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NEWS OF THE WEIRD: WEEK OF MARCH 3, 2020

LEAD STORY

A rider on the New York City subway employed a novel way of protecting his personal space on Feb. 7, Fox News reported. The seated passenger removed a bottle of ketchup from his bag and squirted a squiggly perimeter on the floor around his seat, apparently hoping to keep fellow straphangers away. Twitter erupted with funny comments after one user posted a photo: “Gotta protect yourself from the mustard demons they can’t cross the barrier” and “What brand of ketchup though?” New York City Transit got a taste of the problem and promised to clean it up right away. [Fox News, 2/8/2020]

LITIGIOUS SOCIETY

Lacie the Norwegian Forest cat is at the center of a heated two-year dispute in Brewerton, New York, that has now gone to state Supreme Court. Original owner Carol Money accuses adoptive owner Danette Romano of refusing to let Lacie sleep in bed with her, a key provision that Money says was in the adoption agreement both parties signed in April 2018. Syracuse.com reported that according to the lawsuit, Money regularly visited Lacie in her new home after the adoption and found the cat to be skittish and fearful, and became very upset after Romano’s husband allegedly admitted, “We don’t let Lacie sleep with us.” By Dec. 20, tensions had increased to the point that Romano complained to the Onondaga County Sheriff’s office and had her lawyer send Money a letter ordering her to stop contacting Romano. Money’s lawsuit accuses Romano of breach of contract and lying about her intention to let Lacie sleep in her bed, and demands the return of the cat. [Syracuse.com, 12/30/2019]

UNCLEAR ON THE CONCEPT

In a report published on Feb. 18, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reveals school districts struggling to comply with the state’s requirement that every school have “a good guy with a gun” are challenged to find enough qualified applicants. Among recent hiccups: Near Orlando, a safe-school officer sent her husband a nude video she recorded in a school bathroom while on her lunch break. In Hillsborough County, a school guardian thought her gun was unloaded when she shot through a mirror as she practiced in front of it for her firearms certification. Another officer pawned his service weapon and ballistic vest; his supervisor discovered he was carrying a pellet gun in his holster. Bob Gualtieri, sheriff in Pinellas County, remarked: “The reality is there is no perfect in the world.” [South Florida Sun Sentinel, 2/18/2020]

ENTREPRENEURIAL SPIRIT

The Spanish Civil Guard raided an underground cigarette factory on Feb. 13 and 14 in the southern province of Malaga and found a facility with a complete production line capable of producing 3,500 cigarettes an hour as well as beds and living quarters for the workers, the Associated Press reported. Access to the plant, located 13 feet under a horse stable, was disguised by a cargo container. Twenty people, from the U.K., Ukraine and Lithuania, were arrested, said police, and more than 3 million cigarettes, some hashish and marijuana, as well as weapons, were seized. [Associated Press, 2/20/2020]

CLEVER

Vincent Putrino, captain of the cross-country/track and field team at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York, and his teammates, craved Chick-fil-A for lunch on Feb. 22, but the only location closer than an hour and a half away was at the Albany International Airport — beyond the security checkpoint. So, reported News10, the 18 teammates pooled their money (about $5.50 each), bought a one-way ticket to Fort Lauderdale, Florida ($98, the cheapest they could find), and sent Putrino in to collect the bounty. Putrino purchased $227 worth of food, then left the airport and joined his teammates for their midday meal. [News10, 2/23/2020]

OLD STORY, NEW TWIST

An Oklahoma City homeowner hearing noises in his attic suspected squirrels might have gotten in, but when he went to inspect, he found instead … a man, lying on a mattress. KOCO News reported on Feb. 28 the unnamed homeowner called 911 and reported a “stranger in my house. … I have a gun on him right now.” Police responding to the call told reporters “there was actually somebody that appeared to have taken up residence in (the) attic,” and the home has a staircase “that goes up the side of the house with attic access.” The homeowner escorted the squatter at gunpoint to the driveway, where officers were waiting. [KOCO, 2/18/2020]

OOPS!

Dylan Bryant found more adventure than he expected on Feb. 23 as he explored a bayou in southwest Houston. Bryant told KTRK his exploration took him about 100 yards down a sewer line before he became trapped. “I can’t go back because of how I had to scooch through,” Bryant said. “I’m in the middle of raw, open sewage in this little bitty box.” From under the street, Bryant yelled for help and a man heard him, then asked a passerby to call 911. Firefighters arrived and pulled Bryant out of his smelly predicament. [KTRK, 2/24/2020]

IT’S A MYSTERY

The Smith family of Lockport, Illinois, has a perplexing extra feature in their house that has occasionally kept the family up at night for about six years: “There are voices in the wall, and I don’t know what it is,” 9-year-old Brianna Smith told WLS. Music and talk radio emanate from the walls in Brianna’s room in the middle of the night, but the family can’t figure out why. There are no speakers in the walls, Brianna’s father, Richard, said, and attempts by police to uncover the source were unsuccessful. The Federal Communications Commission couldn’t help either. Richard Smith believes something in the wall is receiving a signal from one of the six radio towers near the home, but an engineer sent to the home from one of the stations told him: “I got to be honest with you, I don’t know what is acting as a speaker.” The Smiths have been advised to hire an engineer to pinpoint the signal and block it, but in the meantime, Brianna falls asleep in her parents’ room. [WLS, 2/21/2020]

ANGER MANAGEMENT

Ypsilanti, Michigan, police were called to an apartment complex on Jan. 16, where they found a 23-year-old man smoking a cigarette and pressing a bloody towel to his side, MLive reported. The man told officers his partner, 28-year-old Neil Patrick Wasinski, known as Nalla and referred to as “she” in court records, attacked him with a 21-inch samurai sword because he didn’t buy her any marijuana. The attack resulted in multiple stab wounds to the man’s arm and torso, and one of his lungs collapsed, according to police. Tracked down at her apartment, Wasinski told police to “please go away” and later claimed to have no memory of the incident. Police found a blood-stained 21-inch katana on Wasinski’s bedroom floor, according to their report, and she was charged with assault and resisting arrest. [MLive, 2/25/2020]

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