Check back here daily for the latest oddball stories that just may give you a chuckle or leave you scratching your head.
Dozens dressed as Tyrannosaurus rex descend on public square
PORTLAND, Maine — His name means "king of the tyrant lizards," but sometimes Tyrannosaurus rex just wants to party.
Make that many T. rexes. Hundreds of curious people descended on Portland's Monument Square on Saturday to observe a gathering of dinosaur lovers dressed as the science museum staple.
There were dozens of T. rexes, and they danced, growled and milled around. One who struggled to navigate his costume walked around with his head protruding awkwardly from the dinosaur's gaping mouth.
Valerie Sanborn and Alison Cyr set up the Cretaceous Period party through Facebook. A non-participant was summoned to snap a group photo because of T. rex's "little arm probz."
There didn't appear to be any participants who arrived dressed as Marc Bolan, late singer of English rock band T. Rex.
Former Montana lawmaker gets 18 years for drug trafficking
BILLINGS, Mont. — A former leader of the Montana House of Representatives who once supported funding for an anti-drug campaign was sentenced to 18 years in prison Thursday for his central role in a methamphetamine trafficking ring.
Michael Lange, the Republican House majority leader during the 2007 Legislature, arranged deliveries of at least 20 and possibly up to 50 pounds (nine and possibly up to 23 kilograms) of meth from a source in California over a seven-month period in 2016, prosecutors said. It was sold through a network of approximately 15 to 20 dealers in Montana and Wyoming, according to federal prosecutors and an FBI drug task-force officer.
Lange pleaded guilty in September to drug conspiracy and distribution charges. He apologized at his sentencing but drew a sharp rebuke from U.S. District Judge Susan Watters after Lange appeared to minimize his involvement in the trafficking ring and claimed the truth of what happened had never been revealed.
"You don't get it, Mr. Lange," Watters said. "For you to tell me in your letter of acceptance that it was never your intention for this methamphetamine to get out into the community is completely incredible to me. ... What did you think was going to happen?"
Lange claimed prior to Thursday's sentencing that he trafficked just 7 pounds (3 kilograms) of the drug, according to court documents. Prosecutors said that was contradicted by his own statements to investigators. They said one of his distributors had put the amount at up to 50 pounds.
During his three two-year terms in the Legislature, Lange supported giving $4 million in state money to an anti-methamphetamine public relations campaign, the Montana Meth Project. He was ousted from his leadership position after being captured on video in a profane tirade against then-Gov. Brian Schweitzer, a Democrat.
Lange, 57, lived a crime-free life until 2014, when he was charged with driving under the influence after moving to California to launch a new business and starting to cocaine, according to prosecutors and defense attorney Ashley Harada.
That same year, he committed a second DUI in California in conjunction with a felony charge of possessing over an ounce (28 grams) of methamphetamine for sale. He was sentenced to 16 months in prison in that case, according to court records.
Within months of his release, Lange began dealing much larger quantities of the drug, prosecutors said.
He was indicted in February 2017 after an investigation that began when three alleged dealers identified him as their supplier following their apprehension in Wyoming.
The source of the drug in California — identified in court papers only as "Manny" — has not been indicted.
Co-defendant Jose Soltero acknowledged acting as a middleman and interpreter for Lange and Manny. He received a 12-year prison sentence Wednesday.
Soltero claimed he got involved under duress after he and his family were threatened with violence.
Three others charged in the case received prison sentences of five to six years each. The defense requested a 10-year sentence for Lange, arguing that the other defendants had been as or more involved in the drug ring compared with the former lawmaker.
Harada, the attorney, said no decision had been made on whether to appeal Lange's sentence.
Prosecutors described Lange as the central player in the conspiracy, responsible for receiving and redistributing methamphetamine and then returning the proceeds back to California.
Assistant U.S. Attorney John Sullivan said Lange had become a "wrecking ball" within a community he once represented in the Legislature. The prosecutor blamed methamphetamine as the driving force behind violent crimes and a spate of child neglect cases in the Billings area.
"He held a very respectable position as a Montana politician," Sullivan said. "For him to turn around and do this to a community in which he has lived for so long has a truly staggering effect."
Follow Matthew Brown on Twitter at www.twitter.com/matthewbrownap .
Cops: Maine man punches self in face to avoid sobriety test
BELFAST, Maine — Police in Maine have accused a man of punching himself in the face three times to avoid a sobriety test.
