Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Wednesday, December 31, 2003 12:30 pm

Strange Days X: The News & Record’s 10th Annual Roundup of the Idiotic, the Ironic and the Just Plain Weird

Filed under: Fun — Lex @ 12:30 pm

Here is Fimoculous’ list of lists for year-end 2003, with links to everything from Dave Barry’s year in review (always a winner) to the New York Times’ list of the year’s best jazz albums.

There is, however, one noteworthy year-end roundup missing: my own, published this past Sunday in the News & Record. It didn’t get put online for whatever reason (not all the paper’s stories do), but thanks to my esteemed co-worker Diane Lamb, I now offer it here.


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Welcome to “Strange Days X: The News & Record’s 10th Annual Roundup of the Idiotic, the Ironic and the Just Plain Weird.”

It seems this feature began only yesterday, although it actually was back in those halcyon days of 1994 when Davidson County Sheriff Gerald Hege was in trouble with the state, the president’s patriotism and integrity were under repeated attack, our civic discourse had degraded to near-gutter levels and Michael Jackson was under suspicion of child molestation.

Oh. Wait.

* * *

Jan. 2: And his own horoscope for today was – we are not making this up – “Get work done early”
Syndicated horoscope columnist (and Leo) Sydney Omarr dies.

Jan. 16: Inevitable headline: Yes, we have no bananas
Edible Cavendish bananas, the most common type, may disappear within a decade unless new varieties are developed that are resistant to blight, a British news agency reports.

Jan. 28: The word made flesh – or at least fish
Two members of a sect of Hasidic Jews in New Square, N.Y., claim that a 20-pound carp they were preparing to slaughter and make into gefilte fish began shouting warnings in Hebrew that the end of the world was coming. They slaughtered it anyway.

Feb. 5: Forget about holding up Bic lighters for an encore
At noon Eastern time, the first organ note in the late composer John Cage’s new work, “As Slow as Possible,” is played. The performance actually began 17 months ago, although the only thing that has happened up to now is inflating the bellows of the organ. The work is intended to continue for another 639 years.

Feb. 5: Dude, you’re getting a cell!
Benjamin Curtis, the actor who portrays the character “Steven” in Dell Computer’s “Dude, you’re getting a Dell” commercials, is charged with misdemeanor possession of marijuana.

March 7: Because, you know, he was going to fly the school into a building
A 6-year-old first-grader in Youngstown, Ohio, is suspended for 10 days for “possession of a weapon” after putting a plastic butter knife from the school cafeteria into his book bag.

March 13: Play our way, or we’ll take our toys – uh, loved ones – and go home
After France threatens to veto any U.N. Security Council resolution authorizing a military attack on Iraq, U.S. Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite, R-Fla., says she’ll introduce a bill that would allow relatives of World War II service members buried in France and Belgium to have their loved ones dug up, then reburied in the United States at taxpayer expense.

March 14: Embedded
The Fayetteville Observer orders home a reporter and photographer covering an Army unit in the Mideast because the reporter has become engaged to an officer in the unit, whom she has been dating since before the unit left Fort Bragg.

March 19: Freedom of the press, however …
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, in Cleveland to accept a Citadel of Free Speech Award from the Cleveland City Club, bans broadcast media from the award luncheon.

March 19: It makes people look better, too
Alcohol consumption impairs the sense of smell, researchers report.

March 31: Can you say, “Hitler”?
Iraq’s leader, Saddam Hussein, is the “worst dictator in history,” Pentagon spokeswoman Victoria Clarke tells reporters.

April 7: Who wants to be a (cough, cough) cheat?
Three Britons are convicted of using “coded coughs” to win the top prize on Britain’s version of the TV game show “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?”

April 21: So what should we offer Climax, N.C., to change its name?
Animal-rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals offers the Buffalo, N.Y., suburb of Hamburg $15,000 worth of veggie burgers for its schools if it will change its name to Veggieburg.

April 22: That does it. I’m getting a cat
As a case involving a Texas ban on sodomy reaches the Supreme Court, U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., says overturning the ban will lead to “man-on-dog” sex.

