Monday, September 28, 2009

News of the Weird/Pro Edition
September 28, 2009
(curious and/or absurd news from September 19-26)
by Chuck Shepherd
© 2009 by Chuck Shepherd. (All rights reserved. But please forward this issue to your pals.)

Grand Marshal Gaddafi Returns to the Stage
In Yr Editor's Gallery of Megalomaniacs, Moammar Gaddafi occupies one of the top slots (with North Korea's K.Jay, the late Saparmurat Niyazov of Turkmenistan, and, y'know, Donald Trump, people like that), and his epic United Nations cabaret performance on Wednesday marked his return to glory. In addition to pissing off his interpreter and Gordon Brown by exceeding his 15-minute slot (by 82 minutes!), he demanded the UN pay Libya for past injustices, which he calculated to be precisely $7.7 trillion. He also caused a scene because he eschews 5-star hotels in favor of bedding down in his own tent, with his "elite virgin female bodyguard detail" providing safety. When he visits other African countries, Gaddafi famously makes friends in the countryside by tossing US$1 bills from his limo, but that won't work here. Washington Post

Mayors Gone Wild
Sallie Peake of Wellford, S.C., said she's got budget problems and can't afford for the police to be chasing suspects. (Oh, ya mean no more high-speed chases?) No. No chases. Just drive out to their homes and arrest 'em. And Mayor Eric Brewer of East Cleveland, Ohio, neither confirmed nor denied the authenticity of the photographs circulating around town of him dressed maybe like he's Erica Brewer and not Eric. And Mayor Bob Ryan of Sheboygan, Wis., was captured on an off-the-record video saying he's heard that his sister-in-law gives a good blowjob. (Mrs. Ryan couldn't be less amused.) WSPA-TV (Spartanburg, S.C.) /// WTAM Radio (Cleveland) /// WTMJ-TV (Milwaukee)

Do You Realize How Difficult It Is to Find Heartwarming Vulture Stories?
All right, so two male vultures at Israel's Jerusalem Biblical Zoo made headlines a couple of yrs ago when they incubated an "egg" and then raised a baby vulture. (Actually, they were playing mom with a fake egg; zookeepers slipped an actual itty bitty just-hatched vulture into the nest when the parents weren't looking. So, the two males think they've accomplished something.) OK, jump ahead a while, and the men grew apart and moved on to female partners. (It's unclear whether they had come to realize that their original mates weren't females or whether they just had an Anne Heche Moment.) The males knocked up the females, and the first actual babies of the original gay pair were (it says here, anyway) born on the same day as each other and weighed exactly the same thing. How 'bout that? Haaretz (Tel Aviv)

Three Australians Beg, "Please, Take Our Money"
In a Melbourne suburb, two grifters convinced at least three business operators to let them double their money . . chemically. It's a special substance! When currency soaks in it overnight . . each bill produces another bill of the same denomination! The artists even "demonstrated" it to each investor, with an A$100 bill. The three astute businessmen lost a total of A$160k, and now valuable police resources are being diverted, trying to get the money back. Stonnington Leader via News.Com.au

What a Dork that Guy Is, with that Metal Detector
Oh, wait. Terry Herbert, 55, just found at least $1.6m worth (probably much more) of gold and silver in Staffordshire county, England, probably buried there in the 7th century by a successful Anglo-Saxon warlord. Archaeologists' toes are still curling over this. New York Times

Remember the Indonesian with Warts Like a Bad Case of Barnacles?
That guy is doing better, but now comes Lin Tianzhuan, 38, in southern China, aka Coral Boy, whose growths on his legs and arms more resemble stone or shells. [Links are Not Safe for Stomachs] Daily Telegraph (London) /// Metro (London) [tree man Dede Koswara]

People With Worse Sex Lives Than You

A man identified only as in his 50s obviously had a bad sex life all along, but it recently got really bad. He thought he could build up some penile length if he stuck it through the ring-shaped fastener used to lock weights on dumbbells. Of course, what he built up was blood, which swelled the organ [to "five times its size"? I don't know about that] so that he couldn't get the fastener off and was a short time away from having his pride and joy turn into a useless mass. Firefighters sawed for two hours to release him. Inspiring! Daily Pilot (Newport Beach, Calif.)

