Offbeat

Offbeat

Scorpians and Centaurs / Flickr

Being married to someone in the news business isn’t easy. Our spouses deal with our long hours and travel, our preoccupation with news when we’re at home, unexpected interruptions on holidays and weekends, and our refusal to accept those free family tickets offered by the nearby theme park.

Lots of families have to deal with long hours and work that follows you home, but that theme park ticket example separates journalists from many other professions. We have an ethics code to follow.

YouTube

Last week, the identity of "real-life superhero Bee Sting" was revealed at an arraignment.

Now we know that "Bee Sting" is actually Adam Besso of Sterling Heights. 

Besso was arrested after pulling a shotgun on a motorcyclist in a trailer park in Burton, Michigan.

Besso approached the man saying the man's motorcycle was too loud. A struggle ensued and Besso's shotgun discharged. Thankfully, no one was injured.

MLive spoke with Tom Carter, the man who was approached by Besso. Carter told MLive he was surprised when the masked man confronted him in the trailer park:

"I couldn't hear him, so I started to approach him and that's when the gun came out," said Carter, 38, about the incident with Bee Sting.
"As soon as I saw the gun I was thinking I didn't want my kids to get shot."

The use of a gun has not only offended law enforcement, it offended another real-life superhero.

BBC

According to the BBC, a sea-lamprey pie made for the monarchs in England by chefs in the city of Gloucester was a Christmas tradition that dated back to the Middle Ages.

The custom stalled in the 19th century, but has been revived of late for special occasions.

This year, Gloucester chefs plan to cook up a lamprey pie for Queen Elizabeth II for her Diamond Jubilee in June - marking 60 years of her reign.

And this time around, the lampreys in the pie will come from the Great Lakes.

The Detroit Free Press reports the Great Lakes Fishery Commission's Marc Gaden will gladly make an official delivery of the lampreys while vacationing in England this May.

Here, the lampreys are an invasive species that continue to threaten the sport fishing industry. But that's not the case in England:

Although lamprey used to be abundant in the Severn River near Gloucester, the creatures are now endangered and protected.

"It would be like us making a pie out of piping plover," an endangered shorebird in Michigan, Gaden said.

Gaden already has shipped 2 pounds of slimy Lake Huron lamprey, frozen, to Gloucester, but he is vacationing in England and will put on a tie and officially present the fish to the mayor May 4.

The Free Press reports chefs will consult an old recipe for the occasion:

One traditional 15th-Century recipe calls for the creature to be cooked in a sauce of wine, vinegar, cinnamon and its own blood, then baked in a tall crust...

[Marc]Gaden said he doesn't plan to eat any.

The BBC and the Free Press both report that no one can predict whether the Queen will partake in a piece of lamprey pie, or simply quietly admire it.

The BBC has a video about the Gloucester tradition of lamprey pie baking.

For more on how the sea lamprey snuck into the Lakes, check out "The Earliest Invader," a piece David Sommerstein did for the Environment Report's Ten Threats to the Great Lakes series.

screen grab / michiganprotectors.weebly.com/members.html

Another Michigan superhero has drawn the attention of local police.

Just as Petoskey Batman is wrapping up his probation, Bee Sting turns up in Burton, Michigan with a little shotgun mishap.

Nike

Nike worked with the Grand Rapids-based skateboarding shop Premier to create the shoe style.

The Petoskey stone inspired shoes will go on sale at Premier on April 28 with a price of $104.

Here's more, appropriately, from the Petoskey News:

To pay tribute to the store's Great Lakes roots, the leather of the blue and gray shoe is embossed with Petoskey stones and will feature a tote bag with a Petoskey stone print.

"We decided to do something a little more in-depth than the state colors or theme colors. We wanted to take different elements from the landscape and nature side of the state," said Premier co-owner Eric Blanding. "The Petoskey stone had a different print on it that we've always thought would look cool on a shoe."

