Remember that time Sue typed an alteration as “bored of directors”? Or when Jackie misread “code of ethics” as “code of ethnics,” and when Bob wrote about the “Antirust Division” in the Justice Department instead of “Antitrust”? And who can ever forget the time we almost printed “annual report” as “anal retort”?

And since our company specializes in helping publically held corporations with their legally required public disclosure documents, it’s that little word “public” that becomes the most problematic of all. We’ve had to catch and fix everything from “pubic announcement” to “certified pubic auditors” to “pubic defender.”

For a long time, such a life was all very satisfying for me. Lately, however, it’s grown a little strained. Sure, we can be justly proud of our high quality standards, helping guarantee the accuracy of information that American shareholders use to help them make wise investment decisions (sort of). But all we’re really responsible for is converting files the client has supplied us and making sure our draft reads exactly like theirs, right or wrong. If we happen to notice that they’ve written “;likjio&%@nehw”, well maybe that’s just the British spelling.

When we split into opposing factions on the subject of which punctuation mark was proper to show a range of numbers, I knew we had gone too far. Those who favored the hyphen with no space on either side (the “Hyphenates”) were pitted against those who felt strongly that an en-dash surrounded by thin spaces (the “Dashers”) was proper. Armed clashes in the parking lot between the two forces were breaking out more frequently now, with at least two proofreaders already injured by sharpened pica sticks. Management has yet to broker a peace.

I think those who care about proper spelling and word usage are being overtaken by larger events anyway. Between emoticons and Twitterese and texting, I think we’ll soon see radical changes to the language in all its forms. Even financial documents, with their stiff, legalistic prose, will soon be created in a new way. For example, the “risk factors” section, which lists in detail potential reasons why a stock may not perform up to its potential, will soon read something like this: “The company operates in a sector in which significant price variations may subject revenue streams to extreme instability (OMG).” Or, “Our acquisition of XYZ Corporation may result in a dilution of our stock price and a reduced market capitalization :( “.

At least it’s pretty hard to typo a frowny face.

News from the tri-county area

April 29, 2011

More weird, funny and/or interesting news briefs from my local hometown newspaper.

The pen is mightier than the sword

A pen became the weapon of choice for a Rock Hill man charged with threatening people with a knife, according to a police incident report.

William Jackson, 44, was arrested after witnesses said he was walking around threatening people with a knife.

When police brought Jackson to the law center to book him, he refused to walk into a cell and then grabbed a pen from the pocket of an officer’s shirt, according to the report.

Jackson was clutching the pen “as if he was going to try and use it as a weapon,” the report said.

Another officer came to assist. No one was injured.

Jackson was charged with disorderly conduct, intimidation and resisting arrest.

Take that, you stupid Lexus

A Fort Mill woman reported an angry driver smashed her windshield, sun roof and door in a fit of road rage, according to a Fort Mill Police report.

The woman, 29, told police on April 22 around 8 p.m. she accidentally cut off another driver on Dobys Bridge Road.

When the cars came to a stop at the intersection of Tom Hall Street, the driver of the car behind her walked up to her Lexus and took a hammer-like tool and smashed her windshield, sun roof and dented her door, the report states.

The man fled the scene in a dark sedan, the woman told police.

The damage is estimated at $1,500. No one was injured.

Subaru takes a dive

Crews spent nearly six hours fishing a car out of a backyard pool after a Chester man flipped his Subaru into his neighbor’s swimming pool.

Charles Weldon, 32, side-swiped a house and ran his car into the pool around 10 a.m. Monday, said Chief Mike Brown with the Chester City Police. He will be charged with driving under the influence, Brown said.

Weldon was taken to the Carolinas Medical Center, where he was listed in critical condition.

The crash caused major damage to the house, deck and pool of a house owned by Rae Woods.

“The car came across the street, off the road, through a 6-foot-tall chain link fence, through the deck and down a great big hill before going into the pool,” said Woods, who rents the property. “I’m still in disbelief about all the damage.”

By 4 p.m., the car was out and by 5 Woods was draining the pool and calling the insurance company.

She said the liner on the pool was ripped and will need to be replaced, as will the deck, fence and a portion of the house.

‘You’ll never catch me, copper’

Police arrested a man Monday while he was in the process of stealing copper pipes from under a Rock Hill house.

The 46-year-old man told officers he was stealing the pipes from the home on Stonewall Avenue because he was homeless, according to a Rock Hill police report. Most copper thieves make quick money by selling the items to scrap yards.