Police in the town of Belfast say they found 27-year-old Brian Fogg in his car, stuck in a ditch last week.
WGME-TV reports police said when they tried to test for his blood-alcohol level, Fogg punched himself in the face, causing himself to bleed. Police tended to his injuries instead of giving him the test, but later charged him with operating under the influence, falsifying physical evidence and criminal mischief.
Fogg's been released on bail. He has an unpublished number and it wasn't immediately known if he had a lawyer.
Information from: WGME-TV, http://www.wgme.com
Russian police face the unexpected: crocodile in basement
ST. PETERSBURG, Russia — Russian police had an unexpected encounter while searching a house in St. Petersburg — a crocodile in the basement.
The Fontanka.ru news portal said the incident happened Thursday while detectives were looking for undeclared weapons in the house of a man involved in staging reconstructions of historic military battles with period uniforms and antique weaponry.
When they went down, they saw a crocodile resting in a small pool of water dug in concrete basement. The owner of the house explained that he got the crocodile years ago.
City prosecutors said Friday they were checking whether the man was complying with local laws.
Buzz off: Ohio college want vultures to leave campus
GRANVILLE, Ohio — An Ohio liberal arts college is hanging effigies in trees and using pyrotechnics to move destructive vultures off campus.
The Columbus Dispatch reports vultures have caused at least $50,000 damage at Denison University in the last year by picking at roof membranes and at caulking around vents. Vulture droppings left around air-handling units have created stinky health hazards.
Initial efforts to scare off the birds appear to be working. Vulture effigies hung by the U.S. Department of Agriculture send danger signals, says USDA wildlife biologist Jeff Pelc. Only non-lethal methods can be used because vultures are a protected migratory bird species.
Granville officials don't want the vultures moving into town. Village administrator Mollie Ann Prasher says residents should bang pots and pans to scare off vultures when they're spotted.
Philadelphia greasing light poles to stop fans from climbing
PHILADELPHIA — Workers in Philadelphia are greasing light poles in a bid to prevent fans from climbing up them after the NFC Championship game.
Officials say the grease should make the poles too slippery to climb.
The workers applying the grease are jokingly calling themselves the "Crisco Cops."
The Philadelphia Eagles are hosting the Minnesota Vikings in the championship game on Sunday night. The winning team will earn a spot in the Super Bowl.
Doughnut-eating champ charged with stealing from Dunkin'
ELIZABETH CITY, N.C. — A North Carolina man who made headlines when he was caught for break-ins after winning a doughnut-eating contest has been arrested again. And this time he's accused of stealing from a doughnut shop.
The Virginian-Pilot newspaper reports 27-year-old Bradley Hardison of Elizabeth City was charged Thursday with stealing from a Dunkin' Donuts in November.
An Elizabeth City Police Department statement says he's charged with felonies including breaking and entering and larceny. It wasn't clear if he helped himself to any doughnuts.
A phone listing for Hardison rang disconnected.
The Virginian-Pilot reported that in 2014, Hardison won a doughnut-eating contest put on by Elizabeth City police while he was wanted on suspicion of several break-ins. Investigators said they arrested Hardison after his win prompted further scrutiny, and he was convicted, according to the paper.
75 years since massive temperature swing in Spearfish
SPEARFISH, S.D. — Monday marks the 75th anniversary of a startling weather event that put a western South Dakota city in the record books: In just two minutes, the temperature in Spearfish jumped from negative 4 degrees (-20 Celsius) to 45 degrees (7 Celsius) on Jan. 22, 1943.
The temperature then increased to 54 degrees (12 Celsius), only to fall back down that morning to negative 4 degrees (-20 Celsius), the Rapid City Journal reported .
The weather cracked plate glass windows and instantly frosted car windows, forcing drivers to pull over.
Meteorologist Susan Sanders said a combination of especially cold air from the north and east ran into warm air from the west.
"Warmer air came in and pushed (cold air) away," said Sanders. "When the winds let up, the warmer air retreated and the cold air came back."
Sanders said the air masses sloshed back and forth several times that remarkable morning 75 years ago.
The extreme temperature swings received national attention, including from "Ripley's Believe it or Not."
"There were newspaper stories from all over the country," Sanders said.
She said there wasn't much light-hearted news during the time, with World War II ongoing.
"It was something unusual that caught people's attention," Sanders said.