TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 6
Archana Ganta, a sweet and indefatigable—did I spell that right?—sixth-grader at Dartmouth Middle School, wins the Hemet Unified School District’s 30th annual spelling bee. After 40 rounds that stretched across an entire day, split into two sections conducted in two different venues, 11-year-old Archana finally achieves her victory by correctly spelling “lazuline.” When’s somebody gonna tell the kid she coulda just hit the “spell check” button? Then again, that wouldn’t have helped in the case of “lazuline,” which shows up as a misspelled word when typed on my computer—which suggests substituting “gasoline.” Of course, that wouldn’t do, inasmuch as “lazuline” is not a fuel at all, but sounds to me like a rodeo term—a French rodeo term—that refers to the length of rope that extends from the cowboy’s hands until it passes through the knot that forms the loop, or lasso . . . or as I can imagine the French pronouncing it, “lazu.” Meanwhile, Kristine Stitson, a 13-year-old eighth-grader at Acacia Middle School, finishes second when she goofs up the word “larghetto,” which is surprising, because it’s spelled exactly the way it sounds—okay, without the “h,” maybe, but otherwise—and I’m certain means exactly what anybody who lives in a vast, poor neighborhood thinks it would. Third and fourth places go to Christopher Malandrinos of Cottonwood School and Ramakrishnan Kumaran of Jacob Wiens Elementary. Fortunately, neither boy was asked to spell his own name.
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 7
People all around the IE pick up their morning papers and read the agonizing story of a wallaby that escaped from somebody’s backyard Tuesday and wandered around a Fontana neighborhood for an hour and a half until animal control officers captured him. It was painful tale to read. Not because anything happened to the wallaby. It was captured without a problem and safely cared for until its owner—apparently out of town—could be found and notified. No, the agony came in the way that everybody involved with this mildly interesting incident—from the animal control officers to newspaper reporters and editors—couldn’t resist indulging in the lamest forms of humor. Some douche nicknames the escaped pet Walter the Wallaby . . . because, you know, “Walter” begins with a “W”—just like wallaby! A reporter describes the wallaby as “wary” . . . because, you know, well, for the very same reason! An animal control officer reports that the wallaby was “hopping mad” . . . because, you know, wallabies hop! Me? I preferred the story about how the Indio city council is considering a possible moratorium on medical-marijuana dispensaries until it works the zoning issues out . . . because, you know, “zoning out” is kind of the issue when it comes to smoking marijuana.
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 8
The myth of the American melting pot is exposed again as many residents of Chino Hills begin to voice their objections to news that a large Asian-oriented supermarket is coming to town. A Ranch 99 Market is slated to replace a vacated Ralph’s market, and some people are horrified that aisles filled with seafood and produce from Asia will attract human beings with Asian roots, too. Uhhh, excuse me . . . they’ve already arrived. U.S. Census figures show that the Asian population of Chino Hills has risen from 22 percent to 39 percent between 2000 and 2005. The Ranch 99 Market is simply following the capitalist model—finding demand and satisfying it with supply. In some places, that’s considered American. Apparently not in America, though—where those same census figures show that Asian-Americans’ median annual household income of $61,094 is higher than any group in the country.
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 9
The dude who tried to sneak a couple of leopard kittens from Thailand into the country five years ago by hiding them in his backpack basically compares it to trying to help a buddy score some pussy. Chris Edward Mulloy, 40, of Palm Springs, tells a judge that he carried the kittens through customs as a favor for a friend. Even as Mulloy is sentenced to probation and ordered to pay a $5,000 fine, however, his lame excuse still pales in comparison to what the other guy tried to get away with—smuggling two pygmy monkeys by stuffing them down his pants. Now that will get you laid!
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 10
On our way out to Death Valley to get an early start on Valentine’s Day—hey, you celebrate love your way, I’ll celebrate it mine—we stop in Baker for what’s pretty much the only reason to stop in Baker: to grab a bite at that hamburger stand beneath the huge thermometer off Interstate 15. It’s our first visit since the world famous Bun Boy restaurant became the world famouser Bob’s Big Boy a few months ago, and while we’re not exactly the kind of people who like things to change, the tradeoff between two historic hamburger flippers seemed to shape up as relatively harmless. Unfortunately, that was before we ate the sad, lukewarm and tasteless excuses for what are passed off as Bob’s legendary double-decker hamburger and fries, and now there is no reason to stop in Baker anymore.
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 11
We watch the 49th Grammy Awards Show on a motel TV located near the lowest point in the western hemisphere. Somehow, that fits.
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 12
It dawns on us that out of the gazillion acts that have signed on to perform at either the Coachella Music and Art Festival from April 27-29 or the Stagecoach Festival from May 5-6, only one was honored at the Grammys—the Red Hot Chili Peppers. We take it as a good sign.