April 28: As long as they spell my name right
After cybergossip Matt Drudge trashes former Clinton aide Sidney Blumenthal’s forthcoming memoir, the book, which won’t be published for weeks, leaps in one day from No. 23,588 on’s sales list to No. 1.

April 30: Boosting his slugging percentage
Shortstop Julio Lugo of the Houston Astros, whose wives’ club’s primary charity is a battered-women’s shelter, is charged with slamming his wife’s head into a car.

May 2: He never wrote about man-on-dog sex, either
Public moralizer William Bennett, the author of “The Book of Virtues,” has gambled away more than $8 million since 1993, The Washington Monthly and Newsweek report. He offers the defense that he never wrote about gambling as a sin.

May 12: Run for the border
More than 50 Democrats from the Texas House of Representatives decamp for Oklahoma rather than allow a vote creating more Republican-dominated U.S. House districts in the state to be passed by the state House’s Republican majority.

May 14: Le cigare, c’est moi
On attempting to light a cigar and being told that he could not smoke in a federal building, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, replies, “I am the federal government.”

June 18: How ’bout we just destroy his computer?
One day after Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, proposes allowing copyright holders to destroy the computers of people holding bootleg files, reports that the senator’s Web site includes an unlicensed programming script for which royalties run up to $900.

June 18: Whip me, beat me, make me stop traffic
A tractor-trailer rig carrying a load of sex toys catches fire, blocking one of England’s busiest highways for more than six hours.

July 2: “Go on, try it! I double-dog dare you!”
President Bush challenges Iraqi irregulars threatening additional attacks on U.S. troops in Iraq, “Bring it on!”

July 10: From brat to wurst
Pittsburgh Pirates first baseman Randall Simon uses a bat to hit a woman in an Italian-sausage costume during a mascot race between innings, causing the Italian sausage to fall over and take the hot dog down with her.

July 28: The (betting) bucks stop here
A Pentagon agency headed by Iran-Contra figure John Poindexter announces plans for a commodities-like market in which investors would profit from correctly predicting assassinations, acts of terrorism and other globally destabilizing events. The plans are scratched a day later; William Bennett declines to comment.

Aug. 3: Eeeeeee-vil
A nondenominational Christian church in Greenville, Mich., holds a book-burning to burn copies of the Bible. Church members say all versions except the King James Version are corrupt.

Aug. 7: Hiding in plain sight
Moore County sheriff’s deputies seize marijuana plants found growing on – wait for it – Hemp Street Extension.

Aug. 11: If they’d just kept quiet, it would have gone away. But this is Fox
Fox News sues comedian/actor Al Franken for using its slogan in the title of his book “Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right.” Orders for the book soar in response, boosting it to the top of The New York Times’ best-sellers list.

Aug. 22: Sounds like we have a replacement slogan for “fair and balanced”
Fox News’ lawsuit against Al Franken is thrown out of court by a federal judge, who comments: “There are hard cases, and there are easy cases. This is an easy case. This case is wholly without merit, both factually and legally.”

Aug. 24: Shul runnings
Israel has formed a bobsledding team to compete in the Olympics, the Jewish Bulletin of Northern California reports.

Sept. 4: That would explain the bra, the panties, the fishnets and the butt so big it needs its own ticket on airline flights
Fox News talk-show host Bill O’Reilly offers The New York Times his opinion on Franken’s book: “He says he’s a satirist. If Franken’s a satirist, then I’m Jennifer Lopez.”

Sept. 6: In Bush we trust
A man pays for $150 worth of groceries at a Food Lion in Roanoke Rapids with a $200 bill. The bogus bill – the Treasury does not print bills in that denomination – bears a picture of George W. Bush and the “signatures” of former presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, as well as a photo of the White House on the back with a sign on the lawn reading, “We like broccoli” and “USA deserves a tax cut.”

Sept. 7: Only the good die young
Singer/songwriter Warren Zevon, who penned such pop gems as “I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead,” “Poor, Poor Pitiful Me” and “Werewolves of London,” dies of lung cancer at age 56.

