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Thursday, Aug. 27, 2009

The Wisdom of Donald Duck

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Donald Duck may be a lovable icon of comic mishap to American youngsters, but in Germany he is wise and complicated and retains followers well past their childhood years. Using licensed Disney story lines and art, the legendary translator Erika Fuchs created an erudite Donald who often “quotes from German literature, speaks in grammatically complex sentences and is prone to philosophical musings,” according to a May Wall Street Journaldispatch. Though Donald and Uncle Scrooge (“Dagobert Duck”) speak in a lofty richness, nephews Tick, Trick and Track use the slang of youth. Recently in Stuttgart, a group gathered for the 32nd annual convention of the “German Organization for Non-Commercial Followers of Pure Donaldism,” with presentations on such topics as Duckburg’s solar system.

Bright Ideas

Chicago banker George Michael, seeking to avoid $80,000 a year in property taxes, decided to call his $3 million mansion a “church” and apply for the tax exemption granted to churches. In July 2008 the Illinois Department of Revenue preliminarily approved his application.

According to a Chicago Tribune report, the application included a photograph of the “church,” which was just a shot of an outer wall of Michael’s house with a large cross on it—though the cross was later discovered to have been placed on the photograph in marker pen. In July 2009, a state administrative law judge reversed the earlier approval.

News That Sounds Like a Joke

(1) In July, a 114-pound tortoise, part of the Zerbini Family Circus performing in Madison, Wis., escaped. He actually made good time on his dash for freedom, covering 2 miles in six days before being spotted.

(2) About 20 male competitors were present for a Belgian bodybuilders’ championship in May when three anti-doping officials arrived unexpectedly and requested urine samples. Every contestant abruptly grabbed his gear and fled, according to press reports, and the event was canceled.

Creme de la Weird

According to prosecutors in Britain’s Preston Crown Court in July, Christopher Monks, 24, wanted two things (based on transcribed dialogue from an Internet chat room): his parents killed and his penis bitten off. Monks actually found a man, Shaun Skarnes, 19, who was searching to accommodate someone on the latter desire and who allegedly agreed to kill Monks’ parents in exchange. However, Skarnes botched the killings, and Monks, himself, is still intact.

Recurring Themes

No Respect: Neighborhoods near the Wimbledon tennis tournament in suburban London are typically clogged in June, as visitors scramble for parking. This year, nearby St. Mary’s Church sold parking for 20 pounds a day (about $33), even though the parking spaces were directly above graves in the church’s cemetery.

c. 2009 Chuck Shepherd