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Another seven days of butter-flavored pain, a peaceful bin Laden and competent black women

By Danny Cross · January 23rd, 2008 · Worst Week Ever!

A Denver man named Wayne Watson has sued Kroger Co. and two of its popcorn-making subsidiaries for giving him a butter-flavored respiratory disease. Watson says that years of eating two to three bags of microwave popcorn a day gave him "popcorn lung," a respiratory illness caused by inhaling the fake-butter flavor diacetyl. Popcorn lung has been known to sicken workers in butter flavor factories, but Watson is the first person to suggest that general microwaving use can also cause the hilarious-sounding disease. Scientists have determined that Watson must either stop eating fake-flavored popcorn during every meal or stop standing so close to the microwave oven while it's cooking.

Thousands of infected water buffalo are putting a hurt on Italy's mozzarella cheese exportation industry, and soon 32,000 of them will pay the ultimate price, which is death. The Italian government plans to kill 32,000 buffalo in an attempt to stop the spread of a bacterial disease called Brucellosis that affects the animals' reproductive systems. Italian newspapers say that veterinarians didn't kill enough of the sick buffalo to prevent the outbreak because a mafia called the Camorra threatened them. But the Camorra blamed Queen Latifah for selling too many stuffed crust pizzas in America to justify slowing down the mozzarella supply.

Like many young men in this world who think their dads are dicks, Omar bin Laden has strayed from the militant ways of his father. Omar, one of Osama's 19 children, is a dreadlock-wearing 26-year-old who's married to a 52-year-old British woman, and the couple is planning a horse race across North Africa to promote peace. Omar says that jihad training wasn't for him and instead traveled Europe connecting with other youthful idealists and older English ladies.

Omar said that his father isn't completely bad, noting that Osama has offered a truce to both Europe and America and also pays his student loans for him.

Duke Energy employees have acknowledged that the company paid about $22 million to corporate customers last year while the rest of us had to sleep in hooded sweatshirts because of increased heating costs. The easily-influenced Public Utilities Commission of Ohio allegedly agreed to a 30 percent rate increase for residential consumers after the side deals were in place. Attorneys for the North Carolina-based company blame the unidentified local businesses that cashed the payout checks, calling them "bigger sellouts than the guy who made Star Wars." Attorneys for one of the rate-hike-avoiding companies tried to change the subject by saying that the constantly-lit "Cincinnati" sign on the side of the Duke Energy Center downtown is bad for the environment.

Hamilton County Sheriff Simon Leis called out county officials in today's Enquirer, saying that a recently-expired deal to lock Hamilton County criminals in rooms in Butler County was a bad idea from the start. Leis said that former Commissioner Phil Heimlich blew it by agreeing to pay for unused rooms as part of a deal that cost the county $10 million over a 19-month period. Leis also said he got sick of driving prisoners 55 miles to Butler County and that costs were further escalated because none of them could chip in gas money.

Sometimes it's totally worth it to pay extra fees for event tickets: See Van Halen's 2003 reunion tour and that time the Reds played a one-game playoff against the New York Mets. But recent advances in technology -- the Internet and non-flip cell phones, mostly -- are taking profits away from Ticketmaster, which is now scrambling to figure out new ways to get people to pay something for nothing. The ticket company fears that if this year's Hannah Montana tour doesn't net at least $6 for every ticket printed that it will be forced to investigate a business model that provides "an actual service of some sort."

Today CNN explained how angrily readers reacted to a cliché-filled story it reported last week. The story, "Gender or Race: Black women voters face tough choices in South Carolina," suggested that black women might have a difficult time determining who to blindly follow -- a black man or a white woman. A woman named Tiffany e-mailed CNN a sarcastic response, which included the following: "Duh, since I'm illiterate I'll pull down the lever for someone. Hm... Well, he black so I may vote for him... Oh wait she a woman I may vote for her... What Ise gon' do? Oh lordy!" CNN has offered to write a similarly simplistic story about white men eating lunch at Cracker Barrel while fretting over which Democratic candidate would ruin their lives more.

CONTACT DANNY CROSS: dcross@citybeat.com



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