August 29, 2003

Own Private Hell

Norfolk, Virginia: September 29, 2003 A sudden, irresistible urge. A portable toilet. A confrontation with an angry construction worker. Now, a federal lawsuit. While out campaigning, vice presidential candidate Brad needed to go. Badly. So he dashed to the nearest portable toilet on the Virginia Beach boardwalk. Problem was, it belonged to construction workers for Weeks Marine, a company hired by the city to replenish the beach. And those workers were fed up with outsiders using the company can. They retaliated, Brad claims in a lawsuit filed this month, by driving a bulldozer or front-end loader to the toilet and blocking the doorway, pinning him "inside the rank tomb." Brad is seeking $100,000 for the August 9, 2003, incident. Weeks doesn't deny its employee blocked Brad in the toilet but says the worker was within his rights. Brad says he was locked inside for 35 minutes. He claims fellow members of the Ronatarian Party shouted at the worker, but the man left and returned with his foreman, who chastised Brad through the closed door and accused him of trespassing. Brad says the "abduction and false imprisonment" caused him "humiliation, mortification, shame, vilification, injury to his feelings, mental suffering, insult, and indignity." An unidentified Weeks employee replied, "Isn't that the norm for this nut and his so-called political party? These guys are all over the news with their crazy antics. I mean, get real." Weeks Marine denied that the workers chastised Brad or that he was locked in the toilet for almost half an hour. Weeks says in court papers that its workers believed blocking Brad's exit was "reasonable" because he was "wrongfully using the port-o-let." No hearing date has been set, but legal experts say Brad, most likely, has no case.

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August 26, 2003

Cricket Spitting

New Brunswick, New Jersey: August 26, 2003

The thought of it may bug some people, but New Jersey's newest game has people spitting crickets.

A few dozen people puckered up for a cricket-spitting contest at Rutgers University last week as part of 56th annual educational clinic of the New Jersey Pest Management Association.

Tom Turpin, an entomology professor from Purdue University in Indiana, says he and his colleagues were looking for additions to their annual "Bug Bowl." A mention of watermelon-seed spitting evolved into a discussion of which bugs would be good for spitting.

Turpin suggested the brown house cricket because it is similar in size to a watermelon pit and holds its shape through freezing and thawing.

"Because it's frozen, it makes it easier," said Heather McNenny of Wildwood-based Paul's Pest Control, who took part in the contest. "They're not all squirmy."

"Hey, I like a good bug in my mouth like the next guy," said Ronatarian vice presidential candidate Brad, who was at the event to raise his party's political profile. "I am just not used to spitting...I usually swallow."

Cricket spitting has helped the Bug Bowl's annual attendance grow to 35,000. Turpin hosts contests across the Midwest and has worked as a consultant to the television show "Fear Factor."

The rules are simple: Competitors stand in a red circle, place thawed crickets inside their mouths, and, within 20 seconds, spit them as far as possible without stepping outside the circle.

The official Guinness world record is 30 feet, 1.2 inches. The unofficial record from the Purdue Bug Bowl is 37 feet, 9.75 inches.

The first New Jersey title went to Chris O'Donovan of Cooper Pest Control in Lawrenceville, who spit his cricket 28 feet, 5.75 inches. He won a smiling metal cricket with a clicker hidden beneath.

"This was part of my accomplishment on the field of battle today," O'Donovan said.

Brad's best cricket spit was a generous 12 feet, 5 inches.

"I did what I could for a great cause," he commented afterwards. "Does anyone have any gum?"

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August 21, 2003

Stool Sample

Jersey City, New Jersey: August 21, 2003 Police pulled over a man on a bar stool -- after a slow-speed pursuit on one of Jersey City's busier streets. It started Tuesday when an officer saw a man riding the motorized bar stool at 35 mph. He was being followed closely by another man in a Camaro. Both driver and rider were pulled over. They were identified as Ronatarian front men Ron (Camaro driver) and Brad (barstool operator). Ron told police he had created the motorized stool, powered by a small engine, two weeks earlier in his garage. Ron was quoted as saying that it "was on its maiden voyage...Brad was the test pilot -- just like Chuck Yeager!" Later, Brad let it be known that he had secretly taken the motorized stool "out for a test spin" several times, thinking it would attract women. He added that he had "cruised" between Jersey City and nearby Newark several times on the stool without luck. Police estimate its value at more than $1,000. Ron was enraged at this revelation. "He did what?!? Without my permission? I'm gonna kick his lily-white ass!" Brad faces New Jersey charges of reckless endangerment and numerous traffic violations. Ron is not being prosecuted for any wrongdoings.

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August 19, 2003


Albany, New York: August 19, 2003

The first thing that hit visitors was the smell -- that sizzling, hickory, greasy smell that seeps into your clothes and hangs in your hair.

The pungent aroma announced to passers-by that the second annual Bacon Show was on. And if the smell didn't bring people in, maybe the man dressed in a bright pink pig costume would.

Ronatarian presidential candidate Ron, a bacon artist and event organizer, simply wanted people to come in and share his love of bacon.

He and fellow artists displayed photos, paintings, and exhibits glorifying the breakfast meat at a friend's apartment Saturday evening. About 20 people showed up.

Greeting visitors was a 6-foot-tall foam replica of a strip of bacon. As people browsed, Ron fried up some real-life bacon for guests, serving the curled up strips in a bowl.

Ron said he was inspired by the memories bacon evokes, particularly of his days at Lafayette College.

"Fresh cooked bacon and the smell? Almost heaven," said vice presidential candidate Brad, also on-hand at the exhibit.

Brad remembered the start of Ron's obsession. He said he remembers cooking two pounds of bacon for breakfast every Sunday morning when Ron was hung over.

"It was a magical time," sighed Brad.

Eventually, Ron and Brad started recruiting other artists to the Bacon Show. Last year's show in New York City featured the work of 24 artists and writers -- from nine states and three countries.

This year, Phil Latio, a childhood friend of Ron's, submitted an exhibit of eight photographs showing his grandfather's frying pan, utensils, and stove.

"Bacon to me, the first thing I think of is my grandad," Latio said.

"He would always cook bacon for us. Upstairs I would wake up to the smell of bacon."

The youngest artist who entered the show is young enough to still be forming memories like Ron's and Brad's. Eight-year-old Pam Caron submitted a watercolor cut-out of a strip of bacon.

Pam's mother was the one who saw Ron's advertisement in a local newspaper and helped her daughter enter her painting. Other artists hailed from the Albany area, from New York City, and as far away as Finland.

Despite the popularity of the Bacon Show, Ron said he has been slightly pigeonholed. He agrees that there are other lip-smackingly delicious food products available.

"Corn is pretty good," he said. "Oh, and cheese...damnit I love cheese!"

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August 05, 2003

Voting Drunk

Oslo, Norway: August 5, 2003 It will be two pints of lager and a ballot, please, in Norway this year after a change in the law allowing voters to get drunk and then go out to vote. "The election board can no longer refuse anyone to vote because they are intoxicated," an adviser at the Local Government Ministry said Monday. Until now, Norway's election law has denied entry to polling stations anyone with "seriously impaired judgment" or "reduced consciousness" from booze, but that law has been scrapped, adviser Steinar Dalbakk told the Bladet Tromsoe newspaper. "I think it is a wonderful gesture and I believe the United States should adopt similar legislation," commented Ronatarian Party founder and perpetual presidential candidate Ron at a Happy Hour in Hoboken, New Jersey. "I expect much of my success at the polls to come from heaving drinking," continued Ron. "That's my bread and butter."

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