News of the Weird
by Chuck Shepherd
• Saddam Hussein Back in the News: (1) Mohamed Bishr, an Egyptian man bearing a remarkable resemblance to the late Iraqi dictator, claimed in October that he had been briefly kidnapped after spurning an offer to portray Saddam in a porn video. Bishr’s adult sons told the al-Ahram newspaper in Alexandria that their father had been offered the equivalent of $330,000. (In 2002, according to a 2010 Washington Post report, the CIA briefly contemplated using a Saddam impersonator in a porn video as a tool to publicly embarrass Saddam into relinquishing power prior to the U.S. invasion.) (2) In October, former British soldier Nigel Ely offered at auction in Derby, England, a two-foot-square piece of metal that he said came from the iconic Baghdad statue of Saddam toppled by U.S. Marines in April 2003. Ely said he had grabbed the piece indiscriminately, but remembers that it was a portion of Saddam’s buttocks.
Can’t Possibly Be True
• Apparently, officials at the Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport felt the need for professional guidance on rebranding their facility to (as one put it) “carry it into the modern era,” and so hired the creative talents of Big Communications of Birmingham, Ala., to help. Big’s suggested name for the airport, announced to great fanfare in September: “Chattanooga Airport.”
• Justice! ... Now! (1) Elsie Pawlow, a senior citizen of Edmonton, Alberta, filed a $100,000 lawsuit in September against Kraft Canada Inc., parent company of the makers of Stride Gum, which brags that it is “ridiculously long-lasting.” Pawlow complained that she had to scrub down her dentures after using Stride, to “dig out” specks of gum—a condition that caused her to experience “depression for approximately 10 minutes.” (2) Colleen O’Neal filed a lawsuit recently against United/Continental airlines over the “post traumatic stress disorder” she said she has suffered since a 20-minute flight in October 2009—in which, during turbulent weather, the plane “banked” from side to side and lost altitude.
• In August, a state court in Frankfurt, Germany, awarded 3,000 euros (about $4,200) to Magnus Gaefgen, 36, on his claim that during a 2002 police interrogation, officers “threat(ened)...violence” against him if he did not disclose what he knew about a missing 11-year-old boy who was later found dead. In 2003, Gaefgen was convicted of the boy’s murder and is serving a life sentence, but the court nevertheless thought he should be compensated for his “pain and suffering.”
• Names in the News: The man stabbed to death in Calgary, Alberta, in August: the 29-year-old Mr. Brent Stabbed Last. Among the family members of Jared Loughner (the man charged with shooting U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in January) who were interviewed by authorities regarding mental illnesses in the Loughner family: Loughner’s distant cousin Judy Wackt. Passed away in May in Fredericksburg, Va.: retired Army Sgt. Harry Palm. Charged with murder in Decatur, Ill., in September: a (predictably underrespected) 15-year-old boy named Shitavious Cook.
• Hey, It Could’ve Happened: (1) The British recreation firm UK Paintball announced in August that a female customer had been injured after a paintball shot hit her in the chest, causing her silicone breast implant to “explode.” The company recommended that paintball facilities supply better chest protection for women with implants. (2) The Moscow, Russia, newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets reported in October that a local woman’s life had been saved by her “state-of-the-art” silicone breast implant. Her husband had stabbed her repeatedly in the chest during a domestic argument, but the implant’s gel supposedly deflected the blade.
• (1) In Charlotte, N.C., in October, a female motorist was arrested for ramming another woman’s car after that woman said “Good morning” to the motorist’s boyfriend as the women dropped kids off at school. (2) In Arbutus, Md., in October, a woman was arrested for throwing bleach and disinfectant at another woman in a Walmart (an incident in which at least 19 bystanders sought medical assistance). Police learned that the arrestee’s child’s father had become the boyfriend of the bleach-targeted woman. (3) In a hospital in Upland, Pa., in October, two pregnant women (ages 21 and 22) were arrested after injuring a woman, 36, and a girl, 15, in a brawl inside a patient’s room.
Unclear on the Concept
• The North Koreans called it a “cruise ship” and tried to establish a business model to attract wealthy tourists from China, but to the New York Times reporter on board in September, the 40-year-old boat was more like a “tramp steamer” on which “vacationers” paid the equivalent of $470 to “enjoy” five days and nights at sea. More than 200 people boarded the “dim” and “musty” vessel, “sometimes eight to a room with floor mattresses” and iffy bathrooms. The onboard “entertainment” consisted not of shuffleboard but of “decks of cards” and karaoke. Dinner “resembled a mess hall at an American Army base,” but with leftovers thrown overboard (even though some of it was blown back on deck). The trip was capped, wrote the Times, by the boat’s crashing into the pier as it docked, knocking a corner of the structure “into a pile of rubble.”
• The thief who made off with the valuable lamp from St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Winson Green, England, in October might well return to the building soon, for confession. Clearly visible on the surveillance video inside was the man, as he was just about to snatch up the lamp, making the sign of the cross.
• Sally Stricker was angry that the Nebraska troopers patrolling the state fair grounds in September had told her that she had an “illegal” message on her T-shirt and that if she wished to remain at the fair, she would have to either change shirts or wear hers inside out. The “message” was a marijuana leaf with the slogan “Don’t panic, It’s organic.” Stricker was at the fair to attend the night’s live concert—starring (marijuana-friendly) Willie Nelson.
• Boise State University’s highly rated football team suspended three players for several games at the beginning of the season for violating eligibility rules by receiving impermissible financial benefits. According to an October news release by the school, the most prominent player sanctioned was Geraldo Boldewijn, the team’s fastest wide receiver, who had improperly received the use of a car. (However, it was a 1990 Toyota Camry with 177,000 miles on it.)
Mixed Evidence on Smoking
• (1) It’s Bad for You: A 44-year-old woman was hospitalized with a head injury and a broken clavicle in September after she inadvertently walked into a still-moving train at the Needham Center station near Boston. Her attention had been diverted because she was trying to light her cigarette as she walked. (2) Sometimes, It’s OK: A 51-year-old woman told police she fought off an attempted street robbery in Pennsville Township, N.J., in October by burning the age-20-something assailant with her lit cigarette. She said the man yelled “Ouch” and ran away.
A News of the Weird Classic (April 1993)
• In a 1992 issue of the journal Sexual and Marital Therapy, two therapists at the Institute of Psychiatry in London described “orgasmic reconditioning” they performed on their patient, “George,” age 20. They reported “partial” success in getting George to switch his masturbatory stimuli from the family car (an Austin Metro) to photographs of naked women. George had reported arousal previously only when sitting in the car or when squatting behind it while the engine was running. (Before that, George was sexually preoccupied with urination by women, children and dogs.)blog comments powered by Disqus
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