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Freaky Friday news: Tourist caught stealing cowbell

Fri., Aug. 5, 2011, 11:16 a.m.

Unusual news nuggets from around the globe:

BERLIN — Like Christopher Walken’s character in the Blue Oyster Cult spoof on “Saturday Night Live,” maybe this guy just needed “more cowbell.” German police say a Dutch tourist was just a little too eager to get his hands on a real Alpine cowbell. Police in southern Bavaria said the 30-year-old stole the bell and collar — worth about $290 — off the neck of a cow in a farmer’s field southwest of Munich. A passer-by witnessed the theft and detained the tourist until police could get to the scene. Police say the tourist, whose name was not released, says he was just looking for a souvenir.

Firefighters rescue alligator from burning home

LEWISTON, Idaho — Firefighters in Lewiston made an unusual rescue when they pulled an alligator from a burning home. Neighbors reported the fire in the single-wide trailer. Owner Joseph Witherup told the Lewiston Tribune that neither he nor his family were home at the time, but a few pets were — including the roughly foot-and-a-half-long alligator, which was in a cage. He says the home is a complete loss, but all the important things — including his pets — made it out safely. Firefighters were able to keep the gator in its cage when they removed it from the home, and then they transferred the animal to a cooler. Fire investigators say the blaze may have been caused by a stove burner that was left on.

Video shows whale ‘dancing’ at Conn wedding

MYSTIC, Conn. — Trainers say a beluga whale seen bobbing to the music of a mariachi band on a wedding video taken at a Connecticut aquarium wasn’t really dancing. The video has become an Internet hit since being posted by Bill Kurtz of West Haven, a guest at the July wedding of Kimberly Mikenis and Kevin Van Aelst of New Haven. But Mystic Aquarium senior trainer Kelly O’Neil tells the New Haven Register that Juno, the 1,200-pound beluga on the video, has been trained to bob in response to certain arm movements, and was apparently responding to the movements of the band’s guitar player. O’Neil says the whale’s apparent interest in the wedding was probably due to the music’s vibrations, those physical cues and the whale’s natural curiosity.

Remorseful thief returns woman’s items

PLAISTOW, N.H. — Police say an apparently remorseful thief who stole a woman’s wallet in a New Hampshire supermarket showed up at her door days later to return $90 and a GPS, and brought along an apology letter. The wallet was stolen from the 61-year-old woman’s cart on July 18 in Plaistow. Her wallet was found at a Massachusetts post office. Then on July 26, the victim heard a knock on her door. A man said he was sorry, returned her belongings, gave her the long letter and fled. Police say the thief probably found her address from something in her wallet. Deputy Police Chief Kathleen Jones tells The Eagle-Tribune although the woman is happy to have her belongings back, she’s unnerved that the thief knows where she lives. Jones says the thief still faces charges when caught.

UK lawmaker gives advice on curbing sex drive

LONDON — A British lawmaker has updated his guide on how his colleagues can stay true to their constituents while staying true to their partners. Labour lawmaker Paul Flynn said his new version of “How to Be a Backbencher” will include tips on drafting pithy Twitter messages and tongue-in-cheek ways to dampen what the 76-year-old described as parliamentarians’ “sexual magnetism.” Flynn said in interviews with British media that it was a mystery to him why elected officials were so attractive. His tips on how to stay faithful include taking cold baths. In British politics, backbenchers refer to parliamentary rank-and-file who sit near the back of their respective party’s benches.

Illinois woman finishes bar exam while in labor

CHICAGO — A pregnant suburban Chicago woman was so determined to finish the Illinois bar exam that she completed the test even after going into labor. The Chicago Tribune reports 29-year-old Elana Nightingale Dawson had started the final portion of the exam last week when the Northwestern Law School graduate went into labor. The exam must be finished to be valid. Nightingale Dawson says her goal was “to get through the exam as fast as I could and leave” unless anything more serious happened. Her contractions were about 15 minutes apart. After finishing, she walked with the proctor about one block to a downtown Chicago hospital. The Downers Grove woman’s son, Wilson, was delivered by C-section about two hours later. She’ll find out in October if she passed the bar.

No place like home: Peacock flies back to NYC zoo

NEW YORK — A peacock with a sense of adventure — and a good sense of direction — has flown back home to New York’s Central Park Zoo. Humans flocked and tweeted as the peacock left the zoo for a perch on a Fifth Avenue window ledge. It had good taste: A condo there reportedly sold for $22.5 million in 2009. Zookeepers predicted the handsome green and blue bird would make its way home — and it did. It’s been a rebellious season in the city zoos. In March, an Egyptian cobra was found nearly a week after it went missing at the Bronx Zoo’s Reptile House. Two months later, a zoo peahen was recovered at a nearby auto-body shop.

911 dispatchers prep for Batman-fueled calls

PITTSBURGH — Emergency dispatchers in Pittsburgh are preparing to take calls from residents who may be unprepared for fake gun shots, explosions and other mayhem while the Batman movie “The Dark Knight Rises” films at various city locations. The movie has received mammoth publicity in the local media. But Allegheny County Deputy Emergency Management Director Raymond DeMichiei tells WTAE-TV that some folks, no doubt, may be puzzled by some sights and sounds. That’s why DeMichiei is telling residents, “If you hear shots fired or a disturbance or gunfire … call 911 and report it and we’ll figure it out.” Traffic is expected to be affected, too, as some streets will be closed for filming and so crews can put down fake snow for some scenes.

Loose cash found along Ohio highway totals $21,000

DELAWARE, Ohio Loose cash found along a highway has made a central Ohio community nearly $21,000 richer. Delaware city officials have revealed that’s how much money police collected on a day in early March, when one officer said it looked as though the median on U.S. Route 23 was growing money. The city north of Columbus held on to cash for nearly five months and kept the amount secret to see if anyone would try to claim it. Since no one did, the windfall now goes into Delaware’s general fund. City Community Affairs Coordinator Lee Yoakum tells The Delaware Gazette officials have not decided how to use the money. The newspaper reports authorities suspect it was from a drug sale or some other illegal activity.

Taxidermist preserves Gaga’s meat dress

KETCHIKAN, Alaska — A California taxidermist has earned a rare place in pop history. Sergio Vigalato preserved Lady Gaga’s now-famous raw-meat dress for display in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland. The project has prompted a swarm of media interest in the 66-year-old former Southeast Alaska charter boat skipper who’s originally from Brazil. Vigalato operates American Taxidermy in Burbank, Calif. That’s where he was contacted by the museum about preserving the dress that Lady Gaga wore at the September 2010 MTV Video Music Awards. Vigalato was unaware of the dress or the artist when reached two months after the show. But he agreed to the project anyway. The ensemble, which Lady Gaga said was a statement about equality, arrived at his shop frozen and decomposing. He restored it over the next three and a half months, and the dress went on display in June.

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