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The Odd Truth, Sept. 25, 2002

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

Michelangelo's David Gets A Fig Leaf

HOUSTON - David is now decent -- according to critics in Shenandoah, Texas. A replica of Michelangelo's classic statue of David now sports a fig leaf. The formerly nude statue sits atop a sporting goods store in the town, about 30 miles north of Houston.

Dianna Whitt's complaint led to the addition of the fig leaf. But she and some others still want the statue moved, so children can't see it. Whitt is also calling for a boycott of a local restaurant because it has photos of nude statues and paintings on the wall.

But she's not finding much sympathy from District Attorney Michael McDougal. He says the grand jury recently ate there and thought the food was good, but said nothing about the art. (AP)

'Bumfights' Producers Arrested

SAN DIEGO - Two men who allegedly paid street people to fight as part of the Internet video sensation "Bumfights" have been arrested in San Diego, police said on Tuesday.

The arrests of Las Vegas residents Zachary Bubeck, 24, and Ryan Edward McPherson, 19, followed a three-month probe by the La Mesa Police Department into the "Bumfights" tapes, Lt. Raul Garcia said. La Mesa is a suburb of San Diego.

Police said they were still looking for two other Las Vegas residents, as well as others who may have been involved in the production of "Bumfights."

Producers claim to have sold more than 300,000 copies of "Bumfights" over the Internet for $19.99 each.

"Bumfights, Vol 1" -- touted by its producers as "the fastest-selling independent video" featuring "drunks" and "crackheads" -- shows bedraggled men engaging in fistfights and acts of self-abuse, such as running headlong into steel doors and leaping off bridges.

Bubeck and McPherson were charged with conspiracy, solicitation of a felony crime and illegally paying people to fight. (Reuters)

Madrid Encourages Citizens To Shut Up

MADRID - Madrid is pushing a message with quiet determination to people in the robust Spanish capital: Ssshhh.

The rowdy atmosphere is thought to be central to the city's daunting decibel level.

The city council has launched a program aimed at turning the noise down a bit. It's not just about the yelling that's learned at an early age. Officials suggest people wear slippers around the house, don't slam doors and don't remodel at night.

One sociologist says screaming may be about projecting power, and it starts young.

Officials call the program "SSSHHH. Control your noise." A dozen blue-clad mimes have been dispatched to roam busy streets and use skits to get the message across. (AP)

This Is What They Mean By 'Snail Mail'

SIOUX CITY, Iowa — A letter stamped "Return to Sender" has arrived back in Sioux City. It only took 47 years.

The letter, postmarked June 20, 1955, landed in Janet Nejedly's business mailbox last Friday.

The envelope is addressed to Mr. Gilbert Kelly of Omaha, Neb.

The return address lists no name, only the address — 2030 S. St. Aubin, Sioux City — the same address as Nejedly's business, Ray Stallons Hearing Aids.

"I thought, 'Oh my God, 1955, where has this been hiding?"' Janet asked.

Nejedly and her 10-year-old daughter, Kayla, are on a mission to find out.

The envelope has a purple 3-cent stamp of the Statue of Liberty with the words "In God We Trust."

The only other marking is a red stamp saying "Return to Sender" and a list of options for why the letter was returned. A mail deliverer marked the box "no such street number" as the reason for the letter's return.

The letter inside is signed "Jan," and addressed "Dear Gil," with a date the same as the postmark. Whether Jan and Gil were pen pals or relatives remains a mystery.

Nejedly checked with information, but there is no Gilbert Kelly listed in Omaha. (AP)

OED Adds 'Ass-Backwards,' And 'Klingon'

LONDON - Science fiction's "Jedi" warriors and "Klingon" bad guys have entered the newest edition of the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, along with "asylum seekers", "asymmetrical warfare" and "spin control".

The first new edition in nearly a decade of the short version of the classic word bible will appear on Thursday, with 3,500 new entries, from "ass-backwards" to "warp drive".

New slang terms include "get real" and "badass."

There are also 500 new quotations. Among the writers whose literary citations appear for the first time are best sellers Tom Clancy and Nick Hornby, Bridget Jones author Helen Fielding and, inevitably, Harry Potter creator J.K. Rowling.

But although new words from science fiction films like "Star Wars" and "Star Trek" have made it, words coined for the Harry Potter books are still too new to appear.

"Generally, a word has to be used five times in five different places over five years, although something like 'text messaging' got in quicker because it became so widely used so quickly," said spokeswoman Claire Turner.

But "muggle" -- Rowling's made-up word for people who are not wizards -- is still listed only as an early 20th century American slang term for a marijuana cigarette. (Reuters)

Thirsty Marijuana Crop Goes To Pot

LOVELAND, Colo. — Drug enforcement officers are getting a little help this season from Mother Nature.

Drought appears to be shriveling the clandestine pockets of marijuana growing in Colorado fields.

Each year, Larimer County Drug Task Force officers partner with the Colorado National Guard to fly over irrigated fields, looking for hidden marijuana plants. They have found far fewer than usual this year.

"The pilots are saying it's been a pretty sparse year partly because of the drought," said Sgt. Francis Gonzales of the National Guard.

Marijuana is often found amid irrigated crops, said task force detective Gary Shaklee. The growers sneak into the maze of cornfields, pull some plants and replace them with marijuana. The drug plants then benefit from irrigation and fertilizer, and the growers remove them before the field is harvested.

"This year it was a little dry," Shaklee said. "We got only 137 plants." That compares with 1,800 plants officers found in Larimer County last year. (AP)

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