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A favorite joke

Marvin is working in his store when he hears a booming voice from above: "Marvin, sell your business." He ignores it. It goes on for days. "Marvin, sell your business for $3 million." After weeks of this, Marvin relents, sells his store. The voice says ‘Marvin, go to Las Vegas." He asks why. "Marvin, take the $3 million to Las Vegas." He obeys, goes to a casino. The voice says, "Marvin , go to the blackjack table and put it down all on one hand." He hesitates but knows that he must. He’s dealt an 18. The dealer has a six showing. "Marvin, take a card." What? The dealer has -- " Take a card!" Marvin tells the dealer to hit him. He gets an ace. Nineteen. He breathes easy. "Marvin, take another card." What? "TAKE ANOTHER CARD!" Marvin asks for another card. It’s another ace. He has twenty. "Marvin, take another card," the voice commands. I have twenty! Marvin shouts. "TAKE ANOTHER CARD!!" booms the voice. Hit me, Marvin says. He gets another ace. Twenty one. The booming voice goes: "Un-fucking-believable!"

HOW TO GET OUT OF JURY DUTY

[Disclaimer: Jury duty is a service we owe our fellow citizens. It is a critical community responsibility. That said. If you really absolutely can't. This instructional allows you to make an alternative civic contribution.]   Here's how to get out of jury duty. GUARANTEED to work. I just did it and you can too, without getting into trouble, without feeling like you're not being a responsible member of society, and while providing a laudable service to other prospective jurors in the courtroom, not least of all to the defendant. Please note: This doesn't work for civil trials. To get yourself out of adjudicating a civil dispute you need a pressing previous engagement. For criminal cases, this single spoken line will make defense attorneys love you but more to the point, city prosecutors will immediately wipe you from the list and hope you never show up to pee in their jury pool again. I'm talking about being an apostle for "jury nullification". That's two words, and they're fully legal. But please, please, do explain them or you really will be copping out. You have a constitutionally guaranteed right to talk about jury nullification. And where better than in front of prospective jurors about to take responsibility for a defendant's fate? Here's how it works. Every jury selection involves "voir dire", where attorneys question potential jurors to weed out difficult ones. During every voir dire the prosecution will ask "Is there anyone here who cannot follow what the judge instructs you to do?" Take a deep breath, raise your hand, that's your cue. The prosecutor will likely elaborate, to pretend you may have misheard. "Does anyone think they don't have to reach a verdict based on the judge's expert instructions?" The prosecutor may have already explained that jurors are often surprised to find their own interpretation of the law at odds with that of the judge. Regardless of personal feelings, the prosecutor will insist, jurors must weigh the evidence according to the law AS INSTRUCTED. Your hand is still raised. You answer: "Not really. The legal principle of jury nullification holds that it's a citizen's responsibility to consider their conscience in whether or not a law is applied or how it is applied." A foolish prosecutor will ask you to explain, and you can. "Jury Nullification is the only way that people have changed repressive laws in this country. The decision to discard unfair or abusive laws is made by juries who refuse to enforce them. Jurors, for example, who came to feel that maybe it shouldn't be illegal for slaves to run away from slave owners." At this point you are essentially contaminating the jury with a very subversive idea. Though you'll be eliminated, the concept will hang in the back of the other jurors' heads. If the prosecutor wants to hear more, or wants to debate, let them have it. "The constitution guarantees us all the right to a trial by a jury of our peers. Not a jury composed of judges. Of peers. That's

