In March, Mark Allen Shook, 43, attempting to flee (with his dog) Mountain Ranch, Calif., police officers who had come to arrest him on a domestic violence charge, was captured after a chaotic fight during which the dog bit off part of Shook's ear. And in Eltham, England, in May, a family's dog, chasing a ball, bumped the ladder on which a man was standing trimming bushes with a chainsaw, causing him to fall and fatally slice the neck of his wife, who was holding the ladder.
FEEL THE PAIN
In May, a 1,500-pound camel named Poon, roaming around his home at the Mayle Farm in Shinnston, W.Va., decided to sit down on top of a woman who was painting a fence. No one could hear her muffled screams, but she managed to call 911 on her cell phone, and help arrived just as Poon had begun to bite her.
YOU'RE LIVING ALL OVER ME
Agence France Presse reported in May that an agency had just rented out a 54-square-foot apartment in Notting Hill (a loft bed over a kitchenette, closet and shower) for $1,065 a month. And in the Haringey Park neighborhood, developer Andrew Markey proposed to convert the kitchen and hallway of a house he owns into its own two-story townhouse (producing a living room 21 feet by 8 feet). Agents said such a house might go for $325,000, but in June, the local council rejected his initial plans.
NOT THE SAME
British entrepreneur Colin Dowse recently introduced Sprayonmud (about $14 a quart), dirty water chemically treated for greater stickiness, used mainly by urban SUV owners to pass themselves off as all-terrain adventurers. And the maker of Doggles (which for several years has sold sunglasses for dogs at about $25) now offers corrective-lens Doggles starting at $75, which veterinary ophthalmologists can prescribe as alternatives to $2,000 lens-replacement surgery, according to a March report by KMGH-TV in Denver.
In the last few years, Taiwan entrepreneurs have opened restaurants with motifs such as prisons, zombies and Mao Zedong, but the latest is Eric Wang's Marton, in Kaohsiung, whose theme is the toilet. All seats are what you would think, with food served on a glass tabletop resting on a bathtub, and some of the delicacies are presented in miniature toilet bowls (among them, disturbingly, chocolate ice cream).
New York state Assemblyman Adriano Espaillat, from Manhattan, introduced a bill in June to require a minimum wage for comedians (at least $125 per 20-minute show at comedy clubs on weekends and $28 on weekdays). Also, North Carolina corrections officials began rethinking inmate manufacturing programs recently when they discovered that, though they pay prisoners only $3 a day in their T-shirt-making concession, suppliers in Bangladesh can make the shirts for 38 percent less.
LET IT RIDE
According to a study by Professor Martin Gibala and others, published in the June Journal of Applied Physiology, people can get the health benefits associated with two hours' cycling in just two minutes. Gibala said that over a two-week period, two hours daily of moderate-speed riding made cyclists no healthier than four all-out, to-the-max 30-second bursts daily (with four minutes' rest in between). However, all subjects were already moderate exercisers.
In March, The Australian newspaper identified an upswing in the business of some beauticians who have responded to customers' desires to lighten the skin around their anuses. A beautician in Sydney said she had long been helping sex workers for that condition but that lately the clients are civilians trying to please boyfriends who are taken by how "clean and light" porno actresses seem. Said another beautician of the ingredient she uses, "I explain that it will give them eczema and (other problems), but they want it anyway."
Even though AIDS continues to spread through sub-Saharan Africa, the custom of the village "cleanser" persists in Zambia, Kenya, Malawi and other countries. When a husband dies, the widow traditionally must break the marital bond by soon having sex again, lest the entire village be spiritually condemned. The preferred partner is a relative of the husband, but if none is available, the village leader calls on a professional "cleanser" who performs the task in exchange for a chicken or other remuneration. According to a May New York Times dispatch from Malawi, cleansers believe that wearing a condom will provoke other bad spirits.
HOW'D YOU PIN THAT ONE ON ME
Awiey "Chucky" Hernandez, 20, was arrested when he went to the 90th Precinct station house in Brooklyn, N.Y., to check on the status of a pal and inadvertently stood directly in front of his own "wanted" poster (on robbery and drug charges). The in-custody pal Hernandez had come to inquire about was Huquan "Guns" Gavin, 18, who appears with him on the poster. And Charles Cross Jr. was arrested on the street minutes after allegedly robbing a Fifth Third Bank in Louisville, Ky., in May, because he displayed the effects of having been looking directly into his stash bag at the moment the red-dye device exploded.
Five Buddhist monks in Bangkok were defrocked in May after a street fight culminating years of hostility between two temples, according to a Reuters dispatch. Said one (who used brass knuckles), "When an ordinary person is given a middle-finger sign, he will be mad. So will I."
DEATH CURES BOREDOM
A man fell to his death from an overpass onto Interstate 5 in Seattle in May, the loser of a who-can-hang-the-longest game with a friend. And in April a 22-year-old intoxicated man from Aberystwyth, Wales, accidentally fell through a window and fatally landed on a spiked fence after having pulled down his trousers and screamed to no one in particular, "Who wants some of this?" And in June in Frederick, Md., a judge convicted Ben Meacham, 23, on two misdemeanor counts for his role in the death of a pal, who had said he wanted to do something unusual on his motorcycle because it was about to be repossessed. With Meacham videotaping, the pal, pantsless, did a wheelie before losing control and accidentally, fatally ramming a parked truck.