*New York City special-effects artist Matt McMullen, age 28, has been offering on the Internet his life-size, authentically detailed, steel-skeleton silicone dolls for around $4000 each, plus options. So far, "Real Dolls" Stacy, Natasha, Nina, and Leah are available with a choice of hair and skin color and height (either leggy "supermodel" or short and voluptuous). His original doll was intended as sculpture until lonely men bombarded him with price inquiries.
*In September in Newmarket, Ontario, a jury foreman announced, "We find the accused [and here the foreman cleared his throat] guilty," but the judge and court personnel heard it as "not guilty." Defendant Howard Burke, charged with attempted murder, did not wait around for clarification; the error was detected within minutes, and Burke finally gave himself up three days later.
*St. Petersburg, Florida, Baptist minister Dr. Henry Lyons, the president of the National Baptist Convention who had been accused of misspending church funds and falsifying documents, explained in August why he had not told an interviewing committee (when he was applying for the position of president) about his two divorces: "I forgot." He pointed out that the marriages had been brief.
*Lee Walter Nance was arrested in Hood River, Oregon, in June on suspicion of public indecency when police found him nude in a parking lot after a woman complained that Nance had been harassing her. According to police, Nance explained that he was merely working on his tan because he was on a church softball team and was afraid that if he didn't have a tan he would get sunburned.
*Two high school chemistry students from Skipwith, Virginia, experimenting with a slime they had created in order to play a joke on their teacher in October 1996, accidentally produced an edible plastic; this past June a company paid them $100,000 for a one-year option on their invention. Fuisz Technologies Ltd. specializes in melt-in-the-mouth medications and believes the substance might make a better capsule. If so, the boys' prank would be worth about one million dollars.
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*The Times of London reported in August that the California firm Interval Research has developed a new wristwatch that would be worn not on the wrist but in the wrist. A liquid crystal display, microchip, and battery would be implanted under the skin, close enough to the surface so that the time could be read. Battery-recharging and time-zone changes would be done by remote control.
*Mentoring: Luiz Carlos Marra, age 47, was arrested in Minneapolis in June after his twelve-year-old daughter told hospital emergency-room personnel that she had smoked crack cocaine with him. According to the police report, Marra said he was trying to show the girl the difference between good and bad crack. And in July Dennis Dunn, age 46, told sheriff's deputies near Brookings, South Dakota, that he was chasing his stepson's car at speeds near 85 mph only because he wanted to catch up to the boy so he could teach him not to speed.
*In August in Leesburg, Florida, a 28-year-old woman, in the midst of a quarrel with her husband, age 29, ordered the couple's two kids, ages 6 and 8, to shoot their father with their BB guns. The kids complied, resulting in wounds in the chest, arm, and cheek. The woman is a dispatcher for the city police department.
-- By Chuck Shepherd