Lead Story

Australian Rules football player Russell Prowse was ejected from a Melbourne game in May and severely reprimanded by the league. He’d attempted to defuse a potential brawl by grabbing opponent Scott Cameron and kissing him flush on the lips. Prowse’s gambit worked: Cameron reportedly staggered back, a hush came over the players, and order was restored.

The Continuing Crisis

In January in Odessa, Texas, authorities decided not to prosecute a 91-year-old woman who fatally struck her 91-year-old husband of 67 years with a cane after he’d become too boisterous in demanding sex. And a newspaper in Semiron, Iran, reported in August that Mohammad Esmail al-Bahrami, age 105, asked a court to grant him a divorce from his wife, Fatemeh Razavi, age 100.

The Deutsche Presse Agentur news agency reported in March that German cemetery operators are worried because embalmed bodies aren’t decaying fast enough. The country has a land shortage, so burial plots are often only rented out for 15 years, in the hope that by the end of that period the bodies will have decomposed and the families won’t object to their disposal. Cemetery owners are now avoiding burying bodies in soils that retard air and moisture circulation, because they restrict the growth of bacteria that eat the bodies.

The proceedings at an August Republican political caucus in Grand Rapids, Michigan, were slow getting under way because the participants couldn’t recite the Pledge of Allegiance–no one had brought a flag. So party member Jack Pettit, wearing a necktie that had a stars-and-stripes motif, stood on a chair in the front of the room, and everyone placed hand on heart and recited the pledge.

The Jones Lang Wootton company, which sells automobile parking spaces to individuals in Hong Kong, announced in June that it would begin offering spaces in Melbourne, Australia. The Melbourne spaces will retail for about $14,000 to $24,000; JLW recently sold spaces in Hong Kong for about $500,000 each.

In August the resort city of Rarotonga in the Cook Islands recorded its first armed robbery ever. A local man who’d just returned from a visit to New Zealand robbed a hotel of about $25,000 before being captured.

According to police sergeant Gary Petersen, a man walked into the Ogden, Utah, station in February, handed over two rifles, and asked that the police store them until a doctor certified that he was calm enough to handle them. The man had just been evicted from his home and feared he’d shoot the lawyer of the bank that held the mortgage.

In January the health insurance board in Quebec finally approved the payment of about $2,400 to Renee Durand, 20, for breast-enhancement surgery that also made her breasts symmetrical. The board had at first declined to pay, calling the surgery merely cosmetic, but Durand fought back, sending a flood of nude photographs showing her previously asymmetrical breasts to the board’s doctors, to retired Quebec premier Robert Bourassa, to a former health minister, and to several other Quebec and federal officials.

A June Associated Press report revealed that there’s a widespread belief among Los Angeles residents that the reason their city suffers minimal damage during earthquakes is that many buildings sit on rollers. In fact, only six buildings have shock-absorbing rubber pads that offer some protection. However, architecture professor David Ming-Li Lowe’s $800,000 house in West Los Angeles survived the January 1994 earthquake because he built it with 17 giant springs between the house and the foundation. Said Lowe, “I’m probably one of the few people who was looking forward to an earthquake.”

According to a July issue of U.S. News & World Report, a grievance filed by workers at a Mississippi poultry plant reveals that their company permits workers to take unlimited brief bathroom breaks but no more than three longer bathroom breaks a week without a doctor’s note and that they must pay ten cents a cup for drinking water.

The New York Times reported in June on Spain’s most popular TV program, The Truth Machine, in which celebrity guests who’ve been involved in scandals are hooked up to lie detectors monitored by “experts” and quizzed on aspects of the scandals. A recent guest was John Wayne Bobbitt, who was judged “significant[ly] decept[ive]” when he denied hitting his wife Lorena and forcing her to have sex.

A small part of the reason for excessive mail delays around Washington, D.C., was revealed in October, when thousands of pieces of undelivered mail were found stacked from floor to ceiling in the upscale Washington apartment of postal worker Robert William Boggs, 48. Also found in the apartment, and of more concern to his neighbors, were 58 live birds and turtles and 30 dead ones, along with large deposits of human and animal waste. Neighbors had recently taken to calling Boggs, who was a loner, “Jeffrey Dahmer” because of the smell that escaped the apartment when he opened the door. Coworkers described Boggs as pleasant and well-groomed.

Least Competent Criminals

In September a 24-year-old man being chased by a police officer from a Beverly Hills house he was suspected of burglarizing ran into a tree branch and knocked himself unconscious. That same month police in Akron, Ohio, said that Christopher S. Dobbins, 28, was robbing Leonardo’s Pizza when he slipped on a streak of grease on the floor and knocked himself out.

Undignified Deaths

According to Saint Louis police, Robert Puelo, 32, stole a hot dog from a 7-Eleven in October and left the store, cramming it into his mouth as he ran. Minutes later Puelo choked to death on a six-inch piece of the hot dog that lodged in his throat.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): illustration/Shawn Belschwender.