Thursday, November 26, 2009

Dismembered Corpse Found In Sarasota; "A Murder Most Fowl..."

The call came into the station early that day; too early to be anything but bad news. A jogger had stumbled across a body in a rundown section of town and the coroner says there's no question that it was a homicide. That's where I come in.

The dawn broke cool and crisp in Sarasota the day after Thanksgiving a few years ago. The coroner was waiting as I rolled up and walked me over to the corpse.

"Sorry I'm late, Doc," I said. "I had to drop off a couple of $400 checks to some people, then 9-1-1 gave me the wrong address and I've been driving around for an hour looking for you."

"Not surprised," Doc replied. "We were sent to three different locations before we gave up and called Tony Cormier at the Herald-Tribune to find out where to go."

"This is the worst I've ever seen, boys," he mumbled. "And I hope I never see another like it." Off to the side, a veteran patrol officer openly wept.

Old Doc was right. This was the worst I had ever seen, too.

Partially wrapped in a plastic bag laying next to some garbage cans were the mutilated remains of a female. It appeared as though some sort of animal had gotten to it during the night. At least, I hoped it was an animal.

She was young. It was hard to tell, though, since all that was left of her was a skeleton, some gristle and various bits and pieces of skin. Her head, arms and legs had been removed from her torso and most of her flesh stripped from her bones, as were her once-voluptous breasts. There was evidence of knife wounds all over the victim, even bite marks on what was left of her legs and thighs. We surmised she had been killed at a different location because her entrails had been ripped out and could not be located in the crime scene area.

No I.D., no distinctive markings, no clues to go on, except for a scrap of plastic wrapper bearing the cryptic word 'Butterball'..........

The coroner used DNA to make a positive identification. Her name was Gloria. Gloria Giblet Gobbler, to be exact. And so it fell to me to piece the rest of the story together and fill in the blanks of how and why she was killed. I had lots of questions: Satanic ritual? Charles Manson wannabes? Voodoo cult? Mob hit? Some wild sex party that got out of hand? My God, could it even be.... cannibals? Here in Sarasota? I knew too well the dark, seamy underbelly of this town; nothing would be off the table for this case.

"One more thing," Doc said with resignation. "Her furcula had been ripped out and snapped in two." I wish he never would have told me that. Now I'd have to Google "furcula."

I interviewed some of her acquaintances. Turns out she was last seen in a Publix grocery store off Clark Rd. just a few days earlier. Surveillance video showed her being picked up by a middle-aged couple and being put in the back seat of a late model SUV. She seemed to go willingly, although she may have been frozen in fear when they grabbed her.

Gloria had had a checkered past, but friends say she was getting her life turned around and wanted to attend cooking school, which, now seems tragically ironic. She had been raised on a farm out in the midwest. As is so often the case, she fell in with the wrong crowd. Started using drugs, mostly artificial hormones, steroids, growth enhancers. Probably trying to grow bigger boobs. Why do chicks think that a bigger chest is the answer to all their problems? Probably because we men tell them it is.......

She ended up in Sarasota, shaking her tailfeathers at a seedy topless bar downtown. Made a pin-up calendar for a local Lexus dealership, where she became known as 'The Wilde Turkey.' It was all gravy for Gloria for a while, but then began the inexorable slide into the hellish world of porn. Not your average run-of-the-mill-boy-meets-girl, girl-jumps-in-the-sack-with-boy, girl-convinces-her-two-girlfriends-to-join-them, girls-catch-boy-with-an-older-woman, girls-forgive-him and the-five-of-them-live-happily-ever-after porn though.

No, this was worse. Much worse than that.

Gloria started dabbling in hardcore poultry porn under the name 'Tawni Turkey.' I found a promo shot. Definitely NSFW.

From there, nobody knows what happened to Gloria. Poultry porn is an industry that gobbles you up and spits you out. You might go in a whole bird, but you come out in nuggets.

We never did locate the people in that SUV. We don't know if they were the killers or if they just might have had Gloria over for dinner that Thanksgiving.

The clues went cold, the case dried up. Her parents have since disappeared, the topless bar downtown where she worked was razed and is soon to be either a world-class parking garage, a state-of-the-art mini-Fenway Park for Boston Red Sox spring training or just another vacant lot on the Boulevard of Broken Dreams, Sarasota, FL, USA. Nobody in the poultry porn business remembers her. Too many new chicks have come along for the poultry pervs to drool over since Gloria plied her trade for some ignorant mother-clucking producer.

Gloria--or what was left of her--ended up in landfill somewhere, I suppose.

The case still haunts me. And every year around this time, I take out that faded old photo of her dressed in her prom gown and wonder what might have been. Would she have met a handsome Tom, gotten married, bought a nice coop, hatched a couple eggs, raised a family of poults and lived out the rest of her days in peace on that midwestern farm?

Or is that just my pie in the sky dream.

Probably pumpkin.

With whipped cream.

And not that Cool Whip crap, either.

Gloria G. Gobbler at the 2004 annual Turkey Trot Dance at Frank Perdue High School.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Paula Deen Diagnosed With Concussion From Flying Ham, Listed As Doubtful For Thursday's Big Showdown

Celebrity chef and noted Southern comfort, Paula Deen, sustained a blow to the head from a frozen ham thrown by a volunteer while helping to offload food destined for Savannah charities. While she appeared to shake off the injury and hobbled to the sideline under her own power, reports later indicated that Deen was experiencing headaches and has since been diagnosed with a concussion. Her agent, Barry Weiner, said that, as a result of her injury, she will not play in Thursday's Thanksgiving dinner.

"She was visibly rattled from the hit," said Weiner. "At no time, however, did she lose consciousness. And, contrary to published reports from less than reliable sources, did Paula ever have hallucinations that Gen. Sherman was on his way to raze Savannah and that they all needed to 'skedaddle.' Those scurrilous reports are patently absurd."

