The New York Times reported in November on the recent but growing competitive sport of "musical canine freestyle" (dancing with dogs) in which costumed owners and their matching-collared pooches exhibit choreography to such tunes as "The Yellow Rose of Texas" and "Get Happy." (Holding dogs' paws, as in at-home dog dancing, is forbidden.) The World Canine Freestyle Organization has a mailing list of 8,000 aficionados.
The Louisville Courier-Journal reported in February that the Louisville Free Public Library is tied up in probate with the family of the late Audrey Jean Knauer over a $290,000 bequest and that the outcome might depend on whether the actor Charles Bronson wants the money. Ms. Knauer died in 1997 and inexplicably willed her money to Bronson, whom she labeled a "talented character actor" but whom in all likelihood she had never met. Ms. Knauer's mother wants the money; the library says it could buy 20,000 books with that amount; and Bronson has not yet responded.
In December, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, president Carol Harter moved the offices of most of the school's English composition teachers out of the campus' historic Houssels House and into a group of double-wide trailers in order to make room for a new Consciousness Studies Program, which investigates near-death experiences and other new-age topics. That program was recently created with a large donation from a prominent real-estate developer.
In January, Fort Worth, Texas, murder defendant Robert William Greer Jr. agreed to plead guilty to a 1988 killing on the condition that the judge would keep him in the local jail for two more weeks before sending him to the penitentiary so that he could be assured of seeing the Super Bowl on TV. (Greer apparently thought TV privileges in prison were less certain.) Greer said much of his enthusiasm for the game would be to see his favorite team, the Minnesota Vikings, win it all. Two days later, the Atlanta Falcons beat the Vikings to deny them a Super Bowl appearance, but Greer's guilty plea stands.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported in October that LuLu, a Vietnamese pot-bellied pig, saved the life of her owner, Jo Ann Altsman of Beaver Falls, Pa., by alerting a passing driver that Altsman was in trouble. Altsman was groaning with a heart attack and said later that LuLu first whimpered in sympathy, then squeezed through a very small doggy door, managed to push open a gate that she had never opened before, walked to the road and, according to a witness, lay down in the middle only when a car approached. The driver stopped and then heard Altsman's cries.
Hard to swallow
In August, the family of the late Russell U. Shell filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against The Other Side nightclub in Fitchburg, Mass., charging that Mr. Shell choked to death on a miniature plastic penis that allegedly had been placed into his drink glass as a prank by an employee. (The club owner said that Mr. Shell merely suffered a seizure and that the plastic charm was found on the floor beside Mr. Shell's body.)
A boy named sue
The Chicago Sun-Times reported in November that local businessman David Israel, 51, filed a defamation lawsuit against his mother, Miriam, 77, who had allegedly told his brother and sister-in-law that David "is a thief and stole us blind." Said David, "It's not fun suing your mother."
Seer in court
In January in Modesto, Calif., Bernardo Arroyo, 26, was convicted of distributing methamphetamine and faces a minimum of 10 years in prison at his sentencing, which will occur in April. Before the trial, Arroyo rejected a plea bargain that would have given him two years in prison because a psychic he consulted had assured him that he would be acquitted. (In fairness to the psychic, however, Arroyo had an opportunity to purchase an additional curse upon the prosecutor, for $8,000, but declined.)
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