Monday, November 5, 2012

Last Will and Testament of Morris Workman

Ladies and gentlemen, we are gathered here today to mark the passing of a friend and neighbor:
Morris Workman
Oh, the fat guy in suspenders isn't dead (yet).  I'm just passing another state.
After 11 years in the desert, eight right here in Mesquite, my family and I are leaving for greener pastures the end of November.  And that's not a euphemism.  Pastures don't get any greener than those you'll find in Washington state.
I could get all maudlin and sad, offering vignettes of past columns, but that's boring and bordering on nothing better than a rerun.
I wouldn't want to go out like that.
Instead, I'd like to offer up my last will and testament, bequeathing a few things, including some nuggets of wisdom I've collected over the years.

To Mesquite Gaming, I leave a half-used Reporter's Notebook.  My hope is that they will use it to write down and remember whatever corporate name they're using this week, since it seems to change more often than the images on a spinning three-reel slot machine.  (Mesquite Gaming...Black Gaming...Tri-Properties...Oasis...Peppermill...CasaBlanca...Players Island...Virgin River Convention Center...Mesquite Star).  I figure by the time they're done playing musical chairs with their moniker, they'll need a notebook big enough to impress Tolstoy, but this will be a start.

To Greg Lee and The Eureka, I leave my old George Foreman Lean Mean Grilling Machine, and a top hat.  The grill is a reminder of the only time I recall Greg Lee really getting mad at me, after I wrote about the Great Weiner War of 2009 between the Eureka and Black Gaming.  Meanwhile, the top hat is symbolic of the remarkable fact that Lee, Andre Carrier, and the staff of the Eureka have proven that even in the down-and-dirty world of Mafia-spawned Nevada casinos, it's actually possible to run a gambling establishment with class and character.

To Mayor Mark Wier, I bequeath a single pane of glass and an oversize bottle of Windex.  Wier and the current council have done a tremendous job of bringing transparency to what was once a very dark and ugly place.  I also offer this admonition: in the unlikely event you find yourself primping and preening while looking at your reflection in the glass, use the Windex.  Otherwise, you're in danger of becoming just like the previous administration.

To The Virgin Valley Water District, I leave a Rand McNally Atlas, and a bookmark placed at page 78 to remind them that they live in Nevada, not California.  Conservation and environmental extremism have helped bankrupt and scrape the shine off the Golden State.  The Silver State doesn't deserve the same fate.  The map also has a little red circle along U.S. Route 95 just outside of Las Vegas, marking the location of the High Desert State Prison, as a reminder of the destiny awaiting any elected or appointed water official contemplating a return to the old VVWD ways of cronyism and corruption.

To The Overton Power District Officials, I leave a box of Band-Aids and a crying towel.  By the time Barbara Ellestad, John Taylor, and the outraged people of Mesquite get through exposing OPD's fiscal shenanigans and spotlighting their greed and arrogance, I suspect they'll need both.

To Barbara Ellestad and the Mesquite Citizen Journal, I leave my blood-stained quill-pen sword and my battered AP Stylebook shield.  Of course, they won't need it, since Barb and the crew have done such an amazing job of slaying bureaucratic dragons and rescuing tax-paying damsels in distress over the last year with their own battle armaments. 
I also leave them my worn out chastity belt, in case some mega-corporate-news organization comes a-calling with flowers and candy.  No matter how big the check, or how badly you might need the money, trust me when I tell you that your soul is worth more.  I learned that lesson too late. 
As for the local businesses, I implore you -- advertise more with MCJ, even if you don't need to.  To the readers, I encourage you to patronize and support those who do.  Without the MCJ, Mesquite will fall victim to profiteers from either side -- with the news filtered through the prisms of truth suppressors from Las Vegas or St. George, neither of whom have ever really understood Mesquite. 

To The People Of Mesquite, I leave a single ostrich feather, a mirror, and a shovel.  In 2005, I used to joke that the official Mesquite City Bird was the ostrich, because so many of its citizens preferred to live with their heads buried in the sand.  Today, the people of this community are engaged, aware, energized, and seem determined never to let the "good ole boys" and carpetbaggers get the upper hand again.  I am so proud of this community, and the way that the people have stood up and cleaned house at City Hall, at the VVWD offices, and are getting their brooms ready for OPD.  Citizens also killed the ill-advised plan for an $8 million soccer tent; and local mothers recently stood up against an out-of-touch, out-of-state hospital corporation, forcing the hospital to back down on their repugnant plan to close Mesquite's obstetrics department. 
The mirror is to give Mesquite a chance to look at itself and decide what it wants to be.  Is it going to be a gaming town?  A golf destination?  An art enclave?  A light industrial center?  A suburb of St. George?  A Las Vegas bedroom community?  A decaying wide spot in the road next to the interstate?  A cautionary tale?  The people need to choose an identity, then commit to living up to it.  No town can be all things to all people.  Once the citizens choose a direction, everyone needs to get on board in order to make Mesquite the growing, prosperous place it used to be, and deserves to be again.
As for the's time to build.  The government institutions have been knocked down, cleaned out, and re-formed.  Corruption is on the run.  The painful, brutal political battles have been fought.  Now is the season to come together and start rebuilding the local economy.  Start creating reasons for people to return to Mesquite, beginning with something as simple as a genuine smile accompanied by the words "we're glad you're here."  That attitude has to include a welcoming hand to businesses interested in coming here.  (Real businesses, not pie-in-the-sky schemes involving imaginary sports parks, desert amphitheaters, and recycled soccer tents). 
I have always said that Mesquite's most valuable asset isn't the sunshine, the interstate, the casinos, the golf courses, or the proximity to Las Vegas or St. George.  No, the most powerful, wonderful thing about Mesquite is and has always been its people.  Now that the people have found their voice, rediscovered their collective power, and done the heavy lifting needed to fix dysfunctional institutions and get rid of narcissistic power mongers, it's time to focus on letting the whole world know that repairs are being finalized and Mesquite is ready for the next wave of people looking for a friendly, thriving place they can call home.

