Now Clarence Brandley won't get to do that special guest spot
Ricardo Aldape Guerra, released from death row after his conviction for slaying a Houston cop was overturned, returned to his native Mexico and signed a contract to act in a soap opera -- then was killed in a car wreck.

But he's got a real future as a Houston City Councilman
Seventeen-year-old Brandon Sample, described by prosecutors as "a shopping fool," was charged with theft for opening four accounts at two banks, then writing checks from one account to another to bankroll a Corvette, a BMW and a three-month tour of Ireland.

Just call them information highwaymen
Gunmen in The Woodlands hijacked an 18-wheeler loaded with Compaq laptop computers.

What they didn't know: That was just her daytime stuff
When Elyse Lanier was robbed of her carry-on bag at the Newark Airport, the New York Times reported that it contained jewelry worth $590,000.

And the growers had planned such a nice harvest festival
In a year in which marijuana seizures tripled, authorities uprooted 2,400 pot plants growing in a wooded area adjacent to Bear Creek Park.

This cell's for you
After ramming his pickup head-on into an oncoming car and killing two people, Todd Arland Mitchell, whose blood alcohol tested more than three times the legal limit, walked over to a third car, got a can of beer and began drinking it.

He put the "urban" in "urban scouting"
Freddie Lee Oliver, the district executive for urban scouting for the Boy Scouts of America, was charged with pointing a gun at his ex-girlfriend's new boyfriend on Valentine's Day, then hitting him twice in the mouth, all in the parking lot of the daycare center where the erstwhile couple's child was tended.

Randy Quaid has set up a legal defense fund
David Wayne Fletcher, arrested for posing as a Houston cop to get free rent -- he actually had a friend pretend to be a burglar so he could handcuff him in front of apartment employees -- was stopped for speeding the very next week and claimed to be an officer again to avoid a citation. When a woman recognized him on TV, he was once more arrested (this time for aggravated robbery) as he attended law-enforcement classes.

Contrary to rumor, Ben Reyes was not among them
Houston police mounted a sting to nab more than 20 infant-formula thieves, who stole the pricey powder from local supermarkets for resale on the black market.

Timothy McVeigh sez: Just add 2,000 pounds of fertilizer and ignite
A bomb scare near the Israeli consulate at Greenway Plaza ended when police bomb experts used fiber optics to look inside a car's suspiciously sagging trunk, where they found bags of potting soil.

Party Animals

Buy us some peanuts and Cracker Jack
At the gala groundbreaking for the new ballpark, the Sports Authority gave out free peanuts and popcorn but charged a buck for soft drinks and hot dogs to discourage homeless people from crashing the party.

We don't care if we ever get back
County Commissioners Jerry Eversole and Steve Radack boycotted the ballpark party after Astros owner Drayton McLane threatened not to attend unless his lease deal was finalized in advance.

Plus ragged vagrants sleeping on strategically placed grates
The Thyroid Society gala, dubbed "A Saturday Night with Joe Piscopo," boasted Manhattan-style decor of "street people," in-line skaters, pretzel vendors and panhandlers.

Don't try substituting Astroturf!
The Chronicle's ever-entertaining "Entertaining" section featured a festive headband and muff fashioned of moss.

If only they had remembered their moss muffs
At a very chilly Hard Hat & Tails gala outside the under-construction Bayou Place, Lyn Robertson wore a bronzed and jeweled hardhat that matched her full-length gown and sable wrap, while her friend Grace Milligan wore a yellow hardhat studded with real turquoise and yellow feathers, along with a shawl trailing 50 black foxtails.

The bloodied field mice looked so colorful, littered on the lawn
The Nature Conservancy of Texas outdoor benefit, staged in a River Oaks garden, featured a special "birds of prey" cocktail-hour presentation in which live falcons, owls and an eagle were displayed and their hunting abilities demonstrated.

The world's first Jean-Paul Sartre twirling routine
At socialite Patsy Fourticq's birthday party, Maxine reported, "Myra Wil-son did her famous baton dance. The baton was in her car, so she faked the twirling part."

Honoring the late French existentialist
The Friends of Hermann Park held their annual Picnic in the Park luncheon benefit inside an air-conditioned tent.

Organizers cried fowl
At a birthday party, socialite Hershey Grace presented the honoree with a live Thanksgiving turkey, which proceeded to run amuck through the Colombe d'Or's French-paneled ballroom.

At the S&L Corner, guests could flip property and get an unsecured loan
At the grand opening of the new Saks Fifth Avenue, each floor of the store was designed to reflect a decade of Saks's history in Houston: disco '70s, go-go '80s and contemporary '90s.

Gidget was home with a headache
The annual "Kappa Weekend" beach party organized by alumni of a black fraternity plunged Galveston into gridlock and shocked townsfolk with drunken, lewd behavior -- including public urination and women stripping off their clothes.

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