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Worst Words of 2014

6 Jan

Another year has passed, a year that brought us such spectacular highs as fried chicken corsages, movies about zombie beavers, and the Norwegian curling team’s Olympic Games uniforms. And as you are no doubt aware, as mandated by international law, it is illegal to have a blog and not do some sort of ‘best of’ list to signify the end of a year.

Wanting to avoid the usual drivel, I thought I would talk about something I stumbled on the other day: a list released by the Plain English Foundation. The PEF is an Australian organisation that promotes speaking plainly, and avoiding unnecessary jargon, confusing euphemisms, and flat out deceptive corporate and political speak. Sadly – but unsurprisingly – 2014 saw plenty of examples of the English language being mangled in the most appalling of ways.

So it is that Hesaidwhatnow? brings, courtesy of the PEF, the worst words of 2014.


Conscious Uncoupling

The overall winner for the worst words of the year was this cringe-worthy pair of nothing words from Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin. The former husband and wife did not split up, nor did they divorce. They didn’t even decide to go their separate ways. Rather they had a “conscious uncoupling”, which couldn’t sound more pretentious if it had a fake upper class accent. In fact it is so vomit inducing, just reading the words will make your stomach and your lunch want to have a conscious uncoupling of their own.

I can't believe the parents of Apple and Moses could have come up with such stupid words.

I can’t believe the parents of Apple and Moses could have come up with such stupid words.

Corporate Spin

Appropriate Financial Envelope

Big corporations are the worst. Microsoft emailed its employees, stating that its “device strategy must reflect Microsoft’s strategy and must be accomplished within an appropriate financial envelope.” I’d imagine most employees’ reactions would have been, ‘Whuh?’ Luckily the 11th paragraph of the email finally got to the point and explained what accomplishing Microsoft’s strategy within an appropriate financial envelope meant: 12,500 employees were being sacked. I don’t know how these companies can’t understand that inane corporate spin only makes things worse.

Open Cut Event

Residents of a town in Victoria, Australia, were forced to breathe in foul smelling smoke for over a fortnight due to the actions of a multinational mining company. The problem was, the mine they were operating had an “open cut event”. Translation: they accidentally started a fire that could not be controlled for a month. In order to explain it more clearly, they stated that “inversion conditions” led to a “reversion” in air quality, while fire fighters struggled to bring the blaze “to its totality”. I think who ever drafted the press release should be forced to stay in the mine and enjoy the open cut event.


Rapid Disassembly

I thought rapid disassembly was something I used to do as an 8-year-old when I heard my parents coming to check I was in bed and not playing with my Lego. Apparently that’s not what it means, as demonstrated when 14 million vehicles had to be recalled due to their Takata airbags tending to suffer “rapid disassembly”. In other words, they would randomly explode. Not what you typically want from a safety device.

Pavement Failure

Being stranded on a plane for an hour waiting to take off is frustrating, but even more so for one particular group of Qantas passengers. That’s because when they asked about the delay they were told there was a “pavement failure”. The true failure, of course, was in not just admitting there was a pothole on the runway that needed to be filled before the plane could take off.

Political Spin

High Value Targeting

A particularly cynical bit of political spin, “high value targeting” is a term used by the CIA to describe killing important people. Its use was revealed by WikiLeaks in December, the same month a US Senate Intelligence Committee report highlighted the use of “enhanced interrogation techniques”, or what you or I would call “torture”.

Efficiency Dividend

The Australian Minister for Finance, Mathias Cormann, announced that the funding cuts to the Australian public broadcaster, the ABC, was in fact an “efficiency dividend”. He went so far as clarifying that the government was “not making cuts”. Later, of course, he further clarified that they were, in fact, making cuts. To avoid all of the confusion he should have just said that the ABC needed to operate within an appropriate financial envelope.


Physical Result of a Bite

Easily the best non-apology of the year came from Luis Suarez during the Football World Cup. After allegations were made that he bit Italian rival Giorgio Chiellini during a match, Suarez noted that the dozens of cameras that caught the incident and the teeth marks on Chiellini’s skin were, in fact, wrong. He did not bite anyone. Rather, according to Suarez, “[t]he truth is that my colleague Giorgio Chiellini suffered the physical result of a bite in the collision he suffered with me.” He’d better be careful, otherwise next time he plays Italy he might find he suffers the physical result of a punch to the face from Chiellini.

"Oi ref!  I've just suffered the physical result of a bite!!!"

“Oi ref! I’ve just suffered the physical result of a bite!!!”