Bananagrams true lowercase scrabble

SNL's Weekend Update poked fun at a tragic development in the world of word games. SCRABBLE rescinded its famous prohibition on proper names and places, leaving SNL to suggest that JENGA should let us use glue. Was traditional Scrabble (let's call it Scrabble Classic) becoming too difficult for today's wordsmiths? Maybe conjuring anagrams from a modern vocabulary has became too hard a scrabble. The timing of this generous handicap would seem to take aim at viral rival BANANAGRAMS, a faster but no looser crossword game. I think the focus playgroup missed a larger no-child-left-behind incompatibility, math. To square off with Bananagrams, Scrabble needs to dumb down the arithmetic. Maneuvering the ten-point letter unto the triple-letter square, that's a challenge best left to our British Commonwealth cousins, our betters at math, science and now, I'm guessing, English as a Second First Language. Although one could long, with Bananagrams, for a more complicated scoring system than simply who "peels" last. I'd like to see scores for most words formed, or long peel drives, or complexity of words formed. An interesting dilemma develops in Bananagrams between choosing entertaining words versus more interchangeable monosyllabic varieties. But Bananagrams keeps it simple and fast, which I think explains its contemporary appeal. Which by no means means simple. Newcomers to Bananagrams, as they did for Scrabble, still find themselves well outmatched by players equipped with crossword puzzle vocabularies. Adz, Ait, Axon.. if you're lacking for despicable examples. Scrabble had to open the doors to proper nouns probably because today's television vocabulary consists largely of brand names and trademarks.

The Famous burger not most famous

Once again COLORADO SPRINGS STYLE nominates THE FAMOUS for the city's best burger. It ran against the usual lineup of respectable dining establishments plus King's Chef, the token dive, but there were notable omissions worth pointing out. At the crux, The Famous grinds their own hamburger from bits trimmed from nonpareil $40 steaks, but we're talking Iowa corn-fed variety, not prairie grass fed beef. You can find a free-range burger at Adams Mountain, which is listed, and Manitou's The Keg, which is not. The health aspect is a first omission that might have informed local diners immeasurably. Ranch Foods Direct, and their packing house on the west side, is a regional wholesaler of sustainable, safe meat. But they supply only a few local joints, from The Blue Star to Cy's Drive-in, to Barney's. If their burgers didn't make the culinary grade, I think it's worth noting they are orders of magnitude healthier than what the others are serving. Get that word out, and those restaurants charging $12.95 for a burger will allocate some of their cost to better beef. Conways Red Top was also overlooked, whose burger is arguably Colorado Springs' most famous. Red Top's giant burger had its own chapter in Eric Schlosser's Fast Food Nation. The local chain was praised for its favorable labor practices and better food sources, in comparison to its fast food competitors. Red Top has since made some compromises with its hamburger patties, but they're still a local favorite. I remember once taking some Norb's Whole Burgers from carryout to a Spring Spree park event downtown. Amid brats and roast turkey legs, Hawaiian tacos and the usual concession fare, everyone wanted what we were having. Thankfully STYLE ignored the fast food chains, the ceaseless Carl's Junior ad barrage notwithstanding. Likewise there was no dwelling on the corporate theme restaurants for whom the better burger is a raison d'etre. Those omissions, if you're avoiding the mad-cow feed-lots, meet our approval.