Jury Duty
[In America, you're presumed innocent . . . until the mug shot is released]


How about it . . Can't James Bauer, 29, Delhi Township, Ohio, just rely on charm to get a date? He was charged with two rapes in January. (Second link goes to outcome of the case, last week.) WCPO-TV (Cincinnati) /// Cincinnati Enquirer

American Sub-Prime

Update: Former Moorestown, N.J., cop Robert Melia Jr. is still in big-time trouble (child sex-abuse charges from three girls), but at least he doesn't have that pesky animal-cruelty charge hanging over him. In a ridiculously earnest legal ruling, Judge James Morley dismissed the charge. Since the state has no bestiality law, the prosecutor has to prove actual cruelty. Morley mused from the bench about the difficulty of judging whether the calves were "tormented" by having Melia stick his stuff in their mouths (as opposed to, say, "puzzled" by it): "If the cow had the cognitive ability to form thought and speak, would it say, 'Where's the milk [from this thing in my mouth]? [I'm sucking, but] I'm not getting any milk.'" Philadelphia Daily News

Richard Castor, 56, Carlisle, Pa., was ticketed for "harassment" of his neighbor Brian Taylor, after he flicked a toothpick onto the sidewalk outside Taylor's house. (Well, Castor had been warned by a judge to be on his good behavior.) Patriot-News (Harrisburg)

Dalton Chiscolm filed a lawsuit before U.S. District Judge Denny Chin in New York City (Chin being the court's go-to judge in recent Bank of America litigation). Chiscolm claims some shortcoming or other in BA's customer service because of a mixup in "routing numbers" and has demanded, and I quote, "1,784 billion, trillion dollars" (with a supplemental claim of, again quoting, "$200,164,000"). Judge Chin gave Chiscolm about a month to come to his senses before he dismisses the case. Reuters

Canadian Sub-Prime: David McKay, 28, was arrested in Regina, Saskatchewan, despite his steadfast insistence that he is not David McKay, who was wanted on a warrant. No sir, his name is Matthew (which McKay had trouble spelling, by the way). How does Matthew explain the tattoo on his back reading "David McKay"? "I'm Matthew." Leader-Post (Regina) via Times Colonist (Vancouver)

Below The Fold

The latest in British men's fashion: "mantyhouse" (Robin Hood-like leggings, just a little teensy-weensy bit ahead of its time, wouldn't ya say?) and underpants for lefthanders (who apparently get confused at urinals, since the standard opening is made for righties). Daily Telegraph /// Daily Mail

ER doctors writing in the Archives of Surgery reported that people with brain injuries fare better if they've got a liiitttttle bit of hooch in them (but not too much and not "none"). CTV.com

Female soldiers in Sweden complained that their gov't-issue bras become unfastened with any vigorous movements, which crimps their style if they're out on the Swedish battlefields, and besides that, the bras are flammable. The Local (Stockholm)

Yikes! The average Brit (7.65 sexual partners) has actually been exposed to, er, 2.8 million sex organs. (As long as we're on large numbers, here's a story from the week before: In Jerusalem, Rachel Krishevsky passed away at age 99, leaving behind around 1,400 descendants. She had 11 kids. Turns out she was one of the more population-modest Krishevskys.) Agence France-Presse via Google /// YnetNews.com (Tel Aviv)

Same Old Same Old

Texting while driving is already tired and expired. We're onto being alarmed about men choking the turkey while driving, which allegedly afflicted Daniel Furesz, 60, on New Jersey's Route 17. It's quite dangerous, as a German big-rig driver (ha ha ha!) overturned his truck after losing control while racing to orgasm near Boras, Sweden. (Bonus: He kept on wanking, even during police interrogation.) The Leader (Lyndhurst, N.J.) /// The Local (Stockholm)

Undignified: A 75-year-old Floridian (Deerfield Beach) drowned while gathering up lost golf balls for resale. And more conventionally, a 46-yr-old Chattanooga, Tenn., man drowned after jumping in the raging flood waters---for free---after unsuccessfully trying to make $5 bets that he could swim the rapids. Associated Press via Florida Today /// Associated Press via Knoxville News-Sentinel