Silly Sign

Potential for Dangerous Aquatic Organisms

The Gold Coast City Council, in Australia, erected a useful sign to help beachgoers. It warned about the “potential for dangerous aquatic organisms”, easily the simplest way to explain the dangers to swimmers that frequent the Gold Coast, including the many non-English speaking tourists. Luckily the sign also included a picture, although I’m guessing it was an equally useful piece of surrealist art.



‘Collabition’ is what happens when you combine ‘collaboration’ and ‘competition’. It is also what happens when you combine ‘dodgy company directors’ and ‘marketers’.


What could be worse than ‘selfies’? Couplies, which are what couples do when they want to be narcissistic together.

Marketing Buzzword


I’ll let you figure this out. “Normcore seeks the freedom that comes with non-exclusivity. It finds liberation in being nothing special, and realizes that adaptability leads to belonging. Normcore is a path to a more peaceful life.”

So what it “normcore”? It’s a fashion term that describes wearing unpretentious, plain, average-looking clothing. In other words, someone has managed to make unpretentious clothing pretentious. Congratulations.

Mixed Metaphor

Let’s fix our roof while the sun is shining because we’re on a course to hit the rocks and we have to fix it.

They’re the words of Australian National Commission of Audit member Amanda Vanstone helpfully clarifying that Australia’s “budget emergency” is a houseboat.

Hit the ground with a bit of wind in their sails

Another mixed sea metaphor came from sport show co-host Paul Kent, explaining a rugby league team’s chances for success. I think he meant it as a positive, and not as a ship crashing headlong into rocky shores.

Grammatical Error

Sorry for any incontinence caused

Finally, an East London Tesco store posted an unusual apology when its freezers broke in the middle of the English summer: “We are trying to get this problem fix as soon as possible and are really sorry for any incontinence caused. Management.” That’s what you call accidentally accurate.


Did you hear or read any other examples of the worst words of 2014? Share them in the comments below!

Harry Potter and the Chinese Knockoffs

11 Dec

Can you believe that it’s been seven years since the final book in the Harry Potter series was released?  That fact not only makes me feel old, but also a little bit nostalgic for some more stories on the adventures of Harry and the gang.  If only there were some more Harry Potter novels out there I could read.

Thanks to China’s blatant disregard of international copyright laws, there is!

That’s right, over the years various dodgy Chinese publishers have released a whole bunch of knockoff Harry Potter books for the paying public to enjoy.  If you like plagiarism, misplaced creativity, and hilarious translation errors, you’ll love these books even more than the originals!

SPOILER ALERT: This post gives away plots to several Chinese Harry Potter knockoffs, but also the ACTUAL Harry Potter series.  But seriously, if you haven’t read them already, there’s something wrong with you.

And yes, these are honest to god books and their actual plots.

Harry Potter and Leopard Walk Up to Dragon


Looks authentic.

There are many things to love about this knockoff besides the confusingly translated title.  The cover is great, because not only is Harry riding a centaur, but that centaur is about to punch a dragon who looks suspiciously like Maleficent from Disney’s Sleeping Beauty. But if you open the cover and have a read, you’ll find a knockoff double play.  That’s because Leopard Walk Up to Dragon not only rips off Harry Potter, but The Hobbit as well.  Allow me to explain.

It starts off enough like a Harry Potter tale – he goes from his usually summer stay at the Dudleys to Hogwarts where he meets up with Hermione and Ron.  Then things get a little strange.  An eerie voice announces that Harry’s nightmare is about to start, which lures them outside (which is probably the opposite of what you should do if a spooky, ethereal voice starts threatening you).  Once outside they are caught in a rain that is bizarre even in the world of Hogwarts.  Not only does it instantly soak the trio to the core, but it is sweet and sour, like so many of your favourite Chinese dishes. Even crazier than that, it transforms Harry into a hairy dwarf and transports him to Middle Earth for an epic cross over!

From there, it is essentially The Hobbit, only with the names changed to the names of Harry and his friends.  The only Hobbit character who isn’t appropriated as a Potter character is Gandalf, who remains Gandalf.  This might be the most confusing part of the whole story, as if ever a character could be easily converted to J.K. Rowling’s world, it would be the kindly, bearded, old mentor who is also the most powerful wizard going around.  At least call him Ganbledore.

Harry Potter and the Chinese Overseas Students at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry

What a catchy title!  So pithy and exciting.  And I’m glad that, to avoid any confusion, it points out that Chinese kids studying in Britain are from overseas.

