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Who's Next - Gandalf? 

As if we didn't know.First there was Mark Foley and the Congressional pages. Then there was evangelist Ted Haggard, with his massage-and-meth parties. Then there

click to enlarge As if we didn't know.
  • As if we didn't know.
As if we didn't know.First there was Mark Foley and the Congressional pages. Then there was evangelist Ted Haggard, with his massage-and-meth parties. Then there was Larry Craig, with his toe-tapping and his wide stance.
And now, the shocker to end all shockers: Professor Albus Dumbledore, the late headmaster of Hogwarts School, is gay.

Dumbledore's creator, Harry Potter series author J.K. Rowling, outed the old wizard last Friday in front of a packed house at Carnegie Hall in New York, where she made a stop on her current U.S. book tour.

In response to a question about whether Dumbledore had ever found "true love," Rowling casually remarked, "Dumbledore is gay."

After a collective gasp, the audience burst into applause. "I would have told you earlier if I knew it would make you so happy," Rowling said.

Rowling also disclosed that Dumbledore fell in love with a rival magician, Gellert Grindelwald, many years ago, but his love was spurned. The unhappy relationship was Dumbledore's "great tragedy," she said.

Reaction from the gay community was mixed. A spokesman for the gay rights group Stonewall said: "It's great that JK has said this. It shows that there's no limit to what gay and lesbian people can do, even being a wizard headmaster."

"It's good that children's literature includes the reality of gay people, since we exist in every society," said British gay right activist Peter Tatchell. "But I am disappointed that she did not make Dumbledore's sexuality explicit in the Harry Potter book. Making it obvious would have sent a much more powerful message of understanding and acceptance."

We're not sure how explicit Rowling could have been in what are, after all, children's books. And when a guy's everyday attire is flowing, embroidered robes and a pointy hat to begin with, it doesn't give you much leeway.


%%#!!&%# It, We Always Knew It

From a team of researchers in England came word last week that what football, basketball and baseball teams have always instinctively known is, in fact, scientifically true: Swearing in the workplace is a good thing.Or at least not necessarily a bad thing. It all depends on the context.

According to Yehuda Baruch, a professor of management at the University of East Anglia, swearing among employees helps to ease tensions on the job, boost morale and build a sense of camaraderie. Even directing a little profanity at the boss now and then can be healthy, he said. However, swearing at senior management or at customers is definitely not a good thing.

"We hope that this study will serve not only to acknowledge the part that swearing plays in our work and our lives, but also to indicate that leaders sometimes need to 'think differently' and be open to intriguing ideas," Professor Baruch told reporters.

"Managers need to understand how their staff feels about swearing. The challenge is to master the 'art' of knowing when to turn a blind eye to communication that does not meet their own standards."

Which puts Upfront in mind of a co-worker we knew many years ago who, when struggling with a particularly obstinate piece of machinery, was heard to grumble: "The bleeping bleeper's bleepin' bleeped, bleep it" - a masterpiece of profanity that managed to employ the "bleep" word and its variants as adjective, noun, adverb and verb in the same sentence.

We don't know where the guy is today, but we wouldn't be surprised if he's a CEO.

A Ponderous Problem

click to enlarge Image
  • Image
A fire brigade in England is getting tired of having to do all the heavy lifting, so it might start charging extra for it.

The Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service said last week it was considering charging a fee to hospitals, nursing homes and the police if firefighters are called in to move grossly overweight people.

"Last year, the brigade was called out eight times to assist other services in lifting obese patients - double the number in 2004," according to London's Daily Telegraph. "One fire crew was called in to move an extremely obese man who had to go to hospital. They had to take out a window, and then use a mechanical lift to lower him to the ground."

"It is not frequent but still a regular occurrence," said a spokesman for the fire brigade. "We are not prejudiced against these people; we are helping them."

Wrestling with grossly overweight victims is an increasingly weighty problem for fire brigades and other rescue personnel in Britain, where it's predicted that half the population will be obese by 2050 if current trends continue.

Meanwhile, an enterprising company is trying to help out by offering a practice rescue dummy that weighs 28 stone - almost 400 pounds.

The Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service said last week it was considering charging a fee to hospitals, nursing homes and the police if firefighters are called in to move grossly overweight people.

"Last year, the brigade was called out eight times to assist other services in lifting obese patients - double the number in 2004," according to London's Daily Telegraph. "One fire crew was called in to move an extremely obese man who had to go to hospital. They had to take out a window, and then use a mechanical lift to lower him to the ground."

"It is not frequent but still a regular occurrence," said a spokesman for the fire brigade. "We are not prejudiced against these people; we are helping them."

Wrestling with grossly overweight victims is an increasingly weighty problem for fire brigades and other rescue personnel in Britain, where it's predicted that half the population will be obese by 2050 if current trends continue.

Meanwhile, an enterprising company is trying to help out by offering a practice rescue dummy that weighs 28 stone - almost 400 pounds.

Some Habits Die Hard 

The atmosphere was tense in Lublin, Poland, as 150 police in riot gear surrounded the compound and then busted their way in. Fortunately, the targets of the raid - 65 rebel nuns - surrendered without a struggle.

The raid climaxed a struggle that began two years ago between the Vatican and the convent's mother superior, Jadwiga Ligocka. Information is sketchy, but apparently Mother Jadwiga had been having visions that "caused unease to the congregation" of the Lublin diocese, according to the diocese's website.

The Vatican ordered the nuns to replace Mother Jadwiga. When they refused, the Vatican expelled them from their order, the Sisters of Bethany, and told them to leave the convent. They refused.

The Vatican got a court order to force the nuns to go. They still refused. Finally the cops were ordered in.

After a locksmith opened the gate the police stormed into the compound and arrested Mother Jadwiga. "Hours later," according to The Associated Press, "after mild resistance and insults from the nuns and the intervention of psychologists, about 65 defeated nuns, escorted by policewomen, walked out calmly in their black habits - some carrying guitars, others a tambourine or small drums - and boarded buses that took them away."

No violence or injuries were reported, although some of the nuns called the police "servants of Satan."

Will Ferrell Where Are You Now?

click to enlarge PImp of the Year?
  • PImp of the Year?
James Lipton the iconic and much lampooned host of Bravo's "Inside the Actors Studio" has revealed in a new book that he once worked as a pimp in France, arranging sex shows for young Americans at a Parisian club.


Lipton, who is 81, told The Associated Press that his new book, Inside Inside, recounts how as a young man he and a young lady friend came up with an arrangement where he would find clients willing to pay for a striptease show.

Okay, so he wasn't Notorious BIG, but Lipton's revelation showed that even a starchy old talk show host has a few surprises up his skirt, errr sleeve.

"We earning our living together this young woman and I, we made a rather good living, I must say."

And who said pimpin' ain't easy?

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