Monday, September 26, 2011

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

Prime Cuts of Underreported News from Last Week, Hand-Picked and Lightly Seasoned by Chuck Shepherd
September 26, 2011
(datelines September 17-September 24) (links correct as of September 26)
© 2011 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.

Joy of Suicide, Plus Many More Things to Worry About

★ ★ ★ ★!

New-Age designer Julijonas Urbonas offered his detailed plans for the "Euthanasia [Roller] Coaster"--a pain-free (in fact, perhaps joyful) instrument of suicide. Urbonas's loops and 1,600-foot drop allegedly supply the rider 10 Gs, which is enough force to induce blackout (and enough in some cases to produce a pre-blackout euphoria). You needn't make up your mind finally to check out until you get to the actual drop; if the first part of the ride has scared you straight, there's a fail-safe button. Discovery News

Technology Improvements (Bulletproof-Clothing Industry edition): Miguel Caballero of Colombia first moved his Medellin line to Miami but now sells in New York City, where consumers might be more demanding of thinness and style. Dinner jacket, tunic, kimono, figure-hugging trench for women, designs in plaid, dress shorts, polos and hoodies--and in Mild, Medium, or High (degree of bullet-stopping). New York Daily News

Miami Invaded By Giant, House-Eating Snails: "It's us against the snails," said a state agriculture official, of the up-to-10-inch-long, stucco-eating species that harbors rat-lung worm and excretes distinctive trails. (Bonus: They're religious symbols, too.) NPR

Readers' Choice: (1) A Chicago Tribune/WGN-TV investigation found that the city's sweetheart deals over the years between municipal government and labor unions, which result in way-abnormally high government pensions, went off the chart for bigshot Dennis Gannon, who once left city government to take over a union local yet retained his city pension rights as if the city and the union were one entity. Most spectacularly, on one day in 1994, he was hired back by the city, then immediately went on "leave," and because of that has $158,000 added to his pension account. (2) In Mestre, Italy, an elderly couple are poised to sue their son, 41, to GTFO of the house and go cook for himself and wash his own clothes. Forty-eight percent of Italian age-18-to-49s won't leave home. Chicago Tribune /// Daily Telegraph (London)


They say a New York City mother illegally snatched her 8 children away from foster care. They are Nephra Payne, Nephra Ceo Payne, Nephra Shalee Payne, Nephra Umeek Payne, Nephra Yahmen Payne, Nephra John Payne, Nephra Rahsul Payne, and the toddler Nefertiti Payne. (Dad's name, unsurprisingly, is Nephra Payne.) New York Times

Elsie Pawlow filed a lawsuit in Edmonton, Alberta, the week before last asking $100,000 from the makers of Stride gum because it stuck in her denture. She had to pick it out and thus "suffered depression for approximately 10 minutes." Toronto Sun

Obama administration officials briefed reporters on the President's program called Open Government Partnership, advocating "transparency and accountability" in the stewardship of natural resources. Briefing Room Rule: The officials must not be identified by name. Associated Press via Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Unclear on the Concept: Nebraska state troopers told State Fair-goer Sally Stricker that she'd have to lose the t-shirt with the pro-marijuana slogan . . because the Fair has rules against promoting "illegal" activity. (Bonus: She was at the State Fair for the concert headlined by Willie Nelson.) Lincoln Journal Star


Cliché Come to Life (i.e., brought a knife to a gunfight): (Actually, the now-deceased was there first, bragging about how he could defend himself just fine with his pocketknife. Enter Thomas Bolds, with the challenge, Let's see that pocketknife stop these eight rounds. Press-Register (Mobile, Ala.)

Juan Aguirre, 21, porno-DVD thief porno-DVD empty-case thief. The Smoking Gun

Major schadenfreude: This is the house in Ireland that was bought (allegedly by a woman named Gayle Killelea) at the height of the country's mother of all real estate bubbles, for €58m. It's now on the market for €15m. (Bonus: It needs fixing up . . bad!) The Guardian (London)

The Pervo Community

Ronnie Hobbs, 53, was allegedly caught watching child-porn cartoons . . while seated inside the playground area of a McD's in Natchez, Miss. The Smoking Gun

People who can't keep it inside their pants in public: the City Manager of Hudson, Mich., Steve Hartsel. ("It was a stupid thing to do.") Tecumseh (Mich.) Herald

