An announcement from Judge Lance Ito of the Superior Court of Los Angeles County:
"If you are a prospective juror on the O. J. Simpson case, I ask you to avoid reading the following column in the interests of justice.
"In fact, even if you are not a prospective juror on the O. J. Simpson case, I ask you to avoid reading the following column in the interests of good taste and simple human decency.
"Thank you. And when the trial is over, let's all try to keep in touch."
Thor and Moe looked disconsolate as I entered their meat locker on the second floor of The Sun building.
"A guy named Palidin hates you," Thor said.
"And he wrote you a poem about it," Moe said.
And what do we always tell people who say they hate me? I said.
"Get in line!" the two sang out in unison.
"But read his poem," Thor said.
"And then see if you want us to go out and do a tap dance on his windpipe," Moe said.
Thor and Moe act as my Poetry Police, enforcing the rules of my annual poetry contest. This is the entry of somebody calling himself Palidin from the town of Arnold:
I've read you for years, I confess.
Like your columns -- some more and some less.
But now two people die
And you want us to try
To make light of the whole tragic mess?
NTC Well, first of all, Palidin, what's with the one name? You think maybe you're Cher or Roseanne?
And second of all, as the semi-finalist entries that I am printing today (winners tomorrow) demonstrate, people were able to write about the O. J. Simpson trial without making light of it.
And, had you tried, maybe you could have joined this pantheon of almost winners:
John Wogan, Owings Mills:
You are our last hope.
Help us Obiwan Ito.
Sequester it all.
Bill Frost, Baltimore:
Is in the Constitution
But not the ratings?
Gary Rostknoski, Baltimore:
I watched a chase scene on TV
And wondered, "Well what could this be?
Countless hours of smirking
And with clutch, channel surfing
Said the guilty party was me!
"Wait a second," Thor said. "What does he mean by 'clutch?' "
I have no idea, I said. But I am only a columnist, not a poet. Maybe his remote control is so powerful, it needs a clutch.
"And maybe he is a pinhead," Moe said.
Guy M. Murray, Highlandtown:
There's Juice trial info galore
I really don't see the allure
He's all over the set,
They won't let you forget,
O.J.'s not just for breakfast, anymore.
"Hold it!" said Thor. "Are you trying to tell me that 'galore' and 'allure' actually rhyme?"
L Only in the original Swedish, I said. This is a translation.
"Oh," Thor said, "well, in that case, I guess it's OK."
Ronald D. Eber, Timonium:
Come see sex, murder
Watch the ratings go higher
Who cares who gets hurt?
Richard Babcock, Ellicott City:
TV eyes obsess;
The white Bronco cruises on
"Why is that one a semi-finalist?" Moe asked.
I admire his bold use of the semi-colon, I said.
Lynne M. Klippi, Baltimore:
I don't need all trial dope.
So please give me some hope!
With all the pre-emptions
What are network intentions?
Oh what will become of my soap?
Barbara Harrison, Chestertown:
Too much on O. J.
More stories like the manatee
Let good news shine forth.
I'll make a deal with you, Barbara: The next time a manatee is accused of a double homicide and flees down the freeway on live TV, I'll devote a contest to it.
Harold Hill, Jr., Glen Burnie:
A crime of passion.
Do they still get off in France?
Do they get off here?
They do if their judge is Robert Cahill! Is it too late for O. J. to get a change of venue?
Monday: The winners.