A Valley News Publication

#mprraccoon was everything I needed this week

A raccoon stretches itself on the window sill of the Paige Donnelly Law Firm on the 23rd floor of the UBS Tower in St. Paul, Minn., Tuesday, June 12, 2018. The raccoon stranded on the ledge of the building in St. Paul captivated onlookers and generated interest on social media after it started scaling the office building. (Evan Frost/Minnesota Public Radio via AP)

ICYMI, here is the story of #mprraccoon as told by some of my favorite tweets.

IHOP changed its name and honestly I’m not sure if we’re being Punk’d or nah

On Monday morning, the restaurant chain previously known as International House of Pancakes, or IHOP, announced its highly anticipated name change.

Well then.

The name change came after a brief teaser campaign that saw the chain tweeting out hints and using the letter B in blace place of the letter “P” in its social media marketing. The new name is pronounce “Eye-Hobb,” btw.

I, and I think many other people, thought the chain was going to be changing its name to “International House of Breakfast,” or “International House of Brunch,” but nope. It not only went all in on burgers, but it went there and it brought property, y’all. Such a pivot!

The internet largely hated it, but it seemed to yield real results for the company: The Los Angeles Times reported that the buzz around the name change sent parent company Dine Brands Global Inc.’s stock up nearly 3 percent for the day.

It was not immediately clear on Monday if the name change was permanent, though my money is on it being a fairly temporary push.

Meanwhile, fellow chains (and competitors?) Denny’s and Wendy’s took the opportunity to throw some serious Twitter #shade.

Are you the next heir to this guy’s thrones? Toilet seat art goes up for grabs

In this Wednesday, May 16, 2018, photo, retired plumber Barney Smith, 96, center, greets a visitor to his Toilet Seat Art Museum in Alamo Heights, Texas. Smith, called "King of the Commode," began his commode art work in 1992 and is looking for a buyer who will preserve his collection intact. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

In this Wednesday, May 16, 2018, photo, retired plumber Barney Smith, 96, center, greets a visitor to his Toilet Seat Art Museum in Alamo Heights, Texas. Smith, called “king of the commode,” began his commode art museum in 1992 and is looking for a buyer who will preserve his collection intact. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

It’s not quite Game of Thrones, but it’s certainly been a game of thrones for this Texas man.

Barney Smith, the 96-year-old owner/creator of the Toilet Seat Art Museum, is gearing up to abdicate his throne overseeing a bunch of mini-thrones. Smith has been decorating the toilet seats that fill the museum for more than 50 years, according to an Associated Press story published on Tuesday.

Smith had promised his wife, Louise, that he’d stop at 500. That was 850 toilet seats ago.

“If I would have just read my Bible as many hours as I spent on my toilet seats, I’d be a better man,” he says with a twinkle in his eye.

Smith said the museum started as a way to display hunting trophies: His father would “spend hours cutting out, sanding and varnishing wooden shields to mount his antlers. The son figured a toilet seat lid would do just fine,” the Associated Press reported.

“Well, I’m a master plumber, retired,” he says. “I thought I ought to stick with my trade.”

The museum officially opened in 1992 and has since drawn visitors from every state, as well as tourists from 83 countries.

Now, Smith is seeking someone to take over his collection of toilet seats. He doesn’t want money; rather, he wants someone dedicated to preserving the art.

“I want all 1,350 (toilet seats) to be intact in another museum somewhere,” he says. “It’s not the highest bidder. It’s not being raffled off.”

A book, King of the Commode: Barney Smith & His Toilet Seat Art Museum, is being released on Saturday, just in time for Smith’s 97th birthday, the Associated Press reported. Its publisher, Daedelus Hoffman, said he hopes the book will help Smith attract a buyer for the collection.

Read the full story here. (It’s actually a pretty interesting piece — Smith sounds like a character, and there are some nice photos and a video of the museum.)

No, the zombie apocalypse did not start in Florida this weekend

Contrary to popular belief.

While Florida is known for producing some pretty interesting headlines, it nearly introduced another VERY concerning headline to the world over the weekend, after residents reported they’d received alerts warning them of a zombie invasion.


Florida residents in the Lake Worth area were notified on Sunday of a power outage and warned to be on the lookout for prowling zombies. Specifically, they were warned to be aware of “extreme zombie activity.”

The power was in fact out, but the zombies were not roaming. Oops.

According to The Palm Beach Post story, Lake Worth officials posted on Lake Worth Live, a community Facebook page, to allay the zombie fears.

“We are looking into reports that the system mentioned zombies,” Ben Kerr, the city’s public information officer, said in the post.

“I want to reiterate that Lake Worth does not have any zombie activity currently and apologize for the system message.”

Still, not exactly the type of alert you want to get when you’re already dealing with the Sunday Scaries, amirite?

Probably couldn’t hurt to take some lessons from the 2009 film Zombieland and do some athletic conditioning just in case …

Get all of your municipal road graders, dissolved oxygen monitors and eye-wash stations at the N.H. auction this weekend

A road grader from the city of Laconia is unloaded onto the grounds of state-owned White Farm Facility on Thursday, May 10, 2018 for the upcoming state auction, which will take place on Saturday, May 19.

Via David Brooks at the Concord Monitor:

If the trolley doesn’t grab your attention, maybe the 60 Dodge Chargers will.


Or the pair of medical research devices that look like a cross between chandeliers and a high school chemistry lab.


Or the file cabinets. Lots and lots of file cabinets.


“I guess people are going paperless,” said Jason Wright, manager of the state-owned White Farm facility in Concord, gesturing at the rows of file cabinets that have ended up in a former cow barn that stores surplus government items awaiting auction.


It will all go on sale Saturday at the first of two auctions this year of surplus material at White Farm, on Route 13 in Concord.

Read more here.

Check out the Authority Collective, challenging the media industry to be more inclusive

And co-created by our dear friend Jovelle Tamayo, former Valley News photography intern.

The Authority Collective — a group which describes itself as “a group of womxn/femmes/trans/non-binary/gender non-conforming people of color reclaiming their authority in the photography, film and (virtual reality/augmented reality) industries” — was just profiled in this piece by Danielle Villasana on Medium.

“We want to challenge who holds power in the visual media world by uplifting our community and holding institutions accountable,” said Tamayo, of the Authority Collective. “We are making a point to focus on actions because we don’t have time to wait for these gatekeepers — who are happy to talk about inclusion but do little to address it in meaningful ways — to follow through.”


You can follow the Authority Collective at their website, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.


Jennica Guy, left, gets ready for Hartford High School’s prom with their date Charlotte Dennison on Saturday, May 20, 2017, at Guy’s home in White River Junction, Vt. Guy, 17, is non-binary and uses “she,” “her,” “they” and “them” pronouns. “Don’t think that everyone who identifies as non-binary is confused,” Guy said. “I’ve been told I’m confused in my gender identity but I’m not. That’s who I am.” Tamayo, a former Valley News photography intern, chose this as her 2017 Valley News photo of the year.