Sunday, February 14, 1999

News bulletin: Time to laugh - if you can

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        I try to take the news very seriously. Honestly I do. Some days it's harder than others. This whole week has been a challenge, beginning with Tinky Winky.

        No doubt I should be outraged at the Rev. Jerry Falwell, who outed the purple Teletubby in his National Liberty Journal. But it is difficult to consider this news story with a straight face. So to speak.

Notify the fashion police
        “The character, whose voice is obviously that of a boy, has been found carrying a red purse in many episodes and has become a favorite character among gay groups worldwide,” Mr. Falwell wrote.

        A friend says he thinks the purse is actually Tinky's organizer. A PBS official claims it's a magic bag. Of course, the real issue is that somebody would go around carrying a red purse with a purple outfit.

        Perhaps Mr. Falwell can refer this crime to the fashion police.

        There are, really, more pressing matters for him to address. Such as why Bert and Ernie share a bedroom. Such as why Donald Duck does not wear pants with his sailor suit. Such as the parentage of Sweet Pea.

        Meanwhile, we citizens of Cincinnati are wrestling with loftier issues. Should Marge Schott allow the Reds' new slugger Greg Vaughn to keep his goatee? Maybe we should ask Schottzie 02. On Monday, when asked to write an imaginary letter about the new ballpark after its completion, the team's owner responded:

        “I can't believe what a doggone grrrrreat place the stadium turned out to be. Make no bones about it, this has really helped our city to become a very yappy place. We did a paws-i-tively good job, especially for our fans. Pass the hot dogs please. Woofs & licks.”

        At the bottom was a picture of a paw print and 02.

        I think Schottzie 02 should file for an imaginary divorce.

        Hamilton County Commissioner Bob Bedinghaus imagined he could have a little fun in a campaign mailer called “Passport to the West Side.” East siders were advised to expect beer and pretzels instead of wine and cheese. Attire at Western Hills Country Club, the flier reports, is “business attire. Bowling shirts optional.”

        “It's insulting,” Green Township resident Clare Johnson told The Cincinnati Enquirer's Rachel Melcer.

        “Of a dozen calls to our office,” Mr. Bedinghaus said, “only one person complained.”

        Memo to Ms. Johnson: Life could be worse than an optional bowling shirt. You could be walking around in a purple suit carrying a red purse. Or you could be on double-secret probation.

        Remember the Animal House frat boys? Officials at Dartmouth College, which inspired the movie, want to phase out single-sex sororities and fraternities. Trustees said it's part of a campaign to eliminate alcohol abuse.

        The fraternities are so angry, they have canceled the annual beer keg jump. Chris Miller, the 1963 Dartmouth grad who co-wrote the movie starring John Belushi, groused, “Putting the houses together isn't going to magically transform everybody into Elizabeth Dole.”

        Too bad. That would be fun to see. Columnist Maureen Dowd calls Mrs. Dole “the un-Clinton, the perfect antidote to the most undisciplined president in history.”

        Which brings us to the grand finale of this week's news. One insider said the most expensive real estate in Washington is moral high ground, “because there is so little of it.”

        Linda Tripp said Friday morning that taping her conversations with Monica Lewinsky and turning them over to special prosecutor Kenneth Starr was her “patriotic duty.”

        A thong. A beret. A snigger heard 'round the world. A vote of conscience that fell more or less along party lines. A sprint to the TV cameras. A lesson that Congress should never impeach a president when the Dow is over 9000.

        And I am trying very hard to take

        it seriously.

        E-mail Laura Pulfer at — or call 768-8393. She can be heard Mondays on WVXU radio and on National Public Radio's Morning Edition, and seen on InterMedia cable's Northern Kentucky Magazine.

        Laura Pulfer's column appears in the Enquirer on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. Call 768-8393 or fax 768-8340. She can be heard Monday mornings on WVXU radio (91.7 FM), and as a regular commentator on National Public Radio's Morning Edition. E-mail her at