QUIRKY WORLD ... A daily look at some of the world’s stranger stories

Chris Parkinson and Kevin Smith

Walrus role

USA: An online advert placed by a performance poet asking for a housemate who would be prepared to dress part-time as a walrus has inspired a Hollywood film.

American screenwriter and actor Kevin Smith was so taken with Chris Parkinson’s Gumtree post for the fake housemate he decided to use the idea and make it into a film called Tusk.

Smith, who is best-known for his Jay and Silent Bob characters and films including Clerks, Mallrats, Chasing Amy and Dogma, then tracked down 32-year-old Mr Parkinson, from Brighton, and flew him to the set in North Carolina, making him an associate director.

NY takes high road to tackle texting drivers

Even for a state trooper, it’s not easy to spot drivers who are texting.

Their smartphones are down on their laps, not at their ears. And they’re probably not moving their lips.

That’s why New York has given state police 32 tall, unmarked SUVs to better peer down at drivers’ hands, part of one of the nation’s most aggressive attacks on texting while driving that also includes steeper penalties and dozens of highway “Texting Zones,” where motorists can pull over to use their devices.

“Look at that,” Trooper Clayton Howell says, pulling up alongside a black BMW while patrolling the highways north of New York City. “This guy’s looking down. I can see his thumb on the phone. I think we got him.”

After a quick wail of the siren and a flash of the tucked- away flashers, an accountant from the suburbs is pulled over and politely given a ticket.

New York is among 41 states that ban text messaging for all drivers and is among only 12 that prohibit using hand-held mobile phones. The state this year stiffened penalties for motorists caught using hand-held devices to talk or text, increasing penalty points on the driving record from three to five, along with tickets that carry fines of up to $200 (€148).

With the tough new penalties came tougher enforcement. In a two-month crackdown this summer, troopers handed out 5,553 tickets for texting while driving, compared to 924 in the same period last year.

Avian auction

USA: A bird statuette featured in the classic 1941 detective thriller The Maltese Falcon is going on sale in New York.

The black figurine is one of two known cast lead statuettes made for John Huston’s screen version of the film. But auctioneers Bonhams say it is the only one confirmed by Warner Brothers archives as having appeared in the movie.

The film starred Humphrey Bogart as private eye Sam Spade.

Inconvenience food

USA: A foil-wrapped burrito caused a bomb scare at an Oklahoma police station after a man took it in for analysis.

He found it in a vacuum container on his lawn and thought it suspicious.

Officers told him to leave the container outside and a bomb squad X-rayed it, discovering it was harmless.

’Dolly’ the wandering llama caught in Michigan

USA: A llama spotted wandering for nearly six months in Michigan has been captured and is getting a new home.

The llama that Kathy Kuzma calls “Dolly” was found in Oakland County’s Holly Township, about 65km northwest of Detroit.

Kuzma has been on the lookout for the animal, which had been wandering in her neighbourhood. On Saturday, Lisa Davenport came to Kuzma’s house to get a look at the llama. Ms Davenport has three llamas along with other animals at a Michigan farm.

The women walked into a field to give the llama some food, and Dolly stood still instead of being her usual skittish self. They then coaxed the llama into a barn. Ms Davenport plans to take the llama back to her own farm.


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