My only regret is that I won't be here to see it, to be a part of it.  But truth be told, I'm a remnant of Mesquite's past.  The city needs to look to the future.
My destiny lies along another path.  But wherever I go, a piece of Mesquite goes with me, because this community has shaped who I am today. 
I want to thank all those who had a hand in that shaping, including people like my former business partner and forever friend Cindi Delaney.  I can't name everyone, but rest assured that the list would look a lot like the Reliance Connects phone book, because in many ways you have all been a part of my journey.  I'm grateful to you.  I'll miss you.  I'll remember you. 
And finally, this ending is poetic.  It's the last Workman Chronicle I'll ever write, a column born at the Desert Valley Times; one which gained momentum and awards while showing up every week in the Mesquite Local News; and which dies today within the electronic pages of the Mesquite Citizen Journal.
All my life, I wanted to be a writer.  While the desire was forged in the crucible of a second-floor classroom in Havre de Grace, Maryland, it became a reality right here in Mesquite, Nevada, where the input, critiques, and encouraging words offered by readers from 2004 to 2012 helped make me the writer that I am.  My first novel was written and published while residing here.  I'll never forget Mesquite, where I became what I believed I was always destined to become.
I've lived an amazing life here, and met incredible people.
Thank you.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Khloe Kardashian To Help X-Factor Jump The Shark

To "Jump The Shark" is a Hollywood term that dates back to the 1970's, when "The Fonz" made a water-ski jump over a shark on the sitcom "Happy Days."  It identifies the point at which a TV show or series has turned the corner from legitimate to ridiculous, and usually marks the beginning of the end for the program.
That moment has come for the long litany of "talent" shows on television.
For starters, there are a lot of them. 
It's no secret that networks ran out of imagination and creativity about a decade ago.  Instead, here's how things now work in Loopy Land:
A struggling last-place network, desperate to try anything, will trot out an idea they stole and repackaged from the earliest days of television.  For example, the new ABC show "What Would You Do" is touted as this ground-breaking hybrid of reality TV and news documentary. 
Yeah.  It's "ground-breaking" all right.  As in, the ground should break open over the grave of Allen Funt, the creator of the old "Candid Camera" show from the 1950's, and the dead host should start handing out butt-whoopings and lawsuit subpoenas to anyone even remotely involved with this tired ABC ripoff.
But the show will probably skyrocket the way Simon Cowell's blatant copycats "American Idol" and "X-Factor" hit the stratosphere on the wings of "Ted Mack's Amateur Hour," similar television gold from the 1940's.  Of course, even stealing Mack's idea (which he actually stole from radio host Major Bowles in 1948) isn't particularly original, since Ed McMahon did the same thing with "Star Search" back in the 1980's.
Anyway, once the new version is rolled out and gets some ratings attention at a dying network, executives at every other network on the planet will scramble to "create" their own version of the same lame ripoff instead of actually offering something original of their own.
And that, children, is how you wind up with the "America's Got X-Factor Voice Idol Singing Bee Talent" hodgepodge of screeching Kelly Clarkson wannabes.
Fortunately, the signs of the apocalypse have arrived, heralding the end of the world.  Or at least, the end of these no-talent shows.
And it came upon a pale horse named Kardashian.
Initially, I thought the end of the era was marked by American Idol's decision to blend their Star Search clone with the reality show "Real Housewives of Atlanta," a mess created when they hired has-been Mariah Carey and talentless never-was Nicki Minaj as judges.  The catfight queens were hired to replace two real musical stars -- Steven Tyler of "Aerosmith" and Jennifer Lopez of big-butt fame -- who must have been humiliated or seriously hung over to have ever agreed to appear on this farce of a show. 
According to recent news reports which have carefully and salaciously been leaked by Fox, a very ghetto feud has erupted on the set between Mariah and Minaj.
Even President Obama has weighed in on the nonsense, which is just ratings gold for the network whose news sibling has made a career out of hating the president.
But the real "jump the shark" moment for singing shows was announced earlier this week.
The X-Factor is so starved for attention, it took a similar dip into the reality-TV cesspool and came up with its very own Kardashian.  According to the report, Khloe Kardashian will be co-hosting the show with Mario "Dimples" Lopez in the upcoming season.
In its own way, the hiring is another "ground-breaking" move.  It will now spotlight a host who isn't attractive, can't act, can't talk, can't think, and can't do anything much beyond whining about her more famous but equally untalented older sister.  Basically, she's the Anti-Vanna.
Who would have thought it possible that the show which features singers who can't sing has finally managed to find a host that can't host?
So the era of the singing show is officially over.  And we should be grateful.
All that's left is to find Simon Cowell a leather jacket and a nice pair of skis.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Official Guide To Pets

I’m an animal lover.
That’s not to be confused with the human-hating, anti-leather, fur-destroying, rodeo-bashing vegan lunatics that pretend to like animals but really just enjoy imposing their obnoxious views on a majority that still likes ground cow and deep-fried poultry.
Yes, Pamela Anderson, I’m talking about you.
I love most animals, with the logical exception of those who would like to eat me for breakfast.
(I’ve often wondered where the PETA zealots are hiding when some kid in Florida gets munched on by a creature that will soon become a set of boots and matching handbag.  Why don’t we have a group called “People for the Ethical Treatment of People?”  For that matter, how about “Alligators for the Ethical Treatment of Humans?”)
In America, we’ve gotten a little bit off kilter when it comes to what constitutes a pet.
Snakes and lizards and big freakin’ spiders have actually made appearances in pet stores as candidates to replace the dog as man’s best friend.
In my humble opinion, these are not pets, and I’ll tell you why.
First, consider the name.
It is also a verb, meaning to gently glide your hand along the back of an animal in a pleasant manner without fear of losing digits.
You can pet a dog.  You can theoretically pet a cat, if you can get it to sit still and stop ignoring you long enough. 
You can’t pet a lizard.
I had a friend who had an iguana.
He tried to pet it once.
That particular display of affection required three stitches to stop the bleeding and three weeks in a metal cast while the broken finger healed.
My daughter has a friend who loves snakes.
Unfortunately, the snake needs contact lenses, because it frequently mistakes the girl’s fingers for its noontime meal of mouse on the hoof.
Which brings me to another qualifier for the term “pet.”
If your pet requires that you feed it other pets, it isn’t really a pet.
I once had another friend who had an oscar, which is a fish that enjoys eating other fish.
I recall that his oscar had an affinity for French food.
Frog legs, to be exact.
I won’t gross you out with the bloody details, but I can say that you could almost hear the theme from “Jaws” playing in the background when it was feeding time at his house.
I think mice, hamsters, gerbils, and guinea pigs can qualify as pets, although they are as hard-headed as cats when you call them.
Horses make nice pets, too.
You can pet them, some of them will come when they’re called, and they show loyalty.
Of course, unlike some of the more traditional pets, it’s tough to get your pet horse to sleep at the foot of your bed.
Unless you’re a movie producer with mob ties.
At first glance, it would be fun to have a chimp as a pet.
However, if you’re going to have to contend with putting on a diaper, watching as it makes a mess of your kitchen, and endure endless screaming, howling, and nose picking, you might as well go ahead and have a baby.
Or adopt a teenager.
Another rule is that the critter has to last longer than a CBS sitcom, or two weeks, whichever comes first.
My daughter had fish.
I don’t consider them pets.  They’re decorations.
She even named them.  I never learned their names, mostly because they weren't around long enough to really establish a relationship.
I’ve heard that turtles make nice pets.
I recommend desert tortoises.
There are two big drawbacks.  First, if you decide to take your tortoise for a walk around the block, you better set aside plenty of time.
Like, the entire month of October.
Second, don’t get caught by the BLM police.
Otherwise, YOU’LL be the one in a cage, waiting for someone to feed you something disgusting in a plastic bowl three times a day.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Brain Implants A Better Bet

