Deck the halls: Last Friday's annual holiday bash for the Denver City Attorney's Office turned out to be a little merrier than originally planned. Initially, the party committee's scenario called for having a cash bar--but then the city lawyers discovered they couldn't charge for liquor at the Grant-Humphreys Mansion, the state-owned facility where the party was held. It's illegal to sell alcohol without a license, which the building doesn't have. Nor, for that matter, does the city attorney's office--but it does have plenty of lawyers who are supposed to know the law.

So the wine and beer flowed free, which no doubt helped warm the reception that greeted City Attorney Dan Muse. He took the stage about halfway through the festivities to give his staff a warm welcome and remind them that "you are a law firm."

By that, he probably meant the party consisted of billable hours. Because although each reveler anted up to attend (between $10 and $20, depending on his/her position), the party was held during business hours--noon to 4 p.m. In fact, a party-committee memo notes that "for non-attenders," it was "work as usual." Which means that, unlike their partying colleagues, they couldn't clock out until 5 p.m.

At least the 1994 bash beat last year's party, which featured a comic so raunchy that the city's employment-law specialists, trained to spot sexual harassment in the workplace, were squirming in their seats.

Man, oh man: And speaking of squirming, there was plenty going on at the Rocky Mountain News last Tuesday after the most recent installment of Curtis Eichelberger's column, " A Man's Point of View." Last week's episode included a few jokes ("Why is it that a women's best friend is a diamond? And a man's best friend is a dog? Why is it that men pay for both the diamond and the dog?") as well as an anecdote from a reader. It seems that "Chris," who'd recently had a run of bad luck with girls, went to a bar, where he watched a woman "aggressively flirting in exchange for free drinks." Even though he refrained from buying her one, she invited him home, "where they had protected sex." Afterward, she told him he could go and then passed out. "Chris" plunked down $7, along with the following note: "We never discussed terms. Hope this covers it. Would love to do business again sometime." Eichelberger noted that the money was all Chris had left, "but the idea of making her feel like a whore was worth the seven bucks."

He then ended the column with this chestnut: "Ordinarily, I keep these calls to myself. But I thought there might be a few people out there who have been treated badly who would enjoy this tale."

If there were, they probably couldn't get through on News phone lines to tell him. According to Eichelberger, the paper logged 84 complaint calls that day. "It was ugly for a while," he admits. And it wasn't all that much prettier in the office itself, where Eichelberger's column has had its share of detractors since its debut several months ago. After all, this is a paper that several months ago trumpeted the establishment of its Task Force on Women. Although task force members suggested changes in the paper, adding a man's column to the female-issues-and-writers-dominated Lifestyles section wasn't one of them.

Eichelberger, a sports writer used to dealing with sedate sports fans rather than angry women, stands by his "politically incorrect" column. "The whole point of columns is to make someone think from another perspective, in this case the guy perspective," he says. If he had this one to do over again, though, he would have added a line that said something like "with tongue firmly planted in cheek."

And whose would that be?


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