Simple American breakfast no longer

My ideal breakfast is served at a diner: coffee, eggs, hash browns and toast. But can you feel healthy about it --as your conscience (n) --> vegan? You could pack in sugar in the raw, sea salt, and organic peppercorns in the requisite grinders; likewise from a cooler you could pull jars of rBGH-free half and half, real butter, and organic ketchup if you're inclined. But what about what's served on the plate? A disclaimer: let's define eating to mean the consumption of nutrition and avoidance of toxin. That precludes genetically modified organisms, irradiated produce, chemical pesticides, trans-fats, corn-syrup, HFCS, etc. The expression "natural" has been co-opted by Big Agra, but no longer can detractors say that "organic" doesn't mean anything. I'm omitting the optional meats: ham, bacon and sausage links for the obvious reasons; free-range, grass-fed, single-animal slaughtered efforts notwithstanding. Enough said. Empty calories like juice are out as well, unless it's freshly squeezed for your glass. And let's presume too, we'll be asking the cook to stir some onions and peppers into the hash browns, for at least a little green. Before we leave the subject of condiments, there a three non-perishable items it might be worth bringing with you to the diner. For your toast: corn-less fruit preserves, unheated honey, and if you're planning to add pancakes, grade-B maple syrup. The diner variety syrup, and any portion-size pre-packaged confection are apt to be entirely corn syrup and HFCS. If the price of your breakfast starts at $3.80, it's unlikely your local diner can afford the healthy food supplies you are able to ferret from your grocer. It's become enough of a feat to stock them at home. Let's see: eggs from vegetarian-fed cage-less chickens, organic potatoes, whole-grain bread. All these hyphens concatenate into a value meal priced more like a dinner entree. And there's probably no chance a typical diner can spring for fair-trade organic coffee beans. Economists point to America's relatively level cost of living. Progressive analysts address the subsidies which keep commodity prices artificially low. Others decry the need for society to address the real costs which cripple our unhealthy system. From the consumer's point of view, the cost of real nutrition has suffered a hyperinflation to put it beyond our reach, eating out or in. NOTES: 1. Here's that recipe for organic catsup: 3 cups canned organic tomato paste ¼ cup whey (liquid from plain yogurt) 1 Tbls sea salt ½ cup maple syrup ¼ tsp cayenne pepper 3 cloves peeled & mashed garlic ½ cup fish sauce fish sauce Mix together in a wide-mouth glass jar, leave at least an inch below the top and leave it at room temperature for 2-3 days before putting into the refrigerator. Recipe makes a whole quart. 2. An optimum juice concoction: 1. Beetroot 2. Celery 3. Carrot 4. Apple 5. Ginger 3. Three lists: Foods to buy organic: Meat, Milk, Coffee, Peaches, Apples, Sweet Bell Peppers, Celery, Nectarines, Strawberries, Cherries, Kale, Leafy Greens, Grapes, Carrots, Potatoes, Tomatoes Foods that don't need to be organic: Onions, Avocado, Sweet Corn, Pineapple, Mango, Asparagus, Sweet Peas, Kiwi

Americanface, ground floor

Remember Spiders On Drugs, of the 23 million views on Youtube? Victoria filmmaker Andrew Struthers, aka First Church of Christ, has followed it up with a series called AMERICANFACE, "an epic comedy adventure serial about a pilgrimage I once made to Tibet by mistake." Struthers is digital age James Burke. Texts are published at The Tyee. Daily 90 second episodes have been concatenated into weekly portions, hence parts 1-8. Americanface is on hiatus for the holidays. At Struther's column on The Tyee, you can see each episode with its accompanying text. Although this great bit of script seems to have been cut from the Schrodinger's Cat segment: The health club was in Kawanishi. Strange town. Streets crisscrossed by ditches that ran blue with dye from acres of drying frames, where stretched hundreds of leather hides, like the husks of indigo cows. The club's cavernous gymnasium rattled with cries and smashing sticks from a hundred housewives playing kendo. To drown it out, the PA blared techno beats and western pop songs, interrupted by Coppertone ads beseeching Japanese women to get a tan, "Like a healthy gaijin," because the Geisha whiteface look had become passe. One song played over and over until it wore out my mind like cheap underpants: Touch me Touch me I want to feel your body Your heart beat next to mine Fortunately, in the weight room we had a boom box for tapes. But there was only one tape, and it played the same damn song: Touch me Touch me now! After weeks of torment, I tried to destroy the tape. Turned out the singer was Samantha Fox, Rupert Murdoch's golden girl. She'd gone from Page Three of the Sun to spokeswoman for the Times to international rock star. I had filed her under bimbo, but it looked like she knew something about Schrodinger's Cat.

