Posted at 12:00 PM ET, 05/ 9/2008

OFF/beat on the Move

Dear Readers: Starting Monday, OFF/beat will have a new address: You'll be able to get your fix of weird news, commentary and moments of schadenfreude at readexpress, which is a publication of The Washington Post. So thanks for reading, and see you at!

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Posted at 8:00 AM ET, 05/ 9/2008

Texas Teens Accused of Smoking Pot With a Skull

Alas, poor Yorick, I smoked him well. (TWP)

As "Half Baked" showed us, there are many different kinds of pot smokers, from "enhancement smokers" to "MacGuyver smokers." And then there are the Yorick smokers.

The Yorick smokers? Say hello to Kevin Wade Jones Jr., 17, and Matthew Richard Gonzalez, 17, of Kingwood, Tex. The dynamic duo, along with an unnamed 16-year-old, are accused of digging up a corpse, decapitating it, and using the skull as a bong. They have been charged with abuse of a corpse, a misdemeanor in Texas.

According to reports, Jones confessed his crime to police, who were at first skeptical. He had been picked up for vehicle burglary and police assumed the desecration story was a subterfuge. But when they confronted Gonzalez about the alleged head-toking, he "regurgitated in his plate of food," an officer was quoted saying. "So I knew there was some truth to the story."

The corpse is believed to be that of a boy who died in 1921 and was buried in an abandoned 19th-century cemetery. Jones has admitted spending two days with his accomplices digging up the grave and further claims to have used a "garden tool" to remove the head.

So far conflicting confessions, torrential rain and snake infestations have made it difficult to ascertain exactly what happened at the cemetery. And according to reports, no skull has been found yet. Regardless, this story has to be the greatest necro/narco fusion since Keith Richards did whatever he did with his dad's ashes.

Opinions Producer Michael Corones contributed to this story.

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Posted at 8:15 AM ET, 05/ 8/2008

Thursday Breakfast Bender

Welcome to May 8! On this date three years ago, according to Wikipedia, Canada's War Museum opened. Wait a minute: Canada has an army?

Here is your Thursday Top 5:

The once-happy couple (AP)

5) What Happens in Nevada...
According to reports, Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons has been kicked out of the house by his wife Dawn -- and in this case, "the house" is the 23-room governor's mansion. The 63-year-old first-term Republican, who has been mired in controversy since taking office in 2006, has gone to court to have his wife evicted from the mansion. Appropriately enough, the governor has "gone to Reno" as the divorce proceedings play out.

4) Yankee Pride?
According to reports, Ivonne Hernandez has been charged with second-degree murder, aggravated driving while intoxicated and two counts of reckless conduct, after killing Matthew Beaudoin and injuring his girlfriend, Maria Hughes, in Nashua, N.H. Reports indicate that the incident occurred last weekend after a confrontation between Hernandez, a Yankees fan, and Beaudoin and Hughes, Red Sox fans. You think Hernadez's lawyers might ask for a change of venue?

3) Keystone Pride
A Philadelphia Flyers fan has taken on the daunting task of guarding the Rocky statue against possible attacks by Pittsburgh Penguins fans. According to reports, a local radio station has charged Mike Prince, 23, with protecting the Sly Stallone statue which stands on the Philadelphia Art Museum steps. This seeming paranoia stems from a Craigslist ad reading: "Need to recruit someone who is a Pittsburgh native, living in Philly. I want you to put a Penguins jersey on the Rocky statue and take pictures."

2) Respect Ma Authoritee!
A Texas storm chaser working for the National Weather Service was arrested for ... chasing storms. According to reports, Brian Barnes and some reporters were tracking "golf ball to tennis ball hail" near the west Texas town of Crane when he was accosted by a sheriff's deputy who accused them of "obstruction of a highway and/or passageway," and told them if they didn't move they would go to jail. Barnes said the Crane County jail, where he spent five hours, was "as close to being in a Mexican jail that I ever want to get."

1) Low Fashion Lo-Jack
A British judge has agreed to let a man serving time on a drug charge remove his GPS anklet because it "does not look fashionable with shorts." The judge ruled that Aaron Morgan should be spared the last two months of a six-month night-time curfew after the 22-year-old reportedly got himself a job a surf shop. Since work there involves wearing shorts, the tracking device was deemed "not a fashion item" and therefore not necessary during working hours.

And for dessert, here is your Moment of Schadenfreude:

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Posted at 3:00 PM ET, 05/ 6/2008

Roy Pearson's Latest Lawsuit

The $54 Million Pants Judge Wants Back on the Bench
Judge Roy L. Pearson Jr. (AP)

As if to show that it is more costly to lose one's pants than one's job, former D.C. Administrative Court Judge Roy Pearson is suing the District of Columbia for the paltry sum of $1 million. In his suit, filed in federal court, he claims he was wrongfully dismissed for exposing corruption within the Office of Administrative Hearings.

Pearson, of course, gained international notoriety with his $54 million lawsuit against his local dry cleaner, Custom Cleaners, for losing his pants.The judge in that case found for the defendant.

In 52-plus pages, Pearson claims he suffered "humiliation and "physical illness" as a result of his former employer's "wrongful actions." He asserts that he was "protected as a whistle-blower" but that the city used the fact that he was being "vilified in the media" as an excuse to sack him. "Confident that the media storm would provide cover for a retaliatory demotion," he writes, "the defendants made little effort to mask their retaliatory motive."

Apparently undeterred by his past legal failures, Pearson is pressing forward with this and his appeal of the $54 million pants lawsuit with frightening persistence. If all he ends up losing when this is over are his pants and his job, then Pearson should consider himself lucky.

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Posted at 7:00 AM ET, 05/ 5/2008

Monday Breakfast Bender

Welcome to May 5! On this date 83 years ago, according to Wikipedia, Tennessee educator John T. Scopes was arrested for allegedly teaching evolution at his high school.

Here is your Monday Top 4:

Forever toasted on ice-cold goodness. (AP)

4) Rest in Pabst
Bill Bramanti may have found a way to remind friends and a family of both his love for beer even after he's gone. The 67-year-old resident of South Chicago Heights, Ill. will go to his rest in a specially designed coffin shaped like a giant can of Pabst Blue Ribbon. Bramanti, who is 5-feet-9-inches tall and weighs 280 pounds, estimates the "vessel" can hold him or as much as 15 cases of beer on ice. And while he fully intends to use it as his final resting place, in the interim Bramanti is getting use out of it as a cooler for his favorite beverage. According to reports, he hosted a party Saturday during which he guests enjoyed ice-cold PBR straight out of the coffin.

3) Cold War Cold Cuts
Though U.S.-Russian relations may not be stellar, the nations' naval forces have decided to settle things in the kitchen. According to reports, cooks from the U.S. destroyer Stethen and Russia's Pacific Fleet will square off, Wednesday in a sandwich-making contest to be held in the Eastern port of Vladivostok. The event is intended to introduce visitors "to features of national cuisines and naval cooking traditions." And what better way to foster friendly diplomacy than with sloppy rations of powdered eggs and jellied eels?

