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Oh Romeo 

The Fallen Browns Coach Might Have A Positive Legacy After All

If there's one lasting soundbite from Romeo Crennel's tenure as head coach of the Cleveland Browns, it's what he said during training camp last year after Braylon Edwards had his foot gashed by Donté Stallworth while running around barefoot.

Unintentional comedy aside, it encapsulated Romeo perfectly - grandfatherly and a poor choice to be the voice of a franchise. RAC was a guy everybody liked and respected, which is probably why Randy Lerner waited to fire him in person rather than over the phone, as he did with former GM Phil Savage. His demeanor was that of a soft-spoken family elder, and that, among many other reasons, is why he will no longer be in charge here or anywhere else.

That soundbite is still left though, and I wonder if it's not the perfect choice for the next Coors Light press conference ad. You know them - the ones playing on classic head-coach-speak, like Jim Mora's "Playoffs?!?" tirade and Denny Green's brilliant "They are who we thought they were" riff.

Scene: Interior, Berea, Ohio. Romeo Crennel at podium. Gaggle of media members surrounding him.

Actor: Romeo, we were at a cookout last night and Johnny's kid was running around. He slipped on the grass and bumped into me. I spilled my Coors Light.

Romeo: Kids are kids. You look at kids, they take their shoes off and run around all the time.

Actor: But why wasn't he wearing shoes? Shouldn't you have shoes on so you don't slip and fall?

Romeo: Maybe his feet were hurting that day.

Actor: It's dangerous though. Or do you think that's okay?

Romeo: We'll educate him a little bit more and tell him about keeping his shoes on 'til he gets inside. We don't like things to happen, but they happen.

Actor: But what are we going to do about my Coors Light?

Romeo: What can you do other than try to educate them? - Vince Grzegorek

CLEVELAND'S CITIZEN CANE?

So many egos are battling over a movie about Eliot Ness' obsession with Cleveland's Torso Killer that it's hard to find someone to root for.

Cleveland Film Commission president Ivan Schwarz saw his plans for a tax incentive for films fall apart last week after Governor Strickland shined a light on his faulty math and bad timing. Schwarz had been promising big bucks for Ohioans if legislators passed a bill that gave tax credits to movies that shot here. In an editorial, Strickland pointed out a loophole in the law that would allow Hollywood producers to recoup more money from Ohio than they actually spent here, via underhanded accounting. One production that took advantage of a similar tax credit in Louisiana, to the tune of $27 million, was David Fincher's The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Strickland is in favor of an incentive, just not one that favors Hollywood over Cleveland. While we patiently await his plan, though, Ohio loses more projects to Toronto.

Fincher, who is still attached to the Ness project as director, is not helping matters either. While he kicks ass as an auteur who understands true crime (see Zodiac), he could use some work on his people skills. According to reports from L.A., Paramount execs are so pissed at his verbal abuse of colleagues during editing of Benjamin Button that they may hinder his involvement with Torso, which the studio also owns. Not that it's called Torso anymore. Fincher told MTV News recently that the movie is now called Ness and is a "complete re-imagining" of the source material, originally written by Clevelanders Brian Michael Bendis and Marc Andreyko. Fincher wants to paint one-time Cleveland safety director Ness as a flawed, "self-righteous" hero. At least he's sticking with what he knows best. - James Renner

THE TRUTH WAS OUT THERE

The O Files year in review

NOW HE KNOWS

One of Ohio's most famous Bigfoot hunters, George Greene, died December 10, still searching for definitive evidence of the elusive missing link. Greene took part in an exhaustive investigation of a rash of Bigfoot sightings that occurred in Ohio in 1980, near Wayne National Forrest in Vinton County. Hunters there reported several sightings of a group of hairy beasts that called out to each other in strange "barks" that sounded similar to the noises some gorillas make. A man named Larry Cottrill claimed to have wounded one of the animals with his rifle, when interviewed later by the Cleveland Press. Greene and three fellow researchers camped in the woods near where the creatures were spotted and analyzed footprint casts and tree scrapings that locals said had been made by the Bigfoots. Their findings all but proved that the evidence was manufactured by some jokester. But their time in the area caused Greene to believe that something strange did indeed live in those woods, a notion he carried with him until his sudden death.

FARGING ICE HOLES

Crop circles are so 1999. The new fad in extraterrestrial design is "round ice." It appears to have started in Russia in November - giant, perfectly symmetrical circles of ice found carved into lakes by some unknown force (Google "round ice" for pictures). Online conspiracy theorists are calling it one of the first signs that harkens the end of the world in 2012, as predicted by the astrologically advanced Mayan civilization. Others suggest it could be a natural phenomenon caused by underwater springs or just some bored Ruskies. Scene staffers are currently searching for round ice in Ohio, but so far have found only several ice holes caused by Lake Erie fishermen.

