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Dale Jr.'s new digs have an Old West feel

When Dale Earnhardt Jr. wants to downshift into the slow lane, he retreats to a 140-acre sanctuary that includes a replica of a Western village, a private golf course, his car collection and plenty of hanging-out space for a few of his favorite friends, according to a recent article in USA Today.

“His new home is a sophisticated farmhouse that was on the property when he bought it,” the article says. “Executive-worthy but far from lavish, it’s a modular structure, with three bedrooms upstairs and a main-level office he has converted into his computer room with four stations for online racing. The basement offers a billiard room with art-deco furnishings. There’s a separate bar area with seating for eight, an air-hockey table and an elaborate, bar-style baseball game courtesy of Anheuser-Busch.”

The golf course is a six-hole, par-3 course. When he and his friends tire of drives off the tee, they can drive some of the 18 go-karts that are housed in a vintage service station.

But the most unusual aspect of the estate is the replica of a Western town, which includes a general store, a church with a 75-foot steeple, a saloon and a hotel with three guest rooms. Should any of his pals get too rowdy, there’s even a jail with two working cells.

“The worst part about this place is (that) as soon as you leave, you’re missing it,” Earnhardt says. “It’s not that I’m doing anything (special) here. I just like it. I feel real OK here.”

To help protect Earnhardt from fans who might want to invade his domain, the article doesn’t divulge the exact location of the estate, which apparently is somewhere between Mooresville and Cleveland. It notes the dwellings are situated well off the road, with ample security provisions.

* * *

Another lawyer joke: While speaking last week at Wake Forest University during a forum sponsored by the law school, Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards drew stunned silence with his response to a question about the courts.

Asked which Supreme Court justice might serve as a model for his own appointments, Edwards paused and said: “It’s Scalia,” referring to Antonin Scalia, the most conservative justice on the high court.

When the shocked audience didn’t respond, Edwards added, “It’s a joke. Lighten up.”

Love, Italian style: The Salisbury Post gets some eyebrow-raising letters, but we can’t top one printed on the front page of La Repubblica, a newspaper in Rome. The letter accused former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi of flirting in public and demanded an apology.

The writer? His wife.

According to the New York Times, Veronica Lario, his wife of 27 years, was upset because Berlusconi had become overly friendly with two lovely young women at an awards ceremony. “If I weren’t already married, I would marry you right now,” he told one. To another, he purred, “With you I would go anywhere.”

His wife, who’s suffered through previous allegations that her 70-year-old husband has a wandering eye, was not amused. “These are statements I consider damaging to my dignity,” she wrote. “I therefore ask for a public apology, not having received one privately.”

He responded with his own letter, which said in part: “Your dignity should not be an issue: I will guard it like a precious material in my heart even when thoughtless jokes come out of my mouth. But marriage proposals, no, believe me, I have never made one to anyone.

“Forgive me, however, I beg of you, and take this public testimony of private pride that submits to your anger as an act of love. One among many. A huge kiss. Silvio.”

And you thought the Clintons were entertaining.

from gboro news-record:

On whether Nifong has become a euphemis,

It’s got a long way to go before acceptance in the great gatekeeper of American language: Merriam-Webster.

Dictionary editors track new words based on how widely they’re used and what types of publications in which they appear.

It’s rare for a word to quickly make its way into the dictionary, although it happens. And it’s even more unusual for a proper name to take on new meaning, said Peter Sokolowski, Merriam-Webster associate editor.

On the Internet, where new phrases spread rapidly, it’s already happening. “Nifonged” has come to mean “railroaded,” at least according to Urban Dictionary.com.

Sure that site’s collection of slang definitions are user-submitted. But punch “Nifonged” into an Internet search engine. More than 40,000 hits come back.

“Nifonged,” has made it into print without quotations a few times. That gives it a chance.

“In a sense, it’s just a hair below our radar,” Sokolowski said. “It is starting to get used. And that’s how it happens that a word ends up in the dictionary.”

Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards suggested last week that he might have been too inexperienced when he ran for president in 2004.

Asked during a forum about critics who said he was too inexperienced in 2004 to seek the presidency, Edwards replied, “They may have been right.”

“When I ran in 2004, I spent most of my time thinking about being a good candidate,” Edwards said. “These days, I think about what I want to do as president of the United States.”

Edwards spoke to about 2,300 people at Wake Forest University’s Waite Chapel on Monday in an event sponsored by the law school. The event was billed as “a conversation” rather than a speech.

Edwards later had a fundraiser in Winston-Salem.

Asked whether there was any one Supreme Court justice who would be a model for his own appointments, Edwards paused and said: “It’s Scalia.”

After a stunned silence, Edwards added: “It’s a joke. Lighten up.”

Antonin Scalia is among the most conservative justices on the high court.

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