Blog posts December 2007
Once upon a time, I had a book titled I Always Look up the Word "Egregious."
Billed as "a vocabulary book for people who don't need one," it was filled with "egregious" and other great fifty-cent words that just don't get used as often as they should. It's an egregious oversight by those of us who speak English. There, I've used it in a sentence.
You know who else used it in a sentence? None other than Luzerne County's own Correale Stevens, the PA SUPERIOR COURT judge who wrote the latest opinion concerning Jessica Robertine Hardy (yeah, her middle name is Robertine). The ruling upholds the 3-6 year sentence for the woman who invented sick children for her own selfish gain. You can read the December 27 ruling HERE.
To recap: For years, Jessica Hardy was the head of the local chapter of Make A Wish. And, for years, she literally made up sick children, preying upon the generosity of others in order to fulfill her own wish list. When she got caught about two years ago, investigators confiscated all kinds of loot from her house. The picture of them taking out the hot tub is priceless! Hardy eventually pleaded guilty and, earlier this year, PPO brought down the hammer of justice. On some of the counts, he gave Hardy more than the standard sentence, and he ordered her to repay $56,000.
When Hardy's lawyer appealed the sentence, PPO refused to change it. And, today, the Superior Court also said no. Hardy's doing all of her hard time. I especially liked this bit from the final page of the ruling:
"Appellant exploited a high appointment of trust to profit from the misery of our most desperate and the charity of our most generous. She repeatedly did so for nearly ten years. To now denounce, as she does, a sentence tailored to the disturbingly chronic and egregious nature of her criminal scheme is to ask this Court to ignore context and instead review her charges in a vacuum, where only the name of the offense and corresponding standard range sentence is considered. Grounded in neither specific legal authority nor general principles of sentencing fairness, Appellant’s appeal is utterly devoid of merit."
With language like that, don't be surprised if Jessica Robertine Hardy ends up serving the whole six years. I'm guessing there will be quite a few people who feel that letting her out on parole would be an egregious error.
Where would I be without my peeps in the control room pointing out little gems like this:
As usual, I have questions. But first, the update, courtesy of the Associated Press and the TOLEDO BLADE:
NEWARK, N.J. — A truck driver accused of stealing a Goya painting from an unattended transport truck, then claiming he found it in his basement, pleaded guilty today.
Steven Lee Olson of Carlstadt pleaded to conspiracy to commit theft under a deal with federal prosecutors. He faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a fine of $250,000 under the reduced charge.
Olson’s neighbor, Roman Szurko, pleaded guilty Tuesday to the same charge, prosecutors said.
Olson was charged in October with stealing “Children with a Cart,” a 1778 painting by famed Spanish artist Francisco de Goya.
The painting, insured for $1 million, was on its way to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City from the Toledo Museum of Art in November 2006. It was stolen as the transport drivers spent the night at a motel in Bartonsville, Pa. They discovered the next morning that the painting was gone.
Within days, Olson contacted federal authorities through an attorney to say he had found the painting in his basement.
After a lengthy investigation, authorities concluded that Olson, a self-employed truck driver, had lifted the piece himself.
Olson told U.S. District Judge Dennis M. Cavanaugh that the $50,000 reward money wasn’t the reason he called authorities.
“I really wanted to get rid of it,” Olson said.
His attorney, Joe Ferrante, said his client and Szurko didn’t know what they had until they read the shipping documents.
“When they got it, they realized it was more than they could handle,” he said.
Olson said he didn’t destroy the painting because “it kind of grew on me.”
He was charged with theft of an object of cultural heritage from a museum, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. His plea deal gave him a reduced charge and sentence. Sentencing is expected in March.
The painting was returned undamaged to the Toledo museum. In February, the museum allowed the painting to be included for a few weeks in the Guggenheim exhibit.
Goya painted “Children with a Cart” as a model for a tapestry planned for the bedroom of a Spanish prince. The group of four children includes one boy blowing a horn and another with his back to the viewer.
OK. The guy who grabbed the Goya in the Poconos has pleaded guilty and faces the possibility of prison time. So does his neighbor.
To recap: In the fall of '06, professional art transporters were transporting a Goya painting called "Children with a Cart" from a museum in Toledo to the Guggenheim in NYC. For some reason, these professional art transporters took a "circuitous route through the backwater of Scranton" (that would be the Poconos) and stopped for the night at a HoJo's in Bartonsville. They left the Goya, which was insured for $1 million, unattended in the transport vehicle while they grabbed some shut eye. A trucker from New Jersey saw his opportunity and grabbed the Goya. Later, when he realized the painting was too hot to sell, he called the FBI and claimed that he just sort of found it in his basement.
Despite the nearly final resolution of this case, my main questions still remain unanswered:
a) Why did the professional art transporters stop for the night, and why did they leave a million-dollar painting unattended in a van?
b) Just what did the thief think he was stealing? The involvement of the neighbor makes it sound as though these guys may not be inexperienced at thievery. Like maybe stealing stuff out of unattended vehicles and then selling it was a way for them to make a little money on the side. So, did the trucker know that he was stealing a painting, but didn't know how valuable it was? Or, was it more of a crime of opportunity with fingers crossed for something good?
c) What's so great about this Goya anyway?
d) Who are these children and why do they have a cart?