Celebrity gossip website, TMZ, declined comment after posting the Sherman story, but said they would stand by their sources.

Officials from the Food Network are reviewing videotape from the incident to determine if any fines or suspensions will result. "On the surface," said an unidentified foodie, "it seems that Deen successfully completed her pass to a receiver at the end of the line for a score. Following the completion, however, an interior lineman threw the ham back at Deen. At the very least, the lineman in question should have been penalized for excessive celebration, perhaps even a personal foul for unnecessary roughness, but no flag was thrown."

Food Network commentator, Bobby Flay, noted, "We've all seen Paula take hits like that before. I was in the kitchen with her back in 2001 when she was blindsided by that standing rib roast. That was a helluva hit. I still don't know how she got up after that one. She was always kind of the poster child for cooking hurt, though. You'd think the banged-up knees or the separated shoulder wouldn't let her stand at the stove the whole time, but she hung in there until the meal was over. She's a warrior; a true champion."

Deen's son, Jamie, said that the decision was made to err on the side of caution and hold her out of Thursday's dinner. "We talked to several doctors and decided that this was best for Paula and the team. We've got a lot of big dinners coming up with the holiday season and all and we're not going to take a chance with Paula's health."

"Paula, you know, being the competitor that she is, wanted to give it a shot, make it a game-time decision, but we felt, in the interest of the team, that she should sit this one out and live to cook another day, so to speak. We are going to start my brother, Bobby, in Paula's absence tomorrow. Next week, we'll have Paula to do some light cooking at our restaurant, The Lady and Sons, and we'll evaluate her performance there."

Quipped fellow celebrity chef, Rachael Ray, "I guess trichinosis isn't the only way an undercooked ham can hurt you....."

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Obama Forgoes Holiday Tradition, Says Thanksgiving Turkey Will Not Be Pardoned

In a move that Washington insiders view as an attempt to improve his image as a more hawkish, tough-minded leader, Pres. Obama made the startling announcement today that he is breaking with the longstanding tradition of granting a presidential pardon to the Thanksgiving turkey.

"These are times when we all are called upon to make sacrifices," said the president. "These are times when we are called upon to give our all. I'm not going to stand idly by while our brave men and women are fighting in Afghanistan, Iraq and thousands of bars and clubs all over the world and just allow this turkey to simply retire to a farm in upstate New York."

The turkey in question was visibly shaken at the surprise proclamation. Later, his attorney told reporters that he, too, was stunned by the president's sudden reversal. Said noted Sarasota defense attorney, Derek Byrd, "My client was led to believe that he would, naturally, be pardoned, as has been the tradition since 1963, when then Pres. John F. Kennedy pronounced those words of hope and inspiration, "Let's just keep him." Is not my client entitled to those same protections under this implied federal mandate?"

Legal scholars have been scrambling to find any type of precedent regarding such cases, realizing full well the lethal implications for the Christmas goose, as well. Given the looming deadline of the Wednesday evening execution, Byrd said he would be filing motions in federal court to stay the sentence until he could present his argument. His staff was combing the Congressional Record to determine if there were any friendly vegetarian politicians who would rally to the defense of Byrd's bird.

Byrd acknowledged that he had a tough road ahead of him. "I think the United States did a great disservice to the noble turkey when they disregarded the advice of Benjamin Franklin and made the bald eagle the national symbol instead of the turkey. I'm afraid it's been downhill for the species ever since. Now the word 'turkey' has become a pejorative term of derision and scorn. That and a country somewhere over in the Europe, I think. Or maybe Asia."

Court officials, citing the impending Thanksgiving holiday, did not hold out much hope for a delay in carrying out the President's wishes. Said one anonymous staffer, "Considering that most of us are going to be gorging ourselves on turkey on Thursday, it's tough to mount a lot of sympathy for the guy, you know?"

Grassroot supporters have formed an ad hoc coalition of death penalty opponents, vegetarians and, the strangest bedfellows of all, right-wing conservatives, who normally have nothing but contempt for the two former groups. Given their intense abhorrence of all things Obama, they have thrown their considerable clout behind saving the turkey.

Said Glenn Beck, "While we hate the bleeding hearts who whine about the death penalty and the liberals from the likes of PETA who whine about killing and eating meat, we hate Obama even more. To that end, we have formed the Waive the Turkey Foundation or WTF.

"You see, I've talked turkey with that turkey and found him to be a staunch patriot," Beck continued, fighting to hold back his trademark tears. "I've looked him in the eye, stood snood to snood with him, and know in my heart that he is a true American bird."

Replied Obama Press Secretary, Robert Gibbs, "Tell Beck to keep talking. We like a little 'whine' with our turkey."

Documents just released indicate that the father of this year's turkey had been on death row in New Jersey and was executed just last year around this same time, as seen in this unconfirmed deathbed photo.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Jon Gosselin In Talks With Casey Anthony To Co-Star In Reality TV Show

Media darling doofus, Jon Gosselin, is looking for his next payday.


With the end of Jon & Kate Plus 8 in sight, his divorce almost final, his girlfriend giving him the boot and Levi "The Son-In-Law From Hell" Johnston dominating all the 'bad boy' headlines, Gosselin has had to take desperate measures.

"I think it was the '80s," he said wistfully. "Rock stars just went too far with their sex, drugs and rock-and-roll personas. They set the bar too high. Then came the rappers, hip-hop and gangsta rap. They turned it into sex, drugs, hip-hop and drive-by shootings."

"How does a short, dumpy wannabe from Reading, PA compete with that? And, all my kids are to the same mother, so that's another strike against me. Fo' shizzle. Do they still say that? Is that still cool to say? God, it's so hard trying to be relevant in this day and age."

