Negative Cash Flow

Aug. 30, 2008
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A man dressed as a woman escaped authorities after a robbery attempt at Joe's Cafe‚ in Metairie, La., in July, but he lost money in the process. As a ruse to get the clerk to open the cash register, he handed over a $5 bill to pay for two doughnuts. Then, with the register open for change, he pulled a gun and demanded the contents. The clerk immediately became hysterical and started screaming. The robber, frightened by the clerk’s reaction, fled the restaurant without his $5 or his dough nuts.

Can't Possibly Be True

Though it has been on the national cable channel G4 since mid-July, ratings have not been spectacular for the show "Hurl!" Therefore, many Americans remain unaware of precisely how far television standards have fallen. "Hurl!" contestants are forced to gorge them selves before being subjected to rapid twirl-and-shake carnival rides, with the last player to retain his stomach contents declared the winner. Wrote a Washington Post reviewer, the show is "for people who found 'Fear Factor' much too nuanced."

A Dallas entrepreneur recently created a programmable device for parents who are too busy to remember that they left their kids in the car. Through a continuing series of beeps, an alarm alerts parents if they exit the car without their children. Said one Texas woman interviewed by NBC News, "As a mom, you can get really distracted."

In June, Rocky Twyman of Washington, D.C., started Pray at the Pump, a brief, scattered national campaign that urges the use of prayer to bring down gas prices. A colleague in St. Louis claimed that his prayer sessions caused the price drop in July, pointing to his use of the civil rights anthem "We Shall Overcome" and his new verse, "We'll have lower gas prices."

Unclear on the Concept
(1) Victor Rodriguez, 21, about to be arrested on a domestic assault charge in Bridgeport, Conn., in June, turned to his 9-foot-long pet python and, as police approached, shouted to the snake, "Get them!" (It remained motionless.)
(2) In July, Josef Fritzl, the man who imprisoned his daughter and her children for 24 years in a dungeon in their home in Amstetten, Austria, told jail officials that he needs daily exercise outside because he hates being cooped up in his cell.

Bright Ideas
While most major opera houses provide sign-language interpreters, producer Marita Barber recently staged the opera The Hunt of King Charles in a version in which all performers sign instead of sing. At Barber's venue, the Theatre Totti on a Finnish island, actual baritones and sopranos were sought for their respective roles, even though they would sign all of the lyrics, because "we need facial expressions and gestures to get the feeling and the atmosphere across" to the deaf audience, Barber said (for example, when lyrics call for elongating a word to fit the music).

Tough Guys
(1) Lamont Cooke was arrested by law enforcement officers in Vernon, Conn., in July after spending the last year on the run from Pennsylvania and Maryland authorities, who were investigating him for charges of kidnapping and murder. According to the arresting U.S. marshal, Cooke surrendered quietly and without incident, except that he wet his pants.

(2) A police task force in Orem, Utah, arrested a 21-year-old gang member in June, catching him riding a tricycle that he had just stolen from a little girl.

People With Issues
Montreal, Quebec, psychiatrists Joel and Ian Gold believe they have identified five patients between them who are deluded to the point where they are certain they are starring in reality TV shows or movies about their lives. In the well established Capgras delusion, a patient believes that his immediate family has been replaced by look-alike actors, but the Golds' five patients believe that their every movement is being broadcast around the world (the Golds have named the disorder the "Truman Show delusion" after the 1998 movie starring Jim Carrey), according to a July National Post story.

Armed and Clumsy (all-new!)
Revenge of the Critters: A 44-year-old woman accidentally shot herself in the knee while pursuing a mouse inside her travel trailer (Potter Valley, Calif., July). A 27-year-old man accidentally shot himself in the head while chasing a skunk (Elwood, Utah, May). A 45-year-old woman accidentally shot herself in the foot while stalking a woodchuck in her garden (Ferryville, Wis., June). A 57-year old man accidentally shot himself in the hand while aiming at bees (Williamsburg, Pa., April). And a retired police officer accidentally shot himself in the chest while aiming at a snapping turtle behind his house (Bensalem, Pa., August).

2008 Chuck Shepherd


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