Premier has worked on several other store-exclusive shoes in the past. Blanding said from design to the rack the entire shoe creation process can take up to a year and a half.

You can see more images of the shoe here at "Kicks on Fire."

Prarie Plant Systems

A Canadian company specializing in plant-based pharmaceuticals wants to turn an old copper mine in Michigan's Upper Peninsula into a large-scale medical marijuana farm.

Paul Egan from the Detroit Free Press reports that Prairie Plant Systems (PPS), along with their stateside subsidiary SubTerra, purchased the White Pine Mine in 2003 and began using it for other types of plant-based research. But the company hopes to start using the facility to produce pot and tap into Michigan's market of 131,000 medical marijuana users.

According to Egan, PPS already operates a marijuana growing facility in Canada and has a lucrative contract to supply medical pot to the Canadian government. But while Michigan voters have approved medical marijuana use, the project is still a long way from becoming a reality.

Egan writes:

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the Food and Drug Administration, the Legislature and Gov. Rick Snyder would all have to sign off, and in the case of the first two agencies, reverse direction on policy. Federal agencies consider marijuana illegal. DEA agents have not cracked down on small operations to supply licensed patients but almost certainly would view SubTerra as a major bust opportunity.

Legal hurdles aside, why use a mine to grow an underground pot crop?

Egan spoke to Brent Zettl, president and CEO of PPS:

Growing marijuana hundreds of feet underground - the same way the company started its Canadian operations in 2001 - provides security, constant temperature, controlled light and humidity, and protects the plants from bugs and diseases, eliminating the need for harmful pesticides and herbicides, Zettl said. He said any medical marijuana sold in Michigan should be subject to the same regular and rigorous testing as is found in Canada.

However, according to Egan, PPS's regulated growing techniques have caused some Canadian users to complain about the quality and taste of the company's product.

-John Klein Wilson, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Each Monday on Morning Edition, we speak with someone who is trying to have a positive impact in the lives of others. This morning we speak with Bryan Wilkinson. He's with Michigan Gifts, an organization that creates those gift baskets you often see from corporations. Michigan Gifts also provides job training and opportunities for people with physical and cognitive disabilities. It's part of The Ann Arbor Center for Independent Living, or C.I.L.

user chkpnt / YouTube

These helmets are not for kids with medical conditions, but for your run-of-the-mill little snappers who take a dive every now and again.

Sue Toms on MLive asks whether these helmets are necessary on their "Question of the day."

I can’t help but feel sorry for parents of small children trying to figure out how much to protect and how much to let go in a world where their fears are fodder for profit-making marketing campaigns.

Do infants need 3.2 ounces of foam and Lycra, with little bunny ears, strapped on their heads as they crawl or walk in their living room? The doctors, paramedics and psychiatrists endorsing the product on the website say they do.

But watching a YouTube video of a toddler cruising along a coffee table wearing a Thudguard on his head is a little unnerving...

Here's the video... complete with a close call with a sandal.

Too much?

user hyku / wikimedia commons

MARQUETTE, Mich. (AP) - A federal appeals court has upheld the convictions of a man and woman from Michigan's Upper Peninsula who were accused of trying to blackmail actor John Stamos.

A three-judge panel in Cincinnati rejected challenges to the indictment Monday as well as claims that Allison Coss and Scott Sippola should have received a break at sentencing for accepting responsibility.

They were sentenced to four years in prison in 2010 after a jury convicted them of conspiracy and using email to threaten a person's reputation. Coss and Sippola threatened to sell old photos of Stamos with strippers and cocaine to the tabloids unless he paid $680,000. The FBI said the photos didn't exist.

Stamos met Coss in Florida in 2004 and had a friendship.

Master Sgt. Jeremy Lock / USAF

Today in our Seeking Change series, we have a story of a high school teacher who made an impression on one of her students. Then, that student made an impression on her.

Chris Trainor is a teacher at Saline High School. Last year, a former student named Jeremy Searls told her about the group he co-founded, “Poured Out.”  The group was installing water filtration systems in homes, schools, and churches in Haiti.

