Monday, March 22, 2010

News of the Weird/Pro Edition
"You're Still Not Cynical Enough"

Exceptionally Inexplicable Dispatches from Last Week
March 22, 2010
(datelines March 13-March 20) (links correct as of March 22)
by Chuck Shepherd
© 2010 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.

Steering Impressionables to Sadism, Plus Thy God/My Landlord, One Cheer for North Korea, and the Half-Ton Woman

People Basically Still Do What They're Told
Results of the psychologist Stanley Milgram's famous 1961 experiments (convincing subjects to apply up-to-severe pain to others based only on an arbitrary "authority figure"'s telling them to, even if it bothered them to torture people) still seem to apply. A French documentary on a fake "reality TV" show ("The Game of Death") ordered contestants to apply increasing, near-lethal pain to others. Between the enthusiastic-babe of a hostess and the roaring, goading audience, the torturers earnestly did their duty. Good thing it was all faked, or The Hague's Court would be all over 'em. BBC News /// Milgram's experiment (Wikipedia.org)

Return of the Freeman Mentality in Montana
Super-libertarian types' latest too-clever-for-the-room strategy has some who are on the verge of real-estate foreclosure in essence foreclosing on themselves by re-mortgaging the property to God, who is apparently easier to deal with than the old lender (e.g., willing to post-date the mortgage to the year 6012). Presumably, they're hoping to stay on the land while the old lender and the new one fight it out. They have some other ideas, too, if you don't like that one, and there's always the old standby, of drawing up their own monetary documents, which they see no reason for the bank not to honor. Yet another possibility: They're just all nuts. The Missoulian

The Superiority of North Korean Society
For one thing, no annoying cell phone conversations in public. For another, a senior official in charge of monetary policy was executed by firing squad for screwing up the economy. (In the U.S., we give those people bonuses.) (The late Pak Nan-gi had arranged for the recent serious devaluation of the won, which overnight made 100 of them worth 1 of them.) The Guardian (London)

People With Too-Desperate a Need for Closure
About 90% of Pet Dignity's business, the owner told USA Today, simply involved respectful disposal, but 10% comes from full-scale funerals honoring the deceased "family member" (mostly dogs, cats, and birds) Casket plus viewing plus burial plus headstone runs from $500 to $3,000, including a chaplain, special chapels accommodating 100 or so mourners, and cemeteries with a gazebo, among other things. USA Today

The Biggest Gainer
"I love eating, and people love watching me eat," says Donna Simpson, age 42 and 602 lbs., Old Bridge, N.J. When London's Daily Mail broke the story on Monday, many of us smelled a rat, but by Wednesday, Oprah, Dr. Phil, Entertainment Tonight–the usual suspects–were vying for exclusives, and Donna was meeting reporters but not granting interviews until her deals were signed. She actively aspires to reach 1,000 pounds, she says, even though a dietician estimated that adding two pounds a day would not only require immobility but 12,000 calories a day. And as previously reported in News of the Weird, there is a subculture of "chubby-chasers"--people who get off on watching and fantasizing about heavy people, and if you're one of those, you probably already know about SuperSizedBombshells.com [ed.: Not Safe For Work, or Stomachs], where people pay Donna to watch her eat and do housework. Star-Ledger (Newark) /// Daily Mail

People With Issues

Jennifer Mercado, 20, sitting on a New York City jury in judgment of an alleged credit-card thief, was charged with stealing a fellow juror's AmEx card from his coat pocket. (Bonus: Jennifer: "He said I could use it and spend $500 on it." [He: "I most certainly did not."] Jennifer: "See, it's a 'he said,' 'she said' thing.") New York Daily News

Mary Merton, 43, pleaded guilty to embezzling $800,000 over 8 years from the New York law firm she bookkept for, but then she kinda-sadly wrote to her ex-bosses: "I do not want to put you on the spot, but I would ask that you consider keeping me employed. Not because of the money, but because I truly enjoy my job and want to continue to work for the both of you to make up for my imperfections." Times Herald-Record (Middletown, N.Y.)

A 17-year-old boy in Kennewick, Wash., was arrested for breaking into Bella Office Furniture and heisting a few things. Police found him by tracing his activity on Bella's computer account, which he had used to access his MySpace page and list for sale some of the items that he was about to steal (also to look at porn, of course). Tri-City Herald (Kennewick)

Larry Long, 33, was arrested in Paducah, Ky., after his 5-week-old son was found lying in Long's oven, where he had been for several hours. (It wasn't on, or even warm; Long had apparently overdosed on marijuana and temporarily misplaced his mind.) Paducah Sun

Iowa Criminals Missing the Big Picture: (1) It didn't seem to bother Scot Davis, 52, that everybody knows your name at the All in the Family bar in South Des Moines, Ia. After a night of carousing (and passing out business cards for his work as a contractor), Scot left, then returned with a shotgun and robbed the place. "Scot, what the [expletive]?" said Gladys the bartender. He fled, but that was Thursday. They've likely got him by now. (2) And it didn't seem to bother five robbery-minded teenagers that they were riding around in a big black SUV registered to one's daddy and covered with advertising for Big Earl's Gold Mine, a Des Moines strip club. They kidnaped a 20-year-old man, robbed him, and let him go. Found 'em easily. Des Moines Register /// KCRG-TV (Cedar Rapids, Iowa)

Below The Fold

Another Recession-Proof Industry: the dinosaur-dung wristwatch industry! Artya, of Vesenaz, Switzerland, thinks it can charge the equivalent of about $11,290 (plus, it has a strap made with skin from an American cane toad). Associated Press via Google News

The Utah legislature is loosening its regulatory stranglehold on . . . private citizens' collection of falling rain. It has been illegal for years, but now ordinary Utahns, if they register with the state, and buy a standardized barrel to collect it in, can save rainwater. Seriously. Associated Press via KIFI-TV (Idaho Falls, Id.)

