The Odd Truth, Feb. 4, 2003

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The Odd Truth is a collection of strange but factual news stories from around the world compiled by's Brian Bernbaum. A new collection of stories is published each weekday. On weekends, you can read a week's worth of The Odd Truth.

Happy Telemarketing Story

VISTA, Calif. — When Riverside County telemarketer Al Kinkade began a call to Daniel and Kellie Kinkade, he mentioned that they share a surname.

After a little small talk, Kellie realized that her 27-year-old husband is Al Kinkade's son.

"Dan, it's your father!" she shouted.

"Give me the phone," her husband replied. "You're messing with me."

"I just about fell out of my chair," Al Kinkade said. Kinkade, 49, had called to solicit a donation to a police and sheriff's Explorer Scout program.

Father and son compared notes and every question had the right answer.

Did Al work as a security guard in 1975? Yes.

Did Dan's mother Shirley Jean Weaver drive a blue 1969 Chevy Nova? Yes.

The Vista couple began searching seven years ago for Dan's father. All they had was his full name, Alfred Robert Kinkade, and two photographs of him with Dan's mother. She died of colon cancer at age 39 when Dan was 9, and Dan was raised by an aunt and uncle in Los Angeles.

Al Kinkade had been hard to find because of years of substance abuse that led to homelessness. He decided to go sober on April Fool's Day in 1998.

Father and son now talk daily by phone. They have also gotten together, and Al met his 4-year-old granddaughter, Sierra.

Cafeteria Displays Lard Eagle

DAWSON CREEK, British Columbia — With wings stretched wide, an eagle made of lard watched over the food line in the Northern Lights College cafeteria.

Student Julanka Kemper said she worked for more than 40 hours on the sculpture, right down to the detail of the feathers, as part of an elective workshop in the professional cook training program.

Kemper planned to enter the bird in a national competition in Edmonton last weekend, but the event was canceled. Instead, the eagle and five other sculptures were placed on display in the cafeteria.

Chef instructor Jacquelynne Baran, who helped teach workshops on lard sculpting, also created a cowboy that was on display.

The cowboy "is something I hadn't done before, and it was going to Alberta," she said. "I think he'd be able to go really nice with a prime rib dinner."

Other sculptures featured penguins, a duck and a whale.

The school usually trains students to make sculptures in chocolate.

"They will last longer than the chocolate," Baran said. "No one will eat (them)."

Runaway Bull Hotline

ISTANBUL, Turkey — Istanbul's municipality on Tuesday set up a hotline and organized a dozen teams to catch runaway bulls and other animals during the upcoming Islamic holiday when Muslims sacrifice animals, an official said.

During the Eid al-Adha festivities, Muslims sacrifice cows, sheep, goats, camels or bulls, and give a share of the meat to the poor. Scared animals frequently escape from their owners, often causing traffic accidents and injuries during the chase. Runaway bulls in particular have caused havoc in the streets.

Cengiz Ozturk from Istanbul's municipality said 12 teams led by veterinarians would be on call 24 hours a day to help catch escaped animals.

"This hotline will prevent people and animals from suffering," Ozturk said.

Eid al-Adha festival begins Feb. 11 and lasts four days.

Over the past years, Turkish officials have set up public facilities for the sacrifices but many Turks still prefer sacrificing animals in their backyards or along the side of roads.

London Grapples With Chunky American Bottoms

LONDON - London's West End theaters survived the post-Sept. 11 tourism slump but now face a problem with the bottom line — their skinny Victorian seats are too narrow for chunky American bottoms.

That's the opinion of British lawmaker Chris Bryant, who told the House of Commons Monday that London's "wonderful shows" were being let down by woeful buildings.

"The seats were built for backsides of a Victorian era, not of a modern era —or indeed an American size — and many of the bars are dingy and overpriced and haven't seen a lick of paint since Oscar Wilde was last there," said Bryant, a member of Prime Minister Tony Blair's governing Labor Party.

Most of London's major theaters were built in the 19th century. The Old Vic, built in 1818, said its seats were a "standard size" of about 18 inches. A stagehand at the Theater Royal Haymarket, which dates from 1821, estimated seat width at 20 inches.

When Politics Get Personal

SOUTH GATE, Calif. - Ending her stormy tenure as mayor, Xochilt Ruvalcaba punched a fellow City Council member after failing to push through millions of dollars in loans for the city, according to a videotape of a Council meeting.

Ruvalcaba, one of three council members booted from office by voters last week after being accused of depleting city coffers of nearly $8 million, had called one last meeting to vote on several costly measures.

At the end of the meeting, an amateur videotape captured Ruvalcaba in a shoving match with Councilman Henry Gonzalez. The tape shows the confrontation ending with the mayor hitting Gonzalez across the side of his head with a purse and then punching him in the head.

Police cited Ruvalcaba for misdemeanor battery. She accused the 67-year-old Gonzalez of trying to grope her breast while reaching for a document. Gonzalez called the charge ridiculous.

Gonzalez and another councilman were the only two members who were not recalled last week.

The recall effort was led by the South Gate Police Association which cited council members' decisions to increase their own salaries, strip the city clerk of most of her duties and spend nearly $8 million in city reserves.

Maybe He'll Get That Kiss Afterall

MANILA, Philippines - President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo apologized Tuesday to a Filipino fan who tried to kiss her during a visit to Kuwait but was blocked from doing so by her bodyguards.

A photograph of the man, dubbed the "kissing bandit" by newspapers, showed one of Arroyo's security guards shoving the man in the face as he approached the president.

"Maybe you saw a picture of a male Filipino worker who tried to steal a kiss from me, but was stopped by my aide. If he is your relative, please tell him sorry," Arroyo, 55, told relatives of overseas workers who welcomed her back in Manila after her two-day visit to Kuwait.

"But it is not really part of our culture that a man just gives a kiss to a woman," she added.

Arroyo tried to reassure worried families that their 60,000 relatives in Kuwait are in close touch with Philippine officials who have mapped out plans for their evacuation if war breaks out in neighboring Iraq.

Deaf Cheerleaders Do It Better

RIVERSIDE, Calif. - Cheerleader Daniel Hernandez can't hear a note. But he's no exception on the pep squad from the California School for the Deaf. The ten cheerleaders are so good, they've earned a spot in the Aloha International Spirit Championships, later this month in Hawaii. Daniel says they're able to keep on beat by taking visual cues from each other and by counting. Pep squad teammate Cesar Ayala says people are shocked to see just how good they are.

Spooked Cow Charges Fair

ROYAL PALM BEACH, Fla. - The owner of a cow that broke free at a Florida fair says he's glad no one was seriously hurt trying to get out of the way.

Five people suffered minor injuries while trying to escape the charging 850-pound long-horned cow.

The cow broke free while being loaded onto a trailer at the South Florida Fair in Royal Palm Beach.

The cow raced through the fairgrounds, a street and a shopping center for 30 minutes before it was corralled in an empty parking lot. Lucky for the cow --sheriff's deputies were prepared to shoot it if had it run back into the fair.

The cow's owner says it got spooked and took off.