It's a Kim Jong-Il Kind of Christmas in North Carolina

Forget about Hollywood, America's true Tinseltown of kitsch is located in Brevard, N.C.

It's there that those seeking holiday glitz will find the world's only Aluminum Tree and Ornament Museum, or ATOM, at the intersection of Main and Broad.

Founder Stephen Jackson curates the seasonal museum of 1950s fake Christmas trees. Its display of some 60 trees is up for only seven weeks during the height of the holiday season.

This year's theme is sarcastically dubbed "Shining Examples" and features themed trees in honor of Mark Foley and the North Korean nuclear program.

Other displays, geared to the gullible, show how aluminum trees are grown.

"Even secular humanists can get into the Christmas spirit," the Web site declares.

This unnatural forest of fun is open Tuesdays through Saturdays through Jan. 6, 2007.

The Gods Don't Have E-Mail

The gods must not be crazy for cyberspace in Japan.

That nation's Association of Shinto Shrines is trying to put the kibosh on Internet worship at 80,000 religious sites, the Yomiuri Shimbun reports.

"No Shinto god exists on the Internet," the paper quotes the group as saying.

As Japanese gear up for the New Year, they often visit shrines to pray for good fortune and take home good luck amulets. To keep up with demand, some shrines have gone online to give the sick or the busy a cyberspace to ask for their wishes to come true.

"For a small local shrine, the Internet is a powerful medium," one priest from the Tokai region told the newspaper. "People can't just say worshipping is spiritless only because it's done online."

But the association argues that because spirits are enshrined at religious sites, it's imperative that worshippers make the pilgrimage.

"We approve the efficiency of the Internet, but if the virtual and pseudo-aspect [of worshipping] becomes too commonplace, the primary form of faith will fall apart," said Yoshiya Senoo, the chief of the association's research division.

Yet, the association allows worshippers to ask for good luck charms by snail mail.

Utah Town Silences New Year's Eve Celebrations

KAYSVILLE, Utah (AP) — Hold the noisemakers.

Noting that Dec. 31 is a Sunday, Kaysville and Fruit Heights won't be holding a public New Year's Eve party in Davis County.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the dominant faith, and organizers doubt they could attract people on a Sunday.

"Even if we got the volunteers, we wouldn't get the numbers to attend," said Kaysville Mayor Neka Roundy, who called the decision "perfectly reasonable."

There was no celebration in 2001 when New Year's Eve was on Sunday.

"It's just not going to be happening on Sunday night in our community," Roundy said.

Some residents disagree with the decision. Lynne Rogers said city leaders are assuming everyone shares the same Mormon belief that Sunday is set aside to worship God and rest from labor.

"We're not a small city. We're growing all the time," Rogers said.

There was some discussion about moving the celebration to Saturday, Dec. 30, but that was scratched because it's not New Year's Eve, Roundy said.

"We want to be successful with the programs that we do," she said.

The Downtown Alliance in Salt Lake City will be sponsoring its 14th annual New Year's Eve event at the downtown Gallivan Center from 6 p.m. to midnight.

"We anticipate because it falls on Sunday that attendance is going to be a little bit softer," marketing manager Andrew Wallace said.

He said there would be music and other forms of entertainment. There is an admission fee for people 13 and older.

"Just as much fun in a little smaller package," Wallace said.

Do the Mashed Potato

BETHALTO, Ill. (AP) — Some women at a tavern near this Metro East community took playing with their food to a new level last week by wrestling in mashed potatoes, and now the bar's owner is in hot legal water.

Rhonda Cato, 48, was charged Monday with misdemeanor obscenity and violating the liquor code after what happened last Thursday at the Palace Tavern, where authorities say patrons grappled in a shallow, inflatable children's pool filled with mashed spuds.

Cato, of Wood River, was charged because female participants allegedly pulled up each others' shirts as about 30 to 40 people watched during matches staged while the tavern's doors were locked, Madison County sheriff's Lt. Brad Wells said.

"Basically, the clothing on the female bar patrons was being removed," Wells said.

The tavern could be fined $1,000, lose its liquor license or have it suspended for up to 30 days if it's determined that the liquor license code was violated.

The event was not advertised publicly but was billed on a dry-erase board at the bar, Wells said.

The wrestlers could also face criminal charges, he said.

Cato is free on $100 bond.

Officer, My Crack Isn't Good

HAWTHORNE, Fla. (AP) — A North Carolina woman was arrested after complaining to a Putnam County deputy that the crack cocaine she had just purchased wasn't very good.

Eloise Reaves approached the deputy at a convenience store Friday, telling him that another man had sold her "bad crack" that contained wax and cocaine.

The 50-year-old woman pulled an alleged crack rock out of her mouth and placed it on the deputy's car for inspection.

The deputy told Reaves that she would be arrested if the crack tested positive for cocaine. She was charged with possession of cocaine and bonded out for $1,500.

Compiled by's Sara Bonisteel.

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