The judge in Ottawa said he'd acquired Too Much Information about Richard Osborn's sexual proclivities and ordered the prosecution to stop presenting evidence. Osborn had made numerous videos for his own masturbatory delight, featuring unpornographic public photos of young girls, interspersed with sequences of his own naked self lying on top of, and humping, specially-altered dolls. Ottawa Citizen

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

The Faces of Child-Porn Hoarders? John Buddeke, 53? (Bonus: Illinois has a charge called "aggravated possession.") Or Jason Goodman, 33? (Bonus: Might be mistaken at a distance for a certain noted filmmaker.) Chicago Sun-Times /// KPIC-TV (Roseburg, Ore.) via KVAL-TV (Eugene, Ore.)

Oh! Dear!

He just lost his wife, daughter, and three of his grandchildren in a fire. Not to worry. "This is not bad after all. It's a blessing in disguise." He figures the publicity will bring more followers to his Church of Baptism with Fire & Holy Spirit in Brisbane, Australia. A blessing! New Zealand Herald

Prelims at Fight Night for Mixed Martial Arts in Lancashire, England: two 8-year-olds, no headgear, going 10 minutes (but please, wrestling only). The Guardian (London)

The Moroccan artist Mehdi-Georges Lahlou says he "perfectly understands" that pictures can be misunderstood and tries to assure that he does not intend to hurt anyone. Nonetheless, there he is, onstage, naked, as verses from the Koran are projected onto his body.

Add deep-sea squid to the (surprisingly long) list of species that, when horny, don't care which gender they hit. The male squid get a pass, though, since it's really dark down deep, and if they sense any other squid close by, maybe their only chance at procreating is just to let loose the sperm and see what happens. New York Times

Civilization In Decline

Something called India's "Planning Commission" "updated" its poverty-line figures, in light of inflation, and concluded that, in villages, the equivalent of $190 a year is enough to avoid it (52 cents a day). Urban "poverty" kicks in under $240 a year (66 cents). BBC News

The U.S. Office of Personnel Management's inspector general derided the agency for still spending $120m a year paying dead people their pensions. The IG has apparently warned the agency before, but the problem, it says, gets worse by the year. And speaking of IGs, the U.S. Justice Department issued a report on "wasteful or extravagant expending" in travel and conferences and included, as the primary showcase expense, the $16 muffin (at the Capital Hilton in Washington, D.C.). Washington Post /// Washington Post

Below The Fold

The guinea-pig rental business is healthy in Switzerland because it's illegal to keep just one. (They get lonely.) Spiegel Online

The Aristocrats: Merrilee Schwartz, 51, howled "like a dog" (but only after doing wheely burnouts and racing lawnmower heats). WPTV (West Palm Beach, Fla.)

The only items missing after a Colorado home break-in: some copper tubing and the resident's Bigfoot costume. Denver Post

Newsrangers: Pete Randall, Glenn Breland, and Geoff Egan, and the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors

Monday, September 19, 2011

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

Prime Cuts of Underreported News from Last Week, Hand-Picked and Lightly Seasoned by Chuck Shepherd
September 19, 2011
(datelines September 10-September 17) (links correct as of September 19)
© 2011 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.

Fat-Hoarding (Because You Never Know) and the Elegance of Bacterial Symmetry, Plus Other Things to Worry About

★ ★ ★ ★!

Questionable Business Models: (1) Orlando-area cosmetic surgeon Jeffrey Hartog opened a side venture: Liquid Gold, a depositary bank for liposuctioned fat, just in case patients ever need it back (like for plumping up facial wrinkles). (A surgeon at Massachusetts General said there's a good reason why nobody's done this before.) (2) Who knew that we haven't enough social networks? Biochemist Peer Bork and partners opened so that people with similar gut bacteria profiles can get together. (There is some evidence that like bacterial inventories might be copacetic. At least, you may get sympathy for your diarrheal attacks.) Orlando Sentinel via South Florida Sun-Sentinel /// Mother Nature Network

Germany's Federal Patent Court upset the oddsmakers and granted trademark protection to the liquor manufacturer EFAG for its schnapps with the brand name "Ficken," which translates to the English F word, too. "[T]he name is unquestionably in poor taste," explained the court, but "is not 'sexually discriminatory' and does not violate public morals" (citing the many colloquial uses of the word throughout German society). Spiegel Online

