Lead Story

In July police in India’s western state of Maharashtra called an end to a traditional annual event in which women from the adjacent villages of Sukhed and Bor line up on opposite sides of a canal and yell insults at each other. The event had become a festival, with men playing music to accompany the insults, which supposedly commemorated a feud between two wives who lived in separate villages but were married to the same chief.

The Entrepreneurial Spirit

Ten-year-old Clint Lenz took first place in an invention contest called Invent America in July with a glow-in-the-dark toilet seat for those middle-of-the-night forays. His invention won him $1,000, computers for his class, and a spot in the Smithsonian Institution.

Third-grader Andrew S. Meredith of Council Bluffs, Iowa, won first place in a national inventors’ contest with Toilet Targets, floating doodads meant to help improve males’ aim. He said he got the idea because the boys’ room at school smelled bad.

Delta Air Lines, coming off a $180 million quarterly loss, reported in July an annual savings of $1.4 million in labor and food costs based on the decision to eliminate the decorative piece of lettuce under the vegetables served on in-flight meals.

A Japanese rancher told reporters in Tokyo in July that he herds cattle by outfitting them with beepers, which he calls from his portable phone. After a week of training the cows come to associate the beeping with eating and hustle up for grub.

For its grand opening in June in Bartlett, Tennessee, Dyer’s Cafe brought in cooked grease its owners said was 80 years old, transported from Dyer’s flagship hamburger restaurant in Memphis by sheriff’s deputies on motorcycles. Said owner Jim Marshall, “The grease is our secret, and it’s got to be protected.”

Newsweek reported in June that a Japanese firm has sold more than 100,000 “Mews”–toy cats that meow and wag their tails at the sound of a human voice.

In June Jackie Zajac and Sheila Mullan opened Fido’s Fast Food in Toledo, Ohio, where pet owners can pick up dried cheeseburgers, french fries, and peanut-butter bagels, and carob drops, catnip, and people-shaped crackers for dessert.

Just Can’t Stop Myself

The final hours of the now-closed Belk Lindsay store in Tampa, Florida, in July were so crowded that women customers got tired of waiting for a dressing room and improvised. Said one employee of a customer, “She had most of her clothes off and was trying to pull on a pair of pants when I got there and told her she just couldn’t do that.”

In July Danny Fouts and his wife Jeannie Jacobs and her sister appeared on the Sally Jessy Raphael show to discuss their arrest for shoplifting their wedding supplies. While in New York, they were again arrested for stealing things–this time from the New York Ramada Hotel, where the TV show had arranged for them to stay.

In September the management of a farm in the former Soviet republic of Kyrgystan announced it had cut off electricity in the area to tear workers away from television: too many were skipping work to watch episodes of the 249-part Mexican soap opera The Rich Also Cry.

The Weirdo-American Community

Psychiatrist Richard C. Pillard of Boston University, reporting to a scholarly audience in August on the genetic predisposition to homosexuality, offered the example of two male identical twins who were separated at birth and raised in different families. By the time they were reunited, one twin was gay and the other was straight, but they were strikingly similar in other ways, including their predilection for having sex wearing leather garments and using vibrators and other sexual devices.

Least Competent Person

Kenneth Jeffries, 24, was arrested in West Haven, Connecticut, in August for robbing a convenience store. Police reported that he had first offered the clerk $1 for a pack of gum as a ruse and then taken $40 in the robbery. However, police said, Jeffries returned a minute later and asked uncertainly, “Did I pay for the gum?” By that time the clerk had summoned police, and Jeffries was soon apprehended.

The Diminishing Value of Life

In August Joseph Fallat Sr., 61, was charged with killing his wife, Florene, 50, in Harrison City, Pennsylvania. Said a patrolman, “[Fallat] said she would stack the refrigerator full of vegetables, hiding the milk, and he wasn’t going to take that anymore.” Fallat allegedly chased his wife through the house and stabbed her 219 times.

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