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 V.15 No.15 | April 13 - 19, 2006 

Odds & Ends

Scott Rickson

Dateline: Australia—A naked man may be a little less of a nature lover after suffering burns to one-fifth of his body while trying to set fire to a spider at a nudist resort in New South Wales. The 56-year-old Sydney man tried to kill what he thought was a funnel web spider by pouring gasoline down the spider's burrow and igniting it with a match, CareFlight rescue copter service told the Sydney Morning Herald. Unfortunately, the fuel exploded, burning the man on his upper leg and buttocks. Resort staff treated the man before paramedics arrived. The man was flown by helicopter to Sydney's Concord Hospital, where he was listed in stable condition with burns to 18 percent of his body. Resort guests told emergency crews it was probably a harmless trapdoor spider and not a deadly funnel web. The man's lack of clothing probably contributed to the extent of his burns, the rescue chopper service said.

Dateline: Nigeria—The acting secretary-general of the Nigerian Football Association took a firm stand on corruption in his sport last week, telling referees that it's perfectly OK to take bribes--so long as they remain unbiased. “We know match officials are offered money or anything to influence matches and they can accept it,” Fanny Amun announced at a football seminar in the capital city of Abuja. “Referees should only pretend to fall for the bait, but make sure the result doesn't favor those offering the bribe,” he elaborated. Despite a high-profile campaign to stamp out graft in the impoverished African nation, Nigeria consistently ranks among the most corrupt countries in the world--and their sports are obviously no exception.

Dateline: Indiana—Police in South Bend are reporting an unusual crime spree in which oven doors are are being stolen and then sold off as flat-screen televisions. Last Thursday, police arrested a man they suspect sold an oven door to a 42-year-old woman for $300. The door was packed in bubble wrap, had Wal-Mart store labels and came complete with a generic remote control. But it was in fact an oven door. Fortunately, the victim's husband spotted a vehicle last week that he recognized as the phony salesman's. When police caught up to and arrested the man, they found another oven door and packing materials inside his trunk. According to South Bend Detective Sgt. Jim Walsh, police have had a total of five recent burglaries in which oven doors were among the stolen items. “It was mostly at [vacant] rental homes,” Walsh told the South Bend Tribune. So far, police have only had a couple of reports of the doors being sold as flat-screen televisions, but it's likely others went unreported, the detective said.

Dateline: California—A teacher in Ventura blew part of his hand off while teaching 20 to 25 students at an adult eduction class on computer-aided design. According to the Ventura County Star, Robert Colla was listed in stable condition at Ventura County Medical Center following the bizarre incident in which an exploding paperweight severed part of his hand, caused severe burns and minor shrapnel wounds. Witnesses say Colla had been using a 40mm shell he found while hunting in the desert several years ago as a paperweight. During the Tuesday night class, Colla picked up the ordnance and used it to swat an insect that was buzzing along his desktop. The 5-inch-long shell exploded, sending shrapnel around the classroom at Ventura Adult Education Center. “Obviously, he didn't think the round was live,” Dennis Huston, who teaches computer design alongside Colla, told reporters.

Dateline: California—Have you seen Jerry Garcia's toilet? If you have, there may be a $250 reward in it for you. Police in Sonoma say the late Grateful Dead leader's salmon-colored commode was recently swiped from a driveway along with three other toilets and a bidet. The saga of Jerry's pot began in 1997 when Henry Koltys bought Garcia's Marin County home for $1.3 million and removed the toilet and other items he planned to sell to raise money for charity. Koltys later sold the house to a friend of the band, and the new owner sued to block the auction. The dispute was settled last year, and Koltys moved the items to his home in Sonoma. Last month, Koltys sold the famed toilet for $2,550 to online casino Goldenpalace.com, which planned to use it as part of a traveling exhibit. The casino is offering a $250 reward for the toilet's safe return. Koltys talked with The Press Democrat newspaper last week, saying the toilet once stood in Garcia's master bathroom. The bandleader died in 1995 at age 53. “It would have been his personal head,” said Koltys. Police have no suspects in the theft and are unsure if the item was stolen by a loyal Deadhead or simply a thief remodeling his bathroom.

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

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