Sept. 8: As we said, only the good die young
Leni Riefenstahl, an influential filmmaker and leading Nazi apologist, dies at age 101.

Sept. 12: It makes your name grow, but the effects last only 24 hours
The town of Agra, Okla., temporarily but officially changes its name to Viagra, like the impotence drug, in response to an offer of concert tickets from a country radio station.

Sept. 15: How you likin’ them pink cells now?
Gerald Hege, the nationally known sheriff of Davidson County, is indicted on 15 counts of embezzlement and obstruction of justice.

Sept. 30: Rick Santorum said this would happen
A South African man previously implicated in the molestation of a goat skips bail on charges of sexually assaulting a pig.

Oct. 2: Like he said
Conservative talk-show host Rush Limbaugh is implicated in illegal purchases of the prescription painkiller oxycontin. This is the same Limbaugh who told viewers of his now-defunct TV show on Oct. 5, 1995, “If people are violating the law by doing drugs, they ought to be accused and they ought to be convicted and they ought to be sent up.”

Oct. 3: But not in newspapers
It’s OK to use the F-word in radio and television broadcasts, the Federal Communications Commission rules, as long as the context is neither sexual nor excretory.

Oct. 5: Dude, you own your own company. You couldn’t take her to a movie once in a while?
Cass Ballenger, the Republican who has represented North Carolina’s 10th District in Congress since 1986, blames the breakup of his 50-year marriage on tension caused by the close proximity of a Muslim advocacy group to the Capitol. He also blames a House of Representatives ban on accepting meals and theater tickets from lobbyists, a move he said denied his wife a social life.

Oct. 7: So you’re saying he was a politician
The Philadelphia Inquirer publishes this correction: “In Sunday’s Arts & Entertainment section, an article about the film ‘Kill Bill’ erroneously referred to Ricardo Montalban’s character in ‘Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan’ as a Klingon. Khan was an evil human bent on universal domination. …”

Oct. 7: Evil human bent on universal domination? Or leader of the worldwide resistance and last hope for mankind?
Actor Arnold “The Terminator” Schwarzenegger is elected governor of financially ailing California despite numerous allegations that he has sexually harassed women on his movie sets.

Oct. 8: What part of “nature, red in tooth and claw” didn’t you understand?
Timothy Treadwell, a California author/filmmaker famous for shooting Alaskan brown bears despite warnings from bear specialists that he was risking his life, was killed and eaten by one or more bears earlier in the week, the Anchorage Daily News reports. So was his girlfriend.

Oct. 9: Not-so-higher learning
An N.C. State student is threatened with legal action after posting a realistic-looking parody of a CNN Web page, reporting that performing oral sex on a man at least twice a week reduces a woman’s risk of breast cancer.

Oct. 9: Imagine if they asked him to throw the ball
Jacksonville Jaguars’ punter Chris Hanson gashes his left leg severely enough to require surgery when he swings an ax at a tree stump in the locker room and misses.

Oct. 9: But we’re going to get bent out of shape because someone dares to criticize what’s going on in Iraq
Televangelist Pat Robertson suggests that the State Department’s Washington headquarters should be destroyed with nuclear weapons.

Oct. 13: You might want to ask the grieving relatives whether they agree
In a speech at the University of Washington, U.S. Rep. George Nethercutt, R-Wash., criticizes media coverage of the war in Iraq by saying: “The story of what we’ve done in the postwar period is remarkable. It is a better and more important story than losing a couple of soldiers every day.”

Oct. 14: Well, that worked
Like many presidents before him, President Bush orders his administration to stop leaking to the news media. News of the order leaks within a day.

Oct. 23: Lowest wages, guaranteed
One way retail giant Wal-Mart is able to offer “the lowest prices. Guaranteed,” the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement claims, is by hiring illegal immigrants through a contractor and paying them as little as 25 cents per hour.

Nov. 5: Because, you know, he’s going to fly a stripper into a building
Provisions of the anti-terrorism Patriot Act are being used to investigate a strip-club owner and some politicians in a case with no link to terrorism, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports.

