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Behind the Eight Ball

Who is that behind the eight ball, anyway?

Vol. 6 No. 5, August 21, 1994

Jeannie Breaks Hand

Jeannie, a DMV employee in Tracy, CA, broke her hand after falling off her bicycle on the way to work recently. [The DMV doesn't allow its workers to drive cars.] Luckily, she was wearing her helmet. If not for that, she might have broken her other hand.

How did it happen? "I was trying to outrun a cop," she explained between gasps for breath. [This reporter just happened to be there for the interview.] "He clocked me doing 35 in a 25 m.p.h. zone. And I just about got away. But I crashed when you [this reporter] jumped out in front of me!"

[Update: The cast is off Jeannie's hand now, and the lawsuit against this newsletter is "proceeding nicely."]

Credence Achieves "Schutzhund III"

There was a "giant" Schutzhund (protection dog) trial and Rottweiler dog show in Modesto and Hayward, CA, over the 4th of July weekend. It was so big it had to be held in two towns. "Well, it was just too hot in Modesto for the Schutzhund trial," said a woman identifying herself only as "Lucy," of Livingston, CA.

Anyway, Credence, a Rottweiler owned by this "Lucy" person, finally — finally! — achieved that long-sought-after training level known as Schutzhund III. "Now she can retire to a life of luxury," Lucy explained further, even though we didn't ask her to. Before we could stop her, Lucy then went on to tell us all about her other dogs.

Belinda, a "German bitch" she co-owns, passed her "ZTP Test." (The ZTP, is an acronym for the German phrase "zatz tempen p¼chen," or "temperament and family values test." It's given to anyone caring to be tested, though it's usually given to dogs.) After the ZTP test, Lucy started getting calls from people all over the country, though she wouldn't explain why.

Since we're talking about Lucy's dogs already, we might as well also mention that "Feisty" (the "ugly one") won the Best Male Puppy competition.

"Thunder," Feisty's prettier brother, placed fourth. [It's good to see that looks don't count for everything.]

Holmes family connected to royalty?

It's true, according to noted Sacramento (CA) genealogist, Doug Holmes. "If you trace it back far enough," Doug explained in a telephone interview, "the Holmes family, of which the editor of this newsletter is unfortunately a member, is related either by blood or by marriage to every royal family in Europe!"

Every royal family? we asked. "Every royal family," Doug repeated.

Okay, we countered, but if you trace pretty much any family back far enough, couldn't they say the same thing?

"Not at all," said Doug.

Surely there must be thousands of families who can make this same claim?

"I said 'not at all,' didn't I?" Doug shot back angrily.

Okay, okay. But what we wanted to know was: Is there any money, crown jewels, or maybe a castle in it for any of these descendants?

"I doubt it," Doug replied reluctantly. "But ..."

It was too late. The interview was over. If there's no money in it, we're not interested. [Try and remember that the next time you call us with a news story.]


Catfish

by Eric McGovern

It was a warm, humid night, as are most nights of August in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. It was ten p.m. and, as I loaded my fishing gear into my truck and looked up at the full moon, I was getting anxious to fish. I started up the truck, drove about three miles, and turned down a dark dirt road that dead-ended. I had to drive kind of slow as some of the roads in Bay St. Louis weren't the best, particularly some of the dirt roads, and this was one of them.

The road ended at the base of a large patch of woods. I grabbed my gear and began walking. I hadn't been to this spot in a few months and I was really glad I'd brought my machete with me, as the briars and poison ivy had gotten out of hand again. And if you've never tried walking through woods that are overgrown with briars and poison ivy, I have some advice for you ... Don't try it!

It was about a ten minute walk to the lake, which isn't far when you take into consideration that only a handful of people ever fished this particular lake, and the fishing was pretty darn good. As the lake came into view, I could I could hardly wait to get started. Piney Lake, as I called it, wasn't very big—about ten acres—but it was quiet, secluded, and full of fish. I was ready.

I set my small ice chest and tackle box down. I opened up the ice chest and took out a small brown paper bag containing my bait. I have used all sorts of bait for catfishing, from chicken livers to live earthworms, but tonight I was using dead shrimp, which I consider prime catfish bait. I took one of my rods, and rigged it up with a cork, having decided to try topwater first. I baited my hook and cast out about forty feet.

