Dispatches > Quick Takes

Quick Takes

Oddball occurences

Issue: "The Da Vinci craze," May 20, 2006

Customer relations

A fast-food employee in West Philadelphia, Pa., got medieval on a rude customer. And though an area manager for the Checkers fast-food chain admits that the employee was provoked after a customer spit on her, she said it didn't give the 17-year-old employee cause to hurl a cup of scalding grease. "My skin was cooking," said Vouncile Lambert, whose niece delivered the saliva attack to the employee. Police charged the worker with aggravated assault and Checkers fired her.

Casting down

What goes up must come down. And even Hollywood stars aren't immune to the laws of economics. After more than a decade of ever-rising paychecks for feature film stars, the cost of casting a big name in a blockbuster picture is actually dropping, says Entertainment Weekly. The trade magazine reports that stars like Jim Carrey, Eddie Murphy, Will Ferrell, and Nicole Kidman are asking for so much money per film, studio producers are actually thinking twice about casting them. One Hollywood executive said paying Mr. Carrey $25 million for a film was "a bit of a gamble."

Odd couple

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Something old, something new: That maxim won't be hard for Malaysian newlyweds Muhamad Noor Che Musa and Wook Kundor. Old: Mrs. Wook, who turned 104 years old recently. New: Mr. Muhamad, who at 33 will now embark on his first marriage. Good thing his bride, who is 71 years his senior, has experience. Mr. Muhamad is apparently her 21st husband after living a life in Malaysia's polygamous Islamic community. "I am not after her money, as she is poor," Mr. Muhamad told a local newspaper. "Before meeting Wook, I never stayed in one place for long."

Frank exchange

Jackson, Miss., mayor Frank Melton knew exactly how he wanted to cure his case of the blues. He needed a hug. Actually, a bunch of them. After spying a convoy of school buses at 4:30 p.m. on a Friday in April, Mr. Melton told his police escort to flag down the buses, full of schoolchildren heading home. "It's been such a stressful two weeks," Mr. Melton told the Jackson Clarion-Ledger. "I wanted to shake their hands. I wanted to touch them. That's all it was." The move made school leaders tense, saying they worried how it would look to passersby who saw four buses pulled over by police. But Mr. Melton reserved what he called his mayoral rights: "I reserve the right to go into our schools. I reserve the right to encourage kids. I reserve the right as the mayor."

It's tough up here

World's richest man Bill Gates has a message for the billions poorer than he: It's lonely at the top. "I wish I wasn't [the richest]. There is nothing good that comes out of that," Mr. Gates told CNBC. The Microsoft founder and noted philanthropist said his title as world's richest man gives him all sorts of unwanted attention.

Song and dance

It's a bit out of character for the thrifty Berkshire Hathaway mogul, but billionaire Warren Buffett hopes to marshal an unlikely power for a charity auction: star power. His own star power. Jealous investors will buy into stocks owned by Mr. Buffett, but will they buy his ukulele? That's the question eBay will seek to answer when the online auctioneer hosts the sale of a commemorative Warren Buffett autographed ukulele, with proceeds to benefit the Omaha, Neb., children's hospital. How much is Mr. Buffett's celebrity worth? Whereas most ukuleles sell on eBay for around $50, Berkshire Hathaway officials say the Warren Buffett ukulele should fetch more than $1,000.

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