Fruit of the loon

In a Stettler, Alberta, courtroom in June, police testified that David Zurfluh, 18, responded to his being stopped on DUI charges by ripping a large swath from his undershorts and stuffing it in his mouth, a maneuver he performed while seated in the back of a squad car. Zurfluh later said he hoped to absorb the alcohol in his breath before taking a Breathalyzer test. Though the courtroom was in stitches, Zurfluh had the last laugh when the judge dismissed the case after officers admitted that Zurfluh's reading was not high enough.

The race to the famish line

The September starvation death of a 49-year-old Scottish woman was the third casualty in two years of the no-food, no-water, "breatharian" diet popularized by Australian Ellen Greve. Greve claims 5,000 disciples, charges more than $2,000 (U.S.) per ticket for her seminars and sells her philosophy ("liberation from the drudgery of food and drink" ) to Westerners, in part to confer spirituality on Third World hunger. Eating-disorder specialists quoted by the Times of London said that there is no scientific basis for Greve's teachings.

Workman's comp

In August, Bob Thompson, who had just sold his Thompson-McCully road-building firm in Belleville, Mich., for $422 million, dished out $128 million of it in bonuses to his 550 workers. Each of his 80 managers and salaried employees received an annuity worth at least $1 million. Thompson said the gift was warranted because the company is "dependent on people." Said one worker to Thompson, "`T`here's nobody else in this world who would have done what you did."

Throwing him a frickin' bone

In August, Dubbo, Australia, magistrate David Hellpern dismissed charges against an Aboriginal man for shouting "Fuck off!" to a police officer, calling the expletive "extremely commonplace now" and saying that it had "lost most of its punch." But in August in Colorado Springs, Colo., a state liquor-control agent removed 29 signs that contained the same word from Leonard Carlo's tavern, including a bottled-beer-only notice that was worded "No Fucking Tap Beer." On Oct. 7, the ACLU obtained a temporary restraining order against the liquor agency, arguing that the word was part of Carlo's "image and character." (Carlo, who named his dog Fuck You, uses the word frequently, though he told a female reporter for the Denver Rocky Mountain News that he hoped he hadn't offended her by doing so.)

Eight-wheel drive

A May police report in The Messenger (Madisonville, Ky.), described the strange pattern of two trucks being driven on a rural road: A man would drive one truck 100 yards, then stop and walk back to the second truck, which he would drive 100 yards beyond the first truck, then repeat the process over and over again. According to police, the man's brother was passed out drunk in one of the vehicles, so he had elected to drive both of them home. (After a blood-alcohol test, however, the driver was also presumed impaired.)

Royal flush

Carol Champion received a special award from the London Tourist Board in July for her outstanding work as a restroom attendant. At the ceremony, Champion announced, "I just want to thank my manager, Richard, the cleaning staff, the maintenance men, my customers and everybody who knows me. I could not have achieved this without them."

902 uh-oh

Pest-control specialists cited in the newspaper feature Earth Week in June said that last year's El Niño storms caused a huge rat infestation in Southern California, especially around Beverly Hills. And in the middle of a drought emergency, the annual Waynesburg, Pa., July 29th Rain Day festival was hit by rain for the 105th time in 126 years.

Tightening their gripe

On July 1, the Dallas Better Business Bureau began charging consumers $9.50 for the privilege of airing their complaints of being ripped off by local businesses.

Seductive reasoning

In April in Riverside, Calif., Allen Randolph Payne, 40, was sentenced to 1,113 years in prison for molesting his three daughters over most of their adolescent and teen years. Not only did their mother, Carol Payne, side with Allen at trial, but one daughter testified that Carol once chased her around the house with a baseball bat and a gun after finding her in bed with him.

Hare-brained scheme

In March, a United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization conference in Italy issued a news release suggesting that the world's food supply could be enlarged by increasing the rabbit population, but expressed concern that governments would miss the opportunity because of their "lack of training" in getting rabbits to breed.

The usual suspects

Jason L. Miller, 19, already the subject of an outstanding warrant, was arrested again in Elgin, Ill., in May: An officer recognized Miller when he showed up to take part in a police ride-along program. And Kent Mayes, 42, was arrested in Deridder, La., in August when he flagged down a passing car and offered to sell drugs to the occupants, even though they were badge-wearing, gun-carrying policemen -- one of whom had arrested Mayes several times in the past.

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