Welcome to Issue I of Nippies on-line magazine! August 22, 2002 through September 5th, 2002

Here you will also find links to past issues of NIPPIES on-line magazine.

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September 5th, 2002

Chills Galore

Showing on AMC this week: The Boys from Brazil. This movie explores the horrors of cloning as Nazi Dr. Lieberman (Gregory Peck) attempts to resurrect the Third Reich. Chilling. And the description of the cloning process is exactly as it is described today. Worth watching! This movie also stars the great actor Sir Larry Olivier, James Mason. A very young Steve Guttenberg is featured in a role.

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We at Nippies are not superstitious. But we thought you might want to know that the next Friday the 13th will roll around in only 8 days. If you have an belief in superstitions, plan accordingly.

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Kelly is IT!

The verdict is in and Kelly Clarkson is the first, official American Idol!

For those of you who haven't been watching American Idol, this show is a neon-lit, buffed-up version of Star Search. We at Nippies haven't seen the show, believe it or not. But we do keep our finger on the pulse of American popular culture, and this show has had been giving the media pleasant palpitations for the past several weeks.

Justin Guarini finished in second place to Kelly Clarkson. We will not use the term "loser" here, because it just wouldn't fit. Justin has graced the pages of every major newspaper and tabloid because of his incredibly photogenic face. But he is a talented singer according to all sources. So, while Kelly Clarkson may be the official winner of the RCA recording contract, we at Nippies have no doubt that Justin will go on to his own place in the sun.

Actually, it was our opinion that Kelly would be the winner based on what we heard and saw in the papers and on television. She was the favored contestant of the New York Post: the tabloid felt Kelly was a better vocalist than Justin. But Justin also had his many backers. Star Jones said yesterday on The View that he had all the makings of a star, and she was right. But it just seemed that glut of photos of Justin Guarini that appeared everywhere were beginning to work against him rather than for him. He just couldn't take a bad photo! We thought that Justin suffered a bit from over-exposure and thought the backlash of such exposure might begin to work toward a negative result.

At any rate, Justin Guarini was very gracious about coming in second to Kelly Clarkson. Here's what how he reacted and what he said according to the story on the Yahoo! news service:
Guarini, who hugged her after losing, said he became good friends with Clarkson during their work on the show and felt she generally performed better than he did.

"Kelly Clarkson deserves it," he said backstage. "I can't sing those songs nearly as good as she can."

Good luck to both Kelly and Justin. By the way, plans are under way for the pair to record an album together for possible release in November! We at Nippies are sure we will be seeing and hearing from both of these two young talents for a long time to come.


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September 4th, 2002

Famous Athiest Presses On

The California athiest who sued to remove the phrase "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance now wants the chaplain of the House of Representatives and the Senate to be removed.

The man, who resides in Sacramento, filed last week in a federal district court in Washington. His argument this time is that using tax dollars to have a chaplain pray in Congress is unconstitutional. Here's a quote from the lawyer and emergency-room physician:
"Don't get my government engaged in it (prayer). There are some people who don't love God Almighty."

We at Nippies wonder why anyone who apparently doesn't believe in God would be so bothered by His presence or reminders of His presence. There are so many other ways to expend one's God given talent, intelligence, and energy than on trying to remove God from public places. If he works in a publicly funded hospital, he must drive the institution nuts. Yamukas and crosses worn by Jewish and Christian doctors must go! No rosaries in the rooms of patients on Medicare! And so on and so forth.

PS...Heads Up! to the residents of Sacramento, which means "sacrament" in Spanish. How long until your resident athiest files suit to change the name of your city??

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FBI Overwhelmed

On National Public Radio this morning: The discussion was about the enormous amount of information on terrorism that is pouring into intellgence agencies all across the USA. A representative of the FBI (sorry, we didn't catch her name...it was 6am!) was speaking about the difficulty the FBI faces for processing all this information. The representative disclosed that the FBI computers would not have the capability of putting in a phrase such as "aviation schools" (that was the actual example used) and pulling up information on that specific phrase! She said they could only put in "aviation", and then the results would be so overwhelming that they would be useless.

We at Nippies sure hope we misunderstood what the FBI rep said, but that is what we heard her say!


September 3rd, 2002

Why We Like Springer?

We at Nippies rarely watch daytime TV talk shows of the Jerry Springer ilk. (We are not speaking of Oprah or Rosie or the more "serious" talk shows which tend to feature celebrities or to address serious issues. We only saw a few minutes of Maury show, and are reserving judgment!) As a matter of fact, if you add up all the little glimpses we've caught of these shows over the past five years, they probably wouldn't add up to two hours. But today, for some unknown reason, we decided to leave Jerry Springer on to see what all the hoopla is about.

It took us only about 10 minutes of viewing Springer to formulate an opinion about why shows such as this one are still on the air. The reason is, in our humble opinion, probably that these shows allow the viewers, both at home and in the audience, to feel vastly superior to the guests they are viewing.

The first thing we at Nippies noticed is the abundance of bad grammar. Phrases such as "No she ain't", "She don't want you" and "We was engaged" abound. Now, before you go picking through our pages looking for bad grammar, we will concede that we do make mistakes in that department on occasion. However, we do NOT make mistakes in grammar every five words! We try to limit ourselves to one mistake per paragraph.

The audience on Springer can be downright cruel. One audience member stood up and asked a prostitute, who was sleeping with her boyfriend's cousin, if her derriere (that was not the word used) was as hairy as her underarms. We wondered if that particular audience member would ask that question of another party guest or co-worker in a non Coliseum-type atmosphere? We suspect not. Her question was just another example of what the power of feeling superior can do for your social courage.

Today's Jerry Springer was entitled "Tales of the Angry Women". And angry they were! The first segment featured two women who had been friends for two years. Both were at least 50 pounds overweight and they looked amazingly alike. The "secret" that was to be revealed was that the first woman was sleeping with the second woman's husband. End of friendship! The husband was not exactly Prince Charming! He addressed his wife as a "bitch" and put his arm around his girlfriend who, he claimed, kept him up for two nights straight with her particular brand of amore. The wife professed to be surprised at the betrayal of her "friend". However, the whole scene had a blatantly orchestrated feel to it.