The return of Michael Wyatt? The most famous toe-sucker of the News of the Weird era, who operated out of the Conway, Ark., area [NOTW 131, 8-11-1990; NOTW 179, 7-12-1991; NOTW 259, 1-22-1993; NOTW 604, 9-3-1999], might have re-surfaced, though officials are still looking for the man who recently, unconsensually, slurped one woman's toes and talked nasty (foot-wise) to another. Reuters

The parents of "Tay" Cook, 15, obviously did not receive the memo about the importance of instilling self-esteem in children. When Tay was charged (as an adult) with first-degree murder in Decatur, Ill., last week, it was revealed that his given name is Shitavious Cook. Herald & Review (Decatur)


These two women were charged in a big art heist in Johnson City, Tenn., well, $1,200 worth . . a piece of metal wall art and a wood-framed picture of some pears . . right off the wall from "the lobby area" at the local Arby's. Johnson City Press

Megalomaniacs: The memorial plaque dedicated last week in Washington Township, N.J., honoring 9-11 victims had to be hastily retro-designed. Since no one from Washington Twp perished on 9-11, the mayor and five committeemen decided to put their own names on it. (Mayor: "If I offended anyone, I apologize." [If?].) WCBS-TV (New York City)

North Korean Cruise Ship!: It's about what you'd think it is except that the North Koreans are actually counting on attracting cash-laden upscale Chinese tourists. Relevant descriptions from the New York Times dispatch: "40-year-old vessel," "tramp steamer," "cut-rate cuisine," "foul, water-deprived bathrooms," "dim and musty cabins," "floor mattresses," and, as on-board entertainment, "a deck of cards" and "karaoke song glorifying Kim Il-sung." New York Times

Redneck Chronicles: At a hearing last week, a panel of judges had occasion to examine surveillance video from the year 2000 from the Kounty Line convenience store in Asheville, N.C., and were reminded why the video was nearly useless to police at the time of the crime. Despite the fact that the store had just been a murder scene, someone had (innocently) taped the next day's episode of The Guiding Light over it. Citizen-Times (Asheville)

An Edmonton, Alberta, radio station is sponsoring one of those contests to increase its listener base except that the prize is not concert tickets or even a new car. It's a Russian mail-order bride (and they'll fly you over to pick her up). Huffington Post


Last week, a jury in San Antonio, Tex., found Terry "T.J." Newman guilty of a 2009 home invasion, putting the finishing touch on that miserable February night for Newman. A resident of the home had shot Newman during the invasion; another resident had shot him again 15 minutes later when he returned for his car. And shortly after that, a police officer had shot Newman while apprehending him. Express-News

The excessively-clever inmate Anthony Watson was sentenced in Largo, Fla., to four consecutive life terms for a 1992 crime spree that included rape and robbery. Back then, he had been sentenced to 160 years but had neatly challenged that down, via jailhouse lawyering, to a guaranteed 2018 release date. He went one step too far. At his new trial on the 2018 date, he was re-convicted and got quadruple-life. St. Petersburg Times

The Pervo-American Community

Could They Be Any Ruder? If you can't even be safe from free-lance masturbateurs in your own home while your cable TV is being installed, where can you be safe? Maybe during church services--oops, sorry, I guess not. WTSP-TV (St. Petersburg, Fla.) /// The Smoking Gun

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

It takes quite a man to (allegedly) pull packages of raw meat from the freezer at Walmart, eat some, and put the rest back. Is Scott Shover that man? WHTM-TV (Harrisburg, Pa.)

But Hell's Angels Have a Right to Look Like That: Caius Veiovis, 31, one of three men charged with a revenge murder in Pittsfield, Mass. New York Daily News

And from this week's The Smoking Gun collection: something to do with your ears while you wait to answer charges of marijuana possession and furnishing alcohol to a minor. The Smoking Gun

Oh! Dear!

