|For October 10, 2001 "You are a bold and courageous person, afraid of nothing." - Vol. II No. XI published every other Wednesday|
Tuscaloosa() Reports of a mysterious crimson-clad figure sighted during Penn State and Florida State football games this season have fueled speculation that legendary football coach Paul "Bear" Bryant may be protecting his record of 323 victories from beyond the grave. Having entered the season with 322 wins, Penn State coach Joe "Jopa" Paterno can tie Bryant's record with his first victory. That victory has not been forthcoming, however, as the Nittany Lions have opened the season with four straight losses. While many have attributed these losses to an inexperienced offense and critical injuries on defense, others are becoming convinced that supernatural forces may be at work. "If it was just Paterno's team losing, I could believe that," said college football expert and junction boy Ernest "Ernie" McGarrett, "but when you look at the inexplicable defeat of powerful Florida State by North Carolina two weeks ago, keeping Bobby Bowden at 314 wins, you have to believe something is amiss." McGarett's suspicions seem to be bolstered by reports coming from football fans who claim to have seen a mysterious figure in a houndstooth hat standing near the goalposts before Penn State and FSU games. Paterno laughs off such speculation saying that he has a good team which has just experienced "some tough luck this year." Bobby Bowden, a long-time devotee of Coach Bryant since his days at Howard (now Samford) University in Birmingham, is similarly dismissive. "I'll admit, I sometimes get a little wave of apprehension when I glance at his picture in my office, but to think Coach Bryant is anywhere but up in heaven with Our Lord is just hogwash." An unnamed Florida State athletics official has indicated that the head coach's office has been searched twice this year in search of the source of a faint smell of Jim Beam. No explanation has been found. Paterno's Lions face twentieth-ranked Northwestern this weekend in Evanston after an off week during which no mention was made of Bear Bryant or the coaching record. Likewise, Bowden has kept his team off limits to the media and is reported to have made a personal trip to Elmwood Cemetary in his home town for unspecified reasons.
Talladega() The most popular truck decal at Talladega this weekend definitely involves Calvin pissing. Only this time he isn't pissing on Jeff Gordon or Tony Stewart, but suspected terrorist mastermind Usama Bin-Laden. Never before have NASCAR fans been so united. "I think this sends a strong message to the terrorists," said longtime Ricky Rudd fan Donna Griffin. "For the first time I can remember, there are more American flags here this weekend than rebel flags." Many more fans share Griffin's sentiment. "I would love to take my truck over there and ride all over some Taliban ass," said Dale Jr. fan Curtis Poole. Given the size of Poole's monster truck, the idea does not sound all that farfetched. The truck's rear window is almost completely covered by a huge sticker of Calvin pissing on Bin-Laden, and an American flag flies from a pole mounted on the trailer hitch. "Just let us over there with a fleet of monster trucks and we will root out all of those chicken [expletive deleted] bastards," said Poole. The unusual race weekend harmony did not last long however. On Saturday morning a commotion broke out in the free campground when someone changed the radio station in Poole's truck during a Hank Williams Jr. song. It appeared to be only a mistake, but the non-partisan tone of the weekend was ended just the same.
Sloss Furnace() "Fifteen bucks for a damn haunted house," was the sentiment expressed by local teen Mindy Pittman. Her response to the fourth annual Sloss Fright Furnace was typical of the reactions recorded by 'Hamster staffers on a recent Thursday evening. "They've turned this thing into a freakin' carnival or something," said Josh Parker. "They keep charging more every year, but it doesn't get any scarier. What do they think this is, City Stages?" Indeed, many more features have been added to this year's Fright Furnace. The haunted trail now features a three dimensional projection room that is supposed to scare people, but seems more like a failed technological gimmick. The menu of food available has also been expanded in an effort to make more money from the patrons trapped in the waiting area. But apparently the menu still leaves something to be desired. "If they are going to make us wait two hours in the cold just to see this lame ass show, the least they could do is have some fried pies," said Parker. The movie selection on the giant screen also seems somewhat uninspired. "I thought they were going to show scary movies to get us in the mood," said Pittman. "I was expecting Suspiria and Halloween, but instead we got Scream and Scream II." While most patrons agreed that the Fright Furnace concept was very cool, not many thought it was actually scary. "They promised on the radio that it would be really scary," said Parker. "In fact they said no one would survive the experience. But I tell you, seeing my girlfriend get her navel pierced was a lot scarier than Fright Furnace." Organizers in fact wanted to make things more realistic, but the use of live ammunition and cow's blood was seen as simply too risky. Besides the fact that they were not scared, most furnace visitors still thought it was cool to have something to do in Birmingham. "Last year we drove all the way from southside to Calera to see a judgment house," said Parker. "That was really freaky and scary in a whole different way. I would much rather come here than go through that again."