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The Odd Truth, Aug. 19, 2004

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The Odd Truth is a collection of strange but factual news stories from around the world compiled by CBSNews.com's William Vitka.

Potties Pilfered

HONG KONG - Thieves scouring for scrap metal have looted dozens of stainless steel drain covers and other fixtures, including faucets, from public toilets in a Hong Kong neighborhood, a newspaper reported Thursday.

The washrooms have lost 73 drain covers, four faucets, a steel gate and a hand dryer so far this year, the Apple Daily newspaper reported, citing police information.

Police suspect the thieves targeted the fixtures, which are worth a total of $4,000 for their resale value, the report said.

Police spokesman T.K. Ng said he had no information on the thefts.

Your Arteries Are Weeping

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. - What do you call a sandwich made of chicken fingers, mozzarella sticks and French fries? Around here, it's called a Fat Darrell - and you can also call it a winning combo.

The "Fat Darrell" has been crowned the best sandwich in the country by Maxim magazine. Maxim's September issue, which lists the top 10 sandwiches, hits newsstands Tuesday.

Darrell Butler created the concoction early one morning in 1997 after a night of partying. Butler, a Rutgers University sophomore, conceived of the sandwich as a way to save money by combining his various cravings on one bun.

"Separately, they would have cost me, like, $12.75, and I was on a college budget," Butler, 26, of Eatontown. The Fat Darrell is named for its caloric content, not Butler, a 160-pound physical trainer and aspiring actor.

"So, I'm standing there eating it, and all of a sudden the guy standing behind me says, 'That thing that guy's eating looks pretty good, can you make me one of those?' And, it was like a movie scene; the next 10 people order the same thing. So, I'm like, 'Whoa!' like I think I might be onto something."

The man who assembled the sandwich was Abdul Eid, working in an R.U. Hungry food truck, parked in a campus lot in New Brunswick, catering to beer-soaked undergraduates with the late-night munchies.

Eid now runs R.U. Hungry Grill & Pizza, a store on Easton Avenue he was able to open in part due to the success of the $4.75 Fat Darrell.

Drunk Versus Drunk: The DUI Duelists

RIGA, Latvia - Police in eastern Latvia were trying to determine Wednesday what charges to bring against a drunken horse-and-buggy driver who caused a drunken motorist to crash into a ditch, flipping his car.

The accident happened just before midnight Monday near Kraslava, 140 miles east of the Latvian capital, Riga. The driver of the horse-and-buggy made an illegal turn onto a main road when he should have yielded to an oncoming car, said Kraslava police spokeswoman Ingrida Nevedomska.

To avoid crashing into the horse-and-buggy, the driver of the car, a Volkswagen Golf, veered into a roadside ditch, flipping his car, Nevedomska said. The driver was not seriously hurt.

Police, who did not release the names of the drivers, administered breathalyzer tests and determined they were both legally drunk, Kraslava traffic police chief Uldis Ornicans said.

The driver of the car was fined $830 and had his license revoked.

But police were unsure what to do about the horse-and-buggy driver — only motor vehicles and bicycles are covered under the country's drunk driving laws.

"How do you ticket a guy driving a horse-and-buggy?" Nemedomska said.

Ornicans said the man at the reins would probably be charged with having caused an accident but declined to specify what penalties he might face.

As for the horse, Nevedomska said, it seemed sober.

T.J. Hooker Not Amused, Pauses Dramatically

ATHENS, Pa. - Two officers learned a valuable lesson this week: Always take the keys from your patrol car.

Athens Township police officers Thomas J. Vanfleet Jr. and Nathan Ross said they pulled over Jeremy Jacob Friedlander, 21, on Monday night because his Jeep had improperly installed lights and because the license plate was obstructed.

Friedlander told the officers he had a rifle between the front seats and the officers sat him at the rear of the police cruiser while they searched the Jeep. Friedlander then allegedly jumped through the passenger's door and into the driver's seat, where he started the car and pulled away.

Vanfleet managed to get partly into the vehicle and struggled with Friedlander as he drove off, eventually shifting the car into park and pulling the keys from the ignition.

Friedlander was charged Tuesday with aggravated assault, kidnapping, resisting arrest and possession of a prohibited weapon.

Get Your Melon On

ANCHORAGE, Alaska - An Alaska gardener has done the seemingly impossible: growing a record-breaking cantaloupe, a fruit that craves heat and founders in rain.

In a season marked by hotter and drier weather than usual, Scott Robb has produced a 64.8-pound muskmelon - an unofficial world record. He plans to enter the colossal fruit in the Alaska State Fair in Palmer next week.

The yearly fair draws crowds gawking at giant produce that thrive in the Matanuska Valley's rich glacial soils and long days. But those are cold-weather crops, such as cabbages and kohlrabis.

Growing a mammoth melon in Alaska is virtually unheard of. The current world-record cantaloupe belongs to a grower in the loamy, sun-baked fields of North Carolina. So did the record before that.

Robb, a perennial winner of giant produce competitions, started his cantaloupe in a greenhouse in April. He hand-pollinated the melon, and then surrounded it with mousetraps to deter rodents.

The 'it' grew and grew.

The official weight of Robb's melon came in 1.3 pounds over the current record. Guinness World Records still needs to certify it, a process that can take up to six months.

Naked Force

SALT LAKE CITY - A sheriff's deputy has been placed on administrative leave for stripping down to his skivvies in public.

Employees at a jewelry company told police that they saw Salt Lake County Sheriff's Deputy Darrell Magee get out of his department-issued sport utility vehicle Tuesday morning and remove all his clothes.

They say the six-year department veteran sat naked and cross-legged facing west for about 30 seconds before redressing, according to a police report. Magee has not been arrested or cited.

Salt Lake City police Detective Dwayne Baird said Magee claimed he was wearing an undergarment similar to his skin color while he conducted a 30-second religious ritual.
"He said he did have something on," Baird said.

Magee did not specify what religion he practices.

The city attorney's office has not read the report yet, but could charge Magee with indecent exposure, a misdemeanor.

The Sheriff's Office has placed Magee on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of an internal investigation.

Sheriff's spokeswoman Sgt. Rosie Rivera said that won't start until Salt Lake City police have finished their investigation.

Magee, through a family spokeswoman, declined to comment.