Bad Joke Gets Worse

A family joke turned into trouble, which led to a lie, which led to even more trouble for a Nebraska man and his friends.

The unnamed 22-year-old man strolled into a gas station in the Omaha suburb of La Vista Sunday evening and announced that he had a gun, reports the Omaha World-Herald.

The counter clerk didn't take the statement seriously. She was the man's mother.

Unfortunately for him, another customer called police, who sped to the scene.

The cops caught up to the faux robber in the gas station's parking lot, where he was standing outside his car with a friend.

It all would have ended there — if the car hadn't been reeking of marijuana.

A search of the vehicle turned up $603 in cash and a quarter-pound of pot, a far from insubstantial amount.

Even worse, both the joker and his buddy were on parole, meaning they'd certainly be heading back to prison.

So they called a female friend from jail and asked her to tell police the pot was hers. Without a record, they told her, she'd spend at most one night behind bars.

She agreed and came down to the station to 'fess up.

Too bad for all three friends that jailhouse phone calls are monitored. She was arrested for false reporting.

— Thanks to Out There readers Justin W. and Jim G.

From Bad to Worse, Part II

Things didn't go so well for a Canadian cowboy over the weekend, either.

The man, thankfully unidentified, was found by Regina, Saskatchewan, police hanging upside down from a fence, his pants around his knees, reports the Canadian Press wire service.

He told the cops that after having had a few drinks, he left a farm festival Saturday night and decided an 8-foot chain-link fence was in his way.

The clueless cowpoke climbed up the fence, got to the top, swung one leg over — and then got the other pant leg snagged on the fence wire.

Dangling upside down, he yelled out for help. No response. So he reached into his pocket for his cell phone — which dropped to the ground, just out of reach.

No problem, he thought, and unfastened his jeans to slip out of them.

But his feet got tangled up in his pants, and he was still hanging, only this time with a fair amount of underwear and thigh exposed to the late-November Canadian prairie wind.

Finally, he wiggled enough so that he was able to reach the phone and call 911.

The confused cowboy gave cops the wrong location, but they figured out where he was soon enough and freed him.

"He was pretty cold and really embarrassed," said Regina Police Staff Sgt. Rob Dean, stifling laughter.

— Thanks to Out There reader Brad P.

Stolen SpongeBob Epidemic Spreads

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — As earlier reported in Out There, dozens of 9-foot-tall SpongeBob SquarePants (search) balloons have been stolen from the roofs of Burger Kings from Florida to Utah since the release of the famous cartoon character's hit movie, authorities said.

The balloons started appearing at fast-food restaurants in a promotional tie-in with his movie Nov. 11. A Burger King (search) near Palatka, south of Jacksonville, is among the latest to report the theft of the $500 balloon.

"We don't have any theories. SpongeBob SquarePants is kind of a fad. It could be a childhood prank or an adult trying to get a fad item for Christmas," Sheriff's Lt. Steve Rose said Wednesday. "If any leads come across, we will follow up in hopes of making an arrest."

As part of the promotion, hundreds of inflatable SpongeBobs weighing 50 pounds each were ordered for restaurants nationwide. The animated movie and TV star is featured on Burger King children's meals, watches and toys.

The bigger-than-life sized versions of "The SpongeBob Square Pants Movie" star also have turned up on eBay.

EBay spokesman Hani Durzy said stolen property is not allowed on the site, but it's almost impossible to know what's stolen and what's legitimately acquired.

"We're in no position to know exactly how anyone gets the items they sell on eBay," he said.

Durzy said that if someone thinks an item on eBay is stolen, they should contact police, who will then contact eBay.

"As long as there is a police report filed for stolen property we will take listings down," he said.

Jim Twitchell, a professor of advertising and English at the University of Florida, suspects young men are behind most thefts of the famous Krabby Patty (search) flipper.

"They will show up in fraternity houses for sure," he said.

— Thanks to Out There reader Kris P.

Famous Cathouse Set to Reopen

VIRGINIA CITY, Nev. (AP) — The state's first legal bordello is set to reopen, but the notorious Mustang Ranch (search) name may be shut out of the action.

The Storey County Commission has granted a brothel license to Wild Horse Resort & Spa owner Lance Gilman to operate a second brothel next to the Wild Horse about four miles east of the former Mustang property.

The government seized the Mustang in 1999 after its owners were convicted of racketeering. Gilman bought it on eBay for $145,000 and moved the Mustang buildings to the Wild Horse site.

The commission will decide at its next meeting whether to let Gilman keep the Mustang Ranch name, which he says was part of his purchase.

Oscar Williams, the owner of Ambient Entertainment of Reno, claims to have the rights to the trademark for clothing and other merchandise and David Burgess, the owner of the Old Bridge Ranch, also objects to the use of the name. His brothel is located next to the former Mustang Ranch site.

Gilman said he has spent about $1.5 million on site preparation and moving the old brothel to his land.

While the original Mustang has 50 rooms, Wild Horse madam Susan Austin said the new one would open with about 20.

Sports Complex Avoids Cheating

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — The University of Missouri-Columbia's $75 million basketball venue was formally renamed Mizzou Arena (search) last Friday, just days after the Wal-Mart heiress for whom it originally was named was accused of cheating her way through a different college.

The university's governing Board of Curators voted without dissent to rename Paige Sports Arena (search) during a three-minute conference call.

"All of us are happy with Mizzou," Elson Floyd, president of the four-campus university system, said after the meeting. "How can you go wrong when you talk about Mizzou?"

The vote came after Bill and Nancy Laurie, parents of 22-year-old Elizabeth Paige Laurie, handed the naming rights back to the curators.

The Lauries had donated $25 million to launch the arena project, and in return received naming rights and other perks.

Paige Laurie never attended Missouri. She received a bachelors degree from the University of Southern California. Last week, a former roommate told ABC's "20/20" that Paige Laurie paid her thousands of dollars to do academic work for her.

The Laurie family has said Paige Laurie's college record is a private matter.

Bill and Nancy Laurie's company, Paige Sports Entertainment, was named after their daughter. The company owns the St. Louis Blues professional hockey team.

Nancy Laurie is a daughter of the late Bud Walton, co-founder of Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

Royal Palate Soothed by Soggy, Strangely Addictive Cereal

LONDON (AP) — Prince Charles reminisced about his cereal-eating childhood as he presented a royal award to the makers of Weetabix.

"I was virtually brought up on Weetabix — and look at the result," the prince told an audience at the company's factory in Burton Latimer, north of London, on Tuesday.

Weetabix, a wheat biscuit that turns soggy when milk is added, has long been the best-selling cereal in Britain.

Charles was on hand to present Weetabix (search) with the Queen's Award for Enterprise.

Britain's biggest cereal company, which already holds three Royal Warrants and three Queen's Awards for Export, received its latest honor for a 45 percent rise in exports in the past six years.

The Burton Latimer site produces more than 65 million wheat biscuits a week for distribution to 80 countries worldwide.

There are four other factories producing Weetabix in Britain, as well as manufacturing facilities in the United States and Canada.

Weetabix's international commercial manager, Andy Harris, said there was further potential for export growth of Weetabix.

Compiled by's Paul Wagenseil.

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