"Even ordinary guys are getting a piece of that low-life pie nowadays. Like this guy:

"He shows up hammered for the birth of his kid and on the way into the delivery room he tells the nurse how cute she is and cops a feel. Sweet! So, she gets an attitude, the hospital calls the cops, the cops take him to jail and he misses the birth of his son and now he's the bad guy. Real fair, right? "

"I mean, he only went to the hospital 'cause his old lady is having a baby and she expects him to be there with her for the delivery. Which, in my opinion, is lame to begin with because the guy has already done everything he should be required to do. And going through the delivery with her is no picnic. I oughta know. You think Kate had an attitude on a regular day? Shoulda been there the day those six milk-munchers inside her were all looking for the same exit at the same time."

"That Exorcist chick didn't have anything on old Kate that day....."

"So, yeah, I'm looking for my next project. This Kate Plus Eight thing was OK while it lasted, but, let's face it, Octomom took the legs out from under Kate. We tried the marriage drama route, but it was just jumping the shark. Kate thinks she can do a show without me? Good luck with that, bitch--we've got a contract. And not one of those "'til death do we part' deals either; I'm talking about a real contract!"

"But, yes, I will confirm that my agent has had preliminary discussions with representatives for Casey Anthony, the Anthony family and the State of Florida Penal Board regarding a reality show involving Casey and myself. I mean, she's hot, right? And she's been all over the news for the last year or so. And when her trial comes up, our ratings should go through the roof."

And you should see the way she filled out that Ed Hardy print orange prison jumpsuit we sent her for the screen test."

"Check out the new prison 'tatt' that Casey got. Oh, yeah, dude, I'd ride that......all the way to the bank. Later, Kater."

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Report From The Front Lines: Eggos Shortage The Final Straw.......

Date: Nov. 21, 2009
Time: 03:30 hours
Location: Secret Family Bunker
Re: It has begun!

In retrospect, it was the perfect storm; too bad there were so few of us that saw it coming. The doomsday prophecy: 'o'bama,'o'prah and Egg'o's. o-o-o. Stick a feather in their caps and what do you get? 6-6-6. Think about that, America.

Health-care death panels, the Muslim terrorist shootings at Ft. Hood, comrade obama groveling to the Reds in China, socialist sympathizer Oprah starting her own network and, finally, the so-called Eggo shortage.

"Shortage," my ass.

Rush Limbaugh said that obama made a deal in China to force us Americans to eat more Chinese-grown rice instead of regular American food, even for breakfast. And that he wanted Kellogg's, a proud American company, to go bankrupt because their cereals have been keeping American children strong and healthy for decades. What true American hasn't been raised on Sugar Pops, Froot Loops and Tony Tigers?

Then, Glenn Beck said on his program that the Eggo shortage was causing food riots in the grocery stores, just like obama had planned. He said he heard that a soccer mom was killed in a Piggly-Wiggly after snagging the last dozen or so boxes of Eggos when a mob of welfare low-lifes tried to take them from her.

"You can have my Eggos when you pry them from my cold, dead fingers," she cried defiantly.

So, they shot her.

A fine, Christian soccer mom.

And Glenn Beck had tears in his eyes when he told the story.


Now, Fox News is airing unconfirmed reports from unnamed sources that several cities on the east coast may be in flames from street rioting and obama has possibly ordered the National Guard to stand down and do nothing to stop it. And Mexicans are reliably rumored to be flooding across the California and Texas borders, searching for Eggos.

So the fight between good and evil, right and wrong, is joined. Just as any true American knew it would be when comrade obama stole the election and handed over the country to his Communist Muslim fellow Democrats.

My wife's sister says I'm crazy for taking my family and holing up in our bunker. Then again, this was the same skeptic who said I was "crazy" for teaching the 9-year old twins how to field strip their M-16s and deploy those anti-personnel mines that I got them for Christmas last year.

We have ammunition, beer, food, including a case and a half of Eggos, water, a battery-powered TV for Fox News, our Bible and Sarah Palin's new book. We're all set. Who's the crazy one now, Edna?

I told her not to come banging on our door when the drug-fueled horde comes to loot her house and slaughter her kids looking for frozen waffles.

"Bring it..........."

Thursday, November 19, 2009

City Fathers Devise Plan To Oust Bums From Downtown Park or The Beggar's Opera

Sarasota City Commissioners, pressured by downtown business leaders to resolve the noxious presence of transients, the homeless, disease-riddled prostitutes, vagrants, the criminally insane and more than a few former investors with Scoop Management who congregate daily at Five Points Park, brainstormed intensely for more than 4 1/2 minutes at their Weds. night meeting before coming up with the perfect solution--opera music will slay the beast!

Beset by the likes of Luigi Figaro, owner of The Barber of Seville Hair Styling Salon on Main Street, who told the commissioners, "My wife, Carmen, and I are losing business because of the bums panhandling outside my shop."

Other speakers complained about the alcoholics and the homeless hassling the passers-by who wander into the downtown park, whether by soliciting handouts or monopolizing the seating areas or peeing on tourists' shoes.

Suggestions ranged from importing a pack of wild pit bulls to disperse the transients, loading them onto a bus and driving them to a deserted area south of Arcadia, installing 220V electric lines to the metal benches and energizing them randomly, have realtors practice their sales pitches on them, letting the sprinklers run all night or, arguably the most sadistic scheme of the evening, turn loose the Jehovah's Witnesses on them. This plan made everyone in the audience shudder with horror and was quickly dismissed by the cooler heads on the dais.

Don Giovanni, head of the Sarasota Opera, had mixed feelings about the plan. "While I relish the idea of having great arias waft over the park, I'm not sure of the message we're sending by using opera as a sonic deterrent device instead of a pleasureable experience. I guess, however, Sarasota Opera could use the venue for rehearsals, so long as we don't run up against any noise ordinance violations."

