Watercooler Stories

Feb. 12, 2008 at 6:30 AM
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Cigarettes become props at Minn. tavern

GARRISON, Minn., Feb. 11 (UPI) -- Minnesota bans smoking in bars but one tavern is trying to get around it by turning itself into a stage, its customers into actors and cigarettes into props.

When state lawmakers enacted the ban last year they included an exemption for theatrical performances. That inspired non-smoking lawyer Mark Benjamin to seek out the owners of Barnacle's Resort on the shore of Lake Mille Lacs, who liked the idea, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported Monday.

Now every Saturday night -- until authorities stop them -- the bar, in theory, becomes a smoke-filled theater production.

"You are looking at a stage. You are looking at a playhouse," Benjamin told the newspaper. "Those are not cigarettes -- those are props."

"Playbills" are printed up and the customer-actors each buy "ACT NOW!" buttons for $1.

Co-owner Sheila Kromer says business had been down and she wanted to test the law.

"Several of the legislators said, 'You know, you've got to be innovative. Come up with something to get the people in your bar.' Right? OK. What's wrong with a theater night? Is that not being creative?" Kromer said.

Local police say they won't step in unless someone complains, but the state Legislature convenes Tuesday.

Lawmaker tickled by pics of stolen statue

DENVER, Feb. 11 (UPI) -- A Colorado lawmaker says the theft of his fiberglass prairie dog statue has turned out to be more a source of amusement than annoyance.

Senate Majority Leader Ken Gordon, D-Denver, said the pranksters who stole the 2-foot statue in January have been sending him amusing photographs of the item visiting exotic locales and cavorting with Hollywood celebrities, the Rocky Mountain News reported Monday.

One of the photos features the statue in London, while another depicts the prairie dog being held by Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie -- an apparent work of photo manipulation.

A photograph that arrived Feb. 6 -- the lawmaker's 58th birthday -- depicts the statute with a bottle of champagne and a caption reading: "Happy birthday, Senator Gordon!" and signed by "P-Dog," the moniker the thief has apparently bestowed upon the statue.

"I love this," Gordon said. "It's been great fun."

'Droopy Drawers' bandit sought in Fla.

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla., Feb. 11 (UPI) -- A recent string of break-ins in Broward County, Fla., have all been attributed to the newly infamous "Droopy Drawers Bandit."

Broward Sheriff's Office detectives have linked the burglar, who can't seem to keep his pants up, to at least 30 break-ins in the area, The Miami Herald reported Monday.

Broward sheriff's deputies are looking for a man they say smashes windows, swipes TVs and then sprints out the door.

Surveillance video released to the public Monday has provided the sheriff's office with a clear look at the burglar, who is described as black, in his late-teens to mid-20s, with shoulder-length dreadlocks and a slim, muscular build.

Authorities also said they believe he's driving a burgundy 2006 Kia Sorrento EX, with tan trim.

A reward of up to $1,000 is available for information leading to an arrest, said Sgt. Rich Rossman.

Mayor shivers for a good cause

WYOMING, Minn., Feb. 11 (UPI) -- The Wyoming, Minn., mayor was back home Monday having braved a weekend of sub-zero temperatures and howling winds to collect funds to save a town teen center.

It wasn't looking too good Saturday night when it was minus 16 degrees, wind gusts up to 40 mph were caving in his tent atop the Wyoming City Hall, his heaters kept blowing out and he was thousands of dollars from his $35,000 fundraising goal, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported Monday.

But he made it through the night and Sunday morning, a family from Woodbury showed up and asked him to lower his donation bucket. He did and when he pulled it back up there was a check for $6,000.

"It's nice to know there is that kind of kindness out there," Anderson said not only of that family, which didn't want to be identified, but all those who gave to the cause.

He celebrated taking a bath, eating a bowl of chili and laying down for awhile -- his first rest inside since Feb. 2 when he climbed to the city hall rooftop, vowing not to come down until the Forest Lake Teen Center had enough money for another year.

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