Watercooler Stories

By United Press International  |  Nov. 18, 2005 at 6:30 AM
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Wordy classics retold in shorthand

LONDON, Nov. 18 (UPI) -- Some of the most complicated and wordy works of English literature are being compressed to fit the tiny screens of mobile telephones.

Imagine the labyrinth of plots in "Bleak House" and the epic verse of "Paradise Lost" slimmed down with the jerky speedwriting of text messages. The most famous line in "Hamlet" would read: 2b?Ntb?=? The ending to "Jane Eyre" -- MadwyfSetsFyr2Haus.

A texted summary of "Romeo and Juliet" would read:

FeudTween2hses--Montague& Capulet. RomeoM falls_<3w/_ JulietC@mary Secretly Bt R kils J's Coz&isbanishd. J fakes Death, As Part of Plan2b-w/R Bt_leter Bt It Nvr Reachs Him. Evry1confuzd-- bothLuvrs kil Emselves.

The service is being launched by the student phone service dot mobile, the London Guardian says. It has heavyweight backing from John Sutherland, the Lord Northcliffe professor emeritus of English literature at University College London.


Some in Las Vegas resist scarlet A

LAS VEGAS, Nov. 18 (UPI) -- A mural that features a woman with a large scarlet A has aroused opposition in, of all places, Las Vegas.

"Scarlet Letter" by Los Angeles artist Alexis Smith was commissioned by the Las Vegas Centennial Commission for display outside a library. But some commissioners do not like what the A stands for -- at least in the Nathaniel Hawthorne novel of the same name, the Las Vegas Sun reported.

"A stands for adultery and we have worked so very hard to clean up that image, and now we're paying for that image," said Steve Schorr, a member of the commission and vice president of Cox Communications.

Some other commissioners said they did not see the connection between the mural and the centennial.

They were outvoted by the rest of the commission. Mayor Oscar Goodman said that the mural, like scores of others commissioned for the centennial, are supposed to be art, not specific historic markers.


British commandos raid wrong hotel

DAKAR, Senegal, Nov. 18 (UPI) -- Royal Marines took a wrong turn and reportedly wound up storming a beach next to a luxury hotel in Senegal, West Africa, the Mirror reports.

Nearly 100 troops from the elite 40 Commando Brigade surprised holidaymakers near Dakar, many of them elderly French tourists.

"It appears they were on the right beach but got the wrong hotel. It was a genuine mistake. As soon as they realized their error they apologized," a Defense Ministry spokesman told the Mirror.

The incident occurred during a monthlong multinational exercise involving 800 British troops and Senegalese forces.

It was not the first time Royal Marines invaded the wrong target. In 2002 they accidentally invaded Spain in a mock attack on Gibraltar, the Mirror said.


Senior rapped for feeding birds, squirrels

EAST LAKE, Fla., Nov. 18 (UPI) -- After 12 years of shuffling into her small Florida townhouse yard to feed birds and squirrels, an 82-year-old woman has been told she has to stop.

Frances Mirowski received a letter a week ago from Ronald Costa, the property manager for her subdivision.

"We are informing you to cease and desist feeding the wildlife," it said, adding she was in violation of a county ordinance against feeding wildlife, which could lure coyotes and disease to the neighborhood.

But the St. Petersburg Times said there is no state law or county ordinance against feeding birds or squirrels. According to state law, she would only be in violation if she were feeding alligators, foxes, raccoons, sandhill cranes or bears.

Mirowski's son said he has taken the matter to the American Civil Liberties Union, and his mother said she doesn't intend to stop tossing out bread crumbs and peanuts.

"It's my only joy for the day," she said.

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