The road runner problem, hefty squirrels and Halloween Karens

Mishaps and mayhem from around the region.

 

CALIFORNIA
A middle school in Jurupa Valley reported a coyote running around the school and entering a restroom without a hall pass. The coyote, dubbed “Wile E.,” after the Looney Tunes cartoon character, had been spotted near the campus before, but until now, he’d never entered the school. Officer Will Luna of the Riverside Department of Animal Services cornered the coyote next to the toilet, according to the Palm Springs Desert Sun, and successfully captured him. Luna also filmed and narrated the encounter, which concluded with Wile E.’s release some distance away from school property. A spokescanine for the coyote community blamed the entire incident on “the road runner problem,” adding that a lawsuit had been filed against ACME Co. for selling faulty dynamite. 

UTAH AND ALASKA
We’ve all put on a few COVID pounds over the last couple of years, and the squirrels in Zion National Park are no exception. KSL NewsRadio reports that the park initiated Fat Squirrel Week hoping to help the rotund rodents slim down a tad. There’s nothing more adorable than a chonky squirrel, but you can have too much of a good thing, and the park says that “some of the fattest squirrels on Earth make their home on Riverside Walk.” The nut gatherers’ extra girth comes from all the goodies — banana and orange peels, etcetera — visitors leave behind. The park urges snack-toting humans to become “squirrel stewards” by learning about rock squirrels and not leaving food waste behind.

If Fat Squirrel Week sounds familiar, that’s because Zion borrowed the idea from Katmai National Park’s Fat Bear Week, Alaska’s annual quest for the fattest and grandest brown bear in all the land. This year, the competition had to deal with scandal by way of voter fraud, but ultimately, 747, aka “Bear Force One,” won the title against some fierce competitors.

WASHINGTON
When Khristopher La Plante told us that Washington Gov. Jay Inslee was renaming the state’s 26 ferries after the Seattle Mariners, we thought the change might be permanent. And it got our dander up: Not only are the boats beloved by residents of the Salish Sea Islands — including Khris, who has commuted to Seattle by ferry for decades — but the ferries were originally named after Washington’s tribes and regions. Fortunately, the renaming is temporary. Washington State Ferries tweeted out: In honor of the @Mariners, @Govinslee has directed that all 21 vessels in our fleet be temporarily renamed after players and personnel starting tomorrow 10/13 through as long as the #Mariners remain in the 2022 @MLB Postseason.” The Seattle Times helpfully listed all the vessels’ temporary monikers: “Cathlamet: M/V Diego Castillo; Chelan: M/V J.P. Crawford”… and so on.

NEW MEXICO
It’s fitting that someone named Zip Stevenson would own Denim Doctors, a vintage clothing company in Santa Rosa. Stevenson teamed up with Kyle Haupert, who works in vintage clothing in San Diego, to bid on a pair of Levi’s found in an old New Mexico mineshaft by “denim archaeologist” Michael Harris, according to NPR. The jeans, which date from the 1880s, were in great shape, although slightly roughened up, and the clothing dealers walked away with them for the winning bid of $76,000 — $87,000 with the 15% buyer’s premium. NBC BayArea.com reports that the jeans offer “a snapshot of the era,” and not a flattering one, owing to the loaded phrase imprinted on one pocket. Levi Strauss & Co. said that the words “The only kind made by white labor” were added to its products following the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, which established a 10-year ban on Chinese laborers seeking to immigrate to the U.S., despite the role they played in building the nation. What’s to become of the $87,000 jeans? Stevenson said, “Most of the jeans that are known are in institutions,” but he and his business partner are willing to sell these for, um, “at least $150,000.”

WASHINGTON
When some civil servants/merry revelers in Prosser, Washington, demonstrated their Halloween spirit with a “Karen”-themed exhibit outside of City Hall, upset residents protested, with one gentleman — who was not named Karen — accusing the town of being “distasteful, hurtful, totally inappropriate, childish and mean,” the Washington News via Tri-City Herald reports. “Scary Karen” was created for the annual Halloween decoration contest, but after the complaints, city officials, noting that “Karen” was considered a “controversial pejorative aimed at privileged white women,” ordered the display to be taken down. Sometimes demanding to “speak to the manager” really does work, it appears.   

Tiffany Midge is a citizen of the Standing Rock Nation and was raised by wolves in the Pacific Northwest. Her book, Bury My Heart at Chuck E. Cheese’s (Bison Books, 2019), was a Washington State Book Award nominee. She resides in north-central Idaho near the Columbia River Plateau, homeland of the Nimiipuu.

Tips of Western oddities are appreciated and often shared in this column. Write [email protected], or submit a letter to the editor

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