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The Odd Truth: Feb. 14, 2005

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

Free Valentine's Day Divorces

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Cupid occasionally misses his mark, so a local radio station is running a Valentine's Day contest offering a free divorce.

"Everyone associates Valentine's Day with love, and diamonds, chocolate, roses. But what about those people that hate it? This is for those people," said Scott Petibone, program director at WKRL-FM, a progressive rock station.

The station began promoting its divorce giveaway last week. By Thursday, the station received over 100 entries, Petibone said. A winner will be selected on Valentine's Day.

The divorce must be uncontested. "We're not looking for the most horrible stories or the most vicious couples," he said.

Some clergy in Syracuse called the contest tasteless.

"A divorce is a death, the death of a dream," said the Rev. Joseph Champlin, rector at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. "You wouldn't make a joke out of someone who died, would you?"

Petibone, who is married, is surprised by such criticism.

"We're not asking happily married couples to get a divorce. The people who are entering want to get a divorce," Petibone said. "If a contest makes you want to get a divorce, then you've definitely got problems."

No More High Life

RACINE, Wis. — Just sipping a brewski gave Isac Aguero a career hangover.

Aguero, 24, said he was fired from his job with a Miller Brewing distributor, the same day a picture appeared in The Journal Times of Racine of him drinking a Bud Light, which is brewed by rival Anheuser-Busch Co.

The photo, taken Feb. 5, was part of the newspaper's weekly "On the Town" feature, which depicts the city's nightlife.

Aguero, who had been a forklift operator at CJW Inc. for four years, told the newspaper he was informed by co-workers when he arrived at work last week that he was in trouble because of the picture.

He said he was called into the general manager's office and told he was fired. Aguero said he was not given a reason and claimed he never had problems with his bosses.

"It was a Saturday and I wasn't at work," he told The Journal Times. "They can't tell me what beverages I can drink. Bud Light's my beer of choice, I always drink that. Just because I work there, do I have to change what I drink?"

Thomas Bey, a CJW sales manager, read a statement to The Associated Press on Friday and would not answer any questions. He said the company does not publicly discuss past or present employees.

"We consistently remind our employees that drinking alcohol is entirely a personal decision," Bey said. "The image and reputation of any company is determined in large part by the way its employees are seen to behave. Our employees can and should be our best ambassadors."

Bus Driver's Torch Extinguished

BUENA VISTA, Pa. — A Pennsylvania school bus driver is facing criminal charges after encouraging her students to act rowdy while she made an audition tape for the TV show "Survivor."

The bus was moving at the time.

Maureen Monaghan is charged with reckless endangerment from the January sixth incident.

It's not clear why she apparently wanted rowdy students in the video. The network suggests that "Survivor" applicants use their auditions to "talk about your job" and "why you would be the ultimate Survivor."

Police say there was so much commotion that it was unsafe.

Wacky Sign Insurance

WECOTA, S.D. — The sign said it all: "Wecota, Pop. 19. We're all here because we're not all there."

That is until earlier this month, when somebody stole the sign that had been bolted to a wooden fence on the west side of the Faulk County village since September.

But Wecota townsfolk are nothing if not clever.

It turns out that part-time Wecota resident Dave Griffith, who came up with the idea for the sign, had ordered two of them — just in case something happened to the first one.

Resident Jerry Barondeau said the second sign will go up, and this time, it will be welded into place.

Griffith paid for the signs, as well as the town's first street signs — one for each of Wecota's two streets.

Keep Your Elbows Off It!

DURHAM, N.C. — When Albert Sack buys furniture, he doesn't skimp.

The antiques dealer just spent $7.5 million on a mahogany tea table — the second-highest price ever paid for a piece of American furniture.

"As long as it is great, there's no price too great for a masterpiece," Sack said of his purchase at a Jan. 22 auction at New York's Sotheby's auction house.

The table is one of only four of its kind made by the noted 18th century craftsman John Goddard of Newport, R.I.

The final hammer price was $7.5 million. With fees, the total cost was $8.41 million.

In acquiring the Goddard table, Sack, 89, followed in the footsteps of his father, Israel Sack, a one-time New York furniture dealer who helped pioneer the collection and appreciation of historic American furniture.

In 1989, Israel Sack paid $12.1 million for a secretary's desk that once belonged to Brown University founder Nicolas Brown — a record for American furniture that still stands.

Guess Who's Coming To Dinner?

NEW YORK — Need somebody to eat with? Give Marc Horowitz a
call.

The San Francisco-based artist is on a national road trip to meet people who saw his number in a Crate and Barrel ad and dialed him up.

He was working on a photo shoot when he decided the dry-erase board in the ad looked too blank — so he wrote his cell phone number on it.

Thousands of people saw it and called. Many hung up, some rambled on and others invited him over for dinner — everything from lasagna in Georgia to chicken and dumplings in Alabama.

Horowitz plans on criss-crossing the nation for at least a year — saying human contact is about old-fashioned "face to face" time, not just e-mail.

Porn Company Goes Clubbing

LAS VEGAS — The nation's top porn producer is promising good, clean fun in Vegas. Vivid Entertainment is opening a nightclub on the Vegas strip inside The Venetian hotel-casino. While Vivid porn stars will be making occasional appearances, they'll keep their clothes on. Fornication and nudity are forbidden by state regulators, because the club isn't licensed as a sexually oriented adult business. State inspectors say they'll be keeping their eyes on the Vivid to make sure they're keeping it clean. Last year, the Hard Rock hotel-casino paid a 100-thousand dollar state fine for a risqué advertising campaign.

No, We Don't Have A Picture Of This

GLEN AUBREY, N.Y. — A snow sculpture in upstate New York was all man — and then some. A six-foot-tall male sex organ had drivers doing double takes as they passed a front yard in Glen Aubrey, north of Binghamton. Neighbor Bob Hodges tells a local radio station that "it was the talk of the town for awhile." While many people just laughed, the explicit sculpture prompted one woman to complain to the sheriff's office. When a deputy went to the home, a woman said the snow sculpture was the work of her sons. She promised her sons would take care of it. Next day it was gone.

Cats' Cozy Digs

CARTHAGE, Ill. — There's a new cat house in Carthage. But it's not what you might think. My Mathew's House is a new shelter for cats. Instead of cages there are eleven bedrooms for the kitties. There's even furniture. Not for the cats, but for the people who will come visit and play with the cats. President Martha Anderson says the place has room for more than 50 cats to live comfortably, though there are only 12 feline residents now. The cat house is funded by a private benefactor, but after the first year organizers will have to seek alternative sources of support.