2) A Name You Can Trust
Steve Kreuscher of Illinois has come up with a new handle that's really money. The 57-year-old bus-driver from Zion, near Chicago, is petitioning to have his name changed to "In God We Trust," according to reports. Kreuscher says the name change will "fully express" who he is as both a person. And, in case you were wondering, if all goes well for him on June 13th, his first name would become "In God" and his surname would become "We Trust."

1) Lightweight Blames Beer
Iancu Boroi of Romania has reportedly filed an official complaint with Romania's consumer protection office claiming he nearly passed out after just one can of an unnamed brew. "I am more than capable of holding my drink and it is ridiculous to think one can of beer can get me so drunk," the 35-year-old is quoted lamenting. "There must have been something wrong with it and I am demanding compensation."

And for dessert, here is your Moment of Schadenfreude:

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Posted at 6:00 AM ET, 05/ 2/2008

This Week In OFF/beat Crime

Tony Montana they ain't. (Universal City Studios)

Well, it's Friday again. Time to look back on another fabulous week in Offbeat crime! Before we get to the nominees, I'm pleased to announce that the winner of the April 18 Stupidest Criminal Award is Maria Garcia of Texas, who took 38.2 percent of reader votes for handing a bank teller a threat written on the back of her food stamp application. For remembering to include her name, address and phone number, Garcia has earned herself a bid to appear in OFF/beat's 2008 Crime Wrap Sheet on Dec. 19. Thanks to everyone who voted.

In additional OFF/beat crime news, a British family ended up in court after an argument over the proper recipe for shepherd's pie got out of hand. Michael Garvin, a chef, took issue with his brother John's claim that the meat-and-potato pie should be topped with tomatoes -- and he solidified his point by whacking John over the head with a shovel. John allegedly responded by threatening to "petrol bomb" Michael's apartment -- a threat that landed him in jail. Establishing the shepherd's pie precedent, District Judge Peter Ward said there was no need for a layer of tomatoes.

And on that tasty note, here are your nominees for this week's Stupidest Criminal Award:

* First up, we have Charles Ray Fuller of Texas, who was arrested after allegedly attempting to pass a $360-billion check. The 21-year-old reportedly told police that his girlfriend's mother had given him the check to start a record business. But the check was not made out to him. And, when the bank called its owner, she denied writing a check for just over the GDP of Belgium. In addition to forgery, Fuller was charged with possession of marijuana (bonus pic says it all).

** For her ill-fated attempt to appear "cool" in front of her students, our next nominee is Jane Kodros of Illinois. The 50-year-old substitute teachers was arrested a couple of days after bragging to a class of high schoolers that she had an outstanding warrant. According to reports she "also allegedly made an obscene gesture with her middle finger and used derogatory words" while teaching.

*** Our next nominee added an extra twist of idiocy to drunk driving by also being blind. Kristjan Gradolf of Estonia reportedly stunned police by pulling a Scent of a Woman with a blood alcohol content 2.5 times the legal limit. The 20-year-old was quoted saying: "Driving is something I enjoy, and I am, in fact, very good at it."

**** For not having too much pride to ask for directions, the next nominee is Eric Jones of Cleveland. The 19-year-old was reportedly holding a driver at gun point when he pulled over to ask a local TV news crew for directions to the bank. Through the kind of pantomime skills best demonstrated under extreme duress, the driver managed to indicate that he was being "jacked" and the reporter and cameraman notified police.

***** And our final nomination goes to a Missouri man who may have hurt his girlfriend's chances of working at the local Kohl's by stealing t-shirts while she filled out a job application. According to reports, the 22-year-old was supposed to be waiting in the car with his girlfriend's baby. Instead, he allegedly entered the store, began pilfering clothing, and, after being apprehended, dropped the eight-month-old and ran away.

So, that's where we stand coming into the homestretch. From these five worthy contenders, only one will be this week's Stupidest Criminal and earn the right to compete for a spot in OFF/beat's 2008 Crime Wrap Sheet in December. So make like Indiana Jones in "The Last Crusade" and choose wisely!

Stupidest Criminal Award 05.02.08

Who can it be now?
Charles Ray Fuller
Jane Kodros
Kristjan Gradolf
Eric Jones
Drop the Kid, Take the Tee-Shirts

View results

Note: This is an unscientific survey of readers.

Individual Awards

** This week's Carmen Sandiego Award for "Largest/Strangest Heist" goes to the thief who made off with a 6-foot hot dog costume from a Sonic diner in Tampa. According to reports police are on the lookout for a male suspect who may or may not be wearing the costume. If you see a 6-foot hot dog roaming the Tampa area, do not attempt to coat it with condiments.

** This week's Clancy Wiggum Award for "Underzealous Police Work" is a tie between the lawmen of North Platte, Neb. and Hampshire, England. The former successfully defused a potentially serious wedgie this week. "You might get away with that in Lincoln or Omaha," a police spokesman is quoted saying. "But we're not going to allow wedgies in North Platte."
Over in England, our other winners are working diligently to apprehend the thief or thieves responsible for a string of broccoli thefts from a vegetable garden. According to gardener Frank Fahy, the miscreants steal only one head of broccoli at a time. Originally he suspected rabbits. But then he noticed: "The net had been carefully cut over the broccoli and the heads taken... And rabbits don't carry knives." Thus far, four heads (worth around 99 cents per) have been stolen, but the police force is working hard to make sure there won't be a fifth.

** This week's Kwaltz Award for "Bumbling Bureaucracy" goes to the Michigan Child Protective Services, for making the protection of protocol more important than the protection of children. As I wrote about earlier this week, the agency separated an 8-year-old from his parents, both University of Michigan professors, after the father unknowingly bought him Mike's Hard Lemonade at a Detroit Tigers game. The boy was placed in temporary foster care, while CPS regretfully insisted that it had to follow the rules.

** This week's Wide Stance Award for "Worst Excuse" goes to Ryan Schallenberger of South Carolina, who stands accused of attempting to blow up his high school. When asked for a motive, the 18-year-old, straight-A student reportedly told police that "he wanted to die and go to heaven and once he got there, he wanted to kill Jesus."

Individual award winners also get a chance to appear in OFF/beat's 2008 Crime Wrap Sheet in December. Remember to send all nominees to

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Posted at 7:45 AM ET, 05/ 1/2008

Huron High Lacrosse Team Suspended for Prom Proposal

When Is Mooning in the Name of Love Acceptable?

Bad moon rising in Huron, Mich.

The delicate balance of romance, spontaneity and male teen angst took a bad turn in Huron, Mich., this week after 13 lacrosse players were suspended for painting a prom invitation on their backsides.

Kristoff Wennersten wanted to do something "really special" to ask his girlfriend, Carolyn Campbell, to the prom. So he reportedly convinced 12 of his teammates to write "Will You Go to the Prom With Me? Yes or No?" on their posteriors while mooning Campbell at a soccer game.

