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News at six

The demographics for TV news must skew so old that one wonders if anyone stays awake for the second half-hour. Ads for geriatrics predominate: drugs for cancer, drugs to keep one's bowels moving, upcoming golf tournaments - and Depends diapers, too. The only youngsters seen in ads are either visiting Grandpa in the hospital or waxing enthusiastic about the wonders of Chevrolets.

One can only imagine where young people go to find news. Twitter? Worse, Facebook? Sketchy web sites? Under a volcano? All I know is that Americans seem increasingly uninformed about the world around them yet increasingly confident in those uninformed opinions.



The heist

It was the perfect heist. Mike had scoped out the bank while I planned the getaway route. We'd demand everything from the teller drawers which, on a Friday, would be bursting with cash for payday.

The first part went like clockwork. Mike and I entered the bank with our masks and pulled our guns, covering the guard and ensuring no one pushed a panic button. We split the bags of cash and went our separate ways in case one of us got caught, arranging to meet later. That's when everything went sour.

The cops were waiting by my car. I couldn't believe that son of a bitch Mike set me up. As the cops read me my rights, I heard another set of sirens nearby. At least my anonymous call prior to the heist got a quick response.



Shell game

Switch switch switch, faster than the eye could see, and then the pitch: "Care to guess which one hides the pea, sir?" Money exchanges hands, the mark points, the conman reveals the pea is elsewhere. So sorry, try again?

It's amazing how many people fall for the scam. Do people send money to Nigerian princes, too? I suppose they must. Aha, you say, surely there's a 1-in-3 chance of winning just by sheer luck. Luck has nothing to do with a good con. I dematerialize the pea while the rube is picking and materialize it under a shell the rube doesn't pick. The house wins 100% of the time.

Sure, perhaps a teleportation device has better uses than a cheap hustle, but this game is so satisfying.



Private dick

Young Jill Pinkerton - yes, of those Pinkertons, some number of generations removed from the great Allan - sat in her car, idling in neutral to stave off some of the cold. A tap at her window caught her attention. She opened the window with a punch of the power button, only to see the quarry she was tracking, a zither-playing orc. It was one of those days. "Why you follow me?" the orc growled, smacking Jill in the head, leaving a large contusion the next day. Without another word, the orc wandered off, playing the theme from "The Third Man."

Jill's client was a foul-mouthed, blasphenous priest who had been swindled by the orc. He had peeled off a number of large-denomination bills from a huge wad, swearing the entire time. He never explained how the orc swindled him, but it was clear that he held a grudge.

As she recovered from the orc's blow, she reconsidered her career. Everyone expected a Pinkerton to go into the family business, but this day convinced her she was in the wrong profession. Maybe she'd open a small tea room. She'd ban all priests, orcs, and, yes, zithers too.




When I had a deposit to make, I always drove to the bank, waited for the guard to wave the metal-detecting wand over me, and stood in line for a teller. Today was no different. I filled out the deposit slip and handed her the slip and a piece of paper that read "The Capitals will fold in Game 7 of the second round of the playoffs again this year."

"What's this?" the teller asked.

"My great-uncle always told me that if something was invariably true you could 'take it to the bank.' Predicting another early exit for the Caps seemed like a safe bet."

The teller nodded, took both pieces of paper, and credited that advice to my account.