Dispatches > Quick Takes

Quick Takes

Issue: "Memorial Day 2003," May 24, 2003

'Bawdy bachelorettes'

The next feminist frontier appears to be proving that women can be as vulgar as men. USA Today last week reported on a new trend in Las Vegas: bachelorette parties that feature male dancers in thongs and that imitate "the tomcatting tendencies of the male members of the wedding party." Across the country, according to the paper, "an industry marketed to the bawdy bachelorette is blooming."

Microsoft's misstep

First it was real. Then it wasn't. Now, Microsoft officials are saying the iLoo-purported to be the world's first Internet-enabled portable toilet-was an actual project, not a hoax. The story originated out of England where an MSN division published a news release introducing the iLoo, a portable toilet where multitasking patrons could check e-mail. Almost two weeks later, public-relations officials in Redman, Wash., said the release was simply a late April Fool's joke. One day later, on May 13, Microsoft performed another about-face, saying the iLoo had once been a real project. "We jumped the gun basically yesterday," said Microsoft's Lisa Gurry. It seems the iLoo had better legs in the news media than with Microsoft. The idea spawned stories in The Associated Press, The Wall Street Journal, and even in WORLD ("Worldwide water closet," May 17). But Microsoft flushed the idea quickly.

Rescuing the Minuteman

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It took a last-minute rally, but students at the University of Massachusetts last week rescued their mascot-the Minuteman. School officials had planned to change the mascot to the Gray Wolf. The problem with the colonial Minuteman was apparently threefold, according to administrators: In addition to "the gender issue and the ethnicity," the Minuteman mascot is "carrying a firearm." Administrators backed down after alumni and the student government opposed the idea.

Image wearers

Fewer than 5 percent of Danes attend church regularly, but Denmark was scandalized last week when a supermarket chain offered sandals with images of Jesus on them (another sandal carried an image of the Virgin Mary). The concern was not with the image itself but its placement on the sandal. Roman Catholic priest Stephen Holm said it was "degrading to step on someone's image." The chain, Kvickly, pulled the sandals after protests.

What would Cranmer do?

British businessman Michael Gill probably won't take offense if someone says his church is full of hot air. That's because Mr. Gill's product is what he dubs the world's first inflatable church. Calling it "a mobile, traditional English church," he says the edifice is perfect for "mobile weddings, christenings-or even if you want to get engaged and surprise your partner." Fully inflated, the structure is 47 feet tall, 47 feet long, and 25 feet wide. It holds about 60 people and costs $3,200 per day to rent. Anglican minister Michael Elfred is sold on the idea: "We need to try to get out into the community. In a fun way this inflatable church may help some Christian communities do just that."

Like a whole other country

Texas hasn't seen this large a retreat since Santa Anna ordered the Mexican army to fall back after his capture at San Jacinto. A few well-placed travelers witnessed history on May 12 when charter buses carried away from Austin almost the entire Democratic delegation to the Texas state House. They journeyed to an Ardmore, Okla., hotel. It was a strategic retreat by the Democrats, who with the evacuation denied the Texas House of Representatives a quorum. Without a quorum, the House was rendered powerless to act on a number of pending issues, including a controversial redistricting plan that could land Republicans up to seven additional spots in the U.S. House. From Ardmore, Democrats charged that Republicans tried to ramrod through a gerrymandered redistricting plan. Republicans countered that they just wanted to correct districts that had been distorted by over 100 years of Democratic district-making.

The magic is gone

A Sao Paulo court last week awarded damages to 21 magicians who claimed that the television network TV Globo ruined their business by unveiling the secrets behind common tricks. The show in question, featuring a magician know as "Mister M," began in 1999, the same time magicians say their business dropped off. "Mister M took all the magic out of magic," said magician Paulo Roberto Brito Martins.

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