The second set of guests included a very young, very mannish looking lesbian who was going to find out that her girlfriend had gone back to her boyfriend four months prior to the show. This segment was where we first noticed the very bad grammar. Then it was onto the next segment where we learned that a leopard-clad woman was sleeping with her husband's cousin. The husband, of course, did not know about this. It was very upsetting to watch this one because the husband, when informed of his wife's infidelity, reacted with what appeared to be genuine surprise and hurt. He also seemed like a sincere, sweet and hard-working man. Perhaps he thought he was going on the show for a great and happy surprise.

We at Nippies tuned out and started typing after this part. There was no need to watch more of Jerry Springer. The pattern had been established. The words "cheating" and "bitch", as well as the phrase "sleeping with", drifted to our ears continually throughout the rest of the program. The studio audience appeared to be equally bored: it's obvious that the "oohs" and "aahs" and "boos" are orchestrated by teleprompters because they are suspiciously frequent and unified.

So, what did we do? We went to imdb.com and researched Jerry Springer's background to find out why a man of such obvious intelligence, and education, would put his name on a show of this sort.

Jerry Springer is in his late fifties. He attended Northwestern University School of Law. He's divorced. He was a Boy Scout. He was once mayor of Cincinnatti.

In 1991, Jerry Springer was given a golden opportunity. He was chosen to host a talk show on WLWT-TV in Cincinnatti to take the place of the wildly successful Donahue, according to the imdb.com biography. The show tanked in ratings. Springer revamped the serious format of the show after it was dropped by syndicators. He came up with the trash format that we see today. The rest, as they say, "is history."

There was an interesting post script to the biography on imdb.com. On July 10, 2002, sons of guest Nancy Campbell-Panitz, who was murdered after she and her ex-husband, he with his girlfriend, appeared on Jerry Springer. The lawsuit, filed in Sarasota City, Florida, is aimed at not only Springer, but his production company, distributor, and USA Studios. Ms. Campbell-Panitz's sons contend that the appearance on the show created a "mood that led to murder."

At the end of each show, Jerry tells the audience to "Take care of yourself, and each other." One way to take care of each other, he should add, is to NOT call his 800 number and enter yourself, of your loved one, into the pool of potential guests. Solve your own problems in the privacy of your home. If you think Jerry is really interested in your problems, aside from the rating factor that your appearance might offer, you, dear readers, might be interested in a quote of his that we found on the imdb.com biography (if this quote is, indeed, an actual quote from Jerry):
"I never watch my show. I'm not interested in it." And please note that he didn't say "ain't interested".


September 2nd, 2002

The Sutton Report Becomes Available

On two previous days, we at Nippies gave you sources to read further about the Michael Skakel conviction. However, if you are interested, we have found what we consider the best source for unedited documents. The Sutton Report, which is the report written up for Rushton Skakel by a top detective agency he hired to look into the matter in hopes of clearing his sons' of any implication in the murder case, is reprinted in full at www.MarthaMoxley.com. (As you may already know, the report ended up pointing the finger of suspicion toward the Skakel brothers, most specifically at Michael.)

Pay special attention to page 9 of The Sutton Report. According to this report, both Julie (Skakel) and Tommy (Skakel) place Ken Littleton in the house making a sandwich in the kitchen and watching television in the master bedroom, respectively, during the time period when the murder supposedly took place. Perhaps they didn't mean to do so, but they did provide him with a good alibi. Littleton is the tutor who was spending his very first night at the Skakel home on the night the morder of Martha Moxley occured. Sutton detectives did not consider him a viable suspect, although they clearly felt he was not telling all he knew.

Interestingly, Littleton's placement in the master bedroom (Rushton Skakel's bedroom...he was away on a hunting trip) would give him a bird's eye view of the murder scene.

There is a ton of information and documentation, as well as over 45 Moxley family-owned photos of Martha, on the www.MarthaMoxley.com page that you will not find anywhere else.

We at Nippies have been fascinated by this case since reading Mark Fuhrman's novel, Murder in Greenwich. Today we intend to go out and get Greentown, another novel which is about Martha Moxley's murder. It is written, as we mentioned before, by Greenwich native, Timothy Dumas. This is the book which inspired Karen Kerby, the web mistress of CampSkakel.com, to open up the web site in support of Michael Skakel.


September 1st, 2002

More News For Skakel Watchers

Can you believe it's already September?

There will be an other entry under today's date later. If you read yesterday's writing about the Martha Moxley murder case, we at Nippies just know you'll be interested in this web site we found for you, dear readers: Go to:
www.campskakel.com
and you will find a wealth of information about the Skakel/Moxley case.

Although this site is authored by a Skakel supporter, there is a lot of interesting material. The book proposal called "Dead Man Talking" by Michael Skakel, is especially intriguing, as is the excerpt from The Sutton Report, which is the report filed by the detective agency hired by Michael's father, Rushton Skakel.

That particular document, as well as many other fascinating documents, can be found by clicking on the "resourses" link on the CampSkakel.com page.

Go and read!!

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Jerry's Good Works

We at Nippies have the 37th annual Muscular Dystrophy Telethon tuned in from our local ABC affiliate. We hope you are watching, as well.

We all know of the wonderful work that Jerry Lewis has done for this telethon for over 52 years. If you are shocked at his very bloated appearance, you should know that he has gained a tremendous of weight not because of an eating problem but because he is on steroids for his pulmonary fibrosis, a life-threatening disease.

We applaude Jerry for "going on with the show". It can't be easy to go on national television not looking like what you usually look like. But this man with a heart of gold for those in need has put his vanity aside because, as he said, he has a "job to do." God love him.