Campbell found the proposal "cute" (she said yes). School officials, however, were not as enthused. All 13 players were suspended for a day of school and an undetermined number of games, and ordered to complete 20 hours of community service.

"It disrespects women, and that's the clear message we need to have the students understand -- what may be fun to them isn't necessarily fun to everyone else," athletic director Dottie Davis was quoted as saying.

Campbell, for her part, said she was not offended and that she "didn't think it would become this big of a deal." And since the story has gone national, many from Huron High have spoken out about their faculty overreacting. Others admit that, under the circumstances the school had to do something. What do you think?

Was the punishment appropriate?

I'm still sitting on it.

View results

Note: This is an unscientific survey of readers.

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Posted at 7:00 AM ET, 04/30/2008

Wednesday Breakfast Bender

Welcome to April 30! On this date 205 years ago, according to Wikipedia, the United States purchased the Louisiana Territory from France. The price was $15 million, or about what a penthouse apartment goes for in one of Manhattan's nicer buildings.

Here is your Wednesday Top 4:

Transvestite Andre Luis Ribeiro Albertino (AP)

4) Ronaldo's Crying Game
Brazilian soccer legend Ronaldo was arrested Monday after an altercation with transvestite prostitutes in a Rio de Janeiro motel. According to reports, the striker for AC Milan striker admitted to police that he had picked up the prostitutes and wanted to "have fun," but claims he didn't realize they were in drag until he reached the hotel. A police inspector was quoted saying that Ronaldo said "he is not good in the head and that he is going through psychological problems because of his recent [knee] surgery."

3) Grand Theft Minor
According to reports, Latarian Milton, a 7-year-old from Palm Beach, Fla., admitted that he stole his grandmother's SUV and took it on joyride because he "got mad at my mom" and "it's fun to do bad things." Along the way he smashed into several cars and mailboxes before eventually crashing into a sign totaling the car. His grandmother suggests no video games for an entire weekend as punishment (and since Grand Theft Auto 4 was released yesterday, it seems fitting). Police, however, are considering charging him with grand theft auto.

2) Raising Eyebrows
In Portland, Ore., young males at Centennial High School have reportedly begun shaving lines in their eyebrows in order to imitate rapper Soulja Boy and "attract girls." But after police said the trend was some sort of gang sign, the school sent home all brow-carvers, refusing to allow them back until they shaved off the entire thing. So instead of rappers they'll be left with a school that looks like "Alien Nation"? Wouldn't a more sensible solution be to just show the guys which "rapper" originated the trend of eyebrow shaving?

1) Ice Streak
Perhaps inspired by the ending of "Slap Shot," a minor league hockey player has been charged with indecent exposure after police say they saw him running around naked in Scranton early Sunday. Nathan Smith, captain of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, reportedly told officers that he was fulfilling a bet, but has since apologized for his "embarrassing and regrettable decision." On a personal note, I was in the same area this weekend for a bachelor party, and am proud to say that I did not streak despite the insistence of several friends. It's all about self control, people!

And for dessert, here is your Moment of Schadenfreude:

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Posted at 10:00 AM ET, 04/29/2008

Mike's Hard Lemonade Breaks Up Family

Michigan Professors Lose Son Over Ignorance

Beverage ignorance can hurt your family.

In the latest example of a sensibly enforced child welfare policy, a Michigan couple briefly lost custody of their child after accidentally serving him Mike's Hard Lemonade.

The parents' excuse? They had no idea that the beverage contained alcohol. (They don't watch much TV.) Their punishment? A two-day hiatus from parenting while state officials investigated how they could have such a lack of knowledge about American malt beverages.

Christopher Ratte, a professor of classical archeology at the University of Michigan, earlier this month took his son Leo to a Detroit Tigers game at Comerica Park, where a security guard noticed his seven-year-old son sipping on a bottle. Ratte said he did not know it contained alcohol, telling the Detroit Free Press, "I'd never drunk it, never purchased it, never heard of it."

The bottle was confiscated and Leo taken to the hospital. Although his son had showed no signs of being drunk, according to the doctor who examined him, and though the police reportedly believed Ratte's story that it was all a big mistake, supervisors said that protocol mandated that the state department of Children's Protective Services be called. CPS agents then told Ratte that the whole thing was "unnecessary," while regretfully insisting that they too had to follow the rules and take Leo into custody.

Leo reportedly spent the night "crying himself to sleep in front of a television" in the custody of the state. The next day he was placed in an undisclosed foster home while a caseworker investigated whether abuse was afoot.

It took two days of wrangling and a call from the assistant attorney general before Leo was released to the care of his mother, Claire Zimmerman, also a professor at the University of Michigan. And there was one condition: that his father be removed from the home.

It was just under a week before Ratte saw his son again. And his lawyer told the Free Press that was actually a pretty speedy turnaround. CPS's rules are "well-intentioned," he said, but the agency is also "out of control."

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Posted at 6:00 AM ET, 04/29/2008

Tuesday Breakfast Bender

Welcome to April 29! If it were April 28, I could say that, 41 years ago, Montreal kicked off Expo 67. It is considered to be one of the most successful world fairs of all time according to Wikipedia, and the namesake for one of the least successful Major League Baseball teams of all time.

Here is your Tuesday Top 5:

5) The Great Mullet Toss
In a live-action version of Jeff Foxworthy stand-up, thousands of revelers reportedly packed the Flora-Bama Lounge and Package Store this weekend for the 24th annual Interstate Mullet Toss. For the uninitiated, a mullet is not only a trendy haircut, but also a fish said to "possess mystical properties." Among them, perhaps, is its ability to attract people from across America to watch it being thrown from a 10-foot circle in Alabama across the state line into Florida.

4) Hard-Time Hunger
Forget Subway. If you wanna shed pounds quick, try Arkansas' Benton County jail. Inmate Broderick Lloyd Laswell reportedly lost more than 100 pounds in just eight months - dropping from 413 to 308 lbs. But rather saying thanks, the murder defendant is suing the county for not feeding him right.

3) Factory Flagged
If that Free Tibet flag on your wall gives you a nice sense of solidarity, you may want to check the label. According to reports, thousands of the flags have been produced in a factory in southern China. Workers alerted police after they saw the flag as part of televised protests. The factory owner claimed ignorance of the government-in-exile message.

2) A Buzzing Intellect
Bees, guns and beer aren't usually a winning combination, as a Pennsylvania man found last weekend. David Walls reportedly tried to shoo away some bees with a .22-caliber revolver. But the 57-year-old, who not surprisingly had been drinking, ended up shooting himself in the hand.

1) Flipper Flop
You knew it was bound to happen sooner or later. A mid-air collision during the dolphin show at Orlando's Sea World on Saturday left one dolphin dead, according to reports. The remains of Sharky, a 30-year-old female Atlantic bottlenose, will be used for research.

