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In letters to the Journal of the American Medical Association in May, two physicians referred to hundreds of their patients who'd complained of bloating and upper abdominal discomfort and had been prescribed various ineffective gastrointestinal procedures. However, noting that among their patients with these complaints abdominal girth exceeded pants size by an average of three inches, the two doctors labeled the malady "tight pants syndrome" and prescribed larger pants and suspenders.

Uh-oh

A January Reuters News Service story on Manuel Oliveira's ice cream shop in Merida, Venezuela, reported that Oliveira offered 567 flavors, including onion, chili, beer, eggplant, smoked trout, spaghetti parmesan, chicken with rice, and spinach. He said some flavors fail, and he once abandoned avocado ice cream, tossing out 99 pounds of it because it wasn't smooth enough.

When the 58-year-old wife of Ethridge Leon "Bill" Carter died in April of a gunshot to the head in Heber Springs, Arkansas, Carter explained that she'd committed suicide. In 1992 Carter's second wife had died of a gunshot wound, also self-inflicted according to Carter. And in 1990 Carter's first wife had drowned during a fishing trip the couple took by themselves.

New York City police investigating a burglary at a debt-collection agency in Queens happened upon a plastic case containing 62 live western diamondback rattlesnakes. Police said a sideline for the three men who run the agency was selling vodka souped up with floating snakes to Koreans in the neighborhood for $100 a pint.

In November a judge in Georgetown, Guyana, found Ronald Jonas guilty of punching his wife after she found him in bed with another woman, then sentenced him to be "at her beck and call" for two weeks. "He is your slave," the judge said. "Anything you want him to do he has to do."

At a congressional hearing in February the director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Mollie Beattie, argued with Representative Don Young, a Republican from Alaska, over continued exemptions for Alaska natives from laws protecting ocean animals. Beattie was concerned that seals, polar bears, and other animals were being killed solely for their gall bladders and reproductive organs, which are considered delicacies or aphrodisiacs in some Asian countries. Young became angry and grabbed an 18-inch-long walrus penis bone that he'd brought along as a prop, pounding it into his hand as he responded.

In June the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency and the Illinois Department of Transportation agreed that land near Edwardsville that contains Mississippian Indian remains about 1,000 years old could be used as dirt for a new highway; officials said the site couldn't be saved because it didn't meet archaeological guidelines.

Latest Hormone Surges

Kenneth Bryant, 19, and Sabrina Perkins, 17, were arrested in March in Bossier City, Louisiana, in the middle of the day on a showroom bed at Dillard's department store, where they were having sex. Said a police officer, "They said they just wanted to do it." And in October in Dayton, Ohio, a ninth-grade boy performed oral sex on a female classmate in a study hall while the teacher was reading and listening to her radio using earphones.

In May Richard T. Martinez, 35, was arrested for indecency in Saint Paul, Minnesota, after police found him at 10:30 PM outside a theater wearing only a bra and G-string and holding a life-size plastic inflatable doll. According to police, a bottle of lubricant was nearby and the man was performing a sex act.

In February a judge in Sydney, Australia, penalized the driver of the car responsible for partially paralyzing Charmaine Johnston, now 35, in 1985. A portion of the $1.5 million in damages was to care for Johnston's son, now two, who the judge said was conceived as a result of Johnston's brain damage from the accident, which prompted her to act "impulsively and without judgment or thought of consequences" when an opportunity arose to have sex.

Philippines president Fidel Ramos announced in March that he would allocate about $150,000 to provide cable television to some northern areas of the country. He said he was concerned about population growth in the area and said cable TV would enable the people there "to do something else in the evening, in the hours of darkness."

Luck of the Draw

Immediately after giving birth to her and her husband Moe's second child in 1977, Fran Casto underwent a tubal ligation. A little over a year later Fran gave birth to their third child. Moe immediately underwent a vasectomy. In February 1994 in Henderson, North Carolina, Fran gave birth to the couple's fourth child.

In May in Littleville, Alabama, Terry R. Mills, 32, lay on the railroad tracks and was struck by a Norfolk Southern train, losing his left leg just below the knee. The incident occurred a few feet from the spot where, in 1986, he was struck by another train and lost his right leg.

In March Judy Amos of Dayton, Ohio, was watching the news on TV when word came that two planes had collided at Pope Air Force Base in North Carolina, setting fire to a third plane on the ground that was filled with paratroopers. Amos--whose grandfather, father, sister, and four uncles had all died in fires--knew that her son, Chad Van Cleve, was a paratrooper on exercise at Pope. Van Cleve had indeed been assigned to the plane that caught fire, in which 20 were killed and 80 injured, but minutes before the crash he'd left the plane to take a restroom break.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): illustration/Shawn Belschwender.

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