LEAD STORY -- What's Old Is Weird Again
You may have seen the widely distributed weird news story about the Mad Pooper, a woman who has been seen defecating on lawns in Colorado Springs, Colorado. According to KRDO.com, on Sept. 25, an unidentified man claiming to be a spokesman for the Pooper posted (and has since removed) two videos in which he tried to justify her movements and win sympathy for her. In the videos, the spokesman says the unidentified Pooper is not responsible for her actions because she has suffered a traumatic brain injury and has had gender reassignment surgery, leaving her unable to control herself. He also claims her actions are protected by the First Amendment, in response to which Colorado Springs attorney Jeremy Loew called foul: "Defecating in someone's yard is definitely not protected under the First Amendment and it is actually a crime." Loew went on: "People all over the world are talking about this, and police will catch her."
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What's in a Name?
Death Wish Coffee -- a cold-brewed, canned coffee the company touts as "fiercely caffeinated" (as much as 4 1/2 times more caffeine per fluid ounce than regular coffee), with a skull and crossbones logo -- recalled its 11-ounce cans on Sept. 20 because they could possibly contain the deadly toxin botulin. Company founder Mike Brown, 37, said no incidents have been reported, but he is very serious about the safety of his product. "I know our logo and name might not seem like it reflects that," Brown told The Washington Post. Production has been halted, and customers can request refunds from Death Wish's website.
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People Different From Us
-- Mermaid Aries, 18, of Bromsgrove, Worcestershire, England, likes to wear her specially made mermaid tail when she swims at local pools. But the Dolphin Centre in Bromsgrove, under new management, has banned her from using the flipper because "they worry I might hit someone with my tail or might get into trouble in the water and drown," Aries (real name Leia Trigger) told the Worcester News on Sept. 22. "It is my ambition to become a professional mermaid that attends children's parties and other events. The only problem is that I have nowhere to swim." (UPDATE: After the story made headlines, the Perdiswell Leisure Centre stepped up. Aquatic development officer Vanessa Bale welcomed Aries to the pool, offering her "early mornings and late evenings." Aries is thrilled: "I am absolutely ecstatic. I never thought I'd be able to swim with my tail ever again.")
-- An anonymous bidder in the United States has purchased a pair of Adolf Hitler's boxer-style underwear for about $6,700, according to auctioneer Bill Panagopoulos of Alexander Historical Auctions in Chesapeake City, Maryland. The drawers, with a size 39 waist and "A.H." embroidered on them, apparently were left in the Parkhotel Graz in Austria in 1938, Panagopulos told Metro News on Sept. 24. The seller was the grandson of the people who owned the hotel at that time. Panagopulos supposes the buyer will frame the underwear and hang them on a wall in his or her home: "It would be the most talked-about relic in the house."
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The Farce Is Strong
A black-and-white photo depicting the signing of the Charter of the United Nations in San Francisco in 1945 has prompted the recall and reprinting of Saudi social studies textbooks because it pictures Saudi King Faisal seated next to the Jedi master Yoda. The photograph was created by 26-year-old Saudi artist Abdullah Al Shehri, who mixes pop culture icons into historic photographs. Shehri told The New York Times in September he inserted Yoda into the photo because he reminded him of the king. "He was wise and was always strong in his speeches," Shehri said. "I am the one who designed it, but I am not the one who put it in the book," he clarified. Saudi education minister Ahmed al-Eissa apologized for the mistake, but the mystery of how the photo got into the book remains unsolved.
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It's Good to Have Goals
Octogenarians Ray and Wilma Yoder of Goshen, Indiana, have finally achieved a goal they set nearly 40 years ago: to visit every Cracker Barrel location in the United States. On Aug. 31, they checked off the last of 645 stops in Tualatin, Oregon, where they each received a Four-Star apron, the company's highest honor. The Yoders once stopped at 10 Cracker Barrels in one day as they traveled up the East Coast. "I've always walked away feeling refreshed," Ray Yoder told ABC News. "For two old people, we're pretty fast moving."
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-- The Detroit Red Wings' new promotion commemorates the Joe Louis Arena, where the team played until this year, when they're moving to a new rink. The Detroit News reported in September that fans who want to keep the old home ice close to their hearts and contribute to the team's foundation can buy a small vial of limited edition "melted ice" taken from the arena's surface (otherwise known as water) for $85. Only 3,000 vials have been produced; they are accompanied by a framed photo of The Joe.
-- Even Superman underwear couldn't protect Nathan French, 19, from Halewood, Merseyside, England, as he climbed to the top of the highest mountain in Wales, 3,600-foot Snowdon. French managed to hike to the summit on Sept. 9, but he quickly succumbed to the elements -- perhaps because he was wearing ONLY Superman underwear, shoes and gloves. French, who is studying sport, nutrition and health in college, told The Guardian, "It was when I was at the top I was shaking uncontrollably." He rode the Snowdon mountain railway back down, but fell ill on the train: "I started to go deaf and my sight started to go funny." Paramedics said his blood sugar had dropped and he was showing signs of hypothermia. Miles Hill of the Llanberis mountain rescue team noted, "We hope Mr. French is back in the mountains soon, perhaps in the full suit (cape optional), rather than just the underwear."
-- And police in Cumbria County, England, responded on Sept. 23 to a call for help from 3,210-foot Scafell Pike (England's highest mountain), where four men ran into trouble while hiking. However, their problems didn't stem from dehydration or a painful fall. Instead, it seems the group had become "incapable of walking due to cannabis use," police told The Guardian. A police spokesperson wrote on Facebook: "Now having to deploy rescue, air support and ambulance to rescue them. Words fail us ..." Cumbria police superintendent Justin Bibby reminded hikers that "alcohol or any other substance that could impair your judgment ... has no place on a mountain."
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The Passing Parade
South Western Railway in England took over for South West Trains in August and in its first six weeks collected more than 10,000 items left behind on trains -- including an inflatable shark, an ironing board, a barrister's wig, false teeth, a leather chair and hundreds of jackets. The BBC reported that lost property manager Michael Pugh is beseeching riders to check their seats before leaving the train. While his staff works hard "to ensure passengers are reunited with their belongings," Pugh said, items can be kept for only three months.
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Apparently, even crime goes better with Coke! The manager at Rally's restaurant in Henderson, Kentucky, was busy preparing for the day's business on Sept. 25 when a man dressed in a Coca-Cola bottle costume robbed him at gunpoint, stealing more than $500. The Coke bottle then left the restaurant without hurting the manager and headed north in a gray minivan, according to WFIE-TV.
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People With Issues
Timothy Bates, 37, of Collierville, Tennessee, was arrested on Sept. 24 by the Secret Service after being observed urinating at the corner of 17th and Pennsylvania Avenue NW, near the White House in Washington, D.C. WTOP-FM reported that Bates explained to the officers that he was headed to the White House, where he hoped to meet with National Security Agency Director Adm. Mike Rogers and Defense Secretary Gen. James Mattis to find out "how to get the dog chip out of my head." He explained that he is part of the MK Ultra project, managed by the CIA, and had chips implanted in his head that cause headaches, shaking and convulsions. Bates also told officers he had weapons in his car, which amounted to nine firearms, brass knuckles, a black jack and three knives. A former Memphis police officer, Bates has been involuntarily committed twice this year for mental health reasons.