Dispatches > Quick Takes

Quick Takes

Oddball occurrences

Issue: "Endings & beginnings," Jan. 13, 2007

Flavorful treat

Look out, Ben & Jerry: Japanese fishermen combining sweet and salty extremes have created an ice cream sensation that has swept through the local fisherman's wharf. For just over $2, locals in Bizen, Okayama Prefecture, can buy a regular vanilla soft-serve cone topped with two fried oysters dipped in soy sauce. The local fisherman's cooperative, which sells the delicacy, reports making up to 100 sales every day on holidays.

Unlimited supply

Where some people would see only a severe winter storm, Jim and Mary Walker of Loveland, Colo., saw a jovial business opportunity. With record snowfall accumulating on their property, the Walkers began selling the white powdery substance on eBay. After more than 100 bids for the snow, prices for one of the Walkers' first lots of snow exceeded $20. From the item's description: "You can personally pick up your snow any time this week to avoid shipping and handling charges. Bring a dump truck and your own shovels. Otherwise, your snow will arrive in some sort of leak-proof container . . . a jar?" Though the Walkers noted that "quantities vary," they added that folks who show up could shovel as much snow as they wanted.

Pay to pedal

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In a move to fight obesity among British children, government officials are considering a plan to pay parents who make their kids cycle to school. Supporters say the plan would provide participating children with some exercise and also help thin out congested school buses. Parent groups say asking children to get to school on bicycles would be dangerous.

Finders keepers

No blood diamond here: An Arkansas man found a 2.37-carat white diamond while searching in Arkansas' Crater of Diamonds State Park. Gary Dunlap of Jefferson will get to keep his pricey gem conflict-free because the state park's policy allows tourists to search for gems and keep anything they find. Dunlap named the rock "Star of Thelma" in honor of his wife. Visitors to the park in 2006 unearthed a 6.35-carat brown diamond and 5.47- and 4.21-carat yellow diamonds.

Road less traveled

Did you happen to catch the Tom Sizemore flick Zyzzyx Rd. back in March when the film debuted? Neither did anyone else. In fact, in what may be a record for biggest box office dud ever, the Hollywood production managed only $30 in domestic box office sales-not even denting the film's reported $2 million budget. It seems due to a distribution imbroglio, Zyzzyx Rd. only made it to one theater, a small four-screen theater in Dallas where possibly only four patrons saw the film.

Lamethetic words

In a bit of lexical housekeeping, Lake Superior State University in Michigan released its nominations for banishment from the English language in its annual "List of Words and Phrases Banished from the Queen's English for Mis-Use, Over-Use and General Uselessness" contest. Words or phrases ripe for banishment in 2007? "Ask your doctor" topped the list, with the university calling the phrase "the chewable vitamin morphine of marketing." Critics also skewered the pop culture media for creating celebrity name combinations such as "TomKat" (for Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes) or "Brangelina" (for Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie), saying, "It's so annoying, idiotic and so lame and pathetic that it's 'lamethetic.'"

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