Independent Bathroom Cleaner Gets Golden Plunger Award

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Steve Oswald isn't getting back the $156.94 he charged the city for cleaning a public bathroom. However, he did get the attention of city officials who promised to take better care of the bathroom — and honored his efforts Tuesday with the Golden Plunger Award.

Oswald, 45, said he didn't expect to be reimbursed after billing the west Michigan tourist town for the work he did last month. But he did say he appreciated the award, a toilet plunger spray-painted gold and set on an oak stand.

WZZM-TV in Grand Rapids reports the city has replaced some of the fixtures in the bathroom and will hire a cleaning company to keep it tidy.

Mayor Tony Vettori was quoted by The Grand Rapids Press as saying he was glad Oswald "lifted the lid on this problem." (AP)

Read more: The Grand Rapids Press

Hooters Hazing

A group of baseball rookies raised some eyebrows this week after exchanging their uniforms for tank tops and orange shorts.

Several first-year players from the San Diego Padres were donned Hooters girl outfits at the Denver ChopHouse and Brewery after suffering a 1-0 loss to the Colorado Rockies.

A few veteran players went to the restaurant first to make sure it was OK to have the players dressed as they were.

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'Heartbreak Hotel' Fires Male Staff

There’s no room at the inn — for randy male employees, that is.

A small hotel in Istanbul, Turkey, has fired its entire male personnel after repeated flings with foreign female tourists.

The manager of the hotel, which serves mostly British and Russian visitors, said the final straw was when she saw her bartender walk out of a bathroom with a British tourist. It’s a problem that repeats every year, she said.

Read more: Reuters

Shovel Symphony?

A Japanese musician is gaining popularity with his peculiar instrument — a shovel.

Joe Masao, 66, of Shiroishi, discovered the instrument, called a “spade samisen” (a shovel that looks like a Japanese stringed instrument) during his days as an assistant steam locomotive engineer. What started with a coal shovel when Masao was in his 20s has developed into appearances at spade samisen competitions.

Masao spends about three to four hours a day practicing, and hopes to take part in a type of shovel orchestra with 20 to 30 others.

Read more: Mainichi Daily News

A Fowl Plot in New York

A New York City neighborhood turned into an urban chicken coop this week after several chickens and a large white turkey mysteriously popped up.

A nearby note read, “I removed them from the chicken market and they are sickly and unfit to eat. Please provide them with food and water if you think they need it.”

The note was traced back to a 38-year-old man, who denied releasing the chickens in Harlem but applauded the rescue efforts. Unemployed and living with family and friends, he admits to picking up castoff food from supermarkets and feeding it to the displaced birds.

“We’re all struggling through these hard times, and the chickens are struggling to survive, too,” LaForte said. “They find freedom on the city streets, and once they find freedom, they can eat and survive, rather than be put in a pen or slaughtered and eaten. I’m a struggler, and I try to help others struggling.”

Read more: The New York Times

Three-Ply Power

If two-ply toilet paper is good, then three-ply tissue must be better. At least that's what toilet-paper researchers in northeastern Wisconsin hope.

Yes, there is such a thing as a toilet-paper researcher. And a team of them at Georgia Pacific's Innovation Institute in Neenah has come up with a three-ply version of its Quilted Northern product.

The new product will be launched Monday. The company touts the toilet tissue as "ultra-soft" and says it plans to market the product to women 45 and older who view their bathroom as a "sanctuary for quality time."

Industry analyst Bill Schmitz is skeptical. He said extra layers make toilet paper stronger, not softer, although he said Georgia Pacific may have added extra fibers for softness. (AP)

Umm .. That's Not a Cat

A Pennsylvania cat lover got a smelly surpise this week when a neighbor's cat turned out to be a frightened skunk.

Not only did the skunk spray the woman, but it ran into her Mount Carmel home.

It took about several hours for emergency services officials to get the putrid pest out of the house.

Read more: WKOK

Non-Floppy Emergency

Your rabbit's ears aren't floppy? Sorry, that's not an emergency. So said police in Scotland when a woman rang the emergency 999 number to discuss her concerns about her new pet. She said the newspaper ad promised floppy ears, but flop they would not.

Central Scotland Police said Monday they were equally unimpressed by another caller who complained that a passing car had splashed water on him, and by someone else inquiring about the postal code for a town's post office.

"Whilst officers and staff are dealing with these frivolous matters that a member of the public has deemed so serious as to call 999, they are not dealing with genuine emergency calls," said Chief Inspector Alan Stewart. (AP)

Candy Shop Drug Front Gets Not-So-Sweet Surprise

A German candy store has been closed down after Berlin police found its sweets were laced with hallucinogenic mushrooms and marijuana, Reuters reported.

"In the shop we found 120 pieces of magic mushroom chocolate and countless cannabis lollipops," police officers told Reuters.

All told, police found 70 small bags of various drugs, 20 marijuana joints and jars of drug-laced honey in the shop, which is located in a trendy east Berlin neighborhood.

The 23-year-old owner of the shop has been taken into custody on suspicion of drug-dealing, and a customer was also arrested after trying to buy a bag of hallucinogenic mushrooms from a police officer, Reuters reported.

Source: Reuters

Compiled by's Tom Durante and Lana Boone.

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