In case you missed it, the Plaza headquarters of religious tolerance was under attack by those pesky black beasts of the air. No, not Missouri-based stealth bombers. We're talking crows, bro.
It started last fall when somebody a bit south and a little west of the place in the direction of, say, Churchill Towers started setting off some bad-ass firecrackers. The near-sonic booms were probably meant to chase off crows in the same way that the Cheesecake Factory has nearly done away with discerning Plaza diners. The explosions, which usually went off around dusk, would shake the whole neighborhood, recalls the Rev. Duke Tufty, senior minister at Unity Temple.
Next came bottle rockets, which rained down from the hill northeast of Unity Temple. The screaming missiles did their job: letting the crows know that they weren't welcome in the up-and-coming north-of-the-Plaza neighborhood.
Under assault from two directions, the crows had nowhere to roost but on top of Unity's 56-year-old hall. They quickly chased off the songbirds that frequented the temple's feeder. They filled the air with shrill cries worse than evangelical rock.
Then they crapped on everything.
"It was getting so messy that we had to do something," Tufty says.
That's when the temple called in the pterodactyls. To be specific, we're talking about an Overland Park wildlife management company called Critter Control, one of a half-dozen companies around the metro that specialize in scaring the hell out of crows. Unity Temple spent $400 to lease sound mechanisms that Critter Control installed on the roof. The "electronic scare devices" blasted the sound of crows in distress and the calls of predator birds to make the crows uncomfortable, says Jeff Archer, owner of Critter Control. Technicalities aside, the thing sounds like somebody strangling the hell out of one killer bird.
The whole crow problem began, Archer admits, when his company set up a similar device about four years ago at the H&R Block headquarters. "We kind of chased them down to the Plaza, to be honest," he says.
Earlier this month, Critter Control took down its rig from Unity Temple after the last crow packed up its shit and took flight.
"I guess the battle of the crows is over," Tufty says.
Every March, the NCAA men's basketball tournament produces excitement and drama.
And shame on you if your bracket doesn't have at least one No. 12 seed upsetting a No. 5. Happens every year.
Billions of dollars are wagered in NCAA tournament pools. But are they legal? Depends where you fill out your bracket.
Johnson County District Attorney Paul Morrison says Kansas law does not allow wagering on games of chance. "If there's money bet on sporting events, it's gambling and illegal under Kansas law," Morrison says.
Not that he cares.
"But I think, as a practical matter, nobody spends a whole lot of time investigating office pools and those kinds of things," Morrison says. "There are more important things for us to spend our time and energy on."
In freewheeling Missouri, the $10 bracketologist can pick a Final Four without breaking the law. "There is no Missouri statute that addresses NCAA office tournament pools," says John Fougere, spokesman for state Attorney General Jay Nixon.
Though law-enforcement officials take a realistic view of betting pools, the NCAA itself feigns piety. A printable bracket on the NCAA Web site comes with a message: "The NCAA opposes all sports wagering. This bracket should not be used for sweepstakes, contests, office pools or other gambling activities."
Yeah, and the guys who play the games are "student athletes."