Head cases

British Army officers examining highly motivated potential recruits in the Commonwealth's Pacific island of Fiji reported in November encountering an alarming number of the men with marbles sewn under the skin of their penises, apparently to heighten pleasure during sex. According to an Agence France-Presse report, Capt. Sarah East said that the marbles were not an automatic disqualifier.

Snake eyes

Several news outlets in Johannesburg, South Africa, reported in November that, in front of several witnesses, a 20-foot-long African rock python swallowed a 10-year-old boy in the brush near Lamontville (which is near Durban). Some experts, including snake park owner Craig Smith, said the evidence and the witnesses' accounts were credible, especially since the snake had probably recently awakened from hibernation and was famished. According to the boy's terrified playmates, it took about three hours for him to completely disappear.

In November, Matthew George, 21, of Yacolt, Wash., was hospitalized in serious condition after the rattlesnake he was kissing bit him on the lip. Apparently, George was proudly showing to a friend the snake that he had found in the Arizona desert in October. When snake expert Richard Ritchey was asked by a reporter for The Oregonian whose fault the incident was (George's or the snake's), he answered, "The one with the bigger brain," but he did not say which one he thought that was.

Green party

Police in Fulton, Ky., investigating a marijuana-smoking complaint by William Hainline's neighbors in September, found dope burning on a backyard grill with a large fan on the other side of the house sucking the smoke through the home in effect, said Police Chief Terry Powell, "turn`ing` the house into a large marijuana bong." Hainline said he was merely having a 52nd birthday party, but police seized four pounds of marijuana.

All the rage

Sheila Raven Lord, 49, of Glenview, Ill., stabbed a companion with a steak knife in November because he was humming a Megadeth song louder than the Celine Dion song she was listening to.

George Krushinski was charged in November with planting small bombs in a mailbox in Lexington, Ky., and in a letter carrier's vehicle because a weekend carrier had been leaving Krushinski's mailbox door down. "I've warned you bastards many times about leaving my mailbox open," Krushinski wrote, "`and` now you will pay."

High-school student-musician Trevor LeBlanc won $25,000 in a lawsuit filed in San Diego against his band director, Tom Cole, who, at the 2001 Tournament of Roses Parade chewed out LeBlanc for wearing the wrong color socks. "I ought to wring your `expletive deleted in original story` neck," Cole reportedly said as he grabbed LeBlanc by the throat.

Gimme shelter

Some callers to Boston's major homeless shelters became angry that their requests to help out this year on Thanksgiving and Christmas were rejected because the shelters have too many volunteers on those days, although they have too few on the other 363 days of the year. A Boston Globe reporter found that volunteers even try to cajole officials to bump them up the waiting list (170 on one shelter's list, which started accumulating names in August), but express disappointment at suggestions that they help at less "popular" (and less prestigious) suburban shelters.

Bible thumped

In Bridgeport, Conn., Roger Chimney, 34, pleaded guilty to two convenience store robberies in October; the police got him because he had accidentally dropped his name-inscribed Bible at one of the crime scenes.

And in Augusta, Maine, in August, Craig Golden, 18, pleaded guilty to criminal mischief for vandalizing a farmer's field. The police got him because his name-inscribed Bible had fallen out of his truck during the incident.

Gilligan's enema

The newest reality-TV show scheduled by London's Channel 5 for 2003 is a celebrities-in-detox series, in which marginally known entertainment personalities go to an island for a week to undergo enemas and colonic irrigation, with full camera coverage. A station spokeswoman told The Independent, "The celebrities will have to survive for a week on oral enemas, which basically means drinking things like olive oil. They'll also be analyzing their own poo."

Jacks of all trades

In October in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, Mr. Rosaire Roy was sentenced to a year in jail for hiring someone to rob his store so Roy could fulfill a sexual fantasy: He had arranged for the robber to force him to undress, along with an unsuspecting female acquaintance who was in the store at the time, because Roy wanted to be tied up naked with her.

And in November, sheriff's deputies in Fayette County, Ga., acting on a tip, arrested Sandy Creek High School teacher Damian Belvedere, 44, who (using his webcam) was in the middle of a live Internet performance of fondling himself, nude, in his otherwise empty classroom.

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