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The Odd Truth, Nov. 17, 2004

The Odd Truth is a collection of strange but factual news stories from around the world compiled by's Brian Bernbaum.

Holy Mother Mary Of Cheese!

MIAMI - That cheese sandwich in Florida that some people think has an image of the Virgin Mary on it is back up on eBay.

The online auction house reversed itself and placed the ten-year-old white bread and American cheese sandwich back on its site.

Diana Duyser says she spotted the image after she'd taken a bite out of the sandwich and saw the face staring back.

EBay initially pulled the item from its web site, but the company now says it appears that the seller can deliver, so bids are again being taken.

As of yesterday, the bidding was up to $11,000 dollars.

Man Arrested For 'Leaf Rage'

STAMFORD, Conn. - When city employees refused to haul away his raked leaves, Michael Peters blew up. And his meltdown got him arrested for what police describe as "leaf rage."

Peters, 67, of North Stamford, was charged Monday with breach of peace, a misdemeanor, after accosting municipal workers who told him they collected leaves only on the street and not those on a right of way, where his were stacked.

"He grabbed my jacket and said, 'You're not going anywhere,"' operations Supervisor Robert Gerbert said of Peters. "The guy was spitting and swearing - it was the most disgusting scene I've ever seen."

Peters admitted he lost his cool, frustrated by more than three decades of being ignored by the town at leaf time.

"I went berserk. I got very angry," Peters said. "After 34 years, things build up. I am a taxpayer... All I am trying to do is get a service that's being offered to all of my neighbors."

Crews probably would have come back to Peters' home - maybe even later that day - had he asked politely, said worker Jim Crabb: "We're not big, mean ogres."

When Tattoo Artists Attack

FORT BRAGG, Calif. - Call it a case of vigilante pot justice. Four Northern California men have been busted for allegedly tattooing the word "thief" in two-inch-high letters on the forehead of a man they suspected of stealing a pound of marijuana. Authorities in Mendocino County report the four face charges of kidnapping, false imprisonment, conspiracy and mayhem. The victim is a 31-year-old man whose name hasn't been released. Investigators say the victim was lured to the home of one of those arrested, then duct taped and tattooed.

Greek Cop Robs Bank, Plays Backgammon

PATRAS, Greece - A 23-year-old policeman was arrested in southern Greece after allegedly robbing a bank and then visiting a nearby coffee shop to play a game of backgammon, authorities said Wednesday.

The officer, who was not named, was arrested Tuesday in Kato Achayia, near the southern port city of Patras, after allegedly snatching just over $6,500. Wearing a crash helmet, he allegedly threatened staff at a branch of the private Alpha Bank with his police handgun.

"He left his car outside the bank, and a girl was in the vehicle waiting for him," local police chief Dimitris Tsiouvaras said. "Then they went for coffee."

The suspect told police he had robbed the bank to pay off credit card debts, Tsiouvaras said.

Come Relax At Beautiful Gulag Island!

ZAGREB, Croatia - Croatia may reopen its most notorious communist-era prison for tourists willing to part with their money to re-enact the life of a political prisoner - including hard labor, stale food and nights in solitary confinement.

The plan has the support of some local officials and even former inmates, who have offered to work as tour guides, though the city council has yet to make a final decision.

"If you want to experience some of the torture that political prisoners underwent ... just come along," said Josip Modric, an architect who is promoting the project.

Modric envisions tourists being issued convict uniforms, pounding large stones with a sledgehammer and hauling the pieces on their backs to quarries around the prison on Goli Otok, a barren island in the northern Adriatic Sea.

Those who sign up would be given written awards after completing their "prison sentence."

Goli Otok - which means Naked Island - was a miniature gulag set up by Yugoslavia's communist dictator Josip Broz Tito after World War II. It housed 3,000 inmates at its height but has been derelict since its closure in 1989.

To bring in tourists, Modric wants to build a gondola connecting the mainland to Goli Otok and a smaller neighboring island that served as a political prison for women.

Local officials have expressed interest but say they are unsure how well a vacation from hell will sell.

"How avant-garde or realistic this idea is remains to be further analyzed," said the head of the district's tourism office, Alen Andreskic.

"Weaker inmates would carry out light toil, while fitter inmates would 'kill themselves' with work in the sun during the day and spend the night in solitary confinement," Modric said.

"Of course, unlike real prisoners, nobody would be tortured."

What A Stud

LONDON - A British stud bull that relaxes by listening to Mozart is so highly regarded by farmers and breeders around the world that sales of his semen have sold out until April 2005, a bovine genetics company said Wednesday.

The interest in Picston Shottle, a five-year-old pure-bred Holstein bull, helped Genus PLC increase net profit by 45.8 percent to $5.2 million in the first six months of the financial year, said the company based in Basingstoke, southwest of London.

"We have never had a bull where sales have rocketed as they have done with Shottle," said Mark Smith, global production and product development manager at Genus. "He is the best bull in the world."

The normal output for a bull is 120,000 doses of semen a year but thanks to biotechnology Shottle is on target to produce 200,000 from his farm in Ruthin, north Wales, Genus said.

Dairy farmers and breeders in the European Union, United States, Canada, Mexico, South Africa, Australia and Saudi Arabia have ordered semen from the bull, believing it will help produce milk of better quality and improve pedigree herds. Because of the strong demand, Genus said all production was sold out until well into April 2005.

Genus said it provides Shottle with a deep bed of shavings and heat lamps to keep him warm. He is kept away from other bulls so music including Mozart is played in his shed to ensure he doesn't feel lonely. Staff regularly feed him sugar beet to boost his energy levels.

Shottle's semen sells for $65 a sample, meaning he will contribute $13 million in sales if he hits the target of 200,000 doses in a year. That would represent 3 percent of Genus' annual sales.

Smith said Shottle could remain on top form for five more years.

Genus also operates a division focusing on animal health and produces pharmaceuticals and other products for vets.

A Real Pain In The Neck, Seriously

MARSHFIELD, Wis. - A hunting arrow smashed through the window of a car before striking a deer hunter in the neck as he sat waiting for a companion to return from some woods in northern Wisconsin, the wounded hunter's family said.

Bill Rusch, 50, of Antigo, was recovering in fair condition at St. Joseph Hospital in Marshfield on Tuesday - four days after the bizarre shooting mishap in Vilas County caused an arrow to penetrate about 2 inches into his neck, threatening his spinal cord, said his daughter, Jenny Gilbert.

Rusch, who owns an archery business in Antigo, feels lucky he wasn't hurt worse, the daughter said in a telephone interview from his hospital room.

"He knows that it was the hand of God," she said. "The doctors told him that he was lucky to be in the car when it happened because he wouldn't be here otherwise. ... They said it was 1/25th of an inch away from him never breathing again."

Tim Lawhern, hunter education administrator for the state Department of Natural Resources, said the accident happened about 4:15 p.m. Friday in Vilas County.

The errant arrow came from the bow of a 54-year-old hunter who was a companion of Rusch's, Lawhern said.

The accident remained under investigation Tuesday, Lawhern said.

Gilbert said the bow's release malfunctioned as the hunter walked from the woods to get into the car at the end of an unsuccessful day of hunting.

The arrow flew through the window on the driver's side, missing the driver before it struck her father, Gilbert said.

She said her father kept his sense of humor during the ordeal.

After seeing X-rays in the emergency room, he joked the arrow was a cheap one, "not the kind he sells," Gilbert said.