While attending a recent function at a libations facility (what we used to call in the old days “a bar”), I noticed a young woman who wanted to be noticed.
It’s just one more indication that I’m getting old, because instead of taking notice because of her large breasts and thinking “Wow, those are large breasts,” I noticed and thought “You know, she could have put that $5,000 to much better use.”
I’m sure you’ve encountered these women before, the kind that somehow managed to get their hands on five grand and decided that stocks and bonds weren’t nearly as valuable an investment as a good set of implants.
Usually, as in this case, it’s someone who was already attractive but felt that God’s handiwork just wasn’t quite good enough.
Like Dennis Miller, I’m always amused when someone has this procedure done, then gets that surprised look on their face when the Surgeon General suggests that maybe filling an important body part with the same substance used to grout the tile in your bathroom isn’t such a great idea.
Some of the more sophisticated women with money to burn and time on their hands often purchase that particular procedure the way some people buy new cars. 
They don’t really need it, but they have to keep up with the Joneses.  Or the Andersons.  Or the Spearses.
Then you have those like the one in question, who make the purchase then want to drive around town with their new "Corvettes" so everyone will notice them.
I began to think about all the things this individual could have put that money toward which would have given her better dividends.
For example, the money could have been better spent on an English language tutor.
With just a few short lessons, “Iuntnuthrbeeeer” could actually sound like “I want another beer.”
(Did you ever notice that the people who use the word “Iuntnuthrbeeeer” are usually the ones who need another beer the least?)
Wardrobe would have been another more reasonable expenditure.
The woman in question could have bought a couple dozen t-shirts that said “Look at me!” in 24-inch letters and still had enough left over for those English lessons while producing the same result as the implant option.
Speaking of lessons, dance lessons might have come in handy.
One of the unfortunate by-products of this particular body enhancement is that it makes it nearly impossible to slow-dance with someone without looking like you’ve invoked the “book rule.”
The “book rule” is one that used to be imposed at school and church dances, where proctors who felt boys and girls were dancing too close would take a thick-tomed book and place it between the couple with the admonition “no closer than this.”
The difference is that in this case, the book is replaced by silicone.
Then of course is the alternative of taking those five g’s and putting them toward a college degree.
Not a four-year university diploma, mind you, but five thou can get you a pretty decent AA degree from a community college.
Unless your name is “Bambi” or “Blaze,” a certificate in dental hygiene is probably going to earn you more money than some new appendages that will soon have their own nicknames.
Fewer dates, maybe, but more cash.
Personally, my favorite nickname for fake bazoombas is “fire hydrants.”
There is an obvious similarity in shape.
But more importantly, like real fire hydrants, their biggest attribute is the number of dogs that inevitably will come sniffing around.
You would think that a man my age would have an appreciation for artificial breasts.
But like I said, I’m getting old, and staring down the barrel of a future that will probably involve an artificial hip, artificial knees, and artificial heart valves somehow makes the idea of one more artificial body part much less appealing.
Yes, even that one.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

You Might Be From Mesquite If…

If you’ve lived in Mesquite for any length of time, you know that there are certain phrases and statements that are unique to our small city.
Below, I’ve included a few that you might recognize, or have perhaps even said during your time here.
For example, You Might Be From Mesquite If…

…you’ve ever caught yourself saying “It’s ONLY 104 degrees today” in the middle of September.
…you know which casino used to be called the Peppermill, and which one used to be called Player’s Island.
…you’ve not only SEEN a desert tortoise, but have actually helped erect something called “tortoise fencing” as a fund-raiser for your favorite local group.
…you know that “Sy Redd” isn’t a breathing disorder.
…you’ve never been able to say the letters “B…L…M…” in that order without getting mad enough to kick something.
…you’ve ever referred to Las Vegas as “West Mesquite.”
…you can keep a straight face while explaining to someone from “back East” that the Virgin River really is a river.
…you can’t explain what an HOA is without involving words that start with F, D, S, H, or A.
…you know why there is a creek but no bunkers in Bunkerville, and bunkers but no creek at Wolf Creek.
…you believe that the only thing wrong with The Gorge, which separates Mesquite from St. George, is that it isn’t big enough.
…you know why many of the whites and Hispanics in this community wish they were Blacks.
…you understand that the 19th Hole has nothing to do with a golf course.
…you used to know more cattle by their first name than people.
…you realize that the logo on the side of the Grapevine Villas overpass crossing I-15 isn’t really Pac Man.
…you can find your way from West First North to East First South without a map and a GPS.
…you can explain why the CasaBlanca hotel has a golf course called “CasaBlanca,” but the Oasis golf course has nothing to do with the Oasis hotel.
…you know that there are no cows on Dairy Lane.
…you remember Mesquite Heights by it’s maiden name, the Old Dump Road.
…you know that when you mix the colors Sy Redd, Allen Green, and Randy Black, you create the color of money.
...your city government doesn't have wards but your town's biggest church does. know what that big empty grocery store across the street from the Stateline Casino used to be called. can name at least three different restaurants that have existed in that little building next to the big empty grocery store across the street from the Stateline Casino. have paw prints painted on the road at Hillside Drive, and know why. know which resort casino was built by Merv Griffin
…you can explain where to find Pirates in the middle of a barren desert, and why they’re worse than anything that’s ever sailed the seven seas.
…you know exactly how long an egg can sit on a local city street in July before it’s ready to be served up with bacon and hash browns.
…you can say you’re going to the Dam Bar, and you’re not cursing.
…you’ve come to the conclusion that, after visiting Virgin Valley and Scenic, Arizona, the federal “truth in advertising” laws simply don’t apply out West.
…not only do you know nice families named Hafen, Hughes, Jensen and Leavitt, you’re related to all four of them.