In this one, Dumbledore grows fearful when he discovers the threat of the Black Monster who, with a name like that, has no option other than to be evil.  Dumbledore knows that as a pathetic Westerner, he is no match for such an opponent, and reaches out to Nine Mysteries – the Chinese equivalent of Hogwarts – for assistance.  They send over six students, who amaze the pathetic students of Hogwarts with their mysterious magical arts and transform the lives of Harry and his friends.

Thanks to the sheer awesomeness of the Chinese students, not only do Harry, Hermione and Ron muster up the courage to face Voldemort, but Draco frees himself from the shadow of his family.  All seems well, until the magical protections of Hogwarts fail and Voldemort attacks, bringing with him Death Eaters, werewolves, dementors, and giants.  Can Harry and the gang defeat them?  Of course they can!  They now have six Chinese students to help!

This sounds like the most pro-Chinese propaganda story of the lot, and I’m a little disappointed we didn’t hear more about the Black Monster.

Harry Potter and the Waterproof Pearl


Is it just me, or does Harry look normal, normal, normal, shoes?

Harry Potter and Leopard Walk Up to Dragon must have been a success, because in Waterproof Pearl Gandalf is back!  Along with some champ named Peter and the ‘little warriors’, Harry and Gandalf find a sea city in the desert through a magic keyhole.  There’s every chance that the little warriors are hobbits, or dwarves, or some other Tolkien creation, but whoever they are, Harry and the crew get gold armour and kill the head of the monsters.  However, when they return to Hogwarts, they discover that Hermione has been kidnapped by the Dragon King, and only one thing can save her: the waterproof pearl, an item that must be incredibly powerful, because unlike every other pearl that has ever existed, it is waterproof!

Harry finds the pearl, defeats the Dragon King and rescues Hermione.  I’m not sure what happens after that, but I’m guessing Gandalf steps out into a soy sauce rain so he can be transported to Middle Earth.

Harry Potter and the Chinese Empire

The isn’t much info out there on the plot of this one, other than the story takes place at Hogwarts and involves Harry and his friends, various characters from Chinese literature, and cut and pastes text from – no surprises – Lord of the Rings, as well as from multiple martial arts epics.  In my mind the story involves at least one kung fu fight between Saruman and Neville Longbottom.

The 30 Best Movie Songs of the Last 40 Years – Part II

20 Jul

Best Songs Made For Movies in the Last Forty Years – The Jack Nicholson Tier – 20 – 11

In Part One of this epic list, we saw a lot of great songs, heavily dominated by the 1980s. Will the ‘80s continue its dominance in the top twenty? Will any artists make the list twice? Will we see a song from High School Musical 2? Click on the next page below and let’s find out.

Terrible US Baby Names of 2013

6 Jun

The US Department of Social Security just released their annual list of names for babies born in 2013. As is the case every year, among the regular Joes and Janes were a multitude of names so ridiculous, they could all have been replaced with the name ‘My Parents Hate Me’.

One thing to bear in mind: for privacy reasons, Social Security will not release names unless at least five different children were given the exact same name. This means that it’s more than just one weird couple calling their children stupid names like Coal or Blimi (actually it was 11 stupid couples calling their son Coal and 12 their daughter Blimi). That’s a lot of stupid!

One thing the list revealed was that there were a lot of trends when it came to trying to come up with a unique moniker for children. As per usual, there was the tactic of taking everyday words and deciding, ‘Meh – that’ll do for a name.’ How is that done? It’s easy.

Perfect baby name - for a boy *or* girl!

Perfect baby name – for a boy or girl!

Fancy a name for your child that is a rarity, but has charm? That will be the envy of others but bring happiness to your ears? Beautiful, or full of power, or spring to mind images of freedom? There is a reason why US parents have chosen to bless their children with the names they have.

Look closely at the above paragraph, and you will spot 12 baby names that somehow made the list. Go on, re-read it and see if you can guess what they are. I’ll wait.

Not sure? Here they are. There were five girls named Fancy, seven named Rarity and a whopping 26 named Charm. Eight girls named Happiness, six boys named Power, 16 girls named Spring, 17 lads named Freedom, another five named Reason, and five girls named Chosen. I hope you’re sitting down: 22 kids were named Bless, and they were all boys!

And to prove that correct spelling is entirely optional, seven girls were named Envie and 15 called Beautifull. I’m confident that none of those 15 sets of parents misspelt the name by design.

In fact, terrible spelling was another trend that continues after years of the English language being tortured for the sake of differentiating children’s names. Like the name Jason but want to be different? How about spelling it Jceion like 10 couples did last year. Sam a little bit too plain? Try Zam instead. Enjoy the name Zachary but don’t want to be like the more than 5000 other couples that gave their son that name? Give Zaccari, Zacharey, Zackarie, Zacorey, or Zacorie a go. I’m surprised no one’s tried Xachary.

In fact, why not combine bad spelling with random words to create a stupid name double whammy! Sixteen girls last year began their Jurney and 17 are a Trezure. Five are a Cymphony, and five others are a Rebelle (a badass, but feminine!). Eight boys are Tuf, five were called Zepplin, and five will be known as Kaptain until they’re old enough to legally change their names.

Another trend that has been prevalent over the years is to name children after popular TV and film characters of the time. Surprisingly, last year over 60 girls were named after Wreck-It-Ralph’s Vanellope. (Sadly, the register was silent on babies named Wreck-It-Ralph.)

Less surprising, I suppose, is the number of children named after Game of Thrones characters. There were well over 1000 Aryas, 241 Khaleesis, 67 girls named Daenerys, eight Briennes and five boys named Robb. Imagine the carnage if they all met.

Unforgivingly, fifteen boys were given the name Theon. That’s just mean. Of all the characters in the Game of Thrones canon, why hope your child would be like him? If someone ever calls their kid Joffrey they should immediately be placed into custody.

Seriously, don't you just want to punch this guy in the face?

Seriously, don’t you just want to punch this guy in the face?

However, for me, the most egregious crimes were these: 14 kids were called Andrew, and 18 called Isabella. What’s so bad about that? you might say. Sure, Andrew is a proud, traditional name, and Isabella is a beautiful, feminine classic. The problem is, the 14 babies called Andrew were girls, and the 18 Isabellas were boys. You’d better believe those kids are getting beaten up at school.

Probably by those pricks named Theon.


The Stupidest Lawsuits of All Time: Part Two

22 Dec


In part one of this post, we read about some lawsuits that were optimistic, vexatious, or just downright stupid.  Or all three.  Sadly, (or awesomely depending on your view) they weren’t even the worst of them, as you’ll see in this, The Stupidest Lawsuits of All Time: Part Two.

In part one I also left you with the following pop quiz:

Which of the following are reasons why actual lawsuits were filed by US prisoners:

  1. A prison failed to freeze a prisoner’s ice-cream.
  2. A prisoner received a bad haircut.
  3. A phone message taken for a prisoner contained errors.
  4. A prison refused to serve an inmate veal, lamb and oysters.

The answer?  All of the above!  Obviously!  Yes, evidence suggests that US criminals love themselves a stupid lawsuit.  I suppose they do have a lot of spare time on their hands.

Take, for example, Dale Frank Maisano.  The inmate of the Arizona State Prison Complex in Tucson sued the prison for giving him a “non-medical diet” that resulted in “cramps which caused the plaintiff to lose sleep”.  The amount of damages he was seeking?  One trillion dollars.  You might want to dial that back a notch Dale.

Or not…

Maisano also sued the prison for giving him late meals two days in a row, resulting in him developing an eating disorder.  The amount of damages he sought for that?  TEN trillion dollars!  Needless to say these lawsuits were dismissed.  As were the 380 other suits he’s filed since 1991!  Like I said, they have a lot of spare time on their hands.

"Ten trillion dollars!"

“Ten trillion dollars!”

But it’s not just US criminals who enjoy a stupid lawsuit.  The guys on the other side of the courtroom have proven themselves just as idiotic.  In 2007, a Washington D.C. judge named Roy Pearson sued the owners of a ‘mom and pop’ drycleaners*.  After he had picked up an $800 pair of pants ($800!!!) he had dropped off to be cleaned, Pearson examined the pants and decided that they were not his.  He sued the drycleaners, Mr and Mrs Chung, for stealing his $800 pants (seriously – $800!!!) and swapping them with a cheap replacement.  Even though they didn’t think they’d done anything wrong, the Chungs offered to settle the lawsuit by paying the judge $12,000.

Pearson refused.

Instead he wanted at least $1,500 per defendant for each day that they displayed a ‘Satisfaction guaranteed’ sign on their business (estimated at 12,000 days), emotional damages, the cost of a car to drive to an alternate drycleaners, and legal fees – even though Pearson represented himself!  The total cost of the lawsuit?  $67 million!

Thankfully not all judges are absurdly misguided as Pearson, and his lawsuit was promptly dismissed by the courts, as was his inevitable appeal.  Not only that, Pearson was required to pay the Chungs’ legal fees.  The best part about this story, however, is that Pearson also lost his job as a judge after a review board found he lacked “appropriate judgment and judicial temperament.”  The technical legal term for that comment by the review board is ‘rank understatement’.

