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News of the Weird

Friday May 10, 2002

Students play with their food 


TUCSON, Ariz. — University of Arizona students who would rather toss tortillas than their mortarboards during graduation are being urged to leave the edible disks at home. 

University President Peter Likins has asked students not to bring the tortillas to fling into the air at Saturday’s ceremonies because he said it’s a waste of food and is culturally offensive to some people. 

Patti Ota, the school’s vice president for executive operations, will try to talk students out of their tortillas at the door, using food bank boxes to play on their guilt. 

Tortillas emerged at commencement ceremonies during the late 90s, university officials said. 

Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright was greeted with flying tortillas as she addressed the class of 1999. Later she told graduates at Georgetown University about her Arizona experience. 

“There, the solemn tradition is to throw tortillas around like Frisbees during the commencement speech. It’s a little unusual, but it does keep you alert,” she said. 


Candidate can’t spell ‘accountability’ 


BOSTON — It wasn’t quite Dan Quayle misspelling “potato,” but Democratic gubernatorial candidate Shannon O’Brien made her own spelling goof last week. 

O’Brien, the state treasurer, was at a debate when another candidate, Steve Grossman, said most city politicians are so out of touch with voters they don’t even know how to spell the word “accountability.” 

The comment wasn’t specifically directed at O’Brien, but she took the bait to prove she could spell it — and got it wrong. 

O’Brien, a former state lawmaker whose husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather have all worked at the Statehouse, left out the second “i” in accountability. 

Later in the day, O’Brien admitted her mistake. 

“I am so embarrassed,” she said. “I just hope that my sixth grade teacher doesn’t read about this, because I was a star speller in his class.”