A survey released today by researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University has found what it calls “conclusive evidence” that nobody – literally, nobody, not even like the people who work there – know what the hell a charter school is, what it does, or how it differs from a non-charter school.

The details of the survey alarmed university researchers, many of whom admit that they, too, have no idea whether charter schools are public or private institutions or if they are for gifted kids or something like that.

Despite 100 percent of survey respondents being clueless to the meaning of the term “charter school,” several local charter schools have opened in the Richmond area in recent years.

Or maybe no charter schools have opened, or the opening of a charter school is still being debated, or the opening of a charter school is now completely off the table, the study noted. “It just seems like there’s been a lot of talk about charter schools in the news lately,” the report went on to say.

“I had to look [the phrase 'charter school'] up in the dictionary and there are like 13 definitions for the word ‘charter’ alone,” said Henry M. Saville, a VCU  professor who has been studying charter schools for nearly three decades and still doesn’t know anything about them. “Unfortunately, you can individually look up the word ‘charter’ and the word ‘school’ but not both words at the same time.”

Added Seville: “Some friends and I once took out a charter fishing boat, so maybe it has something to do with that?”

Of the 2,428 Richmonders surveyed, 53 percent believed charter schools had something to do with boating, while 37 percent of respondents noted that the anagram of charter school is “choral torches.” The remainder, 22 percent, do not get this joke and perhaps should’ve attended a charter school.

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Style Weekly editor Jason Roop was recognized by Style Weekly this week as one of the alternative newspaper’s “Top 40 Under 40,” a prestigious listing of the Richmond area’s 40 best and brightest minds under the age of 40.

“Jason has done some incredible things for our city, from his journalism sense to his generosity toward others to his ability to connect diverse people across many generations. And to think that he’s only 37,” said Style Weekly editor Jason Roop, 37. “We looked through dozens of young Richmonders at Style and it was apparent to [us] that his was a voice that this region should be listening to more carefully.”

Added Roop: “He’s got great eyes and an impressive jawline, too.”

Roop noted that Roop said he was only doing his job and did not want to be labeled a “hero,” as the article describes him, though he could totally understand why people would think that.

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Shoppers at the hectic J. Crew warehouse sale in western Henrico County this week said they were thrilled to find clothes at bargain-basement prices along with dozens of majorly discounted human hands, some as much as 60 percent off.

“I’d heard about the J. Crew sale in the paper, so some friends and I went out there to buy some winter clothes over the weekend,” said Paige Manning, who said she never thought she’d find such a high-quality Caucasian hand for less than $15. “Obviously this one was part of an unmatched pair because I couldn’t find the left one, but it’ll be perfect when it comes time to break out springtime [clothing] again.”

The rummage sale, open daily through Oct. 17 in the TJ Maxx shopping center, is offering men’s and women’s J. Crew clothing for deeply discounted prices. Many of the items have minor defects, though shoppers said most of the hands appear to be in mint condition, making them perfect for wearing to work or to formal occasions.

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New documents unearthed last week by archaeologists may shed new light on the famous speech given in Church Hill by Patrick Henry, indicating that the Founding Father and then-Virginia Delegate in fact stated “Give me liberty or give me peanut M&Ms.”

Though the phrase “Give me liberty, or give me death!” has long believed to have been Henry’s March 1775 call to arms for Virginia to enter the Revolutionary War, historians now believe that it appears as though the two-term Governor of Virginia wanted liberty but would have been willing to sacrifice such freedom for a chocolate fix.

“Though the exact text of his speech was not documented, we had long thought, via various means of data collection, that Mr. Henry told colleagues in the House of Burgesses up in Church Hill to ‘Give me Liberty, or give me Death,’ as a means of rallying for war,” said Richmond archaeologist Morrison Gates. “It would now appear that he equated the concept of American liberties to that of the taste of peanuts covered in milk chocolate and a hard candy shell.”

Added the historian: “I can’t say that I blame him.”

The peanut M&M’s revelation comes on the heels of last year’s discovery of Henry’s personal daily allowance of two Diet Cokes, which helped him kick his previously documented pack-a-day of Marlboros habit.

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The GRTC Team RideFinders – seven transportation “heroes” that work to help citizens across the region find ways to commute to and from work – were swiftly and easily defeated by the X-Men yesterday in what city officials are calling “one of the most brutal ass-handings in modern history.”

The diverse group of RideFinders was largely powerless against the X-Men, a group of supermutants known mostly for their hugely powerful offensive and defensive capabilities.

“I know the RideFinders’ superpowers are mostly centered around finding new and creative ways of getting around town, but Jesus, I thought they’d at least put up a little bit of a fight,” said Ryan Klessig, who witnessed the horrific beating of GTRC’s Transit Titan by X-Men’s Beast, who crushed the skull of the bus driver with a single hand.

The X-Men’s Blackbird jet was reported at 10:02 a.m. yesterday, roaring over downtown to the GRTC’s Cary Street headquarters. Once there, Banshee let out a sonic scream that caused all of the RideFinders’ eardrums to explode, disorienting the entire team whose mission has long been to find alternative transportation options for the region.