City officials also approached the Sarasota Orchestra about performing in the park, thinking that symphonies would also have the same effect on the vagrant population. Joseph McKenna, president and CEO, immediately nixed the idea, as he has "no intention of paying those damn ingrate fiddle players one single dime in overtime pay."

Citing the often hostile tone of the recent contract negotiations, McKenna added, "Maybe a night or two in Five Points with all those drug-addicted, bug-infested, urine-soaked, drooling homosexual psychopaths would help them realize that this year's proposed pay cut might not be so bad after all."

I had my doubts about opera being a deterrent to sleeping off a monumental Mogen-David drunk, so I did a little investigative journalism by downing a quart and a half of Mad Dog 20/20 and washed it down with a goodly amount of rubbing alcohol as a chaser. I felt the bench beneath me start to spin, which I deemed a good sign, and laid my weary head down on my oaken accomodations for the evening, taking care to keep one hand and foot in contact with the ground, lest I spin off into eternity.

Surely, nothing would be able to rouse me from this near-comatose slumber and cause me to part with the smooth painted slats of my resting place this night.


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Economic Downturn Forces Galactic Empire To Stick Up Local TJ Maxx Store

The global recession has apparently spread beyond our earthly confines and now affects the entire universe, as evidenced by the attempted robbery of a Venice, FL, clothing store by the Sith Lord himself, Darth Vader, and an accomplice, most likely one of his evil minions.

It was late, very late on Tuesday night--around 9:30 PM (remember we're talking about Venice here, like in "when I retired, I moved to Sarasota to be close to my parents, who live in Venice." Anything after 7:30 PM when "Wheel of Fortune" is over is considered the dead of night. Although "dead" may be an indelicate choice of words when talking about anything related to Venice.)--when the two men burst into the TJ Maxx store. They were reportedly armed, although no one could be sure if they were carrying lightsabers or conventional plasma blasters.

A 17-year old Venice High School senior was at the front door waiting for the last customers to leave. "I thought it was a joke," said the teen.

Honey, when the ruthless supreme commander of the Galactic Empire walks through your doors, it is no joke! Did you not notice the Death Star in the parking lot? Could you not tell it apart from the Buicks and Oldsmobiles?

"I heard, 'Juan, Juan, Juan,'" the Venice High teen said. "Or it could have been, 'Come on, come on, come on.' We couldn't understand them with the Darth Vader masks."

More likely, he was saying, "Obi-Wan, Obi-Wan, Obi-Wan." Or even, " Obi-Wan once thought as you do. You don't know the power of the Dark Side."

The alarm was sounded, the Venice Police Dept. showed up, Sarasota County Sheriff's deputies showed up, the SWAT team showed up--eventually, unconfirmed reports of a tactical team from the Rebel Alliance even showed up, but the dark lord was nowhere to be found on the premises.

Employee Arielle Burg has worked at the store for three years. Burg, who was off Tuesday night, said that at most, the store would have $12,000 in it, including some money in a safe in back.

I'm surprised she didn't tell the reporters the combination of the safes. Including the one in the back.

Armed men running into a place of business: scary stuff.

Even more scary: this post on the comment forum by the ominously-named "thirteen:"

Nov 18 2009 08:28 AM
i carry a firearm everywhere i go specifically for situations like this. i sure wish for everyone who was held hostage in that store that i happened to be in there that night. could have made sure that was the last time those guys decided to hold up a place.

My name is thirteen and I am the NRA.

Now that's scary.......

Be on the lookout for this man wanted in connection with an attempted robbery. Suspect is approximately 7-feet tall, 250 lbs, speaks with a wheeze but has excellent elocution, may or may not be in the company of Imperial stormtroopers. Believed to be armed; extremely proficient with lightsaber.

A "Welcome Back" Anthem For All Our Snowbirds (and the rest of you--you know who you are.....)

Presented in conjunction with the Close Second Baptist Church of Southeast Nokomis newly-revamped Community Evangelical Outreach and Defensive Driving Program.

See you Sunday! Unless we run into each other sooner.....

Monday, November 16, 2009

Sarah Palin Tells Prodigal Son-In-Law Levi Johnston: "Come For Thanksgiving Dinner." RUN, LEVI, RUN!!

In an interview with Oprah Winfrey, former Alaska governor and vice-presidential candidate, far right-wing conservative darling and bastion of everything red, white and blue, Sarah "Going Rogue" Palin, privately told Oprah (and her millions and millions of rapt viewers) that she wanted runaway son-in-law, Levi "Going Whore" Johnston to join the Palin family for Thanksgiving dinner.

"Because," she said, "he is a part of the family and you want to bring him in the fold and kind of under your wing. And he needs that, too, Oprah. I think he needs to know that he is loved and he has the most beautiful child and this can all work out for good."

And, she'd like the chance to stab him repeatedly about the head and body. And perform a bobbitectomy on him.

Palin went on to tell Oprah, "We don't have to keep going down this road of controversy and drama all the time," she says. "We're not really into the drama. We don't really like that. We're more productive. We have other things to concentrate on." Like her new book, wherein she slams former running mate, John McCain, his staff, CBS anchor, Katie Couric, ABC anchor Charlie Gibson, Levi Johnston's drug-peddling mother and the anonymous photo-shopper who pasted up that picture of her in a star-spangled bikini holding a rifle. "I hate that geeky son of a bitch..........."