And now here is your pro-dolphin Moment of Schadenfreude:

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Posted at 4:40 PM ET, 04/24/2008

'Darth Vader' Attacks Jedi Church Founder

Dark Lord Could Face Jail Time for Striking Back

"Your honor, the Dark Side made me do it."

In what may be the first intergalactic hate crime, a man dressed as Darth Vader attacked the founder of a Jedi Church in Wales.

According to reports, Arwel Wynne Hughes, 27, was wearing a black trash bag when he jumped over a garden wall screaming "I am Darth Vader!" and beat Barney Jones and his cousin Michael with a metal crutch.

Barney Jones, 36, aka Jedi Master Jonba Hehol, is founder of the Anglesey Order of Jedi -- a "quasi spiritual thing" based on the teachings of Yoda. He had been taping an interview in his back yard when Hughes attacked.

In court, Hughes confessed to having drunk most of a 10 liter box of wine. His lawyer said he has a "chronic alcohol problem." District Judge Andrew Shaw warned he could face jail time. The trial resumes May 13.

Opinions Producer Michael Corones contributed to this story

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Posted at 6:30 AM ET, 04/24/2008

Thursday Breakfast Bender

Welcome to April 24! On this date 55 years ago, according to Wikipedia, the Southwest Bank in St. Louis was robbed, a heist that was later immortalized in the Steve McQueen movie imaginatively titled, "The Great St. Louis Bank Robbery."

Future News Prediction: Inspired by Alec Baldwin's "Always Be Closing" speech from Glengarry Glen Ross, Barack Obama's campaign staff refuses to serve him coffee of any kind, telling him that coffee "is for closers only!"

Here is your Thursday Top 4:

4) Stripping Down Immigration
According to reports, Canadian Immigration Minister Diane Finley is under tightened security after stepping up efforts to keep foreign strippers out of Canada. The Conservative MP has received many threats "of an escalating nature" directly linked to Bill C-17, the government's anti-stripper legislation intended to tighten a fast-track program for exotic dancers.

3) Seoul Searching
According to reports, 88 city workers in Seoul who were deemed "incompetent or lazy or truculent toward residents" have been ordered to spend three weeks doing manual labor in the countryside. The government-dubbed "soul-searching" program is meant to change their attitudes through mediation, outdoor treks and 50 hours of "volunteer work." If only Washington could be so forward thinking.

2) I Want My Snob TV
According to reports, Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov is setting up a magazine, website and television station called simply "Snob." Prokhorov, worth an estimated $22.6 billion, is hoping to appeal to Russia's burgeoning nouveau riche, who have "gained a right to snobbishness." Now pass the Grey Poupon!

1) Not-So-Magical Kingdom
According to reports, Victoria Walker of Anniston, Ala., was sentenced to 90 days in jail for beating another woman who cut in front of her. While Walker expressed contrition, she maintains that the victim provoked her. No Disney characters were hurt in the fracas.

And for dessert, here is your Moment of Schadenfreude:

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Posted at 9:00 AM ET, 04/23/2008

Derrick Shepherd, Sagging Pants and the Music Man

Is Trouble With a Capital 'T' Brewing in Baton Rouge?

Sagging survives statewide test. (AP)

Louisiana's attempt to create a statewide ban on droopy pants has failed, but its sponsor has vowed to keep fighting. And for some reason I can't get the "The Music Man" out of my head.

Watch for the tell-tale sign of corruption!
The moment your son leaves the house,
Does he rebuckle his knickerbockers below the knee?

The anti-sagging bill, introduced by State Sen. Derrick Shepherd, would have made it illegal for people to wear clothing that "intentionally exposes undergarments or intentionally exposes any portion of the pubic hair, cleft of the buttocks or genitals." Anyone caught violating the dress code in public would have faced up to a $175 fine and eight days of community service.

Shepherd has been in a twist over low riders since 2004. "The shorts are getting shorter, the tops are getting smaller, the cleavage is getting larger," he was quoted saying earlier this week. "When are we going to say, 'Enough is enough'?" The Senate judiciary panel said that Monday -- but not in the way Shepherd meant, as it voted without objection against moving the bill to the floor.

"I will bring it back before the session ends" in June, Shepherd said. Meanwhile, dozens of communities across Louisiana and the nation have taken up similar measures against the fashion, believed to have begun in prisons where convicts are deprived belts. Still, as Shepherd says, he is "the first legislator in the nation to take on the issue."

The first big step on the road
To the depths of deg-ra-Day--

In Florida the battle against plunging waistlines is led by Democratic State Sen. Gary Siplin, who sponsored legislation last year to ban the popular fashion statement in public schools. "We want the kids to focus in on educating themselves, so they can matriculate through the education process and get a job and be a taxpayer, not a tax burden," he was quoted saying. (Siplin's earlier proposal for jail time for students caught "exposing their underwear by wearing their pants or shorts below the waist" failed.)

Both Siplin and Shepherd say droopy pants are "disgusting" and "immoral." It is a conviction held by a vocal minority of their constituency -- mostly black clergy -- who have drawn spurious connections between the fashion, criminality and even homosexuality. "When a prisoner wears his pants below the waist," Siplin claims, "he's indicating that he's available for the night."

That'll grab your son and your daughter
With the arms of a jungle animal instinct

But as I have written, the surest way to make a style more fashionable is to outlaw it.

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Posted at 10:00 AM ET, 04/22/2008

Deutsche Bank Bans Prostitutes and Porn

Execs Told No Sex Expensing Amid Credit Crunch

But how will the ban effect the trading floor? (AFP)

If desperate times call for desperate measures, then top executives at one of Germany's biggest banks are about to get a whole lot more desperate. In response to the ongoing credit crunch, according to reports, Deutsche Bank has issued a memo banning employees from expensing brothel visits or charging pornography to their hotel rooms.

The crackdown comes amid reports that the bank has lost as much $4 billion since the crisis began. "Deutsche Bank does not approve of any adult entertainments and such expenditures will not be reimbursed," according to the memo. This belt-tightening measure is aimed primarily at reining in the expenses of top executives, some of whom have been guilty of "minor infringements."

The actual impact of this edict remains to be seen. But if social science is any guide, it could be significant.

Consider two recent studies. One, conducted by Stanford neuroscience professor Brian Knutson and Northwestern finance professor Camelia Kuhnen, found that male investors are more likely to make risky decisions when shown sexual images than non-sexual ones. Another, by John Coates, research fellow in neuroscience and finance at Cambridge University, found that the financial markets are driven primarily by emotions which can be traced to neurochemicals. Coates -- a former derivatives trader at Deutsche Bank! -- found that elevated levels of testosterone on the floor can lead to irrational decision-making.

So where does that leave us? Stay with me here: It's far-fetched, I know, but by disallowing expenses for sex and porn, could Deutsche Bank be building an unsafe surplus of such images in their executives' subconsciouses, which could in turn lead to the kind of risk-taking that landed banks in the very crisis from which they are now digging out?

