No hockey face guard?
It must have been the pre-Halloween rush that made The Dallas Morning News do it. You know, all the kids clamoring for the newest freaky look that makes Freddy Krueger and Hannibal Lecter look about as menacing as Pumba. This year, any self-respecting kid who wanted to scare the waste products out of his younger siblings had to have a Ray Sasser mug-shot mask.

Apparently, the DMN couldn't have that. Why else would they give outdoors writer Ray his second mug-shot makeover in less than a season? If you remember, late in September, we honored Ray's then-new column photo in our annual "Best of Dallas" edition as "best scary mug shot." (Since no one at the News ever soils his hands with the Dallas Observer, our tongue-in-cheek accolade couldn't have had an impact. Could it?)

Now--presumably after double-checking with the serial crime computers at the FBI labs in Quantico, Virginia--the News has created a kinder and gentler Ray. Our favorite gun guy looks like the kind of quiet mommy's boy who would run a motel on a lonely stretch of highway and wouldn't hurt a fly.

Maybe they're not even clean
The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is complaining that, when it comes to kindness to animals, the Boy Scouts of America--there's no nice way to put this--aren't exactly Boy Scouts.

"In light of the Boy Scouts' history of animal cruelty," PETA cruelty caseworker Zoe Rappoport (Buzz has to pause in awe of that job title) has demanded that the beloved youth paramilitary corps offer a merit badge for the humane treatment of animals. Rappoport claims her office has received reports of Boy Scout cruelty to animals ranging from a California troop stoning to death a black bear to scouts in Kansas "arranging for disabled hunters to slaughter deer on a ranch" (PETA-speak for hunting).

The scout handbook already calls for scouts to be "kind" and "not hurt or kill harmless things without reason." (Could we get this book distributed in the Balkans?) PETA, of course, believes there is no good reason to rub out an animal--something that diverges from the ethics of most humanoids. Buzz believes Texans--who enjoy gnawing on mammal parts at Sonny Bryan's now and again--fall roughly into the latter category.

From Buzz's observations of boys in general, maybe a merit badge for just not giving each other wedgies might be a more reasonable goal.

In heat
Speaking of animals, what is it with lawyers lately? Apparently they believe that billboards equating themselves with vicious, stupid animals will increase their client billings. First we saw the "Don't swim alone" billboards unabashedly trolling for "accident victims." The horrifying 40-foot-wide maw of shark teeth is unforgettable, of course, but we're still confused as to exactly whom those wallet-ripping teeth will disembowel. The Bar Association's ethics watchdogs must delight in the reinforcement in the public's mind of pettifogger feeding frenzies.

Then there's the tasteful "When you're ready to call out the dogs" billboard featuring a slavering Rottweiler that would give the hounds from hell in the Omen bad dreams.

Of course, anything is probably better than the lawyer-as-animal images that normally come to the public's mind: weasel, dung beetle...

Buzz Legal Tip: If you must retain a lawyer, invest in a good choke collar and, please, please, consider neutering.

Just say maybe to nicotine
Buzz did a double-take recently at a cop in Arlington cruising in a spanking-new, tricked-up Ford Taurus emblazoned with the DARE logo. The cool car, of course, is a tool of the Drug Abuse Resistance Education program. The car is meant to wow pint-sized, would-be junkies during police officers' presentations to students on how to just say no. Guess our friendly DARE cop in Arlington must have missed in-service training on the day they discussed cancer sticks as one of the most widely abused addictive drugs. He was puffing the Class A carcinogen-producing butt to beat the band, and the school-age witnesses nearby seemed none too impressed at the sight.

--Glen Warchol