When Juan Zamora of Richland, Washington, filled the tank of his 1994 Camaro on Tuesday he was shocked to find out that his PayPal debit card had been charged $81,400,836,908. PayPal apologized and reversed the charge, saying the payment for his portion of the stimulus package wasn’t actually due until March 15th.
Archive for February 2009
Taylor’s Bakery of Indianapolis, Indiana, will be the first U.S. outlet to sell the fabulous new Pizza Cone. Yes, it’s a pizza dough cone filled with cheese, tomato sauce, and extras like pepperoni, sausage, sprinkles, and whipped cream. Just kidding about the last two. I hope. And why shouldn’t there be pizza cones? Baskin-Robbins has been selling ice cream pies for years and Ben of Ben & Jerry’s fame’s last name is Cohen, so turnabout is fair play. At least a pizza cone won’t give you a brain freeze.
Oreste Lionello, who dubbed the voices of Woody Allen, Jerry Lewis, Peter Sellers, Marty Feldman, and Charlie Chaplin in Italian releases of the stars’ movies, died last week. Many Italians had never heard the stars’ real voices but knew Lionello’s well. It reminds me of a landlord in St-Malo, France, a number of years ago who absolutely adored Clint Eastwood. One night while talking I realized he’d never actually heard the actor say any of his famous lines because he’d always seen dubbed movies. Somehow “Allez-y, fais-moi plaisir” just doesn’t make my day.
In testimony before the Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said the economy is suffering through a “severe contraction.” He also told the members of Congress that the federal deficit is bigger than a bread box, Hitler wasn’t a very nice guy, and the stimulus checks are in the mail.
A South Korean woman named Cha Sa-soon has a dream—to buy a truck and start her own business. But first she needs a driver’s license. For the past four years she’s been trying, having taken the written exam 775 times and spending more than 10 million won ($6,800) on test applications. She’s failed each time. “I believe you can achieve your goal if you persistently pursue it,” she says. “So don’t give up your dream, like me. Be strong and do your best.” Or save your money and walk.
Lee Redmond of Salt Lake City, Utah, was in a car crash last week and sustained serious but non-life-threatening injuries, the most serious being that her fingernails, which hadn’t been cut since 1979 and were listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s longest, all broke. Yes, all 28 feet of them. Even the longest, which was on her right thumb and stretched 2 feet, 11 inches. On the positive side, she didn’t impale herself, she’ll save $342 each time she goes in for a manicure, and she can finally dial a telephone again.
Muzak, the string-filled background music that turned rock ‘n roll into Cream o’ Wheat and made the Walkman and iPod so necessary, has filed for bankruptcy. If the reorganization doesn’t go well elevators may soon be quieter and a visit to the dentist’s office a little less painful.
A hardline Hindu organization that opposes “corrupting” Western food imports like Pepsi and Coca Cola is preparing to launch a new soft drink made from cow’s urine. It will be mixed with things such as aloe vera and gooseberry, so it won’t just taste delicious, it will be good for you. “Cow urine offers a cure for around 70 to 80 incurable diseases like diabetes,” said Om Prakash, of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), or National Volunteer Corps. They haven’t decided on a name or a price for the drink yet. How about Yuck Cola and free?
Starbucks is set to release a line of instant coffee next month called Via, which the company says will be a reasonable facsimile of their in-store coffee. Except, of course, that it will be ready in an instant rather than forever, you won’t have to listen to anyone in front of you complain because they ordered their coffee at 172 degrees and the thermometer they walk around with says it’s not that hot, and it will only cost $1.00 a cup. For instant. At home. With no service. At about the same price it costs in the store. Which is about 10 times as much as a cup of Folgers. Ah, now that’s a cup of coffee!
Blackwater Worldwide, the company best known for its security work in Iraq, is changing its name to Xe. As in Xenon. And the well known foreign currency exchange website. They say it will be pronounced like the letter “z” and it will make people forget the September 2007 shooting in Iraq that left a dozen civilians dead. See, you’ve forgotten already.
