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Dispatches Quick Takes

Quick Takes

(Illustration by Krieg Barrie)

Toy story

There's no way Pipi Quinlan has a sandbox big enough to play with the toy she bought on the internet without her parents' permission. In May, the 3-year-old New Zealand girl woke early and played on her parents' computer while they slept. Once on the internet, Pipi somehow navigated to the auction website, From there, Pipi found auctions for industrial earthmoving excavators that look like those she played with in her Legos set. Finding one she liked, the 3-year-old managed to place a bid and purchased the full-size Kobelco digger for $15,600. Her parents managed to cancel the transaction.

'Ironic fashion'

So long as it sells T-shirts, perhaps indignity isn't such a bad thing. The makers of a kitsch shirt depicting three wolves howling at a moon on a black background have seen sales of the T-shirt jump 2,300 percent after a series of sarcastic reviews went viral, becoming another internet meme. The surge in ironic popularity has made the shirt the No. 1 item in apparel at the online retailer. Some customer reviewers on told of how the shirt gave them magical powers, or helped them with their dating lives. One New Jersey customer summed it up: "This item has wolves on it which makes it intrinsically sweet." Michael McGloin, art director of The Mountain, the maker of the shirt, told Radio Five Live, "We'll take ironic fashion any day . . . and we're printing another 400,000 more T-shirts. . . . It's just a fantastic thing."

Radio alert

May 20 was more than just another day on the job for officer Christopher Cortazzo of the Reading, Pa., police department. Less than 24 hours after pursuing a trio of teenagers in a high-speed car chase, Cortazzo was once again in hot pursuit. A man in a car shot past Cortazzo with his radio blaring while the officer was on routine patrol. Little did Cortazzo know, but the man he found himself pursuing was a bank robbery suspect who authorities say robbed the National Penn Bank earlier that day in Reading. In the chase with the bank robbery suspect, Cortazzo managed to pin the suspect's driver-side door with his cruiser after the suspect crashed. "All this," said Cortazzo, "because he was making a spectacle of himself driving through the city."

Balancing act

Voters in Illinois might be surprised to discover how lawmakers in that state spent their time in the home stretch of the state Senate's session. Lawmakers took a break from parsing details in the state budget and tackling ethics reform to pass a bill meant to address bowling alley safety. With a 51-4 margin, state senators passed a bill that would allow bowling alley owners to post signs warning that bowling shoes are "specialized footwear" and sometimes require fancy footwork to maintain balance. Owners who post such signs would be shielded from lawsuits from injured patrons.

Crash course

Rather than filling out a questionnaire card or calling a 1-800 number, Robert Caton decided to register his complaint with the Tesco store in Andover in the United Kingdom by driving his Rolls Royce directly through the window. According to the Times of London, Caton became agitated when employees at the chain store refused to sell him alcohol. According to police, Caton had drunk plenty. That's when the 50-year-old man decided to ram the Rolls through the storefront. "I heard a huge crash and shattering glass and the shelving started collapsing around me," customer Patrick Ford told the Times. "[It was] like a tidal wave of shelving." Authorities say six were injured in the crash.

A real page-turner

Democrats in Congress have an interesting solution to overcoming Republican stalling tactics on a comprehensive environmental policy bill: compliance. Republicans have threatened to use a parliamentary tactic to force Democrats to read the entire 948-page bill, plus the several hundred pages of amendments, into the Congressional Record. The gambit could stall the House's Energy and Commerce Committee for more than a week. But Democratic chairman Henry Waxman of California has hired a speed reader who says he could ramble through the huge document in about nine hours if Republicans follow through with their threat.

Facial recognition

If you're thinking mustaches, don't think Keith Hernandez, Rollie Fingers, or even Tom Selleck. Think Kees Lek, winner in the "natural mustache" division of the 2009 World Beard and Mustache championships held in Anchorage on May 22. The strawberry-blond-haired Dutch man sported a similarly colored wispy 'stache that found favor with the official panel of sled-dog mushers and other local Alaskan dignitaries. Alaskan David Traver, perhaps favored by the local judges, picked up the best-in-show award with an intricately woven full beard that sloped toward his chest, forming a perfect V.

Pay to play

Sheriff Dale Williams of Carroll County, Ohio, wasn't impressed by Verizon customer service. Deputies there responded to an emergency call reporting that a 62-year-old man had taken off to the hills with bottles of pills, apparently intending to commit suicide. During the 11-hour search for the man, Williams and his staff contacted Verizon hoping to be able to triangulate his location using the man's cell phone. But a Verizon representative refused to reactivate the missing man's phone because he was $20 behind on his bill. "I was more concerned for the person's life," Williams told the Times-Reporter. "It would have been nice if Verizon would have turned on his phone for five or 10 minutes, just long enough to try and find the guy. But they would only turn it on if we agreed to pay $20 of the unpaid bill. Ridiculous." Just as deputies were arranging for the payment, authorities found the missing man still alive.

Lawnmower man

A Sandusky, Ohio, man faced criminal charges after police there objected to his upkeep of a local park. John Hamilton became so frustrated with the city's inability to pay mowers to cut the grass in Sandusky's Central Park that the 48-year-old took matters into his own hands. When police confronted Hamilton, he had cut the foot-high grass and was using a power blower. Police charged him with obstructing official business and disorderly conduct when he refused to stop.