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The Weird Week in Review

Easy Come, Easy Go

Kenneth Lamoree of Solvay, New York won $3,200 at a casino Monday night. Only about an hour after he arrived home on Tuesday morning, a fire broke out at his house. Lamoree, his fiancee, and their three children escaped along with the other family that lived in the duplex. The damage to the home was extensive, and the items that were destroyed included the wallet that contained Lamoree's winnings. The cause of the fire has not been determined.

Workmen Dig Up Wrong Trees

A real estate agent in Mackenzie, a suburb of Canberra, Australia saw workmen digging up trees and was told that they were under orders to dig up every tree on the property. The agent called Peter Collard, the homeowner, and found there were no such orders. The two workmen had dug up ten palm trees, grass. and topsoil before Collard arrived. When he confronted the men, they packed up and left without leaving their names. Collard suspects they were at the wrong address. The homeowner was left with $18,000 in damage to the property he is trying to sell.

Spider-Man Arrests Shoplifter

Don't even think about shoplifting in a comic book store when Spider-Man, The Flash, and some Jedi Knights are present. The super heroes, dressed for International Free Comics Day, detained a man who tried to make off with $160 book at Comic Centre in Adelaide, Australia. Store owner Michael Baulderstone, who was attired as Spider-Man, saw the perpetrator hide X-Men Omnibus and gave chase. Security cameras caught the super hero chasing and apprehending the suspect.

"Everyone in the store thought it was a play, that it was street theatre of some sort. It wasn't until I said `Call the police' that people started to realise."

"One of the funniest things about the incident was that I called for people to stand near the door and it just so happened we had people dressed as Jedi knights there blocking the exit, the Flash was there at some point too," Mr Baulderstone said.

Wounded Man Goes to Baskin-Robbins

Fort Walton Beach, Florida firefighters were working at a fundraiser at a Baskin-Robbins outlet when a car pulled up with a wounded passenger. The unnamed man had a knife stuck all the way up to the handle in his leg! He said he was using the knife and then fell on it. His fiancee was  outside when the accident occurred, and she drove him to the ice cream shop. Firefighters bandaged the wound and called Emergency Medical Services.

Russian Regional President Abducted by Aliens

Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, the leader of the region of Kalmykia, a part of the Russian Federation, claims he was abducted by aliens. Ilyumzhinov revealed in a TV interview that he was taken aboard a spaceship. Minister of Parliament Andre Lebedev has asked Russian president Dmitry Medvedev to investigate Ilyumzhinov's story, not because the MP is concerned about Ilyumzhinov's fitness for office, but because he is concerned that protocols should be in place for such meetings, lest some government figure should reveal state secrets to the aliens.

A Whale that Paints

Xiao Qiang is a Beluga whale living at Qingdao Polar Ocean World in China. He has learned to paint pictures, and his paintings sell for hundreds of pounds!

"He showed a lot of interest in painting right from the start so now all we have to do is give him the brushes and hold the paper while he paints with his mouth," said trainer Zhang Yong.

"His favourite colour seems to be blue and he's best of all at seascapes. His people always look like seals."

See a video of the Xiao Qiang in action.

Driver's License Granted on 960th Attempt

Cha Sa-soon of Jeonju, South korea finally has her driver's license, after trying to pass the written test almost daily since 2005. The 69-year-old woman finally passed the written part of the test last year, and took the driving test ten times before passing last month. All told, she was at the license bureau for testing 960 times attempting to obtain driving privileges. Cha now hopes to get a small car in order to visit relatives and to help in her vegetable business.

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Kevin Burkett, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0
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Restaurant Seeks Donations to Big Mouth Billy Bass Adoption Center
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Kevin Burkett, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

If you’ve ever wondered where all those Big Mouth Billy Bass singing fish that flew off shelves in the early 2000s have gone, take a look inside a Flying Fish restaurant. Each location of the southern seafood chain is home to its own Big Mouth Billy Bass Adoption Center, and they’re always accepting new additions to the collection.

According to Atlas Obscura, the gimmick was the idea of Dallas-based restaurateur Shannon Wynne. He opened his flagship Flying Fish in Little Rock, Arkansas in 2002 when the Big Mouth Billy Bass craze was just starting to wind down. As people grew tired of hearing the first 30 seconds of “Don’t Worry Be Happy” for the thousandth time, he offered them a place to bring their wall ornaments once the novelty wore off. The Flying Fish promises to “house, shelter, love, and protect” each Billy Bass they adopt. On top of that, donors get a free basket of catfish in exchange for the contribution and get their name on the wall. The Little Rock location now displays hundreds of the retired fish.

