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Now that you've been alerted to the underground square-dance lobby, you might keep an eye on them. Consider that half our states claim square dancing as their official dance, and you can see their influence. They've lost only a few skirmishes with polka brigades in the upper Midwest and some well-entrenched cloggers in North Carolina.

2/27/97

Dear Matt:

Saw Bill Clinton on TV signing his name to a stack of documents. There were at least a dozen pens lined up on his desk, and he used a different pen for each signature. Why?

-- Deputy Director of Intelligence, Oceanside

Is the prez pilfering from the White House supply cabinet? Or maybe after a particularly satisfying bout of document signing, he sits in his prez chair with the First Feet up on the big prez desk and tries to get Bics to stick in the ceiling. Maybe he draws fake tattoos on his hand or throws pens at the First Cat, Socks. Or how about this: behind every piece of legislation are dozens of worker bees who've seen to its passage. As thanks for a job well done, the prez hands out gifts after the ceremony. So rather than throwing one pen on the floor and chuckling as everybody bites and kicks and pulls hair to get the prize, the prez uses as many pens as there are worker bees, then hands them out ceremoniously with a big grinny handshake.

5/4/00

Dear Matthew Alice:

Do convicts still make our license plates, or was that all a big story told to us by our mothers?

-- Charlie Bingbang, San Diego

Ma Alice made a point of setting each of us kids on her knee and telling us about the birds and the bees and the cons and the plates.... In fact, she wrote a song for the occasion. Ma always claimed Johnny Cash got the tune for his big prison hit the night he heard her sing this at an eight-ball tournament in Waco.

I see the cars a-comin'

Rollin' 'round the bend,

And each one has a license plate

Attached to either end.

Oh, they're struck in Folsom prison

Three million-plus a year.

They make them in the slammer

Just like we always hear....

And since they're made at Folsom,

Where time keeps draggin' on,

They get away with paying

Criminal wages to each con....

Oh, they're struck in Folsom prison

By crooks and scalawags,

So the guy who ripped your car off most likely made your brand-new tags.

THE WONDERFUL WORLD

OF WEARABLES

9/2/93

Dear M.A. Dude:

Where are all the Reader T-shirts people win for solving the Reader Puzzle? Me and my friends have never seen anyone wearing one.

-- Mark Rossi and Paul Woodburn, Ocean Beach; John Bidleman, Encinitas

This is the question that launched our quest for the Reader T, asking lucky owners to tell us what happened to them....

If your faxes and letters could speak, they'd sound like a flock of Easter chicks. "Cheap, cheap, cheap" was a popular theme, supplemented with the occasional "flimsy" and "cheesy." More than one miffed winner washed his or her prize only to have it transformed into a shriveled, twisted, unwearable ball of poly-cotton.... One winner said he wouldn't wear his Reader T to the proverbial dog fight but offered no hint about what is proper attire for a dog fight....

Lots of winners admitted they wear theirs hoping people will recognize how smart they are for having solved the puzzle, though apparently people rarely do.... Lots of people were bright enough to realize that if they'd saved all the postage money they've spent over the years just to win one lousy T-shirt, they could have solved the family's cash-flow problems or replaced their wardrobes several times over....

Random interesting observations: Dave Hightower from Encinitas wins the prize for acquiring his shirt in the most interesting way. He was rock climbing in Mission Gorge and found an old engine block wrapped in a Reader T. He took the shirt home, washed it about 15 times, but only got it clean enough to wear while repairing his car....

And from DKA of Lakeside: "My son came to visit me from Auburn, Washington, wearing a Reader T-shirt. He got it from his cousin, who lives in Port Orchard. He got it from his cousin, who lives in Tacoma. This cousin had gotten it from their grandma, who lives in Port Angeles. She had gotten it from her sister, who lives in San Diego. She bought it at a garage sale about a year ago."

10/31/02

Mr. Alice:

Once in jail, one receives issued clothing, to include underwear. What is the average life of that underwear? If I were ever to be arrested and compelled to slip on a pair, can I assume that many previous inmates have passed their legs through those two holes?

-- Innocent until proven guilty, Lemon Grove

For an answer to this one, we went directly to them that wears 'em. Ma Alice's pedigree has more felons per square inch than San Quentin. Anyway, if they slap the cuffs on you in San Diego, here's how the underwear situation plays out. In county jail you're issued one pair of light green briefs. No boxers allowed, since they're considered a fashion statement on the street, and they try to avoid that kind of 'hood thang. The county's laundry schedule is a little confusing, but in general, you'll wear your tighty greenies for three or four days before they issue you another pair and collect the dirty ones. And yes, of course, you will be wearing a pair previously worn by some random perp who turned them in three days ago. When the briefs are so shredded you can't tell a leg hole from a scratch hole, they're discarded....

8/16/90

Dear Matthew Alice:

Wandering through department stores this weekend, I saw hundreds of ugly articles of clothing on sale that no one would ever buy, no matter how low the price was. What happens to all these clothes?

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