Dispatches > Quick Takes
Illustration by Krieg Barrie

Quick Takes

Issue: "Upside down," April 9, 2011

Not-so-great escape

A criminal in Dayton, Ohio, may have robbed a bank, but he chose what some would call a politically correct getaway vehicle. Dayton police say the suspect, whom they did not identify, hopped on board a public bus minutes after robbing a KeyBank branch on March 16. Alerted to his getaway method by witnesses, police were able to catch up to the bus a mile down the road and arrest the man without incident.

Soft sell

It reportedly took eight workers only two weeks to build a Chevy Orlando multi-purpose vehicle (MPV) in southeast England. That's because this MPV is made entirely of Play-Doh. General Motors, trying to raise the profile of its new multi-purpose vehicle, used 1.5 metric tons of the malleable children's toy to make a life-size replica of the vehicle and then parked it outside a popular shopping mall in the borough of Thurrock. "We've pretty much exhausted the U.K. supplies of aquamarine Play-Doh," a Chevrolet spokesman said.

Rain dancer

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Car buyers in Northeast Florida may well be watching weather forecasts in early April and hoping for rain. The reason: A St. Augustine, Fla., car dealership is promising to give a full refund to every customer who bought a car in March if it rains more than one inch on the morning of April 8. Bozard Ford general manager Jeff King said the promotion has generated a lot of interest in the area. But according to figures from the National Weather Service, the chances of customers cashing in are slim: Only once in the past decade has morning rainfall on April 8 topped an inch.

Capture the flag

A Texas Republican state representative hasn't forgotten the Alamo. Rep. John Zerwas introduced a bill encouraging Gov. Rick Perry to petition the Mexican government for the return of the famed New Orleans Greys flag, which was captured by Mexican forces when they took the Alamo during the battle for Texas independence in 1836. The flag belonged to a company of volunteers largely from Louisiana who reinforced the Texian forces at the Alamo. The flag, which is presently displayed in a Mexico City museum, is believed to be the last remaining flag to fly over the Alamo before it was captured by Mexican general Santa Ana. Texas governors for the past eight decades have tried without result to get Mexico to return the flag. "But what we know for sure," Zerwas told the Dallas Morning News, "is that if we don't ask, it won't happen."

Teller's orders

An absent-minded North Texas bank robber was sentenced to more than eight years in prison on March 15 following a comically botched attempted robbery last July. Nathan Wayne Pugh, a 49-year-old Dallas-area man, walked into a Dallas Wells Fargo Bank last summer and demanded money from a teller. The teller-apparently with a straight face-replied to Pugh that he still needed to show two forms of identification to complete his bank robbery. Stunningly, Pugh complied, showing the teller his Wells Fargo debit card and his state driver's license. The ID blunder made Pugh easy to capture and even easier to convict.

Of two minds

A tortoise in Zilina, Slovakia, that would never survive in nature has become a star in the media. The turtle, named Magdalena, has two heads and five legs. Apparently, each head has its own brain and nerve system, causing the tortoise to be divided against itself: "The second head sometimes doesn't allow the tortoise to know where to go," owner Roman Gresak told The Telegraph. Zoologists say the tortoise is similar to Siamese twins, with the embryo not separating correctly in the womb. Gresak says he chose the tortoise's name carefully: "One head is Magda and the second one is Lena."

Balancing acts

If you're ever in the southeast English town of Olney in early March, don't be surprised if you see the women of the town running through the streets balancing pancakes on frying pans. It's an ancient Olney tradition. Each year on Shrove Tuesday (Mardi Gras), Olney hosts the world's oldest annual pancake race. According to legend, the origins of the race date back to 1445, when a housewife, still cooking pancakes when she heard the Shrove Tuesday church bells ringing, raced through town with her pan and pancake to get to church on time. This year's race, drawing thousands of spectators, was on March 8, and the winner was 37-year-old childcare worker Nicky Sallis. "We love the history," Mayor Michael Hughes told the AFP news service, "the fact that we've been here for a long while and we intend to remain doing just this."

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