Odd News -- January 1, 2009

No shoes? No problem for this college interview
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - No shoes or socks needed for this college interview. Wake Forest University is using the internet to try to talk with all of its thousands of applicants. One student from Massachusetts who did the online webcam interview says it really helped out money-wise. She says it's hard to part with money for a half-hour interview and the Internet interview allowed her to save that money. The school's admissions director says she eventually wants to give each applicant a more individualized review before inviting them to join the North Carolina school. Wake Forest has more than 9,000 applicants a year. Although new for the undergrad level, at least a dozen grad schools have used webcam technology for years.

For some, humor of 'nutty Nutcracker' falls flat
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - Apparently some ballet lovers prefer a more traditional version of the "Nutcracker." At least one person has asked for a refund after seeing a special, comedy-infused Christmas Eve performance of the holiday classic. The 20 surprise touches in the performance included a recurring "Where's Waldo" character, a rubber chicken that one character unveils during a party scene, and extra appearances of a mechanical mouse usually seen in the battle scene. The Salt Lake City mayor's office even got a call from someone asking the county to stop funding the ballet company that performed the event. Other ballet companies around the country have turned the "nutty Nutcracker" into a popular tradition. An official for Ballet West in Utah says next time they'll do a better job of letting potential ticket buyers
know what to expect.

Festival looks at building giant snowman
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - Another giant snowman could be coming
to Anchorage, Alaska. Organizers of the annual Fur Rendezvous winter festival hope to build a snowman taller than 25 feet. That's the height of a snowman that appeared in front of a home last week despite a city ban against it. The city says the Snowzilla statue is a safety hazard and public nuisance in a neighborhood that's too small for it. A festival official says he's 99 percent sure the group's plan will proceed. The event's giant snowman would go up in a different area.

Ohio thief gets jail time after 109th misdemeanor conviction
CINCINNATI (AP) - Talk about a long rap sheet. A judge in Cincinnati says he's given a 41-year-old man a 90-day jail sentence and a lecture after the man's 109th misdemeanor conviction. Police say that in addition to being arrested fpr stealing toothpaste from a drug store Sunday, the man was wanted for taking vodka, a screwdriver and air freshener from a convenience store. Norman Holmes pleaded guilty to a theft charge but didn't answer when the judge asked why he didn't become productive instead of stealing. Records show nearly a third of Holmes' convictions were for theft. He also has served five short prison stints on minor felony charges such as breaking and entering and for drugs.

"Bernie the Swindler" written on Madoff statue
PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) - Someone apparently has a message for disgraced financier Bernard Madoff. A $10,000 statue stolen from Madoff's Florida estate has been found, with a note. Part of the note said, "Bernie the Swindler, Lesson: Return stolen property to rightful owners." Palm Beach police say the copper sculpture of two seated lifeguards doesn't appear to be damaged. They say the statue was found yesterday in bushes a few blocks from Madoff's multimillion dollar home. It was reported missing on Dec. 22. Madoff is accused of scamming major banks, charities, retirees and some of the world's wealthiest investors in a $50 billion Ponzi scheme. He's under house arrest in his New York apartment.

Anonymous donor: Merry Christmas, I just paid your rent
ST. JOHNSBURY, Vt. (AP) - Maybe it really was a Christmas angel who paid a Vermont man's rent for him. Nathan Dubray says someone anonymously sent $1,000 to his landlord on Christmas Eve. The same day, he got a note saying the rent had been paid and wishing him a Merry Christmas and happy holidays. The note was signed "Christmas Angels." The landlord confirms the story. Neither one knows who gave the money.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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