Ticket this: Man blows away traffic camera

Ah, hunting season. Where any man can go out on the street with his rifle, and bag a tasty traffic-cam for dinner. Mmmm, good eatin’.

In Knoxville, Tenn., one man just couldn’t take all those red lights flashing back and forth, and pumped at least three shots into a camera positioned at an intersection. Police didn’t even need the pre-Dirty Harry tape evidence to find the suspect, since patrol officers heard shots and discovered the gun-toting video vigilante leaving a parking lot in his….minivan. After arresting him, the police, being good Southern boys, probably also told him that his social status had been knocked down several pegs for hunting without a pickup truck. Where do you put the gun rack in a minivan?

The man refused to tell the authorities why he shot the eye in the sky; records show he’s never been ticketed from this intersection, so perhaps he just thought it would look good on the wall, right next to the singing fish. If convicted, he’ll pay a fine and lose his gun. Which, honestly, isn’t a bad thing.

Our current hunting season scoreboard: Dogs-1, Lug nuts-1, Traffic cams-0, Idiots-way too many.

Peeping landlord busted for taping tenants

Ever get the feeling you’re being watched? If you lived in the German city of Ingolstadt, you may be right. A lurking landlord was arrested after one of his tenants discovered that the apartment was wired with secret surveillance cameras, unveiling the unblinking eye while cleaning. While that’s enough to bust for invasion of privacy, the secret that makes you go ewwwww is this: he had been taping people in their apartments for TEN YEARS, recording at least seven current and former tenants, plus an untold number of their visitors. Police suspect the dirty old man wasn’t just worried about how tidy the flats were, and wired the apartments because of other, more perverted motives. While the police statement was beautifully framed with a silent DUH, done ever so splendidly in told-you-so calligraphy, one has to wonder: would it have been creepier if he was just checking to see if the bathrooms had been cleaned this week?

Hey buddy, wanna buy a bridge? How about some cookies?

It’s topsy-turvy bargain day, just in time for holiday shopping madness. Ever have someone make fun of your emotional pain by telling you to build a bridge and get over it? Now you’ll have the last laugh: the Kickapoo River bridge in Wisconsin is for sale, and the asking price? A whopping one dollar. The bridge hasn’t been used in over 30 years, and safety-obsessed authorities are worried that crossing the bridge will cause it to collapse in the river. If someone buys it, however, it becomes someone else’s problem, right? Right. Actually, the dollar-minded denizens hope that someone will pay the buck and haul the casualty crossover away for scrap. A similar plan backfired when the potential bridge-buyer backed out at the last minute, perhaps because he found a better deal in Brooklyn. While the bridge, built in 1910, could just become molten metal somewhere, a better idea would be to slap down a dollar and turn it into the ultimate lawn ornament. Nothing says ‘get off my property’ like a bridge you can’t cross, and it would be the perfect accessory for any evil genius’ lair. Or, you could simply bring out a friend, say ‘here’s my bridge, you get over it,’ and let the hijinks ensue. Cheaper than therapy.

On the other end of the spectrum, or bridge, is a tin of cookies. A cookie tin, filled with 1920s era treats, sold for $32,000 in London. The swanky cookie-carrier, shaped like a car, actually had tiny electric headlights, a driver and a passenger. Why these tiny people were carting around a car full of number, letter, and animal-shaped cookies remains a mystery. Before you get excited and seal up that giant holiday tin of popcorn decorated with playing puppies, remember that this was an unique item, preserved in near-mint quality, right down to the biscuits. Even stranger than the price tag is this thought: some kid received a cool car filled with cookies, and didn’t touch it? Weird.

From trash to treasure: million-dollar painting lights up eye of beholder

From the one-in-a-million department:

A coffee run four years ago turned into good fortune for an art lover in New York, when she found a painting set out in the garbage and decided to lug it home. She said the painting ‘had a strange power,’ but, actually, what a long, strange trip it’s been for this Rufino Tamayo artwork. The painting disappeared in 1987 from the rightful owners, and was thought to be stolen. The hauntingly hued canvas was found in 2003, and the finder stashed the work at home until she learned on the ‘Antiques Roadshow’ website that it was in fact a missing masterpiece by Rufino Tamayo. The years-long art adventure ended this week when the painting was slapped on the auction block by the surviving former owner, and fetched a colorful $1 million plus change. The sharp-eyed fan who saved the treasure from the trash will receive a percentage from the sale, as well as a $15,000 reward. Crime doesn’t pay, but rescuing modern art definitely does. With the continuing writer’s strike, this may turn into a reality show: Curator 911.

Popcorn may be newest no-no at Seattle City Hall

Popcorn lovers have been falling down the slippery, buttered slope this year: first, it’s announced that making microwave popcorn can give factory workers lung disease, so now there’s guilt in every tender kernel. Now, microwave popcorn may be banned in every Seattle city building. Authorities claim that incidents of burning, over-nuked popcorn has caused smoke alarms to go off eight times in three years, and the insanity must stop. The possibility of prohibiting popcorn was made through memo; no public meetings were held, because they would have to wait four to six seconds after each person’s opinion popped up to see if the discussion was done.

The best quote of the news story is one question posed by a reporter: ‘Is it possible that if you outlaw popcorn, only outlaws will have popcorn?’ This was followed by speculation on renegade office workers hiding microwaves in their cubicle (here’s the Anderson file, Fred, blow on it a little, it’s hot). Of course, being a television station, the reporter also held a live demonstration on the correct way to pop your popcorn, including ‘following directions,’ a tricky task indeed.