Former Sarasota sheriff's deputy Clinton Knowles became the most recent man fired for excess boozing (he was a member of the SWAT team!) and then to challenge the firing as a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (alcoholism = disability). WTSP-TV (St. Petersburg)

Eyewitness News

London's The Sun, writing from Las Vegas, found an astounding underground village of ne'er-do-wells living in the flood tunnels underneath fabulously expensive Strip hotels. The interviewed couples seem perfectly happy, concerned only about the fragrance, the Black Widow spiders, and the occasional gusher that courses through their worldly goods. The Sun

People get impaled by steel spikes, javelins, things like that. You don't often see a woman with a tree branch (still with green leaves!) sticking in her neck. She survived. WCBS-TV (New York City)

Readers' Choice

He insisted on a gun-safety lesson for his girlfriend before taking her out to the firing range, but then he accidentally shot himself in the head and has now, well, left the building. Yes, AWI. Yes, his name is James Looney. Associated Press via Kansas City Star

The elite undercover drug squad in Florida's Polk County broke up the boredom of its massive raid on dealer Michael Difalco's home by all-day Wii-playing on Difalco's console. (It was all caught on surveillance video, and back at headquarters, the suits weren't happy.) Tampa Tribune

More Things to Worry About

"Please give me the gun back, it's not my gun," begged the masked Pizza Hut robber after the employee took it away from him (No can do, but the perp escaped) (1) . . . . . A Naples, Fla., man admitted he was so remorseful for killing his wife and five kids that he wanted to die — but couldn't kill himself because then he'd be DQ'd from heaven (2) . . . . . According to his lawyer, Stephen Fray is, like, "You mean that's illegal?" over his sneaking a gun onto a CanJet Airlines flight in Montego Bay, firing a shot, and demanding to be flown to the U.S. (3) . . . . . The Phelpsian Westboro Baptist Church won a round at the U.S. Court of Appeals, meaning that its vile anti-gay funeral-picketing can continue (4) . . . . . Whoever called the EMTs to go help the passed-out man nearby didn't say how nearby, so when the EMTs drove out the station house door, they couldn't avoid running over the guy (5) . . . . . Of 18 advanced nations, Americans watch twice as much TV a day as whoever's second (Greeks) and over 3x as much as the Swiss (6) . . . . . Had enough health insurance news? Meet the woman who woke up to a bleeding breast (a tumor!), which Blue Shield of California said was obviously a "non-emergency" (7).
(1) WSOC-TV (Charlotte, N.C.) /// (2) CNN /// (3) Canadian Broadcasting Corp. News /// (4) Baltimore Sun /// (5) St. Petersburg Times /// (6) The Economist /// (7) KPIX-TV (San Francisco)

Newsrangers

Scott Bernstein, Kathryn Wood, Matthew Marek, John Martin, Rick Matz, Terry Raterman, Mark Jung, Lee Hasiuk, Kathy Diehl, C.J. Campbell, Rita Johnson, Dave Shepardson, Randy Sigurdson, Jim Rehmann, Asmo Koste, Michael Ravnitzky, David Melcher, and Chad Sucher, and the News of the Weird Senior Advisors (Jenny T. Beatty, Paul Di Filippo, Geoffrey Egan, Ginger Katz, Joe Littrell, Matt Mirapaul, Paul Music, Karl Olson, and Jim Sweeney), and the News of the Weird Editorial Advisors (Paul Blumstein, John Cieciel, Harry Farkas, Fritz Gritzner, Herb Jue, Emory Kimbrough, Scott Langill, Steve Miller, Christopher Nalty, Mark Neunder, Bob Pert, Larry Ellis Reed, Rob Snyder, Bruce Townley, and Jerry Whittle).

Monday, September 21, 2009

News of the Weird/Pro Edition
September 21, 2009
(juicy and/or disturbing news from September 12-19)
by Chuck Shepherd
© 2009 by Chuck Shepherd. (All rights reserved. But please forward this issue to your pals.)

