In a nondescript building next to a mosque in downtown Karachi, Pakistan, the Qadeer brothers discreetly make and market a million dollars' worth of fetish and bondage products a year for Americans and Europeans (through sales to stores and on eBay). In fact, if the radical Islamic office down the street knew about the Qadeers' work, they might be in trouble, according to an April New York Times dispatch, but fortunately, the gag balls, corsets and whips such as the "Mistress Flogger" are so odd for Pakistan that even the veiled women who sew them for the Qadeers do not understand that Americans use them for sex play. Customs officials, for example, were puzzled about how to categorize the items for tax purposes. "If our mom knew (the nature of our business)," said brother Adnan, "she would disown us."
-- Physician Geoffrey Hart, working with a grant from the National Institutes of Health, recently developed the Pedi-Sedate headgear to trick waiting-room kids into inhaling nitrous oxide while playing video games, thus knocking themselves out and, according to Hart's company, "dramatically improv(ing) the hospital or dental experience for the child, parents and healthcare providers." The helmet contains sophisticated sensors to monitor the dosages and effects on the child.
-- Manliness: (1) The Redneck Yacht Club opened in February near Naples, Fla., consisting of an 800-acre carefully designed mud pit that drivers pay $30 to frolic in with their own customized off-road vehicles. One mechanic told the Sarasota Herald-Tribune in April that he had spent $15,000 fixing up his rig, with 6-foot-high tires and a skull ornament. His review: "This place is kick-butt." (2) For Germany's fathers' day in May, the Panzer Fun Driving School in Germany's Brandenburg state suggested sending men off to drive one of its 13 Soviet armored vehicles (following a short class on the controls), and for an extra fee, patrons can ram their tanks over an old car.
-- Britons Sam Bompas and Harry Parr are revered chef-artists whose medium is the gelatin mold, with which they have created jelly models of, for example, London's St. Paul's Cathedral and a Madrid airport terminal, and who, for a New York customer, recently created orange-juice jelly inside some Compari jelly to produce a Compari-and-soda jelly. In April, the pair also opened a London bar, Alcoholic Architecture, in which vaporized gin and tonic saturate the air in equivalent strength of one gin-and-tonic drink for every 40 minutes of exposure.
-- Confusing Business Model: Patrick Ellison and Frank Mack, along with Edie Wells, were arrested in Dalton, Ga., in April after what police said was a joint venture in which alleged prostitute Wells knocked on a man's door and offered him sex, and when the man declined, Ellison and Mack arrived and forced the man to accept Wells' services. Following the sex, the three departed with the man's money and credit cards.
-- Good to Know: A case report in a recent issue of the journal Emergency Medicine Australasia described the successful removal of a leech from an eyeball. A 66-year-old woman, gardening in her back yard in Sydney, had accidentally flicked some soil into her eye. By the time a surgeon could extract the leech, it had roughly tripled its body size by feeding on the eyeball's blood vessels. (The key, by the way: a few drops of saline solution).
-- In a recent journal article, researchers from the University of Whitwatersrand (South Africa) and the University of Sydney (Australia) reported that young male Augrabies lizards avoid older predatory males by, basically, cross-dressing (pretending to be female by suppressing their extravagant male coloration until they are fully developed and able to defend themselves). Thus, they avoid being attacked and, at the same time, increase their own freedom to hit on females. (They must still be careful, say the researchers, because the older males might whiff their male scent, which cannot be suppressed.)
In April, a manager at a Dean Health System clinic in Madison, Wis., received corporate instructions to "immediately" lay off 50 listed employees, and the manager (a 30-year nursing veteran) decided that that included pulling one RN out of a room in which she was assisting with surgery, leaving just a physician and lower-level staff members present. A clinic executive later called the manager's timing an error, but said there were no adverse consequences to the patient.
Ms. Indra Ningsih, a 26-year-old maid, was detained by a court in Hong Kong in April after her employer accused her of spiking her vegetable soup with menstrual blood. According to a report of the case in Hong Kong's The Standard, the maid was employing a belief in some Southeast Asian cultures that menstrual blood has special powers and would improve an otherwise-contentious relationship between the maid and the employer.
First-time bank robber (according to police) Jason Durant, 32, reported to the hospital in New Milford, Conn., shortly after knocking off the National Iron Bank in April. As he fled the crime scene, he accidentally tumbled down a steep hill behind the bank, losing control of his stash, and his gun, during the fall. He broke his leg in several places (saying later that he heard snapping sounds). At the bottom of the hill, he crashed into a plow blade, slashing himself before dragging his bleeding, broken body to his getaway car (with only $2 left from the robbery). Suspicious hospital staff members notified police.
Russia's long-running Moscow Cat Circus/Theater, reported in News of the Weird in 1998, is still in service, astonishing all who ever tried to train a cat. In the United States, Samantha Martin runs her own similar show (at such venues as Chicago's Gorilla Tango Theatre in March) featuring the Rock Cats trio on guitar, piano and drums, as well as a tightrope-walker, barrel-roller and skateboarder, among other daring performers. Martin admitted to a Chicago Tribune reporter that the cats' music "sucks," in that "when they're playing, they're not even playing the same thing," and anyway she has two backup drummers because her regular is prone to "walking off in a huff," sort of "like diva actresses." "This is why you don't see trained cat acts. Because ... the managers can't take the humiliation."
Difficult Times for Funeral Eulogists: (1) A 54-year-old man was found dead of a heart attack in a pornography video booth at the Beate Uhse sex shop in Cologne, Germany, in December. (2) A 42-year-old comedian (and owner of a comedy club in Blackburn, England) was accidentally asphyxiated in April inhaling laughing gas while viewing computer pornography.
In an October 2001 incident that started out resembling a comedy movie scene, Alan Martin, 49, decided to petulantly protest police officers' decision to confiscate his RV after a minor accident, and deliberately lay down in the middle of a busy street in Daly City, Calif., refusing to budge. As officers tried for a while to talk him out of his obstinacy, they shielded his body by blocking a lane of traffic with their cruiser. A few minutes later, one of those notorious California hot-pursuit police chases just happened to head down the same street, and the car driven by fleeing suspect Kevin Domino, 37, accidentally rammed the stopped cruiser, then drove over Martin, and then while trying to straighten out his car, Domino ran over Martin again. (Police caught Domino a few blocks later when his car stalled out, and Martin was hospitalized in fair condition.)