It remains to be seen, of course, whether this ban will have any effect, much less whether it will have a butterfly effect across the financial markets. Still, it is safe to say that Deutsche Bank is messing with more than just a few rogue expense accounts -- it's messing with people's heads.

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Posted at 6:00 AM ET, 04/22/2008

Tuesday Breakfast Bender

Welcome to April 22! On this date in 1970, according to Wikipedia, the first Earth Day was celebrated. Other planets' holidays have yet to catch on.

Here is your Wednesday Top 5:

5) Bull Testing
Don't expect congressional hearings, but starting next month, Spanish bulls will face stricter testing for performance-enhancing drugs at the San Isidro festival in Madrid. According to reports, drug screeners will be looking for steroids and tranquillizers. Any bulls found doping will be banned from competition, and their ranchers fined. Matadors, on the other hand, are presumably free to take whatever drugs are necessary to stand in front of a 1,200-pound animal hellbent on goring them.

4) Gallery of Death
From the "I can't believe it's art" file, a German artist wants to put a dying person on display in a gallery. According to reports, Gregor Schneider's aim is "to show the beauty of death" and in so doing make people "less scared of the moment that awaits us all." The 39-year-old says a private clinic in Düsseldorf has agreed to help find volunteers who would be willing to participate. Alas, no doctors will be on hand to resuscitate the "art" once the performance is complete.

Cat on Pope
Proving that you can sell just about anything if you put cute kittens or the pope's name on it, Italian journalist Jeanne Perego has written "Joseph and Chico: The Life of Pope Benedict XVI as Told by a Cat." According to reports, the illustrated book, which examines the pope's love of felines, has already sold 12,000 copies in the United States and has been translated into 10 languages. Before being elected pope, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger of Germany lived in a home filled with stray cats.

2) Oh What A Feelin'!
Further evidence that Rockstar Games should hurry up and release of Grand Theft Auto 4: According to reports, drug addict Braydon Travis Richardson of Australia robbed several banks, and netted about $30,000, but wasn't in it for the loot. After being arrested, he told police, "I just wanted to know what if felt like to rob a bank." That feeling will cost him up to six and half years in prison.

1) Bada Blessing
Russia's Studio 74 has experienced a rebirth of business following an Orthodox priest's accidental blessing, according to reports. The priest claims he was duped by management, who told him that the hall was used for ballet, not pole or lap dancing. Whatever he was told, it seems to have worked: According to a Studio 74 spokesperson, "Ever since we had this sacred act performed on our premises, customers say they have experienced an entirely new atmosphere here and more people are coming in."

And for dessert, here is your Moment of Schadenfreude:

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Posted at 10:00 AM ET, 04/21/2008

Satire First, Reality Later

The Onion's 'Sousaphone Hero' Prediction Comes True (Almost)

Virtual Conductor is the coolest! (AP)

Satire is the best predictor of the future, especially when it comes to product marketing. It's often the strangest products that become the most profitable. Who wouldn't want a Pet Rock?

The most famous example of satire turning into reality is probably still Saturday Night Live's "Triple Trac Razor" spoof of 1975, which mocked the possibility that consumers were dumb enough to purchase a shaver with three blades. Of course, less than three decades later Gillette introduced its Mach 3 Razor, and since then we have seen four- and five-blade razors. As the SNL parody says: "Because you'll believe anything."

Another great SNL spoof was "Betty Beer" -- The (B-word) Brew -- which seems to be on Miller's to-do list, although it's called the "feminization" of beer. And in 2001 "Law & Order: Parking Violations Unit" may have seemed far fetched, and yet A&E now has a show called "Parking Wars," following the real-life adventures of the Philadelphia Parking Authority.

Of late, The Onion has led the way in prescience. Some may view the paper's Jan. 17, 2001 headline, "Bush: 'Our Long National Nightmare of Peace and Prosperity Is Finally Over'" as prophetic. From a product marketing standpoint, though, it's hard to top its Aug. 1, 2007 story, "Activision Reports Sluggish Sales for Sousaphone Hero." Last week, the following headline appeared in USA Today: "'Conductor Hero'? Touring Game Rocks Concert Halls." The article quotes a spokesman describing the game as "sort of like the orchestra version of 'Guitar Hero.'"

Perhaps in light of the Onion's report on Sousaphone Hero's sluggish sales, the makers of Virtual Maestro are waiting for a better moment to take their product commercial. Still, it could be just crazy enough to work. If so, can it be long before we see such games as "Tax Preparation Hero"?

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Posted at 6:00 AM ET, 04/18/2008

This Week In Offbeat Crime

Tony Montana they ain't. (Universal City Studios)

It's Friday again, time to look back on another fabulous week in Offbeat crime. Before we get to the nominees, I'm pleased to announce that the winners of the Stupidest Criminal Award for April 4: Jill Foreman and her fiancé, Larry Rieck, of Sulphur Springs, La. The hapless couple picked up 36 percent of the votes for returning a call from police about their missing car and then asking officers if they could buy $150 worth of crack from them. For actually going to the trouble of meeting up with the police and getting arrested, the pair earn a bid in OFF/beat's 2008 Crime Wrap Sheet hosted in December. Thanks to everyone who voted.

Without further ado, here are your nominees for this week's Stupidest Criminal Award:

*** First is Louis Rolstad, of Wharton, N.J., who was arrested after phoning police and telling them that a midget was "hiding in the curtains" of his motel room, "trying to steal his money." A search of the his room allegedly turned up no midget but plenty of cocaine, hashish, pipes, spoons and other paraphernalia, according to reports.

*** For his lethal fusion of grand theft auto and ghost ridin' the whip, the next nomination goes to Willie Lee Thomas III of West Palm Beach, Fla. According to reports, he had stolen a moving van when he decided, for reasons that are yet unknown, to get out of the vehicle while it was still moving. As he was doing so, the van ran him over and he later died.

*** If you have been banned from driving 14 times and had 87 previous offenses on your record, it's probably not a good idea to drive drunk. But if you have to, it's best to avoid forcing police cars onto the sidewalk. For ignoring this advice and then leading officers on a high-speed chase, the next nomination goes to John Cottam of Chorley, England. He has reportedly been banned now for a 15th time and will be spending the next 10 months in prison.

*** For their handy take on armed robbery, the next nomination goes to a pair of crooks from Florida. According to reports, two white men in their late 20s entered Heritage Bank in Lutz armed with a carpenter's level. "One man was described as wearing a red mask; the other, a coonskin cap." In between laughs, the bank teller refused to give them money and they left.

*** And the final nomination goes to accused bank robber Maria Garcia of McAllen, Tex., who left police a key piece of evidence during her last heist. According to reports, she scrawled her note demanding money on the back of a food stamp application. Included on that application were her name and address, which police used to apprehend two hours later.

So that's where we stand coming into the homestretch. From these worthy contenders, one will become this week's Stupidest Criminal and earn the right to compete in OFF/beat's 2008 Crime Wrap Sheet. So make like Indiana Jones in "The Last Crusade" and choose wisely!

