Friday, September 25, 2009

Woman Stays Thirty-Eight by Not Posting Birthday on Facebook

SEATTLE -- Linda Ramsey has spent hundreds of dollars on anti-wrinkle creams and costly sunscreens in order to maintain her fading youth. But she recently hit on a free way to defy aging: she erased her birthday on Facebook.

"September 21st came and went without a single person other than my mom wishing me a happy birthday," Ramsey said triumphantly. "Even my brother forgot."

Ramsey says she hit on the idea last year when she realized that 90 percent of her birthday wishes came via Facebook and when she herself failed to wish a friend happy birthday because she was sick for a few days and neglected to log in to Facebook and see the birthday reminder.

It was important to eliminate her birthday while she was still 38 years, Ramsey decided, because trying to pass off her age as 39 years for a prolonged period of time would naturally arouse suspicion.

While her close friends might potentially have her birthday written down somewhere or even know her birthday from memory, Ramsey said it was easy to keep casual friends and acquaintances from knowing her true birthday by always telling them that her birthday was six months off from whatever the current month was. That way, they didn't usually press her on a specific date, and anyway, everyone assumed that she would have it on Facebook.

Ramsey admitted that there was a downside to not aging. "I was a little bummed that I had to eat my birthday cake alone. And last year eight people sent me virtual cakes, but I actually didn't miss those that much."

Ramsey's childhood friend, Samantha Anderson, was surprised and mildly chagrined when told of the missed birthday. "I knew it was around now because it always came about a month after we started school and five weeks before Halloween."

"I don't know how people remembered pre-Facebook. Of course in the olden days people didn't have 600 friends so it was a lot easier," Anderson added defensively.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Joe the Plumber Changes Professions, Goes Hollywood

The man whose name became synonymous with his profession during the 2008 presidential election is trying to change jobs, and with it, his identity.

A former plumber, Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher shot to fame during the final presidential debate between then Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Barack Obama, D-Ill., after McCain repeatedly referenced "Joe the Plumber" in discussing how Obama's tax proposal would affect small businesses. Three days prior, Wurzelbacher had been expressed his concern about Obama's tax plan, an exchange that was caught by ABC News.

Wurzelbacher said that becoming known as "Joe the Plumber" was in one sense liberating because no one could ever pronounce his last name and frequently thought it was "wienerschnitzel," an Austrian dish consisting of a boneless cutlet as well as a popular U.S. hot dog chain. But the former blue collar worker-turned-political symbol said that such an identifier was outdated since he has not picked up a pipe wrench or charged anyone $100 to remove a hairball in nearly a year.

However, the man formerly known as "Joe the Plumber" may run into some difficulty in gaining widespread acceptance of his new name: "Joe the Thespian." Wurzelbacher said that he had acted in several productions in high school with the highlight being his portrayal of the character Reverend John Hale in The Crucible.

When asked to comment on Wurzelbacher's acting skills, high school drama teacher Penelope Mackerby said that he had delivered his lines "awkwardly but with great gusto."

Acting skills notwithstanding, Wurzelbacher's conservative affiliation isn't likely to go over well in Hollywood, though his commercial potential may yield leads. His agent, Matthew Roman, admitted that he hadn't had any success in getting an audition for his client until he added a Post-it to the headshot saying "Joe the Thespian -- formerly known as Joe the Plumber."

"The curiosity factor alone is usually enough for an audition," he said. "And we've got some pretty good leads -- ABC wants him for an after school special Obama biopic and NBC has contacted us about having him do a cameo on Saturday Night Live."

When a reporter pointed out that in both roles Wurzelbacher would be playing himself -- or rather his Joe the Plumber self -- Roman said that his client was willing to do so in order to get his foot in the door.

"He's a natural and he has great range. Joe has lots of good ideas about other parts he can play, like Popeye," Roman said. His 'I yam what I yam' is dead on and he's been practicing speed eating spinach."

