The Odd Truth, Oct. 14, 2003

SUV hero
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.

Bullet Holes: Hot New Fad?

OAK PARK, Michigan - Some Americans are turning to an inexpensive and controversial way of customizing their cars: applying stickers of bullet holes.

"So real-looking you have to touch them with your own finger to tell," says the Web site, which offers vinyl stickers depicting .50-caliber holes and smaller ones that look like they came from a .22.

Doug Rock, 25, buys the stickers from a North Carolina supplier and sells them on the site. He said he's working his way through nursing school and has sold millions since 2001.

"They're a great gag item," Rock said. "Otherwise, I guess it's just for the look, it's like a fad. I honestly don't think it will fade. My business is doing nothing but growing."

Not everyone finds the stickers funny.

"It sends the wrong message to our young people," said Gregory Wims, president of the Victims' Rights Foundation in Maryland. "It's sort of like a badge of honor. It sends a bad message."

Daniel Morton, 21, placed 10 bullet-hole stickers on his 1994 Honda Accord to make it look as if it had been riddled with gunfire.

"A lot of people ask me about them and think my car got shot up," Morton said Monday. "I just try to be different."

Morton, who works for a rubber and plastics manufacturer, said it was cheaper than, say, customized wheel rims.

"I just spent a few dollars instead of $20,000," he said.

Breaking The 'Curse Of The Bambino'

HAWTHORNE, New York - As the Red Sox try to shed 85 years of frustration, fans are doing everything they can to help the Boston team shed the so-called "Curse."

That includes visits to the Westchester County gravesite of Babe Ruth, located at the Gate of Heaven cemetery in Hawthorne.

Chris Sobotka made a visit to the grave this week, offering-up an unopened can of beer on Ruth's headstone. His rationale: Sobotka says the Babe was a big drinker who may give the Sox a break, thanks to the liquid offering.

Nothing much has worked since 1920, when Ruth was sold by Boston to the Yankees and the "Curse of the Bambino" was launched. He became the game's greatest player as New York won 26 subsequent championships.

Boston has never won since.

Benedict Arnold's Grave Error

NORWICH, Conn. - Benedict Arnold may be best known for treason in the 18th century, but according to his tombstone he wasn't born until after the Revolutionary War, and he lived for 150 years.

Bill Stanley, who has devoted much of his life to Norwich's most famous native and one of America's most infamous traitors, seeks to fix that.

Arnold was born in Norwichtown in 1741 in a house that still stands today. He fled to England in 1779 before he could face charges for treason and died peacefully there in 1801 at age 60.

Despite the treason, Stanley has led a campaign to correct a glaring mistake on Arnold's memorial in London along the Thames River.

After seven visits to England over 25 years, Stanley has received permission to replace the memorial stone at Arnold's grave.

The existing memorial says Arnold was born in 1801 and died in 1951. The new stone will have the correct dates of 1741 and 1801. It also will replace the name of Margaret Arnold with Margaret "Peggy" Shippen-Arnold. Arnold's wife is recognized throughout history as Peggy Shippen.

Arnold shares his grave with his wife and daughter, Sophia Matilda Phipps.

Stanley, president of the Norwich Historical Society, and his wife are assuming all the costs for the stone, including engraving and transportation.

Lawyer Calls Juror Pool 'Illiterate Cave Dwellers'

PIKEVILLE, Ky. - A federal prosecutor in a high-profile vote fraud trial has struck a nerve with eastern Kentucky residents by describing some potential jurors in the mountain region as "illiterate cave dwellers."

Assistant U.S. Attorney Kenneth Taylor made the remark in his effort to persuade a judge not to move the trial of former state Sen. John Doug Hays and several of his supporters back to Pikeville from London, about 90 miles west.

Pretrial publicity has been so rampant in the region, Taylor said, that many potential jurors in the Pikeville area would have to be disqualified because they have formed opinions. "All that would remain to try the case would be illiterate cave dwellers."

Residents of the mountain region have long been sensitive to anything that smacks of the old hillbilly stereotype. And the furor that erupted last year over the planned CBS reality series "The Real Beverly Hillbillies" has made some even more vigilant.

"When you say something like this among your buddies at the country club, it's one thing. But when you go out in public and make this kind of statement, you've got to be stone-cold stupid," said Dee Davis, president of the Center for Rural Strategies, a group that has led the fight against such stereotypes.

Barefoot Bookworm

CINCINNATI - No shirt, no shoes - no books! A federal appeals court has dismissed a suit filed by a man who was kicked out of the Columbus, Ohio, Metropolitan Library for not wearing shoes. Robert Neinast claims he regularly goes barefoot. He contended that getting the boot was a violation of his constitutional right to information. But the appeals court is stomping on the argument. The judges noted that as long as Neinast wears shoes, he can check out books.

Wined And Dined, And Duped

LONDON - Sandra and Colin Mitchell were celebrating their wedding anniversary at a top London restaurant and decided to order a $260 bottle of Chateau Margaux.

That might be a bit too fruity, suggested the assistant sommelier at the Michelin-starred Petrus. He offered an earlier vintage, which they happily accepted.

But after downing their lobster and roast grouse, the couple got a terrible shock - the bottle of 1966 Chateau Margaux the sommelier had suggested cost $1,300.

"Of course we paid the bill and didn't make a stink, but what is up with this?" Mrs. Mitchell asked fellow food-lovers on a gourmet Web site.

"My husband got the wine list, perused for a while, then the sommelier came over. My husband points at one Margaux, 160 pounds. The sommelier points out it may be a bit fruity; he has a much better bin; it is a 1966 Margaux and he highly recommends it.

"It is a fabulous red, definitely the best we have had. Then the bill comes - 800 pounds for wine alone."

Jan Moir, restaurant critic of The Daily Telegraph newspaper, said most top restaurants "don't make money on food. Their profits come from the wine and so the role of the sommelier is really pivotal - they have to sell."

A spokesman for Petrus said the incident had been a mistake by the assistant sommelier, who was "rather embarrassed." The restaurant offered a free meal, which the couple accepted.