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Human Interest

Leeza: And now, on the lighter side of today's headlines -- a Cleveland man who's trapped in his own chimney! For more on this story, we go live to Brock Hedlisgoy in Cleveland. Brock?

Brock: Thanks, Leeza. If you think you're regretting the holiday glut, just take a look at the inside of this chimney! It must be having a few holiday regrets right now! Regrets that are heartily shared by its owner, Mr. Gus Gaspasser. Hello, Mr. Gaspasser?

Gus: Just Gus, Mr. Hedlisgoy.

Brock: Ha ha! Of course. Your last name doesn't really apply to the current situation, since your fireplace isn't fed by natural gas.

Gus: No.

Brock: And, in addition, you're not being passed. Is that correct?

Gus: That's correct. I'm completely unable to move up or down.

Brock: Now tell us, Gus. How did you come to be in such a position? Were you creeping down the chimney to delight your gleaming-eyed tots with a visit from Saint Nick?

Gus: No, Mr. Hedlisgoy. Unfortunately, I'm childless.

Brock: Were you creeping down the chimney to delight your spouse with a visit from some consumer-age patron saint of post-holiday bargains?

Gus: Again, no. I'm unmarried.

Brock: Which explains why you're stuck -- but not why you're stuck in a chimney. Can you tell us why?

Gus: Well, Brock, I thought I heard my cat meowing in here, so I went to take a look.

Brock: And was your cat in the chimney?

Gus: I couldn't say. The meowing stopped, and I didn't think to bring a flashlight.

Brock: So, one might say you couldn't find your own cat with two hands and a flashlight?

Gus: I tell you, Brock. I wish my cat did have two hands, so that whereever he is, he might consider my plight and dial 911.

Brock: But then he wouldn't be able to give the emergency responders any specific information.

Gus: No. They would have to trace the call.

Brock: So tell me, Gus. How does your situation affect your employability?

Gus: Not as much as you might think. My iPaq lets me telecommute, but it's hard to write email with my arms pinned. I also have a company cell phone, but I can only use it for business calls.

Brock: So you can't call 911.

Gus: In the meantime, for meetings with clients, I do a conference call and they put me on speakerphone. But it's getting hard to come up with excuses for why I can't give my clients the proper amount of face time. Being stuck in a chimney kind of undercuts the reputation I've cultivated at the office: team player, self-starter, that kind of thing.

Brock: Whereas now you'd need some starter fluid to really get going.

Gus: Exactly. The upshot is, my managers decided I need closer supervision. So periodically someone calls to check my progress on key deals and point out what I'm doing wrong. I'm walking a tightrope.

Brock: It's a long way down.

Gus: For a safety net, I'm trying to close this deal with Monsanto. Instead of your regular chimney sweeps who need special equipment, they're looking to cut overhead by genetically engineering chimney sweeps who come equipped with their own bristles.

Brock: And who live on soot.

Gus: Right. They say my beard shows promise as a new scouring fiber. But they want to make the bristles rotate to give it true scrubbing action.

Brock: On the lighter side, what does a man stuck in a chimney do to pass the time? What thoughts go through his mind?

Gus: I spend a lot of time thinking about gravity, and also the coefficient of friction. I also dwell, perhaps to an unhealthy degree, on those golden days when I had the use of my limbs.

As it gets longer since I showered, and I get more tightly wedged in what's basically a pipe, I think about oil pipelines. You know Bechtel?

Brock: Not personally.

Gus: Back in 1988, after Chemical Ali gassed thousands of Kurds, the US planned to cut political and economic ties to Iraq. At the time, Bechtel was conducting negotiations to build an oil pipeline in Iraq, and they pressured the Reagan administration not to cut ties. And now, Bechtel has been awarded money out of the public coffers to build that pipeline. Really, when it comes down to it, the powers-that-be view us all as natural resources to be bought, piped, and exploited.

Brock: You realize, Mr. Gaspasser, that we'll have to edit that out in post-production.

Gus: I know. I'm sorry.

Brock: So, what else do you think about?

Gus: The Lord of the Rings.

Brock: Oh, LOTR3?

Gus: I think about furnaces and vents and smoke a lot. I wonder if, being stuck here, I've reached the end of a quest to my own personal Mount Doom. I wonder if I must now cast some burden into the fire, but am held back from doing so by my own greed and gluttony.

Brock: Well, it never hurts to lose a few pounds.

Gus: Also, Middle Earth. Why's it called that? What's it in the middle of?

Brock: I see.

Gus: And your co-anchor Leeza. If she was a recording artist instead of a newscaster, would she change her name to Lihz'zaa? And would the name change earn her a Grammy?

Brock: Well, Leeza, there you have it. Will Gus' mind crack under the weight of his predicament? Will he be forced to eat his cat to stay alive -- or will his cat get him first? And will his gut shrink enough for him to pop out in time to catch LOTR3 in theaters? Will the movie whet his anticipation for the hours and hours of extras on the DVD version? And in the meantime, will he try to fill the gap by purchasing any product emblazoned with the film's logo?

Gus: Logo, son of Drogo. Ha!

Brock: Will Gus escape in time to see LOTR3 sweep the Oscars, much like a professional chimney sweep wiping the filth from an average guy's fireplace? Not if Monsanto has anything to say about it! Now back to you, Leeza.

Leeza: Thank you Brock. Next, a man in imminent danger of losing his thumbs! How it happened, and how you can keep your own toes a-tappin' and fingers a-snappin'! Also, Kiwis. It turns out they can make movies, but why do they talk so funny? Stay tuned.