Thursday, June 15, 2017

The News Of The World In Review


“All The News That’s Fit to Print.”----New York Times motto

“All The News That Fits, We Print.”----Mad Magazine motto

Dennis Rodman Saves The World

Quick answer----name the only man in the world on the buddy list of U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korea’s Dear Respected Leader Kim Jong Un.  If you said “nobody,” you’re close.  But there is, in fact, one noteworthy exception, one solitary individual who has somehow managed to bridge the  gap between the American Fuehrer and the Korean Kinkajou.  His name is Dennis Keith Rodman, a noted basketball practitioner and wedding dress model, who has appeared on Trump’s Celebrity Apprentice twice and dunked on Kim at least that often.  Dennis is returning to North Korea this week to ameliorate the worsening relationship between the two puffheads.  “I’m here to open a door,” he said.  Scoff if you will, but who else is handy?

Rodman has traveled at least four times to the Armpit of the East, his last trip in January of 2014 when he led a gaggle of former National Basketball Association players in an exhibition game alleged to have been a grandiose birthday present for Kim Fatty the Third, the North Korean leader’s cuddly title in China.  Despite the fact Kim has atomized scores of government officials he perceived as threatening to his reign (including and uncle and a half-brother), Rodman assures us he is “a very good guy.  Kim just wants to have fun, now.  Benevolent dictators just want to have fun.”

We think Dennis Rodman has a point here.  Kim Jong un has always been ready for a dialogue.  He sought a confab with the previous president, but grouchy old Barack Obama said no.  It makes a Dear Respected Leader want to shoot off a missile or two.  When we were kids, a new youngster named Eddie Ledwich moved into the neighborhood.  Nobody would play with him so he started beating people up.  Kim Jong un is the Eddie Ledwich of contemporary affairs.

In 2013, Donald Trump took note of Rodman’s escapades.  He called Dennis “smart” in an interview with Fox News.  “You look at the world,” said Trump, “the world is blowing up around us.  Maybe Dennis is a lot better than what we have.  He’s smart in many ways.  He’s very street-wise.”  How about Rodman for ambassador to the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea?  Hey, stranger things have happened.  Okay, not many.


Kung Fu Nuns Battle Trafficking Fiends In Himalayas 

No, this is not the National Enquirer, and we are not making all this up.  Five hundred aggravated nuns of the Buddhist Drukpa Order, high on lentils, pedalled their Schwinns 4000 gut-wrenching miles from Kathmandu to Leh in India dressed in black sweatpants, red jackets and white helmets, looking for trouble.  The ornery sect is led by Gyalwang (“The Wild One”) Drukpa, and all of them have been trained extensively in the martial arts, the better to contend with violence and harrassment from male monks.  If you see them comin’ better step aside; a lot of men didn’t and a lot of men died.

The Drukpa nuns have gained popularity in the last 12 years, their numbers growing from 30 to 500 members after the Asian debut of their action thriller movie “Hellions on Wheels.”  Now, they navigate the strenuous, steep and narrow mountain passes of the Himalayas, on the prowl for human traffickers of girls and women in Nepal and India who are sold by poor families who cannot afford to keep them.

“People think that because we are nuns, we are supposed to stay in the temples and pray all the time.  But praying is not enough,” says nunchucks expert Jigme Konchok Lhamo, who thinks nothing of smashing an evildoer to the asphalt.  “His Holiness teaches us that we have to go out and act on the words that we pray.  After all, actions speak louder than words.  You see any bad guys, you call me.”  Then she hands out a card embossed with the advisory: Have Sickle, Will Travel.  One ex-trafficker testifies to the nuns’ effectiveness, raising a left hand missing two fingers.  “I used to be selling young girls before nuns come.  Now I work in bakery.”


Wacky Funerals All The Rage

Pardon us for the misunderstanding.  We thought that when a person had the misfortune of dying, his relatives promptly ensconced him in a casket, invited over a few family friends to view the remains, then plunked him in a plot at Forest Lawn.  Or perhaps shoved the body into an oven with a giant paddle, consigning the ashes to a modest urn and dispatching them at a later date to the four winds or maybe the sidelines of his favorite college lacrosse team.  We were a little offput to discover there are strange alternatives afoot.

When our old pal Allen Morgan died, his daughter inserted him into the biodegradable container required to bury the old boy in Payne’s Prairie, which we thought was an animal sanctuary but turns out to be doubling as a “Conservation Cemetary.”  Let’s hope none of the local critters decide to dig Allen up, he was always very fussy about the neatness of his surroundings.

These “green burials” seem to be the coming thing.  “It’s so much more natural and simple,” says David Gold, a Gainesville dental hygienist who plans to be buried not far from Allen.  “It’s harmonious.  It puts things back in people’s control.”  Maybe so, but it’s awfully scruffy out there.  You don’t want to suggest it to your prissy mother.  You have to grab a compass and fight your way through the bramble bushes and red ant colonies to make it to the barely marked gravesites.  Don’t even ask about erecting large statues involving angels.

Conservation Cemetaries are small potatoes, though, compared to some final destinations.  When one of the faithful dies in Eklutna, Alaska, the Russian Othodox colony there buries the body and places a blanket over the grave.  Then, a very small wooden house about the size of a large dollhouse is placed over the grave and painted in the family colors.  Reminds a body of the post-race celebration at the Preakness.

