In this Oct. 23, 2009, police mug photo provided by the Carroll, Iowa, Police Department, Joey Lee Miller, 20, and Matthew Allan McNelly sport their ingenious disguises used in an alleged apartment burglary attempt. (AP Photo/Carroll Police Department)
If you're searching desperately for a last-second Halloween costume idea, Iowans Joey Miller and Matthew McNelly have come to the rescue. Here's a list of what you'll need to pull together the look:
A look of complete befuddlement (confusion or a generic dazed expression with do in a pinch).
Miller and McNelly were busted last week in Iowa for allegedly trying to break into an apartment - throw a DUI charge in for good measure - prompting local cops to dub the pair "dumb and dumber."
Local police chief Jeff Cayler had some choice comments about the permanent marker criminal minds in an interview with CNN:
"We're very skilled investigators and the black faces gave them right away,"Cayler said. "[They were] being dumb and combine that with alcohol and it was the perfect storm.
"I've been chief here almost 25 years, been with the department 28½ years and I've seen a lot of things that make me laugh and weird things but this was probably the best combination of the two - strangely weird and hilariously funny all at the same time."
Sometimes, not always, but usually when you need it most, the Internet is a hero. And occasionally the hero has a sidekick in the form of local TV advertising.
Welcome to the Hall of Justice, manned, in every sense of the word, by Robert Lee, the owner of the Alabama mobile home sales firm Cullman Liquidation. Robert is here to sell his previously owned homes on wheels, and he doesn't care if you buy or not. He's been hit in the face multiple times with a crescent wrench, smashed in the back of the head with a fence post and working in mobile home - not trailers! - sales for 20 years. At this point in life, brutal honesty is his strongest weapon.
From the sound effects to the angles, shots and feel of this spot by two guys named Rhett and Link and their site ilovelocalcommercials.com, there's nothing not awesome about this effort. And if the commercial weren't cool enough for your valuable Internet time, it get's better! There's a making-of effort that lets you in on the life of our hero just a little bit more:
The dynamic duo behind the production, Rhett and Link, a comedy team from North Carolina who also host a popular Webcast on Ustream, is currently working on a series producing local commercials for businesses nominated by fans and viewers. It's a nationwide effort and they're just on business no. 2, so jump in now if you've got a place that needs the Robert Lee treatment.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is colorful, to say the least. But he seldom leaves people wondering what he was thinking after his actions.
Take his latest veto. Conan the Legislator often leaves messages on the bills he signs or vetoes, and California legislative finance bill AB 1176 is no different. He struck it down and left a brief message on his feeling on the issue. But you have to read between the lines to see what he's really thinking this time.
Specifically, the first letter of each line. The governor flips the legislature a figurative finger, spelling out an F-bomb if you read down the first letters. See for yourself:
"My goodness. What a coincidence," said Schwarzenegger spokesman Aaron McLear. "I suppose when you do so many vetoes, something like this is bound to happen."
Schwarzenegger's veto messages are sent to the lawmakers who authored the bills, and posted on the governor's Web site. McLear noted that the left-hand margin of past veto messages has spelled out words such as "poet" and "soap."
The target was San Francisco Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, who had sponsored AB1176. The bill, which passed unanimously in the Assembly and Senate, would have granted the Port of San Francisco expanded financing power to redevelop a former shipyard into a new neighborhood known as Pier 70.
"Kudos to the governor for his creative use of coincidence," said Ammiano's spokesman, Quintin Mecke. "You certainly have to have a sense of humor in politics. Unfortunately, this humor came at the cost of the Port of San Francisco."
Whether coincidence or smackdown, the phrase contained in Schwarzenegger's Oct. 12 veto message could be seen as retaliation for Ammiano's behavior during a local Democratic Party fundraiser earlier this month in San Francisco.
His appearance at the Fairmont Hotel caught many of the attendees by surprise and came after a summer of contentious budget negotiations that forced lawmakers to cut billions of dollars from core state services, including education and health care programs.
On a video clip of the governor's appearance, Ammiano can be heard shouting "you lie" and other derogatory phrases as other attendees booed and heckled Schwarzenegger's brief speech.
