Man successfully passes his trial by fireA fire-eating...

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October 11, 1991

Man successfully passes his trial by fire

A fire-eating performer convinced jurors that San Fransiscan police detected kerosene, not alcohol, on his breath by giving them a live performance.

Ted Maschal, 31, was found innocent of drunken driving when he swirled the flammable liquid in his mouth, spewed flames skyward, then took a breath analyzer test to prove that kerosene would register.

The trial by fire paid off.

"That impressed all of us," jury forewoman Joan Helmes said. "We felt that had affected the test [after his arrest]." Kids are urged to collect 'em and trade 'em, but they'd better not steal one. It would be pretty embarrassing to get busted with a hot cop card.

Campbell, Calif. policemen, in an effort to improve police-kid relations, is putting pictures of police officers on trading cards. 00 On the back are short biographical sketches and a message.

"Because collecting baseball cards is so popular with children today, it seemed a natural way for the officers to attract the attention of kids who otherwise would have avoided them," Police Chief James Cost said.

The card for motorcycle Officer Michael Alameda says his goal is to promote traffic safety. Also known as "Robocop," the martial arts enthusiast urges kids to "play hard, but play safe."

Now you see it, now you don't

A magician took his act to court to fight a gambling charge, but the judge stole the show by making his case disappear.

Milwaukee Court Commissioner Frank J. Liska Jr. last week challenged Travis Gardner to do some tricks to avoid paying a $100 ticket he got Aug. 26 after a woman reported he was running a shell game or some other scam.

"If I'm convinced it's magic that you're doing, I'll dismiss your case," Judge Liska said.

Mr. Gardner pulled out some tools of his trade: a pair of "thumbcuffs" used to bind two thumbs together, a key, a handkerchief and a dollar.

Mr. Gardner put on his magic thumbcuffs, then quickly $l extricated his thumbs without using the key. He then made a red handkerchief disappear from one hand, reappear in the other hand and then reappear in his mouth.

"Case dismissed," Judge Liska said. "You've got a good act, but mine is better because I made your case disappear."

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