Stupidest Criminal Award 04.18.08

Who can it be now?
Louis Rolstad
Willie Lee Thomas III
John Cottam
Carpenter Crooks
Maria Garcia

View results

Note: This is an unscientific survey of readers.

Individual Awards

*** This week's Kwaltz Award for Bumbling Bureaucracy goes to the city of Baltimore, which, due to internal squabbling and misplaced paperwork, may or may not have a mayor. When elected, Sheila Dixon reportedly broke with tradition and asked the governor to swear her in instead of the usual court clerk. That clerk, Frank Conaway, who was her opponent in the Democratic primary, now says she is not legally mayor until she allows him to swear her in. Who said "The Wire" was far-fetched? Individual award winners take home a free nod in OFF/beat's 2008 Crime Wrap Sheet.Remember to send all nominees to

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Posted at 10:00 AM ET, 04/16/2008

OFF/Beat's Papal Merchandise Shopping List

Pope Benedict XVI bobbleheads for the faithful.

When it comes to merchandise that bears the pope's image, some souvenirs are respectful, others are trashy, and others are just plain weird. With Pope Benedict XVI in town today, here is a selection from the final category.

*** Pope on a Rope soap. Hey, cleanliness is next to godliness, right?

*** Once your hands are clean, why not enjoy a Ratzinger bratwurst?

*** And what better way to wash down that papal brat than with a frosty Papst Benedikt XVI beer?

Of course, to open your beer, you'll need one of the most venerable of all Vatican collectibles, the Popener.

*** And if the pope soap wasn't enough, give yourself a few squirts of The Pope's Cologne.

*** Cheap, Chinese-made plastic idols with oversized noggins show respect, which is why the >bobblehead pope is a must-have this week.

*** For those who can't make it to see his holiness, never fear: The Do It Yourself Posable Paper Pope is here!

*** Not pleased with the catechism? Then use your very own Cardinal Ratzefummel! (That's eraser in German.)

So that's my list. If you see something better, let me know.

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Posted at 6:00 AM ET, 04/16/2008

Wednesday Breakfast Bender

Welcome to April 16! On this date 65 years ago, Dr. Albert Hofmann discovered the psychedelic effects of LSD, according to Wikipedia.

Future News Prediction: The Pope falls a day behind schedule when Dick Cheney decides he wants to make confession.

Here is your Wednesday Top 5:

He got game. (PopCap)

5) Love is in the Code
In what may be one of the nerdiest proposals ever, a computer programmer from North Jersey reportedly popped the question into the code of his girlfriend's favorite video game. According to his blog, Bernie Peng spent a few weeks last December reprogramming Tammy Li's favorite Nintendo DS game, Bejeweled. "Once it hits a certain score, the screen clears and a ring drops down!" he wrote. Word of the proposal spread through game circles and eventually found its way to Seattle-based PopCap, makers of Bejeweled. The company is reportedly so impressed by Peng's play that they offered to pay for part of the wedding and honeymoon. "Most video game companies would frown on people manipulating their games," spokesman Garth Chouteau was quoted saying. "But it won him a woman. As a bunch of geeks we have to say, 'Bernie, hats off to you.' "

4) Apologists' Apologist
They say the two most overused phrases in the English language are "I love you" and "I'm sorry," but a Canadian lawmaker thinks we need more of the latter. According to reports, Liberal backbencher David Orazietti introduced the Apology Act in the provincial legislature Tuesday. The act would allow people to say they're sorry without it being held against them in a court of law. Orazietti cites a study by the American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education that found 37 percent of patients filing medical malpractice suits might not have if there had been an apology.

3) Torch Rumble
Human rights activists disrupting Olympic procession may want to sit the next round out. Kung fu star Jackie Chan, who will carry the torch as it nears Beijing, reportedly warned that "demonstrators better not get anywhere near me."

2) Sick Conviction
Though it probably won't make an episode of CSI, an Australian robber has been convicted after DNA evidence from his vomit was found at the scene. According to reports, Ahmed Habib Jalloul was allegedly so freaked out when his accomplice pulled a gun during the post office robbery that he froze with terror and then puked. For his hold-up/throw-up, Jalloul received three and a half years in prison -- and hopefully a bottle of Pepto-Bismol.

1) That'll Learn 'Em!
Getting turned down for a job is never easy, but how you handle that rejection is what counts. Jeremy Paul McIntosh, 27, of Michigan, reportedly reacted by putting on women's clothing and makeup and ramming his car repeatedly into an adult novelty business. He told police he was homeless and tired of freezing in his car. More bizarre still, he managed to do $3,000 in damage using only a Geo Tracker, an achievement which could only add to the luster of his resume.

And for dessert, here is your Moment of Schadenfreude:

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Posted at 10:00 AM ET, 04/15/2008

Tuesday Breakfast Bender

Welcome to April 15! On this date 143 years ago, Abraham Lincoln died after being shot by John Wilkes Booth. Exactly 90 years later, Ray Kroc opened his first McDonald's franchise in Des Plaines, Ill. These two events would forever change America, and are completely unrelated.

Future News Prediction: Building on her mother's momentum, Chelsea Clinton visits Villanova, where she is seen funneling a beer and then reminiscing with students about how she and her uncle Roger used to play Duck Hunt in the White House.

Here is your Tuesday Top 4:

Dug too deep. (Michael David Hill)

4) Mole Man Blues
Tunneling under your home may be fun when you're seven, but when you're 77 it's illegal. At least it can be in London, where the High Court has fined a retired engineer nicknamed "the Mole Man" more than $600,000 for digging a labyrinth under his mansion. According to reports, William Lyttle spent 40 years excavating a maze of tunnels so extensive that the house, sidewalk and nearby property had begun to collapse. Parts of his home were found to be supported by only household appliances, while holes had been dug around his land "in which he placed a range of items including cars and boats."

3) Record Goes Pop
In the pantheon of human achievement, no one can hold a candle to Andrew Dahl (and for safety sake please don't). Thirteen-year-old Dahl, of Washington state, reportedly inflated 213 balloons in less than 60 minutes last Friday -- using only one nostril! According to the eighth grader, or should I say eighth wonder of the world, tying 213 balloons is just as hard as blowing them up. And so with a bloody finger and a runny nose this champion persevered until the hour was complete and the record broken.

2) Ballot Stuffed
Democracy can be frustrating. And in Italy, one man decided to demonstrate that frustration by eating a ballot during last Sunday's parliamentary elections. The 41-year-old businessman from Naples reportedly yelled that all Italian politicians and politics "are crap" and claimed he was protesting "against the system" -- not just desperate for fiber. Police charged him with destroying election materials.

1) A Crying Shame
From Rick-Rolling to phishing, cyber fraud can come in many forms -- though few as pernicious as the e-male-order bride. According to reports, German farmer Wolfgang Zober met Randy Victoria online and was thrilled when she turned out to be "as lovely as her photographs" and "knew loads about farming." Unfortunately, as Zober learned on his wedding night, she also turned out to be named Ralf and the father, not mother, of two, as Victoria originally claimed. Zober is now reportedly "devastated" and is seeking to have the marriage annulled.

