Mao-themed eatery gets mixed reviews
BEIJING, April 7 (UPI) -- A Beijing restaurant featuring a Chairman Mao theme reportedly has prompted an array of responses from curious locals.
The "Red Flag Fluttering" restaurant, which opened last year, features waitresses in Army garb who recite the late communist leader's quotes and perform his "loyalty dance," Xinhua reported.
"It's a very nice place. Highly recommendable," one customer wrote in an Internet posting.
The restaurant is decorated with large Mao portraits, political posters and sculptures. It even has a pork dish named "the whole country is red."
The wait staff, made up primarily of women in their 20s, perform the ceremonious "loyalty dance" every night at 7:30, moving through a series of rigid postures while holding the "Little Red Book" of Mao quotes.
Some people reportedly feel the restaurant inappropriately addresses a difficult time in Chinese culture.
"The 'Red Guard' uniforms are disgusting. What's the point of remembering that period of history that should have long been forgotten?" a woman said.
Fan writing Ph.D. thesis on Stephen King
STIRLING, Scotland, April 7 (UPI) -- A graduate student at a Scottish university is working on what may be the first Ph.D. thesis on the work of author Stephen King.
Amy Palko, a teaching assistant and student at the University of Stirling, has always had a taste for the macabre, The Scotsman reports. As an undergraduate, her specialty was Edgar Allen Poe, the 19th-century master of horror who is also credited with inventing the detective story.
Dealing with a living author, Palko got permission from King to do her research. That was necessary to get access to his archive at the University of Maine, where she could examine early drafts of many of his novels and stories.
"I got funding to go out there and rummage through cardboard boxes for three weeks," she said. "It was complete bliss for me. The strangest thing I found was a collection of punk magazines. I have no idea how they fitted into the collection."
While Palko is a big King fan, she is also a serious student, examining the borderline between popular and literary novels.
"King clearly does see himself as a popular author and feels, to a certain extent, stigmatized by that," she said.
Web site removes youth-oriented lingerie
LONDON, April 7 (UPI) -- A British lingerie company will no longer offer sexy underwear marketed to girls as young as 5 years old online, a company spokeswoman says.
The Mail on Sunday said that after it reported La Senza's focus on youth-oriented lingerie, the fashion chain pulled the items from its Web site.
The initial Mail report had caused British politicians and children's charities to criticize the company for sexualizing children and placing them at risk.
La Senza marketing director Lisa Bond said the company still considered the bra-like tops marketed for young girls as "entirely age-appropriate" and would continue to sell the items in its stores.
In addition, the company said it would unveil a La Senza Girl Web site this summer.
A spokesman for Kidscape, a child protection charity, told the Mail the temporary absence of the controversial items online was a step forward.
"It's a real victory for common sense," the unidentified spokesman said.
Marina bans topless fishing tours
FORT PIERCE, Fla., April 7 (UPI) -- The city marina of Fort Pierce, Fla., has banned a charter fishing service that offers tours with topless and bikini-clad female mates.
City officials said they ordered Smokin' Em Charters to leave the marina after they discovered purchasers of the company's fishing tours could pay extra for a tour with scantily-clad women acting as mates, the Palm Beach (Fla.) Post reported.
"We had no idea this was going on," said Dean Kubitschek, manager of the Fort Pierce City Marina. "I can't have families running up to me with brochures with nude ladies on them saying, 'What's this?' It's not right."
Kathi and Harold "Captain Gil" Coombes, who have run the company for about eight years, said they have moved their business to Harbortown Marina. They said they are circulating a petition and hope to change the minds of city officials.