Lawsuits were filed in Chicago in February and in Hangzhou, China, in January demanding that theaters stop showing advertisements (not just the "previews") that run past a movie's announced starting time. Lawyers Mark Weinberg and Zhang Yang charged the theaters with fraud because of the three- to four-minute ad blitzes they endured recently after they had been expecting the films to get under way. The Chicago lawyer demanded a refund plus $75 in damages; the lawyer in China demanded a refund plus the equivalent of $4.50.
Eve Ensler's play "The Vagina Monologues" (a series of explicit speeches on sexuality and repression) was performed at a hotel in Islamabad, Pakistan, in March, by Ms. Ensler and a troupe of local actresses (bundled in their traditional clothing) to an invited audience of 150, who apparently loved it, according to a report in Toronto's Globe and Mail. "If `the play` can happen here, it can happen anywhere," said Ms. Hibaaq Osman, a Somali Muslim activist, who in a fit of enthusiasm renamed the capital city "Vaginabad." "Having these Pakistani women talking about vibrators `is` what it's all about."
Beans and weenies
Police in Edinburgh, Scotland, put out an alert in March after a man claiming to be raising money through stunts for a charity tricked a young female shopkeeper into allowing him to cover her bare feet in baked beans and other vegetables from cans, before taking several photos and leaving.
In February, a motorist reported as 40-ish and balding stopped on the campus of Missouri Western State College in St. Joseph, grabbed a passing female student's arm, licked it and quickly drove off.
Ashoura day, the annual Lebanese martyrdom-inspiring tribute to a Muslim saint (grandson of the Prophet Muhammad), was celebrated on March 13 by thousands of Shiite worshippers who slashed themselves on the head. Many in the crowd marched through the city of Nabatiyeh while bleeding profusely, until their faces and clothing were nearly completely red.
Teach the children, well ...
New York City P.S. 192 principal Evelyn Peralta-Tessitore (an anti-alcohol crusader) was charged with DUI after police spotted her at 2:30 p.m. on a February day, alongside a Bronx road, standing by her car, urinating.
Mary Ann Swissler, a part-time professor at Seton Hall University (South Orange, N.J.), was fired after she responded to negative student course reviews with an e-mail calling most of her students "mental midgets" and the most "homophobic, sexist, racist, lying sacks of `word represented as "s t" in a news story` I have ever met in my life."
E. S. T. P.
Recently, many Lithuanians, whose country is poised to join the European Union next year, were cringing at the insistence by President Rolandas Paksas to continue to rely for advice on local mystic Lena Lolisvili. Among Lolisvili's methods for healing people: She wraps them in toilet paper, which she believes God has energized for her.
Dyed and gone to heaving
John Gladney, 40, was arrested by Columbus, Ohio, police about a block from the National City Bank that he had allegedly robbed a few minutes earlier on March 27. According to the officers, Gladney was easy to spot because of his conspicuous gait, demonstrating pain, in that he had stuffed the money bag down his pants, only to have the bank's chemical dye pack explode near his groin.
Death becomes her
A couple in Tianjin, China, in a February newspaper advertisement, offered an amount equal to $15,300 for a man aged 25 to 35 to step up and marry their recently deceased daughter, who was 28 and is now, according to a dream the mother had, lonely. In exchange for the dowry, the man must remain "faithful." These "ghost marriages" were an ancient custom until outlawed by the communist regime, but have made a small comeback in recent years.
In January, at a scout camp (for ages 11 to 14) in Denmark, organizers established a game of tag in which kids were the Jews (wearing Stars of David) and the adults pursuing them were designated as Nazis; one scout official admitted later that the game "may have crossed the line."
Larry Ray Pratt, 48, became the first person charged under Kansas' new food-supply safety law after he was arrested in January for allegedly urinating on packages of chicken in the walk-in freezer at a Dillon grocery store in Olathe. Police said he had a grudge.
And in Bennington, Vt., Lori T. Pratt, 30, was charged with shooting her husband in December after she found a pornographic video under the couple's bed.
Ms. Kelli Pratt, 45, was arrested in Modesto, Calif., after, allegedly, viciously biting her husband's scrotum in a fit of anger at his refusal to have sex with her, bites that caused an infection from which he died six days later.