On The Field Of Battle 
As all fans of the Napoleonic Wars are aware, today marks the 200th anniversary of a battle at Liegnitz, Prussia (Legnica, Poland today). The Battle of Katzbach, a lesser-known conflict in the War of the Sixth Coalition might have been avoided if not for Jaqcue MacDonald's French troops and Gebhard von Blucher's Russo-Prussian forces accidentally running into each other.

"Apparently, this sort of thing happened from time to time," noted Jean-Sean MacDonald, decendant of the Scots-French military leader.

"Really, it's amazing that it didn't happen more often, with hundres of thousands of troops wandering all over the place," added Hans Blucher, whose ancestor once lead the Sixth Coalition's eastern forces, as he sits next to MacDonald, carrying on the tradition estlished by their forebearers almost two centuries prior.

"After the war had ended," explained MacDonald, "our granddads -- well, great-great-great- ... you understand -- met here to ... well, to ..."

"To apologize to each other for the whole thing," interupted Blucher.

"Oui. Aye. That."

"The whole thing should have never happened," continued Blucher. "Both forces were on their ways to other places and ran into each other quite by accident. Have you looked around this place? There's nothing here -- no reason anyone would try to fight for this location. It's not strategicly important. But they ran to each other and couldn't just pretend they didn't see each other. I mean there were over 100,000 pairs of eyes on each side -- word was bound to get around.

"Next thing you know, they're charging and flanking and out-flanking and running all over the place."

"It was a royal mess," MacDonand pointed out.

"When it was done, there were almost 20,000 casualties", Blucher added. "Jacques and Gebhard, our grandfathers, were apalled. Neither, we are told, spoke about it for months. After the war, Jacques suggested they meet here to talk things over; they camped out, cooked over an open fire, and drank toasts to their slain soldiers."

"Obviously, when so many fallen soldiers, there was a lot of drinking to be done," pointed out MacDonand. "They were at it for the better part of two weeks and still felt they had not done enough to remember their comrades."

"No, indeed. They decided to come back the next year," said Blucher. "And the year after that. Before long, they had a tradition going. When they were too old to make they journey alone, their sons would travel with them. In time, it was the sons who came here every year. And so on, since then."

"Of course, some years had to be missed," admitted MacDonald. "During the Crimean conflict, of course. My grandfather, Pierre-Paul, insists that he and Klaus Blucher met once during the First World War. It was a crazy and dangerous thing to do, but he said they had been doing it before the war and were not about to let hostilities interfere with tradition. Still, he said they only managed it once."

"Likewise," offered Blucher, "our fathers managed to continue the tradition through most of the Second World War. It was, as it had been for their fathers, dangerous and probably stupid, but they were young and full of family pride. It was the Cold War that really messed things up."

"Och, mon Dieu!" exclaimed MacDonand, "what a mess! Our fathers didn't meet for almost 35 years -- it just wasn't possible under the circumstances. Then the wall came down. They wrote to each other that very week and agreed to bring Hans and me to the first Katzbach memorial observation since ... what? ... 1962? 63? Something like that. Both our dads passed away a few years afterwards, but Hans and me, we are still getting together, year after year."

"He brings whiskey," Blucher chuckled, "and I bring beer. We both bring wine. We even buy some of the local vodka and do a few toasts with that. It's made from cabbages, I think, and smells of old socks, but we like to do something for the local economy. Look at this place! If there wasn't several generations of family history, do you think we'd be here?"

One toasts, then the other. Then they repeat the process. They stop briefly to cook a hasty meal of sausages and toasted bread, then continue the drinking into the late hours. Both insist you can hear the fallen warriors whispering in the night. Without sufficient toasting, they insist, they'd never be able to fall asleep.

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We Is Us 
Fans of Walt Kelly, born 100 years ago this day, gathered at the Cemetery of the Evergreens in Brooklyn, New York to lay a wreath at his grave. To their frustration, after wandering the cemetery for the better part of four hours, the group finally decided to leave the wreath on the grave of Winsor McCay, creator of "Little Nemo."

"I was sure his grave was around here somewhere," stated James Lewis, organizer of the wreath-laying event. "There's a persistent rumor that we was actually cremated, so perhaps that's why we can't find him."

Lewis went on to point out, "for all we know, he's still alive somewhere, but I doubt it. I mean, how could he still be around and not writing 'Pogo'? With all of the material he'd have to work with, I'm sure he'd writing something about it. Sure, he had some really idiotic politicians back in the day, but they're nothing compared to the source material available today."