We've known several families who have had loved ones with muscular dystrophy. And in all cases, we've heard that the MDA provides everything necessary to make life as comfortable and as full as is possible - free of charge. The Muscular Dystrophy Association is a terrific organization, and so much of what they provide is directly attributable to Jerry Lewis.

We at Nippies wish Jerry health, happiness, and many more years of raising funds for this worthy cause. Don't forget to call in and pledge if you can!


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August 31st, 2002

Michael Skakel Sentenced To 20 Years

If you saw CNN's coverage of the Skakel sentencing, in which Michael Skakel got 20 years to life for the murder of 15 year old Martha Moxley in 1975, you'd have sworn you could hear violins playing in the background. Over and over the female commentator went on about how Michael Skakel was so quiet and reserved, how he had been described by friends and family, including Kennedy cousin Robert Kennedy, as such a nice guy (he helped RFK,Jr. kick booze) incapable of such a violent act, how he prays nightly for the Moxleys, how he wishes he could confess but he "can't bear false witness" to the Moxleys or himself by confessing to a murder he didn't commit, and just how sad the whole situation is in general.

Michael Skakel will not, by the way, be likely to serve out the 20 years because the sentencing judge recommended parole be seriously considered in 10.

OK. We at Nippies, and you may be surprised at this, agree with the sentencing. Michael Skakel has spent the last 25 years both figuratively and literally "on the run" while he was, for most of his younger years, moved from rehab to rehab - and out of the reach of investigators. Most importantly, Skakel was a juvenile when he committed the murder of which he was convicted. He's also lost a family: he will be 51 years old, at least, when he gets out of prison and he will have missed watching his now 3 year old son, Georgie, grow up through his most formative and tender years. But we are convinced that he did commit this crime of passion and hate.

We read the book by Mark Fuhrman and, if what the author says it true, and we have no reason to believe it is not, then all signs point to Michael as the murderer of Martha Moxley on Halloween eve, 1975. There may have been a lack of physical evidence to tie him to the crime, as the defense team, headed by Mickey Sherman, claims. But there was an overwhelming quantity of circumstantial evidence, and there was motive (Michael Skakel and Tommy were rivals for Martha Moxley's affection), and there was opportunity , according to Fuhrman's book, Murder in Greenwich.

For over two decades this horrendous crime went unsolved. Then, there were two major breaks in the case that started the guilt ball rolling in the direction of Michael Skakel. First,and he's probably still kicking himself over this one, Rushton Skakel (Michael's father) hired a top detective agency to re-investigate the Moxley murder. He was hoping to clear the family name once and for all. Instead, the report by the detective agency clearly threw suspicion toward the Skakel boys. This report got into the hands of wealthy-murder novelist Dominic Dunne who, in turn, handed it over to Mark Fuhrman. Second, Michael Skakel changed his story, years later, to apparently custom-fit the evidence that might point the finger of guilt towards him. For example, he admitted masturbating in a tree outside Martha's bedroom window late on the night of the murder (thus explaining away any DNA from his sperm that might be found near the crime scene) and, also, running up and down the street near Martha's house and flinging his arms in the direction of a noise he thought he heard. The latter action would cast an innocent light on any eye witness accounts of him swinging a golf club (the murder weapon) near the murder scene.

If you read Murder in Greenwich you will be astounded by Mark Fuhrman's theory on this story change of Michael's, told in great detail and after painstaking research on the part of former Detective Fuhrman.

About the lack of physical evidence to tie Michael Skakel to Martha's murder: the defense attorneys are not telling everything when they complain about the lack of physical evidence. According to Fuhrman's book, the Skakel family stopped cooperating with investigators, after initially cooperating, very, very soon after a more in-depth and professional investigation commenced. This crucial time was when evidence might have been gathered from the Skakel property, vehicles and an out-of-state cabin they owned. ( Michael was made unavailable for questioning (after the initial preliminary interviews) for many years as the family moved him from rehab to rehab and out of reach of investigators. Michael's own sister, who was at home the night of the murders, doubted his alibi of having spent the evening with his brothers and cousins' watching the premiere of Monty Python at the Terrien's home some 20 miles away.

There was a very sloppy crime scene investigation in the crucial hours after the body was discovered, according to Fuhrman. The chief medical examiner didn't even show up until the next day because he was on another "high profile" case. And the murder weapon was, after all, a golf club that belonged to Michael's deceased mother, Anne. (Mrs. Skakel died when Michael was only 12).

Now, there has surfaced a sketch of a suspect seen near the scene of the crime on the night of the murder. The sketch was kept from the defense team, it is reported. The sketch reportedly looks like Ken Littleton, the tutor who had just arrived on the night of the murder to tutor/babysit the Skakel clan. Littleton, for all these years, has been under suspicion for this crime and his life has been ruined as a result. There is absolutely no evidence, motive, or anything else to tie Littleton to the murder, from what we've read, other than that he was there. And while anything is possibly, it seems unlikely to the highest degree that anyone would commit such a crime of passion on their first night in a new house with a total stranger, doesn't it?

But here is the more important question regarding this sketch. Who made the sketch and, much more importantly, who saw this suspicious person and described the person to the police? None of that has been mentioned in any of the accounts of the discovery of this new "evidence."

If you have any interest in this case at all, go out and get yourself a copy of Murder in Greenwich. It is a fascinating book and will help you decide for yourself about what you think really happened to Martha Moxley on her family's circular driveway on October 30th, 1975 as she walked from the Skakel property to her home in the wealthiest neighborhood (Belle Haven) in the wealthiest city (Greenwich, Connecticutt) in America.

PS...there is a second book, by Greenwich native and playwright, Timothy Dumas, that you might want to read entitled: Greentown: Murder and Mystery in Greenwich


August 30th, 2002

Third-hand smoke?

