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No Nixon Halloween mask? Say it ain’t so

A colleague of mine scoured the central Contra Costa Halloween costume stores this week and could not (insert gasp here) find a Richard Nixon mask.

This is not right. We can’t have Halloween without bands of trick-or-treaters roaming the suburbs wearing Tricky Dick masks.

Instead, Times photographer Karl Mondon found this Veep Dick Cheney mask, which doesn’t even look that much like Dick Cheney. (Bernie Madoff, maybe? Or Rush Limbaugh?)

At least it was cheap: On sale for $7.97.

The Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton masks cost $19.99 each, a tad pricey for a prop. At $29.99, the Sarah Palin mask was way too dear for the paper’s paltry illustration budget.

What about George W. Bush? No mask of him either.

But there’s a big shipment coming next week to the Halloween Spirit stores. All is not lost just yet.

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Turkeys at the Contra Costa Times? Say it ain’t so …

Turkeys have invaded the Shadelands business park in Walnut Creek where the Contra Costa Times’ offices are located. Times columnist Gary Bogue tells me a flock of six turkeys has been hanging out in the neighborhood for a few months.

Hmmm. Is this where out-of-work-reporters go?

A turkey feeds in an open lot across the street from the Contra Costa Times offices in Walnut Creek. No word on whether he has applied for a job in the newsroom or not.

A turkey feeds in an open lot across the street from the Contra Costa Times offices in Walnut Creek. No word on whether he has applied for a job in the newsroom or not. Photo by Lisa Vorderbrueggen/Contra Costa Times

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Get your own Obama ‘First Pair’ cut-out dolls

The Barack & Michell Obama Paper Doll & Cut-out Book by John Boswell, Randy Jones and Susann Ferris Jones

"The Barack & Michell Obama Paper Doll & Cut-out Book" by John Boswell, Randy Jones and Susann Ferris Jones

People send all kinds of stuff to the newsroom and every once in a while, something fun shows up on my desk.

In June, St. Martin’s Press will release its Barack and Michelle Obama paper doll and cut-out book by John Boswell and illustrated by Randy Jones and Susann Ferris Jones.

Dress up your very own buff Obama and a shapely Michelle in their election night attire, inaugural clothes,  Kenyan costumes or their vacation in Hawaii with mix-and-match accessories.

I have my First Pair sitting on my desk right now (see picture below) wearing their “First Day on the Job” outfits, complete with the president’s Blackberry. (Inexplicably, the authors didn’t give the president a cigarette to hold because, really, he should quit.)

Boswell has collaborated on books such the New York Times bestseller “French for Cats” and produced the “First Family Paper Doll and Cut-out Book.” Jones’ work has appeared in the New York Times and the National Lampoon and Ferris-Jones’ work was featured in “The Cat’s Night Before Christmas” and “French Cats Don’t Get Fat.”

The First Pair on Lisa Vs desk wearing their First Day On The Job attitire

The First Pair on Lisa V's desk wearing their "First Day On The Job" attitire

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Joke of the day: New element ‘Governmentium’ discovered?

Lawrence Livermore Laboratories has discovered the heaviest element yet known to science.(Note to readers: This is a joke.)

The new element, Governmentium(Gv), has one neutron, 25 assistant neutrons, 88 deputy neutrons, and 198 assistant deputy neutrons, giving it an atomic mass of 312.

These 312 particles are held together by forces called morons, which are surrounded by vast quantities of lepton-like particles called peons. Since Governmentium has no electrons, it is inert; however, it can be detected, because it impedes every reaction with which it comes into contact.

A tiny amount of Governmentium can cause a reaction that would normally take less than a second, to take from four days to four years to complete.

Governmentium has a normal half-life of 2- 6 years; It does not decay, but instead undergoes a reorganization in which a portion of the assistant neutrons and deputy neutrons exchange places.

In fact, Governmentium’s mass will actually increase over time, since each reorganization will cause more morons to become neutrons, forming isodopes. This characteristic of moron promotion leads some scientists to believe that Governmentium is formed whenever morons reach a critical concentration.

This hypothetical quantity is referred to as critical morass. When catalyzed with money, Governmentium becomes Administratium, an element that radiates just as much energy as Governmentium since it has half as many peons but twice as many morons.

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Wanna send Obama a text message on his Blackberry?

If you do, the California First Amendment Coalition has a (tongue-in-cheek) deal for you. Read on.

Psst: Wanna buy Barack Obama’s new email address?

By Peter Scheer

What would you pay to have President Obama’s new private (and secure) email address?

Two weeks ago I wrote in this space about efforts by Barack Obama’s aides to get him to surrender his Blackberry, on which Obama had relied to escape the bubble that descends on leading presidential contenders, not to mention elected presidents. I argued that the aides’ concerns about legal and security constraints were overblown and urged Obama to keep the Blackberry—and to use it, while President, to stay in touch with ordinary citizens.

I am not at liberty to reveal how I know that President Obama read my article, which was reprinted in several publications.  Suffice it to say that I am now in possession of the Chief Executive’s new, private email address, the one reserved for family members and close personal friends. (Two additional email addresses have been created for use by, respectively, Cabinet level officials and campaign supporters who contributed $200,000 and above.)

Ordinarily, I wouldn’t betray a confidence, especially a presidential confidence. But these are, as we know, “challenging” times, not least for the California First Amendment Coalition (“CFAC”), a cash-strapped nonprofit working overtime to defend freedom of speech and the public’s right to know about its government.  Besides, President Obama is a big proponent of open government, as shown by his recent pronunciamento on the Freedom of Information Act.  He will, I’m sure, understand that extreme measures in the defense of government accountability are no vice (to paraphrase a rather less successful presidential candidate).

Accordingly, I have decided to divulge Obama’s private friends-and-family email address, the one that reaches him on his belt-mounted Blackberry, to …(click here to go to First Amendment site.)