Horse-Butt Slapper Jailed

A new Florida law has landed one New York tourist's hiney in hot water.

Sean P. Curlin allegedly smacked the hindquarters of two horses from the Tampa police's mounted patrol: Mr. Bill and Red, according to the Tampa Tribune.

Thanks to a new provision of state law that makes it a misdemeanor to harass or strike a police animal, Curlin, 22, is more likely to face jail time and a stiffer fine if found guilty of harming the equines.

According to an arrest affidavit, the Kingston, N.Y., native slapped the horses on their posteriors while officers were trying to break up a fight in Ybor City (search).

"It appeared Curlin's intent was to harass the animals and the officers while they were trying to do their jobs," police spokesman Joe Durkin told the Tribune.

The affidavit says Curlin first "reached out and smacked" Red on his left hindquarters, causing him to flinch and then slapped Mr. Bill also on his left hindquarters as Officer Margery Schantz tried to pass by him.

After the offense, Schantz turned Mr. Bill around and took the slaphappy New Yorker into custody, the affidavit states.

— Thanks to Out There reader Shannon O.

UNICEF Bombs the Smurfs

BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) — Smurfette (search) is left for dead. Baby Smurf is crying and orphaned as the Smurf's village is carpet bombed by warplanes — a horrific scene and imagery not normally associated with the lovable blue-skinned cartoon characters.

These are the scenes being shown as part of a new UNICEF (search) ad-campaign on Belgian television.

"It's working. We are getting a lot of reactions and people are logging on to our Web site," UNICEF Belgium spokesman Philippe Henon said Tuesday.

The Belgian office of the U.N. children's fund said it has decided to use the creations of late Belgian artist Peyo to shock a complacent public into backing its fund-raising efforts for ex-child soldiers in Africa.

The 20-second video commercial clip now being shown on Belgian TV aims to show that war can happen in the most innocent of places, Henon said.

"We get reactions from all over the place," Henon said. "People are shocked and want to know the reasons behind this cartoon image."

The appeal is meant to raise money for UNICEF projects in Burundi, Congo and Sudan, Henon said. However, due to its graphic and disturbing scenes, the cartoon is aimed at an adult audience and is only shown after 9 p.m. to avoid upsetting young Smurfs fans.

— Click in the photo box above to see a picture of bombed Smurfs.

Man Hijacks Train With Bow and Arrow

MONTCLAIR, Calif. (AP) — In a confrontation reminiscent of the Wild West, police shot and wounded a man who allegedly took over a freight train with a bow and arrow.

Juventino Vallejo-Camerena boarded the Union Pacific train Sunday night as it was stopped for a signal and threatened the engineer and conductor, the only people on board, police Capt. Keith Jones said. The crew members escaped and called police.

The man was aboard the train in western San Bernardino County when officers arrived. The man cocked the bow and pointed the arrow at officers, who opened fire, Jones said.

Vallejo-Camerena suffered gunshot wounds to the left wrist and forearm that were not life-threatening, Jones said.

He was treated at a hospital, then booked into jail for investigation of train robbery, assault and resisting arrest. It wasn't known when he would make his first court appearance.

Union Pacific representatives did not immediately return calls for comment Monday.

— Thanks to Out There reader Margaret B.

Yet Another Severed Finger Ends Up in Food

WILMINGTON, N.C. (AP) — Finding a severed fingertip in your frozen custard is horrifying enough to cause nightmares, and more. At least, that's what a North Carolina man contends in a lawsuit.

Clarence Stowers says he suffered psychological trauma and has post-traumatic stress after biting into a fingertip while eating frozen custard from a Wilmington dessert shop.

He's suing Kohl's Frozen Custard and the Carvel Corporation, which made the mixing machine used at the shop. He wants more than $10,000 in damages.

The fingertip belonged to store manager Brandon Fizer, who lost it while using the mixing machine. The store said employees were looking for the digit when it was inadvertently scooped into a pint of custard.

Stowers returned to the shop about 30 minutes later but, at first, refused to return the finger.

Instead, he put it in his freezer, making it impossible for doctors to reattach it. He later offered to return the finger, but it was too late for doctors to reattach.

— Thanks to Out There reader Diane F.

Python Eats Siamese Cat

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — Maybe this Burmese python learned a lesson from the one that tried to eat an alligator but exploded because its prey was so big. This snake apparently took on an animal that never stood a chance — Frances, a 1-year-old Siamese cat.

Frances vanished last week from his owner's home, but his whereabouts were possibly revealed Sunday. A snake expert says Frances is the bulge inside the 12-foot-long Burmese python.

"Poor baby. He was my favorite cat. I know Siamese [cats] are supposed to be distant, but he slept in my bed and everything," said a distraught Elidia Rodriguez, the cat's owner.

The snake was captured and taken to a nature preserve, where it will live in a glass cage.

Earlier this month, a 13-foot python had a run-in with a 6-foot American alligator in Everglades National Park, and neither animal survived. The python blew up as it tried to swallow that alligator.

Capt. Al Cruz of the Miami-Dade Fire Rescue antivenin unit said Sunday's case can likely be blamed on the recent rains. The snakes "are looking for dry land," he said.

— Thanks to Out There reader Lauren D.

Prize Pumpkins Weigh In at Over 1,200 Pounds

WARREN, R.I. (AP) — A Rhode Island welder won a contest for the biggest pumpkin Monday with an entry weighing 1,443 pounds, while a retired Washington firefighter won a similar contest in California with an entry weighing 1,229 pounds.

Scott Palmer took top honors at the 12th annual Rhode Island Southern New England Giant Pumpkin Growers Championship. Joel Holland won the annual Safeway World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off.

The world record is a 1,446-pound pumpkin grown last year by Al Eaton, of Ontario, Canada, according to the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management.

"Best day of my life. I got my family here, helped me grow it all year, what else is there to say?" said Palmer, who took home $3,500 as the victor.

Holland said his pumpkin could make roughly 600 pumpkin pies but instead will be displayed in a parade in Half Moon Bay this coming weekend, then carved into a jack-o'-lantern for Halloween.

"Maybe we'll set a record for the size of a pumpkin pie next," said Holland, who has won the competition five years in a row. He won last year with a pumpkin that weighed exactly the same amount.

Holland's pumpkin had to be removed from the back of a pickup truck with a crane.

Holland, 56, attributed his success to two decades of pumpkin growing experience and the favorable climate at his Puyallup, Wash., home. The Atlantic Giant was hand-pollinated and grew from July to October.

Contenders beware: Holland plans to use the seeds from this year's giant to spawn another behemoth.

— Click in the photo box above to see a giant pumpkin picture.

Compiled by's Andrew Hard.

Got a good "Out There" story in your hometown? We'd like to know about it. Send an e-mail, with a Web link (we need to authenticate these things), to