There is an ad campaign against second-hand smoke in many of the major New York newspapers. The ad lists the most frightening of the 4,000 chemicals which make up second-hand smoke. The ones listed are: acetone; ammonia; benzene; carbon monoxide; DDT and formaldehyde. We all know what they are and how damaging they are. It is a commendable ad because it is against smoking and second-hand smoke. The bottom line of the large ad reads:

You don't have to smoke to die from it. Second-hand smoke kills

The ad is sponsored by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

In the same paper (the New York Post) where we saw the ad was another article on teen smoking. It's headline read:

Docs warn nico-teen addiction is quick

The article goes on to say that "teens who tried cigarettes got hooked within weeks of starting - a surprising result that contradicts the common wisdom that it takes years to become addicted, researchers said yesterday", according to a study by Dr. Joseph DiFranza of the University of Massachusetts which was published in the September issue of the journal, Tobacco Control.

A surprising result? Baloney. Haven't these researchers known any teens who started to smoke? How could they possible think it takes years to become addicted? It takes very little time, and anyone who's smoked knows this.

But here is the reason that we at Nippies are addressing this subject. The United States government has known since the late 1960s for sure that cigarettes kill. The tobacco companies knew too, but greed always overrides morality in big business, as we well know. "It's just business", as the famous "they" say to excuse any lack of ethics in a decision.

So, why are cigarettes still being sold legally? There are two generations of Americans who have begun to smoke since the damaging effects of cigarettes have been scientifically proven. (Of course, we've always known intuitively that smoking was bad for the body...watch any old movie - even from the 1940s and 50s - and you'll see parents chastising their kids when they are caught smoking.)There have been millions and millions of smokers who can now make the claim that they have been smoking for more than thirty years, or, since the first proof that cigarette smoking causes cancer came out.

The reason smoking was not outlawed years ago, obviously, is money. And it's really a shame. With all the trillions of dollars that have been spent in this country on every sort of program, couldn't the government have begun to subsidize the tobacco farmers long, long ago to ease them out of producing this harmful product? Of course they could have.

So, it is really very hypocritical to see all the messages against smoking when all our government had to do was take a really hard stance, and some action, against the legal production and sale of cigarettes. Had our lawmakers passed such a law our country would, by now, be a nation free of this harmful addiction. Instead, we have teens smoking in record numbers. We at Nippies know this for sure...we have a teen age son and most of his friends, both boys and girls, smoke. The fifteen, sixteen and seventeen year olds get those cigarettes very easily by having their "adult" eightteen year old friends buy the cigarettes for them. And then the now nicotine-addicted kids turn eightteen and can buy the cigarettes for themselves.

And to digress a bit, we at Nippies have always thought it one of life's great ironies that kids can smoke, quit school, die fighting for their country, marry, donate an organ, or have an abortion at eightteen but they cannot gamble. Again, money is placed above all else.

We know the argument here that could be made about why cigarettes were not outlawed long ago:"It's a free country". Yes, sure. It's a free country. That is why you can't smoke in most restaurants, stores, theatres, etc. It's not a free country for smoking. And we are not saying it should be. But why are we selling these things called cigarettes that we know are so very harmful to everyone?

Money, money, money.

Sadly, cigarette smoking is by and large a poor person's vice. It's their little $4,5,6,7,8 (depending on where you are now buying your cigarettes) "vacation", a ten minute vacation from the boring job, the burden of working two jobs, the tedium of a life that doesn't offer real vacations or the luxury of going out to a really nice dinner, the theatre, or to a rewarding job. It takes the place of having your nails done into a fancy $75 manicure, going to the day spa, or to the fancy gym. A pack of cigarettes is deceptively expensive to your health both physical and economic. The damaging effects of that pack sneaks up on you in small, barely noticeable increments.

If cigarette smoking was not mainly a poor person's vice, the huge taxes that are placed on a pack of cigarettes would not be tolerated. Otherwise, why were larger luxury, or sin, taxes not placed on expensive cigars, fine wines and single-malt scotches, high cholesterol foods served in expensive restaurants, or elective plastic surgery - all risky habits or behaviour - instead of on cigarettes? The answer is that such taxes simply would not be tolerated.

If our government stopped the sale of cigarettes next month, sure there would be a certain percentage of smokers who would be meeting their "dealers" in back alleys to "score". But the vast majority would just suffer it out cold turkey and become non-smokers.

We at Nippies are thinking of the younger generations here. We are telling them not to smoke, we are attemping to scare them with messages, photos, ads, etc. But yet we are offering these products legally. So the real message is this stuff is bad for you but it can't really be that bad because it's still legal. This is the way kids think, folks.

We are blowing third-hand smoke up the arses of our young people by telling them, on the one hand, that cigarettes are bad for them and they shouldn't smoke and, on the other hand, allowing them legal and unlimited access to cigarettes as soon as they turn eightteen.

Is anyone listening?


August 29th, 2002

Be Kind To Your Paperboy

You can tell a lot about people when you have a paper route. Just ask our paper boy, er, paper carrier. We at Nippies did recently when Chris, our son's best friend, spent a night at our home.

Thankfully, we at Nippies are not one of the customers about whom Chris had a story to tell. But then, why should we be? He's a regular guest here, we tip him well (thank God!), and he's like one of the family because we've known him since he and our son were in kindergarten together. But Chris had plenty to tell (we've left out names to protect the innocent) about some of our fellow customers.

For one, we were shocked to hear that he only makes ten cents - gross! - per paper. The price of home delivery per day is thirty-seven cents, so right off the bat the publisher gets the lion's share of the take. From that ten cents, Chris must pay for gas for the car, an old clunker which uses a lot of gas with over one hundred stops and starts daily; the plastic sleeves that he must cover the papers with on rainy and snowy days; rubber bands for each and every paper each and every day; his own carrier bags, which wear out rather quickly due to dragging them to the car when the papers are heavy; a new collection booklet about every six months, and various and sundry other little expenses. That leaves him with about seven cents profit per paper daily, or, about seven dollars per day before tips.

