After filing for divorce, Frances and Harold Mountain proved unable to agree on how to split up their Beanie Baby collection. So Family Court Judge Gerald Hardcastle instructed them to bring the entire collection into the courtroom, spread them out on the floor, and pick one each until they were gone.
The judge remarked, "This isn't about toys. It's about control. Because you folks can't solve it, it takes the services of a District Court judge, a bailiff and a court reporter."
Frances Mountain said, "I don't agree with the judge's decision to do this. It's ridiculous and embarrassing." Nevertheless, she got down on her hands and knees and started picking out Beanie Babies.
Santa Cruz Sentinel - Nov 6, 1999
The crime of choice of 46-year-old Janet Manning of Brooklyn Park, Maryland was dumping raw chicken livers into mailboxes and bookdrops. Usually on a weekend so they would be discovered on a Monday.
Her motive for doing this was never very clear. After apprehending her, thanks to security-camera footage, the police captain said, "There's no clear-cut rhyme or reason for her to be doing what she was doing to these organizations." He added, "She wouldn't tell us why chicken livers."
But it was evidently some kind of act of revenge, in response to perceived offenses. Library officials recalled that she once had a minor argument with them a year before involving her request to have a printout of all the books she had returned, which the library staff told her their computers weren't set up to do. So they offered to write out the list by hand. That, apparently, was enough to trigger her.
On account of her otherwise clean criminal record, she was fined $1000 and placed on a year's probation.
The Annapolis Capital - May 27, 1998
During a staff meeting, Toledo mayor Carty Finkbeiner offered a creative solution to the problem of homeowners bothered by airport noise. They should just sell their houses to deaf people. A few days later he offered a tearful apology, insisting that he had simply said it was "an interesting idea."
The reality, of course, is that they sell to people willing to live with noise in exchange for getting a cheap house. I know that 'cause it's the trade-off I accepted when I bought my house (road noise, not airport noise).
Detroit Free Press - Nov 5, 1994
In 1990, R.J. Reynolds test marketed a new brand of cigarette named "Dakota."
But the brand immediately generated controversy when internal company documents leaked to the Washington Post
revealed that the cigarettes were narrowly targeted at a demographic described as "virile females."
What exactly is a "virile female"? It was apparently "a woman with no education beyond high school, whose favorite television roles are Roseanne
and 'evening soap opera (bitches)' and whose chief aspiration is 'to get married in her early 20s' and spend her free time 'with her boyfriend doing whatever he is doing.'"
The phrase "virile female" attracted a lot of interest. Many people wondered if it was acceptable English. Language columnist William Safire weighed in on the issue, asking, "Can you use virile woman without committing an oxymoronic act?
" He concluded, yes you can:
Masculine woman is an acceptable phrase, as is effeminate man; what is meant here, however, is different from a female who acts like a male. A virile woman, as I interpret the promotional message, is "a woman who associates herself with activities and images formerly considered of primarily male interest."
He further noted that there was literary precedent for the phrase:
Etymologists will support the use of virile woman because the first appearance of the adjective, in William Caxton's 1490 translation of a French romance based on Virgil's 'Aeneid,' was in the phrase "O the fortytude viryle of wymmen."
However, even though Safire had officially approved the phrase "virile female," the cigarettes themselves didn't perform well in the test marketing, so Reynolds scuttled the brand.
Palm Beach Post - Feb 17, 1990
As high school football coach Dale Christensen was giving a pep talk to his players in the school cafeteria, hours before a game, a fight broke out between two students and Christensen moved immediately to intercede.
Then shots rang out. Christensen fell to the ground, blood spreading across his shirt. Christensen's son (who was a player on the team) shouted, "My dad's been shot!" Panic erupted, and people started running, seeking cover from the shooter.
But a few seconds later, Christensen jumped back up and announced he was okay. The shooting had been fake — staged as a stunt to motivate the players.
Unfortunately for Christensen, he had a hard time getting anyone to understand why the fake shooting was motivational. He later noted, "people in general outside the football team... do not understand what he was trying to accomplish."
School officials definitely didn't understand. The team lost the game, and a few days later Christensen was forced to resign.
Reminds me of that coach who arranged for his players to view a bull castration before a game
as a "motivational experience." When asked how it was motivational, he replied, "That's everybody's different perception."
St. Louis Post-Dispatch - Nov 25, 1993
Bettie Phillips' fifteen minutes of fame involved her decision to put earrings on a baby deer. It happened back in 1997 when she found a two-month-old deer stranded by the side of a road and "thought it would be pretty" if it had earrings. So she pierced its ears by hand, pushing the posts of two earrings through its ears.
Police later found the deer in her truck and charged her with animal cruelty.
The charge was eventually suspended, but she had to pay the $250 veterinary bill for treating its infected ears.
San Bernardino County Sun - July 11, 1997
Asheville Citizen Times - Sep 17, 1997
Galveston Daily News - Nov 20. 1997
Back in 1990, Spy
magazine conducted an experiment in "comparative chintziness." Its goal was to find out "Who is America's cheapest zillionaire?"
Or, put another way, "how cheap are the rich?"
To determine this they sent various rich people each a check for 13 cents, and then waited to see who would actually cash such a tiny check. Two people did: Donald Trump and the Saudi Arabian businessman Adnan Khashoggi.
And yes, they made sure to send the checks to the home addresses of the rich people, and not to their accountants. So that the recipient would have to do a little bit of work to cash the check.
Springfield News-Leader - June 6, 1990
Michael Stivers had an interesting career. He was a professional wrestler, who used the stage name "Pretty Boy Behning." He was also a police officer for 13 years, but around 1990 he quit that profession to become a hypnotist.
At first, he ran a pretty ordinary hypotism business — using hypnotism to help people lose weight or quit smoking. But around 1991 he discovered a unique way to specialize and differentiate his practice. He became a "breast enlargement hypnotist."
His pr material explained: "The larger-breast style of self-hypnosis relaxes the subject, then allows her to will an increased blood flow into the fatty tissues of the breast, much like that during menstruation or pregnancy. Daily conditioning through self-hypnosis allows what amounts to a permanent enhancement."
But according to a 1991 AP story, some patients had mixed results:
A 58-year-old Tampa woman who wouldn't give her name said her bust measurement grew 3 inches through hypnosis in April, but then shrank 1 ½ inches.
As far as I can tell, Stivers stayed in business until at least 1995.
Arizona Republic - Feb 1, 1995
Des Moines Register - July 22, 1991