Odds & Ends
Dateline: England—Church leaders have united to condemn a Christmas nativity exhibit at Madam Tussaud's wax museum in London. The tableau depicts soccer star David Beckham and his wife, former Spice Girl Victoria Adams, as Joseph and Mary. Australian pop star Kylie Minogue hovers behind them as an angel. Further stretching credulity, Tony Blair, George W. Bush and the Duke of Edinburgh are depicted as the Three Wise Men. The shepherds are played by American actor Samuel L. Jackson, British star Hugh Grant and campy Irish talk show host Graham Norton. “This is worse than bad taste. It is cheap,” an official Vatican source told Reuters news service in Rome. A spokesman for Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, spiritual leader of 70 million Anglicans worldwide, reacted with resignation. “There is a tradition of each generation trying to reinterpret the nativity. But, Oh Dear ...” he said.
Dateline: Nebraska—A La Vista man racked up three strikes against him in one lawbreaking evening. La Vista Police Chief Bob Lausten told the Omaha World-Herald that the unnamed 22-year-old man entered a Sinclair gas station at about 6:15 p.m. and told the clerk he had a gun. The clerk, who turned out to be the man's mother, laughed off the joke. A customer who overheard the gun reference, however, immediately called police on his cell phone. Officers sped to the scene and found the suspected robber and a friend outside their car in the station's parking lot. The man explained that he was simply joking with his mother. Unfortunately, a police search turned up a quarter pound of marijuana and $603 cash in the vehicle. The two men were taken to Sarpy County jail, where it was determined that they were both on parole. Realizing a conviction would send them both back to prison, the dynamic duo used a jail telephone to call a girlfriend. They persuaded her to claim the marijuana was hers. Since she had no police record, the men assured her she would, at most, stay in jail overnight. Unfortunately (again), all inmate phone calls are recorded at the Sarpy County Jail. When the woman arrived at the police station and told her story, she was arrested for filing a false report.
Dateline: New York—Police in upstate New York are accusing student Christopher Chianese of trying to get out of a DWI charge by burning down the courthouse. Chianese is charged with torching the new municipal offices in Seneca Falls that housed the court. He allegedly set fire to the building just hours before he was to answer a felony charge of driving while intoxicated. Now, he faces a charge of third-degree arson and is being held on a $200,000 cash bond. He could get up to 15 years in prison.
Dateline: New Hampshire—Police in Dover engaged in a decidedly low-speed chase after a man on a lawn mower tried to toss a pair of Molotov cocktails at his ex-girlfriend's house. Residents told police they saw Steven W. Coleman, 37, throw items at the front and rear steps of a house on Mineral Park Drive while riding a lawnmower shortly after 10 p.m. The improvised Molotov cocktails, consisting of two empty Budweiser beer bottles filled with gasoline and stuffed with cloth, failed to ignite. One of the bottles didn't even break open when tossed. Two neighbors did complain of respiratory problems, however, and were transported to the hospital. Police responding to the scene spotted Coleman on a nearby street smoking a cigarette while sitting on an idling lawnmower. When the police turned their lights on, Coleman took off on his lawnmower. Coleman only stopped when a second police cruiser joined the chase and pulled in front of the lawnmower. Coleman, who was wearing rubber gloves, carrying a bottle of Budweiser and had a pack of matches in his pocket denied being anywhere near Mineral Park Drive. Coleman was arrested for reckless conduct, disorderly conduct, criminal trespass and resisting arrest.
Dateline: Indiana—Two weeks after purchasing a grilled cheese sandwich bearing the image of the Virgin Mary, online casino GoldenPalace.com has spent $65,000 on eBay to buy the ghost of a Hobart woman's father. Mary Anderson and her husband Mickey put her father's “ghost” up for sale on the Internet after her 6-year-old son, Collin, got scared that his recently deceased grandfather's spirit would not leave their house. Word of the auction spread nationwide, driving bidding on the ghost (symbolized by the 74-year-old grandfather's walking cane) higher and higher. “I just want this to go away,” Mrs. Anderson told Northwest Indiana Times, “We did this for a reason: We want [my son] to feel safe here, and now it's turning into this big publicity thing and it's driving me nuts.” Following the sale, Anderson and her husband agreed to appear on “Good Morning America” last week plugging the offshore, online betting site that purchased her father's “ghost cane.”