In this case, officers arrived at the address about 11 a.m. and met with a witness and several neighbors. The witness said he saw the man entering the crawlspace beneath the house. An officer heard movement within the crawlspace and saw the man moving, according to the report.

Several pieces of copper pipe were found in a pile under the house, the report states.

The man was charged with second-degree burglary and obtaining non-ferrous metal and transported to the Rock Hill City Jail.

Copper is currently selling for nearly $4.50 per pound. Other metals are also spiking in value and, as a result, thefts are spiking.

The official state waste-of-time

South Carolina legislators gave the lowly collard green its due Tuesday when the Senate agreed to make it the official state vegetable.

Frequently boiled and traditionally a charm for wealth in the New Year, the collard green first put on Southern tables by slaves would join dozens of other “official” things the state recognizes.

For instance, milk is the state’s official beverage and state-grown tea is South Carolina’s official hospitality beverage. The Carolina wolf spider is the state’s official spider and the bottlenose dolphin is the state’s official mammal.

Not everyone was biting at the veggie proposal, however.

The 30-12 vote showed there were collard green doubters, including Sen. Greg Ryberg, an Aiken Republican and Wisconsin transplant. “Was there competition?” Ryberg asked.

Sen. Larry Martin, a Pickens Republican, defended the choice. He told his colleagues — inaccurately — that the bill would only set the collard green as the state’s official leafy vegetable. “We all know the popularity of the collard,” Martin told Ryberg.

“What about the green bean?” Ryberg asked in a reference to past efforts to put money into a green bean museum.

“The green bean’s not leafy,” Martin said flatly. “This is very specialized.”

When told of what the bill actually said, Martin was surprised. “Oh, it is? I thought it was leafy,” Martin said.

News from a day in the life of South Carolina

March 30, 2011

The following news stories were taken from today’s edition of The Herald, my hometown newspaper in Rock Hill, S.C.

Was the bleach intended as seasoning?

Raccoons are okay in the woods. But their meat should never be for sale in a store cooler, says the state department of health.

Earlier this month, acting on a tip, health inspectors found bags of chilled raccoon meat in a cooler at a Gadsden convenience store, and told the owner to get rid of it.

“This is not something we see even on a rare basis,” said a spokesman who in his 28 years with the agency could not recall a single time raccoon meat was found in a store cooler.

Raccoon meat is not properly certified by state and federal meat inspectors as being safe for humans to eat, he said. Raccoons are known carriers of the rabies virus.

The spokesman said when inspectors made a second visit to the store, the raccoon meat was still on the premises.

Inspectors told the store owner to put bleach on it and throw it in the trash.

A bad sign that the flag was still erect

A Clover woman found an unexpected package at her mailbox Monday.

The woman, 38, told officers someone taped a Polaroid of a naked man on her mailbox, according to a county sheriff’s report.

She said she noticed that the flag on her mailbox outside her residence was up around 7 p.m. Monday. When she got closer, she saw a picture of a naked man she didn’t know taped to the mailbox flag.

The man had a “69” tattoo on his right forearm.

Deputies took the picture as evidence.

Democrats fight for education, but with guns

Legislation weaving its way through the state House would increase the number of places that gun owners can carry their weapons to include daycare centers and churches.

“It puts criminals on the defense,” said Rep. Thad Viers (R-Horry), a co-sponsor of the bill and the owner of about 25 firearms. “They don’t know if you’re carrying or not.”

Unlike some other states, South Carolina Democrats back gun rights too.

“We believe in the Second Amendment, but still believe in fighting for public education,” said Rep. Bakari Sellers, D-Bamberg.

Sellers said he has never heard of an anti-gun organization in South Carolina.

“They wouldn’t have any members,” he said. “Everybody has a gun.”

In 2009, a new law was passed allowing people with concealed weapons to keep their guns in their cars while dropping their children off at school.

The world’s worst bucket list

From the weekly gardening column…

Several of you wrote to say you’ve belonged to the bucket fan club for years and even more reported they were bucket-less and had promptly gone out and bought one. Or more.

More is better. I’ve always got three or four filled with manure, compost, weeds, fertilizer — something.

Another reader, also commenting on a recent column, said she was happy I’d used the S-word as opposed to spelling “it” out. However, instead of the S-word, she prefers “no shoulders,” as suggested by a golfing buddy.

Farewell, at least for now

March 21, 2011

Hear me, America.

