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Feb. 12, 2009 at 6:30 AM   |   Comments

Sculptures show 'what dogs do'

BERKELEY, Calif., Feb. 11 (UPI) -- A California artist says he put bronze medallions depicting dogs performing common canine activities on two statues he created to show "what dogs do."

Scott Donahue of Berkeley said the medallions on the bases of the sculptures in the city's waterfront park depict dogs sniffing, pooping and humping one another, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Wednesday.

Donahue, who was paid $196,000 through Berkeley's public arts program, said the bottom sections of the sculptures, which also depict kite flying and other human activities, are "showing dogs doing what dogs do at the dog park."

"I am a realist," Donahue said. "You can celebrate a place in both a serious and lighthearted way."

Berkeley civic arts coordinator Mary Ann Merker said the dog-themed parts of the sculptures are not immediately obvious to viewers.

"You have to keep in perspective that there are ... 11 figures on a sculpture that's 28 feet high, so it's really strange to pick out 5 inches," Merker said. "I don't believe it was meant to be that offensive, and you have to really look to find it."


Texas bailiff penalized for too many jurors

HOUSTON, Feb. 11 (UPI) -- A Houston judge says he had to declare a mistrial in a murder case when no one realized there were too many people on the jury until the verdict was being read.

The error means that Charles Mapps won't be going to prison for shooting his girlfriend, at least until after he stands trial a second time.

Although the 13th juror dutifully sat through the testimony and the 45-minute deliberation, District Judge Mark Ellis said the extra hand could be considered an undue influence.

"In 23 years I've never seen anything like this," Ellis said. "The jurors all seemed pretty upset, but there's no way to un-ring that bell."

The Houston Chronicle said Wednesday that the heat was falling squarely on a substitute bailiff who apparently failed to do anything when the extra juror tried to leave and never informed Ellis about the problem.

"I told him I never want to see him in my courtroom again," Ellis said.


Alleged gas station robber ran out of gas

CAPE HAZE, Fla., Feb. 11 (UPI) -- Authorities said a man who allegedly robbed a Florida gas station was arrested after his getaway vehicle ran out of fuel.

The Charlotte County Sheriff's Office said David Eric Hampton, 23, allegedly used a 12-inch Bowie knife to threaten a clerk at the BP Station in Cape Haze and fled after taking money from the business, the Sarasota (Fla.) Herald-Tribune reported Wednesday.

The customer who dialed 911 described the suspect's white Mercury Cougar and investigators later found the car abandoned and out of gas. Deputies arrested Hampton after he was found behind a home.

Hampton was charged with robbery with a weapon and loitering/prowling. He was taken to the country jail without bail, the sheriff's office said.


$200,000 in old bonds found in basement

PORTLAND, Ore., Feb. 11 (UPI) -- A Portland, Ore., man said he discovered nearly $200,000 in decades-old U.S. bonds in his basement and tracked down a descendant of the original owner.

Nicholas Grod said he was cleaning his basement when he noticed that a homemade shelving unit had a leg that did not seem to belong, KATU-TV, Portland, Ore., reported Wednesday.

Grod said he kicked the leg away and discovered a box containing U.S. war and postal bonds dating back to the 1940s. He said the bonds are worth nearly $200,000.

The homeowner said his research identified the owner of the house at the time the bonds were purchased as Wilbert Petterson. He said Petterson and his two daughters have since died, but he was able to track down a grandson of Petterson, Thomas Fagg, living in Tulsa, Okla.

"I was really specific with him, too, to say, 'You know, this is not a joke. I'm not just prank calling you,'" Grod recalled.

Fagg said a package from Grod, including the bonds and pictures of his family that Grod had uncovered during his research, arrived Feb. 1. He said he hopes to visit Portland this summer so he can thank Grod in person and shake his hand.

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