I'd like to think Pearson's pants looked like this.

I’d like to think Pearson’s pants looked like this.

What could be worse than suing a hard working, older couple just trying to do a good job?  Suing a pair of children for giving you free cookies.  Yes, a 49-year-old American woman named Wanita Young sued her neighbours, teenagers Taylor Ostergaard and Lindsey Zellitti.  The friends spent an evening baking cookies for the residents of their street.  They wanted their good deed to be anonymous, however, and so left the heart shaped packages of biscuits on their neighbours’ porches, knocked on the doors, and ran away.  They also left behind notes saying, “Have a great night.  From the T and L Club.”  Naturally this enraged and frightened Young, who promptly called the police.  Even though the police saw nothing to suggest a crime had been committed and tried to calm Young down, she admitted herself into hospital the following day with a complaint of an anxiety attack.

Ostergaard and Zellitti apologised to Young when they found out, and their parents offered to pay her medical bills.  She turned down the offer and instead decided to sue.  There is a happy ending, as whilst the judge awarded Young the $900 she was seeking for medical damages, her claim of $3000 for lost wages and new motion-sensor lights was denied.  Also, when the ruling made national headlines, members of the public donated money to the teens to cover their costs.  The moral of the story?  Do not go trick-or-treating in that neighbourhood.

It’s not just crazy people who file ridiculous lawsuits – it’s also crazy cities as well.  In 2008, the mayor of a Turkish city planned suing Christopher Nolan and Warner Bros., the director and company behind the film The Dark Knight.  The city sought royalties from the film.  Why?  Because the Turkish city in question is named Batman.

As the mayor said, “There is only one Batman in the world.  The American producers used the name of our city without informing us.”  Not even the Joker would dare commit a crime so outrageous.

The mayor of Batman did not mention why the city hadn’t sued anyone before, even though the character was created in 1939, the TV show debuted in 1966, and five other Batman films were released before The Dark Knight.  It doesn’t take the Caped Crusader to figure out that The Dark Knight’s box office takings of over $1 billion might have had something to do with it.

Perhaps most bizarrely, the mayor planned on claiming damages for a number of unsolved murders and a high female suicide rate resulting from the psychological impact the film’s success had on the city’s residents.

Bruce Wayne always struggled internally with himself, but this is truly the biggest fight Batman has had with Batman.

"Let's see.  'I'm Istanbul!'  No.  'I'm Ankara!'  Nup.  'I'm Izmir!'  Nope.  'I'm Batman!'  Yes!  That works!"

“Let’s see. ‘I’m Istanbul!’ No. ‘I’m Ankara!’ Nup. ‘I’m Izmir!’ Nope. ‘I’m Batman!’ Yes! That works!”

Going to a strip club on your bucks night can be dangerous, depending on whether or not your fiancé finds out, but for Paul Shimkonis, his visit to the Diamond Dolls Club was particularly fraught with peril.  That was because Shimkonis was injured – by being struck in the face by a stripper’s breasts, resulting in alleged injuries to his face, head and neck.

The alleged ‘assailant’ was Tawny Peaks (possibly not her birth name), a stripper and star of several adult films including Boob Cruise ’94 (I’m not making that up).  Tawny sports a pair of breasts variously reported as between sizes 60HHH and 69HH – in other words, freaking huge – which she used to ‘entertain’ Shimkonis.  However, Shimkonis claimed that Tawny’s breasts were so hard, and hit him so forcefully, that they knocked him out and gave him whiplash.  Or as I like to call it, striplash.

As Shimkonis stated, “I was literally seeing stars.  The best way to describe it is like a concrete block hitting me in the forehead.”  Not sure what the doctor used for Tawny’s implants, but I would stick to silicone if I was him.  In any event, Shimkonis sued Peaks and the Diamond Dolls Club for $15,000 in damages.  Preferably in $1 bills.

Just when you think this story couldn’t get more ridiculous, the lawsuit was heard on the television show, The People’s Court.  After hearing evidence on Peaks’ breasts being like “concrete”, a female bailiff ‘appraised’ her breasts (Tawny’s, not the bailiff’s) and gave evidence that they were, “About two pounds each and of average firmness.”  The lawsuit was dismissed, and Tawny was free to slap her breasts into the faces of more appreciative men.

Finally is this, possibly my favourite lawsuit of all time.

