Thursday, August 17, 2006

Flash Fiction Writers, You're On Notice!

Via Boing Boing, we learn the story of Phillip Sandifer, a grad student in English at the University of Florida. Seems Phil published a bit of "microfiction" on his "Pulp Decameron" Live Journal site. The story's narrator describes a murder he's commited and smugly says "The police have yet to name a suspect. I am confident that they never will."

Well, guess again. Some folks who were irritated at Phillip over some online spat decided to make mischief and report the story to the University of Florida police. The campus cops, in a stroke of law enforcement genius one might expect from Barney Fife or the deputies of "Reno 911", demanded his fingerprints and DNA because there had been several unsolved murders in the area and they wanted to see if he might have been involved.

It gets stupider. Read it and weep.

Guess they'll be coming for Flashing in the Gutters next.

Monday, August 14, 2006

I SAID, Shut Up and DRIVE!

The BBC tells us about the Hampshire Cell Phone Vigilante:

More than 20 motorists in Hampshire have fallen victim to a mystery vigilante who appears to target drivers spotted using mobile phones.

All the car owners have found their tyres have been slashed and, in many cases, a note on their windscreens.

The sinister message, made from newspaper cuttings, says the driver was seen using a phone.

Hampshire Police are investigating the incidents in Gosport, Lee-on-the-Solent and Stubbington.

One victim was Rebecca Rendle, who was left with a £170 bill, when all four of her tyres were punctured outside her Gosport home.

"I was shocked and furious, I don't even own a mobile," she said.

"I think it must be (someone following me home) as that's the only way they would find out where you live.

"There's a loony who thinks they are doing the world a favour."

Police said they are investigating this incident and 20 similar cases that occurred in the area over the past several months.

Insp Kevin Cuffe, of Hampshire Police, said: "In most of the cases a note has been left at the scene and forensic specialists are in the process of examining these notes to gather potential evidence.

"These incidents are being taken very seriously as we appreciate that criminal damage has a very real and detrimental effect on the victims.

"Whoever is doing this may feel that he or she has some sort of justification but there is never any excuse to vandalise the property of others."

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Clueless in Connecticut: From the Case Files of Sluice Tundra, Private Eye

TheLatest Newspaper Column

It was a hot August day in the city without dreams. I stood by my office window, trying to catch a breeze and sipping from my last cold can of Old Cambodian (the beer that made Phnom Penh Famous). The ceiling fan moved sluggishly, as if it were bogging down in the thick humid air. All it was really managing to do was move hot air around. Sort of like Bill O'Reilly, only less noisy and less annoying to watch.

I heard the office door open. I turned to see a short fellow in a suit standing there. He had a fringe of blonde hair around his balding dome that reminded me of a monk's haircut. When he spoke, it was in an unctuous whine that set my teeth on edge. "Mr. Tundra?"

"Hey, I said, "you look familiar."

"We met a few years ago," he said, "after the 2000 election."

"Sorry, pal," I said, "you've got the wrong gumshoe. I don't do politics. I'm Sluice Tundra, just an honest PI in a dishonest world.... "

"....trying to survive on the mean streets, where the women are fast and the bullets fly faster," he finished.

"OK. Maybe we have met," I said. Suddenly I recognized him. "Senator Lieberman," I said. "Good to see you again." I indicated the client chair across from my battered desk. "What can I do for you?"

He took a seat and pulled out a scented hankie as if to wipe his impressively broad forehead. Suddenly he burst into tears. "I don't know what happened!" He bawled. "First the vice-presidency was stolen from me, now this!"

I thought back to the headline on a newspaper I'd seen that morning. The paper had been hard to read because it had been covering a sleeping bum, but I got the gist. "Ah," I said. "Yeah. Sorry about your losing the Connecticut Democratic primary."

"I didn't lose it!" he snapped.

I'll say," I replied. "You didn't just lose it. You got your butt kicked by a guy no one had ever heard of. Jeez, what an embarrassment."

He stopped crying and glared at me. "Is this your idea of being helpful?" he said.


"It was stolen, I tell you! Stolen! And I want you to find out who did it!"

"Here we go again," I muttered.

He didn't seem to hear me. "There's no way I could have lost!" he hissed. "I'm an 18-year veteran senator! A party leader! That Ned Lamont's just a county selectman! I had Joe-mentum, I tell you! And endorsements!"

"Like who?"

"Sean Hannity!" he said triumphantly. "He said I was a great guy! He said he'd send money to my campaign!"

"He did?"

"And Michelle Malkin! She likes me, too!"

"Why? Most Democrats make her foam at the mouth. And I mean that literally."

He calmed down a little. "She likes me because I believe the Iraq war's going great."

"Ah. So you're the one."

"I even got an endorsement from the College Republicans!" he said proudly. "They were going to come work for me!"

"Wait," I said. "I thought you said you were running in the Democratic primary."

"I was."

"So -- and I'm just speculating here -- you think maybe the reason Democratic primary voters rejected you is because they mistook you for a Republican? "

"But but I'm bipartisan!"

"Well, if trying to please people who call your fellow Democrats 'nuts' and 'traitors' and 'terrorist supporters' is what you call bipartisan, I guess that's true. I call it being a chump."

His face got red. "You can't call me that! I'm good friends with the president! He even kissed my cheek at the State of the Union address!"

"I think I'm beginning to see the problem," I said. "You checked Dubbya's approval ratings lately?"

I closed the notebook. "Case solved, senator. You ran as the Democrat the Republicans Love, while Republicans were kicking Democrats in the teeth every chance they got. You tied your fate to a president and a war that both took a huge dive in the polls."

"But but this will destroy the Democratic Party! It's been taken over by radicals and left-wing nuts!"

"So I hear. I mostly hear that from Republicans and right-wing talk show hosts. I'm sure they have the best interests of the Democrats at heart. Maybe if you didn't spend so much time worrying about whether the Republicans were going to say mean things about the Democrats, you might have done better."

I got up and walked to the door. "Here's another clue, senator. Read a paper sometime. Being against the war and wanting the troops to come home isn't a radical leftist position anymore. It's gone mainstream. And by the way, it's not just the war. I'd appreciate it if you'd convey that to Senator Clinton as well. You obviously were slow to get the message, but after this, maybe she will."

I opened the door and stood aside, showing him the way out.

He was beginning to turn purple. "I'll run as an Independent!" he sputtered. "You haven't heard the last of Joe Lieberman!"

"Unfortunately," I sighed, "That's probably true."