Levi, responding from the Hard Rock Casino in Las Vegas, where he is relaxing after an emotionally and physically grueling nude photo shoot for Playgirl magazine, said that he knew he would be welcomed home by the Palin family and offered the contents of a text message he had recently received from "my baby's hot mama," Bristol, as evidence:

levi babe,

like, so i haven't talked 2 u 4 a while, so whassup, babe? SOS here, babe, except 4 when the little trippster eats peas for dinner, lol. he is so just like his daddy!

anyway, vice-president palin (as she wants 2 b called around the house now) wanted me 2 invite u over for turkey day. i thought, like, she was really, really pissed at u, but i guess she's not. i know she's, like, mad about u 'freeing willie' in playgirl n all. idky, though! i think it's so kewl!

mom says 2 tell u that we're not having dinner (moose again, btw, as if u didn't already know, lol) @ our house since some tv network wants 2 film us 4 a holiday special they r doing. mom says 2 tell u that miley cyrus & vanessa hudgens will b there 2 cause she, like, knows how much u can't resist hot young chicks. like who didn't know that, huh, babe?

also, mom says that we're going to have dinner late--like, around midnight--and that it'll b @ the old, deserted salmon cannery down by the docks, so they can film better, i guess. i know u know where that place is, babe. lol. someday i'll tell little tripp that story. ha!

mom says not 2 tell any1 else so we can keep the reporters away. idky, cause mom's always doing everything she can think of 2 get their attention any other time. lol.

bring your pics from your photo shoot when u come over so my lil sis can check them out. omg, she will be, like, sooooo jealous. maybe we can sneak away up 2 the roof and u can put your 'king salmon' in my 'can' like we did a couple years b4 at that place. only, this time, don't forget to put 'shrink wrap' on that 'salmon' of yours so we don't have another bad 'tripp!' lollollol.

i love u, babe & i know that u were just, like, hanging out with that old bitch kathy griffin cause she was hitting on u and just wanted every1 to see her with u. i don't blame her, babe, cause u r a hottie. even mom used 2 say so.

i always thought that was a lil creepy........

yo baby's mama,


Attention, Levi: Just because your mother-in-law does this on television......

........ doesn't mean she doesn't want to kick your ass up through your esophagus and feed it to her huskies for dinner.


Hundreds Sickened After Attending Weekend's Orioles Fanfest, Not All Just Because It Was The Orioles

Sarasota area hospitals were inundated over the weekend with hundreds of residents and visitors who had attended the Baltimore Orioles Fanfest on Saturday at Ed Smith Stadium. Their various complaints ranged from respiratory distress, headaches, sore throats, blurred vision and, more curiously, a burning sensation in their lower extremities, although those patients were limited to actual players in an exhibition game and children who had been allowed on to the field to run the bases.

While emergency room physicians were battling the onslaught of those affected, assessing their needs, treating their symptoms, prescribing expensive, non-generic pharmaceuticals from the hottest drug reps, other medical personnel struggled to find and isolate the cause.

It quickly became apparent that virtually 100% of the cases had attended the Baltimore Orioles Fanfest at Ed Smith Stadium to celebrate the O's initial spring training here in Sarasota. Just as quickly, it also became apparent that all those affected were suffering adversely from being exposed to some sort of toxin.

During the negotiations to continue the tradition of spring baseball in Sarasota, the presence of a plume of polluted groundwater was noted, monitored since 1987, that has tainted the soil of the stadium area. This pollution has been traced to a long-since demolished asphalt plant from the 1940s, an era when unenlightened ruthless business concerns pooh-poohed the idea that the Suncoast would suffer any ill effects from their wanton rape of the environment. (Proponents of oil drilling off the coast of Sarasota immediately interjected that comparing this issue with drilling would be like "comparing apples to oranges," neither of which, they admit, would grow in the area if drilling for oil was to commence on the Suncoast.)

By Sunday evening, area hospitals had stabilized most patients and many already had their bills in hand as they were ushered out the door.

Reaction by the Sarasota City Commission was swift and decisive. In an emergency session, they decided to hold a public hearing on the issue sometime in the future, recommended the hiring of an out-of-state consultant and vowed to appoint a citizen's committee to insulate them from any voter backlash by assigning blame to the departed Cincinnati Reds, former occupants of the stadium.

SNN News, while covering the Fanfest, today released video of the exhibition baseball game when the first inkling of trouble was discovered.....

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Hanks/Spielberg Release Sequel To WWII Biopic "Band Of Brothers" To Honor Church's Secret Role In Victory

This Veteran's Day, as they do every day, Hollywood gives America something to celebrate.

From the executive producers of the acclaimed WWII docudrama, "Band of Brothers," Tom Hanks, Steven Spielberg and Fr. James Francis Ryan (Ret.), comes the never-before-told tale of an unlikely group of American heroes.

HBO/Vatican Films Present: "BAND OF SISTERS"

The stunning true story of how America's nuns turned the tide of war and saved the world.

Actual Roman Catholic nun recruitment poster

In the dark days of 1943, with the outcome of the war still very much in doubt and the planning of the invasion of Europe underway, the Allied command knew they were lacking a critical element to succeed. Stretched thin by fighting on numerous fronts on several continents, America and its allies went to their "Hail Mary" play.

In the autumn of 1943, the first regiment of nuns were drafted in to the American army and sent to the top secret military training facility at Fort Holy Mother of God near Arcadia, Florida.

There, the nuns learned modern military strategy, basic combat skills and the finer points of terrorizing elementary school children.

The nuns used their command of archaic Latin dialects to form their own version of the Navajo Code Talkers to communicate with each other without fear of their battlefield messages being intercepted by the enemy.

The leader of the nuns, tough-as-a-fifth-grade-arithmetic-pop-quiz, Sister Georgina "Old Blood-and-Guts" CeeScotti, molded her charges into a lethal juggernaut, a killing machine without equal.

"I want to run through those Nazi bastards like crap through a goose! I want to spill their blood, I want to cut out their living guts. I want to murder those lousy Hun bastards by the bushel."

The sisters, now an integral part of the invasion force of the D-Day assault, were readied for their first real taste of combat, anxious to do their duty.