And for dessert, here is your Moment of Schadenfreude:

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Posted at 9:00 PM ET, 04/14/2008

Tree Man Sheds Bark

Indonesian Tree Huggers Wanted

Ladies looking for a guy in touch with his roots will be happy to hear that Dede Koswara is looking for a wife. The Telegraph reports that the Indonesian Koswara came to be known as the "Tree Man of Java" for the warts and tree-like growths that began covering his body when he was 15. As the growths got worse, he had to give up work as a builder and fisherman, and he lost his wife.

But now, after several operations, doctors have successfully stripped away "4 lbs of warty horns from his legs and feet." And after further procedures are completed this summer, Koswara hopes to get on with his life. "What I really want first is to get better and find a job," he told the Telegraph. "But then, one day, who knows? I might meet a girl and get married."

The 37-year-old enjoys playing Sudoku and wearing flip-flops, both of which he can now do comfortably.

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Posted at 10:15 AM ET, 04/14/2008

Monday Breakfast Bender

Welcome to April 14! On this date 22 years ago, the world's largest hailstones (2.2 pounds) fell across the Gopalganj district of Bangladesh, killing 92 people, according to Wikipedia.

Future News Prediction: In an effort to appeal to younger parishioners, Pope Benedict XVI gets his Pope-Mobile tricked out during a very pious episode of MTV's Pimp My Ride.

Here is your Monday Top 5:

Crazy Legs Conti comes up short in oyster gorge.

5) Great Achievements in Food
Forget the Masters, the real competition this weekend was a double-dip of gastronomic greatness spanning two continents! In Uruguay, more than 20,000 people gathered to experience the flame-broiled magic of 26,400 pounds of grilled beef. According to reports, it took some 1,250 chefs and six tons of charcoal to work the mile-long grill, which stretched through the capital city of Montevideo. "[W]e have to use these kinds of gimmicks so people find out where Uruguay is and what it has to offer," Meat Institute Vice President Fernando Perez Abella was quoted saying. I can see the posters now, "Uruguay: We got beef!"
Meanwhile, in New Orleans, Patrick "Deep Dish" Bertoletti took home this year's Acme World Oyster-Eating Championship belt. According to reports, the 22-year-old from Chicago slurped down an intoxicating 35 dozen bivalves to out-gorge last year's champ, Crazy Legs Conti, and former chemistry professor Juliet Lee.

4) Jersey Curse
In what could be the greatest example of gamesmanship since Spygate, a Red Sox Jersey was planted in the foundations of the new Yankee Stadium -- allegedly by someone hoping to curse the Bronx Bombers. According to reports the David Ortiz shirt was pulled from the concrete after five hours of drilling. No parts of Jimmy Hoffa were unearthed during the excavation, but that's a whole different kind of Jersey curse.

3) Strange Brew
Undeterred by the old maxim "you are what you eat," a London department store is offering a pricey blend of coffee brewed from animal droppings. The BBC reports that Caffe Raro is brewed from Kopi Luwak beans, which "are eaten, then passed, by a cat-like Asian palm civet." Creator David Cooper says the rare beans are then "slowly hand roasted for around 12 minutes to ensure that we maximize the potential of each coffee." At $100 a cup, it better be good 'till the last drop!

2) Choo-Choo Snafu
According to reports out of New Zealand, a man is in the hospital after being struck by a train while urinating on the tracks. "It's one of the dumbest things I've ever seen," Police Senior Sergeant Junior Abraham was quoted saying. The man, whom police described as "very drunk," suffered back, leg and pelvis injuries.

1) OFF/beat Steal of the Week
Attention Wayne's World fans and lovers of roadside Americana. The world-famous Shuler Spindle could be yours. Owners of the Cermak Plaza shopping center in Berwyn, Ill., have placed the iconic "car kabob" up for auction on eBay. Bidding starts at $50,000, but be aware this classic landmark will cost an extra $100,000 for shipping and handling.

And for dessert, here is your Moment of Schadenfreude:

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Posted at 10:00 AM ET, 04/10/2008

Zulu 1 Tactical Airsoft Simulation Puts Folly in Play

Muslim Association of Britain Outraged by War Game Attire

His headdress does not make him a terrorist.

With games there must be rules, but with rules there are always exceptions. Okay, I'm spewing clichés. But when morality is imposed on make-believe, subtle critique becomes derelict. And when serious organizations moralize about something like Zulu 1 Tactical Airsoft Simulations, a glorified paint-ball game which makes cops and robbers seem as nuanced as Hegel, well, OFF/beat must chirp.

The objective of Zulu 1 is to chase and shoot tiny pellets at the opposing team. One team is wearing shemagh headdresses, the other is wearing camouflage. Subtlety be damned, it's obviously terrorists v. counter-terrorists, us against them (judge for yourself who's who). Founders Peter Jenkins and Darren Howells try to justify it saying: "We simply use the shemaghs to differentiate between teams. Just because some terrorists decide to wear them doesn't make it racist."

Take that for what's it's worth. But the Muslim Association of Britain seems equally misguided in its outrage. Member Mokhtar Badri says he is against "using Arab dress, especially in the current climate." He argues that they "could use any other type of color or dress to tell between teams which would not cause offense."

And he's not wrong. But would reenacting the Civil War have as much appeal if the costumes weren't authentic? People play war games for the same reason they watch "The Sopranos" or "Band of Brothers" -- to experience fear, death and blood-lust without the consequences. Worrying about the reality within a game is as foolish as imagining that it might invade reality. Perhaps the only thing more foolhardy is expecting to diminish interest in a game by publicly protesting it.

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Posted at 7:30 AM ET, 04/10/2008

Thursday Breakfast Bender

Welcome to April 10! On this date 37 years ago, according to Wikipedia, the People's Republic of China hosted the U.S. ping pong team for a weeklong visit in order to help thaw relations. No, Forrest Gump was not actually on the U.S. squad.

Here is your Thursday Top 5:

Ready, aim, LIBERTY! (AP)

5) Now That's Patriotic!
According to reports, "Florida wildlife officials have removed the symbol of American freedom from the state's imperiled species list." Thanks to fruitful breeding, bald eagle nests are now numerous. But will they ever grow to the point where Americans can hunt a national symbol while also exercising their Second Amendment rights?

4) 50-Cent Reassessment
From our "Irony Defined" file: Harvey Levinson of Long Island, chairman of the Nassau County Board of Assessors, is reportedly asking the Nassau County Assessment Review Commission to "knock more than $200,000 off" its assessment of his condo. Meanwhile, a 14-year-old fan is reportedly suing 50 Cent and Universal Music Group for promoting a "gangsta lifestyle." James Rosemond's suit, filed after he was assaulted on a Manhattan sidewalk by 50-Cent's rivals, claims the hip-hop mogul's gangsta image is actually marketed and advertised to sell records.

