Would you like fries with that?

"Splosher" parties are growing in popularity in San Francisco, attended by quasi-sexual fetishists who joyously wallow on floors and furniture, semi-nude, in gobs of mud, cream and a wide variety of foods such as soups, salads, syrups, ketchup, cakes and pies. According to a March report in SF Weekly, playfulness and lack of inhibition are more important to most participants than overt sexuality. In one couple's intimate scene, the man is a waiter who repeatedly spills food orders on the woman's lap and on her head, causing her to squeal with delight.

Nipping illness in the Bud

In scholarly papers delivered at conferences in Japan and the United States in March and April, Japanese researchers from Okayama University and Japan's National Cancer Center announced that beer inhibited liver, prostate, colon and rectal cancers in rats by as much as 50 percent. Professor Sakae Arimoto said beer works on pre-cancers by controlling heterocyclic amines and that unlike other cancer-inhibiting foods (such as spinach and broccoli), only small amounts need be consumed to acquire the beneficial effects.

Scene of the crime

Among the candidates for county sheriff in the May primaries in Kentucky are four former sheriffs forced from office after being convicted of crimes: Roger Benton (Morgan County), convicted of accepting a bribe; Paul Browning Jr. (Harlan County), convicted of plotting a murder; Douglas Brandenberg (Lee County), convicted of obstructing justice; and Ray Clemons (Breathitt County), convicted of failing to report drug activity. But the situation was more acute in the February legislative elections the state of Uttar Pradesh, India: 910 people with criminal charges against them ran for 403 seats, and 122 were elected, including an accused contract killer (who won perhaps because his opponent was himself the subject of 43 criminal charges).

Voodoo with noodles

A Malaysian businessman in the city of Jalan Beserah, intending to warn others who employ household help, told reporters in December that he had recently dismissed his maid because he had acquired hidden-camera proof that she boiled her underwear in the soup she served him. According to the businessman, a witch doctor in her hometown had told her that such soup would convey a magic spell that would cause the employer to appreciate her more.

Warehouse value

A Brooklyn, N.Y., housing judge ruled in March that a 71-year-old retired Chinese immigrant had too much stuff in his federally subsidized apartment and that if he didn't get rid of half of it quickly, he would be evicted. Fei Xu, 71, had so many items crammed into his 500 square feet that he had only a 14-inch-wide path by which to walk from one side to the other. Said Xu of his accumulation (computers, typewriters, 17 suitcases, 13 clocks, 15 folding chairs, seven fans, two each of most appliances, etc.): "'Many' is such a subjective word. For me, many is not too much. [I] thought this was a free country."

Cheesed off

Proposed legislation in this session of the Washington Senate would require a $100 deposit by anyone filing a formal complaint about any aspect of the dairy industry (after one free unsuccessful complaint); other businesses in the state would not be subject to complaint deposits. And in February, the managing director of South Africa's Milk Producers Organization demanded that the country's Advertising Standards Authority condemn a beer ad that "discriminates against milk" by implying that it is "dull and boring." (In the ad, three demure milk-drinkers at a cricket match become envious of rowdy beer-drinkers and eventually join them.)

Begging the question

A well-known Toronto panhandler ("the shaky lady") in March denied a press report that she takes in hundreds of dollars a day, rather than the $25 to $30 (U.S.) she claims; the denial came through her personal lawyer, a member of a prestigious downtown firm, in a press briefing in the firm's luxurious conference room.

Got your back

Also, in the last month ... a 22-year-old man was arrested and charged with shooting his longtime friend during an argument over which of the two was the better friend (Gary, Ind.). A thief came across a malnourished dog during a home burglary and called in an animal-abuse report on the owner (Bolton, England). Researchers said they found what could be considered one massive ant colony, consisting of many nests of ants living (oddly) in harmony, stretching 1,000 miles from Spain to Italy.

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