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Updated: 07/14/04

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Wednesday, 14 July, 2004

Despite my reservations about the French and their politics, Happy Bastille Day!! It is, after all, a great excuse for a party.

Which I missed this year, by the way. Our gothic, defunct center city prison, Eastern State Penitentiary, has an annual Bastille Day celebration. There are tours of the prison, live music and the local restaurants host kiosks and serve food to a huge block party next to the prison. But here's the highlight:

5:30 p.m. - Storming of the Bastille!

Grab a pitchfork and storm the walls! Armed troops will capture Marie Antoinette (tossing over 2,000 Butterscotch Krimpits from the Prison’s medieval towers), and, ignoring her mocking cries of “Let them eat TastyKake,” drag the monarch to a real, functioning guillotine. The crowd will decide her fate. Marie Antoinette will be portrayed by Terry McNally, co-owner of Fairmount’s London Grill. The French revolutionaries will be portrayed by reenactors from the Old Fort Mifflin Historical Society. But anyone can start a revolution! The public is invited to attend the celebration dressed as French peasants.

Of course, the crowd always votes to behead the monarch. It really is a great party - I'm sorry I missed it this year. So I'll have to pull out a bottle of French wine for dinner tonight to celebrate the actual day.

[Vive la France!]

Well I certainly was rather negative yesterday. Not that there wasn't good cause, in my humble opinion. So in an effort to balance the bad stories, here's a great one for today.

Tabby Gets Military Rank After Iraq Tour

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Fort Carson Staff Sgt. Rick Bousfield of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team had a mission: Saving Pvt. Hammer.

Pfc. Hammer is an Iraqi tabby cat the unit adopted after he was born last fall at a base in Balad, 50 miles north of Baghdad. When Bousfield found out his unit was leaving Iraq in March, he decided he couldn't leave a member of his team behind.

"He has been through mortar attacks," said Bousfield, a 19-year Army veteran. "He'd jump and get scared liked the rest of us. He is kind of like one of our own."

Pfc. Hammer got his name from the unit that adopted him, Team Hammer. Soldiers would tuck Hammer in their body armor during artillery attacks, and in return, Hammer chased mice in the mess hall.

"He was a stress therapist," Bousfield said. "The guys would come back in tired and stressed. Hammer would come back and bug the heck out of you. He wiped away some worries."

The kitten earned his rank after nabbing five mice.

When Bousfield learned his unit was going, he sent an e-mail to Alley Cat Allies, a national clearinghouse of information on stray cats, asking for help bringing Hammer along. Alley Cat Allies raised $2,500 for Hammer's shots, sterilization, paperwork and a plane ride to the United States.

Hammer left Iraq with his unit in March, then flew from Kuwait to San Francisco in cargo-class. He traveled first class with an Alley Cat Allies volunteer to Denver. Bousfield met the kitten at the airport.

[Love it.]

Speaking of ferocious mouse hunters, Suki will be spending two weeks at the Kitty Spa. I think I'm probably more upset than she will be about going, but there are no pets allowed at the condo. I tried to convince Gary we could smuggle her in and no one would ever know, but he said no.

[Those doctors, always sticklers for procedure.]

Quote du jour:

"Courage! I have shown it for years; think you I shall lose it at the moment when my sufferings are to end? "

-- Marie Antoinette (1755 - 1795) Austrian ruler
Remark on way to guillotine

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