Originally created 02/24/03

Odds and Ends



GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- Tom and Terry Swenson have a new game with a historical twist.

The couple have developed a family board game based on the expedition of explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, who traveled up the Missouri River to the Pacific Northwest 200 years ago.

The Lewis & Clark Family Game, which the Swensons developed over four years with help from a Wisconsin design company, is aimed at more than one audience.

"We wanted to interest the history buff, and yet we don't want to exclude a family from sitting around and playing the game," Tom Swenson said.

Players start at Camp Dubois in Illinois, and follow a blue trail to Fort Clatsop in Oregon. They then follow a green trail back in a mad dash to be the first to reach St. Louis and win the game.

Along the way, there are equal amounts of good fortune and bad - mimicking what the trip was like for Lewis and Clark.

"Not only do you have to be the best Lewis and Clark you can be, but you also have to fend off other Lewis and Clarks," Tom Swenson said.

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BEAUFORT, N.C. -- You can get fries with your burger at a restaurant here, but just don't ask for french fries.

Neal Rowland, the owner of Cubbie's, now only sells his fried potato strips as "freedom fries" - a decision that comes as Americans watch French officials back away from support for possible war in Iraq.

"Because of Cubbie's support for our troops, we no longer serve french fries. We now serve freedom fries," says a sign in the restaurant's window.

Rowland said his intent is not to slight the French people, but to take a patriotic stance to show his support for the United States and the actions of President Bush.

"It's our way of showing our patriotic pride," he said, noting that his business has a lot of local military troops as customers.

Rowland said the switch from french fries to freedom fries came to mind after a conversation about World War I when anti-German sentiment prompted Americans to rename German foods like sauerkraut and frankfurter to liberty cabbage and hot dog.

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ORONO, Maine -- Bitter temperatures foiled the University of Maine's attempt to win back a kissing crown.

The university set a record on Valentine's Day in 1996 with 1,420 couples smooching at once. The mark was broken in 2000 when 1,588 couples locked lips in Sarnia, Ontario.

On Friday, only 943 University of Maine couples came out to go for the title.

Organizers blamed the low turnout on cold weather and the university's loss in a hockey game earlier in the evening that prompted many students to leave the game before the kissing event got under way.

"Even by northern New England standards, it's awfully cold and the temptation to stay inside can be overwhelming," said university spokesman Joe Carr.

The temperature was well below zero when the event got under way at 10 p.m. and wind chills made it feel like 35 to 45 degrees below zero.

Josh Luce, a freshman, said even though students fell short of setting a new record, the event was still fun. Plus, he added, the smooch with his kissing partner was "definitely a 10."

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HANNIBAL, Mo. -- A 24-year-old man fleeing police apparently wasn't satisfied with just one stolen car.

Police said Mark D. O'Brien broke into a half-dozen cars and crashed or abandoned them before finally being taken into custody Friday. He was charged with violating his probation from a previous auto-theft offense.

The chase began in Hannibal in northeastern Missouri and ended with O'Brien's arrest in neighboring Ralls County, when he lost control of the sixth stolen vehicle, Hannibal Police Lt. Michael Lawzano said.

Police said the car thefts started about 1 p.m. Friday when a Ford Tempo was stolen and then abandoned. A GMC pickup truck was the next target, which was abandoned on an overpass. Next, a Chevrolet Lumina was swiped near a funeral home.

Authorities said O'Brien next stole a Chevrolet Astro van and left the city of Hannibal. They said he drove it about 10 miles from Hannibal, where the vehicle became disabled.

He left it and stole a Saturn car. As he was leaving, he ran into the same van that he had abandoned. The Saturn then got stuck and he abandoned it, too, authorities said. The suspect then allegedly stole a gray Dodge flatbed truck.

Eventually the driver lost control and officers were able to take him into custody, police said.