Christmas on the Flipside

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No, your holiday binge drinking hasn't gotten that out of control so early — that Christmas tree really is upside down.

Retailers are rolling out inverted trees as a hot new novelty item this holiday season.

Claiming the new model "Leaves more room on the floor for gifts," Target offers three upside-down trees for $299.99-$499.99 on its Web site, according to USA Today.

The paper reports that is selling bizarro trees in the 5-to-7½-foot range for $280-$504 and Hammacher Schlemmer has rolled out a $599.95 pre-lit model — which it can't keep in stock.

"We increased the amount we ordered from last year, but ended up selling all of them already," Joe Jamrosz of Hammacher Schlemmer told USA Today.

"The Solstice Evergreen" author Sheryl Karas told the paper she isn't sure what's behind the new upside-down tree trend, a Central European tradition from the 12th century.

"There's something sinister, almost bad, about it," the Santa Cruz, Calif., author, told USA Today.

"It's a pagan thing," she said. "If they thought about it, they wouldn't turn it upside down."

But the retailers defend the fake flipside trees, hung from the ceiling or a wall, sometimes with a weighted base, as just so much holiday fun.

"Many of the people have been using them as their second tree. A novelty," Jamrosz told USA Today. "They also find the bigger gifts don't fit under a traditional tree."

— Click in the photo box above to see a picture of the bizarro tree.

Stuck to the Porcelain Princess ... Twice?

Bob Dougherty, 57, who sued Home Depot claiming he was glued to a toilet seat, made a similar claim about a public bathroom in his hometown, according to the Rocky Mountain News.

As previously reported in Out There, Dougherty sued the chain last month, saying that employees at the Louisville, Colo., store ignored his cries after he got stuck in October 2003.

A former director of operations in Dougherty's hometown of Nederland, Ron Trzepacz, told the News Dougherty claimed in the summer of 2004 that he was glued to a toilet seat in the visitor center there — but freed himself.

There was "no indication that anything had been on the toilet seat" when he inspected it and no police report was filed, Trzepacz told the News.

Mark Cohen, Dougherty's lawyer, says his client never made a previous claim and would take a lie detector.

"The allegation [by Trzepacz] doesn't make any sense," Cohen told The Associated Press.

— Thanks to Out There reader Cindy E.

— Click in the photo box above to see a picture of the toilet man.

Daredevil Cat's Got Nine Lives

WENATCHEE, Wash. (AP) — A cat leaped from a pickup truck, scampered through traffic, fell 70 feet off a bridge into the chilly Columbia River and swam another 600 feet to shore, officials said.

The longhair gray cat, which had no collar or identification, "ate ravenously" at an animal shelter after the ordeal, Wenatchee Valley Humane Society officer Jody White said.

Joi Singleton said she and her husband, Ron, were driving over the Odabashian Bridge on Sunday morning when they saw something come off a pickup ahead of them.

They returned on foot, spotted the cat cowering on a concrete barrier and called the Humane Society.

Two officers put the cat in a portable kennel, but it jumped out "like a jack-in-the-box before we could secure the door" and leaped over the railing, White said.

The group ran to the river shore and cheered on the cat.

"Once it spun around in a current and we thought that was it," Singleton said. "Then this guy in a kayak came out of nowhere and started pushing it toward us. The officers got a noose around its neck and pulled it in."

— Thanks to Out There reader Aimee H.

Meow ... No Meth Lab, We Just Stink

NEW KENSINGTON, Pa. (AP) — A house about 20 miles from Pittsburgh really stinks — and its furry occupants are to blame.

Police originally suspected the ammonia-like odor could signal a methamphetamine lab. But the 35 cats and a dog were the real culprits.

"Everywhere you looked, you saw cats," New Kensington code enforcement officer Rick Jacobus said.

The animals were found in the home's rafters and air ducts; the carpets and floors had been soaked with animal urine, he said.

"Your eyes began to tear," Jacobus said. "It was like someone opened a can of ammonia."

The home's three tenants were evicted and the Westmoreland County Children's Bureau was contacted to check on a young boy who lived there.

The animals were taken to a shelter.

— Thanks to Out There readers Meghan A. and Aimee H.

Drunken Moose Raid Some Swedes

STOCKHOLM, Sweden (AP) — They rarely have problems with drunks or rowdy animals, but residents of a retirement home in southern Sweden had to deal with both: A pair of intoxicated moose invaded the premises.

The moose — a cow and her calf — had become drunk over the weekend by eating fermented apples they found outside the home in Sibbhult, said employee Anna Karlsson.

Police managed to scare them off once, but the tipsy mammals returned to get more of the tempting fruits. This time the moose were drunk and aggressive, forcing police to send for a hunter with a dog to make them leave.

Police did not pursue the culprits, but made sure all apples were picked up from the area, police chief Bengt Hallberg said. No one was hurt.

— Thanks to Out There reader Timothy B.

Compiled by's Andrew Hard.

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