3) Oh, That Monaco!
Two Dominican women reportedly drove hundreds of kilometers in the wrong direction after confusing Munich with Monaco. The pair had been driving from northern Italy to pick up a niece at a train station in the Mediterranean Principality, but thanks to multilingual signage and no border guards -- thank you, EU integration! -- they ended up going to the Bavarian beer capital instead. Since the 14-year-old girl had no cell phone and neither of her aunts spoke German, it some time to sort out. In their defense, the Italian for Munich is "Monaco di Baviera."

2) Good and Bad Ways To Go
Perhaps inspired by his surroundings, church organist Brian Markland passed away while playing Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata at a funeral in Bamber Bridge, England. Markland will reportedly be laid to rest where he died, with a brave replacement playing Moonlight Sonata. Meanwhile, a Seattle man reportedly jumped out of his hospital window, plunging five stories. He was then carried into the emergency room, where he was treated for "multiple fractures."

1) What Could Go Wrong?
The Florida legislature has passed a law allowing people to take their guns with them to work. According to reports, the bill would allow "nearly all workers, except teachers and those who make fireworks" -- at least they showed some restraint! -- "to bring guns to work and leave them locked in their vehicles."

And for dessert, here is Today's Video:

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Posted at 6:30 AM ET, 04/ 9/2008

Wednesday Breakfast Bender

Welcome to April 9! On this date 55 years ago, Warner Bros. released "House of Wax," the first 3-D film ever made, according to Wikipedia.

Future News Prediction: Taking a hint from the Justice Department, Barry Bonds says he's too busy hitting home runs to testify before the Senate about whether steroids are helping him hit home runs.

Here is your Wednesday Top 5:

The different faces of Lali (AP)

5) Baby Durga
In the United States a child born with two faces will probably get made fun of. In rural India, she is treated like a god. According to reports from the "dusty" village of Saini Sunpura, Baby Lali is being worshiped as the reincarnation of the "Hindu goddess of valor, Durga, a fiery deity traditionally depicted with three eyes and many arms." With two noses, two pairs of lips and four eyes blinking in unison, she has caused such a stir in the community that Village Chief Daulat Ram is "writing to the state government to provide money to build the temple and help the parents look after their daughter." Meantime, Lali is leading a healthy life, feeding with both mouths and getting about 100 visitors per day looking to "touch her feet out of respect."

4) Naomi Banned?
According to reports, 37-year-old supermodel Naomi Campbell has been banned from British Airways after spitting in a police officer's face. "Banning her will send out a worldwide signal that such behavior is totally unacceptable," a source told The Daily Mirror. Campbell had flown into a rage during a London-to-L.A. flight after airline staff refused to load her bag because it was "too heavy." Virgin Atlantic has offered to carry her instead.

3) Don't Have a Cow!
Bad news for fans of slow-cooked cow's head. Elkhorn Valley Packing in Kansas has issued a recall of 406,000 pounds of frozen cattle heads after it was discovered that the tonsils had not been completely removed, according to a company spokesman. While some people eat bovine tonsils, in the United States they are considered a Specified Risk Material associated with mad cow's disease (BSE) and therefore prohibited along with the distal ilium by the FDA.

2) Career Suicide
It was Diamond Joe Quimby who said, "I propose that I use what's, uh, left of the town treasury to move to a more prosperous town and run for mayor." Now the mayor of a city in southwest Russia wants to abandon his city. Founded in 1927, Chapayevsk was home to four Soviet toxic weapons plants, leaving the town with mortality rates from tuberculosis and various kinds of cancer three times higher than normal. According to reports, Mayor Nikolai Malakhov has stated the best solution would be to simply give up on Chapayevsk and relocate its 70,000 residents elsewhere.

1) Mrs. Berlin Wall
The Berlin wall didn't just fall down, it fell in love, or at least a woman fell in love with it. The Guardian reports that Eija-Riitta Berliner-Mauer of Sweden fell so hard that she took the unusual step of marrying it. The 54-year-old Swede says that all objects are living, have souls and can make love. The happy couple were wed on June 17, 1979 at Groß-Ziethener Straße in Berlin, and according to her Web site, she took her husband's name, Berliner-Mauer, that same day. It was not immediately clear if Mr. Wall has any other wives.

And for dessert, here is your Moment of Schadenfreude:

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Posted at 6:00 AM ET, 04/ 8/2008

Tuesday Breakfast Bender

Welcome to April 8! On this date 115 years ago, according to Wikipedia, the first recorded college basketball game was played in Beaver Falls, Pa., as Geneva College trounced the New Brighton YMCA 3-0. No word on what the over/under was.

Future News Prediction: Defenders of China credit the nation's eco-friendly policies for the decision to extinguish the Olympic torch.

Here is your Tuesday Top 5:

Turkeys gone wild or just too much Wild Tukey?

5) Turkeys Go Postal
In what some may consider retribution for centuries of Thanksgiving atrocities, a gang of wild turkeys has attacked some postal workers in Wisconsin. According to reports, between five and 10 of the wild birds have allegedly pecked workers, while others "have attacked the letter carriers with the sharp spurs on their legs." Postal Service employees attempts to defend themselves with water pistols are failing as the turkeys have now developed some sort of immunity to the weapons. Further escalation with long sticks has begun and "other possible solutions" are being discussed.

4) Phone Sex Goes Postal
Thanks to a phone book mixup, calling the U.S. Postal Service in rural Maine just got a lot more interesting. According to reports, the latest copy of a local phone book misplaced an 8 with a 2 (I'm not saying which!), providing an 800 number not for the Postal Service but for a phone sex hotline. Approximately 18,000 households received copies of the erroneous book.

3) Sonic Assault
Call it assault with a prickly weapon: A man in New Zealand is accused of attacking a teenager with a hedgehog. According to reports, William Singalargh, 27, of Whakatane, picked up the animal and allegedly tossed it "several yards to hit a 15-year-old boy." It is unclear whether the hedgehog was alive or dead at the time of attack, however it did cause severe welting on the victim.

2) Negligent Patriot?
While Sam Adams may be full of delicious hops, shards of glass aren't part of the recipe. Yet some have slipped in, and as a result the Boston Beer Company is reportedly recalling "an undetermined amount" of beer after discovering the "small grains or bits of glass" during quality control last week. The brewery is blaming the defective bottles on a vendor that supplies about 25 percent of its bottles. Although no injuries have been reported yet, it is unclear how many real or malingered ones may occur as a result of the recall.

1) Asses Protected From Fat
The iconic amusement sign "You must be this tall to enjoy this ride" is taking a modern turn as British beaches move to ban fat children from riding their donkeys. According to reports, the Donkey Sanctuary in Devon has imposed a weight limit in the wake of England's burgeoning child-obesity problem. Endorsed by the British Equine Veterinary Association, the restriction will apply to all youngsters (and presumably adults) weighing over 112 pounds.

And for dessert, here is your Moment of Schadenfreude:

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