Monday, June 29, 2009

News of the Weird / Pro Edition
June 29, 2009 (news from June 20-27)
by Chuck Shepherd
© 2009 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.

Inside Scientology
The St. Petersburg Times last week advanced our "religious" knowledge (Scientology being a religion in the same sense that "Steeler Nation" is a religion, except that Steelers' season tickets are much less expensive) by quoting extensively four formerly-high-ranking dropouts (who were of course immediately downgraded by the Church from "clear" to "liar!"). (It's the principle by which J. Edgar Hoover maintained power for so long: Compile dossiers on any friends who could do ya harm, 'cause one day they won't be your friends.) Yr Editor's favorite revelations: (1) Senior executives' aggressiveness was challenged by the supreme leader, android David Miscavige, who staged games of musical chairs down to the last man standing, to the tune of Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody ("Is this the real life? / Is this just fantasy? / Caught in a landslide / No escape from reality"). (2) It was normal procedure, that when L. Ron Hubbard himself (or now, the android) was displeased, he would take the displeasers out to sea on the church's boat, Apollo, and force them off a gangplank, while reciting "We commit your sins and errors to the deep and trust you will rise a better thetan" (only now it can be done in a swimming pool, but everyone's still fully clothed). Yr Editor forgets: Was The Church of the Subgenius a perfect parody of Scientology, or was it the other way around? St. Petersburg Times [part 3 of 3-part series; the other two are good, too] /// Church of the Subgenius

Securities Reform, One Adviser at a Time
Two formerly well-to-do German couples, whose retirement savings were all put into F State sub-prime mortgages [ed.: ROTFL!] and who thus lost nearly everything, kidnaped their investment adviser, James Amburn, and actually tortured his ass for several days at the vacation home of one of the couples. This was not that pansy-ish waterboarding torture but major, Syriana-type torture, and he was rescued only when he coded out a hostage message, and 40 cops found and freed him. The Times (London)

Can't Possibly Be True
Sharon McShurley, the mayor of Muncie, Ind., has finally, in June of 2009, put an end to her fire department's long-time protocol of delivering memos and documents from fire stations to the chief downtown by driving them there in fire trucks. Mayor McShurley identified this practice as "not an efficient operation" and ordered the department to start using e-mail. Star Press (Muncie)

Crime Is My Profession
Neil Murray, 34, the wheel man for a gang of jewelry thieves around Guildford, England, pleaded guilty along with his two pals. They were caught after a police chase in which Murray (driving a stolen Alfa Romeo), conscientiously abided by the speed limit, for some reason. Daily Telegraph

If the Coen Brothers Directed a Nature Film
Dept. of Environment and Conservation officials in West Australia were tracking an endangered woylie (a marsupial), which was wearing a radio wristband. So then a python eats the woylie. So then DEC officials track the python via the beeper, capture it, and bring it back to headquarters to wait for it to excrete the beeper. So then thieves break into the compound and steal the python, which surely meant it would be killed and offered in Asian countries as power food. DEC officials again tracked the python via beeper, apprehended the thieves, and rescued the python, which was released, as puzzled as a python can be. The West Australian

People With Worse Sex Lives Than You
Stephen Murdoch, 45, resident of an apartment complex in Tustin, Calif., was arrested in the community exercise room working out . . in a miniskirt accessorized with stockings and high heels, watching porn. This was said by police to be "suspicious" behavior. KTLA-TV (Los Angeles)

Take Your Pick: Is it worse to be Lahoma Sue Smith, giving a blow job in exchange for some Frito-Lay chips, or to be Faron Johnson, needing a blow job from Lahoma Sue Smith? The Smoking Gun [ed.: OK, full disclosure–it was a whole case of chips]

Jury Duty
[In America, you're presumed innocent . . . until the mug shot is released] [and since our legal system originated in England . . .]
Sonny Grainger, 7, Hull, England: Lovable but rambunctious little tyke? Or Britain's next big serial killer in training? One way to tell . . .. Daily Mail

More Angst & Confusion from Last Week

The airline announced at the gate in Majorca that seat assignments were void and that everyone would sit in the rear because the plane was already front-heavy and hard on the pilot. Not surprisingly, 71 passengers froze solid in the terminal, refusing to move. The airline? Thomas Cook--why do you ask? (Bonus: Some passengers on that plane, which had just landed in Majorca and had already endured such a balancing flight, literally dropped down and kissed the ground.) Daily Mail

Homeless San Francisco bay area man Jason Keller, 40, was arrested for bashing his colleague in homelessness, Stephan Fava, on the head with a skateboard. Police said the pair had been having an argument about quantum physics. (Seriously.) San Francisco Chronicle

A young Swedish couple have decided to keep their kid's gender a secret from everyone, including from it. No gender pronouns, just "Pop." Pop knows only that babies may have different wee-wees, but nothing else about being a "boy" or a "girl." You know the parents' drill, e.g., "Gender is a social construct." The Local (Stockholm)