Trainor told her family about the group and her twelve year old son urged her to go and help the group in Haiti.

Now, Trainor is trying to help the young Haitian translators who worked with her group in Haiti attend college in the United States.

Listen to the interview!

Tax Time

Apr 15, 2012
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

The clock is ticking if you haven’t filed your state and federal income tax returns.   But there’s still time.

April 15th is usually the day taxpayers must file their income tax forms by.

But since April 15th fell on a Sunday this year, and because of a Washington D.C.  holiday (Emancipation Day) falls on April 16th, the Internal Revenue Service decided to make April 17th the deadline for this year.

Caleb Buhs is with the Michigan Treasury Department.     He says most of the returns filed this year have received refunds.

Courtesy of the Petoskey, Michigan Department of Public Safety.

Earlier this week we told you that Petoskey Batman (a.k.a. Mark Williams) was planning to auction off his... ahem, laundered caped crusader suit to help pay for his legal fees.

Last May, Williams was arrested after police spotted him hanging off the wall of a building in Petoskey. He was charged with trespassing and possession of dangerous weapons (a striking baton, a can of chemical irritant spray, and a pair of lead lined gloves).

Now he's got a little extra cash for his effort. After 8 bids, the suit sold for $152.50. Congrats to the winner!

The suit does not come with the sand-filled Sap gloves, but DOES come with a signed statement of authenticity, and a signed photograph of Williams standing next to the suit.

wikimedia commons

In terms of hotspots for giant, bipedal ape-men, Michigan might not come to mind, especially compared to states in the Pacific Northwest. But the mitten state is not without its share of alleged Bigfoot sightings.

According to the Detroit News, some high-profile Bigfoot hunters are paying visit to Michigan with camera crew in tow, hoping to catch a glimpse of the elusive cryptid.

From the News:

Producers from the Animal Planet TV program "Finding Bigfoot" have been filming in the Houghton Lake area this week, looking for signs of Sasquatch.

Phil Shaw, a member of the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization, said there have been more than 130 Bigfoot sightings in almost every county in Michigan.

The episode including the Michigan investigation is set to air sometime this summer, the Detroit News reports.

-John Klein Wilson, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Courtesy of the Petoskey, Michigan Department of Public Safety.

It all started last year.

That's when police in Petoskey turned on their caped crusader - "Petoskey Batman."

From UPI:

A Michigan man nicknamed the "Petoskey Batman" after he was arrested while wearing a Batman costume on a rooftop was sentenced to six months of probation.

Mark Wayne Williams, 32, of Harbor Springs, was arrested May 11 after being spotted on a Petoskey rooftop while wearing a Batman costume and carrying weapons including a baton-like striking weapon, a can of chemical irritant spray and a pair of sand-filled Sap gloves.

This raises two questions. What in the world are "sand-filled Sap gloves"? And what was the plan for them?

Last October, a judge sentenced Williams to six months of probation. He was banned from donning his bat-suit for the duration of his probation.

Now we hear news that "Petoskey Batman" plans to hang up the suit permanently.

He's auctioning it off on E-Bay, with a starting bid set at $100. From the listing:

Well folks here's the deal my bud got himself in trouble last year hanging off a building(i'm sure you've all seen it on the news, we got a good chuckle here.) Seems "The Petoskey Batman" Needs some cash for his legal fees. So what were doing is Auctioning off the suit that was made famous round the world on the nightly news and most of the late night comics(gloves not included lol.) Will come with a signed statement and picture of him next to it, hell he'll even sign the picture for you.

p.s. It has been laundered lol
happy bidding folks
Shipping listed is for U.S. only Canada and International will be higher 

So far, there have been zero bids. But there are more than 2 days left. No word on yet on plans for, or the existence of, the Petoskey Batmobile. 

*Correction - a previous version used the phrase "begs the question" incorrectly. It's been corrected in the copy above.

