STATEWIDE - For those who have been holed up at home since March, a bottle of booze is likely an easy arm’s length away. But even with this spike of at-home drinkers, there hasn’t been enough take-out business for the state’s distilled spirits industry, claiming much of the $4.6 billion industry has gone down the drain. NJ 101.5 reports that more than 25 distillers in the state are pleading with Congress for a bailout, drowning in lost revenue from closed tasting rooms and the inability to market the latest hooch. Some of these distilleries famously turned to making hand sanitizer to keep the doors open, but that volume can only do so much. It’s surmised that the distillery business is down 80%, as liquidity has dried up. It’s enough to make you drink.

TOMS RIVER – They’re toasting, not boiling, a rare orange lobster at a Stop & Shop after seafood clerks marveled at its unusual color, then spared its life. This lucky crustacean is now on display at the Lakewood Road supermarket until a nice home is found. So far, Rutgers naturalists are offering a safe, watery habitat for “Crusty Orange” to enjoy his (or her) golden years. Most lobsters are greenish-or blackish-brown, nature’s way of concealing them from predators. So, how rare are orange lobsters? If you believe the internet, they are a one-in-30 million oddity. But scientists at the University of Maine’s Lobster Institute (yep, that’s real) tell the Asbury Park Press the odds of this genetic abnormality are closer to one-in-a million. And, apparently, a lobster’s color is irrelevant if there’s melted butter and cold beer nearby.

TRENTON – Our governor is getting advice from all sides about what to do with the federal aid New Jersey has received to deal with the stresses, strains and ginormous costs of the coronavirus pandemic. The advice, in a nutshell is: “Spend it already!” NJ Spotlight has a story today that highlights how slow the Murphy administration has been to shell out dollars from DC. Apparently, it has apportioned less than 3% of almost $2.4 billion sent its way to cover general needs the pandemic has created. The state has received a total of $5.3 billion from close to 50 separate federal relief programs, a lot of which is earmarked for specific purposes like K-12 school reimbursements and emergency food assistance. Included in that is the $2.4 billion, which is money the state has some leeway in spending. Not sure if we should be filled with admiration or consternation over this display of fiscal restraint.

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BRIEFING BREATHER

"OMG" usage can be traced back to 1917 when British Navy Admiral John Arbuthnot Fisher wrote to Winston Churchill about rumors of new titles soon to be bestowed. “I hear that a new order of Knighthood is on the tapis,” he wrote. “OMG.”

TITUSVILLE – Yet another reason to use spell check. A 25-year-old Huntington, NY man tried to avoid a jail sentence by having his lawyer pass off a fake death certificate from the good ol’ State of New Jersey. It may have worked except for one glaring problem: Registry was spelled “Regsitry.” Now the defendant – who tried to claim he committed suicide last September in Titusville, Mercer County – is looking at another four years in the slammer, following his sentence for having a stolen Lexus, while trying to steal a truck. He is set to appear in court July 29, reincarnated, of course.

BAYONNE – When will idiots learn ‘speaking freely’ is no excuse for spreading hate? That’s the loud, clear message everyone is shouting at 4,300 followers of a Facebook group, “Bayonne Talks Freely,” decrying a posted image of a dead body hanging from a tree, captioned: “Time to bring this back.” Calling it “horrible” and “threatening,” Mayor Jimmy Davis demanded a criminal inquiry to find the brainless culprit. Even Gov. Phil Murphy piled on, saying: “Hate and bigotry have NO HOME in Bayonne or anywhere in New Jersey.” And Assemblywoman Angela McKnight condemned the post in an email to the Jersey Journal, saying it’s unbelievable “people in my district would be so cruel to post pictures of lynching and make such hateful comments.” The post was removed, yet no one from the social media group would ‘talk freely’ to the tabloid. 

IN OTHER IMPORTANT NEWS

AT HOME – They are called “pandemic puppies,” and likely have been sniffing around a tree near you. But CBS says the breeders and animal shelters can’t keep up with the demand, which has skyrocketed 400% since March. New Jersey shelters are reporting thousands of people are on waiting lists, while animal hospitals are reporting three- or four-month backlogs of puppies that need to grudgingly get neutered. Rescue groups are getting more and more selective these days, grilling potential dog owners to ensure they will still be entranced by those puppy eyes when they finally get to return to work and life as usual.

THIS DAY IN HISTORY

It was this day in 1987 that the Red Sox waived Bill Buckner. And for good reason.

WORD OF THE DAY

Farrago – [fuh-RAH-goh] – noun

Definition: A confused mixture

Example: I tried to invent my summer signature cocktail; it ended up a ludicrous farrago.

WIT OF THE DAY

“When you see something that is not right, not fair, not just, you have to speak up. You have to say something; you have to do something.”

-John Lewis

TODAY'S TRUMPISM

“Many whites are killed also. You have to say that.”

- Donald J. Trump

WEATHER IN A WORD

Swampy