(One of the cool things about being on American Idol has got to be the opportunity to address the entire nation as one. It’s not just host Ryan Seacrest who gets to drop the frequent imperative “America, do this” or “America, do that.” Even the contestants are allowed to implore all 307 million U.S. citizens to “vote for me, America.” Since I doubt I’ll ever have the chance to appear on this top-rated talent show (not because I can’t sing — that hasn’t stopped the current crop of would-be Idols — but because I have a pathological fear of Jennifer Lopez), I’m using my blog instead to address the .00009% of America that views my writing on any given day.

Today, I announce my retirement from DavisW’s blog. This will be my last new post for the foreseeable future. I’ll continue to toss up some stale retread of a previous posting on a daily basis for a while, at least till I lose interest in that. Then, I’m out of the blogging business.

There are several reasons why I’m making this move at this time.

One, I’m tired and I’m stressed out. Since December of 2008, I have written a fresh post virtually every single weekday. In over two years, I missed only a Tuesday in February ’09 when my son had major abdominal surgery, and a week at the end of 2010, during which I suffered a complete physical and mental breakdown, or maybe it was just a head cold. It’s become too much pressure to produce something new on a daily basis.

Second, the concept of “blogging” has become passé. It’s yesterday’s news, something grandpas do to keep their friends and families apprised of their bowel movements. I was never able to fully get into the likes of Facebook and Twitter, and am too technologically backward to try to anticipate the next big thing. I thought for a while that the latest in new media was going to be sneaking up behind people and shouting into their ears, but I’m not sure my 1,200-word essays lend themselves well to that format.  Seems likely I’d get punched before I was halfway through my treatise on the commercial that sells “privately-enhanced” two-dollar bills, in which five-year-olds color pictures of Yellowstone National Park all over Thomas Jefferson’s face.

Thirdly, I’m not getting a lot of comments from the readers indicating how enthralled they are with my prose. A kind word from someone who got a chuckle out of my observations goes a long way in re-energizing me, and these have become few and far between. About a year or so ago, someone contacted me online and said I’d get a lot more response if I went into the “settings” portion of WordPress and checked some box. I waited and waited for the avalanche of feedback he said I should expect, and instead the three or four comments I had been receiving each day trickled down to next to nothing. In retrospect, I have a feeling this person was up to no good, and actually convinced me to sabotage my own site, and now I’ve forgotten which box I checked. I still get occasional comments from a deranged ex-roommate, though that’s proven more frightening than rewarding.

I’ve tried to “monetize” the blog by offering it for sale on Kindle, and have actually made a number (47) of sales. How pathetic this revenue stream is became clear the other day when I met with my CPA to review my income taxes for last year. He asked about the W-2 I received from Amazon declaring an amount of $21.65 as taxable income, and I told him I made this money as a professional blogger.

“I guess we should report this,” he said reluctantly. “I’m seeing more and more of these online sales: there was a guy just in here who made a couple thousand dollars last year selling half-used cans of old paint through Craigslist. Maybe that’s something you should look into.”

Finally, I’m dealing with some undisclosed personal matters that require me to step out of the limelight for a time. Like Disney singer and actress Demi Lovato, I’m currently trying to resolve ongoing physical and emotional issues that I prefer to address in private, away from the glare of publicity. Like Demi, I too am a sensitive artist who has rocketed to international fame at a trajectory that my psyche has had difficulty keeping up with. Demi reportedly had eating disorders, was beginning to cut herself, and exhibited inappropriate behavior such as punching out a back-up dancer travelling with her on last fall’s Jonas Brothers tour. My issues would be viewed by most as less severe (I don’t even know any back-up dancers, as their presence isn’t widespread in the financial printing industry where I work), however they are plenty serious for me.

Also going on indefinite hiatus will be my so-called “mini-blog” http://davisontv.wordpress.com/. A third blog that I announced at the beginning of the year never materialized. I had hoped to be selected by the Charlotte Observer newspaper to be a part of their “Pounding Away” series, in which a trio of husky Carolinians would chronicle their weight-loss efforts, but my application was passed over in favor of the three goons seen below.

At least I didn’t have to pose for a silly photograph.

What kind of retirement I’ll have I cannot say. It could be a Brett Favre-style affair, and I’ll continue showing up day after day to miss wide-open receivers despite the fact they’re wearing Wrangler jeans. Or, it could be something more along the lines of what Johnny Carson did, slipping out of the public view with incredible dignity and conveniently dying a few years later.

