News of the Weird
by Chuck Shepherd
• A Saratoga Springs, New York, resort has begun accepting totally defeated husbands and wives for a relaxed weekend that includes divorce, bringing to America a concept already successful in six European cities. The Gideon Putnam Resort & Spa charges $5,000 for a couple to check in on a Friday, married, but leave Sunday officially single (complete with all legal niceties and various resort amenities, including, of course, separate rooms). Even though the couple must be fairly level-headed to accept this approach, the facility manager expressed concern that since the resort also books weddings, the “uncouplers” might inadvertently witness difficult scenes. (Gideon Putnam has hosted four divorces so far, but, said the European founder of the package service, “hundreds” of couples have used the services in Europe.)
• Another Animal With a Worse Sex Life Than Yours: No organism has it tougher than the male South-East Asian coin spider, according to research reported by New Scientist in January. It is somehow driven to mate with a female up to four times larger who is almost as driven to eat the male as to mate. After insemination, the male impulsively fights off other males’ attempts to disrupt the conception, and that means becoming a more nimble fighter, achieved, according to Matjaz Kuntner of the Slovenian Academy of the Arts and Sciences, by biting off its own genitals, since that organ comprises about one-tenth the spider’s body weight.
• Because We Can: Scientists at the University of California, Irvine (with Australian partners) announced in January that they had figured out how to unboil a hen’s egg. (After boiling, the egg’s proteins become “tangled,” but the scientists’ device can untangle them, allowing the egg white to return to its previous state.) Actually, the researchers’ paper promises dramatically reduced costs in several applications, from cancer treatments to food production, where similar, clean untanglings might take “thousands” of times longer.
• (1) The Knoxville (Tennessee) Police Department reminded motorists (via its Facebook page) that all vehicles need working headlights for night driving. Included was a recent department photo of the car of a Sweetwater, Tennessee, motorist who was ticketed twice the same evening with no headlights but only flashlights tied to his bumper with bungee cords. (2) A forlorn-appearing Anneliese Young, 82, was arrested at a CVS pharmacy in Augusta, Georgia, in February after store security allegedly caught her shoplifting a container of “Sexiest Fantasies” body spray that, according to the packaging, “provides a burst of sensuality ... as addictive and seductive as the woman who wears it,” “sure to drive any man wild.”
• The Jeju Island Korean restaurant in Zhengzhou, China, staged a promotion last month to pick up lunch tabs for the 50 “most handsome” people to dine there every day. Judging was by a panel of cosmetic surgeons (who were partnering with the restaurant) and, as contestant-diners posed for photographs, they were evaluated on “quality of” eyes, noses, mouths and especially foreheads (better if “protruding”).
• The owner of the Kingsland Vegetarian Restaurant in a suburb of Canberra, Australia, apologized in February for the cockroach infestation that contributed to a $16,000 fine, explaining that, for moral reasons, he could not bring himself to exterminate living things—even cockroaches. (Less well-defended were Kingsland’s toilet, grease and food-storage shortcomings.)
• Among the participants at this year’s Davos, Switzerland, gathering of billionaires and important people was property developer Jeff Greene, 60, who owns mansions in New York, Malibu and Palm Springs, and whose Beverly Hills estate is on the market for around $195 million. Greene famously won big betting against overvalued sub-prime mortgages before the 2008 Great Recession, but, shortly after landing at Davos, he gave Bloomberg Business his take on the symptoms of current economic turmoil (that he had capitalized on for part of his wealth by exploiting people’s desire for expensive houses they ultimately could not afford). “America’s lifestyle expectations are far too high,” Greene explained, “and need to be adjusted so we have less things and a smaller, better existence.”
People With Issues
• Sorry, Ladies, He’s Taken: In yet another chilling episode of body modification, the otherwise handsome Henry Damon, 37, married father of two, appeared in January at the Caracas (Venezuela) International Tattoo Expo as Red Skull (archenemy of Captain America), who has somehow fascinated Damon for years. The exhibiting of his idolatry began with subdermal forehead implants (ultimately replacing his eyebrows with prominent ridges), followed by going all-in for Red Skull by allowing a medical school dropout to lop off what looks like half of his nose. (How his deep red color was achieved was not mentioned in news reports.) For the record, the “surgeon” called Damon “a physically and intellectually healthy person.”
New World Order
• Swedish public broadcaster SVT, capitalizing on the country’s supposedly liberal sexuality to promote an upcoming children’s series on the human body, produced a one-minute cartoon featuring genitals singing and dancing. However, the SVT program director admitted in January that there was criticism—not for salaciousness, but because the penis was portrayed with a moustache and the vagina with long eyelashes, which some critics said unfortunately “reinforced gender stereotypes.”
Least Competent Criminals
• Mastering the Technology: (1) Donald Harrison, 22, wanted for assault in Ambridge, Pennsylvania, made police aware of his whereabouts when he posted a “selfie” on Facebook from a Greyhound bus with the notation, “It’s Time to Leave Pa.” He was picked up at a stop in nearby Youngstown, Ohio. (2) Police in Houston arrested Dorian Walker-Gaines, 20, and Dillian Thompson, 22, after they posted selfies on Facebook of themselves enjoying a handful of $100 bills—photos they took on an iPad they had stolen on Jan. 8 and whose photos automatically uploaded to the victim’s iCloud account. (Incidentally, Walker-Gaines has, tattooed across his chest, “BRILLIANT.”)
• Additional details reported by the Toronto Sun in January on an August 2014 News of the Weird item reveal that the motorist who hit three bicycling teenagers in Innisfil, Ontario, in 2012 (killing one, putting another in a wheelchair) is suing the victims for $1.35 million for “emotional trauma” the incident caused her (though she was not otherwise injured) because they “were incompetent bicyclists” and “did not apply their brakes properly.” The boys wore reflective jackets and had no alcohol in their systems, but the driver, Sharlene Simon, admitted to at least one drink and to speeding. (On the other hand, her husband, who was following in another car, is a police officer, and Simon was neither charged nor breath-tested.)
• (1) A mummified monk in Mongolia became the latest religious figure whose followers insist he is not dead but living in a meditative trance. Dr. Barry Kerzin, among whose patients is the Dalai Lama, called the state “tukdam.” Scientists attributed the monk’s preserved condition to Mongolia’s cold weather. (2) After consulting its substantial research base, The Smoking Gun website reported that Steven Anderson’s arrest in Fargo, North Dakota, in January was only the third time that someone operating a Zamboni had been charged with DUI. Anderson, 27, was arrested while (erratically) resurfacing the ice between periods of a girls’ high school hockey game.
A News of the Weird Classic (June 2011)
• Oklahoma inmate Eric Torpy was reported (in May 2011) as having second thoughts while only six years into his 33-year sentence for armed robbery. According to an Associated Press dispatch, he might especially regret the years 2035 to 2038. His original sentence was 30 years, but he challenged the judge that if he was “going down,” it would be in “Larry Bird’s jersey”—the basketball player’s number “33.” Judge Ray Elliott then accommodated Torpy—33 years, not 30. Said Torpy to the reporter, “I’m pretty sure (Bird) thinks I’m an idiot.”
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