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VOL. 129 | NO. 100 | Thursday, May 22, 2014

Vic Fleming

Eye-Catching Reads

By Vic Fleming

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“I will not be venomous!” This is what I imagined to be the mantra of the reptile written about in Frankie Frisco’s “Second thoughts” sports column in the May 10 Arkansas Democrat-Gazette: “A Spurs official said the snake was determined to be non-poisonous ….”

Don’t look for snakes, Spurs, or Frisco in this week’s I Swear Crossword. I gave it a title because the two longest answers are related. But the puzzle is technically themeless. An unthemed puzzle, I thought, allows me to write about whatever I wish. My way of saying, “On deadline and got nuthin.’”

When those factors coalesce, I open the paper. I look for incongruities, especially those that may have been overlooked by writers and editors. I look for cleverness in writing, especially by columnists. And, last but hardly least, I look for unusual facts, regardless of how they’re written up.

The rest of the reptilian saga has to do with a Portland Trailblazer finding a small black-and-white snake in his locker before a playoff game in San Antonio. Black and white being the home team’s colors, a rumor emerged that one of the Spurs collects snakes. You can figure the rest.

In the same column, Frisco reported that Johnny Manziel, who was without an NFL home after 21 rounds of the draft, was picked by Cleveland for a reason that could not be guessed. ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio reported that Browns owner Jimmy Haslam said, “I was out to dinner recently. A homeless person was out on the street. He looked up at me and said, ‘Draft Manziel.’”

In an article reprinted from the Washington Post, William Wan reports that in China, many would-be parents are scheduling C-sections for this calendar year. For 2014 is the Year of the Horse. Babies born in such a year grow up to be leaders, according to superstition. Few superstitious sorts, it seems, want to have a child in 2015, “the dreaded Year of the Sheep.” Those babies would be destined to be passive, loyal and generous.

Chinese medical officials do what they can to dissuade people from believing in superstitions. What really caught my eye in this article, though, was the self-described feng shui master who, for $500, will help pick the right hour before the end of the year to schedule your C-section. For an added $130, he’ll recommend a lucky name for your baby. And for $3,000, yes, he’ll rearrange your furniture.

Then there’s my friend Frank Fellone, who, in his “Drivetime Mahatma” column, was asked why vanity plates cost $25 per year, rather than being subject to a one-time charge. He began his reply with, “We peppered the Office of Motor Vehicles with questions. We were peppered with answers by administrator Roger Duren.” The final answer to the query? “Because the legislature said so.”

I’m going to send Frank a note and tell him that when I pepper someone with questions, I’m usually salted with answers. Or is it assaulted?

Vic Fleming is a district court judge in Little Rock, Ark., where he also teaches at the William H. Bowen School of Law. Contact him at vicfleming@att.net.

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