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Thursday, November 12, 2009

Where Joe Montana Kicks Back and calls Home!

The ex-quarterback's Sonoma retreat goes on the market for $49 million


Calistoga, Calif.

(See Corrections & Amplifications item below.)

Standing in the upstairs living room on a brisk October morning, Jennifer Montana described her husband, football great Joe Montana, as a simple guy. "He needed a beer tap, a pretty good-sized television screen and a barbecue area," she said.

Simple wouldn't be the first word that comes to mind in describing the couple's retreat, which extends into both Napa and Sonoma counties. Set on 500 acres on a hilly, forested expanse with year-round creeks and uninterrupted views, the couple's 9,700-square-foot Tuscan villa-style house with a tower boasts the beer tap and many hidden flat-screen televisions, but what commands attention are the baronial flourishes and details, many of them imported from Europe.

Joe Montana's California Retreat

The former football star and his wife spent about a decade creating a family retreat on 500 acres in Calistoga, Calif. The couple is now trying to sell the property for $49 million.

Kathrin Miller for The Wall Street Journal

The 22-foot tall ceiling in the great room, a large space decorated with a hanging tapestry and oversized velvet furniture, is encased in wood. In the loggia nearby is an imposing fireplace; above is the Montana family crest, painted by an artist from the south of France. A pair of tall iron gates from the 16th century guard the gallery; a heavy marble bathtub needed to be moved by crane. "The fish are local," joked Mr. Montana, now 52 and silver-haired, nodding to a nearby pond.

Former NFL defensive back and longtime friend Ronnie Lott said his former teammate was so drawn to the lifestyle of Italy that he considered moving there, but "after building this home, he didn't have to."

In all, the Montanas devoted about a decade to locating and building their family retreat, almost as much time as Mr. Montana spent at the San Francisco 49ers, the team that made him famous. Now the couple, who moved more than 400 miles south to Thousands Oaks, Calif. to be closer to their two football-playing sons, have decided to sell their property. The asking price: $49 million. Coldwell Banker Previews International and Pacific Union, an affiliate of Christie's Great Estates, have the listing.

Kathrin Miller for The Wall Street Journal

The Montanas traveled to Italy to inspect the cutting of the kitchen counters.

It's an ambitious price tag, particularly in the sagging luxury market. "It's an unheard-of price, but it must be an unheard-of property," says Steve Gregory with Coldwell Banker Brokers of the Valley, adding that there haven't been many high-end sales. Other brokers say a $35 million Sonoma home recently went into contract.

Steve Bono, the former NFL quarterback who played with Mr. Montana on the 49ers and the Chiefs, says Mr. Montana enjoyed the privacy afforded by the home. "On the field, there were only 11 guys that could get at him. In public, there's many more than 11 who could get at him. I think that's why he felt most comfortable there," he says.

Born and raised in western Pennsylvania, Mr. Montana played football at Notre Dame and went on to lead the 49ers to four Super Bowl wins. In 1984, he met Jennifer on the set of a Schick commercial. She became his wife; the couple has four children.

As Mr. Montana neared retirement, the Montanas began searching for their retreat. They declined to say how much the property cost; records are unclear.

It was Ms. Montana, the more outspoken of the pair, who drove many of the decisions behind the home's construction and decor, a process that spanned three years. Parts of the home were built around shopping expeditions—the couple would buy items in Europe and phone in measurements to the builders.

Kathrin Miller for The Wall Street Journal

Joe Montana and his pool

Since retiring, Mr. Montana has been attending his sons' school football practices, cooking prime rib in a pizza oven and visiting French flea markets and Italian villas with his wife. A wine and food enthusiast, he made an unsuccessful bid to buy Sonoma winery Williams Selyem and started collaborating with Beringer on a special blend.

His many hobbies are reflected outside, where a 45-foot-deep pond stocked with bass is framed by a sliver of man-made, white-sand beach. An equestrian stable has an indoor arena and 17 horse stalls, each stall bearing its own heat lamp, fan and video camera. (Mr. Montana gave up horses due to his busy schedule.) Riding trails crisscross the property, and there's also a swimming pool, basketball court and skeet-shooting range.

Mementos of Mr. Montana's football days are in the gym, a separate building whose walls are plastered with framed photos and Sports Illustrated covers. Three Super Bowl MVP trophies overlook the room from a shelf that also holds a large flat-screen TV.

