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 V.14 No.49 | December 8 - 14, 2005 

Odds & Ends

Scott Rickson

Dateline: Ireland—Proof positive that, if there is a god, he loves the Irish: Fishermen on both sides of the Irish border netted an unexpected Christmas present, hauling in bottles and bottles of Irish cream liqueur from the ocean near the English coast. The bottles of Carolans Irish Creme liqueur were part of a consignment of 8,000 bottles lost last month when a container was swept overboard in a storm in the Bay of Biscay, between Spain and France. The fisherman's nets brought up the bottles still wrapped in special presentation packs that had been destined for the Christmas market in Spain. The presentation packs included not only the bottles of booze, but the glasses from which to drink it. Prawn fishing boats from such diverse ports as Dunmore East and Kilmore Quay in southeast Ireland, Clogherhead in the northeast and Kilkeel in Northern Ireland had reported catching the gift packs in an area off the English coast known as the Smalls. “We don't know how it got to be there,” John Chamney, export director for Ireland's C & C International drinks company, told AFP. “The liqueur was in a container that was swept off a ship in the Bay of Biscay. The container must have broken up when it hit the bottom, and then I suppose the Gulf Stream must have taken it. I haven't spoken to anyone who has sampled the booze but it would appear it is in perfect condition. The glasses hadn't been broken and the Carolans is very drinkable.”

Dateline: France—Emily the stowaway cat is finally heading home--in style. The cat, accompanied by an airline employee, boarded a Continental flight last Thursday and flew back from Europe. Emily's story began in late September when she vanished from her home in Appleton, Wis. She apparently wandered into a nearby paper company's distribution center and crawled into a container of paper bales. The container was sealed up and sent by truck to Chicago. From there, it went by ship to Belgium. The cat was eventually found on Oct. 24 at Raflatac, a laminating company in Nancy, France. Emily, who turned 1 year old on that very day, was thin and dehydrated but still alive. Workers at Raflatac used her tags to phone her veterinarian in Wisconsin. The vet contacted her owners. Following a one-month quarantine in France, Continental Airlines offered to fly the wayward pet home and upgraded her, this time, to business class--a $6,000 ticket at full fare price. “This was such a marvelous story that we wanted to add something to it,” Continental spokesperson Philippe Fleury told AP Television News.

Dateline: Oregon—William Swanberg, 40, is accused of stealing an estimated $200,000 worth of Lego blocks. Swanberg was indicted in November by a grand jury in Hillsboro, a Portland suburb, for stealing the toys from area Target stores. Target officials estimate that Swanberg stole at least $200,000 worth of Legos from stores in Oregon, Utah, Arizona, Nevada and California. He then resold the items on the Internet. Records of the Lego collectors website, Bricklink.com, show that Swanberg has sold more than $600,000 worth of the tiny plastic bricks since 2002. A Target security guard stopped Swanberg at a Portland-area store on Nov. 17, after he bought 10 boxes of the Star Wars Millennium Falcon set. In his parked car, detectives found 56 of the Star Wars sets, valued at $99 each, as well as 27 other Lego sets. Police used a 20-foot truck to haul all the interlocking evidence from Swanberg's home.

Dateline: Maryland—The steadily darkening streets of Baltimore are being overrun by a gang of light pole thieves. More than 130 of the 30-foot-high, 250-pound poles have gone missing this fall. City officials say the thieves sometimes disguise themselves as utility workers and put orange traffic cones around the streetlights in order to avoid suspicion. Police suspect the thieves could be stealing the aluminum poles to sell as scrap metal. Scrap aluminum sells for 30 to 35 cents a pound, but local salvage yards haven't reported seeing any of the missing poles yet. The light poles cost the city $750 apiece to replace.

Dateline: New York—According to New York Newsday, the staff of the Barnes and Noble bookstore on Sixth Avenue and 22nd Street had to cope with a near riot when thousands of spectators mobbed the store to catch a glimpse of the Golden Girls. Actresses Bea Arthur, Betty White and Rue McClanahan were there on Nov. 22 to sign copies of the newly released “Golden Girls Season Three” DVD set. The bookstore quickly sold out all of its 400 copies of the DVD, and more than a dozen security guards and staffers were required to keep order as the slow-moving fans snaked their way through the store. Those who could not get in spent more than four hours standing outside in the rain, jostling for space at the store's windows and hoping to catch a glimpse of the stars from the geriatric 1985 sitcom.

Compiled by Devin D. O'Leary. E-mail your weird news to devin@alibi.com.

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