Ohio Inspector General Thomas Charles dropped an early Christmas present under our tree Monday: his lengthy final report on the misdeeds of former Attorney General Marc Dann. Merry Christmas, Ohio! If you like your investigative assessments like you like your hot chocolate - steamy-hot, full of sugar and kind of gross - than this one's for you.
Item: Dann used campaign cash to pay for his fast-food habit, at one point charging 35 cents at a Ravenna McDonald's. Classy!
Item: Dann hired a "coterie" (seriously, when the inspector general is forced to use a word like "coterie" in his report, you know you done fucked up) of scantily clad young women to "staff" his office only to discover these women were so hilljack that Dann assigned a "project assistant" to "conduct etiquette classes for them." These women were often referred to as "the Dannettes."
Item: While Dann never directly admitted the woman with whom he had an affair was his scheduler, Jessica Utovich, this report identifies her directly, from their first meeting at Zeno's bar to her "private rendezvous with the Attorney General at hotels," to the bracelet he bought for her during a trip to Turkey.
Item: Although Dann's wife, Alyssa Lenhoff, denied influencing her husband's decisions as AG, including implications that she pushed him to transfer the Dannettes away from his office after she learned of the goings-on, the inspector general found that "it is clear that Lenhoff had significant influence and involvement in some of the decisions" made by Dann. It now appears that Lenhoff instructed her former newspaper editor, Ed Simpson, who had become Dann's chief of staff, to read all e-mails Utovich was sending to her husband.
In closing, the report argues that Dann and his friends quickly turned "the office of the 'people's court' into a house of scandal." And the sex stuff wasn't even the worst of it. "As shocking as some of those revelations were [ie., Dann's friend buying a vibrator for a young female staffer, his communications director boffing an employee on his birthday, etc.], we found the day-to-day working environment in the Attorney General's Office to be even more unprofessional and dysfunctional than reported." - James Renner
HAVE YOU SEEN GIANT SNOWMAN ROBOT?
For 35 years, Archie the Snowman held court inside Akron's Chapel Hill Mall. Standing approximately 20 feet tall, he had, if memory serves, piercing red eyes and a big, black hat that scraped the ceiling. The giant white creature would greet terrified kids, who nervously approached him and told what they wanted for Christmas. Archie would make some small talk and send the kiddies on their way with a piece of candy. (In the years since, local residents have stepped forward, claiming they provided the voice of Archie and spoke, hidden, over a microphone. We prefer to believe his voice came from a sentient supercomputer.)
In 2004, Chapel Hill's new corporate owners, Tennessee's CBL & Associates Properties, announced plans to retire Archie, who had received considerable wear and tear over the years. He hasn't been seen since.
Scene called CBL and Chapel Hill to inquire about Archie's whereabouts. Neither returned our calls. And now, in this most joyous season, we fear the worst. The best-case scenario is that he's boxed up in the mall's catacombs, secreted under the carousel, next to the Ark of the Covenant. He may have ended up on a scrap heap. Unfortunately, public-records laws don't cover most holiday decorations.
Assuming Archie is lost, melted or smelted, we wondered what it would take to recreate the giant snowman. Scene turned to a robot expert, Scott Schaut, curator of the Mansfield Memorial Museum. Schaut is currently working on animatronic recastings of Elektro, the Mansfield-made oldest surviving American-built robot, which inspired Gort in The Day the Earth Stood Still.
The only reference material we had was a mesmerizing black-and-white photo we found on the Akron-based WonderfulWonderBlog
(wonderfulwonderblog.blogspot.com). Without technical specs, Schaut couldn't even begin to guess how much time and money an Archie 2.0 project would require; the cost could quickly reach thousands. "That's a monumental task, to build something that's 20, 25 feet high," said Schaut. If you have any information regarding Archie's whereabouts, please contact Scene. Maybe we'll have better news next year. Until we can get to the bottom of the situation, you'll have to settle for Mr. Jingeling. - D.X. Ferris
GOOD DOG, BAD DOG
When Jonah, one of 22 dogs that portray "Marley" in the new romantic comedy Marley and Me, came to Cleveland last week, the loveable lab almost didn't have a place to stay. Cleveland hotels don't permit dogs of his size (not that the 50-pound canine is that big), so Marley had to get special permission to stay at the Ritz.