Has Anyone Composed The Ballad of Janet Jackson's Nipple Yet?
It has grown into a watershed moment for American culture: monumentally inexplicable and embarrassing yet almost perfectly representative of our roiled values: How in the world can we tolerate a several-billion-dollar annual hard-core porn industry yet flinch mightily at a micro-second's worth of aureola on a dark-skinned woman? We're now in Year Six of this saga (Year Seven of NYPD Blue's bare-buttness that was at least recognizable as a butt, and a quite attractive butt). (No, not Sipowitz's butt; that was different.) From the FCC to the U.S. Court of Appeals to the Supreme Court back to the Court of Appeals and now back to the FCC and surely back to the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court again. Broadcasting & Cable

A Brand-New Paraphilia?
There's a guy who says his name is Dale, who hangs around Bonney Lake (Wash.) High School and seems taken with the athletes. For instance, he offered to help one with a term paper, but when the guy politely walked away, "['Dale'] jumped on the student's back and asked for a piggy back ride," according to police. Cops said they'd heard stories before about this "Dale." News Tribune (Tacoma)

Romell Broom Signs On as a Nurse's Assistant in Ohio
He couldn't have been more helpful to the medics, and what did he get for it? Why, they're gonna kill him this week. He was scheduled for a lethal injection last Tuesday, but no one could find a vein. Romell helped them in every way he could . . for two solid hours . . flexing his arm, changing positions, enduring so much pain that he needed a roll of toilet paper to wipe the tears. Finally, the governor stayed the execution . . for a week. Well, OK, he did rape and murder a teenager 25 yrs ago, but still ---. (Update: A federal court has extended him 10 more days.) Associated Press via Dayton Daily News

Real Lawsuit Over Make-Believe Sex Toys
SexGen, the makers of sex-accessory make-believe "products" (i.e., graphic symbols of products) used in the online game SecondLife, is suing Linden Lab (SL creator) for not somehow prohibiting other companies from making knock-off make-believe products, which include your usual array of sex toys, plus things like a make-believe "cuddle rug" and a make-believe coffin that's apparently good for having sex in . . if you're make-believe. Threat Level blog (Wired.com)

Tax Law Is Pretty Complicated, But Still . . .
New York lawyer William Halby was turned down by the U.S. Tax Court in his quest to deduct $100,000, as "medical expenses" in 2004 and 2005, for prostitutes and pornography. (Who knew? Halby had only been practicing tax law for 40 yrs. Besides, he was defiant: "It's a holistic approach to medicine," he told Forbes magazine.) Now, Prof. Robin Magee hasn't been at it for 40, but she does teach at Minnesota's Hamline Univ. law school, had a tax law practice, and did her own taxes — well, not really. According to prosecutors, she didn't file at all for several yrs and missed a lot of obvious stuff in the yrs she did file. So far, she has offered up only "severe attention deficit disorder" as an excuse. Forbes /// ABA Journal (9-10-2009)

Update on "Diaper Man"
Two weeks ago (NOTW M126, 9-6-2009), I reported the guy who appeared set for a free pass from police despite having tricked a woman into giving him near-total-care for three weeks on the false claim that he was disabled. Florida Today (Melbourne) had the police saying that, since the woman knew diaper-changing was part of the service, and since she agreed on the price, there was no crime. It turns out that either the police or Florida Today erred—that, in fact, the man had skipped out on the bill. Hence, Sean Kelly, 39, has been arrested and charged with "organized fraud." And there might be another victim, too. Florida Today

Things That Are Messed Up

A Toronto Star reporter instantly became a gov't-licensed P.I. and a gov't-licensed Security Guard ($80 each, with gov't-issued photo ID cards!). No experience necessary, or even a good purpose. That's the law. Toronto Star

Army Sgt. Michael Ferschke married legally, and had a kid, before he left for Iraq, where he was killed. His wife is a Japanese national. She can't now enter the U.S. because there's this law that says certain immigrants' marriages have to be "consummated" before Immigration recognizes them. Duh, they have a baby! No, they had a pre-marital consummation, and that doesn't count. Michael's parents are quite upset, but that's the law. Associated Press via MSNBC