It was a beautiful night. The full moon gave me plenty of light, so I didn't need to bring a lantern with me. There was no breeze whatsoever, and the lake was as smooth as glass. You could cut the thick, humid air with a knife, and I pulled a bandanna out of my pocket to wipe the beads of sweat from my forehead. I heard a buzzing sound which sounded like a small plane overhead, but of course I knew it was just the overgrown mosquitoes that had zeroed in on me and were ready for a feast, which I was in no mood to give them. I quickly opened my tackle box and grabbed my Deep Woods Off, and covered myself in a fog of the stuff. The mosquitoes took off and I got back to fishing.

It had just been about three minutes since I had made my cast and I was just about to set my pole down so I could get myself a nice cold beer when the fish struck so hard it nearly yanked the rod out of my hands! "Yeah! Instant action!" I yelled as I tried to turn the fish towards me. He didn't seem to want to cooperate. As he continued to strip line from my reel, I realized I had hooked a "really big" one. Two minutes went by and the fish continued to slowly, but consistently, take line. I wondered if I would be able to turn him before he stripped my reel clean.

Of the many times I had fished here, I had caught many cats, mostly channel and a few yellow mud. The biggest channel cat I ever caught here was a nine-pounder. This was definitely a channel cat, but he was considerably large than nine pounds. I was using a bait casting reel rigged with seventeen pound test Berkeley Big Game line and a stiff graphite rod, and had never had a whisker fish give me this much trouble before.

I only had about fifteen feet of line left when I finally turned the big cat towards me. I had to work him slowly to avoid breaking my line. I had to be careful because there was a lot of structure in this lake, mostly submerged trees and stumps, and I didn't want him wrapping around anything and breaking off. I got about three quarters of my line back when the big fish made another run, nearly stripping me again before I regained control.

I could feel the old catfish wearing down and I was glad because I didn't want to lose this whopper. But it wasn't over yet. There was a submerged pine tree about ten feet offshore and three feet to the left of me and I had a feeling that this fish was going to make one final attempt to get away.

I continued to reel the fish in when suddenly I got my first look at him. I got a lump in my throat when I saw the dinosaur of a catfish. He was about four feet long and must have weighed about sixty pounds! The biggest catfish I had ever caught was thirty pounds, and now I was nervous. "Please don't let me lose this fish," I thought to myself as he made one final run.

Just as I thought he would, that catfish headed right into the submerged pine tree. "Get outta there!" I yelled as I tugged on my rod with all my might. Now, I don't know if someone was watching over me on this particular night, or what, but I somehow managed to work that crusty old codger out of the branches of the submerged tree and I pulled him up onto the bank of the lake. It was hard for me to believe that there was even a catfish this big in this lake, let alone that I had caught him.

I could see his battle scars from where he had been hooked before. He had two rusted hooks in his right upper lip, one in his left lower lip, and a beat-up old crank bait hooked into his dorsal fin, which is something I had never seen before, and knew I never would again. He also had some old wounds that were probably caused by a gar, as well as several large leeches keeping him company.

I didn't know how old this guy was, but I knew he'd been around for a long time. I knew this old channel cat had gotten away from other anglers, and he put up such a battle that even though I knew I may never catch a fish like this again, I had to let him go. I removed the old hooks from his lips, as well as the old crank bait from his back.

"Take it easy, gramps!" I said as I guided the old sucker back into the water. I felt good watching him swim off. "He'd have been too tough to eat, anyway," I said to myself as I re-baited my hook to try my luck again.

Letters to the Editor

We really enjoy your newsletter ... keep them coming! — Hal & Del, Alameda, CA

[Thank you. Now, we'd like to point out something about our editor. We were going through his personal papers recently, gathering information for routine blackmailing, when we came upon something interesting: It seems he had a "cumulative" grade point average of 2.74 in high school, and was ranked 306th out of the 486 students in his class. In his final year, he received a "D" in Journalism and a "C" in Creative Writing. That pretty much sums up this newsletter, don't you think?]

Bloopers

(All "genuine and certified." Collected by teachers from students from 8th grade to college level. Found somewhere and contributed by Lionel Holmes, Editor Emeritus.)

  • "The 19th Century was a time of many great inventions and thoughts. The invention of the steamboat caused a network of rivers to spring up; Cyrus McCormick invented the McCormick raper, which did the work of a hundred men1; Louis Pasteur discovered a cure for rabbis; and Karl Marx became one of the Marx Brothers.
  • The First World War, caused by the assignation of the Arch-Duck by a surf, ushered in a new error in the anals of history."