You could be buried in a bright orange cube, perhaps a fitting resting spot for the current chief exec.  The San Cataldo Cemetary in Modena, Italy features such a building, an unadorned ultra-modern cube with a grid of square windows, suitable for filing away the dead.  Matter of fact, you could be the very first tenant, since the place hasn’t exactly caught on yet.  It has won a batch of designer awards for its architect, Aldo Rossi, however, many of them after he passed away.  The San Cataldo folks approached Aldo’s family, thinking they might like to make him the first permanant resident.  His mother responded with the Italian equivalent of “You’re kidding, right?” 


Fabulous Magic Hat Regrows Hair On Bald Heads

About time, too.  A society which can put a man on the moon, fabricate eloquent body parts to replace the originals and find a way to elect The Pillsbury Doughboy president of the United States should certainly have solved this problem long ago.  But enough complaining.  We’re here to announce that the Capillus company has finally developed a spiffy laser cap to spunk up your weary follicles.  They call it the Capillus272, “The world’s first clinically-proven, FDA-approved cap to treat hair loss.”

We know what you’re thinking.  Oh, we’ve heard all this before, it’s just so much grahdoo.  The Capillus folks would beg to differ, reminding that their little laser technology product is backed by clinical trials and a testy government agency’s stamp of legitimacy.  Ever try to get something approved by the FDA?  It’s like negotiating your way through one of those gigantic Halloween cornfield mazes where the witches keep jumping out and hitting you with broom handles.  If you insist, Capillus will be happy to show you page after page of boring clinical trial results which prove the 272 inspires 51% more hair growth than placebo hats.  It’s the diodes, they say, 272 of them (“the most of any hair loss cap or helmet available”), which rush down  to the user’s fallow roots and scream “WAKE UP!”  You, too, will wake up when we tell you the price of this marvel.  It’s 799, as in dollars.  I guess $800 would have been a smidge too much.  And the Capillus people promise their hat has no unpleasant side effects, like, say blowing up your head.

Hmmn.  $799 is a lot of money, but still.  Success of the hat requires only wearing it for 30 minutes a day so maybe we could form a buyers consortium of 16 baldies who each contribute 50 bucks.  Or maybe we could rent it out to the general public when we’re not using it, sorta like a timeshare.  Or set up a little booth in front of the mall with a few chairs and charge $10 for a half-hour session.  We could locate an extremely hairy shill, claim the Capillus 272 was responsible for his dense production and plunk him down in front of the booth.  The possibilities are endless.  A remote one is: what if it works? 



I Left My Heart In National Harbor

Okay, it doesn’t have the same ring to it as San Francisco, but give it time.  After all, the place is only nine years old.  The fabled advisory, Build It And They Will Come, was never more in evidence than with this place.  On April Fools’ Day of 2008, the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center opened one of their mammoth glass palaces right smack on the Potomac River, just south of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge in Prince George’s County, Maryland.  For a while, it was the only thing there.  A short while.  Then, Marriott went to work buying up much of the adjacent land for a few hotels of their own.  In 2014, MGM Resorts International opened a $1.4 billion casino resort complex on 23 nearby acres.  Now, there are thousands of hotel rooms, hundreds of residential and office units, attractive tree-lined promenades with scores of popular shops and restaurants, a sporty marina and The Capital Wheel, a 180-foot observation wheel featuring panoramic views of the nation’s capital.  Not bad for nine years old.  Siobhan and I went there last week so she could give a talk to a group of curious veterinarians uninformed in the ways of properly treating Equine Protozoal Myeloencephalitis.

We flew on Delta from Orlando to Reagan Airport, via Raleigh-Durham.  Remember when you could actually aviate from one place to another without  stopping somewhere in between?  Now, it’s impossible, unless you happen to be an heir of King Midas or take to the airways at some preposterous hour.  And the routes are occasionally mindbending.  On the way home, we flew from D.C. to New York to Orlando, and we didn’t even get to see a play.

Naturally, these short flights don’t require enormous planes, which means the overhead luggage compartments can no longer accept anything with wheels.  The smiling Delta lady will snap a tag on your bag and advise that you can pick it up planeside at the end of the flight.  This, of course, means waiting on a crowded jetway while the luggage is loaded onto a delivery vehicle, then battling through a grasping throng of passengers trying to identify which black bag is theirs (I’m in the market for an orange one after this).  On the positive side, all the flights took off and landed on time or early, the weather in Maryland was glorious, the AMC Hotel was peachy and I got to shake hands with a bronze sculpture of FDR.  Not to mention, Siobhan’s talk went off without a hitch, as it always does, and the seafood dinner at The Walrus Oyster House was scrumptious.  So how many stars does The Flying Pie Travel Bureau give National Harbor?  Four out of a possible five.  It’s an attractive area in a beautiful setting, a visitor can walk everywhere he or she needs to go, it’s as safe as safe gets these days and the hotelkeepers and shopowners are gracious and appreciative of your visit.  Not to mention, the sights and pleasures of Washington are a mere twenty minutes away.  We’re withholding the fifth star until National Harbor begins offering hotel rooms under $300 a night, which isn’t likely to be anytime soon.  Welcome to the 21st century.



That’s all, folks….