Authorities in Washington state are on the lookout for a deeply mentally ill killer, Phillip Paul, who escaped . . while on an "outing" to the Spokane County fair (where 11 minders looked after 31 inmates). Don't ya love it when they say, But, oh, gee, nothing like that had ever happened before . . or . . why, Phillip seemed like he was improving? Officials said they'd review their policy. (Bonus Money-Quote from a shrink: "[Mr. Paul is] the only paranoid schizophrenic — I've seen hundreds, maybe thousands of them — that frightened me.") (Update: Caught him.) CNN /// Associated Press via KSDK-TV (St. Louis) (9-20-2009)

Eight states and the District of Columbia apparently make it OK for health insurance companies to deny coverage to abused spouses, as one of those awful "pre-existing conditions." Ya can reconcile with the batterer if ya want, but then you're uninsurable. (And another report said that under some companies' policies, you could be either uninsurable, or in a higher-premium bracket, if you've had acne, bunions, hermorrhoids, or varicose veins.) Huffington Post /// Washington Post

South Africa has a huge tuberculosis problem, and the gov't gives disability grants to the infectees. All ya have to do is spit in a cup, and if it's positive, the checks start coming. Upshot: raging black market in TB spit. The Guardian (London)

Elyse Mamino, 23, is set for trial in Belleville, Ill., for stuffing her newborn baby into a toilet last November, but then, two weeks after that, the Illinois Dept. of Children and Family Services gave the baby back to her. Seriously. (Later, they got around to charging her with attempted murder and took the kid back.) Belleville News-Democrat

People With Worse Sex Lives Than You

Robert Battle, 46, busted in Jordan, Utah, had claimed he was a "licensed" massage therapist who had just passed "medical board" exams and was hanging out at Lifetime Fitness center, trolling for clients. He persuaded two women that their bodies weren't "holding" the benefits of previous massages and that he needed to do "internal work" on their vaginal walls. (Except . . other clients of Battle, apparently "satisfied" with his work, have established a defense fund for him. So, actually, his sex life may not be all that bad.) Salt Lake Tribune

Jury Duty
[In America, you're presumed innocent . . . until the mug shot is released]


The latest charge has been dropped against Henry McQueen, 64. After all, Henry has had the benefit of prison rehabilitation for the last 35 yrs, and the 54 inmate infractions on his record didn't seem to matter to the Corrections people when they released him, so maybe it's a new Henry McQueen we're looking at. Or . . maybe the prosecutor should not have dropped the charge. Greensboro News & Record

And though we don't have an actual person to go with this artist's conception of the man who burgled Jessica Ziakin's house, what if this is actually what he looks like? Canadian Broadcasting Corp. News (from 9-11-09)

American Sub-Prime

"I like to take big gulps of drink," said the 50-yr-old patient in Wilmington, N.C. "I don't know of any other ways of getting it in there." The man was referring to surgeons' discovery that he had a 1-inch piece of plastic in his . . lung . . with a Wendy's logo on it. ABC News

Daniel Taylor Jr., 33, answered the door in Elizabethton, Tenn., to discover a sheriff's deputy standing there. Taylor immediately turned his back and put his hands behind him to be cuffed. Deputy: Why'd you do that? Taylor: You're gonna arrest me on that warrant, aren't you? Deputy: Well, I, uh, now that you mention it ---. The deputy had come to investigate a domestic disturbance call but had the wrong house. Didn't help Taylor, though. Johnson City Press

Douglas Jones, 57, said he just wanted to honor deceased golfers. That's the reason why he tossed about 3,000 balls into various parts of Joshua Tree National Park over the past two years. (Bonus quote from Jones's father, 84: "It certainly sounds strange.") Los Angeles Times

Below The Fold

A well-dressed gentleman in his 70s was being sought by police after knocking off a San Diego Nat'l Bank branch . . while also lugging an oxygen tank supplying him via plastic tubing into his nose. XETV (San Diego)

The French take layoffs quite seriously, if the France Telecom situation is an indication. Since the company's first downsizing was announced in February 2008, there've been 23 suicides for depression and 13 more attempts. The Times (London)