1 For those, like our staff, who don't know who Cyrus McCormick was, he was the inventor of the reaper.

[Wouldn't you know it? After we put out a newsletter called "Fish Stories," Eric sends us an actual fish story that same day! It was too late to include it in that last issue. Better late than never. Thanks, Eric!]

Jokes

Q: How many "Star Trek" crew members does it take to screw in a light bulb?

A: Six. Scotty to get on the intercom when the light goes out and say, "I canna do it, Cap'n! I'm not a miracle worker!"; Spock to tell Kirk he is "proceeding illogically"; McCoy to say "Dammit Jim, I'm a doctor not an electrician!"; Kirk to screw it in; and two red-shirt security men to die in the process.

Q: How many "baby boomers" does it take to screw in a light bulb?

A: Ten. Four to talk about how great it is that they've all come together to do this; one to screw it in; one to videotape it; one to stick his Cotton Dockers butt in front of the camera; one to plan a marketing strategy; one to reminisce about mass naked bulb screw-ins in the '60s; and one to play classic rock.

Q. How many blondes does it take to screw in a light bulb?

A. One. She stands on the ladder and waits for the world to revolve around her.

Q. How many fundamentalist Christians does it take to screw in a light bulb?

A. They can't. The Bible doesn't say anything about light bulbs.

Q: How many civil servants does it take to screw in a light bulb?

A: Two. One to assure everyone that everything possible is being done, while the other screws the bulb into the water faucet.

Q: How many gun control advocates does it take to screw in a light bulb?

A: They don't do that; they pass laws against burned-out bulbs, and then wonder why it's still so dark.

Steven Wright Jokes ...

[We hope we don't get sued for reprinting them]

  • I once worked in a factory that makes fire hydrants. It was an OK job, but you couldn't park anywhere near the place.
  • I have a very large collection of sea shells. Maybe you've seen it ... I keep it scattered over the beaches all over the world.
  • I have a decaffeinated coffee table. You'd never know it to look at it.
  • I named my dog "Stay." Now when I call him it's: "Come here, Stay. Come here, Stay."
  • I hate it when my foot falls asleep during the day, because I know it will be up all night.
  • When I was seven, my parents moved to Texas. When I was nine, I found them.
  • I got a new apartment a while back. On the wall is this light switch that didn't turn anything on. Everyday, I came home and flicked it on and off. Six months later, I get a letter from a lady in Belgium that says, "Cut it out."
  • There was a power outage at a department store yesterday. Twenty people were trapped on the escalators.
  • If you are in a spaceship that is traveling at the speed of light, and you turn on the headlights, does anything happen?
  • I like to pick up hitchhikers and say things like ... "Sooo, how far did you think you were going anyway?" and "Put your seat belt on. I want to try something. I saw it in a cartoon once, but I think I can do it."
  • When I was a child we had a quick-sand box in the backyard. I was an only child ... eventually ...

TRAVEL REPORT

this week we've got our spotlight on ...

BARBADOS

  • Clothing: In a climate that is warm and sunny throughout the year, clothing really isn't all that necessary. For a night out, however, dinner jackets and light cotton evening dresses are fashionable, while pants are optional. "Bajan's" prefer colorful light casual garments. TRAVEL ADVISORY: Badly-dressed people, like the ones above, have, on occasion, been shot.
  • Documents: U.S. citizens require a valid passport (but no one else does).
  • Accommodations: There are over 150 hotels, inns, self-catering apartments, guest houses, and a good selection of furnished villas and cottages. But if you can find an abandoned car to sleep in, it's cheaper.
  • Topography: At 13.4 degrees north and 59.37 degrees west (bring your sextant), Barbados is the most easterly of the Caribbean Islands. Because of this, it is first to stand against the Atlantic Ocean swells that
  • crash dramatically against the northern and eastern coastlines. Just a short distance away in the "lee" of the island, the western and southern coasts host calm, gentle waters.
  • Beaches: Barbados offers over 70 square miles of beaches ranging from delicate pink sand to the purest white. Exhilarating waves on one side of the island, or quietly lapping waters on the other.
  • Sightseeing: See Beaches, above.
  • Diving: Excellent.
  • Duty Free Shopping: Liquor, bone china, crystal, watches, cameras, binoculars, jewelry, and perfumes are all good buys.