After the governor left, Ammiano took the stage and gave a rambling diatribe in which he criticized Schwarzenegger for a wide variety of perceived offenses. In part, the freshman lawmaker was upset that Schwarzenegger had vetoed bills in 2005 and 2007 that would have legalized gay marriage.
When the Balloon Boy saga unfolded on live TV, it captivated much of the nation. The viewership was made up of a little bit of every type of person: concerned and horrified viewers, conspiracy theory nutjobs, fans of the morbid and everything in between. And perhaps the one unifying element that pulled these disparate groups together was a collective judgment of the rescue and response efforts.
And, of course, there would be no shortage of suggestions on how to bring Falcon Heene safely down from his escaping flying saucer nightmare at 7,000 feet.
Spectators watching the alleged balloon boy hoax unfold on live TV suggested paragliders, skydivers, fishing hooks and more to bring down the flying saucer-shaped craft thought to be carrying the 6-year-old boy - of course we learned it was an apparent publicity stunt.
The e-mails flooding Larimer County, CO., Sheriff Jim Alderden's inbox have turned to criticism of his actions in the case. And Alderden, to his credit, has responded in his weekly blog post - "Up, Up and Away." Alderden writes that people have sent e-mails from around the world, some of them calling him gullible, fat and bald with an over-inflated ego. They compared him to Barney Fife, the bumbling sheriff's deputy on the 1960s TV show "The Andy Griffith Show."
Fat and bald he'll cop to. As for the rest? Full of hot air, says the face of balloon justice. Here's a look at some of the negative response the native Illinoisan has gotten:
The majority of e-mails I received later weren't nearly as complimentary.
* Ok Barney Fife........ Law enforcement shouldnt be sceptical??? Then OJ was totally innocent in Larimer County. You are an Idiot!!!!!!!!!
* You seem to be a real pushover..... why do you want an interview again....you are sold on their story....and your department doesn't seem able to determine events. With your frame of mind, your futher investigation would retrive nothing - what do you think the family would say.... and don't you think they (family) are scripting soty at present?
* Are you ignorant? Watch the damn Wife Swap show... this was a total hoax.. hell even watch the damn home video of the parents who where THERE WHEN THE CRAFT WENT OFF. Watch the DAMN INTERVIEW VIDEOS. Your department is so god damn gullible. How you are a sheriff is beyond me.
* Anyone can see this guy set this whole thing up. If you do not proceed with charges you are a fool. And I'm certain your desk will soon have someone elses name on it. So take your arm from around his neck and stop kissing this creep. He's been endangering these kids for a while now and yoko ono is in on it also....Good luck on your book.
* THIS MORNING ON CNN I HEARD THE BIG MOUTHED,FAT ,BALD HEADED, OVER INFLATED EGO OF A SHERIFF GO ON AND ON AND ON ABOUT THE KID IN THE DAMN BALLON. WHO CARES? EVERYONE GETS THEIR FIFTEEN MINUTES OF FAME IN LIFE AND NOW THIS BLOW HARD OF A SHERIFF HAS HAD HIS. THERE HAVE BEEN SERIAL KILLERS AND TERRORISTS WHO HAVE NOT GOTTEN THIS MUCH PRESS THANKS TO MR. BIG MOUTH.
"In fact, I'm pretty ticked off that I had to spend my weekend dealing with them instead of some quality time in the saddle," Alderden wrote. "That said, sometimes the Sheriff just has to be the spokesperson instead of putting it off on the Press Information Officer. I did my best to put an end to the media circus and have refused to do any more interviews or morning TV shows, even turning down Dr. Phil."
Yet more theater from this whole Heene affair and, in the Age of the Blog, it's only fitting that a sheriff who favors star spangled cowboy shirts become a celebrity - and then blog about it.
The only real question worth asking Sheriff Alderden at this point is "Orton or Cutler?" Clearlyy, he has an opinion:
Fortunately, I also had some supporters.
* Sheriff I sure wish you lived in Illinois
I am Glad to see you go after the parents of ballon boy
I hope they have to pay for everything.
Is it possible to charge the reality show as a co-conspriritor?
