Double Takes

updated 12/26/1988 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 12/26/1988 AT 01:00 AM EST

Any election year is good for a lot of those Am-I-seeing-what-I-think-I'm-seeing? moments. But this was also a year when extremism in the defense of talk show ratings flourished, a neocolonialist attempted to claim England on behalf of Australia's aborigines and, well, take another look:

Our talk show hosts let no barriers—especially common sense or good taste—stand in the way of their self-imposed mission to enlighten America. For instance, a Donahue show on transvestism featured a cross-dressing fashion show with Phil himself gussied up in drag. He was, he told one interviewer, out to change his image: "Don't call me intelligent, call me outrageous."

Michael Jordan probably doesn't have to worry. But the inside game has always been one of Nancy Reagan's strengths, so it wasn't all that surprising when she took it to the hoop—with a bit of an assist from Wayman Tisdale of the Indiana Pacers and Charles Barkley of the Philadelphia 76ers at Indianapolis' Market Square Arena. The nonpartisan dunk was part of an appearance that the First Lady was making in support of her "Just Say No" campaign to combat drug use.

The Democratic Party spent much of the year trying to remember how things worked. In a campaign trip to a West Virginia coal mine, for example, Gov. Michael Dukakis seemed to be trying to recall exactly what system it was that Diogenes used in his one-lantern search for honest men. Ex-President Jimmy Carter tried for an imitation of Johnny Carson's "Carnac the Magnificent" routine—without the benefit of walking laugh-track Ed McMahon—at a charity show in Crested Butte, Colo., to raise money for handicapped skiers.

Fortunately, nobody was making broth. In March 250 French chefs gathered in Lyon, above, to create a poster designed to promote French tourism. That's Paul Bocuse, front and center. These chefs might have found a certain lack of subtlety in the preparation of the grand déjeuner at right. It is a 6,000-pound omelet that was prepared for a charity fund-raiser at the Mirapolis amusement park in suburban Paris. The dish—vat, actually—contained 65,700 eggs, 50 gallons of oil, 88 pounds of salt and 17 pounds of pepper.

Whoever coined the cliché "It hurts me more than it does you" would have been gratified by this scene in Beloit, Wis. Mary Dalman, getting a shot at the Beloit health department, proved to be a model of maturity, composed and curious, while her dad, Doug, handled the overcompensating.

He looked a bit forlorn out there without the rest of the foursome—Stevie Nicks, Christine McVie and Lindsey Buckingham. Come to think of it, Mick Fleetwood looked pretty forlorn in general as he puttered around at a celebrity golf tournament at Half Moon Bay, Calif., last August. Vince Neil of Mötley Crüe, Hill Street Blues alumnus Ed Marinaro, ice skater Scott Hamilton and band members from such groups as Heart and the Tubes were among the other duffers present.

Jane Seymour was considerably less impressive in accepting her Emmy for her performance in Onassis than she was in winning it. (She won the Best Supporting Actress award for portraying Maria Callas opposite actors Elias Koteas and Raul Julia, who played the younger and older Aristotle O.) In a speech in which she prattled on about how hard it is as an actress to find people she can trust to take care of her children when she's working, she ad-libbed, "Sometimes they get shlepped off to Auschwitz."

Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was busy. Not only did he tell American Indians and blacks to set up nation states, he also told them where to do it. The Indians get California, Chicago, Texas and Mexico, for example; blacks split the rest with whites—who, Gaddafi noted, "should have returned to Europe and left the American continent to its original inhabitants." He also pledged to send envoys around the world to "destroy jails, free prisoners and abolish the death penalty, hard labor and life sentences." And he said that henceforth in Libya, housemaids are banned.

Down Under, his white countrymen were happily celebrating Australia Day. But aborigine activist Burnum Burnum, 52, had traveled across the world to mark the anniversary in his own ironic fashion. Standing in the shadow of the White Cliffs of Dover, he staked a claim to England on behalf of Australia's aborigine minority. The aborigines, not looking back fondly upon the era when English expatriates were settling on their continent, call the holiday Invasion Day.

Actor Richard Gere had just appeared at the Brooklyn Academy of Music at a fund-raising benefit for Tibet House of Manhattan, along with such people as Philip Glass and Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart. Gere, a longtime devotee of Buddhism and of Tibet's Dalai Lama, then took advantage of the opportunity to absorb some wisdom at the feet of a Tibetan musician who had made the same gig.

In the event that anyone has been feeling nostalgic for the streaking craze of the early '70s, Tony Buck-master offered himself up as a living monument before 300,000 stunned spectators, including the Queen herself, at the 209th running of the Derby at England's Epsom Downs last June. Police gave chase as Buck-master—an uninhibited builder from Essex—halted mid-gallop to wave at the bemused occupants of the royal box. For neither winning nor placing, but definitely showing, Buckmaster was fined $100.

Diane Witt of Worcester, Mass., unfurls her curls, displaying the hair that just won her entry to the Guinness Book of World Records. Witt, who is currently listed as the woman with the world's longest locks—sorry, Crystal—needed a table to display her 10-foot auburn tresses, which she usually keeps plopped atop her head with the aid of two bobby pins. Luckily, Diane gets help caring for her family hairloom: Her two children assist with the daily braiding, and her husband shampoos her mane weekly in the shower. Witt won't tell whether or not she lets her hair down to sleep. "People can wonder about that. It's a boudoir secret."

It seemed like a good idea at the time. But after Nashville radio station WYHY-FM held a contest in which 10 listeners covered themselves with honey and rolled around in a pile of 100,000 $1 bills, it ran into trouble with the Treasury Department. While the 10 listeners picked up $7,644, WYHY ended up with $92,356 in very sticky cash, which ran afoul of Treasury regulations against defacing money. The station had to launder the money (with dishwashing liquid) and have it pressed to avoid charges.

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