He'll be taking other souvenirs with him. "My shoulder's been going numb along with a little bit of the side of my face," said Mr. Montana, who recently underwent several back surgeries.

Corrections & Amplifications:

The California estate that retired quarterback Joe Montana has listed for $49 million extends into both Napa and Sonoma counties. An earlier version of this article incorrectly implied that the property was located solely in Sonoma.

Write to Juliet Chung at

Simon Cowell top male TV earner

'Idol' judge makes $75 mil; Donald Trump ranks No. 2



Simon Cowell -- the acerbic "American Idol" judge, creator of "America's Got Talent" and record producer -- is the top-earning man on primetime U.S. television with an estimated haul of $75 million, said Tuesday.

Cowell beat out "The Apprentice" host Donald Trump ($50 million) and "American Idol" presenter Ryan Seacrest ($38 million), based on estimated pre-tax earnings from June 1, 2008-June 1, 2009.

Most of the top earners have several entertainment-related ventures, Forbes said. Cowell has his own record label, which has signed singers including Leona Lewis and Susan Boyle, in addition to his duties as a judge on "Idol" -- the most watched TV show in the United States for seven years.

Apart from "Apprentice," Trump lends his name to products ranging from neckties to vodka and reaps fees from speeches and books.

Seacrest, 34, has a Los Angeles morning radio show, is a celebrity TV host and developed the TV reality show "Keeping Up With the Kardashians," as well as hosting "Idol."

Rounding up the top five are "Two and a Half Men" star Charlie Sheen ($21 million) and "The Office" actor Steve Carell ($20 million).

The remainder of the top 10:

6. Howie Mandel ($15 million)

7. Kiefer Sutherland ($13 million)

8. Jeff Foxworthy ($11 million)

9. Hugh Laurie ($10 million)

10. David Caruso ($9 million)

Simon Cowell top male TV earner

'Idol' judge makes $75 mil; Donald Trump ranks No. 2


Nov 10, 2009, 05:44 PM ET

Simon Cowell -- the acerbic "American Idol" judge, creator of "America's Got Talent" and record producer -- is the top-earning man on primetime U.S. television with an estimated haul of $75 million, said Tuesday.

Cowell beat out "The Apprentice" host Donald Trump ($50 million) and "American Idol" presenter Ryan Seacrest ($38 million), based on estimated pre-tax earnings from June 1, 2008-June 1, 2009.

Most of the top earners have several entertainment-related ventures, Forbes said. Cowell has his own record label, which has signed singers including Leona Lewis and Susan Boyle, in addition to his duties as a judge on "Idol" -- the most watched TV show in the United States for seven years.

Apart from "Apprentice," Trump lends his name to products ranging from neckties to vodka and reaps fees from speeches and books.

Seacrest, 34, has a Los Angeles morning radio show, is a celebrity TV host and developed the TV reality show "Keeping Up With the Kardashians," as well as hosting "Idol."

Rounding up the top five are "Two and a Half Men" star Charlie Sheen ($21 million) and "The Office" actor Steve Carell ($20 million).

The remainder of the top 10:

6. Howie Mandel ($15 million)

7. Kiefer Sutherland ($13 million)

8. Jeff Foxworthy ($11 million)

9. Hugh Laurie ($10 million)

10. David Caruso ($9 million)

Clash of the Titans (2010) Teaser Trailer HD

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Clash of the Titans (2010) Teaser Trailer HD.

'Family Guy' 'Empire Strikes Back' parody trailer

After its "Star Wars" parody generated huge ratings and sold well as a stand-alone DVD, 20th TV decided to release the "Family Guy" "Empire Strikes Back" spoof (titled "Something Something Something Dark Side") on home video before it airs on Fox (presumably using some internal value of ratings spike vs. DVD profits calculator). Here's the trailer ...

The "Empire" parody is released on DVD on Dec. 22 and you can pre-order it on here

Biofuels Breakthrough: Making Fuel From Air With Engineered Microbes

In what could be a major breakthrough, Joule Biotechnologies announced that it has directly produced fuel from the plentiful carbon dioxide in the air around us using highly engineered photosynthetic microbes.

Inside specially designed reactors, Joule’s engineered microbes thrive off of sunlight and CO2. In return, depending on the type of organism, they can produce straight ethanol, diesel or a number of other types of hydrocarbons.