Ahhh, tips. Here's were we get into the telling part about people. Some folks, he laments, never tip. This despite the fact that they save thirteen cents a day just by "allowing" him to deliver their paper. (It costs fifty cents to buy the newspaper at the newsstand.) Thankfully, Chris reports, the "non-tippers" only cover about ten percent of collect customers. (We are collect customers). We at Nippies thought everyone paid bi-weekly in cash when he came calling. No, Chris informed us. About half the customers pay in advance through the newspaper. Only about one-fourth of the "pre-pay" customers tip through the newspaper because, he explains, they are really nice. The other three-fourths don't give send in any tips. "They never see me so it doesn't embarass them to be cheap."

Now isn't that just like human nature?

But back to the collect customers, like us. Most of these customers tip, he explained between bites of a doughnut as we sat at the kitchen table over a midnight snack while our son slept peacefully on the couch in the television room.

"Some tip just because they are nice, and some only because they have to face me when I show up at their door to collect. They have nice houses, nice cars, but they tip like ten or fifteen cents every two weeks," he explains. Chris is fond, I notice, of the word "nice".

We at Nippies were now hooked. We leaned across the kitchen table, poured some more milk into Chris's glass, tossed another cruller onto his plate, and settled in for a good listen. Tell us more about the tippers, we said.

"And we'll get to the non-tippers later," we added, not wanting to sound too anxious. Actually, it was the non-tippers we were most curious about. We are, after all, only human.

"Well, they fall into three categories. The ones who tip pretty good, like you, Mrs. Jones; the ones who tip as little as possible, and then there are the ones who tip too much, Mrs. J."

"Too much? How can anyone tip too much?" we inquired, fascinated. Now he really had our attention. We've never heard of anyone tipping too much!

Chris kicked off his sneakers, arranged himself more comfortably on the oak chair, and, after a few seconds of thought while staring at the ceiling fan, leaned forward with his arms crossed on the table and began to speak.

"Let me give you an example. You know the Careys? The ones who down the street in the house with the porch roof that looks like it's ready to cave in? Them. They tip too much. They can't afford it, but every time I collect they give me an extra three or four dollars. I feel really bad about it and try to give it back. Sometimes I even skip collecting from them for one payment, but they always keep track and then they give me double. They should use the money to get their roof fixed, ya know? Instead of tipping me so much." Chris looked genuinely concerned about this. But he had more "over-tippers", as he called them, to tell me about.

"And then you have Mrs. Kahutsky. She must be ninety years old. Real old. Everything's old in the house. Once in a while she'll ask me to change a light bulb or something. I don't mind. I do it for her. Then she insists on giving me an extra two or three dollars, which I try not to take. But she keeps pushing till I take it. So I do, but then I take that amount off the collection the next time. Her, she don't notice. (By this time his grammar is getting poor...he's tired.) She wouldn't know if I charged her double for her bill, but I don't do that."

At this point we've decided that our son, who is sound asleep in his room upstairs, has very good taste in best friends.

The kitchen has grown silent except for the sound of the grandfather clock chiming out the quarter hour. Both of us are lost in our separate thoughts. We at Nippies are thinking of the Careys with their caved-in roof, which has long been the talk of the neighborhood gossips. We don't know the Careys personally, but now they've certainly gone up a few knotches in our opinion of them. And poor old Mrs. Kahutsky. We wonder how much she's been taken for by those less honest than Chris.

Fortunately, Chris breaks the silence. His train of thought has taken him to a cheerier scenario, which he is about to share.

"Want to hear some funny stories?" he asks.

"Sure, tell me, Chris." We get up and pour some more coffee into our Neil Diamond Live in Concert ceramic mug.

We spend the next half hour howling with laughter as Chris regaled us with half a dozen or so other stories about his "route".

The first one was about the customer, a bingo-playing chain smoker who decorated her house with good-luck trolls, who called the newspaper during an especially frigid January cold-snap to report that her paper had slid off the front porch, which was covered with ice. Mrs. Schmokem was annoyed that she had to walk down her steps to retrieve it from the yard. "Customer not happy with service" was printed onto the information sheet on Chris's bundle of newspapers the next morning. Then he gave me the punchline: not only did Mrs. Schmokem never tip, but at the time she made the complaint she hadn't paid him for the newspaper in over two months! "Carrier not happy with customer," he told me he had fantasized about writing on a note and inserting into her newspaper the next morning. We both broke up!

Then there was the customer who "never tipped me a penny in four years of service". One day, Chris said, there was a notice on his bundle of papers stating that the customer was temporarily discontinuing service for a week while he was on vacation. When the customer got back, Chris asked how his vacation was and did he have a good time? "We went to Vegas," Mr. Colletti complained gruffly, "and I lost $2000.00 dollars on the slots. What do you think, kid?" "Good for you, you cheap SOB," Chris thought, but never said.

But the best one was about the customer, a cranky middle-aged nurse whose teen-age son had been fired from the same paper route for late deliveries and generally bad service. Chris had then been assigned the small route, adding it to his main one. Chris felt bad about this and gave her a free newspaper for three weeks so there wouldn't be any "hard feelings", as he put it. On the fourth week,Mrs. B repaid him by calling the newspaper to complain, which happened to be during the same bitter cold snap as the "Customer not happy with service" incident, that Chris had tossed her paper, for three consecutive days, from his car onto her front porch instead of walking the sixty feet to the back of her house and placing it on her kitchen porch as she had instructed him to do. On the fourth day there was a slight break in the weather and Chris resumed delivery to her kitchen porch. He encountered Mrs. B walking to her car and apologized to her for the front porch delivery, but explained that he was "afraid of falling on the ice."

"That just doesn't cut it!", she growled. "It's not icy back here!".

Mrs.Bitter had barely finished her sentence when she took a step forward and slipped on her still icy sidewalk, thereby falling onto her generous can. Chris laughed so hard while he was helping her up that she called the paper later that day and tried to get him fired, which, of course, he was not. Paper carriers are not supposed to risk life and limb to deliver newspapers, a fact that some customers don't seem to understand.

