You say you closely followed both the impeachment trial and the war in Chechnya, and would never confuse the name of Monica Lewinsky's hairdresser with the premier of Ukraine? And you know all the budget numbers, the Internet companies and the people in Dan Snyder's Redskins box, but still have this vague sense that a lot happened in 1999 that you somehow missed? Take heart, gentle reader. Here, compiled from wire stories, is a year's worth of dispatches from that other, wider world Beyond the Beltway:

Rock of Ages HELSINKI--A Finnish academic known for recording Elvis Presley songs in Latin announced plans for a new recording of "Blue Suede Shoes" in ancient Sumerian.

Eschewing the Fat SAN FRANCISCO--Overweight activists picketed a fitness club to protest a billboard that said: When space aliens encounter humans, "they will eat the fat ones first."

Don't Drop the Chalupa! LAWRENCE, Kan.--A 270-pound University of Kansas football player became stuck in a Taco Bell drive-thru window when he tried to attack employees who left a chalupa off his order.

Captive AudienceMEXICO CITY--A jail warden fell to his death while spying on couples during their conjugal visits, crashing down next to a prisoner and his wife having sex.

Sensitivity Training MILWAUKEE--A Mexican restaurant drew complaints from an organization of short people for having a 4-foot-4 employee serve customers chips and salsa from his sombrero.

Punch Out COLCHESTER, England--The local borough council was urged to ban Punch and Judy shows on grounds the ancient puppet shows encourage domestic violence.

Double Dribble HARRISBURG, Pa.--A Pennsylvania judge ruled in favor of a man who refused to take a Breathalyzer test on grounds blowing hard made him wet his pants.

God Calling RIO DE JANEIRO--Lightning struck and killed a man when he answered his cellular phone during a tropical storm.

Fashion Victim TOKYO--A 25-year-old Japanese woman died in a traffic crash when the trendy 3-inch-high platform shoes she was wearing prevented her from hitting the brakes.

Art in the '90s LONDON--Two men arrested for staging a pillow fight on a Tate Gallery exhibit of an unmade bed surrounded by champagne corks, used condoms and soiled underwear defended themselves as performance artists trying to upgrade the exhibit.

Toys in the '90s EL SEGUNDO, Calif.--After complaints about the stomach tattoo on Butterfly Art Barbie, Mattel halted plans for incorporating body piercing on Generation Girl Barbie and friend Chelsie.

Ads in the '90s LANSING, Mich.--Michigan's attorney general ordered clothing retailer Abercrombie & Fitch to stop selling its catalogue to minors because it is too sexually explicit.

Stranger Than Fiction LONDON--A woman kept awake for three nights by headaches and noises in her ear consulted a doctor--who found a large spider living next to her eardrum.

Automatic Prayer LITTLE ROCK, Ark.--A legislator introduced a bill to let people with concealed-gun permits wear their weapons in church.

Citizen Politics TALLAHASSEE, Fla.--A fed-up Florida lawmaker suggested the state crucify a death row inmate whose delusions of being Jesus Christ have helped delay his execution.

Difficult Men (1) PHNOM PENH, Cambodia--A Cambodian man was so infuriated to find his wife out and no lunch on the table that he set fire to their house and burned it to the ground.

Difficult Men (2) BUENOS AIRES--An Argentine woman won a divorce on the grounds that her husband was so dirty and slovenly he didn't lift a finger when the toilet overflowed.

Can-Do Woman HANOI--An elderly Vietnamese woman who has not slept in 32 years still manages to do the housework each day, an official newspaper reported.

Crooks Are Stupid (1) RENO, Nev.--Reno police searching for a burglary suspect located him in a 40-foot spruce after his watch alarm started beeping at 4 a.m.

Crooks Are Stupid (2) COLUMBUS, Ohio--A robber attempting to make off with a drugstore cash register ripped off only the top of it, leaving the money behind as he fled.

Crooks Are Stupid (3) LONDON--A bungling British car thief was apprehended after police found a camera in the car containing pictures of him breaking into the vehicle.

Crooks Are Stupid (4) ASTORIA, Ore.--A suspected drug trafficker was arrested when the cocaine stashed in his pants so scorched his crotch he asked police to remove it.

Crooks Are Really Dumb ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.--A convenience store robber was apprehended after disguising himself from store surveillance cameras with a clear plastic garbage bag over his head.

Fore! MELBOURNE, Australia--Australian doctors condemned a golf tournament sponsor offering a penis enlargement for the longest drive.

Blame the Internet (1) MILWAUKEE--A man who severed his left arm at the elbow with a guillotine he constructed from plans found on the Internet refused to have the limb reattached.

Blame the Internet (2) TOPSHAM, Maine--A Missouri man who traveled to Maine to pursue a woman he met over the Internet died after chain-sawing his neck on her front lawn to prove his love.

Blame the Internet (3)MADISON, Wis.--A University of Wisconsin student was charged with microwaving a pet parrot in a dispute with the parrot's owner over an Internet chain letter.

