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Hard times hit Hippoland.

The Hippopotamus Times, a new satiric publication on the Internet that pokes fun at Greensboro's weekly Rhinoceros Times, got run off the Web this week.Head Hippo man Steven Thomas said someone ``got to' the Hippo's Internet provider ``basically ranting and raving.'

The provider, in turn, killed the site.

The nixing came after a prankster fired ``e-mail bombs' all day Monday and Wednesday, continuously crashing the Hippo Times site which then flew under the banner, as in John Hammer, the Rhino's esteemed editor.

Not to worry, says Thomas. By today, The Hippo should be back. This time, under the banner Thomas' new Internet provider, he said, isn't a scaredy-cat.

``We won't be run off again,' said Thomas, who plans to expand the spoofing site to include a column of romance advice from Davidson County High Sheriff Gerald Hege.

Guilford County Commissioner Skip Alston seemed a bit out of place when he offered unsolicited political advice to the Greensboro City Council this week.

After all, the council is known for its relatively sedate, consensus-building style, and the commissioners, well, are not.

True to form, most council members listened quietly as Alston accused them of ``playing games' with a racially charged lawsuit involving the Police Department. But when Alston added, ``I'm not trying to tell you how to do your business,' Mayor Carolyn Allen finally spoke up.

``Mr. Alston,' the mayor said, ``I believe you are trying to tell us how to do our business.'

Presidential nuptials, right here in the Piedmont.

Former President Gerald Ford's granddaughter was married last weekend in Winston-Salem, and Betty and Gerald had front-row seats at the ceremony in First Presbyterian Church.

Sarah Joyce Ford and Blake William Goodfellow were married as her grandparents and about 300 other guests looked on. Sarah's daddy, Michael Ford, is Gerald and Betty's son. He lives in Winston-Salem and is a dean at Wake Forest University.

The bride, a student at the University of Tennessee, wore a simple white silk gown with a scoop neck. Betty Ford, observers say, wore an elegantly plain pink suit. She simply beamed at her smiling grandbaby.

Bureaucrats love mind-boggling alphabet soups that make them sound important. Here's the latest from the world of public education, which brought you AP, SAT and EOG. Now we have FIA. No, it's not the latest student test. It's Gov. Jim Hunt's newest slogan that means ``First in America.' The self-proclaimed education governor coined the term twice in his speech Thursday to educators and reporters who had gathered in Raleigh for the annual pep rally that happens when the state releases its report - here comes another abbreviation - on the ABCs of Public Education. ``FIA. Got that? First in America,' Hunt crowed. Later this month, the state will learn if it can retire the longstanding FOS abbreviation - Forty-eighth On the SATs.

John Blust is breaking out his walking shoes again - maybe.

The former Republican State Senator who was booted during the Democratic landslide of '98 is contemplating a comeback. Blust, who hoofed it through his senatorial district trying to win votes, says Republican honchos are trying to convince him to stomp on some new territory, fellow Republican Rep. Steve Wood's. Wood got ousted from the House Republican Caucus early this year when he broke ranks and voted for Democrat Jim Black for Speaker. There's one kink in the proposed plan. Blust lives in Greensboro. To run for Wood's seat, he'd have to move to Wood's High Point district. That's OK by Blust, a Greensboro attorney who grew up in that district. But Blust still won't commit.

He's ``keeping my options open.'

Staff writers Scott Andron, John Newsom and Parker Lee Nash contributed to Inside Scoop.

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