To those who have heard, said, or know all of the above, congratulations.
You are now officially a native of Mesquite.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Get Naked Like A Royal

Once upon a time, in a land about eight time zones away, there lived a handsome prince and a lovely duchess.  A century ago, she would have been considered a princess, but there's some technicality nobody can figure out involving bloodlines and a wicked old queen, so we're going with "duchess" for this tale.
The prince was a studly guy who enjoyed a good time, especially those involving Mead Light.
It came to pass that the studly prince engaged in some friendly games of chance involving cue sticks in a place called Ye Olde Sinneth City. 
Being somewhat vain, and a smidge intoxicated, the prince appeared before some people (not his people, mind you, but they were probably somebody's people) and proclaimed himself to be the greatest Beer Pong player in the world.  As is the habit of people who go around referring to themselves as the greatest, he insisted that he be clothed in only the most exquisite garments.  In fact, he claimed that his royal togs were so magnificent, they could only be seen by those equipped with magic spectacles, called "Beer Goggles."
None among his entourage wanted to appear ill-equipped in his presence, and all agreed that the prince's outfit was the most wondrous they had ever seen.
However, after an unsuccessful game of Strip Polo, the prince was beheld by one honest woman who was Beer Goggle-challenged. 
"Alas," she said, or maybe it was "egad" or "forsooth" or one of those other medieval interjections peasants toss around while in the company of royalty, "I am bereft of Beer Goggles, and therefore cannot partake of your splendor."
"Fear not," the studly prince replied.  "Have you not a Telecommunication Device of Wisdom?"
"Yes, m'lord," the wench replied.  "I have a smart phone."
"Then simply engage thy iPhoto app and capture my haberdashery in all its royal wonderment."
The hand maiden, or maybe ankle maiden, or upper left incisor maiden (when your family owns an entire country and dresses up in crowns without the intervention of a mental health specialist, you can basically get away with having maidens for every anatomical part) complied and captured several images of the Ginger-bred man in all his glory.
"I don't see it," the maiden said once she had examined a few snapshots.
"It's right there," the prince counseled her.  "Behind the philodendron."
"No, that's a tube of ChapStick," she replied.
"I meant my fine new clothes," the prince said.  "Can't you see them?"
"No, m'lord, I see no threaded finery.  I did, however, notice that you really are a natural redhead."
The prince gathered his peers around the device, each in turn offering compliments regarding his couture. 
(Censor's note: "peers" is a disgusting, obscene term that has no place in a family newspaper, particularly after the line a few sentences back about having servants for every body part.)
(Author's note: It would only be distasteful if the scene involved his compatriots standing at a trough in a men's bathroom.)
"Sire," the woman finally said.  "Methinks thou art nekkid."
"Nonsense," the crowned royal said after downing another shot of Crown Royal.  "Fire up thy Facethbook and let's get a few million other opinions."
And that's how the studly prince's crown jewels wound up on TMZ.
The moral of the story: Never show off your German bratwurst when it's obvious you're from Vienna.
As for the lovely duchess?
She got caught with her top off while hanging out in some French guy's back yard.
(When you're only a duchess, you're not afforded the privilege of having your folly spun into a fable by Hans Christian Andersen.  Just ask Sarah Ferguson.)
Scientists are continuing their tests of Ye Olde Royal Water Fountain in search of an explanation for why British Royals continue to have so much trouble keeping their clothes on (above-normal levels of tequila content are currently suspected), and whether there's any truth to the concern that there may be Kardashian blood running through some of their veins.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Loving My Dentist

I just finished another round with my favorite dentist.
Ordinarily, "favorite dentist" is an oxymoron, like "military intelligence" or "Congressional action."
Not with my dentist.
I've written about the amazing Dr. Blazzard before.
For starters, he is a nice, clean-cut family man; but when it comes time to yank out one of my failing wisdom teeth, he's more "pro-drug" than Cheech or Chong.  His staff is extraordinarily generous with whatever the liquid substance is that turns my speech into one long vowel movement.  And I am deeply grateful. 
In all the years I've been going to him, the only time I can recall experiencing pain of any kind was once when the lady at the front desk announced that I had exhausted my insurance limit.
Like a lot of people my age, the first thing I think of when settling down into my dentist's pleather La-Z-Boy is Bill Cosby.  Back in the 1980's, Cosby released a comedy album that included a classic bit about visiting his dentist, a routine that is as true today as it was when the first western barber unwrapped his very first Black and Decker.
"Dentists tell you not to pick your teeth with any sharp, metal objects," Cosby's bit began.  "Then you sit in their chair, and the first thing they grab is an iron hook."
Not my incredible dental hygienist. 
The first thing she grabs is a couple of Q-tips. 
I suspect she's going to use it to plug her ears against the blood-curdling scream certain to follow as soon as I see the size of the needle she has hidden behind her back.
Instead, she puts some sort of numbing agent on them and strategically places them wherever she intends to soon inject.
That's right, she's going to numb the places she's about to numb.
My first question, asked as only a 51-year-old man who is terrified of needles can ask, is...why hasn't my family doctor heard about this?
If Obamacare added this one line, "no numbing with needles until you've numbed with Q-tips," I'd be on board quicker than a nurse could lie "this won't hurt a bit."
After 15 or 16 shots (following my devout religious belief that, when it comes to painkillers at the dentist, more is better), my dental hygienist then turns on some Beatles music, because she knows that people my age find it hard to act uncool while listening to John, Paul, George, and Ringo.  That is, of course, so long as you're not strapped into a chair when the songs "Help!" or "Helter Skelter" come out of the speakers.  Also, I can attest that "Magical Mystery Tour" and "Lucy In the Sky With Diamonds" are much more profound after the 17th or 18th injection.
After she starts scraping my teeth with what I can only assume is a rat-tail file (remember, I'm up to 19 or 20 shots by now, so I don't care if she's using a belt sander in there), she finally gets around to the iron hook.  I'm told dental professionals call this a "pick."  In my head, all I can see is an image of a grizzled miner breaking gold out of stubborn rock with a similarly-named tool.  After 20 minutes, I'm hoping she'll give it up and opt for some dynamite on that stubborn tartar.  My hygienist is very skilled, and it doesn't hurt a bit, but the sound is like chipping old grout out of a concrete sidewalk with a balky jackhammer.  She's a sweet and dainty little thing, but with her hand strength, I'm pretty sure she could whip Arnold Schwarzenegger in an arm-wrestling contest.  Or at least a good thumb-war.
Once my extremely talented hygienist finishes her warm-up act (did I mention it didn't hurt a bit?), it's my dentist's turn.  Where she was a gold miner, he's an accomplished oil driller.
But after a few more Q-tips and a few more injections, I wouldn't care if he actually discovered Brent sweet crude in there.
First he drills out a couple of cavities and refills them with what I can only guess is some form of Spackle.  He does it faster than Denny Hamlin's pit crew can replace four tires and fill up with two cans of Sunoco racing fuel.
Then he extracts my stupid wisdom tooth without either a doorknob or a spool of fishing line (which is how it was always done in the Saturday morning cartoons of my youth).  He also does it without any pain.
So in less time than it takes to renew my driver's license, my dental care is done for another year.  And with less aggravation than is usually experienced at the Department of Motor Vehicles.
Of course, if the DMV would simply start using those magic Q-tips and a few well-placed injections...

