? In London, schoolchildren were offered cut-rate prices for tickets to see the ballet Romeo and Juliet. But at least one school declined to take the tickets. Headmistress Jane Brown reportedly said that until books, film, and theater reflected all forms of sexuality, she would not involve her students with the heterosexual culture.

? Want to help your child learn about science? Then maybe you should buy him or her a chemistry set. Unless, of course, you live in Texas. A state law aimed at labs making illegal drugs has turned the possession of glass beakers and test tubes into a felony.

? New York City has announced plans to pull up thousands of antiquated fire hydrants, creating many much-needed new parking spaces. The hydrants were made obsolete by a switch from a high- to a low-pressure water system. The switch was made in the early 1970s.

? Deborah Birdwell is suing the Carmike movie theater chain. The suit stems from her attempts to see the film Jurassic Park. The 360-pound woman discovered that she couldn't fit into the seats at the theater. So now she's seeking to force the theater chain to install seats for obese patrons–and she wants $1.5 million.

? In Grand Haven, Michigan, the police department has run up $8,000 in overdue video rental fees. The cops rented two adult tapes from the Video-Rama store and busted the owner for selling obscene material. The man, David Wingate, was acquitted at trial. Now he says the cops have to return his tapes and pay the rental fees.

? Oscar may have loved Schindler's List, but others aren't so crazy about the film. The government of Malaysia has banned the film because it "incites sympathy for one race."

? Under the city of Cincinnati's new human-rights ordinance, discrimination against "Appalachian Americans" is forbidden.

? Also in Cincinnati, Citizens for Community Values, best known for their part in the battle against Robert Mappelthorpe's photographs a few years ago, have been meeting with prosecutors. The object of their ire is the local cable company. The cable company recently put Spice, a pay-per-view channel showing soft-core adult movies, on its system. Said the leader of the self-styled citizens' group, "This has come down to a major corporation forcing their values on us." God knows we wouldn't want people forcing their values on others.

? That same cable company, TCI, has also angered regulators in northwest Ohio. The Telecommunications Commission of Northwest Ohio, representing 10 cities and six townships, is upset that TCI isn't charging enough. It wants the company to pass a 5-percent franchise fee on to its customers. The commission says TCI is trying to embarrass member cities.

? Meanwhile, in Hillsboro, Illinois, the Rev. Anthony Dearinger faces felony charges of cruelty to children. It seems the pastor threw an 8-year-old boy across the church during a sermon to demonstrate what will happen when God meets Satan on Judgment Day.

? According to the U.S. Postal Service, Chicago has the lowest customer-satisfaction rating of any major city. No wonder. In February, 40,000 pieces of undelivered mail–some more than two months old–were found in a driver's truck. A few weeks later a quarter-ton of undelivered mail, some of it nearly 20 years old, was found in one Chicago-area post office. And just a few hours earlier, police had found more than 100 pounds of mail burning under a viaduct.