Despite high attendance at the wreath-laying event, not everyone is pleased with Kelly's mocking of society's foibles. His wit, suggest some, cut too close to the bone. Lewis claims those who disliked Kelly's social commentaries are merely those who were most deserving of being mocked -- the shifty, the high-and-mighty, and the hapless everyday people who go along with the status quo, never questioning what might be wrong with the world.

"In some ways, it's Kelly's biggest fans that should be annoyed with him for pointing out our shortcomings," mentioned Lewis. "We have met the enmity, and we is us."

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Chips All Around 
In a display of pagentry celebrating the 160th anniversary of the invention of the potato chip, reenactors converged on Saratoga Springs, New York, birthplace of the ubiquitous snack food. According to legend, Chef George Crum created the snack out of spite, having overcooked and oversalted thinly sliced potatoes ordered by a troublesome customer.

Robert Crum, who claims to be a decendant of the famous chef, portrayed the harried hash-slinger at this year's Crum Days reenactment event. "People are finally giving the chip some of the recognition it deserves," notes Crum. "We have potato slicing races, potato slice frying races, fried potato slice salting races ... it's all amazingly competative."

Festival organizers deny that the event is nothing more than an excuse to get thousands of people to spend a weekend preparing "kettle style" potato chips for little or no compensation. The hundreds of pounds of potato chips generated in the course of the competitions "are donated to charitable organizations around east-central New York state," according to publicist Nigel Crum, who insists he is no relation.

Each year, the town builds a replica of the original Moon's Lake House, the restaurant where the potato chip was first made, to serve as headquarters for the festivities. For reasons no one has been able to fully explain, the replica manages to catch fire toward the end of the weekend and ends up burnt to the ground. "It's all very traditional, really," says Alice Crum (no relation), "The original Moon's Lake House never could stay standing for very long, no matter who rebuilt it."

Festivities are expected to wrap up tomorrow evening with a traditional s'mores party, celebrating another traditional snack food that may or may not have been created by George Crum.

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The Future Finally Arrives 
The Motor City is abuzz with news from Ford Motor Company -- the 2014 line-up will include the first ever flying car from a major automobile manufacturer. Hailed as major breakthrough by commuters and an unquestionable disaster by leading insurers, the new Ford Falcon is expected to be in showrooms by late October. When asked why this landmark vehicle was debuting as a Ford and not a Lincoln model, CEO A.R. Mulally pointed out, "The Model T was a common car for the common consumer. We envisioned the new Falcon as a flying vehicle for the common consumer -- a way to make the sky open to as many people as possible."

Ford's announcement has met with enthusiastic approval of S.C. Simmons, long-time flying car enthusiast. "This could cut my daily commute to about a third of what it is now," Simmons exclaimed, "At least until everybody else had one, too."

Not everybody is sure the future is so bright for aviated autos. Industry skeptic W.S. Higgins points out that, "over the years, the buying public has expressed a greater interest in unobtainable jet-packs over unobtainable flying cars. It's only a matter of time before some company brings a vehicle with more vertical lift and really spiffy jets to market. Buyers may hold off until a dominant air transport methodology emerges. No one wants to be stuck with a steam-powered car in a world of gas engines."

For now, Ford seems to be leading the way to the open skies, but General Motors is rumored to be investing heavily in strategic helium reserves and should not be counted out of the game.

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West To Retake Cowl 
To the surprise of many, Adam West (84) has been named to play Batman in an upcoming feature film. West, best known for his portrayal of the iconic crime-fighter in the 1960s, was cited by future "Batman: The Dark Knight Rises Slowly" director Joss Whedon as being the one actor who could bring back to the screen something crucial that has been missing from the Batman franchise for decades: "A sense of campy vulnerability."

"Have you been to any of the Batman movies in the past 25 years?" asked Whedon. "There's no suspense in the character. No feeling that, at any moment, the Riddler might remove the cowl and expose him to the harsh light of day. I need to make Batman -- and Bruce Wayne -- someone that we can believe in, but also wink and grin about. Adam West really is the only actor who brings that to the character."

In "Batman: The Dark Knight Rises Slowly", Bruce Wayne has retired from crime fighting once more. This time, his plans of quietly raising championship corgis are threatened by the return of The Queen, a dangerously deluded villain who is bent upon bringing all of corgi-dom under her control with a mind-controlling chew toy.

Forced back into action to save the animals he loves, the caped crusader seeks out a forgotten strain of wolfsbane that gives canines the will to resist evil influences.

"West will totally rock this," beamed Whedon.

When asked to comment on his return to the Bat Cave, West merely winked, grinned, and commented, "Atomic batteries to power!"

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