Queen Elizabeth’s web site has been revamped, and it’s more 2.0 than II. First launched in 1997, the purple site—not to be confused with His Purpleness’ site—now has a link to YouTube’s royal channel, the ability to stalk—I mean, track—the Queen’s public engagements on Google Maps, a section devoted to her highness’ pet corgis, and the ability to submit palace job applications online. The only things missing are an interactive tutorial on how to do the queenly wave, a mash-up of Queen songs with videos of Liz superimposed with your face, and the ability to friend her on Facebook from the site.
Tired of wine and chocolate tastings? Scientists at Leeds University in England have used an “aroma-meter” to discover why French fries, or chips as they call them, smell so irresistible. Dr. Graham Clayton says the fried taters give off a complex blend of scents that includes butterscotch, cocoa, cheese, flowers, onion, “and would you believe…ironing boards.” The findings, whose announcement coincides with National Chip Week, could herald the adoption of chip tastings, much like those for wine and chocolate. “Mmmm…it has a pleasant taste of bittersweet cocoa with overtones of ironing board and a top note of wilted flowers. But it’s the cats pee aftertaste with Benjamin Moore turpentine that really sets these off.”
When Boynton Beach, Florida, police tried to stop Elvis Alonzo Barrett for a traffic violation last week, he took off, running red lights and crashing into another car and a fence. He’s being charged for fleeing, eluding, reckless driving, and the crack cocaine police found in his car. He’s also been issued more than 50 traffic citations, for infractions including speeding, running red lights, and not wearing a seat belt. Police haven’t said how many points that will total on his license or how many years of Online Comedy Topless Traffic School he’ll have to take before he can drive again.
John Schnatter, the founder of Papa John’s pizza, was asked by an interviewer on the BBC whether he was concerned about the impact of the British government’s anti-obesity drive on pizza sales. “No,” he replied. “Pizza’s actually healthy for you if you don’t eat too much of it. You can’t eat five or six slices but if you eat one or two slices it’s very nutritious.” Every day. For each meal. Including breakfast. And snacks. And be sure to order an extra large with double everything just to make sure you’re getting enough vitamins and minerals.
After a photo was published in Britain’s News of the World showing Michael Phelps taking a bong hit at a party, he was suspended from swimming competition for three months. Then Kellogg decided not to renew his sponsorship contract, which had put his face on Frosted Flakes and Corn Flakes. And lots of money in his pocket. What was he thinking when he let someone take a photo of him doing that? Was he high or something?
Visitors to Venice, Italy, can now go online and buy a prepaid toilet card that will not only allow them to get into public bathrooms for up to a week, but gives them a discount over the usual price of 1 euro ($1.28). No if they could only figure out a way to let you go to the bathroom online…
Dairy Crest, the makers of England’s Country Life butter, say sales went up 85% in the last quarter thanks to an ad campaign featuring John Lydon— better known as Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols—expounding on the joys of butter while dressed in tweed. Now that’s Anarchy in the U.K. for the New Millennium.
The Treasury Department says it needs to borrow $493 billion during the first three months of this year, a record amount for the first quarter. This is on top of the $569 billion the government borrowed in the fourth quarter of last year. The credit market’s very tight. What if they can’t get the loan? Hmmmm….maybe they could go to some of the banks that got part of the $700 billion bailout money and borrow some of it back?
Shoes are the new pies, at least when it comes to throwing them. In England today, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao was giving a speech when a protester stood up, called him a dictator, and threw a shoe at him, missing him by about three feet. Meanwhile, in Tikrit, Iraq, they unveiled a statue Thursday to honor journalist Muntazer al-Zaidi, the man who threw his shoes at then President Bush while calling him a dog. The six-foot-high bronze-colored shoe is filled with a plastic shrub. Or bush, if you will. Can Jimmy Choos and Mano Blahniks with hand grips be far behind?