Britain’s ITV1 television network announced plans in April to accept “prop placements” to blend into production of its new reality talent show in which actors compete for the lead role in the musical Jesus Christ Superstar. The network said, for example, that it was seeking coffee machines, which piqued the interest of the De’Longhi brand manager, who offered its top-of-the-line Magnifica ESAM4200 and, according to its public relations firm, suggested perhaps interrupting the play’s climactic song “The Crucifixion” while Jesus savors a cup brewed from the Magnifica. An April report in London’s The Independent noted that the opera’s composer, Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber, was on board with the idea, but that the original lyricist, Sir Tim Rice, called it “tasteless” and “tacky.”
Each spring in Dongyang, China, the aroma of urine is in the air–specifically, the town’s specialty of eggs boiled in the discharge of young boys (under age 10, typically gathered “fresh” from toilets at local schools). Townspeople have believed for centuries that the eggs, properly cooked, bring health and prosperity. “By eating these eggs,” one shopper told a Reuters reporter in March, “we will not have any pain in our waists, legs and joints. Also, you will have more energy when you work.” In fact, Dongyang officials have proudly proclaimed “virgin boy eggs” as an “intangible cultural heritage.”
And once again this spring, the Chinese marked the Qingming holiday with celebrations honoring the dead by making offerings to their deceased relatives. At the “tomb-sweeping” festival, people present paper replicas of items their ancestors are believed to need in the afterlife. Uncreative relatives give play money, but the offerings can be elaborate, such as shoes, cars and TV sets, or this year’s hot item–paper iPads, which were selling in Hong Kong for the equivalent of about $3.
Sound Familiar? McDonald’s still proudly serves its coffee hot, notwithstanding the notorious 1992 lawsuit for burns suffered by Stella Liebeck. In March 2012, Mona Abdelal filed a lawsuit in Cook County, Ill., over severe burns that her granddaughter, four, suffered when fetching Abdelal’s coffee order from a McDonald’s server. According to the lawsuit, the server violated company policy that requires tightly closed lids on coffee cups and prohibits handing the cups to young children even if they are tightly sealed.
With Afghanistan’s moralistic Taliban in retreat, one social scourge grows stronger than ever (according to an April Washington Post dispatch from Dehrazi): “bacha bazi,” which are Afghan men’s “dancing boys.” Underage, often poor or fatherless kids become willing “companions” of wealthy men, often for sex. Since young girls are sheltered and chaperoned, only boys are available. Said one man, “You cannot [even] take a wife with you to a party, but a boy you can take anywhere.” The usefulness of a bacha bazi typically ends when he starts growing facial hair, and the boys often drift into becoming pimps or prostitutes.
The most recent government employee to defraud his agency’s worker compensation program (according to prosecutors in Los Angeles) is firefighter Rafael Davis, 35, who received disability payments for about 30 months during 2008-2011 while at the same time engaging in mixed martial arts matches as “The Noodle.” Davis’ record (according to LA Weekly) was 12-2, with seven of those matches coming during his disability period, including six victories. “MMA” (as noted by the newspaper) requires similar “stamina, muscle and coordination” as is required for firefighting.
LEAST COMPETENT CRIMINALS
In Twin Falls, Idaho, in April, Dylan Contreras, 19, became the most recent person arrested while trying to avoid police by giving a fake name (“Velesco”) even though his real name (the one on outstanding warrants) was tattooed in plain sight on his forearm.