According to he lawsuit of Allen Heckard, of Portland, USA, life was tough.  He couldn’t attend religious services, ride public transport, play sport in public parks, or eat at restaurants without being harassed.  The cause of the harassment, according to his lawsuit, was that Heckard looked too similar to basketball superstar Michael Jordan.  Yes, in 2006 he sued Jordan and the company that helped make him a celebrity, Nike, $416 million each on the grounds that his resemblance to Jordan caused emotional pain and suffering, defamation, and permanent injury.  Apparently not everyone wants to ‘Be Like Mike’.


In Heckard’s words, “I’m constantly being accused of looking like Michael, and it makes it very uncomfortable for me.  Even when I go to the gym I’m being accused of playing ball like him.”  Yes, I’m sure you frequently get told you play like the best and most exciting basketball player that ever lived.  And even if you did, it must be devastating to hear.  As for looking like Jordan, Heckard is six inches shorter and eight years older, which doesn’t help his claims.  And if his ‘resemblance’ to Jordan is so problematic for him, perhaps he could stop shaving his head and wearing Nike earrings and Jordan sneakers.

Heckard eventually dropped the suit.  He was last seen at the Diamond Dolls Club.

The Stupidest Lawsuits of All Time

4 Nov

A few months ago an American man named Chris Sevier sued Apple in what has got to be one of the most optimistic legal claims of all time.  The thirty six year old filed a lawsuit seeking damages and injunctive relief against the tech company for creating devices that resulted in his addiction to porn.

Don’t laugh – Sevier is a victim.

Sevier was a victim because, according to his lawsuit, “But for the Plaintiff’s use of the Apple product, the quality of the Plaintiff’s life would have been much better and injury would have been avoided.  The Plaintiff sustained these unwarranted damages in the course of using Apple’s product as designed.”  Further, by allowing Sevier to access porn the products, “systematically poisoned his life.”

Noticeably absent from the lawsuit is the term “self-control”.

Get that Devil's instrument away from me!

Get that Devil’s instrument away from me!

The plaintiff’s 50 page complaint is loaded full of gems.  Among the highlights:

–        Porn is responsible for American girls traveling overseas and being abducted for sex trafficking.  He didn’t refer to it explicitly in the lawsuit, but I’m pretty sure Sevier has watched Taken a few too many times.

–        The beginning of Sevier’s descent into addiction began when he “accidentally misspelled ‘’ which lead him to ‘f**’ and a host of web sites that caused him to see pornographic images that appealed to his biological sensibilities as a male”.  That’s one hell of a typo.  If indeed it was an accident, his subconscious is screaming at him.  I also love his horniness being referred to as his “biological sensibilities as a male”.

–        The Apple device resulted in “unfair competition” between porn actresses and Sevier’s wife, the result being that he “began desiring, younger more beautiful girls featured in porn videos than his wife, who was no longer 21”.  Ignoring the shocking grammar, that is one of the funniest statements anyone has ever made about their wife.

–        Sevier’s proposal for Apple devices to automatically block pornography would boost the economy of “the bricks and mortar pornography industry”, whose businesses are being threatened by their online counterparts.  Sevier isn’t just looking out for himself, but for all of the good people of America.

I don’t like Sevier’s chances of a favourable result, which is a shame, because any lawsuit that uses phrases like “intent to cause vicarious arousal” and “‘mom and pop’ porn shops” should be applauded.

I would advise in future that Sevier gets a lawyer to file lawsuits on his behalf, instead of doing it himself.  Wait a second – Sevier is a lawyer.  God bless America.

This bizarre legal claim reminded me of a few other lawsuits that defied logic, and so here are some of the Stupidest Lawsuits of All Time.

Graduating With Honours, But Without Honour

Trina Thompson graduated from Monroe College in New York, USA, in April 2009.  Three months later she hadn’t been able to find employment in her industry of information technology and so she undertook the only logical option available to her – she sued the college for failing to secure her a job.

Thompson sought damages of $70,000 for the cost of her tuition, plus $2,000 for the stress of spending three months unsuccessfully trying to find employment.  There are plenty of reasons why someone might not be able to find a job straight out of college.  The first reason that comes to mind is that little thing called the Global Financial Crisis.  In this instance, however, I think we shouldn’t overlook the fact that Thompson is clearly an idiot.

Evidently Monroe College don’t teach their students common sense.

Beer, I Thought We Were Friends

In 1991, Richard Overton sued beer manufacturer Anheuser-Busch for $10,000.  It’s amazing to think that someone could have any problems with a company that goes out of its way to produce beer for our enjoyment, but Overton did.  Did he consume a beer that was tainted with an unwanted ingredient?  Did he cut himself on a broken bottle?  Did he get run over by a beer truck?

