Odds & Ends
By Devin D. O'Leary
JUNE 1, 1998:
Dateline: Egypt--Last Tuesday in Cairo, police arrested
nine shop owners for selling shoes deemed "insulting"
to the religion of Islam. More than 400 pairs of American Fila
athletic shoes were confiscated in the cross-country raid. Apparently,
the word "Fila" printed on the soles of the shoes looks
dangerously similar to the word "Allah"--Arabic for
God. Egyptian law prohibits the sale of items that ridicule religions.
Putting sacred symbols or words on shoes is particularly insulting
because footwear is considered "dirty" under Islamic
tradition. If convicted, the shop owners face up to a year in
prison or a fine.
Dateline: Poland--A man wishing to spend a little quality
time in the country arrived at his riverside cottage in Bytow,
Poland, last Saturday only to discover that the only manner of
egress had been stolen. The entire 18-ton steel bridge leading
to the cottage was missing. Thieves apparently used welding torches,
a crane and at least one truck to dissect the 19th century bridge
and haul it away. The scrap value of the bridge was estimated
at $1,200. "I'm not sure it was worth the effort," said
Police Chief Zbigniew Skorwider.
Dateline: Philippines--In order to commemorate the 100th
anniversary of their independence from Spain, the government of
the Philippines announced last Wednesday that it would be handing
out some big cash. Literally. The new commemorative bills will
be the size of a sheet of legal paper--8.5 inches by 14 inches.
"It's something special for the collectors," said Nestor
Garcia, the Central Bank's director for bank notes and securities.
The Brobdingnagian bills, which are considered legal tender, will
be submitted to the Guinness Book of World Records as the
"world's largest legal tender."
Dateline: Italy--Speaking of the Guinness Book of World
Records, four Italian bakers made their bid to enter the prestigious
book by producing a record 6,940 pizzas in 12 hours. The four
bakers blasted through a ton of flour, 300 quarts of water, 1,540
pounds of tomatoes and ton of mozzarella cheese during their noon
to midnight marathon. Thousands gathered in the Piazza Saffi in
the northern Italian town of Foreli to watch the joking, clowning
cooks and to help put away the stacks of free pizza. The quartet
is probably guaranteed their spot in Guinness. The book
doesn't even have a category for "Fastest Pizza Baking."
Dateline: Massachusetts--Workers tearing down Boston's
venerable Garden Arena made an odd discovery amid the rubble.
A monkey's skeleton was unearthed last week in the longtime home
of the Boston Celtics. The Garden was built in 1928 and was said
to house troublesome gremlins who plagued visiting basketball
teams. There were, however, no reports of a resident simian.
Dateline: Los Angeles--As if there weren't already enough
perks to being a professional porn star. Last week, Los Angeles-based
Maxicare Health Plans entered into an agreement with the Free
Speech Coalition, the trade association for the pornography industry,
to provide managed health care for adult film stars. The agreement
ensures that X-rated stars like Jenna Jameson will receive the
same benefits as their mainstream counterparts like Harrison Ford.
Maxicare will provide insurance coverage for some 500 actors and
technicians in "the business." Before this agreement,
porn stars were forced to purchase expensive, individual plans
for anything other than eye or
--compiled by Devin D. O'Leary