Stupid burglar tricks
Pleading guilty to a charge of criminal mischief may be the smartest thing James Babcock of Pittsburgh has done. Here's what happened when he tried to break into a shed, garage and home:
Stupid Move Number One: Babcock thrusts fist through window of shed, cutting his hand.
S.M. Number Two: Babcock breaks into second story of nearby garage. It's dark--very dark. He doesn't, see hole in floor and plummets to first story (kids, don't try this at home).
S.M. Number Three:Woozy perpetrator staggers around garage, falls into grease pit, splits head open.
S.M. Number Four: Babcock shifts to house, breaks in by smashing $300 window in front door. Once inside, he topples again--this time down cellar stairs.
S.M. Number Five: The Bad-Luck Burglar, as cops subsequently christen him, decides to leave. He starts car, drives down hill, hits tree and sustains blow to head.
S.M. Number Six: Would-be thief exits car, locking all doors (can't have getaway car stolen) and returns to garage. Falls once more into grease pit.
S.M. Number Seven: Babcock heads for car, can't find keys. Shatters car's rear window, breaks gear shift to get it into neutral but can't unlock steering wheel. Hits second tree.
S.M. Number Eight: Bruised, battered, Babcock falls unconscious. Head drops against steering wheel. Horn blares continuously--until police arrive.
No word from Chevy Chase's agent.
History in the (money) making
Bad news for memorabilia collectors: Your most prized holdings--that mint-condition Mantle autograph, your rare Botswanian stamp, the stack of Desert Storm trading cards--are officially second-class. Gallery of History, a museum-like emporium that has set up shop in eight American cities, is doing a whopping business in historic documents. Although its inventory is vast(131,600 items now in stock, ranging in price from $195 to $1,500,000), History's president, Todd Axelrod, does have his faves--some sold, some still available.
Most valuable: Abe Lincoln's letter to Grace Bedell, the little girl who suggested he sport a beard to boost his PR.
Funniest: Letter from Errol Flynn apologizing for a barroom tantrum.
Vilest: A document outlining Hitler's plan for extermination of the Jews.
Most ironic: Einstein's first scientific paper--written in 1895 when he was16--which he self-effacingly called "naïve and imperfect." Modern physicists, says Axelrod, have discovered in it "the seeds of the theory of relativity."
Happiest: A letter by Margaret Mitchell expressing her joy at winning the Pulitzer Prize for Gone with the Wind. Just a friend's prediction that she might win, she wrote, had so amused her that she dropped her glasses into her soup.
Sexiest: A tossup between a signed photo of a young Sophia Loren and an autographed photo of Marilyn Monroe from the first issue of Playboy that Axelrod believes was "ripped out of the magazine."
Presidential mementos sell at a brisk pace. "Lincoln material gets the most requests," says Axelrod, "followed by Washington, then Jefferson, Truman and Kennedy." And which Prez draws the least bids? "Chester A.Arthur. Poor guy--the only time we sell an Arthur is whensomebody's buying the whole set and has to take him."
Down for the count
A study by the World HealthOrganization found that an injection of testosterone enanthate, asynthetic hormone, stops sperm production in men by convincing the body it has plenty already (sort of a male pill). However, a few testsubjects experienced two minor side effects: acne and weight gain. Which makes sense: You'll be so fat and pimply no woman will ever sleep with you.
A stand-up Kinda guy
Sometimes a debate erupts among members of the scientific community--and it just boggles the mind. To wit, the following letter from University of Miami geology professor Cesare Emiliani, in a recent issue of Discover magazine.
"Regarding Solomon Katz's theory that beer brewing was responsible for the change from a hunting-gathering society to an agricultural one, I have developed a vastly more important theory that goes to the core of the most crucial event in the evolutionary history of humankind--the acquisition of vertical posture. Because vertical posture entails a colossal disadvantage--it exposes to attack and injury the most delicate parts of the body--it must have been overshadowed by a neven more colossal advantage. Generations of scholars have pondered this problem, but no convincing explanation has ever been advanced. My theory is that early hominids, having accidentally discovered that water in which fruits were rotting away had desirable, mood-enhancing qualities, rapidly assumed vertical posture to stomp on grapes and other fruits and make wine. Unquestionably, the better stompers had a huge advantage, especially when it came to wooing the most desirablemates (one can still see this early trait in modern bars). My theoryalso explains why the evolution of the pelvis preceded that of the brain--it does not take much brains to stomp."
But did it occur to Dr. Emiliani that stomping on all fours might have produced more wine? We'll rate his theory 15 on a scale of one to 20.
Say you form a band with a bunch of greasy, young white kids who want to put down their bourgeois backgrounds. What do you call your new group? Something shocking, something taboo--something that takes His name in vain, maybe? We went on an informal search for rockers inspired by the early-era punk band Teenage Jesus and the Jerks and found the following: Jesus Jones (its LP Doubt hit number one on college charts in March), the Jesus and Mary Chain, Sleazy Jesus and the Splatter Pigs, Jesus Lizard, Jumpin' Jesus, MC 900-ft. Jesus, Liquid Jesus, Jesus Couldn't Drum and Jesus Chrysler. Other bands of which we've only heard rumors: Econo Jesus, Jesus Schmesus, Screaming Purple Jesus (not the drink--save your postage) and Jesus, Carpenter Dude. Good Lord, this guy's bigger than Elvis.
Close encounters of the kosher kind
Leah Adler, a.k.a. Steven Spielberg's mom, says she dubbed her L.A. restaurant. The Milky Way in honor of her boy's film Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Filled with stars, it's the only kosher dairy restaurant where the celebrated clientele rivals that of such Hollywood watering holes as Spago and Morton's. It's also the only joint in town where you might find Steven Spielberg in the kitchen trying to make a kosher pizza. (His mother reports his skills as a pie twirler don't quite equal his cinematic savvy--but that's OK, he's a nice boy.)
Mrs. Adler is a zany 71-year-old, fond of dashing about her domain sporting Groucho Marx-style glasses, nose and mustache, offering diners tidbits of dishes never found in gloomy kosher restaurants on New York's Lower East Side. At The Milky Way, agents, directors, producers and actors nibble on appetizers of pot stickers, salmon puffs and guacamole; entrees of spinach crepes, salmon roulades, chimichangas, potato pancakes, fish and chips, cheese blintzes, cabbage rolls and an Oriental stir fry. The food does for kosher cooking what Jaws did for thrillers: It puts the bite back into the basics. And how does her glatt fare compare with the delicacies of other L.A. posh spots? Adler wouldn't know. "I've never been to Spago," she says wistfully. "Tellme what it's like."