Apparently Mr. Zhang Nan assumed he could get away with disrobing for an "unorthodox" pedicure, submerging his body in uninspected water. It says here that the urologists who removed the six-inch-long "eel" from his bladder beg to differ. Metro (London) via Los Angeles Times

Cornholing Comes to New York: From its roots of being misunderstood altogether on the East Coast [NOTW 878 (12-5-2004)] to being the latest hipster/fad in NYC. New York Times

Betcha Yr Editor Can Gross You Out! (1) "The Dutchess" settles the whose-fingernails-are-longest debate. (2) In fact, East London's Nailphilia Exhibition explores the, um, length, women will go to to make their fingernails creepy lovely. (3) It might be just my skin crawling here [I admit to being grossed out by ordinary photos of ordinary whole morel mushrooms], but here's a color imaging screen taken of an Irishman's gut by authorities at Sao Paulo airport after they found him with just short of a kilo of cocaine, distributed into 72 thimble baggies. (4) Still with me? You need to see the outside of this 2- or 4-unit condominium in Ypsilanti Township, Mich., first (handsome, well-kept), but Yr Editor is too lazy to rearrange the photos so you'll have to see the inside first--a worse-than-average level of hoarding and filthiness. AOL News /// Daily Mail (London) /// Irish Independent (Dublin) ///

America In Decline

Not to worry, said the super-competent, super-wise U.S. agency known as the Department of Energy, but a GAO report last week added up all the weapons-grade uranium and plutonium America has sold overseas supposedly under strict, verifiable standards, and then added up all of it that we've strictly verified. A minus B equals 5,900 lbs. It's probably all secure from rogue terrorists. (That seems to be the DOE position, anyway, according to GAO.) OK, that's that. Move on.

According to this lawsuit filed in San Antonio, Tex., a local school board (Northside Independent SD) hired, and then retained, and retained, and retained yada yada yada, retained again, a cop whose record now reads 16 reprimands in four years (including seven for failure to obey a supervisor), including five without-pay suspensions, at least one recommendation for firing (rejected, without even a fallback of "remedial training"), and now, according to the plaintiffs, the near-cold-blooded murder of a scared 14-year-old boy (which would be failure-to-obey-supervisor number eight). Courthouse News Service

Below The Fold

A Rapture-surviving bunker for 2012, courtesy of the L.A. porn industry. LA Weekly

The super-relentless stalker: A Rotterdam woman's 65,000 phone calls. BBC News

A story worthy of the headline? Gordon Ramsay's Porn Dwarf Double Eaten by Badger (That was the headline, anyway, referring to the UK TV chef. That doesn't mean it happened) (Sydney)

Things momentarily looked bright for accused murderer Derrick Smith in Schenectady, N.Y., when he received a summons for jury duty and found out it was for the trial in People v. Derrick Smith. Times Union (Albany)

Editor's Notes

News of the Weird Editor Undergoes E-Mail Bankruptcy (Once Again), Pledges It Will Be the Last Time (Once Again): Yr Editor drops to one knee for those tagged "blue" in my Inbox as deserving of a short personal note from me. Please forgive me. Yr Editor drops to both knees for those tagged "red" as who actually asked me something, or actively awaited a comment or answer from me and for which there is no excuse for my rudeness. I am so sorry. I have mastered neither the science of efficiency nor the art of not caring about my lack of masterfulness. Please forgive me. Thankya. Thankyavermuch. Really.

Newsrangers: Emily Lehrer and Kathryn Wood and the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors

Monday, September 12, 2011

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

Prime Cuts of Underreported News from Last Week, Hand-Picked and Lightly Seasoned by Chuck Shepherd
September 12, 2011
(datelines September 3-September 10) (links correct as of September 12)
© 2011 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.

Hygiene Regulation, San Francisco-Style plus Many More Things to Worry About

★ ★ ★ ★!

Only in San Francisco (recurring theme): It's common sense in clothing-free communities that when ya sit down somewhere, you're highly likely to be leaking a few fecal coliform thingies (if not worse), so put a towel down (and make sure you sit on the same side of the towel the next time, instead of turning it over, which defeats the purpose). Only in the city of San Francisco, though, does that have to be a municipal ordinance because there are neighborhoods-- . . .. (And it's legal to walk around naked in public, as long as the man keeps it down.) (On another topic, the city announced it is exploring creating more public restrooms but without adding to the plumbing infrastructure: restrooms the size of parking spaces, in which the waste is composted on the spot. Only in San Francisco.) San Francisco Chronicle /// Bay Citizen