Although the process sounds similar to algae-produced biofuels, the Joule process is incredibly (and beneficially) different for several reasons:

  • Doesn’t produce biomass
  • No agricultural feedstock needed
  • Can be conducted on non-arable land
  • Doesn’t need fresh water
  • Produces fuel directly without the need for extraction or refinement

Apparently Joule has discovered some unique genes inside these microbes that produce the enzymes responsible for directly making the molecules found in diesel. From there, engineering organisms to make other fuels was a simple step. At this point, production of the fuels has only been done in the lab, but Joule has plans to open a pilot plant in early 2011.

Source: Biofuels Digest

Image Credit: Joule Biotechnologies

Blockbuster Has Seen the Future (Again): Renting Movies Via Kiosk for $2 On an SD Card

Yesterday word started circulating that Elm Street-based Blockbuster had found yet another way to combat RedBox: by offering downloads via SD cards, which users can stick into a kiosk that's loaded with about 1,000 titles from which to choose. It's the second time in a little more than a year that Blockbuster's gone the kiosk route -- last year, you may recall, the company debuted terminals from which subscribers could download to an Archos player for a fee, assuming you had or knew what an Archos player was.

The kiosks are set to debut this week in a handful of Dallas stores for a test run, but some are wondering today why in the why Blockbuster would opt for SD card downloads. As in: "What can't you do with an SD card? I mean, it plays in my iPhone ... wait ... I mean my Blackberry ... wait... In case no one told you, Blockbuster, we can't play this shit back on our digital cameras." To which true believers point out that, look, most netbooks and laptops have SD card slots, so, yeah, not an entirely bad idea. And they allow for full DRM copyright protection. And, as Fast Company notes, "SD cards do represent a marked improvement over DVDs in durability and re-usability, so if they caught on it'd hardly be a step backwards for movie buffs." The pricing, though, is a little questionable: $2 per download ... or a buck more than RedBox. We've got a call into Randy Hargrove, Blockbuster's spokesman; we'll update when he calls back, as he usually does.

Update at 1:51 p.m.: Someone with NCR, the manufacturer of the kiosk, just phoned with an update: Fast Company yesterday incorrectly reported the price of the SD download. The price will not be $4, but $2 ... at least, for now. "This is just a test," he says. "Just a pilot. It's nothing final." And he reminds that Hollywood Video is also testing the kiosk as well. Still waiting on Hargrove.

Update at 4:49 p.m.: In a just-posted interview with Unfair Park, Alex Camara, vice president and general manager of NCR Entertainment, explains the thinking behind his company's partnerships with Blockbuster, which include the SD card kiosks and the self-service Blockbuster Express DVD machines.

American Medical Association rethinking pot prohibition?

By Daniel Tencer

The American Medical Association on Tuesday issued a cautious but historically significant call to change America's marijuana prohibition laws, urging a "review" of the drug's status as a Schedule I drug.

At a meeting in Houston, the AMA's House of Delegates adopted a new policy that calls for "marijuana's status as a federal Schedule I controlled substance be reviewed with the goal of facilitating the conduct of clinical research and development of cannabinoid-based medicines, and alternate delivery methods."

That does not mean the AMA supports the legalization or decriminalization of marijuana.

Schedule I drugs are those considered to have no medical benefit and to be harmful when used under any circumstances. As such, marijuana is currently grouped by the federal government with drugs like heroin and LSD. By comparison, cocaine and methamphetamines are classified as Schedule II drugs, which may have some clinical benefits when used in the proper circumstances. The AMA's stance could simply result in the rescheduling of marijuana as a controlled substance that has some medical benefit.

However, Aaron Houston, director of government relations for the Marijuana Policy Project, calls the move "historic" all the same, noting that it comes from "what has historically been America's most cautious and conservative major medical organization."

Story continues below...

"Marijuana's Schedule I status is not just scientifically untenable, given the wealth of recent data showing it to be both safe and effective for chronic pain and other conditions, but it's been a major obstacle to needed research," he said in a statement.

"It's been 72 years since the AMA has officially recognized that marijuana has both already-demonstrated and future-promising medical utility," said medical student Sunil Aggarwal in a press statement from Americans for Safe Access. Aggarwal has been spearheading the effort by the AMA's youth wing to change the organization's attitude towards marijuana.

ASA government affairs director Caren Woodson pointed out that the American College of Physicians, the country's second-largest medical group, called for a review of marijuana's status last year.

"The two largest physician groups in the US have established medical marijuana as a health care issue that must be addressed," Woodson said. "Both organizations have underscored the need for change by placing patients above politics."

