Weekly insights into our crazy world.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010



Bikinis and Speedos were all folks were wearing on the lawns of beautiful KOLOMENSHOYE PARK this week as record temperatures wrecked havoc in the Russian capital. While Muscovites know how to handle extreme cold better than anyone, they are completely baffled at how to combat extreme heat. Over fifty people have drowned in one week, as many attempt to swim without any prior experience. Shelves in electronic retailers are empty, as air-conditioners are now dominating the always thriving Moscow black market. Even the traditional 'changing-of-the-cavalry-guard' at Cathedral Square has been cancelled for the first time ever. Seems soldiers were passing out while marching in their traditional bright red wool coats.

Just how hot is it? Well, let's ask the experts. At 17:00 Moscow time (11:00 GMT) the principal meteorological station at the National Exhibition Center registered 98.06 degrees Farenheit, breaking the record of 1936 with the maximum temperature for July of 97.70 degrees. There's a chance of breaking the all-time record in Moscow of 98.24 degrees set back in 1920. (Wow! And I though GERMAN weathermen were detail-oriented!) And while my Mom in PHOENIX is reading this right now and saying: "98 degrees is cold," remember Ma, it never gets to 22 degrees BELOW ZERO in Arizona. (This year's lowest temperature in Moscow.)

Anyhow, with record TEMPERATURES comes record forest fires, so much of European Russia is now engulfed in flames. And...as you know...Russia is BIG! A state of emergency has been declared in 18 provinces as 26,000 hectares of crops have been destroyed. That's an area the size of PORTUGAL! (Told you Russia was BIG!) But don't worry, despite these loses, Russian authorities have announced that they will not be importing any grain. They have enough wheat stockpiled in reserves to withstand another German or French invasion...so a forest fire is no problem.

And finally, let's hear from the environmentalists. A GREENPEACE spokesperson in Moscow blamed humans for the meteorologic mess, noting that July 2010 has seen worldwide temperatures up 1.22 degrees from the average. Our friends at the principal meteorological station at the Central Exhibition Center refute this, noting curious trends. An unusually cold low pressure system northwest of the United Kingdom and a very dry high pressure system in the Mediterranean has brought hot African air to Central Europe resulting in the current situation.

Looks like the Kremlin is cooked!

Monday, July 19, 2010



Today's blog comes from an unlikely location; a barren spot 200 feet below the surface of the murky BALTIC SEA. Here, near the remote ALAND ISLANDS between the shores of Sweden and Finland, a team of divers were investigating a sunken vessel. To their delight, the boat turned out to be much older than expected. Just like in a million 'Popeye' cartoons or 'James Bond' movies, the curious divers pried apart the wooden hull and discovered a long forgotten cargo. Although most items had deteriorated beyond recognition, a number of cartons were perfectly intact. Once finally hauled to the surface, everyone was amazed to find they contained two dozen bottles of champagne!

The thirsty crew wasted no time in uncorking a bottle, as it was already perfectly chilled to 35 degrees Fahrenheit. It was delicious! Or, as the diving crew captain CHRISTIAN EKSTROM put it: "It tasted fantastic. It was a sweet champagne, with a tobacco taste and oak, with overtones of yellow raisins." Once ashore, the precious cargo was taken away from the rowdy divers and examined by experts. It turns out the champagne hails from the CLIQUOT winery in Southwestern France, bottled around the year 1780. It was then shipped on a boat of unknown origin to St. Petersburg for the thirsty Russian aristocracy. The ship must have sank in one of the notorious storms that occasionally ravage the beastly Baltic. (NOTE: A French tabloid said it could be part of gift sent from French King LOUIS XVI to Russian czar PETER THE GREAT.)

So...you're asking...Is this REALLY the oldest bottles champagne on earth? Certainly, some French dude MUST have an older one. Nope! Prior to yesterday, the oldest champagne on earth was a 1825 bottle of PERRIER-JOULET. A new record has been set! And champagne enthusiasts have their mouths watering at the chance to taste it. But they'll have to wait. The bottles are now in a laboratory in France, where they are being examined. If the corks are reasonably intact, and the permanently cold Baltic waters served as a good enough wine cellar, the bottles will go up for sale.

Sorry, Schlaep. They are expected to cost $100,000 for EACH BOTTLE!

Thursday, July 15, 2010



Well, the WORLD CUP is over. And, after every major sporting event, there were winners and losers. On the field, SPAIN kicked ass and FRANCE sucked eggs. In the stands, MULTI-CULTURES reigned supreme while VUVUZELAS ruined eardrums. In the media, scores of knowledgeable ex-players, coaches and columnists were humbled by a most unlikely soccer expert: PAUL THE ORACLE OCTOPUS.

Just who is Paul and why is he so darn famous? Here's Paul's amazing story: Only two years of age, Paul was born in the polluted waters of the Mediterranean. One day, he met a marine biologist and was taken to an upscale aquarium in Northern Germany called the OBERHAUSEN SEA LIFE CENTRE. One of his many talents is strategically using the suction cups on his tentacles to open clear plastic boxes containing food, to the delight of adoring crowds young and old. An aquarium worker, delirious with WORLD CUP FEVER, came up with a plan. Before a match, he would place two boxes in the tank, each with the flag of an opponent on them. Paul would then choose one over the other, thus predicting the outcome of the game. To the amazement of the entire world, Paul managed to pick EIGHT straight winners, including the final match with SPAIN over HOLLAND.