Goats are not cooperating in Nepal's biggest Hindu festival of the year, Dashain, now going on in Kathmandu. The gov't's way short of the 6,000 it needs to sacrifice to properly honor the goddess Durga, and it was complaining about paying too much for the ones it did acquire. Agence France-Presse via Google

Mark Howard was fined for running a super-environmental bicycle shop in London. They tax on the amount of garbage tossed out, but Mark never has any. The charge for conscientiousness is £180. Daily Mail

An employment tribunal in Catalonia (Spain) ruled that the boss can't fire a worker just for calling him a son of a whore because, well, everybody gets called that. Agence France-Presse via Yahoo

Fannie May Confections said it will voluntarily recall 43,000 Milk Chocolate & Almonds candy bars because they left out a bunch of things on the ingredients label, including "almonds." Associated Press via Forbes

Same Old Same Old

Another guy (Dennis Lottig, 30, St. Albans, W.Va.) who still hasn't realized that even if you steal a bank's surveillance "camera," you're only stealing the lens, and that you probably already looked directly into it while you were removing it: Daily Mail (Charleston)

A 65-yr-old woman in Marion, Ill., became the most recent person whose loved ones, awaiting the outcome of surgery, received this news from the doctor: Sorry, we couldn't save her . . she caught fire in the O.R. St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Eyewitness News

No telling what this snake's momma was sluttin' around with: It looks like a normal snake . . except for that foot sticking straight up out of its body. (The autopsy is pending.) Popular Science

The fabulous World of Body Art, last weekend in St. Petersburg, Russia! As usual with art, ya gotta think this stuff up before ya do it, and these designers are people who don't think like us. Daily Mail (London)

Readers' Choice

Bad enough that the couple, both age 44, couldn't find a better place to have sex except in a Dumpster, but then a guy and his pal came along, held 'em up with a knife, and stole shoes, jewelry, and a wallet. Wichita Eagle

Jonathan Parker, 19, couldn't resist using the resident's computer to check his Facebook page while he was burglarizing a house and swiping two diamond rings . . only he forgot to log out when he was done. Oops. The Journal (Martinsburg, W.Va.)

Yr Editor first noted German Gunther von Hagens's Body Worlds "plastinated" 3-D corpse exhibitions in 2001, when it was revolutionary, but it's since been all over the world and is almost a yawner. Churches still don't like it because the corpses lack the "soul" that they're certain real corpses have, and others don't like it because von Hagens might have bought corpses of executed Chinese prisoners. He's revolutionary again, though, because his latest show features corpses actually, y'know, hooking up, and now even the city of Cologne is banning part of that. Deutsche Welle (Bonn)

Newsrangers

Sam Gaines, Red Williams, Laura Stemac, Hal Dunham, Barry Rose, Kathryn Wood, Paul Schweigert, Graham Rankin, Tom Barker, Craig Cryer, Tony Rose, Nedra Albrecht, Mike Odell, Ian Pert, Tim Allen, Gary Abbott, and Jerry Maple, and the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors.

Monday, September 14, 2009

News of the Weird/Pro Edition

September 14, 2009
(alarming and/or delicious news from September 5-12)
by Chuck Shepherd
© 2009 by Chuck Shepherd. (All rights reserved. But, pretty please, would you forward this issue to your pals?)

An Improvised Sphincterial Device
Saudi prince Mohammed bin Nayef survived the suicide-bomb attempt on his life on August 28th (which killed the perp), and not much more came of it. But apparently someone with the Australian Associated Press has a source at Stratfor, which is a private intel group in the U.S., and other details oozed out last week, to the website of ASIS International, an info clearinghouse for security professionals. Jeez, this is a long way to go to reach this one bit of news: The perp was carrying the bomb in his rectum. Australian Associated Press via Sunday Star Times (Wellington, N.Z.) (9-4-2009) /// SecurityManagement.com (9-9-09)

Avoiding Mob Malpractice
The country's alpha-dog Yakuza group, Yamaguchi-gumi, has ordered its thugs to take written tests on the law, since the organization is being sued too much lately. Mainichi Daily News

