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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Et Cetera

Rock of Ages

n "That deaf, dumb and blind kid sure plays a mean pinball." -- The Who, "Tommy."

They didn't play pinball, but the partly deaf and partly blind Who brought rock music back to London's Hyde Park last week for the first time in 20 years.

The temporarily re-grouped group performed the first full-scale version of leader Pete Townsend's rock opera "Quadrophenia" in a benefit for the Prince's Trust royal charity. Townsend himself heard little of the multimedia show, having lost much of his hearing after years of heavy-amp axe-work on stage. Meanwhile, lead singer Roger Daltrey appeared in a Union Jack eyepatch after support player Gary Glitter knocked him in the face with a microphone during rehearsals.

The Who weren't the only survivors on the bill. Rock legend Bob Dylan -- doctor of music (Princeton, 1970), bemedaled commandeur of the Legion d'Honneur, wearer of the same ratty leather coat for nigh on 30 years -- played his usual idiosyncratic set, by turns brilliant and meandering, and garnered the usual media criticism for revamping his songs so the crowd couldn't sing along. Eric Clapton, who's battled through heroin addiction, personal tragedy, and minor hair loss -- but who still has his hearing -- topped the bill with a set of his hits and some old blues standards.

The show was opened by Canadian singer Alanis Morisette, 22, who was not even born the last time Clapton played Hyde Park, in 1969. Prince Charles pronounced himself pleased with the event, which raised $750,000 for his charity.

A Game of Chicken

n "One more step, copper, and dis boid gets it -- inna neck, see?"

"Stay your hand, man! Are you insane?"

An elderly New York man faced multiple charges this week after attempting to ward off authorities by holding 140 chickens hostage at knifepoint.

Police in Uniondale said Roderick Baker, 70, "went a little fit psycho" when sanitation workers arrived to clean his garbage-filled yard, which had been cited many times for health violations. Baker grabbed a knife and threatened to kill one chicken every minute until the workers left his property.

Baker got through three chickens before a policeman showed up and arrested him. Authorities said the traumatized survivors will be taken to a farm on Long Island to "live a normal chicken life" -- i.e., have their heads cut off and their bodies dismembered and eaten.

After the standoff, about 20 tons of garbage were removed from Baker's property, which was overrun with chickens, rats, fighting cocks and possums. Baker was charged with obstruction of governmental administration and two violations of agriculture and market laws, all misdemeanors. He was issued a citation and released.

Skittish Skeeters

The Finnish organizers of the annual Bare-Handed Arctic Mosquito-Killing Challenge had to cancel the event this week -- due to a lack of insectual opponents.

"Hardly any of the necessary live game equipment [i.e., mosquitos] has been found in the region," said organizers of the event, staged in the Lapland village of Pelkosenniemi. In the past, up to 40 participants have stripped to the waist to attract and squash as many mosquitos as possible in five minutes' time. Last year's winner put the kibosh on 21 bloodsuckers.

Calling the decline in mosquitos an "ecological catastrophe," organizers said they would now seek funding and volunteers to help revive the area's mosquito stock. Itchy Muscovites pledged en masse to escort the local herds of skin-prickers personally to the Lapland border.

That Man of Mine

His party is in disarray, his government is mired in a mad cowpile of trouble, his poll numbers are lower than a pair of ragged claws scuttling across the floors of silent seas -- but John Major still has one big fan: the older woman who showed him "how to love" when he was but a lad in the Swinging Sixties.

Jean Kierans, who first surfaced in 1990 with the story of her five-year affair with the young Major, 13 years her junior, has reappeared in the hour of her man's direst need with words of support in British tabloids.

She heaped praise on the prowess of the embattled prime minister. Although in public Major seems to radiate all the steamy man-musk of a pair of starched shorts, Kierans recalls a different Major, a young man who never wore pajamas when they slept together and "was simply the most wonderful lover."

Kierans, who now runs a guest house in France, said she still waves at her Johnny when he pops up on telly, and whispers, "Hello, my darling. It's me." Government spokesmen had no comment on these unsupported allegations that the Tory leader once possessed a discernible personality.

Not a Pretty Sight

n "There she is ... streaming with rodent's blood."

No, it's not Bert Parks crooning to Miss America, but it might be the theme song of the Philippines' newest beauty contest: Miss Rat.

In this contest, however, beauty is as beauty does: The winner is the woman who kills the most rats, which have been ravaging farms across the nation. Contestants in the competition in the village of Monpon must submit a collection of rat tails to a panel of judges. Women of any age may apply.

Other nearby villages are following the more prosaic path of offering a ransom for every rat rump delivered. Heavy rat attacks have been reported throughout the rice-growing regions, probably due to favorable weather that has allowed the planting of three rice crops this year, instead of the usual two. It is, of course, the Year of the Rat according to the Chinese zodiac.