Animal Rights (West) WASHINGTON--President Clinton signed into law legislation banning so-called "crush" videos that depict women crushing small animals beneath their high heels during sex acts.

Animal Rights (East) MOSCOW--Russia's State Duma passed an animal rights bill explicitly prohibiting people from eating their pets.

Coffee With a Jolt NEW YORK--A Canadian tourist who claims his penis was crushed by a faulty toilet seat at a Starbucks restaurant sued the giant coffee retailer for $1.5 million.

Sport in the '90s (1) PARDEEVILLE, Wis.--A high school basketball coach was reprimanded for requiring the wearing of pink women's panties by the last players to snag a rebound during drills.

Sport in the '90s (2) NEWARK--Three former Rutgers basketball players filed a civil rights lawsuit accusing the coach of making them do wind sprints naked during practice.

Sport in the '90s (3) CINCINNATI--A music professor sued officials of Miami University, alleging that they violated his First Amendment rights by refusing to let him wear a thong swimsuit in the school pool.

The Learning Curve SOLEBURY, Pa.--After getting light fines for causing more than $100,000 worth of damage during a drunken party, several young people celebrated by organizing another keg party, police said.

Explaining the NBA LONDON--Contrary to the popular wisdom that athletes should practice abstinence before big events, Italian researchers said sex could enhance their performance by making them more aggressive.

Cultural Economics NEW ORLEANS--A rap singer who performs in a bumblebee suit and calls himself Bum Beazy was charged with a series of robberies he allegedly undertook to raise money to record an album.

Agricultural Economics BANGKOK--About 1,000 angry farmers dumped tons of tapioca on a key highway linking Bangkok and northeast Thailand to demand higher tapioca prices.

Signal Crisis LONDON--A British family panicked and summoned an ambulance because their television was broken.

Explaining HitlerBERLIN--German researchers found it healthy to indulge in malicious joy over other people's failings because a good laugh at someone else's expense can help relieve stress.

Thriller and Chiller QUEBEC--Pop star Michael Jackson will star as 19th-century U.S. writer and poet Edgar Allan Poe in a movie to be shot in Canada next year, officials announced.

Gender Stress (1) OKLAHOMA CITY--An Oklahoma man who appeared in court wearing a skirt, pumps, red lipstick and long blond hair claimed that gender confusion caused him to shoot a motorist five times during a traffic altercation.

Gender Stress (2) BANGKOK--Transvestite kick boxer Parinya Kiatbusaba, who wears makeup and a bra to protect his growing breasts, lost a match to Japanese champion Hiroyuki Doi in Tokyo but gave his opponent a kiss on the lips in congratulation.

Clean Shot CHIPPEWA FALLS, Wis.--A man pushed his washing machine down the stairs and shot it with a pistol, telling investigators he was angry with the appliance.

Nature's Mysteries NEW DELHI--Veterinary surgeons operating on a dyspeptic cow removed 4,000 plastic bags from the animal's stomach.

Cleaner Cars? WASHINGTON--The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office awarded Patent No. 5,934,226 to Avian Fashions of Quantico, Va., for a bird diaper.

Royal Debauchery LONDON--Queen Elizabeth demoted a royal footman for getting her pet corgis drunk on whisky and gin.

I {heart} N.Y. NEW YORK--A man in a black Ninja costume swinging a sword struck a Central Park passerby with a blow dart.

I {heart} Paris PARIS--Paris police who stopped a man pushing a baby carriage before dawn discovered he was not walking a sleepless infant but dumping a dismembered body.

Intelligence Test LITTLE ROCK, Ark.--A man who used a cigarette lighter to peer inside a gasoline can, set off a fire that destroyed a mobile home.

Upcoming Film? TOKYO--A nuclear plant in Japan was forced to slash its power generation after a swarm of jellyfish blocked its pipes.

Eau de Granny LONDON--Researchers who collected underarm scent from elderly women report that those subsequently exposed to the odor report feeling cheerier.

Chewfeur COLEFORD, England--Two men, apparently overtaken by road rage, bit the driver in front of them and chewed off a piece of his ear.

Insensitive Men MADRID--A Spaniard who was stabbed by his girlfriend during a late-night argument slept all night without noticing a three-inch knife stuck in his abdomen.

Sensitive Women OSLO--A Norwegian woman used her breast cleavage as a nest to help incubate a bird's egg.

Love on the Run BOGOTA--A Colombian manufacturer announced invention of a panty condom to help time-pressed lovers have safe sex without even shucking their knickers.

Love on the Road KNOXVILLE, Tenn.--Jilted by his girlfriend, a bereft man attempted to obtain a license to marry his true love--his 1996 Mustang GT.

Wonders of the World (1) BETHEL, Maine--Using a ski resort-style snow gun and a 150-foot crane, volunteers built the world's largest snowman: 113.6 feet tall.

Wonders of the World (2) DUBLIN--An artist appealed to Ireland's women to each contribute one pair of panties for an arc of underwear above the Ha'Penny Bridge over the River Liffey.