Saturday, June 28, 2003

Eminem Dangles Doll in Jackson Imitation

The real Slim Shady stood up and made fun of Michael Jackson by dangling a baby doll over a hotel balcony.

Rapper Eminem also wore a surgical mask over his face Tuesday in an obvious swipe at Jackson, who dangled his baby, Prince Michael II, over a balcony railing in Berlin in November.

Eminem, who was staying at the Art House Hotel in Glasgow, went further than Jackson by tossing the doll into the air and catching it.

"Empersonator," said a headline in the Daily Mirror tabloid, which published three photos. The New York Post's front page blared: "Oh baby! Eminem does his best Jacko."

Scotland's Daily Record tabloid said the incident occurred as fans and photographers gathered outside the hotel before Eminem's concert in the city Tuesday.

Eminem, whose nickname is Slim Shady, is on a British tour but has kept a low-profile between shows.

The Daily Record said he took over 50 rooms at the hotel for his entourage.

Pfizer, Tea Company Fight Over'Joyagra'

Joytime Herbs uses whimsical names such as Joyslim, Joyawake and Joysleep, meant to mirror the effects of its teas.

But Pfizer isn't a bit happy with the Minneapolis company and its owner, Philip Jegede, for the name of a tea he introduced five months ago.

The pharmaceutical company filed a lawsuit June 18 in federal court in Minneapolis claiming Joyagra tea - which Jegede says "helps with sexual energy for men and women" - infringes and dilutes its trademark on Viagra, the popular anti-impotency drug.

"There is a possibility of causing confusion in the minds of men who use Viagra because the Joyagra tea bags are being marketed and sold as the No. 1 performance enhancement tea," said Pfizer spokesman Daniel Watts.

Pfizer is asking the court to prohibit Jegede from marketing the tea under the Joyagra name and is seeking damages.

Joyagra tea, already one of the company's best sellers, is sold for $11.99 for 25 bags and marketed to individuals and health food stores across the country, Jegede said. Joytime has a Web site called that promotes and sells the tea, and contains testimonials.

Unlike Viagra, the tea isn't a drug. Jegede said the herbal tea is made from only natural ingredients.

Jegede said he will not stop selling Joyagra, and said Pfizer is a bully trying to put a small operator - his work force has ranged from two to seven workers - out of business.

He likened his situation to a trademark suit that reached the U.S. Supreme Court. In that case, Victoria's Secret sued a Kentucky sex toy shop called Victor's Little Secret. The high court ruled in March that the similar name wasn't sufficient to hurt the image of Victoria's Secret.

Japanese Hot-Dog Champ Devours Opponents

For most of the last 87 years, the Fourth of July hot-dog eating contest in Coney Island was typically an all-American feast: Oversized born-in-the-U.S.A. guys, clad in XXL T-shirts, gobbling all-beef franks as the world watched in ... well, revulsion. Gulp. Say sayonara to those days.

There's a new world order in the dog-eat-hot-dog world of competitive eating. For five of the last six years, when the smoke from the grill cleared at the landmark Nathan's wiener stand, the winner was ... a diminutive Japanese man.

Led by two-time defending champion Takeru Kobayashi, a mere 5-foot-7 and 130 pounds with a 30-inch waist, Japanese eaters are dominating the holiday contest. The Japanese media covers Kobayashi like he was Elvis and Coney Island was Graceland; the Fourth of July now looms as a big day in both Nagano and New York.

Kobayashi's 100 mph style of eating - snapping the dogs in half, a move dubbed "The Solomon Method" - earned him the nickname "Tsunami." He's yet to swallow a finger, although it certainly seems possible.

Adding insult to indigestion, Kobayashi is an overwhelming favorite to keep the mustard-yellow belt symbolic of gastronomic supremacy in the land of the rising bun. No one has come close to the 50 1/2 franks that he inhaled in 12 minutes last year.

"This is one of the most American foods, in a most American place, on an American holiday," said Rich Shea, spokesman for the contest. "So why can't an American win?"

Why, indeed? Once upon a frank, the Americans ate up the competition - the first-ever winner was Jim Mullen, a local hero, back in 1916. Where did it all go wrong?

No one knows for sure, but there are theories.

- The "Jack Sprat" theory: Although it seems contradictory, the scrawny Kobayashi's physique serves him better than the 6-foot-4, 400-pound frame of U.S. hopeful Eric "Badlands" Booker.

"My guess is when you're 130 pounds, you have more room for the stomach to expand and accommodate the hot dogs in a single sitting," said Samantha Heller, senior nutritionist at the New York University Medical Center.

"You're better able to handle ... the whole gorging process," she opined, stifling a laugh.

- The "Zen and Now" theory: While the American eaters are content to hang around Coney Island in the hours before the eat-off, Kobayashi returns to his hotel room and meditates.

"He pictures himself winning," Shea said. "He tries to envision himself with the mustard-yellow belt."

- Finally, there's "The Fridge" theory: Who knows, but pass the franks.

"I don't know nothing about it," said William "The Refrigerator" Perry, the ex-Chicago Bears star who will join this year's fray. "I'm just going in to have fun."

Perry, who is currently the size of three Kobayashis, is a long shot to salve the pride of the American chowhounds. Booker, a New York subway conductor who downed 30 dogs earlier this year, is the best hope.

The Japanese dominance dates to 1997, when Hirofumi Nakajima defeated Ed Krachie in the annual eat-off. He duplicated the effort next year.

After New Jersey's Steve Keiner briefly restored America's hot-dog chowing supremacy in 1999, the Japanese came on stronger than ever. A new star, Kazutoyo "The Rabbit" Arai, emerged and chomped his way to victory in 2000. (Japan took the top three spots that year.)

