Odds & Ends
By Devin D. O'Leary
JULY 19, 1999:
Dateline: The Netherlands -- A Dutch man dubbed "The Dinner Pirate" has apparently raised dine-and-dash to an art form in the northern city of Leeuwarden, Netherlands. Now, after nearly 20 years of feasting for free at area restaurants, the man, identified only as Albert B., will spend at least three more months eating for free -- in the local jail. A judge sentenced the hungry felon to 90 days in jail after the 54-year-old former tour bus driver confessed to ordering meals at restaurants around the Netherlands, only to plead poverty when the bill came. Albert's dine-and-dash spree began in the early '80s, and police say his criminal file is now 33 pages thick. Albert was nabbed recently after visiting the same restaurant twice within a two-week period.
Dateline: England -- British clerical worker Beverley Lancaster was awarded more than $100,000 in compensation after being cruelly promoted on the job. According to the 44-year-old Birmingham woman, she was forced to retire for "health reasons" after being appointed to a more senior post. Following her promotion in 1993, Lancaster alleged that on-the-job stress caused her to call in sick repeatedly. She retired in 1997.
Dateline: Maine -- If you've ever thought about dating someone you met online, consider the following story: James Dinari, 44, of Columbia, Mo., drove across the country to Topsham, Maine, to see a woman he had met and romanced over the Internet. Although she wished to end the digital dating, he apparently did not. Dinari drove to the woman's home, pulled a chainsaw from his trunk, stood in her front yard and cut part of his neck off to prove his love. The overzealous Van Gogh-wannabe died in a local hospital shortly thereafter.
Dateline: California -- A shootout at -- appropriately enough -- a northern California shooting range ended a bizarre hostage incident last Monday. Twenty-one-year-old Richard Gable Stevens walked into the National Shooting Range in Santa Clara, Calif., to rent a 9mm semi- automatic weapon. The combination gun store and shooting club rents out a wide variety of weapons for use on its rifle range. After several minutes of target practice, Stevens returned to the club's gun store and fired several rounds into the ceiling. He then proceeded to herd the three store employees out the door into a back alley, saying he intended to kill them. Unfortunately -- for Stevens, anyway -- one of the store employees was carrying his own .45 caliber handgun and promptly pumped two rounds into Stevens' chest. Police arrived shortly thereafter. When Stevens refused to comply with police demands to show his hands, he was shot again with several rounds of rubber bullets. Police found a suicide note in Stevens' vehicle addressed to his parents, which read, in part, "Now you'll spend the rest of your lives fighting lawsuits from my victims' relatives and die with only dimes perhaps."
Dateline: Illinois -- Chicago actor Del Close has landed himself a role that most actors would die for. Fortunately for Close, he's already dead. Close, a veteran of the Second City comedy troupe, passed away in March but willed his skull to Chicago's Goodman Theater. Close's skull, encased in a plastic box and resting on a velvet cushion, was presented to the theater last Thursday. Before he died, Close stipulated that his skeletal head should be used to play the part of Yorick, the deceased court jester in Hamlet who inspires the immortal line, "Alas poor Yorick. I knew him, Horatio." Although Close specified the Shakespeare part, Goodman Theater owners are allowed to use his skull for any other purposes they deem necessary. Robert Falls, Goodman's artistic director, has promised to find at least one part for the skull each season.