Today there are nine Flying Fish restaurants in Arkansas, Texas, and Tennessee, each with its own Adoption Center. There’s still space for new members of the family, so now may be the time to break out any Billy Basses that have been collecting dust in your attic since 2004.

And if you’re interested in stopping into Flying Fish for a bite to eat, don’t let the wall of rubber nostalgia scare you off: The batteries from all the fish have been removed, so you can enjoy your meal in peace.

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Hulton Archive/Getty Images
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The Long, Strange Story of Buffalo Bill's Corpse
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Hulton Archive/Getty Images

You probably know William Frederick Cody, a.k.a. Buffalo Bill, as the long-haired Wild West icon who turned the frontier experience into rip-roarin’ entertainment. But the story of Buffalo Bill’s body and its many burials is almost as outrageous as the man himself.

When Cody died of kidney failure in January 1917, his body ended up on a mountain outside of Denver, Colorado—a counterintuitive choice given his close ties to the town in Wyoming that bore his last name. Cody, Wyoming was founded in the 1890s with help from Buffalo Bill, who employed many of its residents and was responsible for its tourism business. It might seem natural that he’d be buried in the place he’d invested so much in, but he wasn’t. And that’s where the controversy began.

Though Cody spent much of his time in the town named after him, he also loved Colorado. After leaving his family in Kansas when he was just 11 to work with wagon trains throughout the West, he headed to Colorado for the first time as a 13-year-old wannabe gold prospector. During his short time in the area, he chased the glittery fortunes promised by Colorado’s 1859 gold rush. Even after leaving the territory, his traveling vaudeville show, which brought a glamorous taste of Wild West life to people all over the United States, took him back often. Later in life, he frequently visited Denver, where his sister lived. He died there, too—after telling his wife he wanted to be buried on Lookout Mountain.

The mountain, located in Golden, Colorado, has a commanding view of the Great Plains, where Buffalo Bill experienced many of his Wild West adventures. It was also a place to contemplate the giant herds of buffalo that once roamed the West, and from whom Cody took his nickname. (Denver still maintains a small herd of buffalo—direct descendants of original American bison—near the mountain.)

But weather almost thwarted Cody’s burial plans. Since he died in January, the road to Lookout Mountain was impassable and his preferred burial site frozen solid. For a while, his body lay in state in the Colorado Capitol building. Governors and famous friends eulogized Cody in an elaborate funeral service. Then his body was placed in a carriage that moved solemnly through the streets of Denver, where thousands showed up to say goodbye. Afterwards, his body was kept in cold storage at a Denver mortuary while his family waited for the weather to change.

Meanwhile, Colorado and Wyoming started a heated feud over one of America’s most famous men. Wyoming claimed that Cody should be buried there, citing an early draft of his will that said he intended to be buried near Cody. Colorado cried foul, since Cody’s last will left the burial location up to his widow, who chose Lookout Mountain. Rumors even began to circulate that a delegation from Wyoming had stolen Cody’s body from the mortuary and replaced it with that of a local vagrant.

In part to stop the rumor mill, Cody was finally buried in an open casket on Lookout Mountain in June 1917. Twenty-five thousand people went to the mountaintop to bid him farewell before he was interred. To prevent theft, the bronze casket was sealed in another, tamper-proof case, then enclosed in concrete and iron.

Pennies on Buffalo Bill's grave
V.T. Polywoda, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Yet his rocky grave was anything but safe. In the 1920s, Cody’s niece, Mary Jester Allen, began to claim that Denver had conspired to tamper with Cody’s will. In response, Cody’s foster son, Johnny Baker, disinterred the body and had it reburied at the same site under tons of concrete to prevent potential theft [PDF]. (Allen also founded a museum in Wyoming to compete with a Colorado-based museum founded by Baker.)

The saga wasn’t over yet. In 1948, the Cody, Wyoming American Legion offered a $10,000 reward to anyone who could disinter the body and return it to Wyoming. In response, the Colorado National Guard stationed officers to keep watch over the grave.

Since then, the tussle over the remains has calmed down. Despite a few ripples—like a jokey debate in the Wyoming legislature about stealing the body in 2006—Buffalo Bill still remains in the grave. If you believe the official story, that is. In Cody, Wyoming, rumor has it that he never made it into that cement-covered tomb after all—proponents claim he was buried on Cedar Mountain, where he originally asked to be interred.

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