What Would Jesus Do?
Pastor Rodney McGill of Jensen Beach, Fla., was sentenced to 20 yrs in prison for engineering nine fraudulent real estate transactions worth about $1m, but he's confident that Jesus has his back. Barked McGill, to the packed courtroom of Judge Sherwood Bauer Jr.: "Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, for every witness called against me, I pray cancer in their lives, lupus, brain tumor, pancreatic cancer." South Florida Sun-Sentinel

God Was Looking Out for Gunther Link . . Poor Fella
The devout Catholic in Vienna, Austria, was trapped on a stuck elevator, got scared, started praying furiously. And he got free. So he reported immediately to the nearby Weinhaus Church to give copious thanks for his rescue . . by embracing a pillar at the church's altar . . whereupon an 860-lb. stone statue fell and crushed him. Daily Telegraph (London)

Recurring Theme: Art That's Not, But Is
German artist Diane Mitchell won New Zealand's Waikato National Contemporary Art Award, worth NZ$15k (US$10.6k), with an entry consisting of discarded wrapping materials collected from other contestants' entries. [Well, of course they were pissed!] New Zealand Press Association via TV3 (Auckland)

Life Imitates Life
Lisa Reardon, a thrice-published crime novelist from Ann Arbor, Mich., has written darkly about families embroiled in violence, child abuse, adultery, and alcoholism, but her life is mostly normal, or at least it was until last month, when she grabbed a 20-gauge shotgun and fired at her dad, but barely wounding him. "I just cannot believe I missed," she lamented. "I will never get another chance." No explanations yet. Detroit News

"And He Slowly Undid Her Bonnet . . ."
Thomas Nelson publishing house makes good money selling Amish romance novels in Amish country, even though written by outsiders. Hey, in Cindy Woodsmall's 326-page best-seller When the Heart Cries, there are two scenes where the lovers actually kiss. Wall Street Journal

Regarding the Health-Care Debate . . .
(1) Matthew Cordell's got an idea, Mr. President. He has opened a 3-day-a-week roadside prayer stand in a Phoenix suburb, offering to help people reach the Lord. ("It wasn't my idea. It was God's.") The Arizona Republic: "One woman pulled in on her way to Urgent Care for chest pains. [Cordell] said the pains subsided with prayer, and she went home instead. In another instance, Cordell said a man with a severe brain injury began improving following his intercession." Now, there's health care we can believe in. (2) How to make U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson of South Carolina go nuts: let him know that Mr. Tesfaldet Tesloy, an illegal immigrant (in Sweden), just won the Swedish Nat'l Lottery (equivalent of about $166k), and though he can't legally work, the Lottery says it still has to pay him. (3) The Republicans picked U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany, a former heart surgeon, to give the party's reply to President Obama's televised address. In the early 1990s, Boustany paid more than $85k trying to buy a British lordship title, but the whole thing was a scam. Arizona Republic /// Daily Telegraph (London) /// Politico.com

People With Worse Sex Lives Than You
Nobody's more messed up than David Truscott, 40, who has just pleaded guilty in Truro, England, to harassment of a farm family by periodically, ahem, immersing himself in their manure-spreader and slappin' his salami. (Bonus: With a remarkable lack of specificity, the court found that the harassment took place between the period of "December 23, 2005, and August 22 [2009]," which is a lot of manure and a lot of slappin'.) Falmouth Packet

Jury Duty
[In America, you're presumed innocent . . . until the mug shot is released]
The Piltdownish Dale Alan Lee was arrested for aggravated battery, and though this picture looks a little suspicious, you're asked to see through it in deciding his guilt or innocence. Pasco County (Fla.) Sheriff's Office

American Sub-Prime

A 23-yr-old man's street corner business was shut down in Longview, Wash., before things got out of hand. He charged $5 to get kicked in the balls (women could do it for $3). The Daily News (Longview)

At Least She Wasn't Texting: Motorist Penny Lessard, 48, accidentally rammed a telephone pole ($10k damage) when she leaned into the back seat to feed a stray cat she had just picked up. Sun Journal (Auburn-Lewiston, Maine)

Marcellus Arellano, 68, was arrested in the Portland, Ore., federal building, with 3 long knives, and almost cheerfully explained that IRS owes him $12,000 and that he was on his way to get it "by any method available." Oregonian