It was the wee hours of the morning when Chris and we at Nippies finally decided we'd had our fill of doughnuts and customer do-nots and called it a night. We never did hear the juicy tid-bits about the other non-tippers. But we sure had an unexpectedly good time.

As we mentioned in the beginning, you can tell a lot about people when you are a paper carrier. We are happy to report that, according to Chris, about eighty percent of his customers are "pretty nice". Of the remaining twenty percent, about half are "really nice" and the remaining ten percent are "not nice at all". That's a fair assessment of the human race in general, don't you agree?


August 28th, 2002

Work-at-home?

Please don't fall for those work-at-home schemes that have been around since, it seems, the beginning of time. There is a story about one such scheme at the bottom of this page on the Reuters Oddly Enough headlines entitled "Four Charged in Bead-Stringing Scheme" in which four men were indicted on federal fraud charges "in an alleged $90 million scam that promised to pay thousands of people to assemble beaded necklaces at home". The four men from West Palm Beach, Florida, sold beaded-necklace kits at a whopping $3000.00 each to over 11,000 victims, taking in over $90 million in just two years.

This story will most likely be gone if you are reading this after the post date, so we will tell you about our own folly with a work-at-home "opportunity".

Once upon a time, when we at Nippies were new parents, we at Nippies decided we wanted to supplement our income with a little job we could do in our "spare time".(haha) Anyway, somewhere in the back of a newspaper or tabloid we saw dozens of offers to make thousands each month working at home assembling jewelry and various other trinkets. All the offers were very similar: send a check or money order to such-and-such a PO Box and in return we would receive our work-at-home kit so that we could begin "making money right away".

Randomly, we at Nippies selected one of the offers. We sent the money order for $34.95 and anxiously waited each day for the mailman to deliver our kit.

In the meantime, visions of pleasant evenings spent stringing beads or assembling earrings in front of the television set while our little baby slept peacefully in his bassinet passed before our eyes. We also envisioned the mailman delivering a fat check from our new employer each week. We spent many hours daydreaming about what we would buy with our extra income. How wonderful it was going to be.

Well, the "kit" finally arrived a few weeks later. It was not a kit as we perceived a kit to be. Instead we received a booklet which had dozens and dozens of companies listed in it which supposedly paid "good money" for you to work at home assembling various items such as earrings, necklaces, keychains, etc. The catch was that you now had to send more money to obtain one of these other "kits".

Okay. We were dumb the first time. But naive enough to send out a nice-sized money order the second time we were not!

After donning our thinking caps, we decided to actually call one of the numbers listed and ask some pointed questions of our prospective employer. We selected an earring assembly opportunity, called the number (more money for a toll call), and got someone on the line. After introducing ourselves as an interested party, we asked, "Can you give me the name of just one retail outlet where you sell your earrings?"

There was a long pause, then, "Well, I don't deal with that end of the business."

Hmmm. "OK", we persisted, "Can you give me a phone number of someone who does deal with that end of the business?"

Another long pause before he answered, voice faltering, "Can I have your number and I'll get back to you?"

Needless to say, we at never heard from our opportunist again. And, to this day, our stomach turns over when we see any of those ads for "work-at-home" opportunities.

We know there may be some legitimate work-at-home jobs out there. But we've personally never met anyone who has one of these jobs making money by asembling anything at home. If you do find such an "opportunity", only take the job if the employer provides you with the necessary materials for free. Sadly, most of these ads are aimed at the people - such as poor single moms - who are already struggling financially and just want to make a little extra to provide for their childrens' needs. They can not afford to lose the money they send to these con artists.

Please, don't be a victim! That old tried and true saying applies to work-at-home schemes:If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.


August 27th, 2002

Jamie Lee's True Thighs

You just have to love Jamie Lee Curtis. We at Nippies do. She's always given us the impression that, despite being a Movie Star, she is, in real life, a sincerely nice, humorous, caring and down-to-earth person. You know, the sort who doesn't take herself too seriously and who would show up, if you were fortunate enough to have her as your neighbor, at your backyard barbeque in rubber flip-flops, denim shorts, and a favorite old tee-shirt bearing a casserole of baked beans.

Well, Jamie has not disappointed us. No, she didn't pop up at our house with baked beans. But she will appear in the September issue of More magazine (which will hit the newsstands tomorrow) as not just Jamie Lee the star, but as Jamie Lee the forty-something mother-of-two, wife, and woman-next-door.

If you have time, run out and get today's edition of the NYPost to see Jamie Lee's photos. What a doll. She appears in a two-piece black bathing suit with a slight love handle hanging over her waistband and thighs that are less than perfect. Of course, she still looks great but she also looks real. There is also the "after" photo to show how she looks when made-up, which, she admits, takes a lot of work!

Why did Jamie do this? She did it for women everywhere. She wants to let them know that, even though she still looks terrific in those photo ops, she has to work hard to look "perfect" at her age. In the words of More editor-in-chief Susan Crandell, "...I think she's saying no body's perfect, but we can sure love the way we are."

And by the way, in case you didn't know, Jamie Lee has just completed her fifth children's book, "I'm Gonna Like Me: Letting Of a Little Self-Esteem,", which comes out next month. Does she have a sense of humor? The story in More, by Amy Wallace, is entitled "True Thighs" - Jamie Lee's idea. More on Jamie Lee: she is happily married since 1984 to Christopher Guest, the very talented writer, actor and director of many movies including the hilariously funny Best of Show. Christopher, who was born in New York City in 1948, is actually a real-life baron!

Thanks, Jamie Lee, for making mature women everywhere feel good about themselves!

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Mel Gibson Captures Top Box Office Receipts with Signs

Mel Gibson's movie Signs, which we spoke about previously, has recaptured the top box office spot for this past week-end with $14.4 million in receipts. Signs was also number one a few weeks ago before XXX took over. It's unusual to slide off the top spot and then come back. Congratulations, Mel!


August 26th, 2002

If you missed us yesterday, great! We warned you that we would not be updating when the kids keep us too busy to get to the keyboard. Well, yesterday was one of those "too busy" days!

