The Gazette newspaper changed ownership two weeks ago, handed over by a greeting card salesman ("Roses are red, violets are blue, our content director is gone, with barely a boo hoo-hoo") to Colorado billionaire Philip Anschutz, who also owns the Broadmoor resort here in our village.
Now, along with your Gazette subscription you get a bellhop, candy on your pillow and a little bottle of mouthwash to help overcome the taste of the editorials.
What you don't get any more is Barry Noreen. Or at least the Barry Noreen we all came to know and ... well, uh, know.
Instead of his opinion column, Noreen was told he'll now write a "Did You Ever Wonder?" kind of column in which readers submit questions and he storms around the office yelling about "another stupid $%^&# ignorant $%^&*@ question."
I feel his pain.
In 2003, after some eight years as the Gazette's humor columnist — which was not unlike being Douglas Bruce's personality coach — I was told that I would henceforth be writing soft, puffy feature stories that would be of great and widespread interest to nobody.
I escaped to a Denver newspaper after my first Gazette feature story under the headline "Circles of Giving" in which I reported with great seriousness — I am not kidding — about how much of a Christmas tip you should give to your milkman. (Answer: It depends on how many of your children look like him.)
So now it's Noreen's turn under the bus. And because we were friends and got along pretty well back in the day — he didn't make fun of my lame jokes, and I tried not to say anything about guys who apparently cut their own hair — I'd now like to help him through his first few columns by submitting some questions.
• What's older, Mayor Steve Bach or dirt? No, really, my friend says Bach dyes his hair and I say it's a rug. Who's right? Once I tried to touch his hair and it barked at me. Can it sit up?
• Speaking of hair, what's with county commissioner Amy Lathen and all her different colors? One day her hair is yellow and the next day it's brownish-green or something. Did she lose a bet?
• And why does City Councilwoman Lisa Czedadkzx ... Czxzxadkt ... the one who wears the floppy hats during meetings, seem to cry whenever the Council discusses emotional, sensitive, heart-wrenching social issues such as potholes or streetlights?
• Barry, you often talk about being from Montana and living the Western lifestyle. My question is, now that Gazette "content director" Carmen Boles is gone, will there be room in the office for your horse?
• Also, I hear that given her experience as "content director" of the Gazette, Boles may be considered for a new position as "sliding glass partition and meal transference director" of a drive-through window at McDonald's. I don't really have a question.
• Is Mayor Bach trying to sell our coal-fired power plant so he can go build a uranium-enrichment and missile-production facility like his late idol and management-style coach, Kim Jong-il? As a follow-up question, if that furry thing on our mayor's head comes into contact with uranium, will it develop atomic breath and crush Tokyo under its feet?
• Is Doug Bruce dead? I've heard little about him since he got out of jail. If he's alive, who slides his meals through the door now? Does he still shower with soap-on-a-rope?
• Why did our village "leaders" ban the poor and homeless from asking for money in our downtown area and yet seem to be OK every Friday and Saturday night with all the drunken driving, brawls and stabbings outside our 14,876 bars?
• And as another follow-up, could we train Mayor Bach's hair to patrol the downtown area on weekends? Could we put it on a leash and have it break up the riots by biting people?
Anyway, Barry, that's it from me. Good luck in your new assignment. And if I could offer one piece of advice, it would be this: Your new boss ... it's Mr. Anschutz. Not Anschitz.
Rich Tosches (firstname.lastname@example.org) also writes a Sunday column in the Denver Post.