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Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2008

The Future of Great Literature

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Five of the 10 best-selling novels in Japan in 2007 were originally composed on cell phones. They were typed out using a phone’s keypad by women who had never before written novels, and were mostly intended for readers who had never before read one. The genre’s dominating plotlines involve affairs of the heart, and are marked by simplicity of plot and character and brevity of expression (lest authors’ sore thumbs and readers’ tired eyes bring down the industry). In The New York Times in January, one successful cell phone writer said that her audience doesn’t “read works by professional writers because their sentences are too difficult to understand.”

The Entrepreneurial Spirit!
The New Lucky Restaurant, which has been in business in Ahmadabad, India, since the 1950s, serves diners who sit among gravestones that are located at various points around the tables. No one is certain who was buried under the restaurant, according to a December Associated Press dispatch, but diners don’t seem to be spooked by the experience.

“Graveyards in India are never scary places,” said a retired professor. “We don’t have a nice literature of horror stories, so we don’t have much fear of ghosts.” In fact, the restaurant is mostly concerned about waiters tripping over the ankle-high monuments.

In January, Taser International introduced the Taser MPH, a combination weapon and MP3 music player (it fires darts and holds 150 songs).

The Wonders of Alcohol
(1) On Nov. 18, two inebriated men— driving in separate cars—lost control around the same time and smashed both cars into the Carpet Classic Floor Studio in Highland Township, Mich. (2) On Oct. 14, police in Kingsport, Tenn., received a call about a drunken pedestrian. They later tracked the suspect, Christopher Dougherty, 22, to a Hardee’s restaurant, where he was found face-down in a plate of gravy. (3) Tina Williams was arrested in St. Augustine, Fla., on Super Bowl Sunday, charged with DUI and failure to have her 1-year-old daughter secured in a car seat or a seat belt. However, a case of Busch beer was safely buckled up in the front seat.

The Weirdo-American Community
Police in Madison, Wis., believe they ended the spree of defecations that took place inside an apartment house on Schroeder Road (the suspect vandalized the laundry room, hallways and items of clothing) with the January arrest of Ronnie Ballard, 19. At Ballard’s court appearance, Dane County Court Commissioner Todd Meurer set bail at $1,400 and issued a ruling that he said he never imagined having to make: As a condition of Ballard’s release, Meurer ordered him to defecate only in toilets.

Least Competent Criminals
A 53-year-old man from Vernon, British Columbia, was arrested in January and charged with robbing a CIBC bank. While he went inside to rob the bank, a 20-yearold companion was listening to the radio in the getaway car. When the alleged robber got in with the stash, they discovered that the car would not start because the radio had drained the battery. The pair allegedly fled to a nearby bakery, where they were apprehended. It didn’t take long for law enforcement to arrive on the scene, as the CIBC bank is located in a building with a Mounted Police station.

Recurring Themes
In Ogden, Utah, in December, a driver of a motor home accidentally ran over a 73-year-old woman. It was unclear whether the first pass over the woman was fatal, but the driver behaved as others have: After feeling a thumping sound, the man said he stopped and backed up to see what he had hit, thus driving over the body a second time.

Latest Alarming Headlines
(1) “Man, 75, Hurt While Riding Pet Buffalo” (MSNBC.com version of an Associated Press story). (2) “Boy Glues Hand to Bed to Avoid School” (MSNBC.com version of an Associated Press story).

Readers’ Choice
(1) In Chaparral, N.M., in December, two men were tracing a loaded .357-caliber Magnum in order to create a custom tattoo design. Somehow, of course, the gun went off. Both men were hit by the same bullet; one in the hand and the other in the arm. (2) A 77-year-old man in Des Moines, Iowa, who was trying to unclog his septic tank during the afternoon of Christmas Eve, lost his balance and got stuck in the opening of the tank, head first, with his legs sticking up. He remained in that position for about an hour until his wife saw him and called for help.

2008 Chuck Shepherd

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