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Quick Takes


Justin Bieber Associated Press/Photo by Mark J. Terrill

Quick Takes
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Beyond Bieber

Walmart raised wages and handed over thermostat controls to individual stores. But no action brought the kind of ovation from employees like one the company announced June 3: an end to Celine Dion and Justin Bieber. More than 3,000 employees gathered in Fayetteville, Ark., cheered when Walmart officials told them the company would phase out looped CDs featuring pop stars Dion and Bieber playing on each store’s public address system. Instead of playing the short, looped Dion and Bieber mix—which employees insist has been playing in most stores for months—a company DJ will arrange the in-house music.

Cheaper by the hundred

When Jaxton Zanger was born on April 8, he was the second child of parents Austin and Ashleigh Zanger. However, for great-grandparents Leo and Ruth Zanger, Jaxton marked the 46th great-grandchild. In all, the Quincy, Ill., couple has 12 children, 53 grandchildren, 46 great-grandchildren, and one great-great-grandchild—more than 100 children in their lives. “The good Lord has just kept sending them,” Leo Zanger, who has been married 59 years, told the Quincy Herald-Whig. The Zanger family’s numbers make holidays challenging, according to one of the grandsons: “We rent out a church hall.”

L.A. excess

If Nile Niami succeeds, his behemoth Los Angeles residential development will become the most expensive house in the world. According to city records, Niami, a film producer and speculative developer, has started moving earth on what will become a 74,000-square-foot house high atop a hill in L.A.’s Bel Air neighborhood. The compound will include three smaller guest houses and will require builders to remove 40,000 cubic yards of earth from the hilltop. Niami’s listing price: $500 million.

Reptilian citizen

Tokyo city officials have one more resident to account for: Godzilla. In a special April 9 event, city officials issued a residency permit for the fictional giant lizard best known for climbing the Tokyo skyline. A man in a Godzilla costume posed for photos during the event beside city officials holding his residency certificate and a plaque signifying Godzilla as an official tourism ambassador for the Shinjuku ward of Tokyo.

Breaking and exiting

Walter Thomas of Woodstock, Ill., had a destructive dream: He wanted to drive a car through a garage door. And with the help of his family and a local repair shop, the 90-year-old got his wish May 31. “Every time I back out of the garage, I think about backing through the door,” he said. When he mentioned the fantasy to his grandchildren, they hatched a plan. First, they found a garage with a door that needed replacement. Next, the grandchildren located a car bound for the crusher. And on May 31, the 90-year-old donned a crash helmet, put the borrowed Isuzu Rodeo in reverse, and jammed the gas pedal to the floor. Emerging from the vehicle, the front now covered in garage door bits, Thomas said he felt fulfilled: “That was easy.”

Lessons from the past

When workers in early June began taking out chalkboards at Emerson High School in Oklahoma City, Okla., to make room for new whiteboards, they found something behind the chalkboards they weren’t expecting: Older chalkboards with almost perfectly preserved chalk lessons from 1917. The lessons included work from teachers and students in math, history (with drawings of the pilgrims), handwriting, reading, cleanliness, and music. The district and the city plan to find a way to preserve the chalk work from the city’s past. “The penmanship blows me away, because you don’t see a lot of that anymore,” Principal Sherry Kishore told the Oklahoman. “Some of the handwriting in some of these rooms is beautiful.”

Driven to drive

Drenched by a month of heavy rains and rising floodwaters, rancher Pat Henscey turned to a 19th-century solution to save his cattle. On May 31, the East Texas rancher saddled his horse, rounded up some cowboys, and commenced an old-fashioned cattle drive to move his herd out of pasture in danger of flooding. Henscey moved his herd through Dayton, Texas, where residents came out with lawn chairs and treated the event like a parade. The Liberty Bell Ranch herd will graze at a borrowed rail yard until floodwaters subside.

Costly cheers

When Lanarcia Walker crossed Senatobia (Miss.) High School’s graduation stage on May 21, the senior’s family cheered loudly—too loudly for some tastes. Moments later, Walker’s father, aunt, and two other relatives were asked to leave the event for ignoring the prohibition on loud cheering in the middle of graduation exercises. Days later, at the direction of Superintendent Jay Foster, police officers issued arrest warrants on the family members and others, charging the cheerers with disturbing the peace. Each charged well-wisher faces a $500 bond and a June 9 court date.

Pork payoff

Years after the bacon fad began, officials with the Indiana lottery hope to cash in by using it to entice ticket buyers. The Hoosier Lottery debuted a new bacon-scented scratch-and-sniff scratch-off lottery ticket, with winners receiving cash prizes up to $10,000 as well as the possibility to win a 20-year supply of bacon. To celebrate the new lottery offering, industry group Indiana Pork will offer bacon tastings and bacon-themed giveaways in three Indiana cities in June and July.

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