Making book: Anyone want to bet on the outcome of the current Menendez brothers trial out in L.A.? It could all ride on what older brother Lyle is reading. According to The Private Diary of Lyle Menendez: In His Own Words, a new tome by Norma Novelli, a court reporter at the be-sweatered ones' first trial, much of the brothers' testimony oddly echoed lines from books dealing with child abuse. Among Lyle's possible inspirations: The Poison Tree, Westword staff writer Alan Prendergast's account of the shotgun slaying of Richard Chester Jahnke by his sixteen-year-old son in Cheyenne in 1982; Richard Jr., who said he had been abused by his father, was convicted of voluntary manslaughter and sentenced to prison, but the governor commuted the sentence. Prendergast's book was published in 1986, but apparently it's still a must-read for Lyle. Among the similarities cited by Novelli:

From The Poison Tree: "He'd lie in bed with stuffed animals, his refuge from the world, and only then did he feel safe." From Lyle's September 1993 testimony: "My father was so domineering I sought refuge in my stuffed animals. They made me feel safe."

The senior Jahnke, Prendergast wrote, would wrestle his son in the pool, holding his head under water a little longer each time until the boy managed to "thrash his way to the surface." Daddy Menendez, Lyle testified, liked to push his head under water until he "fought his way to the surface."

Given the ten-year-old book's new notoriety, perhaps the publisher should reissue the paperback with an updated testimonial: "Recommended by the Menendez brothers."

Murphey's law: For 58 years the town of Davie, Florida, has sponsored an annual Orange Blossom Festival. This year, though, the Boys and Girls Club of Broward County decided to make its annual February fundraiser bigger and better than ever, stretching it to ten days and giving it a new name, WestFest, that reflected its cowboy theme.

Whoa there, pardner. Although the WestFest name came up clean in Florida, organizers soon heard a discouraging word from Michael Martin Murphey, the alleged singer ("Wildfire") who hosts his own trademarked WestFest in Copper Mountain every Labor Day weekend. Davie wound up renaming the event "Florida WestFair," but organizer Tim Sheehan doesn't want to dwell on legal unpleasantness. "We've got the largest rodeo east of the Mississippi," he says. "It's a great time of year to come down and visit...although you people out there probably say the same thing."

It's hip to be square: Lest the rest of the country think Denver's musical tastes begin with Murphey and end with John Denver (did Coors have to run its "Rocky Mountain High" commercial after the Super Bowl?), other critics are speaking up. In court two weeks ago U.S. District Judge Zita Weinshienk suggested that several hundred illegal Ozzy Osbourne T-shirts, confiscated at his New Year's Eve concert in Denver, be sent to "Bosnia or some other country abroad which could use some clothing." Switzerland, perhaps? The Denver Post made its own yodelay boo-boo in J. Sebastian Sinisi's Saturday story about taxi drivers, which referred to Cab Calloway and his classic song "Heidi Ho." And then there was Channel 9's weekend anchor Ward Lucas, who followed a recent news item about Janet Jackson's record-breaking deal with a quip about how she wouldn't need to collect food stamps anytime soon. But it didn't take the I-Team to figure out that Lucas might have had to go on the dole himself if he hadn't apologized the next day.

Hi de ho.


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