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Dispatches Quick Takes

Quick Takes

(Darren Britton/© Wales News Service)

Punch drunk

A pair of drunk young Englishmen found out the hard way that looks can be deceiving. Dean Gardener, 19, and Jason Fender, 22, thought they might get their kicks by roughing up a pair of cross-dressers they saw on a Swansea, South Wales, street. But the men wearing cocktail dresses were far from pushovers. The costumed duo turned out to be a pair of professional mixed martial arts fighters en route to a themed party. "You know it cannot have been a good night when you get into a fight with two cross-dressing men," Gardener and Fender's attorney admitted. "Unfortunately they were extremely drunk." After a punch to both of the assailants, the two cross-dressing cage fighters were seen picking up dropped accessories and then skittering away in their high heels.

A long test

A test drive that started at a West Springfield, Mass., Honda dealer ended 1,008 miles and 15 hours later in Janesville, Wis. Now, after charges of speeding, reckless driving, and driving a vehicle without the owner's permission, Aleh Kot has been locked up in the small Wisconsin town. Kot, who also faces charges of kidnapping, car theft, larceny, and assault and battery in West Springfield, began a normal test drive of a 2010 Honda Accord at the Balise Honda dealer on Oct. 15. But the 32-year-old just kept driving west on the Massachusetts Turnpike-at times cruising at nearly 125 mph. The unidentified salesman managed to escape the vehicle at a tollbooth nearly an hour later.

Gunning for the title

Winners of a religion and geography quiz in Somalia were awarded AK-47 assault rifles, hand grenades, an anti-tank mine, and $1,000 worth of office supplies. The al-Shabab militant group held the geography and religion bee for young men in the port city of Kismayo in order to drum up interest for the militia group. "The reason the young men were rewarded with weapons is to encourage them to participate in the ongoing holy war against the enemies of Allah in Somalia," a group leader told the AFP news service. Losing groups went home with an AK-47 party favor.

Rolled out

Cutting costs is becoming a sensitive subject for one Irish all-girls school. The St. John's Girls National School in Carrigaline, County Cork, sent home a letter in October asking parents to send a roll of toilet paper to school with their girls, thereby saving the school the expense of stocking the restrooms. "Dear parent," Principal Catherine O'Neill wrote, "from time to time we will request your daughter to bring in a toilet roll to her class teacher." The note added that students would now be required to provide their own tissue.

A big bad gulp

For two years John Manley of Wilmington, N.C., had discomfort breathing. On Sept. 10, surgeons found the reason: a one-inch plastic utensil from a Wendy's restaurant stuck in his lung. Duke University surgeon Momen Wahidi told the Associated Press that his team didn't realize what the object was until doctors noticed letters on it. "We started reading aloud, 'a-m-b-u-r-g-e-r,'" he said. Manley said that he didn't know how the object made its way into his lung but that he "like(s) to take big gulps of drink."

Crispy critter

The Texas State Fair, long known for its fry-everything cuisine, may have a new challenger. The Arizona State Fair opened Oct. 16 with a number of fried delicacies on its menu. But one may take the cake for most disgusting: fried scorpion. Officials with the fair say the deep fried and chocolate-coated scorpions are something of a Chinese delicacy that-you guessed it-tastes a bit like chicken. The State Fair of Texas featured no desert animals but did debut a curious dish called "Fried Butter."

Cold case

Shoppers and employees at Marketplace Foods in Hayward, Wis., had an unusual companion on Oct. 16: a 125-pound black bear. Video cameras captured the footage as the bear walked through the store's automatic doors and made its way to the liquor department, stopping to rest in a beer cooler. The bear spent an hour in the cooler as workers evacuated customers and called wildlife officials. The officials then tranquilized the bear and removed it from the store.

A real dud

She never heard the crunch. That should have been her first clue. One 87-year-old Idaho woman ran into trouble while trying to enjoy some candy and settling down to watch Dancing With the Stars. Violet Bishop of Coeur d'Alene made it through the first few Milk Duds well enough. But then, something went wrong. "As I enjoyed the chocolate and caramel taste, it appeared that one of my Milk Duds was not as fresh as the others. One was rather crunchy and I could not get it to soften up, no matter how hard I tried," she told the Spokesman Review. After taking the faulty Dud out of her mouth, she discovered that the hearing aid that had slipped out of her ear and-improbably-into her box of candy was what she had been chewing on.

Royal prerogative

The United Kingdom's Royal Mail has taken aim at a website that allowed users to look up British postal codes easily. Officials with Earnest Marples Postcodes say they received a letter from the government service saying the company was infringing on the Royal Mail's intellectual property. The company, which has disabled the service, says it was simply providing the same information that existed on the Royal Mail website.

Gnazi gnomes

The Nazi salute returned to the Bavarian town of Straubing in October, as a crowd of more than 1,200 gave the salute together in the town's historic central marketplace. But these weren't garden-variety Germans; these were garden gnomes. Artist Ottmar Hoerl created the unique exhibit to protest the fascism that he says continues to lurk in Germany. "The fascist idea," says Hoerl, "the striving to manipulate people or dictate to people . . . is latently dangerous and remains present in our society." A German court ruled earlier this year that Hoerl's exhibit does not violate the nation's strict laws against the display of Nazi symbols.