Props to HUGR Systems for knowing how to get our attention. First, the press release: "Revolutionary New Engines Running on French Fry Grease Unveiled in Apopka Monday." Mmmm, French fries.

Next, the sales pitch: "Lunch will be served, cooked in oil that will later be used to fuel lawn mowers and heavy equipment." Mmmm, lunch cooked in lawn-mower propellant.

And then the clincher: In attendance would be none other than Rep. Ric Keller, Happytownª's own portly congressman! Mmmm, congressmen.

HUGR has figured out a way to turn vegetable oil – French-fry grease – into a fuel that can power diesel engines. And since there are 2.4 billion gallons of vegetable oil that go to waste every year in the United States, according to company lit, why not convert the stuff into fuel for lawn mowers, pressure cleaners, even the Volkswagen Jetta HUGR director J.P. Patten's wife drives?

Plus, we can't foresee pending wars over used French-fry grease. Unless McDonald's invades Burger King or something.

All in all, a good deal. So with our endorsement out of the way, let's get down to the real reason we schlepped all the way to Apopka: the term "French fries." Pull up a chair, you little whippersnappers, and let us tell you a story.

Way back when, 'afore we invaded Iraq, House Republicans outdid themselves dissing the French. The wine flowed down gutters like the blood flows in Baghdad, because them dang Frenchies wouldn't help us! Anyone remember them crispy, golden "Freedom Fries" served in the House cafeteria?

Guess not, because HUGR's press release featured the word "French" bolded and underlined.

We asked Rickey-boy, as the prez likes to call him, this all-important question. And, with a quick laugh, he dodged it. "That's a Bob Ney thing," he told Happytownª, referring to the Ohio representative who got the anti-French ball rolling last year.

Bryan Malenius, Keller's PR guy, takes the heat for the Frenchness. "Everybody's got somebody on their staff who's a little soft," Keller adds.

We were disappointed to see Keller skip the fries at lunch, opting for a hamburger (sans bun) and bottled water. He's on that low-carb bandwagon, and to his credit, he looks slimmer than the last time we saw him.

And perhaps to show off the new, slimmer Rep. Keller, he insisted on having his picture taken with us, "just to show their endorsement." So here it is: Keller's looking hot these days!

"That's going to cost me 300,000 votes," Keller said of the warm embrace caught on film.

We're here to help.

Speaking of wacky Republicans, how about that homo-hating Mel Martinez? Right about the time Senate candidate Martinez was touring Sara Trollinger's House of Hope July 26 with rabidly antigay Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum – heh heh, we said "santorum" – a fun little e-mail hit Happytown™ HQ's inbox, directing us to a story in the gay newspaper The Washington Blade. The Blade, after noting in its headline that our former Orange County chairman was "anti-gay," outed two of his top political advisors.

Which, assuming it's true, isn't good news for Mel, seeing as how he's trying to cater to a freakishly right-wing base that might not be thrilled to hear that he has homos in his employ. Because, you know, they're sinners and all.

But this situation left us with an ethical dilemma: Do we name names? The Blade did. We tried to reach the two advisors. One didn't call back – just like the Martinez campaign's spokeswoman – and the other wouldn't comment on the record.

After some hand-wringing, we opted not to. After all, if you really want to know, the Blade is online. We don't think these two should suffer for Martinez' hypocrisy. Mel Martinez should have to suffer for Mel Martinez' hypocrisy.

Here at Happytown™, we love meat. All kinds: white meat, red meat, green meat. But we're also connoisseurs of good taste, and nothing says good taste like a billboard featuring Pam Anderson in a bra barely up to the task at hand (ahem) excoriating KFC for being mean to chickens.

We haven't seen the actual billboard. Neither have you, unless you live in Dallas. Those wacky folks at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals brought it to our attention that they wanted to put the billboard up here, but "outdoor advertisers wanted no part of it ... ."

Said billboard, on which Anderson urges passersby to "boycott KFC" due to its practice of "live scalding, painful debeaking, crippled chickens," is proudly grossing out Dallasites, giving drivers a surprising mix of nausea and sexual stimulation. Why don't we get similar nauserotic sensations? Why do we get stuck with the pro-life fetus flaunters? Oh yeah. Because we're rednecks.

It's not easy being a writer for the Orlando Sentinel. You have to clean your desk every night. Your editors prune your copy of naughty words like "hell." And every once in a while, you're called upon to cross an ethical line to help the sales staff scare up some advertising dollars.

That's what seemed to be going on in the July 27 edition of Scott Maxwell's "Taking Names" column, in which the Local & State section's resident gossip-monger (under the sarcastic cover of a follow-the-money item) pointed out that state Rep. Jim Kallinger had saved the taxpayers some $2,500 by taking out a full-page ad in the Sentinel to tout his accomplishments, rather than sending out a direct-mail piece. The attendant message – advertising with the Sentinel makes good sense for anybody! – was none too subtle, and our initial reaction to it was somewhat humorless; as we recall, it ran along the lines of, "Hey Maxwell, why don't you just print a rate card next time, you piece of shit?"

But then we got to wondering if he might be on to something. Maxwell is obviously operating in a lifestyle bracket superior to ours – just check out that tie! – so perhaps we humble Orlando Weekly scribes could likewise feather our nests by helping our own hardworking sales staff rack up the contracts. There's only one problem: We have no idea what they charge for ads. (It's called editorial autonomy, and it's sorta supposed to be the way legitimate newspapers operate, kinda.) So, since we're unable to function on behalf of our advertising department, we've decided that we're just going to go ahead and sell editorial coverage instead.

A rate schedule is still being drawn up, but here are a few sample prices: one (1) mention in Happytownª, $450; one (1) review of your band's CD on our Music pages, $275; three (3) letters to the editor published within a 12-month period on any topic of your choosing, $900. Major credit cards will be accepted; no personal checks, please.

We'd like to close this week's report with an endorsement from Sharon Stone, as quoted on the website

"Actress Sharon Stone quit smoking and drinking after suffering a brain aneurysm in 2002. Stone, 46, who's making a comeback as villainess Laurel Hedare in the summer blockbuster Catwoman, had to fight for her life after being rushed to a San Francisco hospital. And she insists the experience changed her: 'When my brain exploded, it was the best thing that ever happened to me. I have such a better life now. ... I'm into Happy Town, and if you don't want to live in Happy Town, move, hit the friggin' bricks, baby.'"

Couldn't have said it better ourselves, Sharon. But next time spell it right: It's Happytown™.


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Jessica Bryce Young

Jessica Bryce Young has been working with Orlando Weekly since 2003, serving as copy editor, dining editor and arts editor before becoming editor in chief in 2016.
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