Transit Titan, who is a really great driver but has never punched anyone or taken a punch himself, was defenseless against the blue-haired, ape-like Beast, whose repeated blows upon the driver could be heard for miles around the city. Bike Boy, who promotes riding bicycles to work, was bleeding from his ears when he fell victim to Colossus’ and Wolverine’s so-called “Fastball Special,” a tag-team move whereby the giant Colossus tossed the biker onto the claws of Wolverine, splitting the young man in two.

Telework Tech, who is good with computers, was also no match for Colossus, who is good at beating the shit out of people.

“From what I saw, Commander Carpool put up  the best fight of anyone on the RideFinders side,” said Abigail Clarke, who saw the battle on the way into her nearby office. “I think he managed to get his hands up into the defensive pose before Wolverine gutted him from neck to spleen.”

“It was awesome,” she added.

Female RideFinders were not spared in the X-Men’s brutal attacks, police said.

“We received multiple reports of Shadowcat phasing her hand through Mrs. Match’s chest, removing the still-beating heart of the transportation superhero, who was known for matching people up with carpools to limit pollution and reduce commute times,” said Richmond Police Chief Bryan T. Norwood. “I personally saw Jean Grey do that strange thing she does with her mind on Vanity Vanpool, which was probably the weirdest of the supermutant attacks.”

Norwood said he would likely not press charges against the Marvel team, because seriously, what could the police possibly do? Even if they attempted to charge the X-Men with a crime, Wolverine – or Storm, even – could totally overpower the police or the military. And the X-Men do good things for communities, even though the RideFinder ass-kicking wasn’t really deserved. And plus, if the X-Men went to jail they’d just break out because Cyclops could use his optic blast to blow up a wall, or, like, Iceman could freeze the prison cell bars and then break them and kill all the guards, so seriously what’s the point. Or Thing could crush everyone with his huge strong, actually, hold on, he’s Fantastic Four. Nevermind.

Based on the success of the day’s attacks on the RideFinders, Twentieth Century Fox has already optioned the rights to yet another crappy X-Men film.

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Sixty-one years. Nearly a lifetime for the average American male. Truman was still in office when I opened in 1949. All The King’s Men won Best Picture, the first Volkswagen Beetle arrived in the U.S., and all the members of ZZ Top were born that year.

Sixty-one years is also how long I’ve been a part of your lives, offering you a means to and from the Southside and into and out of the city limits.

And now what do you do? You go and announce plans to tear me down and replace the entirety of my 2,900-foot span with a shiny, brand new bridge. More than a half century of service, and this is how you assholes choose to repay me.

If I could physically do such a thing, I’d be beside myself right now.

Would it have been so hard to construct me in a fashion whereby I had a bit more lasting power than only 61 years? Consider, for a moment, the great bridges of the world: Brooklyn, one of the oldest suspensions in the U.S., completed in 1883 and showing no signs of ever coming down. The Golden Gate? Going on 73 years and stronger than ever. I talked to it just the other day, as a matter of fact.

Me? You gave me 61 years, let me fall into complete and total disrepair, then said “Let’s just tear it down build a new one, fuck it.” Well, fuck you. Each and every one of you. You probably didn’t do one thing to try and save me, did you? No, you didn’t. You’re all guilty of my fate.

I have given you everything. Everything. Without me you’d all be paying the 70 cent toll to get over the Powhite, then however much more to get off on your exit. Me? Free. That’s not even something you can get from the Nickel Bridge, that false-advertising son of a bitch.

Cross me into Southside and I’ll let you go wherever you want. I don’t give a shit about the money.

It was never about the money.

It was about pride, dammit. Goddamned civic pride. I am the Huguenot Bridge. I’m a part of the community. I’m a name synonymous with Richmond. I bet you don’t even know what Huguenot means, do you? Do you?

Come to think of it, I don’t really know what it means, either. I’m just a bridge. I don’t even know how I’m typing this.

Though dangerous, my narrow, shoulderless width was part of what has made me so iconic in this area. Sure, people are sometimes scared to drive over my pothole-ridden concrete surface. But you know what? They still do it, dammit, they still do. More than 28,00o cars – an average of more than 50,000 people – still put their faith in me to get them across the James River, safely, each and every day. This is something I’ve taken extremely serious over the years. And I’ll continue to support them.

I will. I swear to you, I will.

Look, I’m sorry I got upset earlier and used some swears. It’s really not my nature. This whole thing is just a lot to bear, and I can’t bear much more these days. Hence my recently imposed 33-ton weight limit for semi-trucks.

Maybe it is time for me to make way for the new guy. Someone younger, more fresh-minded, perhaps just out of bridge college.

Do one more thing for me, though? Drive over me one last time? It would mean so much. Really, it would. I’d truly enjoy it. I think you would, too. Just pile your wife and kids into the ole’ minivan and come on across my rusty body, one last time. Heck, put the family dog in there, too. As a matter of fact, put everything near and dear to your heart inside your car, lock it up, and ride across my rickety, cracked bridge span for a final time. Don’t even bother fastening your safety belts. You won’t need them.

I promise an experience that will be remembered for a very, very long time.

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