WELCOME, REPTILIAN OVERLORDS

The influx of new blogs devoted to the paranormal in 2008 brought about a resurgence in interest in one of Ohio's strangest unsolved mysteries - the Loveland Frog. The sightings began in 1955, when a man returning home from work near Loveland, Ohio, at about 3:30 a.m. spotted what he described as three bipedal creatures with wide mouths like frogs. One held a sort of wand that emitted sparks. When he reported the sighting to Loveland Police Chief John Fritz, the man said that the creatures also smelled of fresh-cut alfalfa and almonds. In 1972, two Loveland police officers spotted similar humanoids; one even shot at it, but none were captured. Recently, bloggers have wondered if the Loveland Frog could be a "reptilian," a shape-shifting lizard-like alien species that can manipulate light in order to look human (I know - it's a stretch even for us, but cool, right?). For video footage of a reptilian shape-shifter on CNN (probably produced by two dudes from Shaker High using a bootleg copy of Final Cut) visit youtube.com/watch?v=Qj8741m2jLc.

STAIRWAY TO … PARMA?

Security camera footage from the Marathon gas station at State and Pleasant Valley roads became a viral video on YouTube in 2008 after some crazy Christians suggested it was proof positive of angels on Earth. The video shows a blue blob floating above the pumps and flying around cars before hovering and then disappearing into the ether. Some claim it's ectoplasm caught on film, but others see a blue plastic bag caught up in wind currents. Whatever it is, the station's owner, Amed Abudaaria, says he's glad it hasn't come back. Google it and decide for yourself.

KILLER CLOWNS FROM INNER OHIO

Patrons of PH Bistro in Middletown say an evil clown is haunting their favorite haunt. After the restaurant recently reopened, customers began to see and hear strange things that some believe are the work of Bill Kinney, a long-dead prankster who once owned the place. Women often hear sneezing coming from empty stalls in the restroom (scary, huh?) and local paranormal investigators snapped images of what appears to be a clown crouching in the basement and the attic of the restaurant. Note to the waiting staff at PH Bistro: Don't read Stephen King's It.

A CENSUS TAKER TESTS BIGFOOT

The tenacious folks at the Ohio Field Office of the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization (or M.O.M.'s B.A.S.E.M.E.N.T.) have finally compiled 20 years of data to show the likely distribution of Bigfoots currently living within the Buckeye State (see their map at Bfro.net). The sasquatches (sasquatchi?) seem confined to the eastern part of the state, specifically the area of Coshocton and Guernsey counties, for now, but sightings have occurred as far north as Summit. The Field Office suggests some possible explanations for this: the abundance of uninhabited land in those regions, the lack of Bigfoot researchers in other areas and the reluctance of Western Ohioans to report sightings. If you've seen Bigfoot, send these guys a letter. Also, try to get some really shaky footage of the beast so we can debate about it here.

GREAT BALLS OF FIRE

A kid in Dublin, Ohio inadvertently captured evidence of ball lightning while filming a storm in June. The video, posted on YouTube (completing the strange-Ohio video trifecta) shows what appears to be a plasma blob being ejected from a lightning bolt over a country road. Scientists have long theorized about the existence of ball lightning, which has been reported for centuries, but to date, no official explanation exists. Some say that the balls are nanobatteries formed by the intense energy of storms, others believe they could be mini black holes - an idea given some credence when one considers the 1868 reports from Ireland residents of a ball of lightning that carved a cave into a peat bog. Some WWII veterans who served on submarines also claimed to have produced mini balls of lightning that exploded when touched, when switching out batteries while submerged. Way to go, creepy kid who films storms.

THE INVASION BEGINS IN OHIO

A credible multiple sighting of a massive UFO in Jefferson County this year captured the imagination of armchair ufologists from Peebles to Willowick. On October 24, Tim Comstock was driving his truck down Route 7 near Empire at around 3:45 a.m. when he noticed several cars parked on the side of the road, their occupants pointing to the skies. He looked over and saw a glowing object rise from the trees out his window, toward a much larger triangular craft hovering above the road. After stopping, Comstock managed to snap three pictures of the objects with his cell-phone camera (check them out at Earthfiles.com). While the pictures are very convincing on their own, the story is given more weight by Comstock himself, who knows terrestrial aircraft when he sees them: He served as a helicopter pilot while in the military. And whatever this was, it wasn't anything he recognized. Stranger still: The glowing object is described by Comstock as being organic, like a "cocoon." Steve Guttenberg could not be reached for comment.

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