No, Overton sued the company because although its commercials showed that drinking Budweiser beer would lead drinkers to “scenic tropical settings [with] beautiful women and men engaged in endless and unrestricted merriment”, it turned out to be “untrue” when Overton began to drink the product.  That’s right, because Overton didn’t suddenly find himself on a tropical island with a bunch of hotties, he sued the company for false and misleading advertising that caused him emotional distress, financial loss and mental injury.  I think the mental injury must have occurred long before he began consuming the product.

Heads up dude, this won't happen either if you drink German beer.

Heads up Overton: if you drink German beer, this won’t happen either.

Needless to say his lawsuit was dismissed.  It is believed that Overton is now focussing on suing Red Bull on the basis he drank a can and didn’t grow wings.  Some members of the legal profession are probably hoping he still tries to fly off a building.

What is This Slop?

In 1989, a man named Kenneth Parker sued the US state of Nevada $5,500.00 for mental and emotional pain.  What could cause him such distress?  He ordered two jars of chunky peanut butter from a state run facility, but one of the jars he received was smooth peanut butter.   Not cool Nevada.  Not cool.

What makes Parker’s claim a little more unusual (it’s possible!) is that the state run facility he was suing was a prison.  A prison in which Parker was an inmate, serving 15 years for armed robbery.

Yes, Parker was suing his prison for giving him the wrong kind of peanut butter.  His lawsuit could not be more outrageous than that.  Except that it was.  Parker was also seeking a jail term for the worker who gave him the smooth peanut butter.  Presumably so that the worker would know what it’s like to get given incorrect condiments in prison.

"Aw, hell no muthaf*cka!"

“Aw, hell no muthaf*cka!”

Somehow it took two years before the lawsuit was finally dismissed.  Parker’s lack of success didn’t discourage other prisoners from filing claims though.

I Hate This Guy

Possibly the most creative lawsuit on this list was filed by inmate Robert Lee Brock, who was serving a lengthy sentence for grand larceny and breaking-and-entering in Virginia, US.  He sued the person that he thought was most responsible for him being incarcerated.


Yes, Brock sued himself $5 million for breaching his own “religious and civil rights” by “partaking of alcoholic beverages” that led to him committing his crimes.  Talk about hating yourself.  The genius of the lawsuit (if you can call it that), was that given the fact that he was incarcerated, Brock’s claim went on to assert that the state of Virginia should pay the damages on his behalf.  His logic was that the state was denying him from earning an income, and responsible for him during his jail term, and therefore should be responsible to pay the damages.

The lawsuit failed on basically every ground it was made on.  However Judge Rebecca Beach Smith did praise Brock for his “innovative approach to civil-rights litigation.”  Seriously Your Honour – don’t encourage him.

Pop Quiz

There are plenty more ridiculous lawsuits out there, some of which will be in part two of this post.  Until then, here’s a little pop quiz for you.

Which of the following are reasons why actual lawsuits were filed by US prisoners:

  1. A prison failed to freeze a prisoner’s ice-cream.
  2. A prisoner received a bad haircut.
  3. A phone message taken for a prisoner contained errors.
  4. A prison refused to include veal, lamb and oysters on its menu for inmates.

Share your guesses in the comments section below and check back into Hesaidwhatnow? later for the answers!

Punk’d – Ancient Rome Style!

24 Sep

Everyone loves a prank, particularly when they’re not on the receiving end.  Whether it’s putting cling wrap on the toilet seat, bubble wrapping every item in a colleague’s office, or telling your parents that you’re dropping out of high school because you’re pregnant to your maths teacher, pranks can be amazing things.

Last week, a bunch of New Zealanders pulled off a brilliant prank: they rigged the taps of a friend’s house so that they poured beer instead of water.  When their friend and his partner left their home, the pranksters got under the house with a toolbox and several kegs of beer.  With some serious plumbing skills, they connected every tap in the house to a keg, and installed 14 hidden cameras to watch the couple’s reaction when they returned home.

The prank was gold – as was the liquid that poured from every tap the Aucklander turned on.  Whilst this meant that the victim enjoyed a few cool glasses of ale, it also meant that taking a shower didn’t really help him get clean.  Also I’m not sure how the lawn fared, although I imagine running through the sprinkler would have been fun (and a little unhealthy for the kids).

