New Bar Promotion: Bag a Toad, Drink a Beer

Australia's not just a land of 'roos. It's also a country where an oil can of Foster's and a toad go hand in hand.

Just bring a cane toad into Tom Hedley's Red Beret bar in Queensland, and he'll give you a beer, News Limited of Australia reported Monday.

"Hell, I'll give them two beers," said Hedley, known Down Under as the richest man in the state of Queensland.

Hedley decided upon the toads-for-beer promotion to help control the population of these pesky amphibians, whose numbers have swelled to 200 million in Australia.

"As far as I am concerned, they're pests and a nuisance to society," Hedley said. "If offering a beer for a bag of toads is one way to wipe them out once and for all, then I am all for it."

Hedley's project isn't the first time Australians have traded an animal for a cold one.

A beer-for-toad bounty in the neighboring Northern Territory was a success, according to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

"How it worked in Darwin is they brought in the toads to the RSPCA to be humanely euthanized and they were then issued a voucher to get a beer — with a daily limit on the number of beers," RSPCA spokesman Michael Beatty told News Limited.

"It could be more than a gimmick," he said. "It could seriously help reduce the toad population, especially around suburbia."

Boise Prankster Wants to Seal in the Freshness

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A prankster is stretching sheets of plastic wrap across a Boise road — but police don't think the joke is very funny.

For the second time in as many months, Boise police responded to a report from a motorist last week who struck one of the see-through barriers, which had been stretched between two power poles.

No one has been injured. In this case, the driver was simply startled by the loud popping noise the barrier made when it snapped. But had it been a motorcyclist or bicyclist who didn't see it, they could have been knocked off and seriously injured, police say.

A similar prank in Wisconsin in 2004 injured two people and landed four teenagers in court.

"This is not a joke," said Boise police Sgt. Paul Burch. "This is a very reckless activity and creates a serious hazard to the public."

The act of stretching plastic across the roadway would typically be a misdemeanor — obstructing a road. But if it results in an injury, the culprit could be charged with a felony, police said.

You Can Rent Her ... Just Lay Off the Hanky-Panky

GRANTS PASS, Ore. (AP) — A woman who started a "Rent-a-Wife" business says she'll do lots of things for men — but only when it comes to housework.

Dawn Haney started advertising her cleaning business as "Rent-a-Wife" two weeks ago. She offers housekeeping, meal preparation, laundry, windows, errands, help with bookkeeping and even being a party hostess for single men.

Of course, the name of her business draws lots of questions. Asked how far her wifely chores go, she says, "not that far."

Haney says her business targets single men because she says she doesn't like cleaning homes where women live. Women, she says, "have all those foo-foos, and I don't want to clean them," she said.

Of course, some people don't get the joke.

She said she got a call from one person asking if it was an escort service, and another who was looking for a companion.

"When I explained that wasn't what I do, at least he was polite," she said.

The Problem's in This Rubber-Band Engine

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands (AP) — Whoah, Greased Lightning!

Dutch theater-goers were shocked Sunday night when a would-be John Travolta and his Olivia Newton-John lookalike counterpart were injured as their car plunged into the orchestra pit during a performance of the musical "Grease."

Jim Bakkum got a concussion and Bettina Holwerda may have broken her arm, the director of the Almere City Theater, Peter Swinkels, told Dutch television.

"Jim was driving. ... She (Bettina) was able to jump off before it went over the edge, and Jim went down with the car," Swinkels told RTL Nieuws. No musicians were injured, as the car happened to land in an empty part of the pit.

Both were immediately taken to hospital for treatment in the town of Almere, nine miles east of Amsterdam.

The car, dubbed "Greased Lightning" during a song in the play, was made up of the chassis of a classic red-and-white convertible and the engine of a golf cart.

The incident took place during a scene where the characters made famous by Travolta and Newton-John in the movie version — Danny Zuko and Sandy Olsson — go to a drive-in movie in the car.

Bakkum, 19, was the runner-up in the first version of the "Idols" talent search program in the Netherlands.

The Field Says Soccer but the Game's Called 'Toequet'

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Dowdy, wimpy, elitist — that's the stereotype of croquet, Bob Alman concedes. A former manager at the National Croquet Center here, he knows his sport has an image problem.

But Alman has an answer, and another set of adjectives for a hybrid soccer and croquet game he's helped invent: goofy, outrageous and all-terrain. He's hoping the new sport can boost croquet's image.

Played with colored soccer balls that are kicked instead of hit and jumbo-sized wickets, the hybrid game is called Toequet. Another version using standard croquet mallets has been dubbed Malletball.

"I think of it as an extreme form of croquet," said Alman, who is also editor of a croquet magazine. "I think the super-size, the extreme factor, helps take away a little bit of the wimp."

Schools, recreation departments, clubs and even a juvenile hall have already purchased sets of the balls and wickets Alman helps promote. And he has taken to staging games at and around the West Palm Beach croquet center, billed as the world's largest. Beginning in March, he will take Malletball on the road, giving free lessons everywhere from the beach to a banyan grove.

"I really thought it was a joke," said West Palm Beach resident Margaret Mihlon of the new game.

Mihlon was one of a number of adult players who tried the sport for the first time at the croquet center in early February. A croquet player for 15 years, Mihlon said she changed her views after playing with the soccer balls. There's strategy involved, she said.

The idea for jumbo croquet began a few years ago in Terre Haute, Ind. Croquet enthusiast Denny Ridgway concocted a giant version of the game with basketballs but no mallets for a family reunion. Soon he was setting up courses for dinner parties, and friends urged him to market the game.

When Alman heard about the fledgling company, he obtained a set for the croquet center, originating Malletball by using standard croquet mallets to play. Ridgway later sold the game. It's now owned by Canada-based croquet mallet manufacturer Don Oakley, who sells game equipment at the croquet center and online for $143. Mallets modified specifically for soccer balls cost extra.

Alman insists the game is ready to take off, and it isn't the first time he has pushed the boundaries of traditional croquet. While living in San Francisco in the 1980s, he and friends sometimes dressed in white — required on tournament croquet courts and at some clubs — and set up their backyard set in places like an army base and the lawn of a major corporation, playing games of "guerrilla croquet."

Toequet and Malletball are an extension of that irreverence and can be played almost anywhere, he said. (Ridgway is fond of saying it can also be played with a beer in one hand.)

At the croquet center, the basic rules go this way: teams of two alternate turns kicking or knocking their ball through the wickets. The first person through the wicket gets a point for the team, and the whole group moves on to the next.

A group of about 40 students from Meadow Park Elementary School testing Toequet for the first time one recent morning at the center learned quickly. After a few minutes of instruction from Alman (who kids call Mr. Wicket), the students were guiding the soccer balls through the course.

Nicolas Parra, 11, and his partner Andrew Buckmaster, 10, named their team the Vikings and strategized only one would shoot for the wicket in play while the other would set up for the following one. The team they were playing — Tori Perron and Emily Guzman, both 11 — tried standing behind their balls so they wouldn't get knocked out of position.

"You have to use your brain and also your feet," explained Ramon Concepcion, 10.

Janet Catalano, who played Malletball several weeks later with a group of adults said she enjoyed the sport. But Catalano, who came wearing earrings with balls the colors used in croquet, was not ready to give up the traditional game.

"My choice is still the standard croquet," she said.

Compiled by's Sara Bonisteel.

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