If the urge to write humor returns, and I can view the exercise as exhilarating rather than obligatory drudgery, I’ll be back. If not, I’ll see you around.

Ideas for a revamped NPR

March 15, 2011

NPR’s Robert Siegel is interviewing Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the Muslim cleric out to destroy America by building a mosque in downtown New York. Rather than reach across the table to strangle the Islamic extremist, Siegel is asking him a question.

“Was your choice to build your Islamic cultural center so close to Ground Zero designed to make a statement about religious freedom in America, or was it simply due to the propinquity of the Manhattan real estate market?” Siegel asks.

It’s just this type of attitude, and this type of vocabulary, that has all right-thinking Americans up in arms about federal funding for National Public Radio and its blatantly liberal bias. “Propinquity?” What kind of word is that? We’re proud to say that most people’s common-man, everyday speech patterns barely recognize the words “National,” “Public” and “Radio,” much less a word like “propinquity”.

Presuming that the listening public knows big words with a “q” in the middle of them is a large part of what has brought on the initiative in the Republican-controlled House to cut funding to NPR. An educated citizenry may well be the key to maintaining our democratic ideals, but that’s only true in the civics textbooks we’re currently in the process of banning from our public schools.

America can easily get by on several hundred words to engage in the political debate needed at this turning point in our nation’s history. Our Founding Fathers were perfectly comfortable using terms like “cat” and “Sally” and “Spot” to frame our constitutional principles, and we should be equally at ease using simple words in our public discourse today.

Proponents of public radio continue to claim that they present the news of the day in a straightforward manner, tilting neither right nor left. Then how come they have correspondents with names like Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson, Ofeibea Quist-Arcton, Ira Flatow and Lakshmi Singh? If they hired the occasional Bob Smith or Mary Jones, maybe they wouldn’t be facing the opposition they’re currently seeing.

Rather than slash funding completely and obliterate this elitist stream of progressive thought from the public airways, some have suggested reform may be the best solution.

“There may be a need for public radio. I guess somebody has to be there to broadcast the occasional farm report,” said Fox News vice president of communications Allen Cutter. “As an executive for a communications company that actually makes money, I might offer some suggestions on changes in programming that could lessen the leftist impact.”

Cutter said many current shows could be slightly re-branded in a way that would put them more in line with the opinions of conservative Americans.

“Why must it be ‘All Things Considered’?” Cutter asked. “Why can’t it be ‘Some Things Considered’? There’s a lot going on in the world today that’s not really worthy of our consideration. If we ignore foreign cultures and strange ideas, studies have shown that these tend to go away.”

Cutter also proposed other changes to some of the more popular shows on public radio. He suggests turning “Morning Edition” into “Morning Sedition,” and making it a time slot where anti-government fanatics can vent their rage against the federal system. He’d like to see the popular Saturday afternoon cooking show “Splendid Table” turned into “Splendid Cable,” and make it an outlet for those wanting to praise the efforts of networks such as Fox. The Friday feature of “Talk of the Nation” known as “Science Friday” could be moved earlier in the week and renamed “Voodoo Tuesday,” with guests discussing creationism, conspiracy theories and their experiences with alien probes.

“There’s at least one show I’d leave just like it is, though,” Cutter said. “I think ‘Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me’ accurately sums up our intellectual outlook, and should remain on the schedule. Besides, that Carl Kasell is an absolute hoot.”

Cutter had one more change in mind he’d make for a newly revamped NPR.

“We’d need to move its location from the far left end of the radio dial to well right of center,” he suggested. “Those lower-numbered channels could be returned to the Soviets, where they belong.”

Revisited: At the Movies (In the Breakroom)

February 27, 2011

February is not the best of times in the world of cinema. The winter crap, er, crop of movies are generally artistic cast-offs designed not to distract voters considering Oscar nominations. Instead, we’re given fluff, misguided children’s fare and some guy named “Duane Johnson” who I swear looks exactly like The Rock.

With so few films of merit currently on the market, it only makes sense that you don’t need a New York Times egghead to help suggest what might be the best choice this weekend at the local cineplex. Your expectations are already pretty low. About all you need for guidance is the good word of a friend who liked that one scene where the guy and the girl sort of kissed but not quite, and in the background was that song — you know, that “la-la-la” song from the seventies — played on a harp.