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Christmas in August

: If there was ever a more "feel good" movie than the original Miracle on 34th Street, we've never seen it. As we type, we are watching an American Movie Classics airing of the movie. If you think it's interesting that AMC is showing Miracle on 34th Street in August, you might be further interested to know that the movie made it's world premiere in the summer of 1947!

Everything about this movie was absolutely perfect. The cast: Maureen O'Hara, John Payne, Natalie Wood, Gene Lockhart, William Frawley, and, of course, Edmund Gwynn as Kris Kringle. The scenery and sets are homey, cozy, and now very nostalgic. The timing was perfect as well: all the WWII soldiers and their wifes, as well as Americans in general, had just been through the difficult war years. This movie, which premiered just two years after WWII ended, heralded the happy times that were to come as the new veterans, their wives and their baby boomer babies settled into a contented family life. Each character, right down the the smallest supporting character, such as the wonderful Thelma Ritter as the first harried Macy's shopper to benefit from Santa's goodwill, in this movie was as vibrant and fully developed as the subjects in a Norman Rockwell painting.

But, hey. You've seen the movie. Just about everyone on the planet has. And loves it. Just give yourself an early Christmas present and watch for another airing on AMC.

By the way, we at Nippies think the best line in the whole movie was delivered by John Payne's character to little Susan (Natalie Wood): "Faith is believing in something even when common sense tells you not to." Amen to that.

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Cingular Rollover: Details Please!

There are so many wireless telephone companies out there now. All are trying to carve out their little niche of the market. One company who has come up with an interesting offer is Cingular. The company is offering something called Cingular Rollover, which means you get to carry your unused minutes over to the next month. Of course, the devil of any deal is always in the details, so please investigate the little details of this deal before committing!

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Good-Bye, Sally!

Sally Jesse Raphael recently said farewell after many years on the air. She credits Karl, her husband of forty years, with much of her success. Besides being a frequent non-celebrity guest on her show, Karl is also her biggest fan and her best friend.

It takes a special relationship and large doses of consideration, kindness, and love to have a happy marriage of so many years when one or both partners are involved in the crazy world of show business. After seeing multiple clips of Karl on Sally's show, we also discovered another secret to their success: Karl and Sally never tire of kidding each other. He's a terrific sport, always allowing Sally to poke gentle fun at him. One of the funniest things we saw was when Sally talked slightly overweight Karl into going on a diet. She then set up secret cameras to catch him cheating, and catch him she did!

We at Nippies wish them many more years of togetherness!


August 24th, 2002

Vanna Lookalike

No, Vanna White has not become a regular on Pat Robertson's CBN. The beautiful personality who bears much more than a passing resemblance to the letter turner from Wheel of Fortune is named Lisa Ryan.

The first time we were flipping stations and saw Lisa on Pat Robertson's network, we were dumbfounded at the resemblance. She is really a dead ringer. Lisa, like Vanna, is a veteran of television. She's had featured rolls on Murder She Wrote, Days of our Lives, and The Young and the Restless before joining The 700 Club as a producer and co-host.

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Get Well, Cybill

The September 3rd, 2002 issue of The Star reports that Cybill Shepherd has been treated for melanoma on her back. Cybill is doing well but will, of course, have to be especially careful of her future sun exposure. Cybill's mother, Patty Micci, confirmed that Cybill spent a lot of time sunbathing when she was young. "We lived near a lake, and she used to bake in the sun on a dock, applying lots of suntan oil. Back then we had no idea just how damaging the sun's rays could be, so we encouraged our kids to sunbathe," Cybill's mother told reporters from The Star

None of us realized the damaging effects of the sun back then. Most of us sunbathed relentlessly to get that "healthy tan". Yikes.

We wish Cybill well and also a speedy recovery.

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Dana Plato's Last Interview

After contemplating the situation in the story below (about shock jocks), we at Nippies turned our thoughts, naturally, to the "king" of shock jocks, Howard Stern.

We used to listen to Howard's radio show quite often as we drove home after dropping the kids off at school. (Notice, we said after dropping the kids off...). Yes, Howard was brash, often crude, but he was still funny at times.

We haven't listened to Howard Stern's show in a few years now. Since May of 1999, as a matter of fact. The last time we listened was the day he had Dana Plato on as his guest. She was trying to revive her nearly dead career. She was the target of very insulting phone calls that came into the show, and Howard was less than nice to her.

On that memorable day, Howard directed the conversation to Dana's well documented history of drug abuse. Naturally, Dana claimed she was now clean for ten years and never happier. Howard then put Dana on the spot by challenging her to a drug test, to which she agreed. It would have looked quite suspicious had she refused his suggestion. In a heartbeat, we could hear her verbally squirming. She began to make excuses as to why she shouldn't take the test. Ms. Plato told Howard she'd recently been taking medication for a dental problem she'd been having. He still persisted in his desire for the drug test and she agreed verbally but we could hear the fear in her voice. (In an article dated May 10, 1999, E!online stated that Dana initially agreed to a urine test, then changed her mind and offered a strand of hair for analysis. The article then states she changed her mind again, asked for the hair back, and got it.)

The next thing we knew, about two days later, we heard that Dana Plato had died of a drug overdose in her mobile home while on a trip to her fiance's home in Moore, OK. Her fiance, Robert Menchaca, who reportedly took photos of Dana as she lay dying (claiming he thought she was asleep and "snoring" when actually she was already comatose and her lungs filling with fluid) was with her. It was Mother's Day week-end and they were on their way to California to see Dana's 14 year old son, Tyler.

The overdose, at first thought to be accidental, was later ruled a suicide due to the large amount of drugs found in her system.

We had already decided to stop listening to "The King of All Media" after listening to her interview on Howard's show. Dana Plato was treated with great disrespect by Howard and by the callers, in our opinion. With her drug history, there was no reason for Howard to put her on the spot - live on the air - with regard to a drug test. It was, in our opinion, very cruel. Very anything for ratings. Hearing of Dana's death only confirmed our decision to tune Howard out.

