How to stick out in a crowd

In Naples, Fla., city councilman Fred Tarrant has demanded that local artist Ted Lay's "Famous Tongue Mona Al Monica" painting (side-by-side impressions of Mona Lisa, Albert Einstein and Monica Lewinsky sticking out their tongues) be removed from its place at a municipal art center because he thinks Lewinsky's "tongue" too much resembles a penis (which Lay denies). According to a Naples Daily News report, Tarrant is in fact blind but said various advisers have assured him that the tongue is a penis.

Confederacy of dunces

Curt Storey, 62, who lives near Pittsburgh, Pa., has filed a wrongful-discharge lawsuit against Burns International Security Services, claiming he was fired from his job because he refused supervisors' demands that he rid his lunchbox and pickup truck of Confederate flag decals. He calls his employer's directive illegal discrimination based on national origin. Storey claims to be a "Confederate Southern American," even though he is a lifelong Pennsylvanian -- and even though no courts have recognized CSA as a protected class under anti-discrimination laws.

Feets don't fail me now

Paul Morgan of Biloxi, Miss., has been busy the last few weeks lining up website viewers, at $20 each, to watch him slice off both his feet with a homemade guillotine on Halloween. Morgan's feet are nonfunctional because of an automobile accident, and he wants hydraulically operated prostheses to make him more mobile, but this is the only way he knows to raise the $200,000 to buy them. Although traffic on is heavy, as of mid-August, Morgan had signed up only 10 viewers.

Over the hill

In Stroudsburg, Pa., Noah Berryman, 19, was convicted of involuntary manslaughter with a vehicle. Only hours after earning his driver's license, Berryman was trying to make his car fly over the top of a hill (he launched 63 feet on the fourth attempt) when he hit a tree, killing two friends riding with him. ... And a 52-year-old man shot a 21-year-old man to death on I-75 in Tennessee as the men hauled 30 fighting roosters to a cockfight in Kentucky. The older man was angry that the younger man kept kicking the back of his seat.

He didn't pay sales ax

In July, an unidentified man stole an ax from a Home Depot in Oklahoma City and used it menacingly to rob a clerk. Shortly thereafter, he used the same weapon to rob two other stores, including a Wal-Mart. Police learned that a Wal-Mart door greeter had seen the man enter with the ax, but his only impulse was to place a sticker on it so that when the man later tried to exit the store, he wouldn't be charged for the ax.

Barking up the wrong tree

In May, a court in Edmonton, Alberta, sentenced William Piggott, 55, to 18-months' house arrest for three 1999 offenses in which prostitutes had turned him in for talking too dirty. According to court records, Piggott had merely asked the women if they would have sex with dogs.

I feel g-r-r-reat ...

The Japanese firm Takara said it will soon market an electronic "translator" that will interpret barking and other dog sounds for the animals' human caregivers. The device will translate pet sounds into a 200-word vocabulary -- for example, "happy," "annoyed" or "frustrated."

... Like the cat's meow

In May, several months after the Escondido, Calif., library's resident cat attacked Richard R. Espinosa's 50-pound Labrador-mix assistance dog, Espinosa filed a $1.5-million claim against the city, alleging that he was in bad shape because of the dog's injuries. According to the legal papers, Espinosa suffers "significant lasting, extreme and severe mental anguish and emotional distress including, but not limited to, terror, humiliation, shame, embarrassment, mortification, chagrin, depression, panic, anxiety, flashbacks, nightmares, loss of sleep (and) loss of full enjoyment of life as well as other physical and mental afflictions of pain."

Rock & rollover

Kevin Mackle died at age 21 in 1998 when a Coke machine he was rocking in a dorm at Bishop's University in Lennoxville, Quebec, fell on him. In July 2001, Mr. Mackle's family filed a lawsuit for about $660,000 (U.S.) for wrongful death against the machine's manufacturer and distributor, as well as the soft-drink company and the university. The lawsuit claims that each defendant was negligent in not posting signs on the machine that college students should resist the temptation to rock it. According to the coroner's report, Mackle was well-known by his friends for securing free sodas by rocking the machine and was again engaged in his craft when the fatal accident occurred.

Dad's a big wheel

A lawsuit filed in May says a 14-year-old girl died in Welland, Ontario, in November 2000 when the all-terrain vehicle in which she was riding smashed into a tractor-trailer; she was in the vehicle because she was visiting her father's workplace as part of Take Our Kids to Work Day. ... The Alcoholics Anonymous chapter in Milwaukee still doesn't know who the man was who collapsed and died during a meeting on May 23 because those attending meetings do so anonymously. ... Charged with stabbing a friend, Benjamin Sharpe of Aiken, Ga., insisted he had to do it because his buddy vowed to drive home while intoxicated.