Little East district of Colorado Springs

I'm already months late in mentioning a new addition to downtown's ethnic fare. It's an Afghan restaurant called RUMI'S KABOB, in the location of the old Persian Grill. Rumi's joins the Everest Nepal Restaurant, the Taste of Jerusalem Cafe, the Pita Pit, Everest Tibet Imports, and the Hookah King, to define Bijou Street's LITTLE EAST. Rumi's lunch buffet offers your best introduction to Afghan cuisine. Here are the fundamentals: Challau, a boiled rice baked with cumin seeds; Daal, lentils; Sabzi, sauteed spinach; Banjan, pan-fried eggplant; Kadu, baked banana squash; and Sheer Birenj, rice pudding seasoned with cardamom. For a crack at deciphering an Afghan menu, two chief curries are Kourma and Lawang. Personal recommendations: for starters Aushak, the Mantu entree, and Jalabi for dessert. These words would seem as strange to us as items on a Vietnamese menu, another land from which Americans returned without any real sense of the language. Without probably even meaning to, the block of Bijou between Tejon and Cascade Ave is becoming the city's vibrant center. Besides Starbucks, it boasts thoroughly functional stops like Gertrude's House of Hair, now expanded to a spa, Bargain Comics and Bijou Tattoo, and downtown's only convenience store, the Bijou Minimart. And what is any SW city street without Mexican food at 3 Hermanos? On floors above you can Jazzercise, or attend the region's smokiest AA meetings. All this, and still a half dozen retail spaces are vacant, awaiting investment in Colorado Springs' cultural mecca. I nearly forgot to mention the alley between the Saks and Majestic buildings, off of which lie the Rubbish Gallery, the Modbo, and the eternal speakeasy, 15C. As the exodus gateway to the Bijou Bridge and Interstate 25, the block offers weekday commuters a briefest taste of urban gridlock. What an additional metro thrill if the city erected an archway, like Chinatown's famous gate, to distinguish the attraction. What a metropolis we would seem to become, if there was a distinct ethnic identity inside and apart from Colorado Springs that wasn't Anglo.

Bobcat

COLO. SPRINGS- We've seen mule deer in the dozen, two bears wrestling, and fox triplets at play, but this was the first wild cat Marie had seen on Cheyenne Mountain. Did it escape the zoo? It's a Bobcat, aka Lynx Rufus, halted momentarily for the camera. This cat stood 22 inches or so tall at the shoulders, with a paw print 2.5 inches wide, and moved with a stealthy nonchalance across the properties, but you could plot its progress by the loud consternation of the birds. Wildlife management was not alerted. Taking in the sun while waiting out the photographer. Deciding on an alternate route.

Simplifying the Omnivore’s Dilemma

The author of The Omnivore's Dilemma put together a list of eating rules for the New York Times. From 2,500 submissions made by his readers, Michael Pollan gleaned 20. If I lob cheap laughs off the top, like "Don't eat egg salad from a vending machine" and other home-spun wisdoms which help NYT editors trivialize critiques of consumerism, I'm left with eight tips to spark constructive rethinking of our eating patterns. For starters: 1. If you are not hungry enough to eat an apple, then you’re not hungry. 2. You may not leave the table until you finish your fruit. 3. You don’t get fat on food you pray over. 4. Breakfast you should eat alone. Lunch you should share with a friend. Dinner, give to your enemy. 5. Never eat something that is pretending to be something else. 6. Don’t eat anything you aren’t willing to kill yourself. 7. Don’t yuck someone’s yum. 8. Eat until you are seven-tenths full and save the other three-tenths for hunger.

Honeybees were dying because?

Non-Bing-ers know the net is about the journey, not the destination. My search yesterday became the acquisition: from a Posterous tweet, to revisiting OK Go's 2006 treadmill video, to their backyard dance gone-viral, to choreographer sister Trish Sie in LOLLIPOP (new tab: Mika's highschool anthem WE ARE GOLDEN), to Sie's PSA for Saatchie & Saatchie: HELP THE HONEY BEES. When the worry was climate change or pesticides: poor bees. Then the suspect was GMOs.

Starbucks customers know their coffee

Okay this is the obligatory coffee house post. Starbucks is betting its customers can't tell fresh brewed from instant. Choose X or Y -- the two are separated by gender apparently. Results could prove V, their space-age "VIA" instant product improves on Folgers, or W, their customers can't tell good coffee from WORSE. I tried it. Starbucks gave itself a break by putting its VIA instant, specially priced at $2.99 for three doses, against its ordinary brew, no Sidamo or Yirgacheffe for comparison. It's probably the base they have stewing on the BUNN to caffeinate all their products. I couldn't tell that from truck stop coffee. Good luck differentiating from that. If Starbucks has set out to prove what Folgers never could, it's proved what we already suspected. Starbucks has a lock on the best beans in the world, but its customers have been gorging themselves on the caramel whipped creme milkshakes and no longer know espresso from chocolate syrup. VIA will remind them of what coffee used to taste like at Duncan Doughnuts or the Waffle House. Bitter Americana.

