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NEWS OF THE BY THE EDITORS AT ANDREWS MCMEEL SYNDICATION WEIRDNEWSTIPS@AMUNIVERSAL.COM REGIFTED? Rakhi Desai of Houston didn’t think much at first of the gift she brought home from a white elephant party in mid-December -- a brown stuffed bear with a stitched-on heart. As she looked it over later, Desai noticed the words “Neptune Society” stitched on its foot “and then I started to feel, and it’s almost like little pebbles or rocks” inside, she told KTRK-TV. That’s when it hit her: The bear was filled with someone’s cremated remains. The friend who brought the bear to the gift exchange got it at an estate sale, so Desai called the Neptune Society, hoping to reunite the bear with the family it belongs to, but the organization doesn’t track the bears. However, there is a name on the bear’s tag, and Desai is hoping to find the owner through that. “(T) his bear is very special to somebody and belongs in somebody’s family,” she said. WEIRD ROUNDUP On Christmas Day, Deadspin.com shared a “verbatim” list from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission of emergency room visits paid by Americans who inserted items into various body parts, and shouldn’t have. An edited sampling: Into the ear: “Popcorn kernels in both ears, ‘feeds her ears because her ears are hungry’”; “Was cleaning ear with Q-Tip, accidentally walked into a wall, pushed Q-Tip into ear”; “Placed crayon in ear on a dare.” Into the nose: “Sneezed and a computer keyboard key came out right nostril, sneezed again and another one almost came out”; pool noodle; piece of steak; sex toy. Into the throat: mulch; “Swallowed a quarter while eating peanuts”; plastic toy banana. And finally, into the rectum: “Signif-

icant amount of string”; cellphone; Christmas ornament ball; “Jumped on bed, toothbrush was on bed and went up patient’s rectum.” LIKELY STORY Vanessa Elizabeth Helfant, 38, of Knoxville, Tennessee, floated a “dog bites man” defense at her DUI hearing on Dec. 13, arguing that several parked cars struck her on March 25, 2017. The jury, however, didn’t buy her story after hearing evidence: Witnesses at the scene followed Helfant to her destination, and when officers arrived and knocked on the door, Helfant called 911 to report people knocking on her door. WATE reported that she eventually admitted that she had drunk half a pint of vodka and smoked marijuana. Helfant, who had no prior offenses, was convicted and faces at least 48 hours in jail and her license will be suspended for a year. PEOPLE DIFFERENT FROM US Asparagus is healthy and delicious. But for 63-year-old Jemima Packington of Bath, England, the columnar vegetable is much more: Packington is an asparamancer, a person who can foretell the future by tossing the spears into the air and seeing how they land. “When I cast the asparagus, it creates patterns and it is the patterns I interpret,” Packington said. “I am usually about 75 to 90 percent accurate.” In fact, out of 13 predictions she made for 2018, 10 of them came true. What’s in store for 2019? Packington tells Metro News that England’s women’s soccer team will win the World Cup; “A Star Is Born” will win an Oscar; and fears over Brexit will be largely unfounded. Oh, and asparagus will see an all-time high in sales.

38 | JAN. 8, 2019 | PITTSBURGH CURRENT

Universal Crossword Edited by David Steinberg January 8, 2019

ACROSS 1 “Humbug!” lead-in 4 Two queens, say 8 Savory taste 13 Longtime shock jock Don 15 “Not to mention ...” 16 ’60s protest 17 Start of a quip 19 Sweater style with a letter-shaped cut 20 Methuselah’s old man 21 Tone up 23 In a way 25 Italian dish that takes a long time to cook 29 Part two of the quip 32 Flowering vine with a rich scent 36 Ile de la Cite’s river 37 A chip, maybe 38 Kenyan tribesman 41 With 11Down, night for amateur comics 42 Opposite of urban 44 Software manuals are written for them 46 Part three of the quip 49 More tranquil 50 Sycophant 1/8

55 Hardships 58 Heavy safari animal, informally 59 Who can be found in the Waldorf Astoria? 62 End of the quip 64 Roswell crash victim, supposedly 65 Egyptian goddess whose name consists of the same verb twice 66 “Garfield” dog 67 Secluded valleys 68 Formally surrender 69 Do some sums DOWN 1 Vampires’ marks 2 Acid in proteins 3 Sense of ___ (date’s asset) 4 Amigo 5 Sacha Baron Cohen title character 6 “Amazing Grace” ending 7 Talking points? 8 Permits to enter America 9 Popular cookies in a refreshing variety

10 Absorbed, as a cost 11 See 41-Across 12 Cartridge contents 14 The Amish, e.g. 18 Violin opening 22 Flipper 24 Al dente 26 Balderdash 27 Cartridge contents 28 Olympic legend Jesse 30 Sedona automaker 31 Artist’s stand 32 City voting districts 33 Accustom 34 Valuable violin, for short 35 Place to sip a hot drink alfresco

39 Singer DiFranco 40 Bad day for Caesar 43 Skin soothers 45 Seize illegally 47 Like the “-” end of a battery: Abbr. 48 Romp 51 Jimmy ___ shoes 52 In a way, casually 53 Loosened, as a knot 54 Did a model’s job 56 Angry reaction 57 Kind of mark left by a tire 59 Tail motion 60 The whole shebang 61 Deception 63 Bismarck-toMinneapolis dir.

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