The day is drawing nearer when no cow will be harmed in the preparation of your filet mignon. It just comes on a sheet that was originally a cow's stem cells but was then subjected to intelligent design science! Current developmental drawback: a hamburger would now run you a half-million bucks. Mother Jones

Who isn't a sucker for a story with a corpse, a bathtub, and a meteorologist in the lede? If that doesn't bring 'em in, add "chain dog collar." The weatherman, Brett Cummins of KARK-TV in Little Rock, forecast scattered cloud cover over the evidence and a zero percent chance he'll be talking soon. ABC News

In many countries, a man can have a marriage annulled if his wife won't put out, but it says here that under Article 215 of the French civil code, the husband, Jean-Louis B., can be fined for not stepping up in bed--and here gets socked for £8,500 ($13,500). Daily Telegraph (London)


A coroner's inquest in Bradford, England, ruled that the official cause of death of the 38-year-old man in February was getting trapped in a "clothes horse"--one of those folding wooden racks that you dry clothes on. Turns out that if you fall on it and get stuck, and try to lift yourself out a certain way, that might actually tighten the thing's grip on your neck from another direction. Embarrassing. Yorkshire Post

Father of Our Country: We don't know his name, but his bio is so engaging and his turbo sperm so powerful that he has sired at least 150 babies (and counting). Now, some in-vitro fertilization customers are uneasy about the selections they might have made from the donors' catalog. What if the sperm bank doesn't screen for bad genetic things? What about potential "accidental incest"? New York Times

According to the latest Wikileaks cable dump, chief minister Mayawati of Uttar Pradesh, India, who is a champion of the lower castes, once in 2008 sent her empty jet to Mumbai to ferry back to her a pair of special shoes she just had to have. (Because she could.) BBC News


Memo to Janell Athalone-Afrika: For best results when using the "evil twin" defense (to defrauding your employer), have a twin sister to begin with. WRTV (Indianapolis)

Failure to acknowledge the properties of glass: A 49-year-old burglar is no longer with us after B&E'ing an apartment by punching through a window (and severing an artery). Columbus Dispatch

DIY Construction of a Potato Gun: John Berthiaume, 53, "got a chunk of his arm torn up. His butt cheek, his thigh and lower calf on his right side," said his brother. "A chunk of meat was hanging off of his arm; you could see to the bone." Verdict: too much black powder. WLKY-TV (Louisville, Ky.)

If you try to pull off a convenience store robbery dressed as Gumby, you won't get much respect from the clerk, who told Gumby to just go away. (And he did.) (Bonus: The clerk so much did not respect the guy that he didn't even think to report the "robbery" to his supervisor, who found out about it only when reviewing surveillance video.) Associated Press via Seattle Times

How Drunk Was He? He was hauling his boat on a trailer and crashed, and the boat and trailer landed upside down but still hitched to the truck. He tried to drive on anyway. Wilmington (Del.) News Journal

Oh! Dear!

"Miss Universe" will be crowned in Sao Paulo tonight, but more important, last week the pageant actually had to order Miss Colombia to wear underpants when she's out in public. (Sydney)

The legitimacy of the Georgian breakaway regime of Abkhazia has been officially established--recognized by the United Nations NATO the International Domino Federation, which holds next month's championships in the Abkhazia capital. (Buried lede: There is a World Domino Championship.) New York Times

Long-jumper Nastassia Mironchyk-Ivanova won the gold medal at the world track and field championships in Daegu, South Korea, two weeks ago. However, a video review showed that her pony tail had actually grazed the ground behind her. Revised result: 4th place. South African Press Association via Deutsche Presse-Agentur

Great-grandmother Joan Lloyd, 65, invested in breast augmentation surgery (an A to an F, it says here). Oh, dear. Daily Mail (London)

The Pervo Community

In Christchurch, New Zealand, Philip Broughton, 50, was shipped off to prison for two-plus years for the latest episode of his compulsion to plant his face into women's butts on the street (or, here, in a library). Apparently, he just clamps on until he gets pulled off. The Press (Christchurch)

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

Let the Punishment Mugshot Fit the Crime: If you're charged with possession of child porn, you don't really want to look like Harold Leasure. Or Claudio Vidal. Ocala Star-Banner /// Broward Palm Beach New Times

A case of the crabs lobsters, shrimp, and pork loin: Could Nathan Hardy be guilty? WLOX-TV (Biloxi, Miss.)

