News Quirks | News Quirks | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

Published August 29, 2007 at 4:00 a.m.

Curses, Foiled Again Two teenage girls broke into a tattoo parlor in Fairfield, Maine, and tried to avoid setting off the alarm by using hairspray so they could see the alarm beam. "They said they saw it on TV," Deputy Police Chief Steve Trahan said, pointing out that the spray "tripped the alarm." Police responded and caught the girls.

* A 59-year-old woman at a bookstore in Prescott, Ariz., reported that someone had stolen her purse and used her credit card at the store to buy $200 in DVDs. At the same time, a 22-year-old man was trying to exchange eight DVDs for cash. Customer Susan Murphy told the Daily Courier that the manager "looked at the receipt, looked at the elderly lady and then at the young man standing next to her and said, 'This is the transaction.'" The man rushed from the store, but police eventually caught up with him.

Fiscal Follies During a $71 million beach replenishment project in Surf City, N.J., the Army Corps of Engineers accidentally dumped sand filled with old military ordnance, forcing the town to close its beach. After more than 1100 explosives, each about 4 inches in diameter and 8 inches long, were removed, the Army Corps said it expected the town to help pay for the cleanup. "That's protocol," Army Corps official Khaalid Walls told the Philadelphia Inquirer. "All our projects are cost-shared."

* The Defense Department acknowledged that a flawed automated purchasing system designed to rush supplies to troops in Iraq and Afghanistan resulted in the government's paying a small-parts supplier $998,798.38 to ship two 19-cent lock washers. A subsequent investigation uncovered that twin sisters running the South Carolina company which supplied the washers had taken advantage of the system to bilk the Pentagon out of $20.5 million in fraudulent shipping costs, then used the funds to buy beach houses, luxury cars, boats, jewelry and vacations.

Slightest Provocation Police in Queen Anne County, Md., charged Larry Forsythe, 52, with stabbing his neighbor in the back, arm and abdomen during an argument over cinder blocks.

* When a scheduling conflict resulted in Judges Jerry Patterson and Rhonda K. Wood showing up to use the same courtroom in Marshall, Ark., witnesses told the Harrison Daily Times the two began shouting at each other, then threatened each other with contempt citations, arrest and possible jail time. Arkansas State Police official Bill Sadler said a state trooper was dispatched to restore order before the judges eventually agreed to take turns hearing cases.

* An unidentified man who ordered goat at a butcher shop in Fairfax County, Va., but was given chicken became so upset that he stepped behind the counter and cut off his own hand. Police said that when they arrived, the man was holding his severed hand and screamed, "I'm not a terrorist. I did this for my family."

Second-Amendment Follies After watching an episode of the television show "Forensic Files," in which investigators were trying to show that a woman couldn't have shot herself in the stomach with a shotgun, Earl F. Ellwanger Jr., 55, of Provo, Utah, disputed the premise. While trying to prove his point, he accidentally but fatally shot himself in the stomach. "He decided to show that the program was incorrect," Fall River County Sheriff Jeff Tarrell said, "and didn't realize the shotgun was loaded."

Dear John A just-opened public restroom in Chongqing, China, features 1000 toilets spread out over 32,290 square feet. State-run China Central Television reported the four-story bathroom has an Egyptian façade with uniquely shaped urinals, including ones inside open crocodile mouths and several topped by the bust of a woman resembling the Virgin Mary. "We are spreading toilet culture," tourist official Lu Xiaoqing said. "People can listen to gentle music and watch TV. After they use the bathroom, they will be very, very happy." CCTV added there are plans to build a supermarket near the facility that will sell toilet-related items.

* Beijing officials ordered operators of the city's public toilets to remove food stalls before next year's Olympics. "It is not proper to sell soft drinks or snacks right at the toilets," the Beijing News said, citing sources at the Beijing Municipal Administration Commission. "The city authorities also plan to publish a toilet guide, provide toilet information over the telephone and the Internet and erect more road signs to help toilet users."

* The Indian television channel Filmy announced the debut of a new singing competition, "Bathroom Singer." The show will feature amateur performers with "the exuberance and energy with which people sing in their bathrooms," Shailesh Kapoor, Filmy's content and marketing head, said. Contestants will perform in a studio set that replicates a bathroom, with tiled walls, showers and faucets.

Speed-Dial Follies Leszek Wojcik was fired from his job as a bus driver in Slupsk, Poland, for sending 38,000 text messages on his company cell phone. A company official said Wojcik ran up a $34,000 bill in an unsuccessful effort to win a $36,000 contest jackpot. Explaining that he was trying to win the money to buy a second car, Wojcik lamented, "Now I'm without work."

* Authorities in Pensacola, Fla., charged Cheveon Alonzo Ford, 21, with making 292 calls to 911 in June to chat with dispatchers. Many of the calls were sexual in nature, and when a male dispatcher answered, Ford would hang up, according to Bob Boschen, communication chief for Escambia County, who said Ford never asked dispatchers for help or indicated he was in trouble. Ford told authorities he made the calls because "I have no minutes on my phone, and 911 is a free call."