One wonders if those deprived of their rapidly exploding treat will turn to other thrills, like Diet Coke and Mentos breaks, or the retro standby of Pop Rocks and Mountain Dew. Either way, if you’re looking to make a little cash around the holidays, gear up with an extension cord, a portable microwave, and a few little bags of crunchy heaven, then set up shop outside any city doorway. If you pop it, they will come.

No croutons or airplanes for one-shoed, dressing-drenched man

Helpful reality hint #57: Dressing for success doesn’t include Ranch. A man was prevented from boarding a plane at Dallas/Ft. Worth when he was discovered sitting on an American Eagle jet bridge, wearing one shoe, unable to stand up or speak clearly, and covered in salad dressing. Quick to catch on that something wasn’t right, authorities arrested the toasty tippler on suspicion of public intoxication after he admitted to tossing back some vodka with his greens at an airport restaurant; the dressing makeover was courtesy of a food box he held, most likely empty at the time of arrest since he and the jet bridge were both decorated with its contents. Although the sticky salad impersonator obviously didn’t think his travel plans through, he still gets security points for having at least one shoe off, and his carry-on gels clearly visible…all over his clothes.

Man tries to shoot nuts off; nearly succeeds

There are many tools one should carry in their trunk for emergencies, but, unless you’re one of the Sopranos, a shotgun isn’t included in that list. There’s a good reason for not stocking a gun in your toolbox: you just might get frustrated enough to shoot at your nuts. Your lug nuts, anyway. In the middle of car repairs, a Washington man just couldn’t get that last lug nut off the wheel. In a fit of automotive anger, he whipped out a 12-gauge shotgun, held it at arm’s length, and blasted the uncooperative tire. While the wheel’s nut was unmoved, his own were definitely in danger as buckshot and bits of wheel bounced at back at him, causing wounds from his legs up to his chin; the apparently sober man was hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries, and will never be asked to change a tire ever, ever again by anyone who knows him, although he will likely receive lug wrenches as holiday gifts for years to come.

For those keeping score, it’s cars and dogs with guns: 2, and guys with no common sense: 0.

Romance alive, well and online in New York

If there weren’t a writer’s strike on, this would already be in first draft for a movie: strangers catch each other’s gaze across a crowded train, tiny violins play, then she steps off and he loses her. . . until he starts a website to look for her. On Nov. 4, a 21-year-old web designer eyed a lovely young lady, fell into love at first sight, then lost her to the crowd. Not giving up, he drew a basic sketch, gave his info, then threw together a website, asking for the city’s help in finding the girl of his dreams. Within a week, he was overwhelmed with phone messages and e-mail, including propositions from other girls, until someone contacted him with the identity of the potential love of his life, who turned out to be an intern working for a magazine in Manhattan.  So, did the whirlwind approach work? The young man, finding his lass, has turned coy after all the media attention, asking people to think up their own endings to a potential online Cinderella story. In keeping with his request, what do you all think? How will this story end for the dashing internet Romeo and his fleeing Juliet?

Mom busted for explicit birds and bees talk

And you thought your parents were embarrassing! A Wisconsin woman was charged with a felony count of exposing a child to harmful descriptions after she allegedly had a little-too-frank talk about the birds and bees with her two sons, ages 12 and 16. Apparently, the woman had described some of her own experiences, and showed them an adult appliance that usually arrives in a brown paper wrapper. The chat came to light after the boys were in counseling a year later (for an apparently unrelated reason) and one told authorities that the talk wasn’t appropriate. The woman accepted a plea deal with a misdemeanor charge to spare her sons from testifying during a trial, but insisted that she hadn’t done anything wrong, and her talk with the offspring was legit as free speech within the family, intended as educational.

Appropriate or not, the mother forgot the basic rule of such matters: kids sneak around and find your personal stuff in drawers, then embarrass you with it, not the other way around. So, future note to parents: don’t tell the kids about your ‘Girls Gone Wild’ days, or those crazy nights partying while listening to Duran Duran. Stick to the health class textbook, and tell them that their parents sleep in separate beds, just like the folks on Nick at Nite. And that sound you hear? That’s thousands of parents installing locks on the nightstand drawer.

Korean politician aflush with excitement over toilet-shaped house

Some ideas float to the top, and some sink straight to the bottom of the bowl. A South Korean politician, semi-affectionately known as Mr. Toilet, has been on a one-man mission for years to make the country’s restrooms nicer places to be. After so much public work, however, this Tidy-Bowl man has treated himself to the ultimate water closet: a 1.1 million dollar, two-story, toilet-shaped house. The commode condo will be topped off just in time for the World Toilet Association meeting in Seoul, and Mr. Toilet believes the crowning achievement of his new throne will further the cause of hygiene around the world. According to the U.N., his heart is in the right place, since 2.5 billion people live without suitable sanitary conditions, and the World Toilet Association hopes to squeeze off as many national toilet associations as possible to open communications on the subject of potty talk.

But Mr. Toilet’s bountiful bowl is also his castle; in the center of the house, the master bathroom has glass walls that turn opaque when someone goes in for business, and a motion sensor triggers classical music for the complete experience. With three other bathrooms in the house, it truly becomes ‘a place to solve one’s worries,’ the translated name of the home. Visitors looking to take a peek at Mr. Toilet’s accomplishment can pay $1 for the privilege, while most of us just get free invitations to our own family’s bowl achievements–a call from the other room which usually involves the words, ‘Bring the camera!’