Dispatches > Quick Takes

Quick Takes


Issue: "Coat of many dollars," May 3, 2014

Nothing to see here

The fledgling North Korean space agency has felt its way through several problems. Their rockets generally crash. There are no North Korean astronauts. But the agency’s latest public relations mishap is particularly symbolic. On March 31, the North Korean space agency revealed a new logo for its National Aerospace Development Administration which appears to borrow heavily from the NASA logo. Moreover, the English acronym for the North Korean agency, NADA, is prominently featured. “Nada,” of course, is Spanish for “nothing.”

Meal marker

Three cheeseburgers, a Happy Meal, a Coke, and a McFlurry. That’s the meal 18-year-old Stian Ytterdahl will never forget—because he now has the receipt permanently etched into his forearm. Ytterdahl’s friends convinced the Norwegian teenager to tattoo a copy of a McDonald’s receipt from a March 24 meal onto his arm after they complained he had recently become too popular with girls around his southeastern Norway hometown. And at least one female was horrified: his mother. After posting a picture of the new tat on Facebook, Ytterdahl’s father sent him an exasperated message: “He said, ‘What on earth have you done?! Do you think you are coming home with that!? Your mother has had a break down,’” Ytterdahl told Expressen. For his part, Ytterdahl said he currently finds the tattoo funny but concedes he may not see the humor when he’s 50.

Shell shock

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The Transportation Security Administration may be relaxing some rules, but agents still look down upon bringing unexploded ordinance on board commercial jets. Baggage screeners at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport confiscated World War I–era artillery shells from a pair of teenagers who were returning from a school trip to Europe on April 7. The teens told authorities they scavenged the shells during a field trip to a French artillery range. The discovery prompted a call to TSA bomb-disposal experts and stalled the students as they tried to connect on to Seattle. After investigating, the bomb-disposal crew determined the inert 3-inch shells posed no threat, and the students were allowed to make their connection.

No Stranger

What happens when an elementary school less than 10 minutes from Billy Joel’s Long Island home decides to put on a music show featuring covers of the Piano Man? Of course, he showed up. Joel made a surprise appearance at Deasy Elementary School’s Billy Joel–themed spring concert. Officials at the school had issued invitations to the recording star but assumed he would skip the event. But when he was spotted in the crowd on April 9, Deasy Principal Nomi Rosen offered Joel a spot in the front. Not wanting to disturb the students—or the music teacher directing the performance—Joel opted to watch from the back of the room.

Platz from the past

Of all the flotsam and jetsam encountered by German fisherman Konrad Fischer, the beer bottle he scooped out of the Baltic Sea in March has proven to be the most historic. The reason: Inside the bottle was a postcard dated May 17, 1913, that finally found its way into someone’s hands. Though much of the writing had become illegible, researchers at the International Maritime Museum in Hamburg, Germany, were able to trace the postcard to a man named Richard Platz who as a 20-year-old in 1913 pitched the message-in-a-bottle into the Baltic Sea. And with an assist from a local genealogist, the museum tracked down Platz’s 62-year-old granddaughter to show her the document on April 7.

Flame named

Sometimes the name fits the crime. According to police, Cameo Adawn Crispi, 31, deliberately left a pound of bacon on the wood-fueled stove on March 26 in an attempt to burn down her ex-boyfriend’s Naples, Utah, home. Officers responding to emergency calls managed to extinguish the fire and arrested Crispi. Police say they suspect alcohol may have been involved, considering Crispi was found with a blood-alcohol level of 0.346 percent.

Late payment

More than 70 years after dining and dashing from Salt Lake City’s Lamb’s Grill, an anonymous man paid his bill. Server Jasmine Back was on duty to witness the reconciliation on April 1: “This woman walks in the front door, and she looks like she’s on a mission,” said Back. And indeed she was. The elderly man’s daughter then explained that back in 1941—at the age of 10—her father skipped his $1 bill when he realized he didn’t have enough to pay. The woman then gave the server $5 to cover the 73-year-old check. Grill owner Francis Liong said he plans to track down the family that owned the restaurant at the time to pay back the debt to the correct people.


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