Life — and dolphins — imitate Homer Simpson

Dolphins at a Japanese marine park are going on a low-fat diet after developing pot bellies and failing to look sharp in their aquatic performances.

Kinosaki Marine World in western Japan said Tuesday that all of its 19 dolphins have been on a low-fat diet since late August, when they started failing to hit jumping targets and keep upright while treading water.

"We were puzzled by their poor performance. Then we noticed they looked rounder," park spokesman Haruo Imazu said.

Keepers measured their weight and found that all had gained weight, some as much as 22 pounds just during the summer.

All had the same menu — about 31 pounds of mackerel mixed with some whitefish — but keepers found that the mackerels had gotten fattier, adding too many calories for the dolphins.

Keepers put them on a weight-loss program, feeding them more whitefish and less fatty mackerels, while instituting a routine exercise regime, Imazu said.

Less fat and moderate exercise seemed to be working, he said.

Don't sue; watch what you chew

A New York judge says popcorn buyers worried about breaking a tooth on unpopped kernels should eat carefully or get something else.

Insurance broker Steve Kaplan claimed that he hurt a tooth while watching Superbad at a Manhattan theater a year ago.

Kaplan sued the theater for $1,250 in dental repairs. Manhattan Civil Court Judge Matthew Cooper ruled that Kaplan could not reasonably expect every kernel to be popped.

Kaplan and the theater's attorney did not return calls for comment.

A new weapon in the war on pumpkins

One New Jersey farm has a special attraction to go with the season's hay rides and corn mazes: a giant pumpkin catapult.

A group of middle school students who became obsessed with the medieval weapon asked northern New Jersey farmers Anthony and Heidi Lentini if they could use physics to fling pumpkins.

The couple, who have corn mazes on their farm in Newton, agreed.

The half-dozen boys, the farmers and a technology teacher from Halsted Middle School began work in August and finished building the giant catapult recently.

It cost about $1,200. The Lentinis paid for construction.

The farmers said the device is up and running and is covering the farm with the remains of pumpkins.

Ostentatious behavior: not a crime

Hollywood celebrities can continue to drive with animals nestled in their laps.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is vetoing a bill to fine motorists $35 for sharing the driver's seat with lapdogs or other animals.

Republican Assemblyman Bill Maze said the practice is distracting. He introduced the bill after seeing a woman driving with three dogs on her lap.

Schwarzenegger said he's signing only bills that are "the highest priority for California." And a lapdog ban isn't one of them.

This won't catch on at coffee houses

An Iowa woman got a jolt when she rinsed out her coffee maker: She found a bat in the filter.

The Iowa Department of Public Health says the woman had reported a bat in her house but wasn't worried about it. She set her automatic coffee maker before bedtime and drank her coffee the next morning.

That night, she discovered the bat as she started to clean the filter. The woman has undergone treatment for possible rabies.

Health officials said the bat was sent to a lab but that its brain was too cooked by the hot water to determine whether it had rabies.

Didn't Schwarzenegger play him?

A 71-year-old grandfather treated for abdominal pain received this news in the hospital's paperwork last week: "Based on your visit today, we know you are pregnant."

The staff at Curry General Hospital in Gold Beach, Ore., gave Grady Pippen, a retired mechanic and logger, the news along with some pain pills.

Hospital administrator William McMillan said an errant keystroke caused the hospital's computer to spit out the wrong discharge instructions.

Not your ordinary stray cat

A police officer who was sent to shoo off a bothersome cat at a home in Casper, Wyo., discovered that it was a male mountain lion weighing 80 to 90 pounds.

Officer Mike Ableman said he ran for cover inside Beverly Hood's home when he saw the cougar.

Hood said she was inside when she first saw the mountain lion lying on her porch Monday. Hood says the lion hissed at her.

She called 911, animal control and the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. Hood reported that she had a bothersome "big cat." A dispatcher then told Ableman that it was a house cat.

A game warden tranquilized the mountain lion, and the animal was relocated.

Associated Press