There's trouble at Southfork! Will somebody please up and shoot J.R. agin afore this movie ever gets made?!?
From the pages of PAGE SIX in the New York Post:
JOHN Travolta has been dropped from the "Dallas" movie after being promoted as the project's anchor for more than two years.
(**Sounds like a good career move. Read on**)
Insiders tell Page Six that Travolta, who was just nominated for a Golden Globe for donning a fat suit for his drag role in "Hairspray," was "let go about two weeks ago. He had the role of J.R. Ewing taken from him and given to Ben Stiller."
However, a rep for Stiller denies the comic actor accepted or was offered the part.
"John was given a nice seven-figure 'gift' to go away quietly," our source added. "He also got five family members roles in the movie, and they aren't going to be in it now, either."
A friend of Travolta confirmed, "He is not doing the movie. They've gone in a different direction than was originally intended. I don't know about any 'gift,' and I don't think the family member thing is correct."
A rep for Travolta declined to comment.
This is just the latest chapter in the troubled "Dallas" saga. The first big upheaval occurred last year when Shirley MacLaine (who was to play Miss Ellie), Luke Wilson (Bobby Ewing) and Jennifer Lopez (Sue Ellen) were dropped from the cast. Meg Ryan and Matthew McConaughey's names were then brought up, but neither was signed.
Director Robert Luketic was also let go in favor of "Bend It Like Beckham" helmer Gurinder Chadha, and the budget was downsized from an original $65 million to "something way less," the source said.
(**I'm guessing that "way less" won't be more**)
Producers may be looking for a Stiller-like talent to take Travolta's role because the word is that "Dallas" will now - if it ever gets made - be a "comedic, behind-the-scenes" movie instead of the originally intended drama.
(**Jock Ewing rolled over in his grave just this very minute**)
The change was made last year after distributor 20th Century Fox conducted focus groups on "Dallas" with small Midwestern audiences. Producers decided the picture needed "more laughs" and called for an entirely new, slapstick script and was rewritten as "a 'show-within-a-show' comedy," like the Nicole Kidman bomb "Bewitched."
A spokesperson for 20th Century Fox declined to comment.
(**I wonder why**)
So, I've been thinking about this for a couple of weeks now, and I can't figure it out. On December 4, this blog received 424 hits. Granted, some of them were mine - like, maybe, 10. But, 424? No way. I probably average somewhere around 100, and I only passed the 200 mark once, I think, and that was back in the spring, right around the time that my station was sold.
What accounts for the spike on December 4? No idea. My POST from that day was "Which Christmas song are you?" I can't imagine that being the reason, and my referrer stats for the day didn't appear out of the ordinary.
Where did everyone come from?
It won't be long now. The suspense that has been building since January will soon be broken. In just a few short weeks, we will know. The AMERICAN DIALECT SOCIETY will, in early January '08, with as much fanfare as it can muster, announce its choice for Word of the Year 2007.
Those crazy kids at the ADS have been choosing WORDS OF THE YEAR since 1991, when they selected "bushlips" as 1990's WOTY. I can't say I've ever heard anyone use it in an actual sentence, but I gather it's a reference to the infamous "read my lips" quote from Bush I. That same year, they also chose "politically correct" or "PC" as the "most outrageous" word of 1990. Seems like maybe they got things a little backward.
Anyway, the past two WOTY winners have been "truthiness" in 2005 and "plutoed" in 2006. What will they come up with for 2007? I've been thinking, and here's the best I can come up with:
i. If I had a vote, which I don't - but, if I did - I would vote for the 2007 Word of the Year to be i (italics optional, but recommended).
Even though it's more of a prefix than a word, I think i is deserving because, these days, i is everywhere. You can't go anywhere without seeing someone listening to music on an i-Pod or talking on an i-Phone. If you see news happening, you can take a picture or video with your i-Phone and send it to i-Report at CNN or to i-Witness Reports at one of the local stations in Harrisburg. (What's funny about that is that, for a while, a competing station in Harrisburg used the branding "Eyewitness News").
In general, I suppose that i is short for "interactive," but it also represents the personalization - the pandering to I, to you, to me - that technology increasingly breeds. MSNBC does not use the i prefix for its citizen journalist submissions. No, they call it "first person." Same difference.
So, anyway, i gets my vote for 2007 Word of the Year. What gets yours?
Went out for dinner tonight, and here are a couple of things I noticed along the way:
Several gas stations now have regular unleaded selling for $2.99/gallon. When I saw that, I said "Yeah!" Can't say I ever thought $2.99 gasoline would be something to be happy about.
A little later, we saw decorations featuring Santa and Mrs. Claus - on top of the B'Nai B'rith Apartments.
Just sayin', is all.
So, I was perusing another BLOG, and I came across this quiz. It only asked one question, and this was the answer I got. Ho! Ho! Ho!
|Your Christmas Song Is|
Still not a jew
But guess who is,
The guy who does the voice for Scooby Doo
You're wacky, offbeat, and irreverent
And you may not celebrate Christmas at all