Dispatches > Quick Takes

Quick Takes

Oddball occurrences

Issue: "Books and Movies 2006," July 1, 2006

Beak ball

It must be a slow summer at the Tokuyama Zoo in western Japan. Why else would zookeepers, in honor of the World Cup, train birds to play soccer? "We tried to coach owls and falcons as well, but the crows were the best. They're such intelligent creatures," head zookeeper Satoru Tanaka said. Mr. Tanaka noted that while the crows have had only one month of training, they're becoming real pros. Each time a bird pushes the ball through the goal with its beak or talons, zookeepers reward it with a treat. Now that the crows have mastered the objective of soccer, zookeepers say they will try to teach strategy, like passing and free kicks.

Three forms of ID

It didn't take Lenny Briscoe to solve this case-not when the perpetrator managed to leave behind no less than three forms of identification during a bank robbery. Indianapolis police had no trouble identifying Rodney Harper, 31, after someone made off with an undisclosed amount of cash on June 10. Mr. Harper didn't just fumble away an ATM card and a phone bill while robbing the Charter One Bank. He somehow did not notice when his birth certificate slipped out of his pocket during the heist.

Artful stand

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A prestigious United Kingdom art gallery seems to have been confused about one of its exhibits. The Royal Academy put a block of stone and bone-shaped stick on display for an exhibition, not knowing the two pieces were merely part of the stand for a sculpture of a human head. Add this indignity for the artist: "Given their separate submission, the two parts were judged independently," the Academy said in a statement. "The head was rejected. The base was thought to have merit and accepted."

Royal treatment

According to reports filed by the United States Department of State and published by the Smoking Gun, political leaders in Jordan make for interesting gift givers. Consider their recent gifts to President George W. Bush: $12,000 worth of antique weapons-including a $10,000 sniper rifle and an 18th-century pistol-and six jars of fertilizer. Jordan's king and queen also gave Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld a $380 aroma-therapy kit-which Mr. Rumsfeld promptly re-gifted to the General Services Administration.

High mileage quilt

Lauren Porter just completed a wooly mammoth of a project: She knitted a life-size replica of a red Ferrari Testarossa. To complete the job, the 22-year-old art student at Bath Spa University (southeast of Bristol, England) used 12 miles of yarn. Using a steel frame for a guide, she says it took her 10 months to complete the knitting. Now she's enjoying the notoriety: "I get men admiring the racing lines and old women look at the needlework," she told the Sun.

Tulsa, we have a problem

Some Oklahoma entrepreneurs think Cape Canaveral and Houston shouldn't be the only two places identified with space travel. The Oklahoma Space Industry Development Authority secured a license from the Federal Aviation Administration on June 13 and moved one step closer to its dream of opening the first commercial space port. The group's director, Bill Khourie, says if all goes well, rocket ships will begin taking well-heeled private citizens into space from a launch pad near Burns Flat, Okla., starting in 2008.


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