Federer finds sweet spot below the belt

Tennis Grand Slam tournaments are for fans of Lexus, Chase, Netjets and JP Morgan, apparently. JP Morgan executive Mary Callahan Erdoes was even on hand during a commercial break to "thank the fans."   But at today's US Open, Roger Federer showed that Heineken drinkers aren't above circus hijinks. Federer scored the second to last point of the men's semifinal round with a swing between the legs. Note he is looking at neither the ball, nor the court, making not just a save, but placing a return beyond the reach his opponent. Physical intuition.

Top 10 Westerns, if you ask the French

  Are you a fan of the American Western? How do you think your taste might match a survey of French film critics? Though we mock their high regard for Jerry Lewis, let's allow that France has a film history that predates ours, and a legacy of critical journals beyond the reach of our Hollywood shills. Besides which, the golden age of the movie western lies well between the brothers Lumiére and the Nouvelle Vague. Perusing John Cawelti's The Six-Gun Mystique published in 1976, I found a list of the TOP TEN GREATEST WESTERNS. Think any of your favorites made the list? Your odds improve because ties were listed as individual ranks, so the entire top ten comprises almost 100 titles. The survey excludes works made after the early seventies obviously. TOP TEN WESTERNS 1. Johnny Guitar -- Nicholas Ray 2. Rio Bravo -- Howard Hawks 3. The Big Sky -- Howard Hawks, w. AB Guthrie 4. (tie) The Naked Spur -- Anthony Mann Rancho Notorious -- Fritz Lang Man Without a Star -- King Vidor 5. (tie) My Darling Clementine -- John Ford The Left-Handed Gun -- Arthur Penn, w. Gore Vidal The Searchers --John Ford Ride the High County -- Sam Peckenpah 6. (tie) Silver Lode -- Allan Dwan Red River -- Howard Hawks Duel in the Sun -- King Vidor The Hanging Tree -- Delmer Daves Run of the Arrow -- Sam Fuller Seven Men From Now -- Budd Boetticher 7. (tie) The Last Hunt -- Richard Brooks The Far Country -- Anthony Mann Colorado Territory -- Raoul Walsh Wagonmaster --John Ford The Unforgiven -- John Huston Man of the West -- Anthony Mann Heller in Pink Tights -- George Cukor, w. Louis L'Amour 8. (tie) Man From Laramie -- Anthony Mann The Plainsman -- Cecil B. DeMille Western Union -- Fritz Lang Winchester 73 -- Anthony Mann Warlock -- Edward Dmytryk They Died with their Boots On -- Raoul Walsh The Last Frontier -- Anthony Mann The Last Wagon -- Delmer Daves River of No Return -- Otto Preminger 9. (tie) Stagecoach -- John Ford, w. Ernest Haycock The Outlaw -- Howard Hughes, w. Ben Hecht Billy the Kid -- King Vidor Comanche Station -- Budd Boetticher The Wonderful Country -- Robert Parrish, w. Tom Lea Wichita -- Jacques Tourneur 3:10 to Yuma -- Delmer Daves, w. Elmore Leonard The Magnificent Seven -- John Sturges, w. Akira Kurosawa Gunfight at the OK Corral -- John Sturges, w. Leon Uris Tennessee's Partner -- Allan Dwan, w. Bret Harte 10. (Another 45 titles, including) Shane -- George Stevens The Misfits -- John Huston, w. Arthur Miller Major Dundee -- Sam Peckinpah One Eyed Jacks -- Marlon Brando The Treasure of the Sierra Madre -- John Huston, w. B. Traven The Gold Rush -- Charlie Chaplin Go West -- Buster Keaton Fort Bravo -- John Sturges

You know you’re in Texas when

--when the bas relief of the Dumas TX motel waffle iron is oddly asymmetric. You study the strange edges in the dim light of the breakfast area with a growing suspicion, but flipping the heated iron over, following the instructions, you see someone's presumed you wanted a waffle the image of Texas.

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