By CHRIS PACKHAM
Sometimes I think I missed my true calling, which is designing graphics for local news broadcasts. KCTV Channel 5 actually has a specific graphic to indicate stories about stabbings, which is simultaneously informative, hilarious and terrifying:
Click the image for the story, though it's not my stated mandate to drive traffic to local true-crime stories. If I worked in the Channel 5 graphics department, I'd spend my entire day cooking up scary graphics for every possible kind of death. I'm not just saying that — it's actually one of my hobbies. Here's one I added to my portfolio this weekend:
After the jump, a report about teenagers and fermented sewage that will chill you to the bone. Click here, or on our dynamic, newsy infographic:
Branson Is For Lovers: It's a rough year for Missouri tourism, by which I think we're talking about Silver Dollar City and Yakov Smirnoff's American Pavilion. At least, those are the only two tourist attractions I can think of. The downturn is due to a confluence of flooding, high gasoline prices and the general condition of the economy, according to various chambers of commerce around the state. I have to say, I don't have a lot of sympathy for Yakov Smirnoff — I think it's his teeth. At some point, he became fully assimilated with American culture and decided to get big ceramic cubes installed inside his mouth. Combined with various face lifts and hairline enhancements, he's tipped himself too far into the uncanny valley, precluding any kind of emotional resonance. He might as well be Computer-Generated Orville Redenbacher, for all the empathy I have for him. It's probably some kind of disturbing insight into my character that I don't give a shit if Yakov Smirnoff lives or dies just based on his orthodontia, but I'm not particularly introspective or even all that interested in learning how to pretend I care about other people. What were we talking about? Oh, yeah. Missouri tourism. Kind of a hard sell, even in the best of economies. I generally spend my limited tourism dollars in states I don't actually live in, but that's just me.
Cleaver comes around: U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver now says he'll support the will of his district and endorse Sen. Barack Obama for president. It's hard for a 64-year-old man to appeal to Obama's youthful constituency, but Cleaver does have a 21-year-old hairline these days, so this can only be construed as a step in the right direction.
Your lungs have come a long way, baby: Kansas City's voter-approved smoking ban took effect at midnight Saturday, which is why you probably had to sneak into the infant nursery to light up at church on Sunday morning. The same way that prohibitions on toilet-tank pruno and pseudoephedrine conferred auras of forbidden glamour on alcohol poisoning and allergy medicine, I think the smoking ban is likely to make cigarettes even more attractive to impressionable youngsters and also miniature adults such as Dakota Fanning. I smoked Misty cigarettes for 15 years, but I had to quit when the doctor told me I was developing the effeminate, phlegmy cough of a woman in her fifties. At any rate, you can't smoke in bars anymore — although, considering the complete lack of enforcement, you can probably still light up wherever you want.