• Straw … or claw vote? As the country prepares for an election process whereby millions of people go to the polls to cast a ballot that then is parlayed into Electoral College votes, perhaps the Kroger store on Oakland Avenue has a simpler method.

There, for 50 cents, you can pluck out our next president — Obama or Romney — by simply playing the claw machine there.

Our exit polls (we asked a couple bag boys) indicate thus far more Kroger shoppers have tried to snatch a Romney than an Obama.

At a Steak n Shake on South Veterans, where there’s a similar claw machine, a check shows the Romneys are gone from the machine and only a lonely Obama sits, waiting to be snatched.

Or, as says Jen Haesele, of Minier, a Kroger shopper who tipped us off to the “claw” vote: “I think I’m wishing it was past Nov. 6 already.”

• Today’s deep thought

As mulled by Paul Gorden, of Bloomington:

“While delighted the recent hazardous waste collection in Normal was so successful, like many others, I was there in an hour-long wait and thought of the irony — given we were there to reduce environmental pollution, just how much extra pollution was created by the thousands of idling cars during the one-to-three hour wait in line to dispose of their hazardous waste materials?”

• Just in case Ronald needs a break today …: When dignitaries or famous people are in town, they have security details and back-up escape plans, of course.

So it apparently goes for Ronald McDonald, too.

If you saw last weekend's Illinois State University homecoming parade, you might have seen Ronald riding in that gigantic red Radio Flyer wagon that frequents area parades.

You might also have noticed a van directly behind the wagon.

In Saturday’s parade, Ronald was from Chicago and in his contract was a stipulation that a van must follow, just in case Ronald needs quick shelter in case of calamity, or weather, or wayward objects being thrown at him.

“Who would have ever thought?” muses Rick Sullivan, of Clinton, who drove the red wagon.

• Talk about job envy!: Vanessa Gerig is a 22-year-old ex-Normal Community volleyball player who today is at the University of North Alabama, where she is studying the culinary arts.

That’s learning to be a chef, of course.

So a funny thing is happening, too, to Vanessa, of Towanda, the daughter of area real-estate sales folk, Becky and Doug Gerig.

She’s getting glimpses of Donald Sutherland and Woody Harrelson, the actors, and setting a table that you yourself might see — at a theater, of all places, in the follow-up to the hugely popular “Hunger Games.”

Working alongside a 1978 alumnus of North Alabama who these days is a “food stylist” for movies (yes, they have those), the other day Vanessa set a table for 100 that was part of the set for “Hunger Games: Catching the Fire,” due out next summer.

“One day I was walking through a building on campus and happened to hear they needed a culinary arts student to work on the set,” says Vanessa. “I ran all the way back to the Culinary Arts building, found the head chef and asked him to please select me. Next thing I knew, I was on my way to the movie set, in Atlanta, for one of the biggest scenes.”

Yes, it pays to be aggressive … hungry for the role, you might say.

• Pesky, too: Our own favorite business sign last week had to be the one in front of American Pest Control, along Empire Street, that in a world of termites, rodents, ants and spiders, had a new listing:

“Pest of the Week —

Southern Illinois”

Unfortunately, SIU did prove to be a bit of a varmint indeed that left town un-exterminated.

The Salukis beat ISU on Saturday.



Bill Flick is at flick@pantagraph.com

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(2) comments

Euler 314

Had there been more of an incentive over the years for people to recycle (and have a local place for recycling) hazardous wastes, the pollution caused by idling vehicles would have been considerably less.

There's a trade-off, you know.

Euler 314

Ripe for plucking?

I'd call that a poll tax! I wouldn't waste 50 cents on that "Made in China" garbage, though those who bought the R-Money thing STILL have no problem with that outsourcing thing.

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