- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Saturday’ detention

Best-selling British novelist Ian McEwan feels as though he’s caught in a Kafkaesque bureaucratic snafu, one that may mean his visit to promote his new novel, “Saturday,” could be his last trip to the United States.

Mr. McEwan’s diplomatic woes began a year ago, when officials mistakenly turned him away from entering the country. That error haunts him still, according to Reuters News Agency.

“Once you have been refused entry to the States, you go into the computer, and you are regarded with suspicion,” Mr. McEwan said. “It is a matter of enormous irritation.”

“I only got in this time by the skin of my teeth. This could well be the very last time I ever get in,” he added.

In that case, fans would do well to catch the author as he reads from “Saturday” tonight at Politics & Prose bookstore in Northwest.

$163 baby

Hilary Swank may have two Oscars, but that doesn’t mean she’s above customs law.

According to Associated Press, the actress has been fined $163 for bringing fruit — of the unforbidden variety — into New Zealand.

Miss Swank was issued notice of a fine for breaching New Zealand’s strict quarantine laws when she failed to declare an apple and an orange when she arrived at Auckland International Airport Jan. 15 on a flight from Los Angeles.

Yesterday, the Manukau District Court said Miss Swank’s appeal had been rejected and that she had been fined $142 plus costs of $21.

Miss Swank had written to the country’s Agriculture Ministry seeking a court hearing to have her fine expunged.

Reggae queen

For those wondering what became of Irish provocateur Sinead O’Connor, word is she’s in Jamaica recording classic reggae protest songs.

AP reports the pop singer has been in Kingston since last week working on tracks for the album.

The LP, set for release this summer by British-based Sanctuary Records, will include covers of Bob Marley’s “War,” Peter Tosh’s “Downpressor Man” and Burning Spear’s “Marcus Garvey.”

Legendary drums-bass duo Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare are co-producing the album.

Scot-free

The 5-foot sword wielded by William Wallace, the rebel leader portrayed in Mel Gibson’s Academy Award-winning film “Braveheart,” yesterday left its Scottish homeland for the first time in centuries.

The double-handed weapon will be the centerpiece of an exhibition at New York’s Grand Central Station during Tartan Day celebrations, which begin tomorrow.

This year marks the 700th anniversary of the execution of Wallace, who led the Scots against the English.

“This is an historic moment. It is the first time in 700 years that a relic of this importance has left these shores,” Colin O’Brien, a Scottish official accompanying the sword to the United States, told AP.

Calling all pets

If you think your pet has a special talent for stunt work, “The Late Show With David Letterman” wants to see it.

Producers of the show’s “Stupid Pet and Human Tricks” segments will hold auditions Sunday morning at 11 at the Dulles Expo Center in Chantilly.

Jimmy Alexander of Mix 107.3 FM’s “Jack Diamond Morning Show” will host the tryouts. Stunts must be safe, original and, of course, funny.

Compiled by Scott Galupo from staff and wire reports.

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