Do Not Look into Her Eyes: Josephine Smith, 22, would apparently just as soon eat your face as not. The Smoking Gun

Michael Miller, 39, charged with something or other in Colorado, is one of those people who desperately needed to get his "Look" just right. Desperately. The Smoking Gun [and be sure to click the other link on the story]

Below The Fold

"Boy, was I surprised when the bear drove off in my Prius!" (Seriously.) Contra Costa Times

Witness faints in courtroom; relatives rush to revive her with a smelly sneaker. (Usually works, they said.) St. Petersburg Times

Fun with Naming: "Scientists Develop Blood Swimming 'Microspiders'"

Undignified Deaths: Fell out of the truck, and the refrigerator landed on top of him. Man's and his girlfriend's Cessnas collide mid-air. Injected heated beef fat into her face (but not fatal all the other times!). Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader /// Associated Press via Salisbury (N.C.) Post /// WLS-AM (Chicago)

Weird 2.0

Here's another clever tax loophole for people better off than you. (For a list of clever tax loopholes for people just like you, or worse off, dial 1-800-GETLOST.) [ed. Don't dial it; that was a joke.] You're a landlord in Detroit (better still--you have multiple properties). Your property's not worth much, but you still owe a bucketload in taxes. Just let your home go into foreclosure and buy it for a few hundred bucks at a barely-public auction (unencumbered by taxes!). (Bonus: The city of Detroit couldn't possibly need the money.) Detroit News

Updates & Recurring Themes

A firefighter in North Shore, Wis., is the latest very healthy "disabled" worker weathering the recession better than you are ($50k tax-free, health insurance paid, no work required, leaving plenty of time to train for his 7 marathons, triathlon, and Ironman). [In fairness, it might be the bureaucracy's fault. It looks like they'd rather have cleared a "light duty" guy off the books entirely so they could hire a regular full-timer, and the best way to do that was to move this guy to the "disabled" roll.] WITI-TV (Milwaukee)

They're still testing whether "vampire bat saliva" can be used as a blood thinner by humans. Daily Telegraph (London) [But it says in NOTW 232 (that would be 1,000 weeks ago, 7-17-1992) that they were testing it back then. Somebody's been diverting grant money!]

Editor's Notes

Members of the faith community are sometimes quick to point out how this or that so-called "natural" disaster is really a message from The Lord that we Americans need to get with the program. But if there ever were a case in my lifetime for such an obvious message of damnation, it would be for the one state in the union that for months now has been smited with an epic drought, and then, when the message apparently didn't take, smited with epic wildfires! What more does it take to get these people's attention? Last week, news reports implied that that state's governor was in cahoots with The Lord all along, exascerbating the "natural" disasters by purposely urging cutbacks in the funding necessary to deal with the emergencies. But what could the message be that He intends to send? Reuters (5-19-2011) [resurrected last week by]

Time-Wasters (go ahead; be ashamed of yourselves): Sex Toys of the World (actually, amateur hour for sex toys). And the Sports World's Worst Businessman (Mr. Richard Fliehr aka the Nature Boy . . Wooooo!). ///

Newsrangers: Phil Phillips, Craig Cryer, Russell Bell, Thomas Tripp, Michael Duhe, Bruce Leiserowitz, David Bryant, Sam Scrutchins, Robert McClafferty, Nicole Carlini, and Jeff Jacobovitz, and the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

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

Prime Cuts of Underreported News from Last Week, Hand-Picked and Lightly Seasoned by Chuck Shepherd
September 5, 2011
(datelines August 27-September 3) (links correct as of September 5)
© 2011 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.

Inadvertent Performance Art--The Pro Se Defendant at Trial . . Plus Many More Things to Worry About

★ ★ ★ ★!

Nothing's more fun for a lawyer than the grandiloquent perp trying to defend himself in court. Here, Mr. Fool For Client, charged with kidnaping, beating, and raping a 69-year-old woman, told the jury it was self-defense because he feared for his life, seeing as how the lady appeared to be a gang member. (Bonus: His explanation was so bad, the judge told the jury to try to forget it when they get back in the jury room.) Daily Breeze (Torrance, Calif.)