Organ Goulash: (1) It says here that the reason Becky Willis, 22, can gobble down junk food yet maintain her flat stomach is because her actual stomach is in her, um, shoulder (and her gall bladder, liver, bowel, and colon aren't where they're supposed to be, either). It's Morgagni diaphragmatic hernia! (2) And Brooke Greenberg, of a Baltimore suburb, is 16 and suffers from a WTF/who-knows? disorder in which her parts age at different rates (and some not at all). (3) Bonus: a slide show of medical oddities that may be Too Much Information for you, like a photo of the guy with the longest ear hair. /// ABC News /// Guinness Book

Nobody Saw It Coming? Brenda, a murderer, is paroled, meets Tom, a murderer, who is paroled, they fall in love, they become prisoner-rights activists, they rehabilitate prison scum, they marry, they live happily ever after, until Tom murders Brenda. Vancouver Sun

Crop circles are back in the news, in Tasmania, but the official story is that the problem is not extraterrestrials. It's buzzed-out wallabies, getting high from raids on the legal opium fields and then meandering around and around and around. BBC News

St. Mary's Church, a few miles from Wimbledon stadium, is running a parking business during the tournament, £20 to leave your car all day, but the cars are not in a "parking lot"; they're lined up in the church's cemetery, right over the bodies. Daily Mail

More Sub-Prime Americans

The babe news anchor of WXOW-TV (La Crosse, Wis.), Amy DuPont, complained of harassing e-mails from a viewer, but then it turns out the e-mails came from the computer of her weather guy, Zach Brown, who was fired, even though Zach's roommate admitted he was the offender. Journal Sentinel (Milwaukee)

Brian Blair, the former pro wrestler who served a term as a family-values county commissioner in Tampa, was arrested for punching (no, not pro-wrestling "punching"; punching punching) his two boys, age 17 and 12, in the face. Bonus: on Father's Day! Double Bonus: He's not sorry. (If we had been there, he said, we'd understand.) Tampa Tribune

It may be the only way to endure local politics: Shortly after a meeting with fire and police officials in Plainfield Township, Pa., Town Supervisor Timothy Frankenfield, 42, was found face-down-drunk in the municipal building. Morning Call (Allentown)

Police in Apopka, Fla., say that Mr. Ashely Holmes, 35, must've swallowed those 99 OxyContins they couldn't find on him after a brief foot chase, in that there were 100 in the bottle when Ashely took off and only 1 left when they caught him. [Ashely was briefly visible to the naked eye, through the western clouds.] Orlando Sentinel

The Way The World Works (i.e., You Get Screwed)

District of Calamity II (Detroit): (1) A city councilwoman, who happens to be married to U.S. Rep. John Conyers, pleaded guilty to taking a cash bribe. (2) An audit of Detroit Public Schools found 257 non-employees on the employee payroll. (3) The week before last, a Detroit News review of murder stats showed that police had arbitrarily downgraded 22 murders as "justifiable" just to get them off the books (and drive down the city's murder rate). New York Times /// Detroit Free Press /// Detroit News

401(k) people are surely envious of gov't workers who have ordinary (guaranteed) pensions, some of which assure six-figure annual benefits, even though those governments will have to tax us productive people to make sure the pensions get paid. Like, for instance, there's the former city manager of Vernon, Calif., who draws $499,674 a year. Wall Street Journal

Gov't Accountability Office found that in the last 5 yrs, about 900 people on the gov't terrorist watch list (i.e., no flying!) bought guns and/or explosives just fine, including one guy with 50 lbs. worth of boom. New York Times

Gov't Health Care? The New York Times revealed a current investigation into Dr. Gary D. Kao, head of a prostate surgery unit at the Philadelphia VA Hospital, whose team allegedly botched 92 of 116 procedures by mis-aiming the radioactive seeds that were supposed to land in the prostate to attack cancer cells. But, hey, most wound up kinda close to the prostate, and there were even a couple of leaners. New York Times

Your federal gov't has just awarded researchers $425k to find out, definitively--cutting through all the haze and uncertainty--why some men prefer not to use condoms during sex. ABC News

Eyewitness News

Rev. Patricia McKinney of the Manifested Glory Ministries, Bridgeport, Conn., said she was only trying to help a boy who had come to her asking to have his gayness removed. It's not clear how successful the exorcism was. Looks kinda chaotic. The ol' Gay Demon appears to be quite resilient. WPIX-TV (New York City) via Los Angeles Times /// YouTube [news from WTIC-TV (Hartford)] /// YouTube [longer original video]

Newsrangers: Sandy Pearlman, Jennifer Oleson, Gerald Sacks, Corey Posten, Kathryn Wood, Thomas Pendergast, Don Schulian, Stephen Taylor, Louise Elsea, Michael Thompson, Jakob Derksen, and Scott Adair and the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors