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Humor dries up in the heat of summertime

August 24, 2004|by TIM ROWLAND

You probably are a schoolteacher, an automobile mechanic or a systems analyst. You do not have my problems. You have no idea how hard it is to be funny in August.

Everybody's on vacation, the politicians are all asleep and no one is doing anything, funny or otherwise. You pick up the paper searching for material and see the lead headline on the front page above the fold: "All is quiet a day after Bush's visit." The story is about birds searching for crumbs in a deserted set of bleachers. I know exactly how these birds feel.

I rifled through the rest of the paper. Surely, I said, there has to be something more newsworthy than empty bleachers that deserved front-page merit. There wasn't.

On the city page, "School to start soon" was the blockbuster at the top. The story included a sidebar with useful tips from AAA, including "Be extra cautious in adverse weather" and "Always stop for school buses." How that is supposed to help you quit drinking, I don't know, but ... oh wait, that's AA. My mistake.

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On the Tri-State page was the headline "Midweek is fairly quiet at Franklin Co. fair."

I know if I can hang in there for another 10 days or so, the summer doldrums will be materially over and the news will start again, but right now it's death.

I try to get excited about the Olympics, but can't. Every time I tune in, synchronized judo or something equally unwatchable is on. Minor sports are killing the Olympics, in my view. When they fall to the depths of equestrian shuffleboard and beach drug testing, they lose me. Even the high drama of the women's water polo team losing to Canada 6-5 can't bring me back.

The weather isn't cooperating, either. We were promised 8 inches of rain from Hurricane Charley. I was excited, because there is always something funny that results from 8 inches of rain - chickens floating by atop a doghouse in the Potomac or something., But all we got was a sprinkle.

Oh sure, another round of untreated wastewater flowed into Antietam Creek from the Hagerstown sewage plant, but that's getting older than the, "You can call me Ray, or you can call me Jay" gag.

In the dog days of summer, even the crooks aren't putting as much effort into their crimes as we have a right to expect.

A chap in Martinsburg, W.Va., was arrested about 15 seconds after a convenience store was robbed because something made him stand out to police. Perhaps it was the description of "decaying teeth, long, blond hair, gray T-shirt with bleach stains on it, a ball cap and a blue bandanna."

What there was about this ensemble that made the thief think he would "blend in with the crowd" is hard to say. Yes, I know, there are parts of West Virginia where if the police chief tells his force "Quick, go out and find a guy with a blue bandanna and decaying teeth," the holding pen is going to end up packed tighter than a rice giveaway in Calcutta. But Martinsburg has kind of progressed beyond that. These crooks have to stop living in the past.

It's so slow I even saw this headline: "Jobs cut in Cumberland, Md." Yawn. It would be news if the headline read "Jobs not cut in Cumberland, Md."

My eyebrows did rise a bit at the story of the state police in Dunbar, W.Va., profiting by $41,000 from "the recent auction of surplus shotguns, sniper rifles and machine guns." The weaponry included "a Norinco machine gun, which resembles an AK-47, two Cobray machine guns, an Uzi pistol and three Uzi semiautomatics."

Are they nuts? I think it is an outrage that the state police - an agency charged with our safety and protection - would put Uzis and sniper rifles back into the community at large, without giving me ample notification so I could place a bid.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist.

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