As we said earlier, with major sporting events, there are winners and losers. The winners love Paul and the losers hate him...or PULPO PAUL...as he is called in Madrid. In fact, Prime Minister ZAPATERO has donned him honorary Spanish citizenship. He is found on Spanish flags, bumper stickers and T-shirts. Italians love him too. They have repeatedly noted that he was originally found in Italian waters off the island of Elba. They insist his name is PAOLO, not Paul. Unfortunately, the losers are being vicious to poor Paul. A chef in BUENOS AIRES blamed the poor octopus for the ugly Argentine loss to Germany. He went on TV and placed an effigy of beloved Paul in a large blender and pureed him to bits. A priest in HOLLAND warned worshippers not to believe 'evil oracle.' Bookies in London blamed him for the losses they incurred. Who knew an octopus could create so much worldwide controversy?

People in Germany are mixed on the subject of the Oracle Octopus. While they love him as a hero, they still are feeling the pain of coming up a game short. Let's review Paul's prognostications. His first projection was in a match that didn't involve DIE MANNSHAFT, Germany's national team. His next four prophecies were all German victories, which lead to his national spotlight. When he chose Spain over Germany in the semi-final, things got dicey for poor Paul, but he managed to redeem himself in the THIRD PLACE game, when he chose Germany over Uruguay. By the time the Final came around, everyone in the world wanted to know what he would choose. He correctly chose SPAIN and rose to the worldwide status he now enjoys.

So why retire now? Aquarium workers in Germany are concerned that all this fame has gone to Paul's cephlapod head. Indeed, record crowds gathered in OBERHAUSEN for the feedings and officials had trouble staffing the events. And Paul seemed to know it! On his last show, our friend spent FIFTEEN MINUTES, swimming around the plastic boxes, pretending to open one or another, as fans hooped and hollered each tentacle's move. (Who does Paul think he is? LEBRON JAMES?) Anyhow, it's always best to go out on top, so we'll just have to enjoy the fortunate times we all got to spend together. I'm just glad this didn't all take place in California...see...we're not so weird after all!

NOTE: For those of you who still can't get enough of Paul, he has his own theme song on YOU-TUBE by famous Internet songwriter PARRY GRIPP. Be prepared for such great lyrics as "He picks a winner/when he eats his dinner."

Wednesday, July 7, 2010



People often ask me if I've read the latest JAMES PATTERSON crime novel or a STEIG LARSEN bestseller. I always respond the same way: I have no time for made-up-stories when the world presents so many actual, real-life events to read about. It's true, things that occur in the REAL WORLD are MUCH STRANGER THAN FICTION. And this week, the media brilliantly proved my point. A United Nations tribunal court in Holland slapped everyone's favorite super-model NAOMI CAMPBELL with a subpoena!

Those of us who follow the ridiculous day-to-day adventures of Ms. Campbell know she's often in trouble with the law. Usually, it's her infamous temper that gets her into trouble. Her last incident involved repeatedly striking a limo driver with a cell phone. (It was settled out of court). But this week's subpoena was different. Naomi is accused of possessing STOLEN BLOOD DIAMONDS from disgraced Liberian Dictator CHARLES TAYLOR.

Those of us who follow the ridiculous day-to-day adventures of Mr. Taylor know he's capable of just about anything. In fact, his life story would be a great 'made-for-TV' movie. Born and raised in Africa, Charles MacArthur Taylor went overseas and got a degree in Economics at Bentley College in Massachusetts. He returned to Liberia and became a finance minister. After embezzling a million dollars, he fled to the US only to be arrested. He escaped from a maximum-security prison by descending a 12-foot wall with a rope made from bed-sheets. Somehow, he made it to Libya. With Gaddafi's help, he returned to Liberia with a plan: Children would mine diamonds that he would sell for weapons. It worked splendidly! For six years he served as a corrupt president. Finally, under enormous pressure from US President George W. Bush, he fled in exile to (equally corrupt) Nigeria. When the pressure from the UN Courts finally got too great, he snuck out of his opulent seaside villa. However his luck had run out. Charles Taylor was apprehended in his Range Rover at the Cameroon border and taken to THE HAGUE for trial. He has been charged with 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

So how did NAOMI CAMPBELL get involved? Years ago, when Charles Taylor was still accepted by the world community, he was in South Africa at a gala thrown by NELSON MANDELA. Our favorite super-model was also in attendance. It seems the dictator was so enthralled with Ms. Naomi's beauty that he arranged for her to receive one of his best BLOOD DIAMONDS as a token of his affections. Naomi insists she never received any such gifts. (In fact, when asked by a reporter, she broke his camera...just for good measure.) Anyhow, the prosecution in Holland is having a hard time tracking down any of Mr. Taylor's notorious diamonds. By subpoenaing Naomi, they hope the super-model will break down on the witness stand and give some hard evidence in the courtroom.

Will she crack? Will he plead? Stay tuned for more wacky adventures when the Naomi and Charles saga continues next month!