Bright Idea | News of the Weird | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly
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News » News of the Weird

Bright Idea

A weekly roundup of international news oddities.



First-World Solution
When Victoria Amith, 18, headed to college last fall, she couldn't take along her beloved cats, Tina and Louise. And her dad, Troy Good, 43, couldn't keep them at his new apartment in San Jose, Calif. So rather than abandon them, Good did what any doting daddy would do: He rented them an apartment of their own. Tina and Louise now live the good life in a 400-square-foot studio apartment behind the Willow Glen home of David Callisch, who told The San Jose Mercury News: "They're very quiet, obviously. The only problem is they stink up the place." Good pays $1,500 a month in rent, and Callisch stops in every day to feed and play with the kitties. Sounds puuuurrrr-fect.

Recurring Themes
The first clue for police that Craig Wistar, 51, of Warren, Ohio, shouldn't have been driving was that he was behind the wheel of a car facing east in a westbound lane around 2 a.m. on Dec. 4. The second was the woman in the back seat, who mouthed "Help me" to officers as they questioned Wistar, who had a bottle of vodka at his feet. When asked what he was doing, Wistar replied, "I'm Ubering," reported WFMJ-TV. Officers moved the passenger to their patrol car and administered a field sobriety test, during which Wistar admitted, "I'm plastered. I'm talking hammered. I confess I'm drunk." Wistar's Uber passenger got a ride home from police, and he pleaded guilty on Jan. 14 to driving under the influence. Most important, he will no longer be able to drive for ride-sharing apps.

• Sunita Jairam, 48, of Lexington, Ky., was arrested for driving under the influence at about 1 a.m. on Jan. 13, which she explained to police by saying she did it for her son. According to the Lexington Herald Leader, Jairam told police she had been drinking all day and "drank a bunch of beer and got in her car to drive to teach her son a lesson." Her son, whose age was not reported, told police he had tried several times to get out of the BMW X1 "due to his mother's driving," but the doors were locked. Jairam was also charged with endangering the welfare of a minor.

• In the category of Straining Logic, Jana Moschgat's defense attorney suggested at her drunk-driving hearing on Jan. 8 in Berwick, Pa., that the results of her breath test might have been compromised by the fact that, according to the arresting officer, she was nibbling on her coat before the test was administered. Moschgat, 47, smelled of alcohol, the officer testified, and failed a field sobriety test; her blood alcohol level was tested at 0.151 percent, almost twice the legal limit. Attorney Travis Petty questioned the officer about his knowledge of the fabric content of her coat, reported The (Bloomsburg) Press Enterprise, saying certain materials can alter the results of breath tests. The judge wasn't buying the argument and sent the case to trial.

Promises, Promises
On Jan. 1, Curtis Brooner filed a lawsuit claiming a Burger King in Wood Village, Ore., reneged on its promise following a traumatic incident on Dec. 15. KATU-TV reports Brooner was having lunch at the fast-food joint that day when he became locked in the restroom. Employees provided him with a flyswatter to use to wrench the door open, but Brooner cut his hand on it, and the lawsuit says employees laughed at Brooner from the other side of the door. It wasn't until an hour later, when a locksmith arrived, that he was set free. "To make things right," said Brooner's attorney, Michael Fuller, "the Burger King manager offered (Brooner) free food for the rest of his life" at that restaurant—and followed through for a few weeks. But eventually the regional manager stepped in and ended it. Brooner's suit seeks damages of $9,026.16—the price of one burger meal per week for the next 22 years. "There are funny elements of the case," Fuller told KATU, "but there is nothing funny about being locked in a dank bathroom for an hour."

Great Art!
Namibian artist Max Siedentopf, 27, has placed an installation in the ancient Namib Desert consisting of six speakers attached to an MP3 player projecting the song "Africa" by Toto—over and over and over, for all eternity. The song, released in 1982, has enjoyed a resurgence of popularity and was one of Spotify's "Top Throwback Songs" in 2018. Siedentopf told the BBC that solar batteries will keep the song playing forever: "I wanted to pay the song the ultimate homage and physically exhibit 'Africa' in Africa ... but I'm sure the harsh environment of the desert will devour the installation eventually."

Mmmm, breakfast! Around 7 a.m. on Jan. 6, at a McDonald's in San Francisco, a man carried a dead raccoon into the restaurant and laid it on a table, then sat down with it. Restaurant patron Chris Brooks captured the spectacle on Facebook Live, recording as the man stood from his seat and walked around the restaurant, talking with people. Another man, wearing gloves, then picked the raccoon up by its tail and took it outside to a garbage can, trailing blood on the floor. Fox News reported San Francisco police responded to the restaurant and released the unidentified raccoon owner after speaking with him. McDonald's closed the store immediately and reopened two hours later after sanitizing the dining room. One patron wrote on Twitter: "I've seen worse than a dead raccoon at that same McDonald's."

Love Gone Wrong
It was love at first ... arrest, for 27-year-old Ashley Keister of Nanticoke, Pa., when she was apprehended by a West Wyoming, Pa., police officer last year. Ever since, Police Chief Curtis Nocera told the Associated Press, Keister had been harassing the officer with sexual messages on social media and would call 911 just to talk with him. On Jan. 7, police said, Keister took her infatuation a step further, using a large cigarette butt receptacle to break through the door of the West Wyoming police station around 1 a.m., where she rummaged through filing cabinets. Keister was caught on surveillance video and was charged with aggravated assault on a police officer, burglary and vandalism.

Crime Report
Isaias Garcia, 30, of Garland, Texas, pleaded guilty in a Bridgeport, Conn., courtroom on Jan. 10 to reduced charges stemming from a bizarre kidnapping scheme last April. Garcia had abducted a 21-year-old Fairfield man and was demanding $800 in ransom, the man's aunt and father reported to police on April 6. Police told the aunt to request a photo to guarantee the young man was still alive, and when the photo arrived by text, reported, it showed the victim lying facedown in a bathtub with a 3-foot-long alligator on top of him, mouth open. In a subsequent phone call, the victim told his aunt: "Titi, man they got this alligator on me and they saying that if no money is given they are gonna have him chewing on me." Police and the FBI were able to trace the phone calls to a hotel room, where Garcia was apprehended. He faces a year in prison.

Bright Idea
In Williamson County, Texas, Sheriff Robert Chody has employed a new cadre of deputies to help deter speeding. Interestingly, they all look alike. The cardboard cutouts, which Chody has placed along roads where speeding is common, depict one of the department's real-life deputies pointing a radar device at the roadway. "It's a creative way to solve the problem without really working the problem," he told KTCB-TV. "Slow down because you never know if it's the real deal or not," he warned. The sheriff said he tested the idea in school zones and, "We didn't get one speeder."