While the state Supreme Court mulls Missouri's concealed-carry legislation, Unreal is eager for the feel of cold hard steel against our flesh. So we jumped the gun a little and enrolled in a Firearms for Putzes telecourse with competitive marksman Greg Pearre, Missouri's National Rifle Association (NRA) field representative.
Unreal: What do I need to do to start packing -- I mean protecting myself?
Pearre: In addition to passing a gun-safety course, you have to register for a license, supply a fingerprint to the proper authorities and pass a number of background checks.
Given my propensity for binge drinking, bar fights and bouts of paranoia, it sounds like I'd be better off with a throw-down, something I can use to impress the ladies and then wipe clean and toss in a dumpster if I ever have to pop somebody.
A gun with an altered serial number is a felony in the United States, so the NRA is never going to promote or suggest, at any time, that somebody violate a statute.
What if I run into some thug in a dark alley?
If me and you are in the parking lot, and I have a baseball bat, and you have ample place to get away from me, under the lethal-force laws in Missouri, as I understand them, your obligation would be to retreat.
I can still blow someone's head off if they come on my property, right?
I'm not an attorney, but the way I understand it, if you're at home and wake up and see someone at the foot of your bed, you still don't have the right to shoot 'em.
Then when do I get to shoot someone?
You have to fear for your life somewhere in this scenario. And he has to be able to legitimately perform that threat. And from what I understand, if you're in a situation where you have to defend yourself with a firearm, the probability that you're going to be arrested is very high -- even if it's justifiable.
If somebody's breaking into my car, can I shoot them?
Can I shoot their -- my -- tires if they try to drive off?
Not unless you want to be arrested.
Well, when do I get to take my gun out and use it?
This law was not enacted for everyone.
How am I doing so far? Could I pass as a responsible, law-abiding gun concealer?
If you were my student, you probably wouldn't. I wouldn't take a first grader and put him in a twelfth-grade math class. But it's a judgment call of the instructor.
I guess I'm a better candidate for a bulletproof vest.
A Season on the Brink
Sports Illustrated's cover has a well-documented curse. Apparently, no such burden haunts the front spread of the RFT. A mere two weeks ago, Mike Seely virtually assured readers that, despite tallying only 22 wins over the past six years combined, the Sanford-Brown Indians would win at least 10 this season -- which may well be their last (for details, see "Underdogs," October 29).
This past Saturday the Indians stormed back from 15 points down with eight minutes to play to knock off Central Christian College 79-73, in Moberly, Missouri. Starting forwards Jeremey Harris and Jermaine Gardner led a balanced scoring attack with 15 and 14 points, respectively. But it was reserve guard Darrin Burns' five free throws in the final minute and a half that put the game away for coach John Campbell's perennially piecemeal squad, which weathered the recent permanent departures of two key players, forward Kristian Long and center Ray Price.
The Indians will look to parlay their stunning upset into a veritable winning streak against McKendree College at St. Louis Christian College (1360 Grandview, Florissant) this Saturday, November 15 at 7 p.m.
You Don't Know Dick
Last week NBC announced that Al Sharpton -- who has made so many St. Louis appearances recently that Unreal wonders whether he plans to run for mayor of this town -- will host Saturday Night Live on December 6. Holding firm to the other end of the primary field's cool-o-meter is St. Louis' own Dick Gephardt, who was the only candidate to skip the November 4 "Rock the Vote" forum in Boston, sponsored by MTV and CNN.
Not that Gephardt isn't trying to liven up his act for the ironic baby-T-and-Puma set. In fact, Unreal has obtained a transcript of a taped (since cut) Gephardt appearance on the aforementioned Sharpton SNL, in which the Congressman portrays a Caucasian version of Tim Meadows' "Ladies Man" character.
Gephardt: [dressed in a crimson Ladies Man robe and holding snifter of Courvoisier] Jobs, jobs, jobs, gentlemen and ladies! My dad was a milk-truck driver -- which means he delivered a lot of milk to the ladies, if you know what I mean. [Pause for laughs.] You know, he was a milkman, right -- and you know the reputation milkmen have earned, dontcha?! And he named me Dick! Ha! I used to be a tight-ass about issues pertaining to the ladies. After all, I was about as anti-gay and anti-choice as they came, back in the '80s. But when my daughter came out of the closet, I loosened up big-time. Forget about God's plan for a missionary man -- I'm all for sister-to-sister passion plays [Pause for laughs.] That's why I'm here in a crimson bathrobe, drinking Courvoisier -- and asking for your support. It's going to be a tough, tough primary, everyone.
Director: [offstage, whispering loudly] Get back in character, Dick!
Gephardt: Oh, yeah, Courvoisier and the butt, folks. If we can't get Medi-care retooled, we can just give the old folks that liquor-and-sex cocktail instead of their meds, right? [Pause for laughs.] Before CBS scrubbed The Reagans, they contacted my family about doing a miniseries called Congressman: Dying City to balance things out politically. Said it was because like Reagan, I'm an '80s icon. They had Ron Howard all lined up to play me, too. But when I told them that I preferred Courvoisier, the butt, pandering to farmers in Iowa and publicly trashing Howard Dean, the network backed out. Just like I'll be backing that ass up at the inaugural ball in 2004! [Pause for laughs. Gephardt stands up, backs his ass up, trips and falls down.]
Director: [from offstage] Cut!
In the tedium-of-life department, this just in: Caffeine freaks at Kaldi's Coffee on DeMun were recently thrown for a loop by a new advancement in coffee-lid technology. The glorious evolution? The Solo Corporation's Traveler Plus(tm) disposable plastic coffee lid, which contains a built-in rotating cap that opens and closes that little mouth-hole thingy. That's correct: The perpetually gaping mouth-hole, which pours forth coffee, glorious coffee when you're of a mind to drink but works as spill-spout that musses up your shirt, shoes, dashboard and lap when you're walking, driving, skipping or sprinting, is a thing of the past.
The Traveler Plus -- or, in industryspeak, the "T-Plus" -- was introduced in the spring but has been slow to advance. "They're cutting-edge," says Kaldi's co-owner Suzanne Langlois. "They weren't even at the coffee show that I went to a month ago." As with most new advancements, Langlois says, customers are wary. "I asked why, and they said, 'I don't know, they just taste different.' I drank a lot out of them, and on the one hand they're great because you don't spill all over yourself, but on the other hand I get the impression that some people feel like they're getting a big nipple full of plastic in their mouth, which is never fun. In your mouth the plastic is a tiny bit different, and it does protrude up a little bit more than a regular lid. But we love them, and we thought that, gosh, it's going to be a no-brainer. But it's not, because some people are a little taken aback."
On Introduction Day Kaldi's patrons could be seen pushing the mouth-hole, which is opened and closed via a small toggle gizmo, back and forth like a bunch of apes who've found themselves confronted by a doorknob for the first time.
Ultimately, most figured it out.