Dispatches > Quick Takes

Quick Takes

Oddball occurrences

Issue: "Giving thanks," Nov. 24, 2007

Heads and tails

Since 1965 a team of British legal scholars has been tasked to clean up centuries' worth of obsolete law. A recent survey suggests the Statute Law Revision team may have decades to go. Law in the United Kingdom makes it criminal to die while a member of Parliament. Entering the kingdom's legislative body in a suit of armor remains illegal according to a law dating to 1313 still on the books. Britons also may not eat mince pies on Christmas Day, fire a cannon near a dwelling place, or use any sled on the ice or snow. One law possibly slated for repeal states that should a whale wash up on England's green and pleasant shore, the head of the beast becomes property of the king. The tail belongs to the queen.

Bovine force

If Linda and Charles Everson Jr. had been driving just a bit faster, they may not have celebrated another anniversary. While celebrating their first anniversary, the Michigan couple was driving on Highway 150 alongside a cliff near Manson, Wash., when something fell from above and crushed the hood of their minivan. Instead of falling rocks, it was a falling cow. The 600-pound cow, which had fallen from 200 feet up, crushed the front of their minivan, but the couple escaped unscathed. The 1-year-old bovine wasn't so fortunate.

Culinary excess

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To satisfy a sweet tooth, will some restaurant patrons be willing to part with an arm and a leg? A New York City restaurant owner hopes to find out. Serendipity 3 owner Stephen Bruce debuted his $25,000 dessert Nov. 7 and says he already has wealthy Europeans inquiring into his pricey chocolate sundae. Besides blending 28 different sorts of cocoa, Bruce's "Frrozen Haute Chocolate" (spelled with two Rs) comes with one-fifth of an ounce of edible 23-karat gold and will be served in a gold-lined goblet with diamonds and a golden bracelet on the side.

Pigging out

Michelle Schmitz's little piggy isn't so little anymore. Because of that, 52-year-old Mary Beesecker will face animal cruelty charges. Schmitz left Beesecker her 50-pound potbellied pig earlier this year while the Minnesota resident recovered from ankle surgery. When Schmitz returned nine months later, Aliana the pig tipped the scales at 150 pounds-so overweight that the porker's collar had become enveloped in the excess fat. Beesecker's explanation: The pig routinely got out and scavenged food away from cats and chickens on Beesecker's farm in Houston, Minn. The excuse didn't satisfy Schmitz, who asked law enforcement officials to pursue the misdemeanor charges. "I want her to be held responsible for what she did and what she didn't do," Schmitz said.

Camel call

Don't expect Islamic clerics in Saudi Arabia to guest host any upcoming beauty contests for camels. A well-known hard-line Muslim cleric, Sheikh Abdul-Rahman al-Barrak, condemned camel pageants in a fatwa. "Everyone must repent of these acts from which no good can come because of its evils, and they should beg forgiveness from God," the cleric wrote in the religious ruling. Islamic leaders in Saudi Arabia often see the popular contests as an immoral throwback to pre-Islamic times in the Middle East.

Svelte Santas

New on Santa's list this year: Attend fat camp. Bosses at a Kent, England, shopping center are forcing their 12 make-believe Santas to work out and shed pounds before suiting up for Christmas season. But isn't Santa supposed to be portly? "There's nothing wrong with Santa being the size that he is, we just want him to have a modern day makeover to reflect the realistic demands of being the world's most renowned delivery man," Bluewater shopping center property manager Tim Holland told the BBC. Included in the pre-Christmas workouts: the full-body workout known as the "Santa sack lift."

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