Bits & Pieces

John Lennon’s piano, on tour as a symbol of peace, was to arrive Friday to commemorate the anniversary of the death of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.

Magical piano would like to build the world a home (and furnish it with love)

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – John Lennon’s piano, on tour as a symbol of peace, was to arrive Friday to commemorate the anniversary of the death of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.

Lennon composed his 1971 song “Imagine” on the Steinway upright piano, which was purchased by pop star George Michael in 2000 for $2.1 million.

Memphis is the second stop on the tour that will include the World Trade Center in Manhattan, the bombed federal building in Oklahoma City and the Branch Davidian compound destroyed in a fiery siege in Waco, Texas.

The first tour stop was Dallas, where President Kennedy was assassinated on Nov. 22, 1963.

“This is about hopes and dreams and the world condition,” Michael’s partner, Kenny Goss, said Tuesday.

Celebrity furniture helps improve self-esteem

THOMASVILLE, N.C. – With the theme song from his reality television show blaring in the background, Donald Trump strode into a showroom at the world’s biggest furniture trade show and started to brag about, of all things, his couch.

“Trump Home furniture offers consumers a tangible way to experience the luxurious Trump lifestyle for themselves… even if they can’t afford millions for one of my properties,” Trump said. “Now the public can not only wear my clothes, they can sit on my couch.”

Should Trump’s over-the-top bombast not suit your personal style, how about a couch from model Cindy Crawford? Or a couple of chairs from teen stars Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen? Such boldface names are all over furniture today, and some touted at this spring’s International Home Furnishings Market in High Point are among the increasing number whose fame isn’t rooted in the business of hearth and home.

The furniture industry has very few consumer-recognizable brands-less than 10 by most measures-so manufacturers bring celebrities on board to help draw consumers into stores, said Jerry Epperson, a furniture industry analyst with Richmond, Va.-based investment banker Mann, Armistead and Epperson.

“America appears constantly fascinated by the famous, often without regard to their talent or ability,” Epperson said. “A celebrity identity gives consumers some comfort and reinforcement that someone else has chosen the item, too.”

Rich lady loses one of three purse dogs

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) – A black wolf snatched a small dog near a Juneau lake and ran into the woods with it, U.S. Forest Service rangers said.

A woman was walking three dogs Tuesday at Mendenhall Lake when the wolf grabbed the unleashed Pomeranian then dashed off with the dog in its jaws. The woman unsuccessfully searched for the dog, which has not been seen since.

An animal believed to be the same wolf, however, was seen alone at the lake Wednesday, said Dennis Chester, wildlife biologist at the Juneau Ranger District.

The culprit is believed to be a wolf nicknamed Romeo and known for playing with larger dogs accompanying people on walks.

Some people walking their dogs in the area may have become complacent because the wolf has not been seen lately, officials said.

“The bottom line is, right now it’s out there,” said Ryan Scott, a wildlife biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. “[The snatching] is a reminder to ourselves that a wolf is a wild animal.”

Middle-aged man proves master’s degree useless

PHILADELPHIA – A 40-year-old intern with the National Archives pleaded guilty Wednesday to stealing 164 Civil War documents, including an official announcement of President Lincoln’s death, and putting most of them up for sale on eBay.

Prosecutors said Denning McTague, who has a master’s degrees in history and library science, put about 150 of the documents online and had shipped about half of them.

All but three of the items, worth an estimated $30,000 in all, have since been recovered.

McTague told investigators that he used a yellow legal pad to sneak the documents out while working at the National Archives and Records Administration last summer. As an unpaid intern, he had been responsible for arranging and organizing documents in preparation for the upcoming 150th anniversary of the Civil War.

A Gettysburg company that publishes books on the Civil War spotted some of the items on eBay and alerted authorities last fall, officials said.