Little Sisters of the Blessed Bayonet get outfitted with gas masks.
Some sisters volunteered to be dropped behind enemy lines on the eve of D-Day to disrupt Nazi resistance. Their uniquely aerodynamic wimples allowed them to be deployed from aircraft without parachutes.

Sisters of the Holy Order of the Flying Nun ("Sallius Fieldius") in their jump outfits.

Just before their departure, Supreme Allied commander, Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, visited the brave troops to wish them well.

Gen. Eisenhower, in a heartwarming display of solidarity with his beloved 'Flying Nuns', dresses up as a priest to see them off, June 5, 1944.
No matter how much training, how much instruction, how much preparation, how much anticipation for this moment, everyone--even the veterans--gets pre-jump jitters.

"Smoke 'em if you got 'em."

And, then, dawn breaks over the English Channel. June 6, 1944.


Nuns from the Order of St. John of Wayne storm ashore on D-Day, suffering horrific losses from the entrenched enemy positions.

With Allied casualties mounting, the nuns provide expert covering fire to their sisters-in-arms trying to take the high ground.
And, so, with the invasion foothold secure, the battle to re-take Europe begins. Time and time again, the nuns prove themselves, in battles from France to Holland to the very doorstep of the Third Reich. Then, with the spring of 1945, comes the news that the war is finally over. The nuns are going home.

Nuns arrive home following the end of the war in Europe.

Now, nearly 65 years later, only a few of the nuns involved this worldwide conflict survive. This rapidly-depleting "greatest generation" of sisters deserve to have their story told, so that the world will know what they did.

Surviving sisters from the Convent of Audie Murphy meet annually to remember their fallen members, drink beer, swap lies.

One member displays her distinctive armband, signifying her membership in the famed "Combat Convent".

Although their numbers are dwindling, their bravery, valor and courage will never die. Even today, members of the Army's elite Green Berets Special Operations unit continue to be trained by a select few nuns in the art of ruler-to-hand combat.

Sister Johanna Rambo teaches the finer points of permanently disabling an enemy, both physically and psychologically, using only a wooden ruler.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Cine-World Film Festival In Town This Week; Who Knew So Many Of These Films Had Sarasota Ties?

The Sarasota Film Society has released the line up of what they are calling haute cinema for the 20th annual Cine-World Film Festival. This isn't your old Uncle Fred's Three Stooges retrospective, this is the arty, high-brow fare that Sarasota film connoisseurs have come to expect. Surprisingly--or not--many of these films have Sarasota roots

Based on the popular "Have Gun, Will Travel" television series, disgruntled Sarasota bankers hire the famed bounty hunter to bring back fugitive real estate shyster,Neil Husani, to face justice when they can't interest any law enforcement agency to do so.

Sarasota realtors dismiss economic concerns, rampant unemployment, unchecked insurance rates, failed communities, underfunded developments, fly-by-night builders and homes that remain over-priced to tell the world: NOW IS THE TIME TO BUY!!!

Young Sarasota deb pressures parents into plastic surgery necessary to achieve her life's goal of becoming a University of Florida cheerleader.

Idealistic teacher returns home to Sarasota, leads fight to triple county's 1-cent sales tax for education to raise teachers' salaries, even though enrollment has dropped dramatically, with rallying cry, "It's for the kids........"

Famed wildlife trapper fakes capture of his pet python, Precious; becomes media sensation until the truth is discovered--Precious is illegal alien.

A cinematic re-telling of the Hillsborough County Sheriff's report about the Sarasota Police Dept.'s handling of payoff to mistreated prisoner; former Hogan's Hero star, John Banner, reprises his role of Sgt. Schultz, now in the HCSO, riffs on his oft-repeated catch phrase, "I know nothing....."

Baseball supporters revel in last-inning reprieve of spring training in Sarasota, but celebration turns deadly when ceremonial ground breaking releases plume of toxic pollution that was formerly dismissed as harmless.

Disgruntled Sarasota Orchestra members plot surprise in-concert work stoppage just before downbeat from Maestro Bjaland to embarrass Orchestra Board of Directors; scheme backfires when audience members wrestle instruments from hands of strikers to play concert themselves.

The long-awaited biopic of the rise of the City of North Port, from a backwoods lawless haven for marijuana-growing drug lords to a juggernaut of population that swallows Sarasota and Charlotte counties, to become largest city-state in Florida, but still retains that backwoods lawless charm for marijuana-growing drug lords.

When Juan Perez realizes he's been duped by the City of Sarasota after he accepts a $400 check in exchange for not pursuing damages, Perez threatens lawsuit; city risk management ups the ante by offering to "give" Perez the Ringling Bridge in exchange for his compliance, hijinks ensue when Perez tries to set up toll gate on bridge.

City attorney, Robert Fournier, tries to reign in rogue police department by taking his fight to the city newspaper, only to find that nobody reads the newspaper anymore.

Peg Nadel's happily-ever-after comes crashing to earth when husband Art is indicted for fraud and disappears, only to reappear and wants her to help raise bail for him.

The rise and fall of Sarasota glam-boy, Beau Diamond, as he tries to live up to his father's "Fit For Life" expectations.

Follows Venice City Council and their attempt to run their little town like a leper colony, keeping everybody and everything out that isn't already there.

Siesta Key Village pub sells its weekly liquor allotment, as designated by the County Commission under pressure from condo owners, tries to supplement its lost income by hiring cover band, prompting angry mob of oldsters to lay siege to bar over excess noise.

You can't afford one in Sarasota.

Local comedy club owner, Ken Sons, documents the strange goings-on during a one week period in his hometown. Alert: running time for this film is 6 hours, 35 mins., as he had so much material to include.

City fathers sue local comedy club owner and film documentarian following his release of less-than-flattering look at hometown government.

Some lawyer.