Since Heather Mattingsly gave birth at home with the help of an unlicensed midwife, the Quebec government bureaucracy could not be certain that her brand-new baby was not trafficked in from somewhere else. Until last week, they thought the only way they could be sure whether Heather was on the level was to examine her vagina. [You're right, it won't.] Montreal Gazette

The sum-total of all public knowledge of alleged CIA "renditions" seemingly about doubled last week, stemming from a petty business dispute in upstate New York. A small aviation company, flying a Gulfstream IV, had been contracted by a brokerage service to ferry various "government personnel and their invitees" to and from black holes with bogus paperwork and no questions asked. The aviation company sued the brokerage service for shorting payment, and for some reason, the CIA chose the strategy of "ignore," hoping no one would ever learn about the lawsuit. The strategy failed. Court records supplied dates and destinations that confirmed previously suspected missions and included home and cell phone numbers of CIA contacts. Ouch. Washington Post

The sum-total of public knowledge of Italy's Prime Minister Berlusconi was not similarly advanced by secret police recordings in July--because expectations were so low. Nonetheless, he is now on the record as referring to his beloved Italy as a "shitty" country that "sickened" him and that his enemies haven't a thing on him except that "I screw" [which is the curious English translation supplied by London's venerable Guardian, even though "screw" looks like a word of choice]. The Guardian


Street-racing, bumping cars at 100 mph, but one driver is 78, the other 82. Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader

A "masseuse," on the witness stand in a sex trafficking case, threw the trial into turmoil when she happened to notice that one of the defense lawyers used to be a client. Chicago Tribune

Good idea: government subsidizing baby-sitting for families in poverty. Bad idea: government failing to vet baby-sitters (so that the Chicago Tribune found many cases of convicted rapists, molesters, and other violent felons with access to kids). Chicago Tribune

Mom, you failed to buy me enough toys, or birthday gifts, or packages of cookies in college (and committed a host of other trivialities). Hence, this Son and Daughter vs. Mother lawsuit, whose filings have reached a height of about a foot. Last week, finally, the judge tossed it. Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, Ill.)


A private UK security firm fired two guards. They had affixed an ankle monitor to a perp they were watching--but didn't notice that they had put it on his prosthetic leg (which he removed and thus was able to frolic at will). Daily Telegraph

You're driving down the street, hauling five kids, and notice your car engine is on fire. What to do? Pull into the first gas station you see Actually, you pull into almost anywhere that doesn't dispense gasoline. Times Free Press (Chattanooga)

Juror: Surely when the judge said not to discuss the case, he couldn't mean not to post my thoughts on Facebook. Surely he couldn't mean that I can't "friend" that cute chick in the courtroom. (Bonus: Cute chick is the defendant. Contempt!) KTXA-TV (Dallas)

Oh! Dear!

So Near, Yet So Far (The Brutality of Priapism): His erection hurt so bad that David Miller, 30, needed to rob his father, they say, for painkiller money. New York Post

Bad: Beauty pageants for kids. Worse: This one (from a series on The Learning Channel). Mom Lindsay Jackson dressed her little Maddy, 4, as Dolly Parton--anatomically correct Dolly Parton. New York Post

With a Worse Sex Life Than You

Edwin Tobergta has always had a "fascination with plastic," his grandmother said, after the 32-year-old was arrested in an alley in Hamilton, Ohio, attempting to have sex with an inflatable swimming pool raft. Cincinnati Enquirer

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

David Senk, charged with animal cruelty for . . taking two chomps on a pet python. KCRA-TV (Sacramento)

From The Smoking Gun's weekly collection, this lady might be guilty of causing injury to a family member. The Smoking Gun

Below The Fold

Somewhere, A Crotch Is Bare: 1,700 panties found on the side of the road in Lancaster, Ohio. Associated Press via

Domestication of Bruno: a prison's knitting circle. TV3 (Auckland)

Secondary Explosion: A paintballer chick took a direct hit in the boobal area, triggering her implant. (Seriously.) Los Angeles Times

Sounds Familiar: He's a college professor and a meth trafficker. Los Angeles Times

Embarrassing: An airport worker in Phoenix got trapped by a baggage conveyor belt and had to be rescued. Arizona Republic

