Holiday food for thought

It is Saturday, May 26, 2012. The first official day of the three-day Memorial Day holiday weekend.

That means a lot of things to a lot of people in America. First and foremost, but sadly too often overlooked, is this is a time for us to stop whatever silly or self-indulgent thing we may be doing now and remember how it is that we’re even able to do it. We owe it all to so many Americans who came before us, who fought and died to keep this nation’s beliefs and ideals safe from enemies who, had they won, would have crushed them. No matter how much we’ve screwed up this country lately, it was our freedoms that got us into this mess, and we’ll use the same ones to get us out of it as well. No one should forget that for one moment this weekend. Or on any weekend, or day, or minute, for that matter.

But you can’t overlook the fact this weekend means a few other things as well. Maybe not quite so reverent, but certainly not irrelevant.

It’s the unofficial first weekend of summer, the first opportunity to take our summer clothes out of our closets, hold them up to us, look in the mirror and put them right back where we found them. Looks and the physics of fitting do not deceive – no point in even trying it on. Maybe next Memorial Day.

It’s the first time for many of us to hit the road … to travel and join friends and family to enjoy the long holiday together. This is soon followed by another first, at weekend’s near-end, when many of the same people are snagged in their first highway radar trap of 2012. This, as they just attained Mach 1 speed to race – these sunburned, overindulged, slightly hungover bats-out-of-hell – to get away from those same friends and family. Never met those people before in my entire life, or the two previous ones either.

But for most us, at home or away, Memorial Day weekend is the first chance we have to venture out into our backyards, pull the proverbial manstove out from under its winter wraps, shove out the mouse nests, knock down the spider webs, and scrap off the remnants of last year’s Labor Day holiday weekend.

FIRE IN THE HOLE!

And with patriotic and enormous pride, we load up our grills with propane or charcoal briquettes, strike a match and in one flip of the wrist, in one single macro-mini-micro-nano-second of an instantaneously combustible moment … we singe off most of our facial and frontal body hair, in one flew swoosh.

But undaunted, and though soon to be under a doctor’s care, we forge ahead, we endeavor to persevere … and we proceed to blow our already semi-bulging waistlines all to bloody, char-broiled hell.

Hey gang, gather ’round! It’s that time again and we’re ready – let’s have ourselves a cookout! Let the dietetic debauchery begin!

There will be flipping and sipping and munching and crunching, forking and knifing and sizzling and wizzling (I know, I know. It just sounded better). Slurping and slathering, belching and burping, chewing and spewing, moaning and groaning, brapping and barfing.

God Bless America.

Inside the criminal mind … not much

I do believe that old saying “Crime doesn’t pay” is only a partial statement. I’ve been clicking around the WWWW tonight, the World Wide Web of Wrongdoing, and I’ve come to the conclusion that the adage, and nothing but the adage, really is:

“Crime doesn pay well, otherwise it would be able to hire a much better caliber of criminal.”

I can understand chopping it off, though. Definitely more catchy. Fits better on a billboard. What I can’t understand is why the criminal element doesn’t better vet its applicants. Considering how badly so many of the hires turn out, you’d think they’d be a little more aggressive in their interviewing, maybe conduct background checks.

Or IQ tests.

Did I say that? Let me re-phrase …

Consider the case of the young man on the left here, Houaka Yang. The Wisconsin 20-year-old is a suspect in the theft of a camcorder from a car.

But it would seem that while the word “suspect” is the legal word used here, it’s very loosely used. Not because the cops found Yang a few days after the theft with the camera in his possession, mind you. That alone would seem to make this an open-and-shut case. But that wasn’t enough for the young man, apparently. Accidently – maybe – he made sure of it.

When the camera was returned to its owner, he found a few extra video segments on it. Including one starring and narrated by, guess who.

“This is my house, yes, and a stolen camera that I stole. But it’s OK, the cops won’t figure it out,” the suspect says during the video. He follows that gem with another lowlight.

“Oh yeah, to introduce you, my name is Houaka Yang. So yeah, how do you do.” And then he aims the camera at himself for the full cameo effect. “And this is me. Hi.”

Well, hi there yourself, Houaka. And how do you do, indeed. Get back to me on that when you get out, in a couple of years.

Zebra, what zebra … oh THAT zebra.

Oh, but Yang’s not alone in not yet exactly perfecting the perfect crime.

Take Jerald Reiter of Cascade, Iowa, over here on the right. Reiter was backing out of the Dog House Lounge in Debuque after staying a little too long and allegedly drinking a little too much. That was his first mistake.

His second was not having his passenger do the driving.

But his THIRD mistake just may have been the clincher: the zebra in his back seat and the macaw parrot on his shoulder. Onlooking and always-observant cops tend to notice odd, out-of-place things and you know how they can be so damn curious. Unfortunately, while unique pets certainly are conversation pieces, they can’t reduce blood-alcohol levels. Not a good nightcap for this pet owner, whose girlfriend told a reporter they’re pretty used to people’s surprise over their exotic pets.

“It’s not every day you see somebody that’s got a zebra or a parrot in the house, and who knows tomorrow what might be in our house,” she said.

Maybe so. But you can be pretty sure – bet the bail money on it – it ain’t going to be Jerald.