WEDNESDAY, May 5, 2010

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - The oil now pouring into the Gulf of Mexico at the rate of 200,000 gallons per day has closed fishing grounds and tied up cargo ships delivering fruit, rubber, grain, steel, and other commodities whose prices will skyrocket.  And all thanks to one exploding offshore oil platform…  or, as it’s now being called, the “Exxon Juan Valdez.”

SACRAMENTO (BBC) - In one of the most abrupt ecological reversals in history, California's Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has canceled plans to begin oil drilling off the coast of Santa Barbara -- and all it took was someone turning the Gulf of Mexico into a “Jiffy Lube.”  The governor admitted defeat when he realized he hadn’t seen an oil slick that big since Maria made him trade in the Hummer.

GRANADA HILLS, CA (AP) - A blond in her late twenties who is believed responsible for at least ten bank robberies in the San Fernando Valley has been dubbed the “Starlet Bandit” by the FBI because she wears large sunglasses on the job.  Also, she brings along her manager to deliver the demand note and her agent who collects ten percent of the loot.    

WASHINGTON (AP) - James Cameron has been hired by NASA to design a high-resolution 3-D camera to be used atop the rover Curiosity during the mission to Mars set for next year.  You have to give Cameron credit as a tough negotiator.  From now on Mars will be called “Pandora.”  

EDINBURGH (AP) - Using isotope analysis, researchers from the University of Dundee have identified the remains of the earliest African ever found in the British Isles.  Preliminary DNA evidence indicates that he may be a distant ancestor of either Count Basie, Duke Ellington or Nat King Cole.

From THE LAUGH MAKERS (page 260)

In 1980, we flew to Tahiti to tape a special starring Howard Keel, Jonathan Winters, Morgan Brittany, John Denver and former Miss America, Susan Aiken.  We settled into our assigned accommodations on Moorea — thatched-huts tucked among the volcanic ash and pearl-white sand of a beach that a few decades earlier had made Gauguin relocate. Each suite had its own waterfall/shower carved from coral, and at high-season rates of four-hundred dollars a day — a substantial sum for lodging back then — they were a cut above Holiday Inn. 

The hotel-on-the-beach was the brainchild of three Americans — classmates at U.S.C. — who had visited Tahiti during spring break one year and decided it would be an ideal location to erect a getaway for the rich, near-rich and people who wanted to be pampered in a spot that’s so remote, it had taken four days for news of NASA’s recent Challenger disaster to reach the islands. The current owner had bought out his partners, taken a Tahitian wife, produced a bunch of kids and confided to me that he didn’t mind not getting news from the outside world for week on end. You can check out his photo in the dictionary under “laid back.” 

The huts at the hotel were scattered in a configuration inspired by the native villages back in Gauguin’s day. A hut here, a hut there, with lush tropical plants and flowers filling the spaces in between. (Hope would sing his finale “Thanks for the Memory” verses while strolling among them.) The huts had thin walls made of bamboo stalks lashed together so sound carried. 

One balmy evening, Gene Perret and I were unwinding at the bar watching the Polynesian sun set when we heard a shriek coming from the general direction of Susan Aiken’s hut.  We yelled out, “What’s wrong?”  She said, “There’s a huge bug crawling up my wall!”  Instantly responding to Miss America’s cry for assistance, Gene leaped from his stool and said, “I’ll go. I’m from San Marino. I know how to handle bugs!”

I said, “Hold on, Skipper, I’m from Studio City, and our bugs are humungous.”  We went back and forth like that until Gene said, “Let’s flip for it.”  While he’s fishing around in his cargo shorts for a suitable coin, we heard Susan say, “Forget it, guys. I just stepped on it.”

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