Updates & Recurring Themes

Update: Bodies are lost at sea, and who knows what happens to them as they disintegrate, except that we know where the (shoe-clad) feet wind up. Vancouver! The 11th one showed up last week. CNN

Update: Change of plans, said Donna Simpson, who no longer wants to be the fattest cow in the Guinness Book and make PPV money from customers watching her eat. Now, time for a diet. Motivator: She and her boyfriend just broke up (so, yes,she's available, guys, all 540 pounds!) (Bonus: Ya have to wonder about ex-sweetheart Phillipe Guoamba and what caused trouble in paradise. Just a feeling . . that his story is as interesting as hers.) [Warning: Do not click the "Anatomical Wonders" link that AOL has so helpfully provided at the bottom of the story. Do not. Not Safe For Stomachs--Not Nearly Safe.] Huffington Post

Update: The clock ran out on Brooklyn's Prospect Park "Vagina Tree"--done in by Hurricane Irene, passing through. The Brooklyn Paper

Miscellaneous Sh*t

Unclear on the Concept: An interview with Japan's oldest living kamikaze pilot. [That was the question in an old "Carnac, The Magnificent" routine. The answer, divined in advance by Carnac: "Chicken sukiyaki"]

Breaking Redneck News from The Daily News of Northwest Florida): In Okaloosa County, a 19-year-old woman was arrested for domestic battery after her husband complained of being hit on his package when she threw a flip-flop at him.

Weird 2.0

The top 10 Congressional districts that have been gerrymandered into shapes that resemble animals, e.g., the salamander. The New Republic

In recent years, the number of UK households in which no one has ever held down a job had increased to 297,000, but supposedly the number's coming down a bit. Daily Mail

Small Issue, Large Debate: If the government can persuade more dropout-prone kids to stay in school, future social costs (crime, welfare, overpopulation) will be lower, but, then, if government does it the old-fashioned way (i.e., pays them cash to show up) . . ..

The California legislature is preparing a game-change for the babysitting industry, well, babysitting market. Minimum wage (except for family members) for anyone 18 and older, plus a relief worker so that the sitter doesn't toil more than two hours at a stretch. Seriously. The Union (Grass Valley, Calif.)

If a principal goal of the $800bn 2009 federal "stimulus" was to spend lots of money, and spend it fairly across the land, was there a precedent? Might have been the various Homeland Security contracts our terrified government let after 9-11. "Safety" was priceless, and bright ideas abounded. The Los Angeles Times revisits the issue problem and likes for its top prize the Zodiac boat to keep safe that lake in Keith County, Neb. (Al Qaeda kills about as many Americans a year in the U.S. as drown in bathtubs.) Los Angeles Times

Editor's Notes

I got laid off by Washington City Paper last Thursday. News of the Weird was born there on February 12, 1988, and a year and a half later, I had a mainstream newspaper syndicate contract. A few surviving weeklies run the column, in somewhat smaller towns (Austin, Milwaukee, Tampa), but the weeklies now beg for local reporting and economize down even from the few farthings they cough up to Universal Press Syndicate every month. Symbolically, this happened one week after the laying off, by, of the editor who first thrust NOTW upon the world at WCP, Jack Shafer. And last Monday, the venerable Jim Romenesko closed down his, the granddaddy of daily weird-news blogs. Oh, Lordy. Does this mean I need to wither down, too? Nah! I could, but you need me too much.

Time-Wasters: (1) Latest x-ray making the rounds (pruning shears through an eye socket). (2) Intelligent Design (a 44-lb. frog) (a calf with two heads). (3) The Most Toxic Spots in the world (and the filthy Ganges River can't even make the list!). (4) A photo spread on how demoralizing it must be on the way up Mount Everest, having to pass by some of the 200 failed-climber' corpses lying around. (5) A tribute to the Museum of Bad Art in Boston (which needs help, since they obviously aren't even close to having it all). Associated Press via Arizona Republic (x-ray) /// Sin Chew Daily (Selangor, Malaysia) (frog) /// KTUL-TV (Tulsa, Okla.) (calf) /// (toxic) /// (corpses) /// The Independent (London) (bad art)

Newsrangers: Bruce Leiserowitz, Albert Clawson, Larry Seltzer, Brian Wilson, Steve Dunn, Michael Lake, and Kathryn Wood, and the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors