Darren’s Daily Dose of Weird News – August 18, 2009

iPhone users have found thousands of uses for the now-ubiquitous device. Need to send a quick Twitter? There’s an app for that. Want to see if that picture on the wall is level? There’s an app for that. Need an air horn for tonight’s game? There’s an app for that, too … you can even use it to make calls.  Amazingly, a growing number of iPhone owners are now using the device to go to a place where cell phones typically aren’t allowed: to church.  Several churches are now streaming services over the iPhone. One of the first to connect with these upwardly mobile congregants is Northland, A Church Distributed, which launched an iPhone Web app on July 4 — offering not just videos of past church services, but the ability to join in live services as they are happening via streaming video.  ***MARLAR: And instead of verbally agreeing with the pastor by shouting “Amen” and “Hallelujah” you can text it in! 

He looks like a character from “The Wizard of Oz.” But the Scarecrow Bandit as FBI agents have dubbed him is wanted for bank robbery.  Agents call him the Scarecrow because the floppy hat and plaid shirt he wore during the first of two bank robberies.  He also had apparently smeared mud on his face to hide his features.  In the second robbery, July 18, he entered the First Eagle Bank in suburban Hanover Park, threatened the lone teller and customers with a large stick and fled with a bag of money in a car taken from one of the customers.  While he was dressed differently that time, FBI agents say he is believed to be the same 6-foot, 250-pound man, 40 to 45 years old.  ***MARLAR: Who ever heard of a 250-pound scarecrow?  Use your brain, buddy!

The Taviano Family of Columbus, Ohio just wrapped up a 52-week tour of the nation’s zoos. That’s a new zoo a week and they made their final stop a homecoming of sorts at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. Marla Taviano said her husband and three daughters spent weekends traveling in a minivan to different zoos. She said the idea started with a simple desire to see the world on a budget. She now plans to write a book about her family’s 22,000-mile journey. The children also plan to write a book from their perspective.  ***MARLAR: How many zoos are there, really?  You’d think after a couple dozen of the good ones you’d be stuck with the afterthought zoos, like petting zoos… the Pet Rock Zoo… the Chia Pet Zoo… the Sea Monkeys Zoo…

Authorities say an 86-year-old woman charged with shoplifting wrinkle cream and other items from a Chicago grocery store has been arrested 61 times since 1956. Ella Orko was arrested Sunday afternoon on the North Side after she allegedly stuffed $252 worth of groceries into her pants, including cosmetics, salmon, batteries and instant coffee. She was charged with felony shoplifting. Police say Orko has gone by as many as 20 aliases in the past. Court records indicate that she has now been arrested 61 times and has 13 convictions for shoplifting. She’s being held on $10,000 bail.  ***MARLAR: Although they did note that her skin was silky smooth and youthful looking. 

It sounds like every school kids’ dream – three-day weekends. But students in Tatum, N.M., will find they only have class four days a week when school starts this fall. The new schedule has nothing to do with giving the kids more free time.  It’s a cost-saving measure. Superintendent Buddy Little says the Monday-through-Thursday schedule adds 37 minutes to each school day. Officials note the shorter school week will shave as much as five percent off the budget because of lower utility costs and fewer school bus runs.  ***MARLAR: So you have to work 37 extra minutes per day… but you get a three day weekend?  Can I go back to school at the age of forty? 

For the first time, astronomers say they’ve found a planet outside our solar system that could potentially sustain life.  The new discovery has Earth-like temperatures, and might have water. In galactic terms, it’s relatively close, a mere 120-trillion miles away, orbiting a red dwarf star.  An astronomer on the European team that found the planet calls it a “nice discovery,” but adds, “We still have a lot of questions.”  ***MARLAR: Like, “How soon can we send Alec Baldwin there?”

Superman may need to stay out of Serbia.  The British Museum says a mineral recently discovered there has the same composition as kryptonite – according to the mineral’s chemical formula from the kryptonite that was stolen by Lex Luthor in the film “Superman Returns.”  Unlike the glowing green crystals depicted in the Superman comics, this material is white, powdery and not radioactive.  ***MARLAR: Instead of bright-green crystals, it’s more like Crystal Light.

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