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Those Annoying Flash Flood Warnings

I'm grateful that the National Weather Service provides emergency warnings on television.
For starters, it saves me all the trouble of getting up from the sofa, going to the nearest window, parting the curtains, peering outside, and looking skyward, which is how Meteorologist Morris would otherwise determine it's raining.
It also answers the question of whether that window-rattling noise I just heard from outside is the roll of thunder, or just my next-door neighbor bringing in his garbage cans.
The warnings are a throwback to the good old days, when the only real news was bad news.
Ever since school officials across the country decided that positive reinforcement was way more valuable in education than ruler-wielding nuns, paddle-equipped vice principals, and report cards that actually included "F's," there has been a decades-long rush to put a positive spin on everything.  It surprises me that the federal government's official cloudwatchers don't break into programming every few minutes and "positively reinforce" us with messages like "the sun is still shining, folks!" and "the economy is in the tank, unemployment continues to be out of control, and gas prices are about to go up again, but at least it's not snowing!"
Unfortunately, it's obvious that the NWS toners (the dweebs who decide when to issue that annoying warning sound on TV sets preceding an important message) either aren't watching today's episode of Maury, or are in the pockets of the broadcasters themselves.
I say this based on the timing of the warnings.
Did you ever notice that the tones and pre-recorded messages always come on at the most inopportune moments?
"Yeah, Murray, I had sex with the entire basketball team and two of the referees that night, so I'm not sure who my babydaddy is."
"Let's find out.  I have the results right here.  Point guard Joey Zitmaster -- you...are..."
"BEEEEEEEEPPPPP...the National Weather Service has issued an advisory for the area located about three states away.  We're not going to name the towns, but will admit that it's a county that starts with the letter R.  There will be no wind, no rain, no snow, and no precipitation, but a flash flood warning has been issued for every community that has nine-year-olds and an outdoor garden hose.  We've spent $8 million with a New York advertising agency to come up with catchy rhymes like 'don't drive through that river, unless your passenger is a mouth-to-mouth resuscitation giver,' and 'stop and turn around, as if that flood water was a scary clown,' so we're going to recite those high-priced gems about every 15 minutes whether there's weather or not.  We now return you to your regularly scheduled drivel."
(The message crawler at the bottom of the screen disappears just as the sound returns to the crying new mother racing off the Maury stage while six of the accused babydaddies demonstrate the triangle defense with the crumpled paternity test results.)
Why can't they wait until the commercials to give us the message?
In today’s cable TV world, where you will see almost 14 minutes of commercials per hour, there are plenty of opportunities to blast such a warning without disturbing the story.  In fact, it's probably a challenge these days for the station to find three consecutive minutes of uninterrupted programming for the announcement. 
If they waited for the commercial break, it would be a double public service: they would make an important announcement, and they’d put a temporary muzzle on Flo and her insurance ilk.
Commercials are, after all, supposed to be imparting important information, so it's where those weather warnings actually belong. 
Ditto for the occasional test of the Emergency Broadcast System.  You know, that long tone followed by a voice explaining that nothing has happened, nothing is happening, and nothing is going to happen, but if it was, the broadcasters in your area in cooperation with state and local officials would collectively wet their pants just before playing this annoying sound to announce the end of the world.
By the way, the Emergency Broadcast System was in place for more than 30 years.  Then in 1997, the federal government in their infinite wisdom commissioned a study, held hearings, debated alternatives, and finally compromised on a new name for this vital service.  The high-tech, sophisticated new name for the old Emergency Broadcast System?  The Emergency Alert System.  (Yes, your tax dollars at work.)
One last thing: we've lived for nearly 40 years with that annoying tone.  We've all heard it so often that now it's just background noise that we've learned to ignore, like the intermittent chirp of that smoke detector with the dead battery from 2007.  It's time we spice it up a little.  We need a shrill sound that will annoy dogs, one that will frighten small children, a sound grating enough to wake adults out of a dead sleep or college students out of a Jagermeister hangover. 
My suggestion?
Lady Gaga.
"Ra ra ah ah ah, ro ma, ro ma ma, ga ga oh la la..."
If that noise won't scare you into thinking the world is coming to an end, nothing will.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Keep Pit Bulls, Ban Yappy Dogs

Pit bulls have gotten a bad rap over the years because of their eating habits. 
The muscular fighting dogs have been bashed pretty hard because of their tendency to try and eat cats, chihuahuas, small children, and the occasional fellow pit bull.  If they were just stealing millions of dollars through fraudulent mortgages, or crippling citizens through outrageous taxes, or ripping off Americans at the gas pump, you'd never hear a peep about the breed.
But in this country, the quickest way to ostracism is by eating things the do-gooders deem verboten, like sugar, sodas, salt, and anything else that tastes good.  Since Persian cats appear to be considered a delicacy among the spiked-collar set, it only makes sense that the do-gooders would go after the pit bull for its gastronomical choices.
The breed has been banned in a number of communities, and there is a growing clamor for outlawing pit bulls altogether.
The fact that irresponsible, overweight, tooth-challenged rednecks tend to use the dogs for their own clandestine canine versions of WWF wrestling doesn't help.
The do-gooders seem to ignore the fact that a dangerous pit bull is often the product of a boneheaded owner who is barely the animal's intellectual equal, just as some do-gooders continue to insist that guns are the problem and not the dirtbags who use them illegally.
So there is a movement apaw in the country to make the breed illegal.
I couldn't disagree more.
While I go along with the collection and elimination of dogs that attack children, small adults, and any creature named "Fluffy," I just can't get on board with picking on pit bulls that haven't done anything.  We've worked so hard as a society to eliminate discrimination based on race, religion, and skin color, which are basically the determining factors for human "breeds."  To single out an entire race of dogs seems like a step backwards in our social evolution.
Also, there are abundant examples of pit bulls that are loving and docile pets.  To get rid of them all would be like getting rid of all humans because some of them turn out to be lawyers. 
So I don't favor outlawing all pit bulls.
If the do-gooders insist on going after a particular breed, here's my suggestion:
Yappy dogs.
This undersize variety goes by a lot of fancy names dreamed up by breeders who believe the more esoteric and unpronounceable the name, the more valuable the dog.  (Go ahead, try and say "Shih Tzu" without making it sound like a vacuous bowel movement.)
The selection and removal of all Yappy dogs wouldn't require tests and determinations by experts based on bloodlines and carefully measured physical attributes, either.  If you're enjoying a sound sleep and your dream of a disrobing Jennifer Lawrence is cut short by the sound of a high-pitched yipping, yapping, endlessly barking little dog, you've found a Yappy.  And it should be removed immediately.
For the dog zealots certain to come out of the woodwork (and who are often just as rabid, pun intended, as my arch enemy the Tree Hugger), don't get your retractable leash in a wad.
I'm not advocating euthanasia.  I love all dogs, even the annoying breeds like the English Prince Wyndemere Yapper, the Malaysian Breasted Yappie, or designer hybrids like the Cockayap and the Yappapoo.  Where I'm sure to swell my long list of detractors is to suggest that Yappy dogs should be treated like children from the 19th century: they should be seen but not heard.  They ought to be kept inside like the expensive, ornate status symbols they are.  
However, the truly egregious outdoor Yappers should be removed from neighborhoods where people need to go to work in the morning, and sent to this legendary farm my parents used to tell me about whenever one of my childhood pets came up missing.
To be fair, just as is the case with most pit bulls, it's usually an obtuse owner that gives Yappers a bad name.
Which brings me back to my original premise, which is that laws should not be passed to ban all pit bulls. 
However, since the do-gooders are unlikely to leave this alone, here's a reasonable compromise:
Just as they insist on regulating the foods consumed by full grown humans through limits and taxes on sugary drinks, the buttinskis should be satisfied with passing laws restricting the diet of all pit bulls.  From here on, the breed will only be allowed to eat dry dog food, moist canned dog food, all animal abusers, and any dog owner too brain-addled to properly care for their pets.
And maybe the occasional treat of a sugar-hating do-gooder.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