But mainly I want to congradulate you on having the "cajones" to publicly state that TV reality shows are plain garbage.
If you ever get to Harvard IL I'll buy you a beer and I don't even drink.
I'm originally from Illinois, so I might look you up next time I'm there. I've been known to have beer or two during a Bronco's or Bear's game.
Thank God for America and its inherent sense of entrepreneurship.
Give us lemons and we don't whine about the bitter juice. We add some high fructose corn syrup, farm production to China and profit from lemonade that's bad enough enough to make us fat and give us cancer, but too tasty to pass up.
Friends and neighbors, Balloon Boy, and his media circus parents, is our lemonade. And the story that keeps on giving, well, keeps on giving. And just in time for halloween!
There's even some helpful advice from the geniuses at Microflight that thought this up:
Now you too can enjoy all the media attention you want with Plantraco's Balloon Boy Hoax kit. A great flying saucer that is going to put a big smile on your face. Colorado flying saucers and hot air balloon hoaxes are famous these days, get on the bandwagon for trick-or-treat halloween fun and loads of laughs for everyone!
Just ring the doorbell and say "I'm supposed to be flying in there, but my dad said to stay in the box for the show!" - you are practically guaranteed to get double and triple halloween treats with this authentic and collectible Balloon Boy Flying Saucer Hoax trick costume!
Halloween has morphed into a holiday - no, holiday doesn't seem right, but go with with it - offering fun and candy for the kiddies, a chance for adults to dress up in hilarious costumes and get hammered and, of course, the opportunity to set fire to Detroit. And every year there's a transcendent, and usually nonsensical, news story that creates fodder for the grownups to play dressup.
In fact, London's Daily Mail did a piece chronicling the rich history of food-based visions in recent years. And if you can't find Christ in your crust naturally, there's the Jesus Pan to help those who help themselves by cooking His face onto your pancakes.
But can Jesus appear to bathroom-goers in Ikea? And is this even really a picture of Jesus, engrained, if you will, in the medium density fiberboard that is the lifeblood of the Swedish cheap furniture giant?
Well, for their part, Ikea's powers-that-be aren't stepping on the faith of their shoppers, but they see a somewhat less divine face appearing:
In a further twist, Ikea bosses claim that the image is really Benny Anderson, of the Eurovision Song Contest-winning Swedish 1970s Europop outfit ABBA.
A spokeswoman said: "Swedishness is engrained in every part of our stores."
ABBA isn't often the first thought that comes to mind when it comes to this sort of thing. But sometimes, a leap of faith is the first step needed. But you be the judge - this Benny, Jesus, Gandalf the White or just a bit of wood grain in a cheap pine door?
By Thomas Conner on October 21, 2009 12:46 PM
Kanye West is dead. Long live Kanye West.
Or so some Twitter prankster would have you believe.
Early today, Twitter became abuzz with rumors that Chicago's most notorious rapper had passed on. The phrase "RIP Kanye West" began reproducing in tweets throughout the service, becoming a trending topic that's still No. 1 on the site as of this post.
West is, however, still alive and kicking. As The Daily Swarm put it in its round-up of news reports about this, he continues to not be dead.
It's no wonder Chicago was identified by the Princess Cruises Life Balance Barometer as America's most stressed out city.
In the national survey, which was conducted by Harris Interactive, Chicagoans had the least "life balance," followed by Houston, Boston, Los Angeles and San Diego. Meanwhile, Minneapolis, Cincinnati, Las Vegas and Dallas/Fort Worth ranked last on the list -- meaning their citizens claim to have the most life balance.
In a Princess Cruises press release, stress expert and founder of The Stress Institute, Dr. Kathleen Hall, said life balance "is all about having time for work, relationships, relaxation and fun, but when people are stressed out, it can be hard for them to focus on the priorities that will help get them back in balance."
What do you think, Chicago -- are we really that stressed, or is this a case of Princess Cruises trying to coax us away from the cold winter weather that awaits in coming months?
Kanye West is not gonna let Spike Jonze's short film, "We were once a fairytale," finish.
Just one day after the odd 10-minute opus was released, Chicagoan West pulled the joint from his own site without warning or explanation. The film shows a drunken rapper exorcising his demons as normal people look on.