Every Monday morning we speak with someone who is trying to change their community. Today, as our Seeking Change series continues, we speak with Ariana  Bostian-Kentes. She's the co-founder of the group Military Partners and Families Coalition. It’s a support group for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and  transgender partners of active military service members. The founders came together after testifying in Washington D.C. before  the group analyzing the military’s Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy, and what would happen post-repeal.

Funny or Die

The RoboCop statue is definitely happening in Detroit.

Thomas van de Weerd / wikipedia commons

It all started in Romeo.

According to the House Fiscal Agency, members of the Romeo Senior Center held weekly Texas Hold 'em poker games.

Five bucks got you a seat at the table and you played until your chips were gone - top four finishers took home a payout.

But some legal-eagle rained on their parade, and the games stopped in the spring of 2010.

Michigan's law, they were told, only allowed recreational poker games at senior housing facilities - not at senior citizen centers. If they wanted to continue, they needed a license.

Michigan legislators in the House have come to the rescue with HB 5009. The bill would make these games legal at senior citizen centers.

The bill passed today and now it's up to the Senate.

The House Fiscal Agency analysis says during committee deliberation, "there was concern that providing exemptions to gambling prohibitions to specific classes of people is unfair."

If recreational card playing for money is going to be permitted then it should be opened up and applied to all citizens, irrespective to age. A substitute bill to this effect was offered, but was voted down by the committee.

So there may be one more freedom offered to those over sixty.

Now, who is going to keep on eye on the tables? As written now, players cannot bet more than 25 cents per bet, and the winnings from any one hand of cards can not exceed $5.

Michigan lottery players have a chance to win the largest lotto prize in U.S. History.

The Mega Millions lottery jackpot on Friday night will be $500 million.   That’s about a hundred million dollars more than the previous U.S. lottery record.

“We do expect with this kind of a jackpot probably lines at many retailers, particularly Friday after work, you know as people are driving home they stop to pick up their ticket," says Andi Brancato, a spokeswoman for the Michigan Lottery, "This is virgin territory." 

sabianmaggy / Flickr

Jeff and Sara Tow have lived through two cycles of postpartum depression. Now they plan to swim across Lake Michigan to raise awareness of postpartum mood disorder, and help others overcome it. As part of our weekly series, "Seeking Change" Michigan Radio's Christina Shockley spoke with the Tows.

user msspider66 / flickr

Five winning tickets in Tuesday’s Mega Millions lottery drawing were purchased at a Meijer store in Northville.

The five tickets matched five of the six numbers drawn and they are worth a quarter million dollars each.

Michigan Lottery spokeswoman Andi Brancato admits one store selling so many winning tickets is unusual.

“There are a lot of things that can sometimes seem like they’re impossible to happen.  But we are talking about elements of chance that are what make up a lottery game," says Brancato.

Brancato says it’s possible that one person bought all five tickets.

“We have had players who’ve purchased multiple tickets, for the same drawing, with the same numbers in the past," says Brancato, "We need to have a ‘red flag’.  We need to have a reason to conduct an investigation.  Certainly if there was a problem, or we even thought that there was a problem, we would take a look at it.”  

Since no one matched all six Mega Millions numbers in Tuesday’s drawing, Friday’s jackpot will be worth 290 million dollars.

Tim Anderson/instructables.com

If you're anything like the folks here at Michigan Radio, the recent (and ongoing) spate of unseasonably warm weather through much of the state has probably inspired you to run from the radio station screaming and throwing off layers spend more time outdoors.

Ifmuth / Flickr

The FBI says Flint is one of the most violent cities in the country. Last week, Governor Rick Snyder  unveiled a plan to combat violence there and other Michigan cities. But a group of Flint residents is already working on the problem. They’ve formed the “Urban forum for the prevention of violence” to encourage others in their neighborhoods to pledge to promote peace. Aaron Dunigan has been attending the meetings. As part of our Seeking Change series, I spoke with Aaron about what he is trying to do to end the violence in his city.

