Fast-Food Culture Shock: Since December, the White Castle restaurant in Lafayette, Ind., has provided diners with a stylish experience that includes table service and a wine selection to go with its iconic “slider” hamburgers. A state wine industry expert told The Wall Street Journal in February, after a tasting, that she would recommend the Merlot, although the Moscato was “fun” and the Chardonnay passable (though all wines come in $4.50, screw-off-top bottles and is served in clear plastic glasses). (As for the sliders, said the wine expert, eyeing the burgers on her plate, “At some point, that was a cow, I guess.”)
— When workers at the Carlsberg Beer plant in Vilnius, Lithuania, decided to walk out over poor pay and conditions, the company went to court to block them, and in March, a judge ruled for the company, temporarily halting a strike as not in the national interest because Carlsberg Beer is “vitally essential,” thus placing the brew in the same legal category as medical supplies. (Said a British labor union official, “This is probably the most ridiculous decision in the world.”) [Daily Telegraph, 3-5-2012]
— Recurring Theme: In March, a new peak was reached in New York City’s ongoing search for the most preposterously underpriced (because of rent control) apartment in the city. The Gothamist website identified a one-bedroom apartment at 5 Spring Street in Manhattan’s SoHo district renting for $55 a month even though, according to a real estate agent, it should be drawing $2,500. The tenant’s parents moved in upon immigrating from Italy in the 1940s, and since the tenant, now in his 70s, has a much younger wife, the apartment could remain under rent control for decades. (New York City rent controls were imposed to meet an “emergency” in housing during World War II, but the law gets routinely renewed.)
The Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia recently won a $36,000 grant to study the genetic basis of Trimethylaminuria, otherwise known as the disorder that causes sufferers to smell like dead fish. The first case reported in medical literature was in the 1970s, but according to a Science News report, “an ancient Hindu tale describes a maiden who ‘grew to be comely and fair, but a fishy odor ever clung to her.’”
After the year-old house cat Sugar survived a 19-floor fall at a Boston high-rise in March, an Animal Rescue League official explained to MSNBC that extra fur where the legs attach to the body enables cats to “glide” and partially “control” their landing. Research suggests that steep falls are thus easier to survive, as cats have time to spread themselves out.
The 5-year-old cat Demi survived a 40-minute tumble-dry (temperature up to 104 F) in Whitchurch, England, in March (although she needed oxygen, fluids and steroids to recover). Jennifer Parker, 45, had tossed a load of clothes in, unaware that Demi was in the pile.
In January, Kentucky state Sen. Katie Stine, presiding over a ceremony in the state capitol honoring the Newport Aquarium, posed with aquarium officials and with Paula, a blackfooted penguin brought in for the warm-and-cuddly photo opportunity. It fell to Senate President David Williams to gently interrupt Stine’s speech and inform her that Paula was in the process of soiling the floor of the august chamber.
Kendall Reid, 36, was extradited from New Jersey back to LaPlace, La., where he had been sought for allegedly shooting at a car on Interstate 10 on Christmas Eve. According to police, Reid failed to hit the car he was aiming at, instead inadvertently shooting out the back window of a car in which two women were riding. However, as the damaged car stopped on the side of the road, Reid pulled his Corvette over, too, walked up to the women, and apologized (“Sorry, wrong car”)