• Ticket To The Big Time: City boosters wishing for more publicity for the Queen City hit the jackpot last week, as Mohamad Hamoud, one of the infamous Smugglin' Terrorists, was sentenced to 155 years in prison. The sentencing followed Hamoud's conviction on charges of running a Hezbollah support cell in Charlotte. Granted, it appeared to many people that he was mostly running a cigarette smuggling operation and sending occasional donations to Hezbollah now and then; but hey, if prosecutors can get a terrorist conviction under their belts, you can't underestimate what that'll do for their careers.
• Stix Nix Hix Pix: People in Gastonia got plum madder "n a wet hen last week when Channel 18 Fox News Edge ran a feature making fun of that city's speech patterns and vocabulary, which the station called "Gastonese." Besides being a classic example of urban New Southerners mocking the region's traditional accents, the broadcast was notable for being a gut punch from a medium that usually tries to not offend anyone. Fox 18 personality Mark Mathis was suspended for a month for instigating the spoof. Gastonia mayor Jennie Stultz, after finishing off a plate of gravy biscuits, commented, "I tell you whut. . .he better be glad he's suspended, or else I reckon a few of our boys woulda showed up at his doorstep one night, know whudda mean? We ain't takin' that kinda trash off'n no city slicker, I don't keer how damn high and mighty him and his whole polluted town thinks they are. . . . . . . .I mean "at thang, too!. . . . . . .By God."
• Change of Heart: On Monday, Dr. Frida Wales, grand poobah of Duke University Hospital, announced that the name of the renowned medical facility will be changed to Jessica Santillan Hospital by the end of March. "Let's face it," said Wales, "it's gonna happen at some point anyway, so why wait? The Santillan family's gonna sue, everybody knows it. This hospital's as good as theirs, so we decided to just go ahead and switch out the names while there's a big sale on new stationery at Kinko's."
• And No Gold Watch: In a move that brought back memories of Hornets owner George Shinn's ham-fisted style of running a pro sports team, the Carolina Panthers, looking to save a buck, released tight end Wesley Walls -- on his birthday.
Hey, Observer, Your Contempt Is Showing: While there are a few bright spots at our lone daily paper, there are also a thousand reasons to hate it. The fault we've complained about the most -- the O's editors' habit of talking down to readers, most of whom they evidently assume are morons -- reached breathtaking proportions last week when, two days after the Grammys, the paper ran this banner across the top of the front page: "Don't Know Why You've Never Heard About Norah Jones?"
A Sad Goodbye: In one last, all-too-true item without a punchline, Fred Rogers, or Mister Rogers, one of the most genuinely nice people in the world, died last week of stomach cancer. See The City cartoon in this week's issue for an interesting anecdote and tribute.