Darren’s Daily Dose of Weird News – September 27, 2010

Swine flu may have scared us straight, or maybe we’re finally listening to our mothers. Whatever the reason, Americans are washing their hands more often, suggests the latest check by researchers who spy on people using public restrooms.  ***MARLAR: An even bigger story than the fact we’re washing hands… we’re being spied on in public restrooms!!!

Call it Zombies 101.  The University of Baltimore is offering a new class on the undead.  The course is being taught by Arnold Blumberg, the author of a book on zombie movies, “Zombiemania,” and the curator of Geppi’s Entertainment Museum, which focuses on American pop culture.  Students taking English 333 will watch 16 classic zombie films and read zombie comics. As an alternative to a final research paper they may write scripts or draw storyboards for their ideal zombie flicks.  The university isn’t the first to have a class on the undead. Columbia College in Chicago has offered a course on Zombies in popular media for years, and at Simpson College in Iowa students spent the spring semester writing a book on “The History of the Great Zombie War.”  ***MARLAR: Zombies are everywhere in our educational institutions.  In fact, a few colleges even had Al Gore as a professor.

The International House of Pancakes is suing another IHOP, the International House of Prayer, saying the church mission shouldn’t be allowed to take advantage of the restaurant chain’s famous name and acronym.  The Kansas City Star reports that the chain says it sued only after the church mission refused repeated requests to stop using the IHOP acronym.  The religious group, which promotes its belief in daily, continuous prayer, has drawn thousands of people to Kansas City since it opened 10 years ago.  ***MARLAR: C’mon, is this lawsuit really necessary? I doubt seriously anyone will be walking into a prayer center looking for a Rooty Tooty Fresh N’ Fruity.

A central Florida woman caught the eye of neighbors as she tooled around in a most unusual vehicle – the Weinermobile. Barbara Gilbert won a trip to ride “shotbun” in Oscar Mayer’s eccentric car which resembles a giant hot dog. The 67-year-old Rolling Greens resident spent Saturday riding in the ketchup and mustard colored seats, visiting downtown Ocala and Silver Springs.  ***MARLAR: When interviewed, Barbara said she relished the opportunity.

State education officials have given a failing grade to a plan by two Southern California elementary schools to use extended summer sessions to make up for lost class time.  California’s State Board of Education unanimously rejected Chino Valley Unified School District’s plan to use a July session at Rolling Ridge Elementary School and Dickson Elementary School to meet state standards for class time and avoid a roughly $5 million penalty.  The district launched the session in mid-June after realizing the schools fell a few minutes short of the minimum class time required for fourth-through-sixth graders on several days during the regular school year.  A staff report recommended the board reject the plan to use summer school to make up 22 days of class time. ***MARLAR: Needless to say, elementary students are tickled pink.

Authorities say a prankster persuaded a married couple to smash their Florida hotel window after falsely telling them the room had a gas leak.  Police say a person claiming to be a front-desk clerk at an Orlando hotel convinced the couple to break a wall mirror and use a lamp to punch a hole through the wall. The couple also threw a mattress out the window, but a hotel manager came to the room before they could jump.  The manager told the couple there was no gas leak. The manager also said employees had received a memo from the hotel’s corporate office warning that dangerous pranks were being pulled at hotels in other states.  The prank cost about $5,000 in damages. Police say the couple were not arrested Monday because they thought it was an emergency. The hotel has not asked them to pay. ***MARLAR: Maybe it’s just me, but if you have to leave a room because it has a gas leak, wouldn’t it be easier to leave through the door?

Two British teens in the county of Hampshire, like their American counterparts, make a big deal of their arrival at prom — showing up in limos and daring attire, and finding other ways to make a stir. Sixteen-year-olds Sammy Burns and Megan Barton took stir-making a giant leap further. At the suggestion of Sammy’s mom, Debbie, the girls went as Barbies — not just all dolled up, but complete with box and bar code. Sammy says, “We stayed in the boxes for about half an hour.” “It was really hot and a little scary at first. But we soon got used to it and we kept smiling for everyone while they took pictures of us. It was great fun. We wanted to be properly unique — and we were.”  ***MARLAR: The only reason they were in the boxes for half an hour was that it took that long for their prom dates to undo the twisty ties.

An 86-year-old California man thought he was being robbed when he woke to a strange noise coming his kitchen early in the morning. It turns out, the mysterious figure lurking there was not a burglar, but a bear. Quick-thinking homeowner Gus Hetland decided on his course of action. “I just let out a loud sound like a dog barking and the bear went out the window.” Both the bear and the home owner are going to be OK. ***MARLAR: This isn’t all that surprising though… old men bark all the time, especially if you’re on their grass.

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