Good will bleeping

Two Utah men, seeking to make Hollywood movies safe for their mostly Mormon neighbors, are creating stashes of major-film releases from which they have dubbed out the cussing and the sex. Ray Lines sells the pristine versions at three CleanFlicks video stores near Provo; David Schenk runs a Clean Cut Video club in Kaysville, where he features 62 titles for members to check out. "Great movies are great because they have a great story line," said Schenk to an Associated Press reporter in August, "not because they drop the F-bomb" (139 of which Schenk had to remove from "Good Will Hunting"). Major Hollywood studios are aware of the Utah men's work but none has yet commented.

Blown away by progress

Oregon legislators lamented in June that a major windmill-construction project on the Washington-Oregon border, expected to power 70,000 homes and thus a delight to clean-energy environmentalists, would probably be delayed because of the discovery that the property under construction is home to the endangered Washington ground squirrel, the saving of which is also a delight to environmentalists.

Stand by your man -- outside

Among the "zero-tolerance" cases in the news recently is the policy of a low-income housing complex in Seaside, Ore., to terminate automatically any lease if anyone in the unit engages in any violent act against anyone in the complex. According to a lawsuit filed in July, that policy was enforced too literally against Tiffani Ann Alvera, who was scheduled for eviction only because she showed the landlord a judicial restraining order she had gotten after her husband beat her up.

Giving sinners the finger

In June, Father Manuel Torres of Marbella, Spain, showed a reporter his new chart listing 19 sins and three penances in use in the 60 Catholic parishes around the Malaga tourist region. Since the number of worshippers rises 20-fold during the busy holiday season -- and few visitors are able to speak fluent Spanish -- Father Torres said it has become crucial to his efficiency to have penitents find their sins on the list, point to them and watch him as he holds up one finger (for three "Hail Mary"s), two (for one "Our Father") or three (for an act of charity).

Rock idol

In May, a 100-ton boulder slipped off of a 96-wheel trailer while being driven from the town of Karnataka, India, to Tamil Nadu, where it was to be sculpted into an idol of the Hindu monkey-god Hanuman. As the word spread, villagers gathered around the rock, consecrated it and delivered offerings to it, but the temple in Tamil Nadu said it still wants the rock (which was donated by a quarry owner) reloaded and delivered.

Living high on the hug

The 10-week tour through the U.S. this summer of Indian spiritual leader "Amma" (Mata Amritanandamayi) gave her a chance to pad her lifetime total of hugs, which she dispenses to each devotee who greets her, sometimes continuously for as long as 20 hours a day. Each service of chants and meditations lasts about two hours, followed by the hugs (about 1,000 at a recent Chicago ceremony), usually accompanied by a few back rubs and a kiss on the cheek.

Turn the other cheek

Humberto "The Frog" Banuelos, a man alleged to be a big hit man for the Tijuana drug cartel, was arrested in July in spite of the extensive cosmetic surgery he had undergone for disguise. Police said Banuelos had neglected to change the one thing that they regarded as his chief body characteristic: a distinctive bullet-wound scar on his right buttock. ... Donald James Eversen was arrested in Sparks, Nev., and charged with attempting to rob two women, then stealing a beer truck for his getaway. Police found Eversen (who had been drinking) a few blocks from the scene. When they brought the two victims by to identify him, Eversen immediately blurted out that, yes, those were the two women he had tried to rob.

Let out on bond

Earlier this year, News of the Weird reported that the tony Silicon Valley town of Woodside, Calif. (population 5,600), had proposed to comply with a state law setting a minimum per-town number of "affordable housing" units by allowing horse farmers to create moderately priced "apartments" inside their barns. Now, Massachusetts state Rep. John H. Rogers has proposed that towns in his state, when attempting to comply with laws requiring the provision of low-income housing, be able to include jails and prison cells in their totals.

It's probably the legal fees ...

The head of a research team at the University of Adelaide (Australia), studying automobile whiplash injuries, reported its preliminary finding that the pain of some victims' is prolonged more by acts of "litigation" than by physical "damage" to joints.


Also, in the last month ... Two mothers of 15-year-old school-league baseball players in Salt Lake City were arrested after beating unconscious the mother of a rival player who had scored the winning run against their sons' team. ... Boston Har-bor's 10th annual swim to commemorate progress in cleaning up its water was canceled due to heavy pollution. ... A 26-year-old Navy man was rescued from 85 feet inside the Kilauea (Hawaii) Volcano, where he had fallen after chasing his windblown baseball cap.


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