In its report (PDF), the AMA stated:

Results of short term controlled trials indicate that smoked cannabis reduces neuropathic pain, improves appetite and caloric intake especially in patients with reduced muscle mass, and may relieve spasticity and pain in patients with multiple sclerosis. However, the patchwork of state-based systems that have been established for .medical marijuana. is woefully inadequate in establishing even rudimentary safeguards that normally would be applied to the appropriate clinical use of psychoactive substances. The future of cannabinoid-based medicine lies in the rapidly evolving field of botanical drug substance development, as well as the design of molecules that target various aspects of the endocannabinoid system. To the extent that rescheduling marijuana out of Schedule I will benefit this effort, such a move can be supported.

The AMA's move is the latest in a series of small but significant shifts in attitudes towards the liberalization of marijuana policies.

Last month, conservative columnist George F. Will said that the US is "probably in the process" of legalizing marijuana, pointing to the Obama administration's new policy to no longer raid medical marijuana clinics that are legal under state law, so long as those state laws are being observed. (Though one California-based US attorney disputes that there has been any change in policy.)

Additionally, California is currently debating a proposal to decriminalize marijuana. Massachusetts decriminalized marijuana in a state ballot last year.

And recent polls show that support for decriminalization of marijuana has reached a record high in the United States, with some 44 percent of Americans now in favor of reducing or eliminating criminal penalties for possession of the herb.

Ping Pong, Pow: World’s Deadliest Pneumatic Ping Pong Gun

ron kessinger ping pong ball gun

We’ve known some “friendly” ping-pong games to end in ruined friendships, obsessive rematches, and black eyes (those paddles hurt!) but until now, we’ve never known of any ping-pong-related fatalities. That’s probably going to change now that [what we assume is] the world’s most lethal ping-pong gun has been brought to life. The contraption was made by Denver artist/inventor Ron Kessinger and uses compressed air to shoot water-filled ping-pong balls so hard that they smash through particle board. That’s one way to convince your other half that you need to replace that old Ikea dresser.

ping pong gun shoots through drywall and particle board

ping pong ball gun

Ron’s invention is sort of like a potato cannon, but with slightly different specs. Shooting empty ping-pong balls obviously wouldn’t cause the type of satisfying destruction that guys who make projectile “toys” enjoy, so obviously he injected them with water to make them heavier. When the gun was demonstrated at a recent Denver Maker Meetup, Ron dazzled the crowd by shooting balls through pieces of drywall and particle board.

The gun works off of a standard wall outlet and has a 14-shot magazine. But really, one shot will probably be enough to settle whatever ping-pong dispute you manage to get yourself into.

World's smallest mother to risk giving birth for third time

By Mail Foreign Service

Stacey Herald

Stacey Herald: The 2ft 4in mother shows her bump

The world’s smallest mother is about to give birth for the third time - despite warnings she is risking her life.

Stacey Herald, who is just 2ft 4in tall, was told that becoming pregnant could kill her, but bravely defied doctors to have two babies half her height.

The 35-year-old from Dry Ridge, Kentucky in the U.S. suffers from Osteogenesis Imperfecta, which causes brittle bones and underdeveloped lungs, and means she failed to grow.

Now Mrs Herald, who uses a wheelchair, and her husband Will, who is 5ft 9in, are eagerly awaiting the birth of their third baby, due in the next four weeks.

Currently as wide as she is tall, she cannot hold her daughter because her belly gets in the way, and has to rely on her husband to do most things around the house.

She admits being pregnant is ‘uncomfortable’ and leaves her bedridden for weeks on end.

By the time the new addition, a boy, is one he will already tower over his mother.

But despite all the obstacles, the mother and father, a trainee priest, say they want even more children.

The couple met in 2000 while working for a supermarket in their home town and were desperate for a family after marrying in 2004.

But doctors warned Mrs Herald a baby would grow so large inside her tiny body it would eventually crush her organs, strangling her from the inside out.

Mrs Herald said: ‘It broke my heart that I couldn’t have kids.

‘All my life my parents had told me that I could do anything. Then there were these doctors telling me that we couldn’t be a complete family. It really hurt.’

Stacey Herald

Outgrown: Mrs Herald, her husband Will and their two daughters - they are all taller than the 35-year-old

Eight months later, the couple were thrilled when they discovered they were expecting and decided to go ahead even though family and doctors begged them to reconsider.