Wilson Claims He Fought to Get MLK Day Recognized as State Holiday

COLUMBIA, S.C. – Seeking to discredit criticism that he is racially insensitive, Rep. Joe Wilson on Tuesday cited his efforts as a state legislator to get Martin Luther King Jr. Day recognized as an official South Carolina state holiday.

“I revere the man. I think of him as a spiritual brother,” Wilson said. “It seemed only right that his birthday be recognized by the state and I worked with his family to make that happen.”

Wilson has come under attack from former President Jimmy Carter, among others, for yelling “You lie!” during President Obama’s recent speech on health care. Carter said that Wilson’s outburst was “based on racism.”

On May 2, 2000, South Carolina became the last state to make the late civil rights leader’s birthday an official state holiday. Wilson served in the state Senate then, though at the time he had begun his campaign for his current seat representing South Carolina in the U.S. Congress.

Prior to enactment of the 2000 legislation, state employees had the choice of celebrating Martin Luther King Day or one of three Confederate-related holidays. The legislation struck the birthdays of Confederate Army General Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States of America from 1861 to 1865. However, in making King’s birthday an official state holiday, it also created another official state holiday on May 10 — Confederate Memorial Day.

Wilson’s claim that he spearheaded the effort to have King’s birthday recognized was treated with disbelief, and even laughter, by friends and critics alike. A friend of Wilson’s from his state legislature days said that it’s possible Wilson had confused his support for the two days. “Sure as hell he supported Confederate Memorial Day. As for MLK Day, I think his view was more, well, let’s just say it was a compromise.”

When asked for comment about Wilson’s claim, Martin Luther King III, son of King, said with incredulity, “Are you talking about the Joe Wilson that voted to keep the Confederate flag flying above the state house? The one who revered segregationist Strom Thurmond and said that Essie Mae Washington-Williams should have never come forth and said that she was his daughter? That yelled “You lie!” at the country’s first African-American president? Or are you talking about the one whose wife [Valerie Plame] is a spy? It doesn’t matter though, because I never met either, though if I ever met the former I might have to rethink the whole non-violence thing.”

Dexter King, another son of the civil rights icon, replied in an E-mail, “As you know, I am currently in litigation with my brother, Martin, and Bernice King over stewardship of my father’s estate. Nonetheless, I am in full agreement that Joe Wilson never did any sort of outreach to us. I reckon the only ‘brothers’ he has are those he got drunk with at his fraternity.”

King concluded, “By the way, I should remind you that if you choose to air or print my father’s ‘I Have a Dream” speech or engage in any other such unauthorized use of his image or writings we WILL sue. It’s copyrighted. Dexter, Bernice and I agree on that too.”

In fact, one of Wilson’s fraternity brothers from his undergraduate days at Washington and Lee said that suggestions that Wilson is racially insensitive were unmerited. “He was the only one in the Sigma Nu fraternity who wanted to hire a black guy to tend the bar,” said Jackson Horace Smithfield. “Of course, we could hire them for cheaper, so it may have been more a sign of his fiscal restraint even back then.”

Wilson’s claim of having worked with the King family to establish the state holiday is the second time in two weeks that he has been rebuffed. Last week, Wilson cited as evidence of a long friendship with Rep. Jim Clyburn, dean of the South Carolina delegation, his 1998 vote for Mignon Clyburn for state Public Service Commission. Clyburn, the Majority Whip, is the highest ranking African-American in the House and he represents an adjoining district. However, as pointed out by Roll Call, a Capitol Hill publication, Wilson actually voted against Mignon Clyburn’s appointment.

When told of King’s children’s remarks that he had not worked with them to secure the holiday, Wilson said that honestly believed he had and that his memory must have failed him. “I will say that I have always given my congressional staff that day off,” Wilson said, ignoring or oblivious to to the fact that the day is a mandated federal holiday.

Wilson then began absentmindedly humming “Dixie,” the de facto anthem of the Confederacy, until he spotted an aide’s stricken face and changed to “We Shall Overcome.”

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