The Year That Was

December 15, 2000

This week I’ll be sharing with you a bizarre-news breakdown of the first six months of 2000. Next week I’ll bring you a breakdown of the second six months of 2000. The week after that, I’ll be on vacation and hopefully you’ll be too busy playing with your Hannukah, Solstice, Kwanzaa, or Christmas presents to read your e-mail. So here’s to 2000, and oh what a year it was.

January 2000: Surprisingly, after all the threats and dire predictions, 2000 did not begin with a bang. There were apparently no problems related to the "Y2K Bug" which, since August 1999, had given news reporters an effective way to scare the public. Technicians hired by companies to fix the problem held a massive closed-door meeting and emerged saying, "Actually it’s 2001 that’ll be a problem…"

A literacy campaign in England was scrapped after it was discovered that the posters promoting the campaign contained spelling errors. In a press release, a spokesperson for the campaign said they would look into hiring "proofeaders".

February: In Greece a teenage boy fell seven stories but was only slightly injured when he fell on two small plastic dumpsters. Apparently he was arguing with his mother, and made the leap after she said, "If all your friends jumped out the window, would you jump too?"

In Williamsburg, Virginia, a man interviewed on TV wearing only shorts, apparently to protest the cold weather, was arrested after police realized they had a warrant out for his arrest. This proves that anyone stupid enough to go out in the cold wearing only shorts is stupid enough to commit a crime, and anyone stupid enough to commit a crime is stupid enough to get caught.

March: In Florida, a man who was electrocuted while intoxicated sued six bars and liquor stores that he claims negligently sold him alcohol. Unfortunately he was too drunk to remember that one of the establishments he is now suing threw him out without serving him. The man is also suing the Florida power company (really!) for negligently providing electricity.

April: In Yonkers, New York, a woman went to the doctor after having a pain in her neck for three days. Thanks to an X-ray, the doctor was able to determine that the woman had been shot. She didn’t know she’d been shot, and, according to the story, detectives were uncertain where the bullet came from.

In Paris, France, an organization devoted to the liberation of garden gnomes stole 20 of the ceramic decorations from an exhibition. The Garden Gnome Liberation Front vanished in 1997 when a member was caught and fined for the disappearance of 150 garden gnomes. The only sign of group activity between 1997 and 2000 came in 1998 when 11 gnomes appeared hanging by their necks under a bridge. A suicide note was found to be a forgery after handwriting experts determined that the note’s author had "very large hands".

May: A Las Vegas entrepreneuer bought the Desert Inn resort as a wedding present for his wife. The two were married by an Elvis impersonator in a drive-through cathedral. A Wayne Newton impersonator, along with the real Wayne Newton, provided additional entertainment. What doesn’t bode well for the marriage is that the resort has an express divorce window right next to its "Dial-A-Hooker" courtesy phone.

June: In East Granby, Connecticut, police recovered a stolen bulldozer. This in itself isn’t unusual. The fact that the bulldozer disappeared 26 years ago is. Because the company that originally owned the bulldozer is out of business and already received an insurance check, the bulldozer is being held by the state and may be donated to a state agency to save the taxpayers some money–the most unusual thing of all.

In another case of recovered property, in Downey, California a woman’s wallet stolen in 1957 was found behind a cast iron sink in the Los Angeles County police headquarters. (The building wasn’t police headquarters in 1957.) Police were unable to locate the woman, but they found that her husband died in 1974–ironically the same year that the bulldozer was stolen.

Note: I am indebted to the following web sites for helping me find these news stories:

Enjoy this week’s offerings.

Thou shalt not skim flavor from the holidays
By Craig Wilson, USA TODAY

I hate this time of year. Not for its crass commercialism and forced frivolity, but because it’s the season when the food police come out with their wagging fingers and annual tips on how to get through the holidays without gaining 10 pounds. You can’t pick up a magazine without finding a list of holiday eating do’s and don’ts (not to mention light meals that are not only low-calorie, but completely tasteless). Eliminate second helpings, high-calorie sauces and cookies made with butter, they say. Fill up on vegetable sticks, they say.

Good grief. Is your favorite childhood memory of Christmas a carrot stick? I didn’t think so. Isn’t mine, either. A carrot was something you left for Rudolph.

I have my own list of tips for holiday eating. I assure you, if you follow them, you’ll be fat and happy. So what if you don’t make it to New Year’s? Your pants won’t fit anymore, anyway.

  1. About those carrot sticks. Avoid them. Anyone who puts carrots on a holiday buffet table knows nothing of the Christmas spirit. In fact, if you see carrots, leave immediately. Go next door, where they’re serving rum balls.

  2. Drink as much eggnog as you can. And quickly. Like fine single-malt scotch, it’s rare. In fact, it’s even rarer than single-malt scotch. You can’t find it any other time of year but now. So drink up! Who cares that it has 10,000 calories in every sip? It’s not as if you’re going to turn into an eggnogaholic or something. It’s a treat. Enjoy it. Have one for me. Have two. It’s later than you think. It’s Christmas!

  3. If something comes with gravy, use it. That’s the whole point of gravy. Gravy does not stand alone. Pour it on. Make a volcano out of your mashed potatoes. Fill it with gravy. Eat the volcano. Repeat.

  4. As for mashed potatoes, always ask if they’re made with skim milk or whole milk. If it’s skim, pass. Why bother? It’s like buying a sports car with an automatic transmission.

  5. Do not have a snack before going to a party in an effort to control your eating. The whole point of going to a Christmas party is to eat other people’s food for free. Lots of it. Hello? Remember college?

  6. Under no circumstances should you exercise between now and New Year’s. You can do that in January when you have nothing else to do. This is the time for long naps, which you’ll need after circling the buffet table while carrying a 10-pound plate of food and that vat of eggnog.

  7. If you come across something really good at a buffet table, like frosted Christmas cookies in the shape and size of Santa, position yourself near them and don’t budge. Have as many as you can before becoming the center of attention. They’re like a beautiful pair of shoes. You can’t leave them behind. You’re not going to see them again.

  8. Same for pies. Apple. Pumpkin. Mincemeat. Have a slice of each. Or, if you don’t like mincemeat, have two apples and one pumpkin. Always have three. When else do you get to have more than one dessert? Labor Day?

  9. Did someone mention fruitcake? Granted, it’s loaded with the mandatory celebratory calories, but avoid it at all cost. I mean, have some standards, mate.

  10. And one final tip: If you don’t feel terrible when you leave the party or get up from the table, you haven’t been paying attention. Reread tips. Start over.

But hurry! Cookieless January is just around the corner.

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