Dispatches > Quick Takes

Quick Takes

Issue: "Salting Hollywood," Sept. 3, 2005

Catch of the day

Massachusetts fisherman Antonio Randazzo made an unusual catch when he pulled in a net off the coast of the Bay State. Among the catch of haddock, cod, and flounder, Mr. Randazzo noticed something that didn't belong: a wallet caked in mud. At first, the fisherman feared the billfold belonged to some man lost at sea. But the expiration dates on the credit cards were from the late 1960s. So armed with a phone book, Mr. Randazzo began tracking down James Lubeck, whose name was on the card. Eventually, he found Mr. Lubeck, now 74, who says he lost the wallet while bending over in Marblehead Harbor in 1966. There was no cash, but Mr. Lubeck said he didn't care. "I can't find the adjectives," he said before settling on one. "It is incredible. Life is full of mysteries."

Pole vault

One pole-sitting feline may have needed all nine lives to escape a tight spot. The cat found itself atop a telephone pole in Gardnerville, Nev., when it tripped a shock from the 25,000-volt line. The burst of electricity caused a small fire and fried the cat, which plummeted from its 40-foot perch. At first, firefighters thought the cat was dead. But upon closer inspection, the cat was still alive, though all its hair was burned off. Firefighters gave the cat oxygen and transported it to a local veterinary hospital.

Bigger than a billboard

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Must love farming-that was the gist of the personal ad a 41-year-old divorced man cut into his New York farm land. Officially, it read, "S.W.F. Got-2 [heart symbol] Farm-n." Translated version: Single white female: Got to love farming." Pieter DeHond cut the 50-foot letters-and an arrow pointing toward his home-in his Canandaigua cow pasture partially as a joke. "I wouldn't place a personal ad in the paper. To me it seems desperate," he said, laughing. "This is more of a fun thing. I put this out in a field where nobody could see it unless you flew over it." Mr. DeHond's message, which lies on the flight path from New York City to Rochester, N.Y., was clearly visible from cruising altitude. But before finding love, Mr. DeHond lost: He let his cows eat the message.

Getting their goats

Threatened by encroaching kudzu, city leaders in Peachtree City, Ga., have agreed to spend $10,000 on some vine-chomping goats. Kudzu, a fast-spreading ground plant, has already enveloped much of the South. The town officials don't want their trees to be the next to fall to the kudzu advance. And compared to costs for buying chemicals to fight the kudzu menace, goats are cheap.

Word games

So it's not a stereotype after all. Much of Australia got riled after the national parliament banned its own guards from addressing visitors as "mate." Parliament could not have imagined the backlash. Prime Minister John Howard, who calls President Bush "mate," called the ban "absurd and ridiculous." The prohibition was lifted shortly thereafter.

Slow boat

About 80 miles off the coast of Newport, Ore., Jim Peterson was faced with a quandary. The engine on the 61-year-old fisherman's boat seized up. After a lot of jiggling and frustration, he could only get the boat into reverse. Instead of waiting for help, he decided to pilot the troller the 80 miles back to port in his excruciatingly slow reverse gear. The trip took 39 hours.

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