School Officials Need More Readin', Writin', and 'Rithmetic, Less Drama

Usually when you read a controversial line such as "schools today are out of control," you're prepared for a diatribe by some old codger like me ranting about modern kids.
This week, I've been using that phrase a lot.  The difference is that I'm not talking about the students.
Those who are "out of control" are the administrators.
This week there have been three separate stories of school officials crossing the line of good sense.  It's enough to make one wonder: where do principals go for detention?  Is there a chalkboard in the teachers lounge that bears erasers in need of clapping?  Or even better, imagine the long queue of students waiting for an opportunity to mete out some corporal punishment on itinerant superintendents.
Truth be told, there appears to be a litany of education officials in dire need of a good beatin'.
The first incident involves a high school valedictorian in Prague, Oklahoma who, after delivering her graduation speech, went weeks without receiving the diploma she had earned with a perfect 4.0 grade point average.  When she visited the school with her father to ask where the missing diploma might be, according to an NBC News story, the principal informed them that the honor student wouldn't be getting a diploma due to a deeply offensive act on her part; during her valedictory speech, the girl used the word "hell" instead of heck.
Then when reporters asked the Prague School District superintendent for more information, the official clammed up and refused to discuss the issue due to concerns about "privacy."
That ruse would never fly when you were a teenager sitting in the vice-principal's office while the dean of punishment pressed you for answers about the pack of cigarettes in the restroom.  But somehow, when the tables are turned, school officials hide behind anything to keep from being caught in the crosshairs of the truth.  Great example for our youth, eh?
Apparently, there's something in the Oklahoma water, because this lunacy has extended to an elementary school in Oklahoma City.  According to a Fox Sports story, a five-year-old was accused of wearing offensive clothing and ordered to turn his shirt inside out for the rest of the day.  What made the shirt so heinous that it warranted such embarrassment for the child?  It trumpeted the University of Michigan Wolverines football team.
The story explained that, in an effort to combat the terror of gangs wearing football jerseys from foreign countries like California and Nebraska, the school system has a rule that bans jerseys promoting schools outside of Oklahoma.  But if the barely-toddling gangsters wanted to wreak havoc while wearing Oklahoma Sooners regalia or Oklahoma State Cowboys gear, that would be within the rules.
I'm not making that up.  According to the story, the school's rule allows such sports team shirts as long as the team hails from an in-state school.
Of course, the insanity isn't contained in Oklahoma alone.
Again, in the same week that the previous two incidents occurred, MSN News reported that a "gifted and talented" middle school girl in San Bernardino, Calif. was yanked out of her class and reprimanded for violating another "anti-gang" policy.  If she was flashing multi-fingered gang signs or wearing a blue bandana embroidered with "Crips Forever," that might be a reasonable rule.  But she wasn't.
Her violation?  She had a photo of her brother, a military policeman, on the cover of her binder along with a photo of her gang.  The gang?  Her girls softball team.  It turns out that the school bans "added materials" on the books of students in the gifted and talented program.
To be fair, the school ultimately showed just how reasonable they could be.  They allowed her to return to school only after removing the softball photo.  The picture of the guy with the gun could stay.
Anytime you examine the cloistered world of a school, where omnipotent principals impersonate Blackbeard while mistakenly imagining themselves the undisputed captains of their ships, these kind of abuses are to be expected.  After all, it's not like American children have the same kind of rights as, say, Guantanamo inmates.
But when three different instances of abused authority come to light in the same week, it's a red flag worthy of consideration by those who live in the real world.
Sadly, these stories show just how severely the budget cuts have damaged our education system.  Personally, I'd be willing to pony up a few extra tax dollars if it meant our schools would expand their curriculum.  Specifically, I'm thinking a few classes in "remedial common sense" to be attended by the boneheads behind the big desks.  And for those fifty-somethings with lots of letters behind their names but no brains inside their craniums?  New federal funding to facilitate the construction of school-ground wood sheds, and the resurrection of good old-fashioned paddling -- this time, with a lineup of school officials bent over someone's knee.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Resort Fee Pricing All The Rage