Ostensibly in town to promote the film, which stars Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston as a married couple who have trouble keeping up with the rambunctious yellow labrador they adopt, Marley also did some community service. He traveled to area schools and promoted dog adoption at Tower City with the APL. Later in afternoon, he relaxed for a few minutes in the Ritz lobby with trainer Larry Madrid before heading off (in his rented Escalade, no less) to the next stop in Chicago.
Unlike the unruly creature he plays in the movie, Jonah is relaxed and well-behaved. "He's the mellow one," Madrid says of Jonah. "We had to have a mellow one for some of the acting scenes because you can't upstage the actors all the time." Jonah was also one of the smartest Marleys and performed the most difficult stunts in the movie, walking alongside a moving car while Owen Wilson holds up his hind legs as he's reaching out an open window. He's also the Marley who takes a dump on the dog beach, though Madrid explains Jonah was only acting when he defecated in the film (we did not ask him to demonstrate). Off-camera, however, Jonah really did drop a deuce when he wasn't supposed to, surprising not only Madrid but also Wilson.
If, during the 55-day shoot, Jonah picked up some bad behavior, Madrid says that's just one of the side effects of being a celebrity. "Generally, we train dogs to a level of obedience so that they perform pretty consistently," he says. "The difference in this one is that we did that while also encouraging any behavior that was crazy." So does that mean the 22 Marleys now out there might randomly start chewing up pillows and knocking people over? "Yes, they would, if given the chance," Madrid admits with a laugh. Of course, Wilson is probably capable of inflicting much more serious damage. - Jeff Niesel
THE O FILES
COULD IT BE … SATAN?
Some copies of the rare 1993 book Satanic Panic are showing up for sale on the web, just in time for the holidays. Written by sociologist Jeffrey Victor, Satanic Panic explores modern-day public hysteria and how communities - in Ohio as well as New York and Pennsylvania - are occasionally overrun by false reports of mass murders perpetrated by satanic cults. One of the more famous cases is the 1985 hysteria that culminated in the "Toledo Dig." The local sheriff there claimed he had credible confidential informants that told him there was a satanic cult in the neighborhood that had been sacrificing children since 1969. The dig at the mass-murder site, attended by about 100 reporters, found no evidence of any crime. Still, police captain Dale Griffis, a self-described cult expert, claimed that a headless doll found in the ground there was an obvious "occult ritual relic." Scary book. Because it's true.
WHAT A PIG
Move over, Mothman. Take a hike, Bigfoot. There's a new monster in town. Pig Man was first spotted in Southington, a rural village northwest of Warren, in 2007 by a young man who had stepped outside his trailer to call his girlfriend. But Pig Man has only recently come to the attention of local monster hunters. Myufo.com has an interview with the dude's girlfriend that is as chilling as it is sophomoric. "When he was talking to me, he was standing behind his trailer by the propane tanks when he saw something about 5-foot-7 walk out from behind the next-door-neighbor's shed and start walking across the lawns," she says. "He said it was completely bald … didn't seem like it had any eyes because he just saw darkness by the face … and it was really skinny. When it was about six feet away from him, it slowed down and stopped and turned its head and looked at him. Then he said it commenced on making a grunting, squealing, pig sound at him and that's when he started running." Missing link or the most imaginative excuse to get off the phone with your girlfriend ever?
FLY FOR THE BORDER
In North Canton on December 7, according to an eyewitness report posted on Ufofiler.com, a small armada of UFOs was spotted cruising over the Whipple Street Taco Bell around dinnertime. "I saw two groups of dark circular objects," the man writes. "One group had three or four objects in it and the second group had four or five objects in it. The two groups were flying right next to each other and were all going the same speed, traveling southeast very fast, where they disappeared quickly into the night sky. We are very used to seeing airplanes with the Canton/Akron airport so close, but I'm positive this was not an airplane." But considering the man's proximity to Taco Bell, swamp gas cannot be ruled out. We want to believe. Contact The O Files at firstname.lastname@example.org