In March, Thailand kick boxer Parinya Kiatbusaba, 16, ran his won-lost record to 20-2 (18 knockouts) and garnered much world press coverage because out of the ring, he is a flamboyant transvestite. "It is hard to fight beautiful men," he said. "I can easily knock them out. On the other hand, I want to hug and kiss them."
On April 23, Pittsburgh Pirates broadcaster Lanny Frattare interrupted his play-by-play to announce the death of actor James Earl Jones, about whom Frattare rhapsodized briefly for his role in the baseball film "Field of Dreams." The person who actually died was Martin Luther King assassin James Earl Ray, whose imminent demise from liver failure had been forecast in numerous stories over the previous several days.
Greasing the deal
In March, the Romanian soccer team Jiul Petrosani sold midfielder Ion Radu to the Valcea team for about $2,500 worth of pork. (Jiul Petrosani earlier traded defenseman Liviu Baicea to Valcea for 10 soccer balls.)
Ruling the heart
An official Valentine's Day poster at Langara College in Vancouver, British Columbia, featuring a silhouetted female and a male ready to kiss, drew fire from a campus gay and lesbian group, which suggested a "neutral" image of two hands clasping. That latter image itself was later derided by a Langara student union representative as possibly offensive to a person with no hands.
In November, the Albuquerque Environmental Health Department, in an official inspection report, urged that the Ice House nude-dance club should immediately correct two food-contamination conditions. First, it was serving pizza at less than the required 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Second, wrote the city inspector, a sanitation risk was being posed by a dancer named Stephanie Evans, whose act consisted in part of expelling Ping Pong balls from her vagina to various points in the room, in that the balls could possibly land on pizza slices or in customers' drinks.
Authorities in Texarkana, Ark., arrested Johnny Brown, 18, and Justin Calhoun, 17, and charged them with breaking into an abandoned neon sign plant in December and taking away containers of a shiny, silver liquid that, according to witnesses, they later played with all around town. The liquid was highly poisonous mercury, which Brown, Calhoun and some friends, among other stunts, dipped their arms in just to watch it bead up and drip. Since the break-in, the young men's mercury spree has forced the evacuation of 10 homes, the boarding up of a Subway sandwich shop, the temporary closing of Pleasant Grove High School, and the medical treatment of 64 people.
The Guardian (London) newspaper reported in May on the enormous television audiences in Brazil watching the nightly, Jerry Springer-like show "Ratinho Livre" (roughly, "The Mouse, Unleashed"), a forum for the downtrodden. Among recent interviewees were patients with horrible medical conditions begging for otherwise-unaffordable treatment (e.g., 8-year-old boy with 21 tumors in his mouth); a woman whose eyes were skewered and ears lopped off in a domestic fight but whose husband was still on the lam; and an equally unpopular husband and wife, whom the audience urged to assault one another.
In February, Christian Poincheval, a radio station manager in LeMans, France, introduced Petit Lutin toilet paper for the "reading room," on which are printed short articles on French current affairs, geography and culture, with no-stain ink and new editions to be released monthly.
Faking the mold
In January, inventor Michael Samonek, inspired by dentists' use of alginate molds for such things as artificial teeth and teeth-whitening, announced a Clone Your Own Genitals kit for $19.95. For realistic coloring, he uses peach Jell-O and condensed milk for light skin, black cherry and condensed milk for darker.