So let’s turn to the voice of the commoners for some recommendations about the hits and the misses currently in first run. Overheard in an office breakroom that could be your own, let’s meet our critics. Rachel is also known as “Old Rachel” to distinguish her from the attractive young intern Rachel. Old Rachel has two preteen children who help define her worldview of Hollywood. We’ll also hear from The Lady From Accounting, a late-middle-aged divorcee who has the nerve to go to movies to be entertained, not challenged. There’s not a romantic comedy she’s viewed that she didn’t “jess loooovvvve.”

So what do you nice ladies suggest?

OR: I don’t like that “Shutter Island” movie. It looks too dark. It’s depressing. Leonardo DiCaprio was good in “Titanic,” and he was a cute kid on that TV show when he was young, but I don’t like him lately.

TLFA: I saw that preview too. No thanks.

OR: You know what I did like, though? I liked “The Squeakqual”. It was actually better than the original, and those Chipettes were just darling, I don’t care what Alvin says.

TLFA: Everybody says they don’t like Chipmunk movies, but everybody goes to see them anyway. Speaking of squeaky, I kind of liked that Sandra Bullock movie, you know, the one about the football player she adopts and he wins the World Series. They say she might win a Grammy for that.

OR: Right, right … I think it was called “All About Steve,” and she’s been kidnapped by a hijacker on a bus, then she wins the Miss Firecracker beauty contest. She’s so cute.

TLFA: You know what else was good? “Invictus.” I didn’t think I’d like it, what with all the soccer and Nelson Mandingo and Ben Affleck (or was it Matt Damon)? Anyhoo, I meant to see “The Wolfman” but I had looked at my ticket stub upside down, and I thought theater 7 was theater 1, and I didn’t even realize it was the wrong movie until about 45 minutes in. But “Invictus” was actually okay, at least for a movie without any werewolves in it.

OR: I was gonna see “Valentine’s Day” on Valentine’s Day — wouldn’t that be wild? But my car got all tore up and I couldn’t make it.

TLFA: Oh, I want to see that one. It’s got so many stars! And I just love romance movies. I heard it’s just great. It’s kind of like that old TV show — you remember “Love American Style”? [singing] “Truer than the red, white and blue, ew, ew, ew, ew …”

OR: Honey, that was before my time. But if you want to see a good, funny movie, go see that “Dear John”. These two kids fall in love and then 9/11 happens and he has to leave and she’s like all boo-hoo. It’s funny, but it’ll make you sad too. That’s what makes a good movie, if you ask me.

TLFA: Talk about sad, my friend was telling me how she cried the whole last half of “Tooth Fairy.” You’d think it was going to be funny, because it has The Rock dressed up in a tu-tu, but he learns some valuable lessons about helping poor kids whose teeth are falling out. It even has a message, if you like that sort of thing: Always brush after every meal.

OR: I love The Rock. I’d even see him in some Shakespeare movie, if he took off his shirt.

TLFA: You got that right!

OR: I’ll tell you what I’m looking forward to, and that’s “Alice in Wonderland”. It’s got Johnny Depp in it, and I think that singer April Lavigne is the one who says “off with her head.”

TLFA: You know, that Alice, she was on drugs.

OR: Well, she fell down a hole!

TLFA: That’s true. Anyway, I just loved Johnny Depp in that “Chocolate Factory”. That’s what he looks like in this movie, except I don’t think it has as much chocolate.

OR: Well, if you only see one movie this year, you gotta see “Michael Jackson, the Olympics and the Lightning Thief.”

TLFA: Wasn’t that his concert film? The one he was practicing for when he died?

OR: No, wait, not Michael, some other Jackson.

TLFA: Janet? I always thought she’d make a good actress, how much she looks like Michael and all.

OR: No, this one is about a teenage boy whose dad is God. Well, not the God, but a Greek god. And he’s flinging lightning bolts all over the place and it’s kinda like “Harry Potter” or “Lord of the Rings,” one of those kind of movies. The boy is real cute, too. My girls are crazy about him.

TLFA: And it has Olympics in it too? Is there ice dancing? Did you see where that guy riding the luge got killed? That was so sad.

OR: No, it really didn’t have that much Olympics in it. I was surprised. What’s been your pick for the best movie of the year so far?

TLFA: I really liked “Lonely Bones”. Where that girl gets murdered and tells her story from up in Heaven.

OR: Percy Jackson goes to Heaven too. Wouldn’t it be cool if those two met? Now that would be a great movie.

TLFA: That would be awesome.

OR: Well, I’d better get back to my desk. My spreadsheet just crashed and I’m about to throw some lightning bolts myself!

TLFA: Ha, ha. Okay, then. Maybe I’ll see you At the Movies.