On the one hand, sheriff's candidate John White can fight crime effectively because he knows crime (having served time for bank robbery). On the other hand, it'll be hard to fight crime in Musselshell County, Mont. (county seat: Roundup, Mont.), for a sheriff who's prohibited from carrying a gun. Billings Gazette

Milton High School beat Westlake, 56-46, for the Georgia 5A boys' basketball championship. Westlake might have had a better chance if their star, state player-of-the-year candidate Marcus Thornton, hadn't had to sit after spraining his ankle in pre-game warm-ups–landing wrong while hip-bumping with a teammate. Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Why has a retired (and totally clean) Brooklyn, N.Y., couple in their 80s been raided by police more than 50 times since 2002? After several investigations, cops discovered that when they were testing their computer database years ago, they entered an address at random to see if the system worked, and Walter and Rose Martin, who happened to live at that address, were in the wrong place at the wrong time. For the last eight years, despite several tries, the cops haven't figured out how to get the Martins' address completely out of the system. Seriously. New York Post

Australia's New South Wales government has issued an official certificate declaring that "Norrie" (formerly known as Norrie May-Welby) is a genderless human–the first reported anywhere, they think. Two doctors had to certify that Norrie is physically and psychologically androgynous. She couldn't be happier! Sydney Morning Herald

The Pervo-American Community

Police in Jersey City, N.J., believe Nintikuma Patel, 27, is the one who has been following young Hispanic women on the street and then urinating on their legs. Seriously. Jersey Journal

Police in Scranton, Pa., distributed an artist's sketch of the young guy who allegedly picked up a teenage girl in his van, drove her to a parking lot, had her sign his penis in ink, and then drove her back to where he had picked her up, otherwise unharmed. Scranton Times-Tribune

Timothy Flood, 46, was arraigned in Forsyth, Mo., accused of exposing himself to two kids. In the course of the adventure, Flood supposedly placed a "squirrel's skull" on the head of his penis, after which he "eats the squirrel's eyeballs," according to the arrest warrant. Branson Daily News

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


Uphill Challenges for Their Lawyers: (1) Billy Pierce Jr., 36, was charged with threatening his old man with a pair of "bone-cutting scissors" (that he was about to use to cut his own hair). (Bonus quote: "[I'm in a] homicidal mood.") (2) Does this look like a guy who might be guilty of "assault"? (3) Thomas Althoff, 33, taken to jail for driving on a suspended license, managed (allegedly) to smuggle in Xanax tablets "in the fat rolls on his stomach." WTSP-TV (St. Petersburg) /// The Smoking Gun /// WTSP-TV (St. Petersburg)

Babe Magnet: Tony Perkins, 47, who authorities believe somehow sweet-talked 100 women to have sex with him in the last five years, ever since he was diagnosed with HIV. So far, 15 charges, though none of the women is HIV-positive. (Bonus: Police said Perkins recently sent "mass text messages" to women, seeking more hook-ups.) WRTV (Indianapolis)

More Things To Worry About

A court in Hobart, Australia, facing a father of two girls (age 10 and 8) who insists on his weekend visitation rights even though he's a convicted sex offender (child-porn possession), came up with this solution: Dad can't be alone with either of the girls, and the girls' bedroom has to be lockable to keep him out at night. News.com.au (Sydney)

Update: Jonathon Sharkey, 45, who got the press to report that he's related to Vlad the Impaler (aka Count Dracula) and calls himself a "vampyre" and has run for President, Senator, and governor, is now living in Florida and may renew his presidential aspirations. Plus, bragging about his 19-year-old fiancee: "I haven't dated a girl older than 19 since 2006. It's good to be me." WTSP-TV (St. Petersburg)

David Stopher is recovering from a stroke, which often affects a victim's brain in strange ways. Stopher's main symptom right now: He can't turn down salesmen. For instance, recently, he's had 10 concurrent cell phone contracts (six with the same company). He thinks he must have made a "sucker" list by now. Daily Mail (London)

Travel Tip: If overnighting in Memphis, skip the Budget Lodge. On Monday (March 15th) they finally found the body of a woman who had been staying at the Lodge and who had gone missing since January 27th–stuffed in the metal box frame of a bed that had been re-occupied (and "cleaned") at least five times since January 27th. Commercial-Appeal

And For Further Review . . .

"Nothing Says Springtime Like a Penis Festival": So headlined this year's notice of a weird-news evergreen (by GlobalPost.com) of the annual fertility festivals in Japan (which News of the Weird periodically references for its new readers). In previous centuries, farmers celebrated by hoisting iconic penii and vaginas into the air, hoping they would bring good harvests (and healthy offspring). Now, of course, the festivals are mainly for the tourists, especially the kids (!), for sales of souvenir-trinket penii and vaginas. (Bonus: Link to the page is preceded by an ad for the industrial technology company Siemens. Heh-heh . . heh-heh-heh.) GlobalPost.com [extremely Not Safe For Work]

Newsrangers: Hal Dunham, Brian Wilson, Bob Scopatz, Steve Dunn, Kris Holt, Paul Daly, Bruce Leiserowitz, John Beyrau, Peter Smagorinsky, Chris Paone, Phillip Choisser, and Brian Cunningham, and the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors