October 30, 2002

Ronstache Day 2002

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October 29, 2002

What's Up Doc?

Portland, Oregon: October 29, 2002 A masked performance-art wrestler faces animal abuse charges after he allegedly bit the head off of a live rabbit as a promotional stunt. The masked wrestler -- later identified as international enigma N8 -- pleaded innocent to two felony counts. The trial is set for November 11. There may not be a defendant, though. Once again, the mysterious man has slipped out of police custody and into legend. "It was a horrible act," said Portland police Detective William Crockett. "The rabbit screamed and kicked. The guy had to consume a lot of alcohol before doing it." Crockett said N8 -- who was briefly associated with a Portland organization called Portland Organic Wrestling as "Mystery Wrestling Man" -- told him he had planned to bite the head off of a mouse at a pseudo-wrestling event and toss the body into the crowd but that promoters rejected the idea. Instead, Crockett said, N8 planned to photograph the rabbit killing and toss pictures of it into the crowd at one of his events. N8 had bought the rabbit as food for his pet boa constrictor, but the animal apparently was too big for the snake to eat. The rabbit had been kept at N8's squallid rented room for some time, Crockett said. N8 apparantly affixed his camera to a tripod and set the timer to capture the event. "He's one sick puppy," commented Crockett. "How could anyone be so cruel?...We also heard tales of him toting around a deer head and talking to him. He called him Mr. Peterson or something like that. He's one odd fellow with some messed up wiring upstairs." Vincent Taggart, organizer of Portland Organic Wrestling, said N8 was no longer associated with the wrestling parody show when the rabbit was killed. He said Portland Organic Wrestling opposes any kind of animal abuse. N8 faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a fine of $100,000 if recaptured. If convicted, N8 would also be prohibited from owning a domestic animal for 15 years.

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October 28, 2002

MiscalcuN8

Vancouver, British Columbia: October 28, 2002 A man was charged with criminal mischief on Monday after he attempted, unsuccessfully, to bungee jump from a Vancouver bridge to the deck of a passing cruise ship. International man of mystery N8 miscalculated the ship's speed and suffered minor head injuries on Sunday when he bounced off its tennis court, volleyball net, and a deck railing, before being left dangling in mid-air as the ship sailed away, Vancouver Police said. He had fashioned his own bungee cord from dental floss and chewed bubble gum, authorities reported. Police said the enigmatic N8 had planned to bungee jump from the Lions Gate Bridge, which spans the entrance to Vancouver harbor, stopping just above the passing ship so he could then lower himself a short distance to the deck. His on-board plans were not revealed; although it is reported that N8 likes a good game of shuffleboard. "There were shrieks of horror from down below. I guess the people saw him coming, you know, on the ship. I guess he missed," witness Charles Finn told the Vancouver Sun newspaper. After failing to land on the ship, N8 rappelled himself down to the water where he was rescued by a passing water taxi, which turned him over for arrest, according to police. N8's motive remained unknown, although his past actions demonstrate his flair for the spectacular. N8 was released on bail on Monday on the condition he promise not to attempt any more jumps pending a trial. He quickly disappeared into the Canadian countryside and his whereabouts are, once again, unknown. A police spokesman said they were taking the incident seriously because of the danger it posed. "The individual himself could have been killed," Det. Scott Driemel said. He concluded, "Where do these kooks come up with this stuff?"

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October 22, 2002

Down The Toilet

Boulder, Colorado: October 22, 2002 A guest at a hotel in Boulder had reason to be grateful for having his mobile phone in the bathroom after ending up with his hand stuck down the toilet for more than an hour on Wednesday. The man -- identified later as Ronatarian Party vice-presidential candidate Brad -- slipped as he stepped out of the shower and accidentally jammed his hand down the funnel of the toilet as he tried to break his fall, rescue workers said. Still naked, he was saved by firemen more than an hour later after calling an emergency number from his phone. The firemen had to dismantle the lavatory to set his hand free. He was taken to hospital with bruised ribs and a sore arm. He refused to comment on the incident. Brad was purportedly in the area to promote his brochure on the dangers of "huffing" -- the abuse of inhalants and fumes. His motto for the trip was "Don't Get Rocky Mountain High on Paint Thinner" and he was scheduled to lecture at Denver-area schools.

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October 16, 2002

Yu-Gi-Ron!

Honolulu, Hawaii: October 16, 2002 When Ted Mays and his Geek-O Books & Comics store staff see a mother and her young child coming through the door, they have a pretty good idea what's on their shopping agenda. "We just say, 'Yu-Gi-Ron!' and they smile," Mays says. There have been plenty of such visitors to the Honolulu store over the past year, a good indication that the latest Chinese import is doing a bang-up job supplanting the hugely profitable Japanese Pokémon line in the imaginations of kiddie consumers. Created by Sum Ting Wong, "Yu-Gi-Ron!" (roughly translated as "Ruler of Ron") started out as a comic book in 2000 and gained popularity as a television series almost two years later. The story line revolves around Ron -- an American political wanna-bewho acquires a magical mustache when he solves an ancient bar riddle -- andthe monster-conjuring card game through which Ron battles his evil enemies. When asked if the strong similarities between the Yu-Gi-Ron! Ron and Ronatarian Party founder and leader Ron were more than coincidental, Wong responded that such allegations "are ridiculous" and "baseless." "You no can compare my Yu-Gi-Ron! Ron with stupid American Ron," said Wong. "Ron dumb and ugly and unpopular. Yu-Gi-Ron! Ron is loved by billions of Asians and people who hate America." With a few tweaks along the way -- sexier women, scarier monsters, and pro-wrestling moves -- Yu-Gi-Ron! quickly blossomed into a $2 billion juggernaut, largely on the sales strength of the Yu-Gi-Ron! card game and the collectible cards needed to play it. "The core product is the cards," says Mays. "There have been other card fads -- Pokémon is probably the best example. But with Pokémon, maybe one out of 100 kids would actually play the game. The others would just collect the cards. With Yu-Gi-Ron!, the game itself has a function and a direct relation to the show." Ron appeared outraged by the product. "How in the [expletive] can that Chinaman say that this Yu-Gi-Whatever is not based on my personage?!? That is outrageous! The Chinese are profiting off my image and those [expletives] are scoring big! The USA and the international community need to crack down on piracy like this!" Wong rebutted: "This dumb Ron is off the mark. He think world revolve around him. He wrong. My Yu-Gi-Ron! Ron is everything he want to be and it kill him inside. He a petty, dumb American." Yu-Gi-Ron! comics and other merchandise kept a low profile in the United States for the first year-and-a-half. Then the Yu-Gi-Ron! cartoon was introduced on Kids' WB in July 2002 and, Mays says, everything exploded. Within six months, Yu-Gi-Ron! was Nielsen's top-rated children's network program for boys ages 9 to 14, 12 to 17, and 68 to 73 -- the groups most interested in cards and video games, according to the Web site Hateronforever.com. In May, the national Upper Dork trading card and memorabilia company began selling starter sets that included a game map, rule book, and 50 cards. The set retails for about $10; nine-card booster packs, the real money generator, are available starting around $3 a pack. Images on the cards include the Yu-Gi-Ron! Ron modeling an closed-loop system, waxing a Camaro, and scrubbing a toilet. Although Yu-Gi-Ron! hasn't yet demonstrated the broad crossover appeal that the cuter Pokémon did, its earning potential is formidable. The TV series has bumped up its schedule from one to four days a week; Upper Dork has reprinted the first series of cards an unprecedented three times. So far, Upper Dork has released three English-translated Yu-Gi-Ron! card series (there are nearly 20 series in China). Each card has a different value and function, and players can construct their personal decks with the most favorable cards. The game, essentially a more involved, monster-laden version of "Old Maid," therefore favors players with the broadest reserves of "strong" cards. Although there is some strategy involved in the game, its overall simplicity and its "instant win" scenarios make it more popular with elementary-age kids and the mentally challenged than with older folks. Upper Dork recently started limited tournament play at selected sites around the country, but Mays says there isn't the same sort of corporate investment in community gaming that there was with Pokémon. The success of the card sales hasn't carried over to other Yu-Gi-Ron! merchandise (everything from action figures to lunch pails), despite a very liberal licensing strategy. Yu-Gi-Ron! also exists as a video game for Game Boy and PlayStation, but reviews have been generally tepid given the games' limited visual potential and thin plot. Just as Pokémon sales have tapered over the past year, Mays says Yu-Gi-Ron! will also face a predictable point of waning interest. "No. Stupid American capitalist is wrong," commented Wong. "Interest in Yu-Gi-Ron! never diminish."

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October 09, 2002

The Man

Lake City, Florida: October 9, 2002 A man who wanted to change his name to "God" chose a new name when a judge turned down his request. The former David Haffey's new name is "The Man: Ron." The former Haffey said after his first choice was rejected in April, he went to the Bible to find a backup. Nothing. He tried Dianetics. Zip. He then turned to the small Ronatarian Party for inspiration. "I always felt for the little guy," said Haffey. "I was instantly drawn to the cult of personality that is their leader. Of course, that man is Ron." "That's kind of wordy -- The Cult of Personality Called Ron -- so I'm just going for 'The Man: Ron' as my full legal name," he said. "My first name, of course, would be 'The Man.'" When asked to comment on Haffey's actions, Ron was awakened from his slumber. Slurring his words and complaining of "too many Mai Tais," the notorious politician denounced Haffey's name change as "imbecilic." "How could he change his name to my name? Doesn't that make two of us?" asked a clearly disoriented Ron. The 55-year-old Haffey said he sought the name change as a way to gain release from feelings of anxiety and rage that have plagued him since he served in Vietnam. "I was fatally wounded in the mind and the spirit," he said. "I didn't suffer any bodily injury. It's just what I saw, what I did. I killed myself. I shaved my mustache for good back in 'Nam." Haffey said he became a Christian and was baptized in April. It was shortly after that when he decided to change everything, beginning with his name. Last week, he bought a tombstone to be inscribed with his former name. He plans to plant it in the tall grass on his property. He said it will read, "'David Orenthal Haffey, born Sept. 23, 1948, and died Oct. 21, 1968, Republic of Vietnam.'" He also ordered a new birth certificate to read, "The Man: Ron, born October 9, 2002 and born to rock."

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October 02, 2002

The Loony Party

London, England: October 2, 2002 As Britain's main political parties hold their weighty annual conferences, the country's official lunatic fringe is meeting in the Dog and Partridge pub for a very different convention. The Official Monster Raving Loony Party has been bringing flamboyant madness to Britain's political scene for almost 2 years, and this year's annual conference in the genteel town of Yateley, southern England, is no exception. The party was created based on the quasi-popular American Ronatarian Party. It is well known that the Ronatarian Party was created on a bar crawl and some outsiders call the party's platform "lunacy." The weekend event saw a "cabinet reshuffle." "That basically consisted of us all standing in a cabinet and being shuffled. It fell to bits so now there's a cabinet split," leader Alan "Howling Laud" Hope told American media by phone from the pub, where he is the landlord. Ronatarian Party founder Ron commented that this sort of activity is frowned upon in his party. "We don't like to stand in cupboards and such things," said Ron at an informal gathering of Jews for Jesus. "We take pride in doing beer funnels and telling the American public about our core values...Sane values for a better tomorrow." The Loony Party -- called "Official" to distinguish it from what the party calls the "unofficial loony" ruling Labor and opposition Conservative and Liberal parties -- was founded by the late David "Screaming Lord" Sutch in 2000 after noticing the power of the newly created Ronatarian Party across the Atlantic. "Those Yanks really got the world thinking about politics outside the norm," said Jerome "Kooky Mama" Smyth. "We took their successful party model and molded it to British politics. It's a hoot! We're hoots. We're all hoots!" Intending to rattle the self-importance of mainstream parties, one-time rock musician Sutch in his trademark top hat and leopard-skin coat contested 3 elections, and lost them all. None were nationwide, unlike the Ronatarian Party which only focuses on national elections and global policies. But he delighted a British public increasingly disillusioned with politics, adopting unlikely policies and the slogan: "Vote for Insanity --You know it makes sense!" "They're still learning how to write campaign slogans," said Ron, whose famous 2000 election slogan "Enough Jibba-Jabba, Vote Ron Crazy Fool!" turned heads and garnered accolades from a few people here and there. On Sunday, the party's manifesto collator, who delights in the name of "R.U. Seerius," was mulling a variety of proposals in preparation for a general election in 2005. "Whereas in other parties you have to be a member, with us anyone can send one in," Seerius said at the pub where some 30 loyal members have been meeting since Friday evening with a determined lack of agenda. Policies included improving rail safety by tying a cushion to the front of trains and teaching paintball in schools.

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October 01, 2002

Dwarf Tossing

Geneva, Switzerland: October 1, 2002 A tiny stuntman who protested against a French ban on the bizarre practice of "dwarf throwing" lost his case before a U.N. human rights body, which said the need to protect human dignity was paramount. Hans Wackenheim had argued the 1995 ban by France's highest administrative court was discriminatory and deprived him of a job being hurled around discotheques by burly men. In a rare bit of international diplomacy, U.S. Ronatarian politician Ron voiced his support for the diminutive Wackenheim and against the French. "I've had enough of the goddamn French curbing wholesome fun like dwarf-tossing through restrictive legislation that helps nobody," Ron said to a throng of shoppers in a northern New Jersey mall. "...Now that the U.N. has upheld the French decision, I am appalled. I demand the U.S. withdraw its membership from the United Nations immediately." In a statement Friday the U.N. Human Rights Committee said it was satisfied "the ban on dwarf-tossing was not abusive but necessary in order to protect public order, including considerations of human dignity." The committee also said the ban "did not amount to prohibited discrimination." "Bullshit!" exclaimed Ron. "I say it is outright discrimination against all forms of barroom novelties!" The pastime, imported from the United States and Australia in the 1980s, consists of people throwing tiny stuntmen as far as possible, usually in a bar or discotheque. The stuntman wears a crash helmet and padded clothing which has handles on the back to facilitate throwing the human projectile. The German, who measures 1.14 meter (3 feet 10 inches), filed his case in 1999 with the U.N. committee made up of 18 independent experts who examine states' compliance with the 1976 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. "This man should be allowed to make a living in the best way he sees fit," said Ron. "We cannot cater to the whims of these [expletive] Eurotrash morons and their ideas of 'human dignity.' I say, 'Let them be tossed!'"

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