Local car dealer-turned-Congressman sees how easy Florida governor's job is by watching Gov. Charlie Crist phone in the job during his run for the Senate, thinks "I can do that!"

Apocalyptic tale of the destruction of Sarasota following the town's decision to replace bayfront statue of nurse and sailor with one of a golden calf.

Longboat Key police officer goes on killing rampage following weeks of watching soccer moms turning around in her driveway while picking up their kids from school after deployment of spike strips fails to deter traffic.

The Film Society offers "Red Passes" of 20 tickets, "Black Passes" of 10 tickets and special "Midnight Passes" of no tickets, but give you the opportunity to wait outside the theater and hope for a hurricane to blow you through the door.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Sarasota PD Exonerated, Broker Who Lost $80 Million For Investors Off The Hook, Hurricane Looms In Gulf; All Is Well In Sarasota

Forget about the hurricane--right now, it's the least of Sarasota's worries.

In the just-released report from the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Dept. concerning their investigation into the events surrounding the arrest, suspected mistreatment of and payoff to sweep the whole incident under the rug (albeit, a very large rug) of Juan Perez by the Sarasota Police Dept, it has been officially determined that "the police are strong, the commissioners are good looking and the city manager is above average."

And it only took 2,000 pages for them to say so.

No estimate was given on the number of doughnuts required to reach that conclusion.

Perez, you may remember, became an internet sensation when police cameras caught his drunkenness shimmying out the window of a police cruiser at the Sarasota lockup and faceplanting. The arresting officer, upon noticing that his passenger had disembarked, kicked his handcuffed prisoner--or not, then stood with his foot on the prone Perez--or not, dependent upon whether you believe what you see with your own eyes on the video--or not.

Sarasota PD, upon learning that the video tape had been released to the media, made a haphazard attempt at an end around a potential lawsuit by convincing Perez to take a $400 check from the city (that, according to everyone questioned, NOBODY in city government signed) to let bygones be bygones.

There are those who would say that's a circumvention of justice. "They," in this instance, would not be the Hillsborough Sheriff's Dept.

According to their report: “Chief Abbott’s frustration with the matter resulted in what he admitted were inappropriate comments, made in jest, suggesting that the risk manager should have ‘coin’ and be prepared to bring ‘cash’ for an immediate settlement," causing an immediate flurry of activity of near-comical proportions (hauling Perez down to headquarters, finding a translator, bringing up the $400 deal to make it go away, only to have Perez think that the City wanted $400 FROM HIM to make it go away, having to pick up Perez IN A POLICE CAR to take him to the bank to cash his check and sign the waiver and returning him home and finding his lawyer and a reporter standing in the driveway) within the police department to make that happen.

Let's hope the chief never says anything like "Somebody oughta shoot that One-Eyed Dick jerk-off......" In jest, of course.

"Let's see, I've been on 'paid leave' for the last three months because of this. If I could pull this stunt, say, a couple times a year, I'D NEVER HAVE TO SHOW UP FOR WORK!!! It's the American dream........." da Chief

In another intensive, no-holds-barred, let-the-chips-fall-where-they-may, we-don't-who-gets-hurt, right-is-right investigation here on the Suncoast, the former head of the Stanford Financial Group's Longboat Key office, Charles Vollmer, has been fined (kinda) and sanctioned (sorta) by the Florida Office of Financial Regulation for his role in the R. Allen Stanford $7 billion investment scam.

While Stanford himself lanquishes in the pokey, Vollmer was fined a less-than-whopping $37,500, banned from applying for a new broker's license until April and cannot pass "Go," although there is some debate as to whether or not he will still be able to collect $200. While some of his fleeced investors are outraged by what they consider a gross miscarriage of justice, it must be noted that Vollmer's clientele only lost $80 million investing in worthless CDs. So it's not like it was a lot of money or anything.

The receiver in the SEC's case against Stanford is trying to recover $367,000 from Vollmer that he made in commissions from CD sales. Of course, factoring in the fine and loss of six month's income due to state sanctions, the SEC will end up being able to collect only $42.68 out of that $367,000.

Vollmer already has a job lined up with another investment firm here in Sarasota, where five former Stanford advisors, including his stepson are already hard at work looking in the mirror and practicing saying, "Trust me" with a straight face.

Not to worry. The State of Florida has vowed "five years of increased regulatory scrutiny" when Vollmer gets his new broker's license. As opposed to the "no-scrutiny" policy that was in place before, apparently.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Naples Throws Down The Gauntlet For Oddball News Story; Will Sarasota Respond?

Sarasota's sometime quixotic quest to be just like its rich cousin to the south when it grows up has been dealt another blow by an incident that shows just why Sarasota still has a way to go to achieve parity with Naples. Sure, we've got our financial scandals, our political comedies, our economic tragedies and more than our fair share of cultural foibles, but here's one that got away.

The story could just as easily have happened here, what with Sarasota's propensity for building up celebrities, then watching them faceplant on the unforgiving concrete sidewalk of reality. I think we're all more than a little miffed that it happened in Naples and not here.

Here's a guy, Ingmar "Iggy" Sprude, a local entrepreneur who owns a pool service company, who was chosen to grace the cover of the October issue of Gulfshore Life magazine for being one of nine "coolest bachelors around." Must be Gulfshore Life's version of the Madden curse......

Then, just before his 15 minutes of fame were about to expire, our boy Iggy, attending a Halloween party at Collier County nightclub called the Sway Lounge while dressed (or undressed, as the case may be) as blonde Baywatch bombshell, Pamela Anderson, replete in a red bathing suit with swim shorts, flip-flops, and blonde wig, but obviously sans her silicone 'enhancements.'

OK, other than looking just a little too comfortable running around in a red one-piece and blonde wig, no harm no foul, right? It is, after all, Halloween.

