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It takes a village, people!

Alex Lash experiences the traditional chili cook-off with musical guests, the Village People.

Micrografx raised a bundle of money last night for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children by getting a whole bunch of geeks together to cook chili, race armadillos, and dance to BTO and the Village People. That's the short version of the story.



Beau explains how it happened
The National Center has had thousands of success stories reuniting parents and children through its 1-800-THE-LOST hotline and its Web site. Tonight, one mother and son fought their way through the celebrities--including former baseball slugger Steve Garvey and two over-the-hill Laugh-In comedians--to tell CNET how mother Becky Comeaux found son Beau Arceneaux through the Internet.

Beau's father had stolen him away as an infant, and their reunion 12 years later wouldn't have happened, they told us, without the Net.

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We moved on to another success story in the form of a man doing his best to cast off the albatross of the 1970s by immersing himself in technology. Well, Mr. Chris Knight, a.k.a. Peter Brady, we were sensitive to your plight. We didn't ask one single Brady Bunch question, although we were dying to inquire about the underlying representation of class consciousness inherent in the relationship of Alice the maid and Sam the butcher.

Knight helped found Visual Software, which was bought a few years back by Micrografx, and he's now involved in another high-tech venture, Integrated Micro Solutions. He's staffing the company's booth this week at the Sands.

 
Guess who else was there?

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But there was sport to cover. We moved on. The sight of grown men and women getting off their office butts and onto a makeshift armadillo race track was a sight we won't soon forget.

According to several observers, armadillos are deaf, or at least hearing-impaired. The best way to prod them forward is to blow on their backsides. Microsoft 'dillo jockey Jeff Raikes was aced out in the early rounds. His excuse? "My 'dillo was Exploring! He was surfing the Web!" he told the crowd. Use Explorer, lose a race? Is that what he was saying?

We later spotted him in an elevator with Chief Gates, accepting his new assignment as assistant Windows 3.0 channel rep for the Rwanda/Burundi corporate market. Raikes shared his secrets with us, as did Intel's Jackie Young.

The final heat was down to the wire, the 'dillos were running snout to snout, the shells were a-rattlin', and... 1,800K 1,800K

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If it wasn't enough to ingest bowl after bowl of bad chili, the crowd was treated to two more blasts from the past. Rejuvenated by Office Depot's use of "Taking Care of Business" as a corporate sing-along, BTO played the main stage first, followed by the Village People. Both were spawned in the 1970s. BTO played "Take It Like a Man"; the Village People answered with "Macho Man." Coincidence? Perhaps.

Let's take a deep breath and review: beefy Canadian rockers and campy gay disco icons on one stage before an audience of red-blooded techies raising money for missing and exploited children in a town that serves the blandest middle-American buffet fare while strewing its grimy sidewalks with salacious call-girl advertisements. We just report it; it's up to you to figure out the rest.

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