I’ve learned a new trick that I’m going to start using in my every day life.
At my next yard sale, I’m going to put stickers on the “merchandise” listing uber-low prices.  Then, when the person comes up to pay the 25 cents for my scratched but original Ray Stevens album, I’ll explain that I also have to charge a 50-cent “Yard Sale Fee.”
I think I’ll try that with the next article I sell.  When the publisher asks where to send the $50 check, I’ll remind them of the extra $10 “Writing Fee” that is customarily added to the bill.
When he balks, I’ll tell him that “it’s common practice in the industry now” and that “all the writers are doing it these days.”  That should take care of any complaints.
I’m going to see if my wife can contact her employer about paying up on the “Attendance Fee” she is now charging on top of her regular salary.
Any of this sound familiar?
If not, then you haven’t stayed at a Las Vegas hotel lately.
I stayed at a fancy “Strip” hotel over the weekend.  (In the good old days, “strip” referred to the stretch of street bordered by big hotels on each side.  Now, it’s a description of what they do to your wallet long before you find the first blackjack table.)  I don’t want to embarrass the hotel by saying its name, so I’ll just refer to it as the “Suxor.”
There were a lot of things I liked about this unique venue, including its isosceles shape and ancient decorations. 
What I hated was the feeling of sodomy that accompanied nearly every turn.
The hotel itself was expensive, even with the “special deal” I used to land the weekend.
But it turns out that the “special deal” was really just the Vaseline.
The first screwing involved something that has become as common as homeless people handing out porn flyers on Las Vegas Strip sidewalks, and every bit as disgusting and distasteful:
Resort Fees.
It works like this:
The hotel lies, er, advertises a particularly attractive rate online.  The sucker, I mean customer, jumps at the savings.  While gleefully keying in his or her credit card number, they miss the microscopic disclaimer that says “some hotels charge additional fees at check-in.”
Then when the mark/guest shows up, the front desk advises them of an additional “resort fee” of anywhere from $15 to $50 a day, depending on the hotel.
At the Suxor, it was an extra $18 per night.
I’m a cheapskate, but I don’t mind paying more for nicer amenities and upscale accommodations. 
What I hate at any price is feeling like I’ve been tricked or ripped off.
It’s like going to Walmart, picking up a 12-pack of sodas with a tag that says “$4.88,” then hearing the checkout clerk explain “oh, there’s also a one dollar beverage fee.”
I know it’s asking a lot for an industry built on slanted card games and rigged slot machines to be honest, but how hard can it be to give a single, simple rate for a room?
I wondered why the authorities weren’t getting involved in this obvious bait-and-switch scam. 
Then I found the answer at the bottom of my bill. 
In addition to the $18 “Resort Fee” was a sales tax charge of, you guessed it, $18 and some change.  The clerk explained a lot of that was the Las Vegas room tax, which I estimate is currently somewhere around 73%.
And the wound salt?  They also charged sales tax on the Resort Fee.
So my advice to anyone thinking about a weekend in Vegas is: DON’T!
The House That Bugsy Built is no longer the inexpensive, glamorous, fun place filled with big stars and cheap food it once was.
If you’re looking for a deal, try Mesquite, where our hotels don’t gouge you with hidden fees.  The exception, of course, is the exorbitant bed tax.  Unfortunately, that can’t be helped…after all, we ARE still in Nevada, where the only thief bigger than a gun-wielding bank robber or corporate hotel executive is a government official.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Artifacts Or Fiction

This "artifact," picked up from the gravel
driveway in front of a local museum,
is actually one of the earliest known arrowheads
 crafted by Cross-Eyed Larry. 
According to ancient legend, this Native
 American was the worst arrowhead maker
 in the history of Native America.

I have a great affinity and affection for most things Native American, which is why I was pleased to have a chance to visit a Nevada museum dedicated to the "Lost City" of the Anasazi Indians recently.
I learned a great deal during my visit.
For example, based on the amount of pottery fragments from different tribes and periods on display, I learned this: 
Ancient people were clumsy.
How else could you explain all the broken dishes and pots?
There were a few "replicas" of those early pots which were beautiful, but most of the genuine artifacts were in pieces or had been glued together to form a single pot with a missing part or two.
As a result of my discovery, I have decided that I will never again throw away a broken glass or chipped dish.  I'm simply going to pack up the shards in something that will last a few thousand years, like a McDonalds styrofoam Big Breakfast container, and write my family name and year of breakage on the package.  (It should save the archaeologists of the 33rd century a few bucks in carbon dating material).  I'll probably have to include an extended explanation of what a "Walmart" is, since that seems to be the source of most 21st century eating utensils.
Another fact I discerned from my visit:
Multi-level marketing was alive and well back when the wooly mammoth was still roaming the plains.
I base this statement on the sheer volume of Native American baskets filling the shelves of the museum.  They had dozens of baskets of every shape and size, and for a variety of purposes.
When was the last time you saw that many bowls and containers in one place?
That's right, a Tupperware party.
Judging by the number of baskets shown, I believe the continent must have been lousy with Five-Star Directors going teepee to teepee selling TupperGrass baskets long before Christopher Columbus and his collection of copper-bottom cookware salesmen showed up and ruined everything.
As always, I enjoyed reading the works of fiction attached to otherwise unrecognizable artifacts throughout the museum.  As a fiction writer myself, I get a charge out of reading the products of degreed and well-fertilized imaginations on the little cards and plaques around an exhibit.  For example, there was a pile of dried and hardened mud in one of the display cases that looked just like the millions of similarly dried and hardened mud piles to be found in this corner of the Mohave Desert.  Beneath the pile was a card which claimed that the pile was actually petrified "poop" from an ancient and long-extinct form of sea sloth. 
I'm sure the fiction writer/scientist who made that claim performed a whole litany of tests to confirm that diagnosis.  After all, scientists are never wrong, except when it comes to that whole "Pluto is a planet" - "Is not!" - "Is too!" "Yo MAMA is a planet" "Yeah, well your pocket protector has lice" debate.
Ditto for a mashed up collection of desiccated weeds that another fiction writer claimed was an ancient Native American sandal.  I knew the scientist was lying because there was no eyelet for the Payless BOGO tag, not to mention the fact that my back yard in Utah was once filled with such "sandals" until I got my lawn mower fixed.
Of course, not all of the exhibits were inside the building.
Behind the museum was a display of rectangular buildings called "pueblos."  For those who don't know, "pueblo" is Native American for "mobile home with missing wheels."  And just as you'll find in any modern trailer park, you can tell the status of a particular ancient resident based on whether his "pueblo" is a single or a double-wide.
As my visit ended, I did the unthinkable: I stole an important "artifact" from the gravel driveway in front of the museum.  I showed the rock to my wife, who was duly unimpressed.
That is, until I explained that the item was actually one of the earliest examples of an Anasazi arrowhead created by "Cross-Eyed Larry." According to ancient legend, Cross-Eyed Larry was the worst arrowhead maker in the long history of Native America. 
He became known far and wide in Native American lore because his work was sought by members of the Vygytyrian tribe.  The arrowheads were so bad that, if a brave nocked and fired an arrow fitted with one of these stone ends, it was certain to miss its mark by a good 10-15 paces.  Vyjytyrian chieftains, who were previously considered cowardly throughout history and ridiculed at ancient casino powwows for their refusal to hunt live animals, were able to save face in the late 14th century by shooting and missing with one of Cross-Eyed Larry's terribly crafted products.
And now you know the genesis of the word "vegetarian," which as everybody today knows is Native American for "bad hunter."

