David Schmader is on vacation this week.
MONDAY, AUGUST 8 This week of bargain-hunting wangs, bittersweet jackpots, and luxury-brand hands begins with a love-and-loss special at a Georgia Taco Bell. Today, 24-year-old Jason Dean, a Taco Bell employee and also "possibly a volunteer fireman," according to police reports, allegedly handcuffed himself to a fellow employee in a Taco Bell parking lot in Ringgold. His reason: romance. Dean had pursued the 18-year-old woman for months, and she, in turn, had gone so far as to change shifts to avoid him. Tonight, witnesses reported seeing Dean demonstrate his affection with the grandest of gestures—handcuffs—as his ladylove "was trying to get to her car," the police report states. Dean reportedly announced that he would release the teenager after they "talked," but then changed his mind when fellow employees called the cops. He was arrested alone, handcuffs in hand, and charged with false imprisonment. In an additional blow, the Times Free Press reports that Dean wasn't the volunteer firefighter he claimed to be—in fact, he was fired from a Gilmer County fire station four years ago "after he was found installing a fire station radio in his car and putting red lights on top."
TUESDAY, AUGUST 9 Speaking of parking lots trolled by the unappreciated, today brings the story of Travis Keen, a 28-year-old Louisiana man arrested and charged with obscenity after a witness reported seeing him driving around a Wal-Mart parking lot with his penis out and at full salute. When confronted by police, "Keen stated he was trying to see if he fixed his power steering in his car," the police report says (courtesy of the Smoking Gun). "I advised Keen about what I was told by the witness. Keen then stated that he did have his penis out because of past experiences he had at Wal-Mart. Keen stated when he comes to Wal-Mart, he gets aroused."
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 10 Today in government-sanctioned hallelujahs, officials in Kentucky are offering a religious group a 30-year, 75 percent property tax break on 800 acres of land to build a for-profit Bible theme park. The taxes would normally be used to finance local public schools. Instead, they'll help build "a full-size wooden replica of Noah's ark," reports the Lexington Herald-Leader. To refresh your memory, Noah's ark was 300 by 50 by 30 cubits (Genesis 6:15), essentially making it the size of a boozeless, midrange Carnival Cruise ship beached on $150 million worth of deeply discounted Kentucky land. Winners in this deal include boat lovers, Bible readers, and the Answers in Genesis, the for-profit organization overseeing the project (and whose previous work includes the Creation Museum, another Kentucky-based theme park that explains how God created the earth 10,000 years ago and why Dinosaurs Were a Prank Pulled by the Jews™). Losers include the next few generations of Kentucky schoolchildren.
THURSDAY, AUGUST 11 Seattle police officers responding to a distress call from a First Hill apartment were confronted today with a scene simply described as "horrific"—a wounded, semiconscious man later identified as Dr. Louis C. Chen and the fatally stabbed bodies of his partner, 29-year-old Eric A. Cooper, and their 2-year-old son. Chen was transported to Harborview Medical Center for treatment of his knife wounds, where he remains in serious condition. On Saturday, King County prosecutors will announce their intention to investigate Chen for aggravated murder. On Monday, prosecutors will release court documents supporting the charge (and adding another layer of heartbreak to the story): "Officers began first aid on the suspect and asked him, 'Who did this to you?' The suspect responded, 'What?' The officer asked again, 'Who stabbed you and your partner?' The suspect responded, 'I did.'"
••To soothe your brain after that horror, the Los Angeles Times reports that Beverly Hills police blew up an aspiring screenwriter's laptop today after mistaking it for a suspicious package. The screenwriter had left his briefcase—which contained his personal computer and a hard-copy script—unattended at a talent agency office. The Times reports the screenwriter was "distraught." Speaking of novel security measures, Brazilian prison officials are now employing geese as security guards. According to the Daily Herald, two geese, which "make a lot of noise when they sense strange movements," waddle around the overcrowded grounds of Sobral prison honking, shitting, and presumably preventing prisoner escape attempts (at least until they're shivved for pâté).
FRIDAY, AUGUST 12 A Swiss man celebrating the birth of his firstborn son at a local casino experienced something more beautiful than the miracle of life: a 43-million-euro ($62 million) jackpot. Alas, his joy was short-lived. The Austrian newspaper Heute reports that casino employees told 38-year-old Behar Merlaku that the machine's jackpot was due to a software error and his win was invalid. Merlaku told the newspaper he's "happy" about the birth of his son but "I have psychological problems since the jackpot incident. I can't sleep anymore and I constantly think about the injustice I've experienced. I'm almost ruined. I'll always keep thinking about that day." So today Merlaku announced his intention to take the casino to court. "I will fight for this until my death," he says. "It is outrageous what they have done to me and my family. I don't accept it."
••In jackpots that stick, the BBC reports today that a 14-year-old Formula 1 fan received a new bionic, luxury-brand hand after writing to F1 boss Ross Brawn for help replacing his clunky clawlike prosthesis with something more sophisticated. Luxury car manufacturer Mercedes agreed to sponsor the new £30,000 prosthesis, which has "five individual motors in each finger," allowing the digits to move individually. High fives all around.
SATURDAY, AUGUST 13 Today, freak gusts of 70-mile-per-hour winds caused a stage to collapse onto a crowd of 12,000 people with "a sickening thump" at the Indiana State Fair, killing five people and injuring dozens more, reports the Associated Press.
••Meanwhile, in Iowa, state Republicans elected Michele Bachmann as their top choice for president in the Ames Straw Poll. Fortunately, the poll means nothing and does nothing, except perhaps prolong the fleeting popularity of Bachmann, a woman with the God-crazed eyes of Tammy Faye Bakker but, sadly, none of her class.
SUNDAY, AUGUST 14 Nothing happened today.
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