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Happy Birthday, Patton Oswalt!

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Image courtesy of Flickr user Gage Skidmore

You may know him as the voice of Remy, the amazing rat chef in Ratatouille, for his stand-up routines featured on Comedy Central, or for his role as Spence Olchin in King of Queens. But here are some things you might not know about Patton Oswalt, who happens to be turning 43 today.

1. The comedian’s father, who was a Marine, named him after General Patton. ”He gave me the first name Patton, I'm assuming with very high hopes. When he saw me at age 15, rolling up my eighth Dungeons and Dragons character, he was like, ‘boy, I named this one wrong.’”

2. While most actors either seek artistic integrity or a big paycheck, Patton chooses his roles a little differently. According to Oswalt, "I'm in this business for two reasons: the money and the anecdotes. So I either want to be in the best films possible, and if I can't be in those then I want to be in the absolute worst films, because I want the stories. To me doing Ratatouille was just as valuable as doing Blade Trinity."

3. Despite having a famous rant about KFC’s Famous Bowl on his 2004 comedy album Feelin’ Kinda Patton, the comedian never actually tried the dish until the A.V. Club asked him to taste-test it four years later. His verdict? “It's goddamn horrible, this Famous Bowl.” Well, at least he gave it a shot.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Morton Fox

4. Just because he’s worked on something doesn’t mean you’ll see his name in the credits. That’s because Patton has a few aliases, including Schecky Chucklestein (which he’s used on a number of Adult Swim shows) and Ain’t It Cool News reviewer Neill Cumpston. There is also a bit of a debate as to whether or not he voiced the character of Randy on the game Dead Rising 2, which was credited to a John Murphy. Oswalt denies he worked on the game, but he also denied being Neill Cumpston for a long while.

5. He really does love Ratatouille—and not just the movie. Unfortunately, in an interview in 2010, he revealed that while he orders the dish on occasion, he’s been a little disappointed no chef has ever opted to bring him ratatouille on his or her own accord.

6. For most people, getting to star in a sex scene with one of the most gorgeous women in Hollywood would be a dream. But for Patton Oswalt, his love scene with Charlize Theron was terrifying. “Why do I have to be in my underwear next to the most physically perfect person on the planet? Why couldn’t I have been next to John Goodman or Michael Moore in their underwear?”

7. He's written for Batman and JLA (Justice League of America). He also moderated a panel for the reunion of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 cast at the 2008 Comic Con. Last year, he even released a hilarious semi-autobiography titled Zombie Spaceship Wasteland where he talks about growing up a nerd.

Anyway, if you happen to read this Mr. Oswalt, Happy Birthday from everyone here at mental_floss.

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crime
German Police Tried to Fine Someone $1000 for Farting at Them
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Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images for IMG

In Berlin, passing gas can cost you. Quite a lot, actually, in the case of a man accused of disrespecting police officers by releasing a pair of noxious farts while being detained by the police. As CityLab reports, Berlin’s police force has recently been rocked by a scandal hinging on the two farts of one man who was asked to show his ID to police officers while partying on an evening in February 2016.

The man in question was accused of disrespecting the officers involved by aiming his flatulence at a policewoman, and was eventually slapped with a fine of 900 euros ($1066) in what local media called the "Irrer-Pups Prozess," or "Crazy Toot Trial." The errant farter was compelled to show up for court in September after refusing to pay the fine. A judge dismissed the case in less than 10 minutes.

But the smelly situation sparked a political scandal over the police resources wasted over the non-crime. It involved 18 months, 23 public officials, and 17 hours of official time—on the taxpayers’ dime. Officials estimate that those two minor toots cost taxpayers more than $100, which is chump change in terms of city budgets, but could have been used to deal with more pressing criminal issues.

[h/t CityLab]

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In 1909, a Door-to-Door Catnip Salesman Incited a Riot in New York
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In 1909, New York City businessman G. Herman Gottlieb was looking for a way to make a quick buck. He found it in a wooded section of Northern Manhattan, where wild catnip grew. After harvesting two baskets full of the plant, Gottlieb headed downtown to Harlem, intending to sell the product to residents with pampered felines.

As the history blog The Hatching Cat recounts, what Gottlieb didn’t know was that the neighborhood was also home to plenty of feral cats with voracious appetites. As Gottlieb made his way around the neighborhood, a handful of stray cats seized upon some leaves that had fallen out of his basket and began writhing and rolling around on the ground. Soon, even more kitties joined in, and “jumped up at his baskets, rubbed themselves against his legs, mewing, purring, and saying complimentary things about him,” according to an August 19, 1909 article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Gottlieb tried to frighten the cats away, according to The Washington Times’s account of the event, but the persistent animals wouldn’t budge. “All of them, rich and poor, aristocrats from the sofa cushions near the front windows and thin plebians from the areaways struggled mightily to get into the two baskets of catnip,” the Times wrote. Soon, Gottlieb found himself surrounded by somewhere between 30 and 40 cats, each one of them clamoring for his goods.

When he eventually spotted a policeman, Gottlieb thought he’d found an ally against the cats. Instead, Sergeant John F. Higgins promptly arrested Gottlieb for inciting a crowd. (“Why don’t you arrest the catnip?” Gottlieb asked him, according to the Times. “That is collecting the crowd. Not I.”)

Trailed by several cats, Higgins and Gottlieb made their way to a police station on East 104th Street. But when they arrived, authorities couldn’t decide whether or not the salesman had actually broken any laws.

“We can’t hold this man,” Lieutenant Lasky, the officer who received the arrest report, said. “The law says a man must not cause a crowd of people to collect. The law doesn’t say anything about cats.”

“The law doesn’t say anything about people,” Higgins replied. “It says ‘a crowd.’ A crowd of cats is certainly a crowd.” Amid this debate, a station cat named Pete began fighting with the invading felines, and, with the help of some policemen, eventually drove the catnip-hungry kitties out of the building.

Gottlieb was eventually released, and even driven home in a patrol wagon—all while being chased by a few lingering cats, still hot on the trail of his now regrettable merchandise.

[h/t The Hatching Cat]

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