- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 28, 2008

Sometimes I think New Year’s Day was made a holiday by calendar makers eager to celebrate another year of business.

•••


There was a recent report about a pilot flying from Cardiff, Wales, to Paris who was forced to tell his passengers that he wasn’t qualified to land the plane.

You see, Paris was shrouded in fog at the time, and although he had 30 years of flying experience, he wasn’t qualified to land in fog. So he turned the plane around and headed back to Cardiff.

That’s honest and a good safety precaution.

Still, it’s not something that you want to hear as a airline passenger at 25,000 feet: “Attention, passengers. We are now approaching Paris, and I see that I am not qualified to land there. So we’ll be turning around and heading back to Cardiff, and if you’re lucky, I will be qualified to land there.”

It reminds me of a game my son and I play. We try to come up with the “worst” thing a driver could say to you when you’re a passenger. Here are some of our favorites:

“Great! Now the sleeping pills decide to kick in.”

“Technically, this is not my car. Technically, I’m not allowed to drive. Technically, you’re now an accomplice.”

“Did you just see that unicorn?”

“Would you believe I’ve never had a driving lesson? Or even gotten a license? Not bad for a one-eyed drunk, huh?”

“Where am I? What is this thing? Who are you?”

“It’s called narcolepsy, and it only affects me when I … zzzzz”

“If the cops pull us over, run! Don’t look back!”

“Which one is the brake again?”

“My hysterical blindness is acting up again. You be my eyes for me.”

Now we can add: “I’m not qualified to stop this vehicle.”

•••


I read in Variety that Eddie Murphy has been signed to play the Riddler in the next Batman movie, which is due to be released in 2010.

Hmm.

Lord knows Eddie Murphy needs a hit, and a Batman movie is about as close as anyone can get to a sure thing in Hollywood. And he’s got a good laugh for the role of the Riddler.

Still, I’m a little shaky on casting him. I’m a big fan of the revitalized Batman movies, and I’m an old fan of Eddie Murphy.

But after stinkers such as “Meet Dave,” “Norbit,” “The Klumps,”“The Haunted Mansion,” “The Nutty Professor,” “Daddy Day Care,” “I Spy,” “The Adventures of Pluto Nash,” “Dr. Doolittle,” “Showtime,” “Dr. Doolittle 2,” “Life,” “A Vampire in Brooklyn,” “Metro,” “Holy Man” — I just forgot what I was talking about.

•••


Every holiday has its particular traditions, and one of those for New Year’s leaves me puzzled: You’re supposed to kiss someone at midnight as the new year begins.

No other holiday requires you to kiss anybody not Mother’s Day, not Father’s Day, not even Valentine’s Day. Oh, it’s implied that kissing will occur on those days, but it’s not a mandate.

How did New Year’s get the lip-lock requirement?

I think it just adds to the stress of the holiday season. “Let’s see, I’ve bought all the presents, I’ve decorated the house, I’ve prepared the meals, I’ve thrown the parties, I’ve sung the songs — now I’ve got to find somebody to kiss? Man, does this never end?”

•••


We like to think that we Americans take our politics seriously. But other countries REALLY take their politics seriously.

A real fight broke out among South Korean lawmakers recently when opposition party members tried to break into a closed-door committee meeting.

Now this is the kind of thing we should see more of in Congress.

Politicians could run on the issues — and on their weight class and knockout records.

They could adopt colorful nicknames, like “Filibuster Buster” and “Cloture Clobberer.”

And the trash talk would be more lively and frank: “Will the distinguished gentleman from Alabama please yield the floor before I clean his clock?”

•••


Have you heard of Bernard Madoff? He’s the former chairman of the NASDAQ stock exchange who now is accused of bilking $50 billion from hundreds of people and organizations — the biggest alleged fraud in U.S. history.

He’s been placed under house arrest — in his $7 million apartment on Park Avenue.

What do you have to do to go to jail around here? Justice may be blind, but does she have to be deaf, mute and a slow learner too?

Soon after he was placed on house arrest, someone decided that ol’ Bernie might be 1.) a flight risk and 2.) in danger of being harmed by one of his alleged victims.

So a private security firm has been hired to provide him 24-hour protection as he remains under house arrest in his $7 million apartment on Park Place.

It seems a bit wasteful but is necessary, I suppose.

If only there were a place the feds could put him to ensure he didn’t run away and nobody would hurt him.

You know, a facility that is already in use so that no extra expenses would be incurred. A place that already has a lot of guards.

If only such a place existed.

•••


NASA is planning to sell its three space shuttles when that program is mothballed in 2010.

The cost of each shuttle will likely be $42 million, plus $6 million for shipping and handling.

I don’t know about this. I thought I saw a space shuttle for sale on Craigslist for only $30 million, and that included shipping and handling.

The plan is to sell the shuttles to museums, but you know there’s going to be some eccentric millionaire or billionaire who’s going to want one for himself. And fly it over your back yard. Geez!

If I had a space shuttle, I’d probably drive it to work. Not fly it, drive it — on the highway. That would one-up all those cocky SUV drivers! “Now who’s hogging the road?”

Read Carleton Bryant’s daily humor blog at http://washington times.com/weblogs/out-context/

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