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Test Pattern: Five-link Friday

Comic-strip Weblogs; Make Your Own Jackson; play Iron Chef; save "The Wire': "Napoleon Dynamite" rumor. By Gael Fashingbauer Cooper

Five-link Friday

It's been a while, but our Friday of random linkage has returned.

• Since we’ve had such good discussions of comic strips here, I like to share comics-themed Weblogs when I find them. I’ve already mentioned (his comments on the “Mary Worth” honeymoon baby are priceless), but didn’t want to overlook (currently taking on “For Better or For Worse” and Michael Patterson).

• With all this trial coverare, do you find yourself missing the 1975 version of Michael Jackson? If so, try , from South Florida’s Sun-Sentinel.

• Ever wanted to be the chef who gets to take on the secret ingredient in Iron Chef’s Kitchen Stadium? The Food Network site has a that puts you right there in the middle of the potboiling action.

• Fans of HBO’s gritty “The Wire” have been to keep the show alive. Will it work? My co-worker sure hopes so — she says she's done just about everything on the list.

• There are regular rumors that some celebrity or other has died young – remember the buzz that the actor playing Eddie Haskell had died in Vietnam (he didn’t) or that Mikey from the Life cereal ads blew up after mixing Pop Rocks and Coke (he didn’t either)? Seems that the latest actor to get slapped with this kind of rumor is Jon Heder, who plays Napoleon Dynamite in the quirky movie of the same name.  Some of the rumors claimed Heder died in a car crash, others said he OD’d. None of the rumors are true: .

Visit to Washington

I was lucky enough to spend President's Day in Washington, D.C. with a good friend. Since she's a resident, she never goes to all the touristy places on her own, so they're as new to her as they are to me.

This trip, we visited and D.C.'s fairly new .

Arlington Cemetery has so many different areas worth visiting that I was soon wishing I'd worn more comfortable walking shoes. We took a self-guided tour of Arlington House, once home to Robert E. Lee and his family and eventually turned into a military cemetery by a Union general who intended to make the estate uninhabitable so that the Lees would never return.

There are so many graves and monuments worth visiting at Arlington that I'd advise visitors to purchase a guidebook in the visitor's center before starting to wander. But signs clearly point to two of the cemetery's most popular graves -- the John F. Kennedy gravesite and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

The JFK gravesite is simpler than I expected, its eternal flame bright but small. Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, who died in 1994, has a stone next to the President's, and on the outskirts of the grave are markers for two of their children who died — Patrick as an infant, a baby girl stilborn.

There was a hushed silence among we tourists who gathered at the JFK site, broken only by the snapping of cameras. But when we turned around, the silence was often broken by gasps. From behind the Kennedy gravesite, visitors face an amazing view of the nation's capital. Hills roll down to reveal the city's famous monuments, and few postcards could capture the beauty.

The is not to be missed. In the midst of so many graves of the generals, the famous, the presidents, this tomb reminds us of the ultimate sacrifices made by so many whose names never appeared in a newspaper. The tomb is forever guarded by specially trained soldiers whose uniforms positively gleam. Just like at Buckingham Palace, they have an elaborate Changing of the Guard ceremony, and we were lucky enough to catch it. Hard not to get a lump in your throat while watching. The Vietnam tomb is now empty, as the Unknown from that war has been identified, but the tomb itself remains as a reminder of that war's lost soldiers.

From Arlington, we walked across to the , which opened in 2004.

My D.C. resident friend told me that when it opened, the memorial received some negative reviews from art critics, but we both fell silent at the sight of the sweep of the grand memorial, with two tall pavillions marking the Pacific and Atlantic theaters. 56 pillars mark the states and territories, and battle names are carved into each pavillion.

As with the Vietnam Wall, we found many personal mementoes left to honor the war's veterans. One family had left a laminated poem written by a grandson to his veteran granddad; another had left a laminated army discharge card.

It was truly a different time, that war, and I was reminded of just how far removed we are from that era when I was able to stand at the memorial and take a photo of my own father's battle name -- Okinawa -- and without moving from the spot, use a camera phone to email it to him 1,000 miles away at his Minnesota farm.