Odds & Ends
By Devin D. O'Leary
JULY 20, 1998:
Dateline: Japan--Japan's second largest city, Osaka, finds
itself wrapped up in the story of a mad monkey who kidnapped a
defenseless kitten. The catnapping capuchin wandered into the
high-rise metropolis early last week from some nearby wooded hills.
About 50 police officers chased the wild animal through the outskirts
of Osaka before cornering the beast. Unfortunately, the monkey
grabbed a several-month-old kitten "as a diversionary tactic"
and eluded police capture. The monkey hunt continued unabated
into the weekend. Among the many eyewitness sightings of the monkey,
several reported that he was still carrying the kitten, which
appeared "weak." A police spokesman told reporters,
"We're not as interested in finding the kitten as we are
in getting that monkey." The story was featured as the lead
on several news broadcasts last Wednesday night, where the monkey/kitten
hostage situation bumped a State of the Economy address by Prime
Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto.
Dateline: Afghanistan--Leaders of the fundamentalist Afghan
Islamic sect Taliban have banned all television sets, video cassette
recorders, video tapes and satellite dishes. On a positive note,
Afghani teenagers were relieved to hear that Allah apparently
has no opinion on Nintendo systems.
Dateline: Germany--"Lucky," an ill-named German
shepherd guide dog for the blind in Wuppertal, Germany, recently
became available for a fifth owner. Trainers admit that Lucky's
0-4 record is not too impressive "on paper." Lucky's
previous owners have all met with unfortunate ends. Lucky led
his first owner in front of a bus, killing him. He led the second
owner off the end of a pier, killing him. He nudged his third
off a railway platform in front of the Cologne-to-Frankfurt express,
killing him. The fourth he abandoned in traffic, killing him.
Lucky's newest owner will not be told of his previous mishaps.
The trainers claim that the dog might sense nervousness and "do
Dateline: Indonesia--Thanks to the recent rioting and political
unrest, Indonesia has seen a 50 percent drop in tourism. Hoping
to salvage the fading industry, the Indonesian government has
announced that one surprise day in July will be a "Happy
Day," with no charges for hotels, restaurants and transportation.
In addition, the government has declared all of August a "Happy
Month," featuring reduced tourism rates and other financial
lures for out-of-towners.
Dateline: New Mexico--Irate over the increased use of trendy
South American black beans in Southwestern-style cuisine, San
Juan County Commissioner Steve Neville called for a resolution
encouraging area restaurants to employ locally-grown pinto beans
in their Southwestern cooking. The resolution passed unanimously.
Pinto beans are New Mexico's largest dry crop, averaging about
7,000 acres a year.
Dateline: West Virginia--And finally, back to the subject
of primates. Arthur Warden, a mail carrier in Beckley, W. Va.,
found himself the unhappy object of affection for a 4-foot, 6-inch
chimpanzee named Herbie. The chimp leaped through the passenger
window of Warden's mail truck and latched onto the startled mailman.
"He grabbed me, and I grabbed him," Warden told reporters.
"I was yelling, 'Get this monkey off of me!'" Herbie
apparently escaped from his owner, Joyce Wriston, and "just
wanted to play." Wriston, who raised the chimp with her own
children, calmed Herbie down with some ice cream and a can of
Coke. Warden was startled, but uninjured by the affectionate ape.