That’s some elaborate pranking, sure, but when it comes to executing pranks on a grand scale, and with no concept of sanity, no one quite did it like my favourite prankster of all time: Elagabalus.  Don’t know who that is?  Well let me paint you a picture.

Elagabalus was creative, so his pranks had never been done before.  He was rich, so cost was no barrier to their execution.  And he was thoroughly insane, so the pranks were always bizarre and often dangerous.

Oh, and he was a fourteen-year-old Emperor of Ancient Rome.

In 217 A.D., Roman Emperor Caracalla was assassinated and replaced by prefect Marcus Opellius Macrinus.  Caracalla’s devious aunt, Julia Maesa, successfully plotted to have Macrinus overthrown and to instate Caracalla’s cousin – her grandson – as Emperor instead.  That person happened to be Elagabalus, who was fourteen at the time.  What do you do when you’re fourteen years old and your grandmother makes you ruler of the most powerful Empire in the known world?

You use your newfound power and riches to become the craziest prankster that ever lived.

Now, it should be pointed out that some modern historians are a little sceptical about the truth of some of these stories, but all of what you are about to read comes from texts such as the Augustan History, and contemporaneous accounts such as those written by Cassius Dio, a Roman senator.  So as far as I’m concerned, they’re all true.  Please be all true.

Elagabalus was eccentric – he often had flakes of gold sprinkled over his food and he liked to dress as a woman – so it’s no real surprise that he liked to pull pranks.  For example, he created a device that he slipped onto the chairs of his dinner guests that when sat upon, made it sound like the victim had let off wind.

Yes, a Roman Emperor invented the whoopee cushion.

Property of Elagabalus.  Patent pending.

Property of Elagabalus. Patent pending.

That’s not all Elagabalus invented.  His eccentricities and insistence on imposing his unorthodox religious beliefs on the Roman populace made him start to become an unpopular ruler.  So to win the people back, Elagabalus created a lottery, thought to be the first ever in Europe.  He gave away tickets to the public, and some of the recipients won prizes just like in modern lotteries.  Well, maybe not exactly like modern lotteries; sometimes the winning prize was a slave.

However this soon got boring for Elagabalus, so to spice things up he began distributing the lottery tickets by catapulting them into crowds and watching them fight amongst each other to claim them.  Even that got boring, so next he decided to prank the citizens by firing something else into the crowds at the same time as the lottery tickets.

Poisonous snakes.

Way to win back the people, Elagabalus.

He didn’t stop there.  Soon he began pranking the lottery winners themselves.  The winners would receive a prize, not knowing what it was.  Sometimes they would open the prize box to see that it contained money.  Other times, the box would contain a dead dog or a swarm of wasps.  Every now and then it would contain an order for the winner to be executed.  Classic!

It wasn’t even safe being friends with Elagabalus, as he loved nothing more than to prank his dinner guests as well.  Of course there were the whoopee cushions, but he had other tricks up his sleeves.

Way before Heston Blumenthal had his cooking show, Heston’s Feasts, Elagabalus served food to his guests that looked like one thing, but were in fact another.  Unlike Heston’s Feasts, though, his prank foods weren’t things like meat prepared to look like fruit, or cutlery that was edible.  Rather, he presented rocks disguised as food.  Apparently he loved nothing more than to watch his guests bite into what they thought was an apple, only to break their teeth on a rock.  What a jester!

It was said that during one of his dinner parties he had installed a mechanism that dropped hundreds of thousands of rose petals on an unsuspecting guest, only for the guest to suffocate under the mountain of petals.  Just a guess, but I’d say that’s probably the only time a coroner’s certificate ever read, ‘Death by petals’.

Perhaps the prank Elagabalus is most famous for is this one.  Elagabalus’ guests would be invited to stay the night after their feasts, his palace’s many bedrooms available for all.  What his guests wouldn’t know is that he would place a special surprise in a few of the random rooms.


Yes, it filled Elagabalus with no end of joy to know that some of his guests would open their bedroom door to receive the shock of their life.  A life that would no doubt end a few seconds later.



Given his propensity for insane hijinks, it’s no surprise that in 222 A.D., just four years after coming to power, Elagabalus was assassinated.  Was a disgruntled prank victim behind the plot to kill him?  No, it was Julia Maesa, the same grandmother that made him Emperor in the first place.  Lil Ol’ Granny Julia: destroying Emperors and stereotypes!

So next time you are thinking about pranking someone, remember the fine tradition that Elagabalus set many centuries ago, and try to emulate his creativity.  Just remember to not take things too far, else you might find yourself killed by your grandmother.