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The Odd Truth, Sept. 8, 2004

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

Computer Geeks Rejoice!

LOS ANGELES - Playboy is going virtual. The new issue of the men's magazine features nude illustrations of video game characters. Included is a full-frontal, two-page foldout of a digital vixen named Luba Licious. She's from the mature-rated comedy game "Leisure Suit Larry." Another computer generated image is of the topless half-vampire, half-human title character from "BloodRayne." Playboy senior editor Scott Alexander says their pixelated Playmates are the next version of the pinup. Alexander says they treat the silicon babes as real celebrities, including their turn-ons and turn-offs. Alexander adds Playboy is serious about covering video gaming for adults. He says digital pictorials could be a regular feature in Playboy if reader reaction is positive.

Pitchfork Hold-Up

AIKEN, S.C. - A robber who used a rusty pitchfork to stick up a bank got away - and so far, finding him has been like looking for a needle in a haystack.

The man, wearing sunglasses and a mask, entered Security Federal Bank Tuesday morning and threatened employees with the 4-foot-long pitchfork. The man took an undisclosed amount of money.

The robber dropped the farm tool as he ran from the bank through a wooded area to a golf course behind the bank, police said.

Bloodhounds tracked the robber to a fast food restaurant parking lot, where police say the man got into a white van driven by a woman.

No customers were in the bank during the holdup, and no one was injured.

Stickin' It To The Man

GREEN BAY, Wis. - Deputies didn't have to go far to find this marijuana: It was growing right outside their Green Bay headquarters.

Green Bay television station WLUK-TV reported Tuesday that it received a tip and alerted the Brown County Sheriff's Department about the pot in a planter on the south side of the courthouse.

Chief Deputy John Gossage wasn't sure of the plants' identity, but a drug officer confirmed the presence of marijuana.

"Obviously, as a prank, somebody planted this or dropped some seeds into the plants," Gossage said.

The drug officer pulled the six small plants, which were to be destroyed.

"It's a good thing it was brought to our attention because someone may have realized what it was and could've taken it and used it," Gossage said.

Leading By Example

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - It's an all-too-realistic lesson in gun safety. An Indiana coroner is recovering from a leg wound after accidentally shooting himself. Monroe County Coroner David Toumey says he was demonstrating gun safety late one night last week at a boat ramp, when the gun went off. He tells The Herald-Times as he was checking to make sure the gun was unloaded, it fired. The local sheriff's office hasn't released details of the accident, saying a deputy has yet to file a report.

Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid

PITTSBURGH - Some fast food restaurants will soon test the theory that what you drive shows what you eat.

A Pittsburgh company has installed technology at fast-food restaurants to predict orders before customers even walk in the door.

The system - known as "Hyperactive Bob" - uses rooftop cameras that monitor traffic entering the parking lot and drive-thru. It currently tells restaurant workers when to expect a surge in orders.

By this time next year, Hyperactive Technologies expects to add software to recognize the type of vehicle to predict what customers will likely order.

One 28-year McDonald's manager calls the simulation "the most impressive thing" he's ever seen.

Estimating demand for food is essential to fattening profit margins. Overestimate demand and profits vanish in waste. Underestimate the need, and customers will be turned off by long lines.

(Chicken) Strip Club

HAMBURG TOWNSHIP, Mich. - Some people are getting the wrong idea about Gary Baja's new restaurant, C.R. Smokin' Chicks. It's not a strip joint, but a place that will sell flame-roasted rotisserie-smoked chicken. Baja will open his Hamburg Township, Michigan, restaurant in a couple of weeks. He says a couple of "girls" stopped by and told construction workers they wanted to apply as dancers. Baja adds that a couple of cars filled with well-dressed men pulled into Smokin' Chicks - with the guys wanting to see the strippers. Baja says if Smokin' Chicks is a success, he'll open a chain of the chicken joints.

But Is It Art?

WILMINGTON, N.C. - A print shop owner is on the spot with city officials who say her dots are a don't.

The officials don't approve of the polka dots she's painted on an oak tree outside her store.

Elle Puritz said she was just trying to protect the tree, as well as spread some good cheer, when she repainted the plain white trunk red, then added dots.

City officials say the splashy paint job violates sign ordinances.

The trunk of the roadside tree had been painted white years ago to make it more visible to cars. When Puritz bought the property in January, she decided to spruce it up.

She chose red paint close to the color of her building, and an arborist gave her sealant to put in the paint to stop it from oozing.

But, Puritz said, she realized the red wasn't very visible, so she added reflective polka dots. It wasn't meant to be a draw for her new business, she said.

Puritz was notified last week that the decor violates the city's sign rules, which define a sign as anything designed to draw attention to a business, zoning administrator John Fullerton said.

Puritz said she was given until the end of this week to get rid of the polka dots and until Sept. 24 to paint the trunk white - an acceptable color because of its utilitarian purpose, Fullerton said.