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Sodas, The New Cigarettes

First they came for the liquor, and I did not speak out, because I wasn't an alcoholic.
Then they came for the tobacco, and I did not speak out, because I wasn't a smoker.
Then they came for the salt, and I did not speak out, because I wasn't a hypertensive.
Then they came for the sugar, and I did not speak out, because I wasn't a diabetic.
Then they came for my soda -- and there were no unskinny people left to speak for Coke or Pepsi.
                                                                        -Morris Workman, 2012
                                                                        (with apologies to Martin Niemoller)

"I told you so."
That was a statement from my wife recently, after a story broke about New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg's push to ban non-diet sodas larger than 16 ounces.
It seems that in a city overrun with crack, murder, crystal meth, and Tom Cruise's ex-wife, the uber-rich mayor believes the biggest threat facing New Yorkers today is the Big Gulp.
Now this insanity has spread to the Land of Lunacy, which is what should be printed on license plates that currently say "The Golden State."
In El Monte, a scary little California city with a population of more than 100,000 people, the city council is considering a tax on what are being called "sugary drinks."
According to a story in the Los Angeles Times, the city is terrified of joining three other California municipalities which have declared bankruptcy this year.  Their answer to save the day?  Charge a city tax of one cent per ounce on Cokes, Pepsis, Dr. Peppers, Mountain Dews, and other sugar-laced soft drinks.
I have to admit that my wife predicted this more than a decade ago.  She warned that, once the health nutzies (pronounced suspiciously like "health Nazis") finished branding cigarette smokers as enemies of the state and making it illegal to smoke everywhere except underwater, they were going to go after the Twinkies set next.
Turns out she was right.
The last line of the Star Spangled Banner should will soon be "o'er the land of the sugar-free," since it seems our country has a problem with individuals making decisions about what to put in their own mouths.  Of course it's up to the government to protect us from ourselves, since they've done such a great job of protecting us from murderers, thieves, bankers, and the Kardashians over the years.
How right was my wife about the move against sweets once victory had been declared in the tobacco wars?
According to the story, El Monte mayor Andre Quintero has a problem with sugary drinks, which he, quote, "likened to cigarettes."
To their credit, while El Monte officials are touting the crusade partially as a nod to a healthier lifestyle, they make no bones about the fact that they're actually using the health nutzie fad to make money for the city.
It turns out that they are the municipal first cousins of another fiscally irresponsible community called Bell, California.
In El Monte they paid their now-retired police chief more than $400,000 in 2011, and currently have two former police chiefs making pensions of more than $200,000 a year, according to the L.A. Times.
So the city wants to tax what they consider bad behavior, using the precedent set when Uncle Sam started taxing the hell out of cigarettes and liquor.
The strategy has worked all over the country, where cigarette smokers are now about as welcome indoors as rock-hard dog turds.
According to a statistic I recently made up but which sounds startlingly true, there are now fewer bars in the United States than at any time before the Whiskey Rebellion of 1791 thanks to the various federal, state, county, city, and HOA taxes assessed against any entity that knows who Jim Beam was.
Now the chubby-haters are going after anything that might have been in John Candy's closet.
The bad news is that sodas will soon become as forbidden and expensive as Cuban cigars.
The good news is that I've started hoarding 12-packs of Mello Yello in anticipation of the black market that is sure to spring up. 
I'm also counting on the Mafia to join in by trafficking in bootleg root beer and illegally imported cases of Canada Dry, while my blood brethren in the hills of West Virginia and Kentucky begin moonshining a different kind of Mountain Dew.
This time around, the coppers, G-men, and revenoors will be easier to detect, because they'll be the rail-thin, pasty-faced, tofu-eating salad munchers in the crowd.
Just remember: When they come for your Big Macs; when they come for your Dominos Pizzas; when the faces of both Ben AND Jerry wind up on cartons of Cherry Garcia as wanted fugitives...
You've been warned.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

News Flash: Amelia Earhart Still Missing

Well, they still haven't found Amelia Earhart or her plane.
Of course, it's only been 75 years, so what's the rush?
The famed female aviator disappeared in a horrific crash in turn four during the 41st running of the Daytona 500.
Wait, that was Dale Earnhardt.
Earhart vanished while trying to fly around the world in search of a guy named Lindbergh that she wanted to punch in the nose.
Since then, she has become the only adequate two-word defense by husbands whose wives insist that they stop and ask for directions when lost while driving.
"Harry, you fedora-wearing buffoon, you know you're lost again.  Why don't you pull over at this gas station and buy a map?"
"Amelia frickin' Earhart."
For the last 75 years, a popular home game involves speculation over Earhart's whereabouts, and whether she's been spotted hanging out with Elvis. 
A search party was organized this year by a group of hide-and-go-seek experts who believe she landed on a deserted island in the Pacific Ocean.  Reports that she was stranded with a professor, a movie star, an obscenely wealthy couple, a boat captain and his red-shirted mate, and some girl named Mary Anne have not yet been confirmed.
It took this long to mount a serious search because investigators had to wait for a certain television channel to "discover" the $2 million required for the hunt.  Also, they wanted to give her a good head start.
The expedition also had a second purpose: to confirm a posit that television networks have way more money than sense, a theory thoroughly tested by E! network's renewal of "Keeping Up With The Kardashians" for a seventh season.
According to the story in what appears to be an east coast horse racing sheet called, a group of researchers used the cash to buy high-tech equipment like a really good iPhone 4S with the Socialcam video app and maybe some surplus sonar gear from the Andrea Doria to help with their investigation.
They spent weeks doing underwater reconnaissance around the island of Nikumaroro, but couldn't locate anything that might be as big as, say, a twin-engine 10-passenger airplane.  However, the scientists with degrees and large titles had a legitimate response, explaining that stuff left at the bottom of the ocean for 75 years is, quote, "hard to find."
The results of their extensive and well-hyped search were "inconclusive," which is scientist-speak for "we didn't find nuthin'."
So far, rumors that Geraldo Rivera of Capone's Vault fame was in charge of the search are still unsubstantiated.
In previous trips, researchers have found what they believe to be incontrovertible evidence that the flier spent time on the island, including (wait for it)...a campfire!  Nearby they also found an empty can, a bottle, and a bumper sticker that says "My Other Car Is A Lockheed Electra 10E."
However, in 1991, the group found a woman's shoe that resembles the kind known to have been worn by Earhart, and of a style that no local cannibal would be caught dead wearing after Labor Day.  Results of testing on that shoe are still pending, awaiting the return of legendary footwear expert Prince Charming.
The fact that the explorers didn't find Earhart, her navigator, her plane, or any paperwork from a TSA strip-search hasn't stopped plans by the Discovery Channel to air the project's documentary in August.
So far, no confirmation has been given as to whether Rivera will host the show.
In an effort not to be outdone by the educational upstarts at the Discovery Channel, speculation has increased that PBS will soon mount their own well-funded search for Earhart.
Early reports that PBS will use some of today's best global investigators, including Dora the Explorer and Carmen Sandiego, are still unconfirmed at this time.