Awesome! For one 13-minute police chase through and out of Greece, N.Y., Joshua Bracci, 21, got 56 tickets. Democrat and Chronicle (Rochester)

Below The Fold

It's good to be a Wells Fargo foreclosure executive: This one moved her family into a foreclosed $12m Malibu beach house, and I guess she thinks it's hers until the bank sells it. Associated Press via New York Post

And it's good to be a Communist Party official in South Africa: This champion of the proletariat gets around Johannesburg in his BMW 750i, paid for (equivalent of $120k) by taxpayers. Los Angeles Times

And meanwhile, where the median U.S. income is $50k/yr, and the poverty-line metric for a family of 4 is $22k, Brad and Angelina just spent $82k for a house for their kids' gerbils, and in China, where the poverty-line metric is "another helping of twigs, please," a woman just spent the equivalent of about $585k to acquire a black Tibetan Mastiff (and took it away in a motorcade of 30 Benzes). National Enquirer via St. Petersburg Times blogs /// The Times (London)

Two longtime-feuding camel tour operators in a Western Australian town finally had it out: a camel-dung-flinging fight. Australian Broadcasting Corp. News

Same Old Same Old

More from Britain's Fetish for Safety: Scouts are no longer allowed to carry penknives; the knives get handed out for specific projects, on an as-needed basis. And research company Mindlab Int'l, compiling a "Biscuit Injury Threat Evaluation," found that more than half of Britons have been physically hurt in some way while eating their morning tea/coffee-and-biscuits. Daily Telegraph /// Daily Telegraph

Another of those wild Lloyds of London insurance policies: Wyke Farms is paying a premium of the equivalent of $41k/yr in case Nigel Pooley loses his sense of smell. He's their Master Cheese Grader, and if his sniffer goes south, the company would get $8.3m to train another Master. BBC News

Eyewitness News

Here's a living, breathing cat with an arrow clean through its head. (Obviously, the arrow caught muscle and not skull.) And note that, even with an arrow through its head, it still merely disdains you. New York Daily News

Courtesy of the Kensington Palace and Britain's Museums, Libraries, and Archives Council: items from the underwear inventory of Queen Victoria (and evidently the old gal liked her drawers roomy). Daily Mail

Cure for Constipation: A pro snake wrangler in Australia's Northern Territory finally coaxed out the python that had been hiding in the S-bend of Erik Rantzau's toilet and popping out from time to time. Northern Territory News (Darwin)

You betcha it's Intelligent Design: You're a parasite, and you want your host's food. What could be more efficient than breaking into his mouth, eating his tongue, and replacing it with . . yourself? BBC News /// io9 blog [Yikes!]

There's not much of a news story here, but I need an excuse to run a photo of a billboard in Los Angeles that's supposed to depict a "giant vagina." Los Angeles Times [Of course it's Safe For Work. It's the damn Los Angeles Times!]

Readers' Choice

Stephfon Bennett, 20, who with two pals robbed a woman in her home, came back alone two hours later to ask the lady for a date (and she's a beauty!). WBNS-TV (Columbus, Ohio)

And this happened the week before, when Yr Editor was off, but it was clearly the Readers' Choice then. James Orr, 66, described as a habitual con man, evidently finds it harder and harder to fake sincerity, and had to use all his faculties for this ploy—to be too mentally ill for prison: At the defendant's table (while charged with robbery and kidnaping), he casually squeezed out the contents of his colostomy bag and began slurping 'em up. (The judge was un-conned: He gave him 37 yrs.) (And how about this for poor taste: The Cincinnati Enquirer's website now sells James Orr photos and t-shirts. Seriously.) Cincinnati Enquirer /// Cincinnati.com

Newsrangers

Pete Randall, Kelvin Norton, Albert Clawson, Ivan Katz, Steve Passen, Sam Gaines, Francis Boring, Graham Rankin, Hal Dunham, Melinda Craig, Chris Sentz, Roth McCue, Kurt Knochel, Bill Schoenbart, Michael Ravnitzky, Eric Gibbs, and Charley Butterfield, and the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Adviors