Friday, August 11, 2006

The Lightning Round:
In The Hole

The cops foil a huge terror plot. A chopper crashes into the Catalina mountains -- adding to the mess near Sabino Canyon, we might add. But the real talker story, the thing that's opening eyes across the Old Pueblo this Friday: Why the heck's Krispy Kreme closed?

HOT DONUTS NOT! KOLD News 13 broke the heartbreaking story to donut aficionados Thursday night. Krispy Kreme suddenly closed both its Tucson locations, shutting down its glazed-dough machines and laying off 55 employees.

I spoke to the chain's store director for Tucson, who happened to be at one of the locations when I cold called.

"We're doing some rumor control," I said. "Are you closing tonight?"

"We're done," was the reply.

He had gotten the directive at the last minute, as afternoon turned into evening: shut both stores down. He still hadn't broken the news to his family or kids.

No official reason has been given as we go to press early Friday morning. However, the director I talked to (whose name I'm not using because he wasn't speaking officially for the company), said the Krispy Kreme franchise had issues with "stability" in Tucson. Another source with inside knowledge confirms this, saying sales had not been living up to expectations.

So what went wrong? Perhaps Tucson is too healthy a community for fatty donuts. Perhaps the company misjudged demand. You wouldn't have known it from the night before opening day in December 2002, when people lined up all night (including a KOLD News 13 employee) looking to get their hands on the first dozen of dozens. Of course, The Lightning Round and KOLD News 13 will continue to follow this developing story...

UPDATE: The local Krispy Kreme franchise, Rigel Corp., filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, closing all the Arizona stores and two in New Mexico. Obviously those "stability" issues ranged far beyond Tucson. However, Krispy Kreme's corporate offices are holding out hope the Tucson stores can reopen... but they're not saying when.

DROP THE DRINK. Heightened security measures following the bust of a terrorist plot ban you from carrying any liquids on board an airline, whether it's in your hand or your handbags. The chief concern is that even though the principal baddies are behind bars, a few suspects may still be out there, quite willing to blow up a British Airways jet with some explosive liquid in their shaving case, detonated by a remote-controlled iPod.

So much for bringing that Mentos-and-diet-Coke geyser kit on board.

We're glad the U.S. restrictions still allow MP3 players and laptops. In-flight magazines? You've gotta be kidding me. I stop after the SkyMall catalog.

The Lightning Round also wonders why checking liquids in your luggage is somehow safer than bringing them through the metal detector with you, where the kind TSA officials can shake out your toiletry toter, sniff a bottle and say, "You call this Herbal Essence?"

ANOTHER STRIKE. Most of those held in connection with the terror plot are Muslim, another step backward for moderate Muslims in America who are constantly scrabbling their way up the mountain of tolerance. USA Today reports the stress on Muslims is so bad, it's putting a serious dent in their collective mental health.

From the article:
In her new study of 611 adults, thought to be the largest ever done on Arab-Americans, they had much worse mental health than Americans overall. About half had symptoms of clinical depression, compared with 20% in an average U.S. group.
The article points out the anti-prejudice efforts of Islamic-American groups, but The Lightning Round insists more can be done.

We'll say it again for the record. American Muslims and the groups that speak for them need to do a better job of getting their message of peace out to the public. I will never forget a Muslim shopkeeper at Tucson's Foothills Mall in the days after 9/11. She wore traditional Muslim garb, but all over her cart, which normally carried jewelry, I spotted shirts saying "9/11: We Will Never Forget." On her long robe -- a red, white, and blue ribbon. You had no doubt where she stood.

AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH. It's not easy bein' green, not even for Al Gore. A USA Today editorial claims his lifestyle isn't as earth-friendly as you might think.

From the article:
Public records reveal that as Gore lectures Americans on excessive consumption, he and his wife Tipper live in two properties: a 10,000-square-foot, 20-room, eight-bathroom home in Nashville, and a 4,000-square-foot home in Arlington, Va. (He also has a third home in Carthage, Tenn.) For someone rallying the planet to pursue a path of extreme personal sacrifice, Gore requires little from himself...
And on the matter of paying a little extra on your utility bill to support wind energy:
[A]ccording to public records, there is no evidence that Gore has signed up to use green energy in either of his large residences. When contacted Wednesday, Gore's office confirmed as much but said the Gores were looking into making the switch at both homes.
Truth be told, it's hard for a lot of us to live green. I'm wondering when my apartment complex will move into the '90's with curbside recycling. Wind farms aren't even on the radar scope here. It's hard enough finding bio-diesel or E-85 fuel. We'll cut the former Veep a little slack this time, but we want to see propellers turning outside that mansion of his.

CRY, AND THE WALLS CRY WITH YOU. Scientists have come up with computer-generated, mood-sensitive artwork. It looks how you feel -- a step beyond Picasso's "blue period" -- by analyzing your expressions through a webcam.

From Reuters:
The painting changes from a dark, somber image to a brightly-coloured one as the viewer's expression alters from a scowl to a smile.
No word on whether mixed emotions will crash the system.

WE'VE GOT YOUR NUMBER. The Lightning Round follows up on our item from two weeks ago, when Floyd Landis first tested positive for too much testosterone. At the time, we theorized a ratio of testosterone to epitestosterone of 10:1 or higher in a urine sample was the stuff of the overwhelmingly buff superheroes or pro wrestlers. Turns out Landis' sample registered 11:1.

Don't make Floyd angry. You don't want to see him when he's angry...

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