The Odd Truth, Nov. 24, 2004

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

SpongeBob Kidnapped!

NEW YORK - Have you seen this sponge?
Police are looking for a blow-up figure of SpongeBob SquarePants swiped from a Little Falls, Minnesota, Burger King. They've found a ransom note that starts off: "We have SpongeBob." It then demands, "Give us ten Crabby Patties, fries and milkshakes."

The ransom note is signed by SpongeBob's nemesis, Plankton. A postscript reads: "Patrick is next," referring to SpongeBob's cartoon friend.

At a southeast Utah Burger King, vandals also made off with a six-by-ten-foot balloon of Spongebob.

Employees are handing out "Missing" fliers with a full description of the popular cartoon figure - featured in a new movie.

Jesus On A Fish Stick

KINGSTON, Ontario - An Ontario man is hoping to make a bit of money by auctioning a fish stick he says looks like Jesus.

Fred Whan has been keeping the fish stick in his freezer since burning it at dinner a year ago.

Yesterday, he decided it was time to thaw it out so he could sell it on eBay.

Recently, a Florida woman sold a decade-old grilled cheese sandwich, with a visage of what's purported to be the Virgin Mary.

She got $28,000 for it, according to the eBay website.

Whan says he made the discovery while cooking dinner for his kids and put it in the freezer because he figured it would serve as a good conversation piece.

He says it was never about making any money from it.

He hasn't yet figured out the logistics of selling the piece of fish on eBay, but hopes someone will want to buy it.

Whan says the image speaks for itself.

The World's Largest Bottle Of Wine

NEW YORK - Raise a glass - 1,200 of them to be exact - to New Jersey, new home to the world's largest bottle of wine.

A business in Tenafly, in northern New Jersey, paid $55,812 for a 4-and-a-half-foot-tall bottle of cabernet sold Saturday at Sotheby's, said auction house spokeswoman Kristin Gelder. Wine Ventures, a wine and chocolate shop, plans to put the bottle on display at its business.

The 340-pound bottle was the work of master glass blowers in the Czech Republic, and holds the equivalent of 173 standard bottles of Beringer Vineyards 2001 Private Reserve Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. That translates to 1,200 glasses of wine.

The bottle, dubbed Maximus, was certified as the world's largest by the Guinness World Records. The Morton's steakhouse chain, to celebrate its 25th anniversary, partnered with California-based Beringer to create the record-setting bottle.

All Hail The Nerd King

FRANKFURT, Germany - A 38-year-old with degrees in psychology, education and computer science needed only 11.8 seconds to calculate the 13th root of a 100-digit number in his head, setting a new record, organizers said.

Onlookers with electronic calculators needed more time to solve the problem that Gert Mittring figured on his own, with two umpires checking the time, at a math museum in the small German town of Giessen near Frankfurt in western Germany.

"I first think of an elegant problem-solving algorithm and the result comes immediately," said Mittring, who beat the previous record of 13.55 seconds, set by the Frenchman Alexis Lemaire in 2002, according to organizers of the Tuesday night event.

But his feat will not be immortalized in black and white in the Guinness Book of World Records, because the book no longer recognizes root calculations of random numbers due to the difficulty of standardizing the challenge, spokesman Sam Knight said Wednesday.

"Some numbers are easier to root than others - we are working on a way to standardize this," Knight said in a call from London.

"But that is not to take away from Mittring's performance. He is pretty incredible. He does hold the world record for memorizing 22 random digits in just four seconds."

Can't Find A Babysitter? Try The Trunk

SAN DIEGO - A California woman wanted to celebrate her birthday in a bar - but couldn't find a babysitter for her seven-year-old son.

So, she locked him in the trunk of her car while she partied.

Sarah Powell has pleaded guilty to child abuse and false imprisonment.

The woman and her boyfriend each struck plea bargains, which are likely to land them only probation, with credit for time served in prison since the August incident.

A witness had told police the boy was locked in the trunk - where he was found with a pillow and sleeping bag. Police say Powell told them she left the boy there for safekeeping when she couldn't find someone to watch him.
Ring Sting

CULPEPER, Va. - One phone call got Kenneth Settle Jr. and his cousin both sent to jail.

The two were arrested when police said they phoned a drug dealer to place an order during a police drug sting operation.

When the suspected drug dealer's cell phone rang during the Blue Ridge Drug Task Force sting Monday night, a Culpeper town police investigator answered.

The caller said he wanted to buy $50 worth of crack cocaine, according to Detective Troy Steele. The man gave his location and a description of the vehicle he was driving.

Two officers drove to the agreed meeting spot in the Southgate Shopping Center, identified the vehicle and found 21-year-old Settle and his 22-year-old cousin, Steven Settle, inside, Steele said.

The alleged drug dealer's cell phone was the last number called on a cell phone discovered in the vehicle, police said.

The Settles were both charged with conspiracy to possess cocaine.