Nov. 12: Lies and the lying liars who might unseat them
Al Franken says he might run for U.S. Senate.

Nov. 13: Lies and the lying liars who try to one-up them
Not to be outdone, Bill O’Reilly says he might run for president.

Nov. 15: Designated driver? Hey, garcon, how ’bout you designate me another glass of Bordeaux?
The French wine industry, disturbed by a 15 percent drop in wine consumption since the beginning of a government campaign to discourage drunken driving, launches advertisements claiming that most adults can have a glass or three with dinner and still drive legally.

Nov. 17: Bet it doesn’t do so well in Jersey, either
A Louisiana parish (county) decides to ditch the voice-recognition software on its 911 system because the software cannot understand Southern accents.

Nov. 22: But Joe and Jane Taxpayer sign your checks, and you’d better not forget it
During a House discussion on whether to put Ronald Reagan’s picture on the U.S. dime, many House members reveal they do not know who is on the dime now, The Washington Post later reports. (It’s Franklin D. Roosevelt.)

Nov. 26: Weapons of mass destruction found in the United States: 1. Weapons of mass destruction found in Iraq: 0
Authorities arrested three white supremacists and confiscated a cyanide bomb near Tyler, Texas, that was capable of delivering a large cloud of lethal gas, Dallas/Fort Worth station KTVT reports.

Dec. 1: “We think we know what he means. But we don’t know if we really know”
So says Britain’s Plain English Campaign, giving its annual “Foot in Mouth” award for most baffling public comment to U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld for this 2002 comment: “Reports that say something hasn’t happened are always interesting to me because, as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns – the ones we don’t know we don’t know.”

Dec. 1: At least he wasn’t standing on the hood of his speeding car with his arms spread, shouting, “I’m king of the world!”
Hours before his swearing-in, the new Guilford County director of public health, Dr. Ramesh Krishnaraj, is charged with driving while impaired after driving his 2003 Mercedes-Benz convertible around the Stoney Creek golfing community with the top down, honking his horn.

Dec. 2: A divorce is the least of your problems, Congressman
The Council on American-Islamic Relations sues Rep. Cass Ballenger, R-N.C., for defamation in response to his having blamed the group for creating tension that broke up his 50-year marriage. Ballenger announces his retirement the same day.

Dec. 2: For when chloroform is just too darned hard to obtain
A Chicago-based company introduces what it calls the first-ever spray that helps kids fall asleep.

Dec. 4: Even cannibals have standards
A German man who has admitted killing and eating another man testifies that he received more than 400 other offers over the Internet from people seeking similar treatment, including one from a man he turned down because he was “too fat and not talkative enough.”

Dec. 9: Dude? That was no grocery store
Rush Limbaugh, fresh from rehab, posts this comment on his Web site: “I haven’t been to the grocery store in a long time. I have staff that does that for me. But I went to the grocery store recently, and they tried to over-prescribe me on all kinds of stuff.”

Dec. 10: And the tabloids will report it as, “Michael Jackson causes wreck”
While pulled over on a highway shoulder to call a radio talk show to complain about the consequences of excessive Michael Jackson coverage, a Long Island, N.Y., woman escapes serious injury when her SUV is rear-ended by another car.

Dec. 17: And finally, just a little something to think about as we head into a presidential election year
Executives of one of the nation’s largest makers of voting machines include felons convicted of stock fraud, cocaine trafficking and – surprise! – computer fraud, the Associated Press reports.

News & Record staffers, its wire services,,,,,,,,, The Wall Street Journal Online, National Review Online and the Web logs Amish Tech Support, TBogg, Eschaton, Counterspin, Silflay Hraka, A Small Victory and Tacitus contributed to this report.

Contact Lex Alexander at 373-7088 or

1 Comment

  1. […] filmmaker who spent so much time among Alaskan brown bears that they finally got tired of him and ate him. She was walking just where lots of other people walk all the time. […]

    Pingback by Odd and ends for 10/30/09 « Blog on the Run: Reloaded — Friday, October 30, 2009 7:59 pm @ 7:59 pm

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