Sounds familiar for some reason.
The beleaguered rapper debuted the clip on his Web site Monday before removing it. In it, West is shown acting drunk and obnoxious, and at the end of it, he stabs himself with a sword and pulls what appears to be a little mouselike demon out of his stomach. He then gives the demon a sword, and it stabs itself.
A rep for Jonze says the video was made within the past year. West's publicist did not respond to an Associated Press e-mail seeking comment.
By Thomas Conner on October 20, 2009 4:25 PM
Here's a Thanksgiving deal you won't want to miss: One day, two turkeys!
That's right, after your feast with grandma and the whole clan, head out to the House of Blues for a concert by convicted domestic abuser Chris Brown.
Brown is launching a 19-city "fan appreciation" tour "to acknowledge and thank his fans for their ongoing support," according to a press release. The Chicago date: Nov. 26, Thanksgiving night.
Granted, it's a cheap ticket for an intimate venue: $37.50 general admission, $42 day of show. Tickets go on sale here this Friday. Part of the proceeds also benefit Best Buddies International, a nonprofit supporting for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
In related news, Rihanna -- the girlfriend Brown smacked around earlier this year, for which he was sentenced to probation -- is also forging ahead with her music career, scheduling the relase of her next album, "Rated R," on Nov. 23.
Well, maybe testicles. Because something with this much testosterone clearly has something driving the man-ness. Here's Stallone, directing, no less, returning to his monosyllabic roots for the glory of film-goers everywhere.
Plot? May be one, but who cares? There doesn't seem to be a lot of room for character development with all the rounds flying and asses being kicked. Relentlessly.
One thing's for sure, between Steven Seagal and Sly, this is shaping up to be an explosive 12 months in entertainment.
How's this for a Friday happy-end-to-the-week story?
The 6-month-old baby in this video survived a faceplant onto the track and sudden meeting with a commuter train in Australia.
The train pushed the stroller about 130 feet along the tracks before it stopped while the frantic mother could only watch helplessly. The security video footage released Friday shows the mother looking away for a moment when the stroller suddenly rolls off the edge of a station platform and onto the tracks. The mother panics as she looks back and sees the oncoming train hit the stroller, but the baby boy survived with only minor injuries.
Victoria state Police Sergeant Michael Ferwerda called Thursday's incident a "lucky escape" and said people should be cautious in train stations.
Meanwhile, grumbling commuters were distraught over their train being delayed, but thankful it wasn't for anything as stupid as a boy in a balloon shaped like a flying saucer hoax scare.
By Thomas Conner on October 14, 2009 11:43 AM
Can you put the iPhone down without freaking out?
From the utterly obvious file: A study has found that most people get very, very stressed out when they don't have an Internet connection.
But it's more than that. The study -- from The Future Report and commissioned by British Internet service provider Virgin Media -- coins an acronym for people who are slightly hooked on their wifi mainline. Those who not only love their tech but experience great anxiety when they are disconnected are SOSOs. They "switch on to switch off" -- that is, they experience less stress as long as they see this:
More than 35 percent of those surveyed said they kinda freaked out if they were unable to stay in relatively constant contact with friends and family via email, Web sites or social networking services.
In addition, the SOSOs don't care if you find their anxiety ridiculous. The same percentage reported that they don't feel guilty about always having a computer or Web-activated cell phone within reach.
The numbers were higher for stay-at-home parents.
"An 'always on' lifestyle may not be for everyone but there is a significant number of people for whom always being connected actually increases peace of mind," says Mark Schweitzer, COO of Virgin Media.
How about you, Yanks? Do you get the shakes when you leave the bars, as it were?
Death, it turns out, is anything but dignified for Michael Jackson.
His family continues to squabble over the estate. The label is marketing his work, using his death as a profit engine. His brain was held in deep freeze as his death investigation continues.
And now this ... his singed hair from the infamous 1984 Pepsi commercial fire accident is up for sale.
According to the London Sun newspaper, Ralph Cohen, the executive producer of the commercial, saved the hairs in his coat, which he had used to try to put the flames on Jackson's head out. Now the dozen singed hairs are going on the block in an auction expected to bring in a whopping $1,500.
