When laying down roads and putting up buildings, residents of most North American and European countries worry about zoning codes. Icelanders worry about elves living in rocks.
"If there was a large stone in the garden, and somebody said to an Icelander, 'That's an elf stone,' would they blow it up? They wouldn't," Terry Gunnell, head of the folklore department at the University of Iceland (search), told the New York Times.
In the town of Kopavogur, a section of Elf Hill Road had to be cut back from two lanes to one in the 1970s when, during efforts to remove a large rock thought to house elves, construction equipment kept breaking down.
"A lot of people believe they still live there," said neighbor Gurdrun Bjarnadottir, "but I think they've moved."
In Iceland, settled by Scandinavian Vikings and their Irish slaves in the 10th century, democracy preceded Christianity. Although the population of 300,000 is modern and Internet-savvy, old traditions die hard and opinion polls show that a majority believe in elves.
"My next-door neighbor is an elf woman," explained retired museum director Hildur Hakonardottir. "She lives in a cliff in a rock in my garden."
In Kopavogur in 1996, someone tried to flatten a hill to build a cemetery, but bulldozers malfunctioned and television cameras trained on the site failed to work.
"We're going to see whether we can't reach an understanding with the elves," the construction project supervisor told a local newspaper at the time. "Elf communicators" were brought in and after some time work successfully resumed.
Elly Erlingsdottir, who heads the town of Hafnarfjordur's planning committee, said a committee member recently told a resident who wanted to build a garage that he hoped it was "OK with the elves."
Erlingsdottir also told the Times that some elves had borrowed her kitchen scissors, returning them after a week to a place she'd searched many times.
"My philosophy is, you don't have to see everything you believe in," she explained, "because many of your greatest experiences happen with closed eyes."
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) — A woman who went to visit an inmate ended up in jail herself after she was caught drinking beer while waiting in the parking lot, police said.
Nashville resident Julie Shaffer, 40, told sheriff's deputies she went to the Brown County Law Enforcement Center (search) last Wednesday to visit an inmate.
A witness reported seeing an intoxicated person in the jail's parking lot, according to a police report. Deputy Rick Followell found Shaffer sitting in a car, drinking a beer, the report said.
Shaffer was given a portable breath test at the scene, where she tested at .23, nearly three times the limit for driving while intoxicated, police said.
She was then booked into the Brown County Law Enforcement Center and charged with public intoxication, according to the report.
— Thanks to Out There reader Mike J.
VIENNA, Ga. (AP) — A man has been charged with a felony for allegedly biting off a portion of a Vienna police officer's finger during a scuffle.
Frankie Almond Jr., was arrested and charged with aggravated battery upon a police officer after he bit off part of the middle finger of Vienna Police Officer Joseph Peavy in a scuffle last Wednesday, police said.
The altercation happened after Peavy and Officer George Royal were dispatched to a disturbance just after midnight Wednesday. The officers tried to subdue the partially clothed Almond when police say he became violent.
Almond bit his father on the leg and attempted to bite Royal on the leg when Peavy grabbed him, according to a police report.
Almond then bit the right middle finger of Peavy, severing it at the first joint and doctors could not reattach the severed portion of the finger, Police Chief David Musselwhite said in the report.
— Thanks to Out There reader Kris P.
SYDNEY, Australia (AP) — A movie fan had his nose bitten off outside an Australian cinema in an argument over the quality of the violent Bruce Willis movie "Sin City," police said.
The 19-year-old victim underwent surgery to reattach the tip of his nose following the brawl Sunday night outside a movie theater in Bathurst, 125 miles west of Sydney.
Bathurst police Inspector Cameron Lindsay said the victim and his attacker got into a fight over the merits of the film, an adaptation of Frank Miller's graphic novel about a wicked metropolis filled with tough guys and gorgeous dames.
The movie has been praised by critics for its dark, computer-generated imagery and criticized for its nonstop violence.
Police were still hunting for the attacker.
"There's been an argument, apparently over how good the movie was, and then an altercation," Lindsay said.
HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — Police arrested two men in southern Vietnam for allegedly attempting to send a human skull to a relative in the United States to be used as a prayer idol, state-controlled media reported Monday.
Doan Ngoc Phang, 37 and Huynh Thai Son, 49, were arrested in Ho Chi Minh City (search) on Sunday and accused of "encroaching on graves and remains," the Ho Chi Minh City Law newspaper said.
The case was uncovered last week when customs officials found the skull stuffed in a plaster bust.
Phang said he paid Son 1.6 million dong (US$100) for the skull, which he tried to send to a relative in California who wanted to use it to pray for prosperity, according to the paper.
Police are investigating where Son got the skull, the paper said.
ST. LOUIS (AP) — A man is being sued by Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon (search) for allegedly sending garbage and even feces to eBay customers who thought they were bidding for new or slightly used clothing.
Nixon filed the fraud suit against Michael D. Pickens of Bethany.
His wife, Tamera Pickens, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch he is disabled with a rare blood disease, is unemployed and has never sold anything over the Internet.
The suit claims Internet ads promised top-quality clothes, including items from Victoria's Secret, Banana Republic and other well-known brands.
When customers placed their orders through the online auction site eBay, the suit says, Pickens arranged for the shipment to come from companies that sell industrial rags, unwanted clothing or household items meant for poor countries. In one case, a customer received feces.
Nixon said Pickens either ignored or refused requests for refunds.
The lawsuit, filed in Harrison County Circuit Court, seeks a permanent injunction and fines of $1,000 per violation.
Compiled by FOXNews.com's Paul Wagenseil.
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