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The Mega Millions jackpot has risen to an estimated $171 million for the next drawing in the multistate lottery game.

The grand prize amount rolled over because no player matched all the winning numbers to take the $148 million jackpot up for grabs Friday night. Mega Millions will be played again on Tuesday.

One player who bought a ticket in Michigan won a prize of $250,000 and three others won $10,000.

The winning numbers from Friday were: nine, 10, 27, 36 and 42. The Mega Ball number was 11.

George Takei / Facebook

4,887 "likes" and 217 "shares" on Facebook

Those are the numbers you get when you're the helmsman of the Starship Enterprise, and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra hopes that will translate into tickets this weekend.

George Takei, a.k.a "Mr. Sulu" will be performing with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra tonight and this weekend.

From Takei's Facebook page:

In my dressing room with stellar soprano Kristen Plumley at Friday's sci-fi concert by Detroit Symphony Orchestra conducted by Jack Everly. We're also doing concerts on Saturday eve and Sunday afternoon. If you're in the Detroit area, please join us at Orchestra Hall!

Here's a description of the DSO's Sci-Fi Spectacular show:

Renowned pops conductor Jack Everly brings an out of this world production featuring music from Star Wars, Star Trek, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, The Day the Earth Stood Still and more. Complete with an appearance by Mr. Sulu himself, George Takei!

J.D. Redding / wikimedia commons

A Livonia man has filed suit against a Detroit-area AMC movie theater over what he believes to be excessively high snack bar prices.

David Ashenfelter of the the Detroit Free Press reports that Joshua Thompson, a security technician and movie buff decided to pursue legal action after paying $8 for a Coke and a box of Goobers candy at the AMC Livonia theater recently.

According to Ashenfelter,  Thompson is seeking refunds for concession stand customers along with payment of a civil penalty by the theater for what he considers to be a violation of the Michigan Consumer Protection Act.

screen grab from a video of Godzilla the turkey / Freep.com

It's not quite Hitchcock movie territory, but it's close.

Luckily for her, Edna Geisler doesn't have to deal with thousands of malevolent birds, but one particularly ornery fowl is making life rather difficult for the Commerce Township resident.

As the Associated press reports, Geisler has been facing daily bullying from a wild turkey "willing to bump, scratch and harass her" if she  so much as sets foot in her front yard.

Nick See / Flickr

The loss of a loved one is difficult enough for an adult. For a child, it can be overwhelming. A group in Lansing and Ann Arbor is trying to help children manage their feelings after someone close to them has passed away.

As we continue our Seeking Change series, we speak with Laurie Strauss Baumer, president and CEO of Ele's Place, an organization that is trying to help children deal with their grief.

Environmental Protection Agency

As part of our weekly series, "Seeking Change," we're meeting with people who are trying to create positive change in the communities in which they live. Planners of the Manitou Arbor Ecovillage want their residential community to be a place where people live harmoniously with each other, and with nature. It’s a planned village near Kalamazoo. Ginny Jones is the founder of the ecovillage.  She’s also an environmental studies professor at Western Michigan University.

There’s another sign that winter never really came to Michigan this year.   And it can be found along the state’s roads.

Every year in preparation for the Spring thaw, county road commissions impose weight restrictions on trucks to reduce wear on roadbeds made brittle by winter’s cold.     But not this year.

About two/thirds of Michigan road commissions haven’t imposed restrictions, and most probably won’t, because freezing winter weather never materialized.    

photo courtesy of Kedron Rhodes

A lot of people like where they live, but there are also people like Kedron Rhodes-who love, love, love, where they live.

The 34 year-old professional designer lives outside of Grand Rapids.

He just can't think of enough ways to show his appreciation for Michigan. But he's trying. One of his ideas is to run a design challenge of sorts. 

Each day in February, Rhodes is making a new graphic design and posting it online.

Anyone can download the designs and use them as they see fit.

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