Of course, that price also includes Cohen's harrowing tale of the day:
"And then, as Michael on his cue, was supposed to come down the stairs the explosion went off and the first thing I noticed was - he was about half way down the stairs - and I noticed flame emanating from his hair.
"And it took me a moment to register what exactly was happening because there was so much lights and so many different things go on sic] it was a little confusing but I noticed his hair was on fire and I immediately rushed out from my position.
"I pulled my jacket off as I was running and proceeded to, when I reached him, put it over his head."
The hairs are said to be worth about twice as much as when Jackson was alive. The video flameout is pointed to by many Jackson watchers as the beginning of the end for the King of Pop. After suffering second degree burns, he became hooked on pain killers, live-in doctors and bad advice until the time of his death by cardiac arrest this summer.
That, if it were the end of the story, would be enough to cover the weird quotient for the day. But when it comes to Michael Jackson, there's always more.
The Arlington Heights, IL., company, LifeGem, already has plans for about 100 more of Jackson's burned hairs - making them into diamonds. Dean Van den Biesen, one of the company's co-founders, says the 7- to 9-month process to make diamonds from Jackson's fried locks is underway.
"We have the Armani suit jacket, the locks of hair, the documentation. Everything," Van den Biesen said Tuesday.
How many diamonds does 100 hairs get you? About three by the time the carbon purification process the company advertises is complete. As to who gets those diamonds when they're done, plans are still being developed.
Spectators watch piglets at the feeding trough, after a traditional pig race at the Swiss agriculture fair OLMA, in St. Gallen, Switzerland on Thursday. (AP)
Sometimes, a little sizzle and squeak makes the day go by quicker. With that in mind, here's a pig's, umm, eye view of the traditional pig race at what amounts to a 4Hfair in St. Gallen, Switzerland. Because while gambling is fine and betting on races is fun, everything is better with bacon.
And if you hurry, you can still make it to visit - the fair, which promises many barnyard and dairy-related delights, runs through October 18.
Or, you can just head to Wisconsin for the weekend.
Ice, ice, baby. NASA is looking for it in our own backyard again - this time on the moon.
Just two days after the Jet Propulsion Laboratory announced the discovery of a giant, previously invisible ring around Saturn, the space agency is looking for another hidden gem in our solar system - evidence of water on the dark side of the moon - and they're pulling out all the stops to find it.
Well, technically, it's only two stops being pulled. The plan, see the video walkthrough here, is to basically ram an Atlas V rocket into the crater Cabeus on the moon's south pole so a probe can analyze the debris thrown into the the sky for evidence of water. Then that probe wil smash into the moon's surface to create a debris field for Eartbound and orbital observers to study.
Here's how the obviously giddy NASA folks explain the process:
Just imagine. A spaceship plunges out of the night sky, hits the ground and explodes. A plume of debris billows back into the heavens, leading your eye to a second ship in hot pursuit. Four minutes later, that one hits the ground, too. It's raining spaceships!
Fraser Robinson III, Marian, and their children, Craig and Michelle - now Michelle Obama.
The New York Times reports the fascinating story of Michelle Obama's slave heritage back to a 6-year-old slave girl named Melvinia in pre-Civil War South Carolina.
The Times story covers the first lady's history to her great-great-great-grandparents, the lone girl and an unknown white man after she had been willed to a family near Atlanta a few years before the Civil War. Born from that coupling was Dolphus T. Shields.
The exploration of family roots by Megan Smolenyak, a genealogist, and The New York Times -- bears out longstanding family rumors about a white forebear, the former Michelle Robinson said.
The Times reports that it's unclear who the actual father of Dolphus Shields was once Melvinia became the property of Henry Shields in 1852:
It is difficult to say who might have impregnated Melvinia, who gave birth to Dolphus around 1859, when she was perhaps as young as 15. At the time, Henry Shields was in his late 40s and had four sons ages 19 to 24, but other men may have spent time on the farm.
"No one should be surprised anymore to hear about the number of rapes and the amount of sexual exploitation that took place under slavery; it was an everyday experience, " said Jason A. Gillmer, a law professor at Texas Wesleyan University, who has researched liaisons between slave owners and slaves. "But we do find that some of these relationships can be very complex."
