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Year in Review: Strange But True

From kitty cut-ups to an airline named Ted, this was one oddball year.

Sports in Your Shorts

Urine trouble:In a sign of the times, Roto-Rooter decided to launch a feel-good promotion at Coors Field, proudly announcing that starting with the April 4 home opener, the "sound of a toilet flushing" would boom throughout the stadium when an opposing pitcher was removed. This effect would be followed by the Roto-Rooter jingle ("Roto-Rooter, that's the name, and away go troubles down the drain") and graphic appearing on the scoreboard video. A Rockies official said the team wanted to make it an "interactive" event. No mention was made of fans who might race for the bathroom to have a truly interactive experience.

Strike up the band:Some University of Colorado fans at the annual CU-CSU tilt at Invesco Field at Mile High got a little too interactive. But who could blame them? The Princeton Review had just named CU the number-one party school in the nation, giving the faithful something to live up to. So about forty animals in the Buff brigade harassed the rival CSU band, hurling insults and alcohol and even striking a female trombone player.

Giving tip for tat:At least no one reported any finger-biting. That didn't happen until after the Chicago Bears gave the finger to the Broncos at Invesco on November 23. According to police, a 27-year-old Westminster man -- who happened to be wearing a Bears shirt -- found himself in a heated post-game discussion with a Broncos fan in a parking lot by the stadium. Witnesses told the cops that during a tussle, the Bears fan bit off the tip of the Broncs fan's middle right finger, then fled. The victim required skin grafts. The hungry Bear was later charged with second-degree assault.

Fall fashions:But it was extreme sports -- in particular, stunt sky-diving -- that created the darkest moment of the athletic year. Dwain Weston, a thirty-year-old from Australia, and another sky diver participating in events following the first Go Fast Games had planned to sail around the 1,053-foot-high Royal Gorge Bridge with the benefit of "wing suits." But something went wrong, and Weston hit the bridge and was killed instantly as about 200 spectators watched in horror.

Extremely upset was Mark Greksa, owner of the Cañon City & Royal Gorge Route Railroad, who vowed to do everything he can to shut down future extreme games at the gorge. Greksa said he'd tried to block the 2003 event, but "no one listened." And, in fact, organizers have indicated that they're going ahead with plans for next year, when the games will include BASE jumping off the bridge, which has been forbidden by Cañon City since 1981 (unless you have a permit). Look out below, Mark.

Risky Business

Weird science: It took six years, but a CU-Boulder representative finally burned out.

The problem wasn't excessive partying. No, SNOE -- short for "Student Nitric Oxide Explorer" satellite -- had spent a half-dozen years in the earth's atmosphere before the 200-pound-plus traveler headed back to earth on a planned re-entry this month and burned up somewhere off the coast of Ecuador. Or so they believe. There are no eyewitness accounts of its flameout.

And the $5 million unit dubbed "The Little Satellite That Did," in honor of its successful mission to carry ozone-measurings instruments into the upper atmosphere, has defied logic before. The high flier, developed for CU-Boulder's Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics and originally thought to be aloft for only a year, had been controlled 24/7 by the ground team at LASP's CU Research Park facility since early 1998. Some believe it was on a secret mission to scout out killer kind bud.

And those same types note what may be an unrelated coincidence: Amelia Earhart is now a sophomore at CU (claiming to be "just a third cousin" of the famous lost aviatrix. But who knows?). And she's interested in flying. So maybe once the exact location of the SNOE is paired with the original Earhart's flight path, things will make sense at CU.

The ride of your life:United Airlines directed Denver customers to a phone-sex line when the airline ran ads with the wrong telephone number in both the Rocky Mountain News and the Denver Post. Callers expecting some special travel deals on the 1-800 line instead wound up listening to the recorded voice of a woman with no reservations. Maybe it was just a clever set-up for United's current campaign, which includes the line, "Ted. Who could resist?"

How the West was lost:Newspaper mistakes aren't always the work of outsiders. Sometimes they're made by folks who don't get out enough. This year the Post had to run a correction noting that, because of an artist's error, a map misidentified the state of Utah as New Mexico.

A screwing screw-up:But that was small potatoes compared to a blunder in the Greeley Tribune, which earned that paper national acclaim in the "Headlines" portion of Jay Leno's show. When Dr. Michael Springfield won a Favorite Chiropractor award from readers of the Trib, the laudatory copy was supposed to read: "Springfield works a combination of traditional chiropractic treatments, along with acupuncture in many cases, to cure many conditions -- such as infertility..." But as published in the newspaper, that line read "along with acupuncture in many cases, to cure many conditions -- such as infidelity." As he read it, Leno pretended to stick a needle in another person, saying: "Cheat on me, will you? Cheat on me? Take that, and that, and that."

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