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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

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The Cat Came Back


And now, the further adventures of Tipper.


No, no, not Tipper Gore. We're talking about the famous Tipper -- Tipper the Cat, who blazed a trail across the American press wires this summer when he saved himself from choking on his flea collar by astutely placing a distress meow to the operator at 911.


Clearly a cat marked by destiny, 6-month-old Tipper has just survived yet another hair-raising escapade. Left tethered outside his abode at the Cloud Mobile Home Park in Tampa, Florida, on Oct. 29, Tipper mysteriously disappeared, leaving his owners to jump immediately to the only possible conclusion for the sudden absence of their high-profile pet. Naturally they suspected the feline had been abducted -- criminals might describe it as "catnapping." Well, no doubt catnappers could get the better of most ordinary domestic beasts, but Tipper, the legendary four-legged master of resourcefulness, was not to be overpowered for long. A mere three days later, a spokeswoman for the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Department announced that the whiskered wonder was back purring safely in the bosom of his family.


Had somebody tried to snatch Tipper? Well, no ransom note was found, and no evidence of physical injury was reported, but the police file will remain forever incomplete since a taciturn Tipper refused to provide details on the ordeal.


Suspect profiles in the case include an evil-doer looking to profit from Tipper's chokehold on the media spotlight, comparable only to that of Socks Clinton and possibly Garfield.


Or maybe Tipper just went for a long walk.





Frog Steps


If cats can contact 911, then street smarts are not unheard of in the animal kingdom, but Britain's toad population appears bent on proving otherwise.


Street smarts are precisely what these amphibians don't have, at least not in Leicestershire, according to a Monday report in the Times. The tragedy unfolds as follows: Hard-working human hands have provided Leicestershire toads with a tunnel to facilitate safe passage across the A 512 thoroughfare, which divides their hibernation grounds from their preferred romantic rendezvous points. Yet the lunk-headed leapers have shunned the low road and persist in being squashed under the wheels of passing lorries, showing a disturbing suicidal tendency that has caused the scientific community of Britain, already fatigued by the antics of its resident mad cow herds, to scratch its collective head.


After complete consideration of the evidence, combined with a spot of feel-good toad role-playing, experts have come up with the answer: The toads don't have a death wish, but they do find the tailor-made tunnel just a trifle chilly for their liking.


"The toads are not prepared to go into what they think are winter conditions," explained Professor Robert Oldham of De Montfort University, who did not explain why the toads are prepared to go into toad-sandwich conditions. He did, however, helpfully and no doubt completely seriously suggest that the tunnel be equipped with a ventilator or a heating system to make it more attractive to the discriminating amphibian.





Don't Drink and Walk


Lest you think that the toads are alone in their quest to cross the street without mishap, looking no farther than Colombia, where legislators are tackling another pesky roadkill problem -- one that is a little higher up on the evolutionary scale.


A leading newspaper in Bogota reported that penalties may soon be handed out for people "walking under the influence," a cold, $250 slap in the face to sober up drunken perambulators and cut down on the high number of traffic-related deaths in the country, which are blamed on both drunk drivers and drunk pedestrians.


The proposition hasn't made it through Colombia's congress yet, so it remains unclear what ramifications it will have on the large knock-kneed portion of humanity who can't walk in a straight line even when they're dry as a bone. Meanwhile, further legislation tentatively entitled "running under the influence" and "roller-blading under the influence" are rumored to be in the works.





Don't Sit and Read


Bogota -- and Moscow -- may be plagued by phalanxes of drunk walkers, but Singapore officials report that their city reeks of an even greater scourge.


Yes, those rebels against Miss Manners who never offer little old ladies their seats on the bus are wreaking havoc upon Singapore's green and pleasant land, and don't think the city isn't beet-red with shame over it.


At the launch of a Mass Rapid Transit Corp. campaign designed to combat the courtesy crisis, the minister for trade, industry and communications pointed an accusing finger at the ungracious perpetrators. "It is common to see such passengers sitting snugly in their seats and pretending to be asleep or engrossed with their books," he said, unmasking the devilish subterfuge used worldwide to keep pregnant women and the elderly in an upright position on moving vehicles.


No methods have yet been suggested to halt the


rampant spread of stubborn seat hoarding, though rumors abound that "sitting under the influence" of impoliteness will be made punishable by caning.





Don't Inhale


Anyone under the influence of Hollywood can breathe a big sigh of relief. It's official: The entertainment industry is not pushing drugs on-screen, no matter what Bob Dole thinks.


Says who? First of all, a lot of defensive people in Hollywood, but also some denizens of the political right, who say Dole was out of touch when he slammed Tinseltown's products as glorifying the use of drugs.


"Dole is 10 years too late," said David Horowitz, director of the Center of the Study of Popular Culture in Los Angeles, a supporter of the former senator who sounds uncannily like most of Dole's critics. "Films in general have become relatively conservative."


Unsavory examples, say film experts, are the best deterrents to drug use, even if the drug use on screen is graphic. Sure, in "Pulp Fiction" Uma Thurman snorts coke and then gets to dance the twist with John Travolta -- but later she goes into convulsions after an overdose of heroin. Not pretty. Ditto Robin Wright in her role as Forrest Gump's lifelong love, who does a lot of drugs in hip discos and ends up dying of AIDS. Now who would you rather be, glamorous Robin Wright or the squeaky clean numbskull Gump? Well, okay, maybe neither -- but that's not the point.


The long and short of it is that the cinema continues inexorably along its path of reflecting reality no matter what any politicians say. In the meantime, industry sources report that there's still "a fair amount of marijuana around" in Hollywood circles, but with Clinton in the White House for four more years, they're safe as long as they don't inhale.





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