Wouldn't it be great if ... ?

  • ... you could get any television station in the world so you could have a more realistic idea of what's going on, and not be limited by what our national networks deem appropriate?
  • ... there were a few stations in the world worth watching?
  • ... more intelligent and honest reporting was done by this country's national media, rather than simply regurgitating official White House press releases, as they do now?
  • ... the media didn't cow-tow to the government and take seriously its manufactured "crises" like "health care" and "assault weapons"?
  • ... we didn't have a socialist president (and her husband)?
  • ... t.v. reporters didn't use the same tone of voice most adults reserve for children?

How To Make You're Own Soap

PLAIN LYE SOAP

  • 1 lb. lard
  • 4 tbsp. Red Devil lye
  • 2/3 cup cold water
  • Add Lye to cold water in a mason jar or Pyrex container (reaction is exothermic ... will give off heat!) Set jar in water bath at approx. 95°F to cool. Melt lard in a glass container in an oven set to approx. 150°. Set this in same 95°F water bath to cool. Once lye and lard are at 95°F, slowly pour lye water into lard, stirring constantly. The mixture will remain liquid for some time. Stir at least 30 minutes to ensure a complete reaction. Once it starts to thicken slightly, pour into a saran-wrap lined mold (bread pan is fine.) Cover and place somewhere warm to set. In 24-48 hours remove the soap from the mold and cut into bars.
  • Stack bars loosely on a plate to cure for 2 weeks before using!

An excerpt from "Internet" ...

Area # 20 alt.alien.vis 07-28-94 06:28 Message # 7708

Subj: Re: UFO detectors?????

... another possibility would be magnetic reed switches. They close a circuit when exposed to a magnetic field (say an alien craft landing nearby) and could be hooked up to a siren. There was a guy in Modesto, CA who bought some reed switches for this very purpose from the electronic shop I work at. (He also said he was building some kind of anti-gravity device, so that brought down his credibility a bit.)

Whatever happened to ... Atlee Hammaker

(This one's for Mike)

For those of you asking yourself "who is Atlee Hammaker?": He was once a pitcher for the San Francisco Giants. He even went to the All-Star Game early in his Major League career. It went downhill from there, and he eventually earned the reputation as a loser. Now he's in Nashville pitching for the Sounds, a Chicago White Sox minor league farm team. According to a recent Tennessean news article, he "has hopes of being on the White Sox expanded roster in September," just so long as there isn't a strike.

So, there you have it: the first good argument anyone has yet come up with in favor of the baseball strike.

Tennessee Drivers

by Bill Holmes

Car and Driver magazine had it right when they said Nashville drivers were the worst in the country. They're easily the worst drivers I've ever come across; and I've driven all over the country. Did you know driver training is not required in Tennessee? Really! It's not required.

And, if you'll pardon the expression, they use their cars as an extension of their manhood. (For the women, it's a substitute.) They love to tailgate, which makes me think they're all a bunch of closet homosexuals. They like to infringe on your "space" as much as possible. If you pull into one of those center turning lanes, invariably the first car coming from the opposite direction will move to the left-most side of their lane, just to make their presence felt.


You must REALLY trust me not to slam on my brakes!


When entering traffic from a side street, they like to pull out in front of you. They're not reckless about this (most of the time). They know you'll be able to stop in time (even if it means you and everyone and everything in your car will come flying toward your windshield). Most good drivers try and gauge the speed of oncoming cars before deciding it's safe, and considerate, to pull out into traffic. Not the Tennessean. They have no concept of "right of way." As far as they're concerned, they always have the right of way.

And if they're not pulling out in front of you, they still feel somehow obligated to get half a car-length past the line before stopping for a red light or stop sign. So if you're on the cross street and about to go through the intersection, you wonder if the idiot is going to stop or just plow into you.

I've wondered why it is that they're such assholes when behind the wheel, because they're generally so pleasant in person. (You know, that old "Southern hospitality" thang.) And I've come to the conclusion that driving is the Southerner's way of venting frustrations that have built up during the course of their non-driving day. Southerners uphold — with all their might — a polite public veneer until they can't stand it any more. And that's when they seek the anonymity and protection of their cars and they go out and terrorize the driving public. It's cathartic for them.

Well, that's enough ranting and raving ... for now.


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