Sometime after the show, we heard that Howard was separating from his wife of many years, Alison. That separation took from Howard his only claim to decency. His terribly off-color antics were somehow softened when we knew he was, underneath all that crassness, a happily married man committed to his wife and three daughters, despite everything that went on in his professional life.

We've seen bits and pieces of Howard's television show as we flip through television stations. It really is the lowest form of entertainment.

Howard Stern had it all at one time. He has talent and intelligence. He even had a very funny movie called Private Parts in which he portrayed himself as a husband who resisted all temptation to cheat on Alison and claimed his love for her. He appeared to be committed to a marriage for life.

Howard Stern's ratings have slipped in the past year. Now, with the firing of "Opie and Anthony", he should hear the bell go off and see the red flag: the reign of shock jocks on radio is coming to a close. And the crown of "The King of All Media" is beginning to slip.


August 23rd, 2002

Is Nothing Sacred Anymore?

On the top of this page we at Nippies have a statement: Nothing is sacred here at Nippies, except the sacred.

We hold many things sacred. One on them is Saint Patrick's Cathedral in New York City. Unfortunately, WNEW radio (New York City) shock jocks Greg Hughes and Anthony Cumia of the "Opie and Anthony" show did not. Last week the smutty pair aired an eyewitness account of a Virginia couple who were allegedly copulating in the vestibule of the cathedral only a few feet from worshiping Catholics who were attending a Mass for the Feast of the Assumption. (This day is a very holy day for Catholics. They are obligated to attend Mass to mark the day Mary, the mother of Jesus, ascended bodily into heaven.)

Reportedly, the couple from Virginia were Loretta Harper and Brian Florence. They were participating in a contest held by Opie and Anthony which rewards points to listeners who have sex in public places. The Virginia pair, along with a producer from the popular radio show who was giving a report of the action via a cell phone, was arrested.

We are all for fun here at Nippies. But Opie and Anthony seem to have lost their humor compass. What exactly is so funny about two adults acting like animals in heat in God's house? It seems in their quest to become more and more outrageous in order to "shock", the two former employees of WNEW - and we say former because the pair were fired and the show cancelled - have gone past the point of no return.

Kudos to WNEW, Viacom, Infinity network, and whatever and whoever pulled the plug on these two. As Pete Fornatale, a disk jockey from the days when WNEW was the leading local outlet for rock music (according to the New York Daily News) said upon hearing that Opie and Anthony got the ax: "Good riddance to bad garbage..."


August 22nd, 2002

Hold Onto That Old Whatever

How fickle are we humans. We at Nippies make this observation in reference to the relatively modern craze of antique collecting.

The home in which we live is now over one hundred years old. It's an old Victorian that has been passed down through four generations. No one who has ever lived here has ever been wealthy, but, had we a crystal ball and held onto some of the possessions that were tossed during the transition of occupants from generation to generation, some of us could have been much better off financially.

Some of the things that were sent to the dump: a Tiffany hanging lampshade that once hung over the dining room table of our greatgrandmother, Alice. An old coal stove that our own grandmother cooked on until the mid-sixties. There were also antique perfume bottles, curio cabinets, gilded picture frames, irons (not electrical ones but the type that you heated on top of the coal stove), depression glass, real lace tableclothes, and many more items that we've since learned would now be quite valuable.

The items we have just mentioned are just those that were tossed in the late 1960s when our grandmother, who was the second generation to live here, moved out to live with our own mother, who was the third!. Mercifully, we have no recollection of what went out the window throughout the first half of the twentieth century when the first purge of "old junk", as these items were then called, took place!

We do, however, possess a vivid recollection of another housecleaning circa 1975, which involved the mutual dejunking of our own childhood home as well as the ancestral homestead, where my mother and father were now going to move. This time our brother's set of Mickey Mantle baseball cards went to the dump. Little brother had perhaps dozens of Mickey's cards because the Yankees were his particular favorites. So many, in fact, that he used to place some of them inbetween the spokes of his "banana bike" so he could hear that "rickety-rickety-rickety" sound as he pedaled away at demon speed. His set of Topps cards filled several shoeboxes and also included Roger Maris, Yogi Berra, and other baseball greats of the 1950s and 1960s.

A partial list of other memorable - and now valuable - items include Jenny Lind dolls, Flintstone jelly glasses, a handmade "rag doll" that once was our mother's, antique radios, and jewelry. (Some of our possessions, such as the rag doll and jewelry, were thrown out by mistake...there were so many boxes to be sorted and so many helping hands!)

Oh, we could go on and on. But every family has the same story to tell, don't they? We've all had items at one time or another that now pop up on cable antique shows bearing appraisals in the four and five digit range and which bring on temporary attacks of angina and indigeston fueled by regret and 20/20 hindsight.

Take comfort, dear readers, in this thought: what would your home look like if you were the custodian of four or five generations of family "junk"? You'd have to live in a mansion the size of Mar-a-Lago, and even then the stuff would be piled to the ceiling! Not to mention that you, your mother, and your grandmother would have had a full time job just dusting off all the family heirlooms inbetween, of course, running to the door to greet antique dealers bearing fistfuls of cash!

Of course, if that thought isn't comforting to you, you can always start stockpiling the "future antiques" now. Hang onto that avocado-green stove that just kicked the bucket after thirty years of loyal service. Store it in the backyard and when your neighbors complain just tell them you'll split the loot you're going to make on it in twenty or thirty years! Keep your old Corningwear dishes, curling irons, and white ceramic duck and other odds and ends from your "country phase" of the late 80s. Pack away those Ninja Turtles dolls, the Magna Doodles, and the dozen tap shoes your daughter has gone through in twelve years of dance lessons. Not to mention, don't throw away your old Tandy laptop, if you haven't already done so! Because you don't have a crystal ball and can't know which of these items, and several other hundred like them, will be on an antique show in the year 2025.

Excuse us. We have to go clean!


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