Win, lose or draw, nutritionist Heller has a suggestion for all the competitors.

"They should try tofu dogs," she said.

Colorado Boy Hooks Stolen Charity Money

An 11-year-old fisherman reeled in a big catch that had nothing to do with the crayfish he was looking for.

Devonte Martinez hooked a stolen bank bag holding nearly $2,000 in soaked checks written to the Imagine Foundation charity. He noticed two other bank bags in Coal Creek and reeled them in, too. They were empty.

"I thought someone accidentally lost the bags out the window of a car," Devonte said Tuesday. "I know what it feels like; I once lost $2 when I was riding to the video game store."

The June 9 catch was taken to Boulder County authorities, who said the bags had been stolen the night before from a Boulder restaurant where Imagine had held a fund-raiser. The thief apparently took the cash - about $2,600 - and threw away the rest.

Members of the foundation, which provides services and housing for people with developmental disabilities, thanked Devonte with a fleece vest and food and entertainment coupons, and the restaurant gave him Martinez a gift certificate as well.

Investigators say they have no suspects in the theft.

Nude Photos Upset N.J. Dem. Officials

County Democratic officials want a state Senate candidate to quit the race over a nude photo contest he entered, but Jim Morrison says he's in to stay.

"If people want to know about it, they should know I won the contest," the 32-year-old attorney said.

Sussex County Democratic Party Chairman Charles Cart said Morrison does not reflect northwestern New Jersey's conservative values, and the party already has a hard enough time competing in an area where Republicans outnumber Democrats 3-to-1.

"It's not like you do it when you're an adolescent and you feel like you did something wrong. It's like, `Hey, I won that contest and it's cool,'" Cart said.

Morrison, a partner in his parents' law firm, has gotten national attention in the past. He was a runner-up on ABC-TV's reality show "The Mole" in early 2001. That same year, Morrison was named one of People magazine's "50 Most Eligible Bachelors."

He posed for nude pictures while he was a law school student, and in 1996 twice entered a photo contest in New York City that featured nudity.

He called the photo contest about "as bad as a wet T-shirt contest."

"I don't shy away or back away from who I am, because I think that's the kind of person voters want," Morrison said.

Chicken Up for Adoption After Stunt

A chicken that was strapped to 100 helium balloons and sent skyward last weekend in a stunt is resting these days at the city's animal shelter as people vie to adopt it.

The chicken, nicknamed Amelia, was rescued Saturday after getting tangled in power lines. A police marksman shot the balloons with a pellet gun to bring Amelia down to safety.

Authorities said they have yet to identify the prankster, who was apparently imitating an ad that recently aired on a local TV station. The ad has since been pulled.

"This is a great chicken, a friendly chicken, a chicken that is ready for a relationship," said Kat Brown, deputy director of the shelter.

Bus Shelters Placed Where No Buses Run... good move

City officials in Mesa have mistakenly installed two bus shelters where no buses run.

The installation cost $32,000 at a time when the city is cutting its public transit budget to save money.

Both are on Broadway Road and were installed as part of a $7.7 million improvement project finished about a year ago.

Although there is bus service on part of the road, buses turn before reaching the shelters.

"It slipped through all of us and didn't get caught until after the fact," said Jeff Kramer, Mesa's deputy engineer for design.

Kramer told the East Valley Tribune that the shelter locations weren't reviewed in advance by the transportation department because they were a small part of a complex road project.

And although the shelters have signs posted saying no buses pass by, people still wait.

"We see people there daily waiting for a bus until they notice the sign is there and they realize it's not a working bus stop," said Rene Scharber.

New York Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. told a journalism conference Friday that the paper needs to make itself more open and accountable to its readers in the wake of the Jayson Blair plagiarism scandal.

Speaking to a capacity audience, Sulzberger also defended the Times' record on diversity and said race did not play a role in the Blair saga, which exposed deep problems in the newsroom and ultimately led to the resignations of the top two editors.

Sulzberger was speaking on a panel at the annual convention of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. He was joined by Alberto Ibarguen, publisher of The Miami Herald, and other journalism executives and experts.

Blair, who is black, was fired for fabricating material and plagiarizing from other newspapers. He had been promoted to senior assignments despite concerns about his work, leading to charges of favoritism.

The Blair incident "gave voice to underlying concerns about how the newsroom was managed," Sulzberger said. "This was not about a single reporter, and about whether that reporter was black, white or anything else."

Sulzberger said diversity was a top goal for the Times, and he noted that numerous editors and reporters were Hispanic. But he also said the paper could use more Hispanic journalists, and he encouraged those in the room to apply.

"Diversity is a strategic goal, because we're going to die on the vine if we are no longer producing news reports that our increasingly diverse readership ... demands of us," Sulzberger said.

Sulzberger, Ibarguen and other members of the panel also acknowledged the need for greater training of newsroom managers as a way to make newspapers better places to work. "We have tyrants in the newsroom ... and they shouldn't be there," said Ernie Sotomayor, president of UNITY: Journalists of Color.

Macarena Hernandez, a reporter for the San Antonio Express-News whose story Blair plagiarized, said she was troubled by the number of mistakes other journalists made in reporting about her. "The media is very scary," she said.

Asked about the Times' own attitudes toward corrections, Sulzberger said the paper still needs to take steps to ensure greater accountability to its readers. He said the question of hiring an ombudsman was among the options being discussed.

"We have got to find new ways of making our system open, and that's true not just for The New York Times, but for every newspaper," Sulzberger said.

"We are enormously powerful, and we are very scary. And we only know that when actually we've been covered," Sulzberger said. "How do we open ourselves up, make ourselves more accessible and make ourselves more accountable? We've got to do it."

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