Offbeat

Offbeat
11:44 am
Mon April 16, 2012

Do we really need foam and lycra baby helmets?

The "Thudguard" helmet in action.
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?

Offbeat
11:08 am
Mon April 16, 2012

Michigan pair lose appeal in John Stamos extortion

John Stamos. A Michigan pair tried to blackmail the actor.
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.

Seeking Change
9:55 am
Mon April 16, 2012

Seeking change in Haiti: One student at a time

Destroyed buildings in Jacmel, Haiti after an earthquake hit the region on Jan. 12, 2010
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!

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Offbeat
4:01 pm
Sun April 15, 2012

Tax Time

(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.

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Offbeat
11:31 am
Fri April 13, 2012

UPDATE: Petoskey Batman suit goes for $152.50

Mark Williams as Batman. The infamous suit went to the highest bidder.
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.

Offbeat
9:30 am
Thu April 12, 2012

Searching for Bigfoot in the Mitten State

An alleged Bigfoot in the famous Patterson-Gimlin film from 1967
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

Offbeat
3:08 pm
Mon April 9, 2012

"Petoskey Batman" hanging it up, plans to auction off suit

Mark Williams as Batman. The infamous suit went to the highest bidder.
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.

Seeking Change
10:45 am
Mon April 9, 2012

Helping the LGBT military community

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.

Offbeat
1:38 pm
Wed April 4, 2012

Your move, creep: The RoboCop Statue will rise in Detroit

Well, maybe not a statue of THIS Robocop.
Funny or Die

The RoboCop statue is definitely happening in Detroit.

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Offbeat
12:03 pm
Thu March 29, 2012

Bill aims to free up "Texas Hold 'em" games for Michigan's seniors

Hmm... should I take this to the flop?
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.

Offbeat
11:23 am
Wed March 28, 2012

Buying a chance to win a half billion dollars

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." 

Seeking Change
10:54 am
Mon March 26, 2012

Swimming Lake Michigan to raise awareness of postpartum depression

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.

Offbeat
3:50 pm
Wed March 21, 2012

What are the odds? Michigan store sells five winning Mega Millions lottery tickets

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.

Offbeat
3:17 pm
Mon March 19, 2012

Spring is here, time to grow a face gourd?

Two gourd portraits. The right shows the gourd's natural color wile the left has been stained with tea
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.

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Seeking Change
6:51 am
Mon March 12, 2012

Trying to end the violence in Flint

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.

Offbeat
2:45 pm
Sat March 10, 2012

Feeling Lucky? Mega Millions jackpot grows

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.

Offbeat
4:04 pm
Fri March 9, 2012

George Takei "makes it so" at the Detroit Symphony Orchestra this weekend

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!

Offbeat
3:09 pm
Wed March 7, 2012

Twelve bucks for a Snickers? I'll see you in court!

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.

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Offbeat
4:57 pm
Mon March 5, 2012

Crying "fowl" in an Oakland County land dispute

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.

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Seeking Change
7:06 am
Mon March 5, 2012

Helping children deal with grief

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.

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