Just as interesting is the family tree the Times has put together as the Robinson family history has pieced together, The Family Tree of Michelle Obama: The First Lady. It traces her family steps through tattered paperwork and faded photographs back to that 6-year-old slave on a Carolina plantation. It also serves to illuminate the mixed-race background of the first lady's heritage and discusses how that's becoming a much more common reality in a nation made up of so many races and heritages.
Much like a report in the Chicago Sun-Times exploring the family tree of Barack Obama, the Times report illuminates a rich, multi-ethnic background for the first lady, though Michelle's history is far less well-known.
When Melvinia died in 1938, her death certificate marks "don't know" in the space asking for the 90-year-old's parents name, so the retracing ends with her.
First they tell us Pluto's not a planet. Now this? What is going on at NASA?
The good folks at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory have found a previously hidden new ring around Saturn that's so big it could fit 1 billion, yes, with a B, Earths inside.
"This is one supersized ring," said one of the authors, Anne Verbiscer, an astronomer at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. Her co-authors are Douglas Hamilton and Michael Skrutskie, also of the University of Virginia.
So how does this giant space hoop go so long without being spotted in a time of space exploration where we look for anything possible in the heavens? It was invisible.
Turns out the new ring, made up of ice and dust, only shows up on infrared inspection with the heat signatures of its frozen mass can be seen clearly. And it's so diffuse, you could be floating in the middle of it without realizing you're in a rin, reports space.com:
"This thing is just immense," Hamilton, of the University of Maryland, one of the astronomers who found the ring, said. "If you look at just a small patch of it, you just see fuzziness."
Saturn's moon Phoebe orbits within the ring and is believed to be the source of the material. The ring also may answer the riddle of another moon, Iapetus, which has a bright side and a very dark side.
The ring circles in the same direction as Phoebe, while Iapetus, the other rings and most of Saturn's other moons go the opposite way. Scientists think material from the outer ring moves inward and slams into Iapetus.
"Astronomers have long suspected that there is a connection between Saturn's outer moon Phoebe and the dark material on Iapetus," said Hamilton. "This new ring provides convincing evidence of that relationship."
With all the looking into the distance being done, it makes you wonder what we have in our own backyard that hasn't been found yet.
The discovery was made with NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope and you can find more detail and images at the JPL page on the discovery.
This is not to make light of the plight of cabbies, apparently an endangered class of worker on our mean streets. Rather, it's to revel in the lunacy that is street stew of New York, made that much more piquant with the addition of some spicy cab drivers and fiery pedi-cab bikers.
While the New York media types were hanging outside the Ed Sullivan studio looking to grab some David Letterman stories, they managed to catch this seen of life on the bike-vs.-car streets, complete with beverage throwing, a fist fight/wrestling match, a thrown metal trash can and a not-so-fast get-away.
When all is said and done, it's probably more shocking not only that this doesn't happen more often, but that this hasn't been caught on video before. Of course, New York has had its issues recently with cyclist smackdowns, but that was a cop and Critical Mass, so no huge shock there. No word on whether there are any leads on the escaped biker - or whether they've got that beat-down officer looking for him.
This is a love story. The love story that has been years in the making, but has really only gelled in the last year.
And, as with many great love stories, this one came to a head with a wedding, a joyous day filled with family, friends and memories new an old.
And yes, we're probably all happy for Jill and Matthew, the happy couple whose wedding played a part in this love story, but it's not their vows that have us fawning for love - this is the story of a wedding invitation that has caused anyone who sees it to swoon with romantic admiration or typographic fixation.
Truly, this is the most clever wedding invite, perhaps, ever seen:
So there you have it. No bows. No treacle. No frills. Just the creative retelling of a couples love in a way that simultaneously avoids being overly sentimental, but conveys the deep meaning these two lucky people have for eachother. You can check in on the groom and find more on the award-winning effort at his blog, motherboard.
And when November 8 rolls around, raise a glass to the happy couple on their one-year anniversary, but you should definitely celebrate their creativity.