Friday, June 24


Customs officers in Arizona seized a package of heroin that was being smuggled *inside* a larger block of cocaine.

"This appears to be the first ever report of concealing heroin bricks inside cocaine bricks. It is postulated that this unusual concealment technique was utilized to deceive mid-level transporters, who charge higher rates for heroin shipments versus cocaine shipments."

From the DEA's always entertaining "Microgram Bulletin," a compendium of new smuggling techniques.

Tuesday, June 21

Pansoti al sugo di noci

A trip to the Cinque Terre last week brought me, my wife and two friends to one of my new all-time favorite restaurants: A Cantina de Mananan, in the tiny cliffside town of Corniglia.

Corniglia is in the midpoint of the five Italian towns that make up Le Cinque Terre, and it is by far the least touristy and crowded.

The other four towns, while beautiful, feel a bit like they only exist to be seen by tourists, but Corniglia has a life of its own -- families strolling around the village at midnight on a Saturday, kids riding their bikes down the immense hill that leads down to the train station, and a bus driver bringing groceries back up the hill to his wife.

We spent our days hiking from one town to the next. Some of the hikes are pretty intense 2-hour affairs that left us more than a little exhausted. But in the end, all those calories gave us ample metabolic reasons and moral justification to stuff our faces at Cantina, which we did almost every night of our trip.

The restaurant is tiny, with only about 9 tables that definitely need to be booked in advance, if only by a few hours.

The first night, we spent an hour or two watching the sunset from our hotel terrace across the way, then crowded into the cozy dining room.

Cinque Terre being a series of isolated fishing villages, the seafood was the first thing up. We shared a massive bowl spaghetti al mare, with pounds and pounds of mussels, clams, shrimp, squid, octopi and langoustines.

Then my friend Catherine and I each had a bowl of mussels, while her boyfriend Ed and my wife Kelly opted for rabbit and beef, respectively.

Too full for dessert, we lounged for another hour over grappa, biscotti and coffee. By the time we rolled out it was midnight -- we had been eating for more than 3-1/2 hours.

Two nights later we were back. This time we had a pre-dinner drink at the wine bar next door, and when we walked in we were ready for business.

Ed and I had the best food of the whole trip. Pansôti al sugo di noci: beautiful handmade ravioli filled with herbs and ricotta, and covered in a delicate, tasty walnut sauce. My salivary glands are in overdrive as I remember it.

When dinner was over (after I sucked in the gut and ordered walnut cake for dessert), we chatted a while with the owner. She found out we were from London and mentioned the River Cafe as her favorite place to eat. We all swooned. She was friendly and seemed to love talking with people who were enthusiastic about food -- and after a meal at her restaurant, who wouldn't be?

Link to more pictures from the trip.
Link to additional mentions of Cantina de Mananan.

Monday, June 6

Headline of the Day: "Suspicious package was fake* foot-long plastic penis"

The News-Press of Southwest Florida reports:
The "suspicious package" that caused Interstate 75 and Daniels Parkway to be shut for more than an hour Monday was not an explosive pipe bomb — but rather wrapped-up plastic foot-long penis.
"Someone took construction-grade plastic, molded it into a penis and wrapped it with duct tape," said Lee County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Charles Ferrante.
But who? And, more importantly, why?!
"They wrote ‘Happy Father’s Day’ on the duct tape," Ferrante added.
Well, that explains it.

The hour-long delay was exacerbated when the item in question was initially described as a prosthetic penis (!) but later downsized to "a paper sculpture made to look like a penis."

And it just keeps getting better:
Deputies eventually arrived and alerted the bomb squad, which used a robot to disable the cylinder.
Can you imagine everyone's faces when they realised what they were dealing with? Sometimes, just sometimes, I wish I was a local news reporter. Somebody call the Pulitzer committee...

*I hate to quibble with such an inspired headline, but I have to say that "fake" is redundant in this context.

Ready to Lie

The FBI informant who accused Suge Knight and a now-disgraced LAPD detective of orchestrating the murder of the Notorious B.I.G. has now admitted that he made up most of the allegations.
"The informant, questioned under oath in a civil lawsuit, also admitted that his identification of the alleged gunman was fraudulent. He described himself as a paranoid schizophrenic," the LA Times reported.

One potential clue that the informant may have been less than reliable?

He was known to the police as "Psycho Mike."

Monkey Steals the Peach

Instructions for a martial arts "upward groin slap" that sounds innocuous until you get to the last sentence, in which the user "effectively rips away the genitals," causing death from "massive blood loss."

Bad Monkey!

Surveilling Plaza George Orwell

Friday, June 3

Rusty the Narcoleptic Dog

A subject near and dear to my idiopathic hypersomniac heart. That means I get sleepy and no one is really sure why, but it's usually just easier to say I have narcolepsy.

"Rusty is a dachshund with narcolepsy. The condition causes him to fall asleep while he's trying to do other things."

Maybe he needs some puppy Provigil.

Deep Throat: The Memories

Stephen Colbert, reminiscing about Watergate, harkens back to when he was an "8-year-old cub reporter for the old UPI syndicate":

Colbert: "Hell of a summer. I'll never forget the bustle in the newsroom, the smell of the cherry blossoms, banging Helen Thomas at the top of the Washington Monument. My parents thought I was at fat camp.

"For those of us who covered Watergate, revelations of Deep Throat's identities bring back a lot of happy memories."

John Stewart: "Happy memories? But Stephen, Watergate for many is considered to be the death of our national innocence."

Colbert: "Yes, John, that wonderful time when our nation's innocence was alive to be killed.