Apparently the evening's festivities were a little too tame for the waning celebrity, so he thought it would be oh, so much fun to pull the fire alarm and evacuate the 150 or so revelers in the club.


Surveillance video shows Sprude laughing when he yanked the alarm. When deputies arrived to rain on this guy's parade, security guards pointed them to a trolley that they had witnessed our hero board. Sure enough, there was Iggy, still proudly sporting his Baywatch get-up, including a whistle around his neck and a tattoo on his left arm, which was visible on the security footage.

In the Gulfshore Life cover story, Sprude tells the magazine that he considers himself to be “fun, spontaneous and caring.” He also thinks 'sexy' is "a short dress and high heels." We're assuming he means on a female, but have no confirmation of that assumption. He also hates "playing hard to get and not returning phone calls."

I suspect he's getting lots of phone calls these days. If he's out on bail.

And another thing while we're still in Collier County; why do their Sheriff's Dept. mugshots look like this:

while Sarasota County's look like this:

Just askin'..........

County Administrator: "We have no economic development strategy....." You mean we were supposed to?

Sarasota County Administrator, Jim Ley, the guy whom the citizens pay to look out for the best interests of Sarasota County, revealed in an internal memo to the county commissioners, who, not uncoincidentally, should also be looking out for the best interests of Sarasota County, that "we have no economic development strategy as a community." Apparently, Ley, who has held the County Administrator position since 1997, just realized that not having a plan might be a bad thing, now that unemployment in the area has hit 12.5%, county offices are being staffed by a skeleton crew, county works projects are bordering on the non-existent and if the county's overall economic health was being evaluated by one of Pres. Obama's death panels, they would give us 24 hours to pull the plug on ourselves or they would do it for us.

The county spends about $7 million a year on "economic development." And by "economic development," they mean printing glossy brochures showing beautiful Gulf scenes (soon to be dotted with oil wells), pristine sandy beaches (soon to be littered with the carcasses of oil-soaked birds), and smiling tourists (soon to be seen driving off somewhere else.)

When the developers started leaving empty lots to go along with their empty promises and half-built projects predicated on half-baked ideas, when the financiers of these grandiose schemes went bust or went to jail, then somebody looked around the room full of all these smart people and said, "Now what?"

So, being the smart people they are (hey, if we didn't think they were smart, we wouldn't have elected them, right? Yoy, just think how dumb the people we didn't elect must be....), they brought the money-machine known as the Boston Red Sox here. Except that they stayed in Ft. Myers. Then they worked up a deal with a Hollywood studio and brought Digital Domain here, along with the promised 1,000 high-paying jobs. Except that they went to Port St. Lucie.

Just a few weeks ago, they wined and dined some more Hollywood-types to entice them into filming their next big blockbuster here on the Suncoast and dump wads of cash in our laps. The filmmakers spent the day intently cruising the bay, visiting local landmarks and listening to our spiel. And when they left to go back to Tinsel Town, they said, "Thanks for lunch."

To be fair, Sarasota Dounty did recently play host to the Ultimate Frisbee tournament, billed as "the Super Bowl of frisbee competition." So there's that. Tampa played host this past winter to another "Super Bowl," so that should put us on a par with them for most Super Bowls hosted in a single year.

Some egghead economist from the University of Michigan said about our state of affairs, "It's very easy to be anti-growth when everything is going well and you're rich. The only thing worse than having too much growth is not having any." Pfffffft. What's he know? We'll take our own economists like Hank Fishkind and the others, who recognized that our economy had bottomed out in early 2oo8. Then, again in late 2008. Then it was 2009. Now, the economists all agree that the recovery will absolutely, positively be in the first quarter of we-don't-know-the-hell-when.

But, not to worry. We are in good hands and our elected officials have taken steps to ensure our economic health and well-being.

They are going to build a baseball stadium atop a polluted landfill that will be packed with fans:

And they're in secret negotiations with Lakewood Ranch to relocate their state-of-the-art hockey arena to Sarasota County (those country bumpkins in Lakewood Ranch won't even know what happened until we have their stadium loaded on county trucks, rolling down the Interstate.....)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Airline Boots Mother and Unruly Child Off Flight; Fortunately, It Was BEFORE They Took Off

A mother and her cranky 2-year old son were ousted from a Southwest Airlines flight from Amarillo, TX, bound for San Jose, CA this past week when the crew determined that the pair constituted a threat to the other passengers, who were all Silicon Valley yuppies and did not wish to be disturbed on their trip home as they sipped their lattes, nibbled their granola bars and listened to the song stylings of Kenny G and David Benoit.

The child, saying inflammatory things like "Go, plane, go" and "I want Daddy" (as opposed to "Die, infidels, die" or "Do you mind if I ignite the explosives hidden in my shoe so I can blow us all to kingdom come?"), so infuriated the crew that the aircraft excused itself from the takeoff queue and returned to the gate to deal with, in the words of the intrepid captain, "a passenger issue." Imagine the mother's surprise when she found out that she and her 2-year old were the "issue" and hustled unceremoniously off the airplane, probably to the raucous applause of the rest of the passengers, who then all bitched and moaned because the delay meant that they would now be arriving late in San Jose.

Mom was told by the flight attendant, "We just can't tolerate that for two hours."

"He'll be fine once we take off,'' the mother remembers insisting.

"We've heard that before,'' the flight attendant told the mother.

Southwest's official position was that the disruption by the child prevented the passengers from hearing the safety instructions from the crew. Actually, Southwest is noted for allowing its flight attendants to turn the instruction speech into a comedy monologue and the attendant on Flight 637 was incensed because he was going to try out some new material on Monday's flight.

Southwest has since apologized to the mother and will issue her a $300 travel voucher.

For Delta Airlines.

For a counterpoint to this story, go here.

Bags Fly For Free On Southwest,

Crying Children Don't Fly At All