Dispatches > Quick Takes

Quick Takes

Oddball occurrences

Issue: "The 2007 Books Issue," June 30, 2007

Off-road adventure

One wrong turn (and a bunch of alcohol) has landed a 24-year-old Colombian man visiting Rome in a lot of trouble. The young man mistakenly confused a historic staircase for a road and managed to drive his Toyota Celica down the famous Spanish Steps at a high rate of speed. The steps, a famous 18th-century landmark, are generally off limits to such activity, and the drunken escapade is believed to have damaged many of its 138 steps.

British idol

A South Wales mobile phone salesman stunned audience members and judges of the United Kingdom singing show, Britain's Got Talent when he walked on stage and announced he would be singing opera in the American Idol-style contest. Judges, including uber-critic Simon Cowell (also of Idol), seemed to instantly disregard Paul Potts, who was hamstrung by a poorly fitting suit jacket, lumpy figure, and disastrous haircut. But moments after Potts opened his mouth to sing "Nessun Dorma," the audience erupted into wild cheers and the judges' countenance changed from discreet mocking to stunned silence. In the days following the event, which Potts won, millions watched Potts' amazing performance on sites like YouTube.

Old dog digs

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The newest example of pet owner excess: nursing homes for dogs. For Japanese dog owners who can't simply put Fido down in his old age, there's now a dog nursing home north of Tokyo where canines can spend their golden years-for about $820 a month. "It is extremely cruel to force people who think of pets as their own children to care for animals who are crying all night long," said Takao Kanai, who says he plans on opening seven such canine old-age homes.


Authorities in Montreal are blaming internet sites like YouTube for fueling extreme food fights that are filmed by students and posted online. Police in Montreal needed three hours to quell a cafeteria food fight at a local high school that turned into a riot on June 13. It was the third large-scale high school food fight in a week in Montreal, suggesting students are attempting to one-up each other on the video-sharing site.

Home rule

An Ontario judge's decision is likely to crimp the lifestyle of 24-year-old Canadian Steven Cranley following his conviction for assaulting his former girlfriend. Judge Rhys Morgan effectively took Cranley off the relationship market, ruling he couldn't have a girlfriend for three years. The judge encouraged Cranley to seek counseling for his diagnosed dependent personality disorder.

Streets of San Francisco

Something clicked in Karen Lodrick's head the moment she saw a woman with a brown suede coat draped over her arm while waiting to order at a San Francisco Starbucks. Lodrick had seen the unique coat before: It was worn by a woman she saw in a bank security camera withdrawing money from her checking account. Face to face with a woman who had stolen her identity and cost her thousands in lost work, Lodrick did what every identity theft victim dreams of doing: She took off in hot pursuit of the Prada bag-wielding perpetrator. After tailing Maria Nelson for 45 minutes, Lodrick finally led police to apprehend her. Reflecting on the adventure to the San Francisco Chronicle, Lodrick criticized the thief's priorities: "She had bad teeth and looked like she hadn't bathed," she said. "I thought, 'You're buying Prada on my dime. Go get your teeth fixed.'"


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