Mrs Herald, who had decided not to take contraception, said: ‘They all told me that I would die. They begged me not to have a baby.

'Even my mother said,” You know you won’t survive right?” ‘I told her: “It’s a miracle that I am here, that I have life, why couldn’t this be a miracle too?”’

In love: Mrs Herald dances with her 5ft 9in tall husband

Mrs Herald dances with her 5ft 9in tall husband

After 28 weeks, doctors performed a cesarean section and daughter Kateri was born, weighing just 2lbs and 1oz in 2006.

She grew well but there was heartbreak for the family when they discovered Kateri had inherited Mrs Herald’s condition and would also never grow to a normal height.

But the young family resumed life as normal, before Mrs Herald fell pregnant a year later.

She said: ‘It was kind of like the last time, everyone screamed: “What are you doing?” at us.

‘The doctors told me I was pushing my luck. But we just prayed that God would bring us through it.’ However this pregnancy took its toll on the little mother.

She said: ‘It was hard, I got so much bigger faster. At my worst point I remember bursting into tears, because I looked like a beach ball with a head and little feet.

‘I spent weeks unable to do anything for myself because my stomach was so big. At one point I dislocated my arm when I was moving from my chair into bed, because I just wasn’t used to the weight on my arms.

‘I’ve always been able to do everything but this time I just couldn’t and I found that really upsetting to have Will help me wash and go to the toilet.

‘Also he was trying to look after a 16-month old, so it was tough on both of us.’

Doctors tried to let the second baby stay in her body for as long as possible, letting her pregnancy go to 34 weeks before wheeling her into theatre.

Daughter Makaya who, at 18 inches was more than half her mother’s body length when she was born, weighed 4lbs and 7oz.

Now both girls are bigger than their mother who is 30 weeks pregnant with her first boy.

She said: ‘It’s getting tougher and tougher to move.

‘At the moment because I’m getting really big again I can’t hold my youngest daughter because my belly gets in the way and I can’t get my arms around her.’

Stacey Herald

Tender: Mrs Herald, who suffers from suffers from Osteogenesis Imperfecta, plays with her daughter Makaya

Mrs Herald added: ‘All my babies are miracles, but we haven’t thought about if we’re going to have some more, as they”re a real handful right now.

‘We didn’t plan to have more than two kids, we just think that they’re a great gift to the world, and when I look at them I see Will and I feel so full of love, it’s tough not to want more.’

7 Over-the-Top Aquariums

Dive in to the life aquatic at these impressive tanks

By Olivia Putnal


Life underwater is pretty fascinating, which is why we land dwellers like to scope out unique marine environments and exotic creatures. But sometimes, it’s about more than just fish, so WD found the most innovative tanks and aquariums across the globe. From the largest underwater tunnel to a fish tank in a phone booth, check out seven impressive ways to see under the sea—without getting wet.

Telephone Booth Fish Tank

Believe it or not, this phone booth is real. Constructed for the 2007 Lyon Light Festival in France by artists Benoît Deseille and Benedetto Bufalino, the piece was intended to combine a phone booth and aquarium to create a unique way to house exotic fish. Photo courtesy of Benoit Deseille and Benedetto Bufalino.

Oita Marine Palace Feeding Tank

This incredibly innovative tank in Japan has strategically placed holes for feeding and petting the fish. Thanks to physics, the airtight tank reduces pressure, allowing the feeding cups to stay filled with water. Photo courtesy of Adam Yoshida.

Georgia Aquarium

Atlanta is home to the largest aquarium in the world—containing more than 61 miles of pipes and wires to assist with all of the tanks. There are plenty of innovative exhibits including the Ocean Voyager, which contains 1.8 million pounds of sea salt in order to replicate actual seawater. Photo courtesy of


Located at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Berlin, Germany, at 25 meters tall, the AquaDom is the largest cylinder-shaped aquarium in the world. Containing more than 1,500 fish as well as a glass elevator, it has become a popular attraction for non-hotel guests. Photo by Getty Images.

Two Oceans Aquarium

This Cape Town, South Africa, aquarium is known for raising environmental consciousness and promoting the aquatic diversity of the nearby Indian and Atlantic oceans. With over 3,000 creatures, the site amazes visitors with the variety of underwater life on display. Photo courtesy of S. Lennert.

Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium

Okinawa, Japan’s aquarium is home to many of the aquatic world’s bests and firsts, including the first-ever birth of a manta pup in captivity. With a dolphin lagoon, manatee house, ocean nursery and more, this public aquarium definitely deserves a spot on our list. Photo courtesy of Rosanna Leung via

Deep Sea World

Home to the United Kingdom’s longest underwater viewing tunnel, this Scottish aquarium also has coral reefs, an Amazon River exhibit and a seal sanctuary. And if you think you have what it takes to the swim with the sharks, this is your place! Photo courtesy of

Peugeot Epine – Futuristic Hybrid Car


Epine concept car is a hybrid eco-friendly vehicle that offers a new way of being in contact with the nature and is aiming to provide a racing track experience to its occupants. This car has a minimalist unique design that is inspired from the racing vehicles like Formula One cars and motorcycles. The most important technical feature of this car is its Epine system. The car is equipped with an innovative seating arrangement and adopts the drive-by-wire technology to run the steering system.

peugeot epine futuristic car 1

peugeot epine futuristic car 2

peugeot epine futuristic car 3

This new Epine concept car includes a whale skeleton as a tribute to Mother Nature. Daniel Schumpert, a graduate from the College for Creative Studies (CCS) in Detroit MI with a BFA in Transportation Design, is the creator of this new concept car which brings the experience of the racing vehicles. Its name is derived from the incorporated Epine (spine) system.

peugeot epine futuristic car 4

peugeot epine futuristic car 5

peugeot epine futuristic car 6

The car is designed in such a way that the storage compartment can be found in the front and the power plant at the rear side of the car. It has got the airless wheels based on the Michelin Tweel concept and is housed in the wheel itself. The wheel spokes are able to compress and decompress and has been used in the suspension system of this car to offer a smooth, trouble-free ride. The structure and the materials of the wheel spokes offer a wide collection of motions. This is a compact car that measures 4260 mm in length, 1882 mm in width and 1153 mm in height.

Taxing Marijuana in California

Richard Lee helped convince Oakland voters to tax medical marijuana dispensaries and make them more legit, now he's taking the idea state-wide

40 Seriously Funny Print Ads

Print adverts
need to get a message across with a single image and without the recourse of interactivity that we find today on the Internet.

As interactive media expands, attention spans are getting shorter and shorter every day.

For any company trying to get their product or service out in print format, the task is ever more challenging and difficult.

Humorous ads remain one of the few effective ways to engage an audience in a very saturated advertising market. This is an area where the audience is far more receptive and still willing to pay attention.

In this post, we’ve gathered 40 hilarious and really creative ads for your enjoyment…

1. Kayaking Jumbo Peanut: Choking

2. Ambulance – Listermint Mouthwash

3. EPhone: Snakebite

4. Wolf Hot Sauce: Hand dryer

5. Hospital – Lazer Helmets

Click here for the rest of the gallery 40 in total

NY eatery frees ancient lobster

"George" the giant lobster
Large lobsters are usually too big to get caught in traps

A lobster believed to be some 140 years old is to be freed from the confines of a tank at a New York restaurant.

George the giant lobster, weighing 9kg (20lb), will be returned to the ocean, from where he was caught two weeks ago.

The crustacean was bought for $100 (£66) by the City Crab and Seafood and quickly adopted as its mascot, posing for pictures with restaurant patrons.

But animal rights group Peta sought the lobster's release, and will now put it back into the waters off Maine.

It will enter the ocean in the waters around Kennebunkport, where lobster trapping is banned.

George was originally caught off Newfoundland, Canada, and has spent about 10 days in the tank at City Crab and Seafood.

These intriguing animals don't deserve to be confined to tiny tanks or boiled alive
Ingrid Newkirk

The approximate age of a lobster can be deduced from its weight.

Restaurant manager Keith Valenti said there was never any intent to harm the lobster, and the decision to keep it in the tank was made to offer customers a little something extra.

"We bought a big lobster, started taking pictures with kids and it worked out real well," Mr Valenti told Reuters news agency.

But it was a "no brainer", he added, to agree to the request to return George to the ocean.

"We never intended him to be sold, just draw attention to the restaurant, and he did."

Ingrid Newkirk, of Peta (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) praised the decision.

"We applaud the folks at City Crab and Seafood for their compassionate decision to allow this noble old-timer to live out his days in freedom and peace.

"We hope that their kind gesture serves as an example that these intriguing animals don't deserve to be confined to tiny tanks or boiled alive."