-- Ms. Dale Gray, 41, claimed in her sexual harassment lawsuit against the University of Alabama that a female professor's having lured her into an affair caused her severe emotional problems. At her trial in Tuscaloosa in May, Gray (who had her breasts removed, takes testosterone, and now sports a beard "to hide the little girl," she said) disclosed that she was married three times to men and once to a woman with whom she planned a "fantasy" child (a faked pregnancy that she said was common among lesbians) that she eventually "killed off," and had a five-year sexual relationship with her mother.
-- In March, armed with evidence that a drug dealer had been killed with a single gunshot during a robbery by two men, Torrance, Calif., district attorney Todd D. Rubenstein obtained separate jury convictions for both men for firing the fatal shot. Both robbers' guns had fired, but one missed, and a conclusion as to which one could not be drawn from ballistics tests. Rubenstein asserted confidently to one jury that Stephen Edmond Davis, 19, shot the man, and just as confidently to the other jury that it wasn't Davis, but rather John Patrick Winkleman, 19.
-- Correen Zahnzinger, 24, filed a lawsuit in Santa Ana, Calif., in May against her boyfriend of three years (and husband of one year), Ms. Valerie Inga, 29, who pretended the whole time to be a man. ("They did have a sexual relationship," said Zahnzinger's attorney, "but I'm not allowed to say how it was perpetrated.") And two weeks earlier in Arlington, Va., Margaret Hunter, 24, was awarded $264,000 in her lawsuit for fraud against her ex-husband, Ms. Holly Anne Groves, 26, who had posed as a man in their four-month marriage in 1996.
THE DEMOCRATIC PROCESS
-- According to the 1997 platform of the Natural Law Party (based on teachings of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi) in Canada, released in May, people should stop using the south and west entrances to their homes because they are inharmonious and should instead use north and east entrances. Furthermore, Canadians entering the United States should do so from Niagara Falls, whose entrance (from the east) is the only nonsouthward entrance in the country. The party proposes to eliminate the federal deficit by "eliminating problems" and to create an "invincible" national defense through yogic flying (which resembles hopping like a frog). The party got 84,000 votes in 1993.
-- In October, Jay Urdahl, an incumbent running for county supervisor in Mason City, Iowa, was charged with criminal trespass while out campaigning. According to homeowner Debbie Opheim, Urdahl just walked right into her house to meet her without the benefit of an invitation or a knock on the door. Said Opheim, who heard a "hello," "I ran down the stairs, and he was standing in my living room." After Opheim ordered him out, she said, "He looked at me like I was insane."
-- In March, arguing for the legalization of holiday fireworks in Arizona, state Rep. Richard Kyle denounced opponents who said sparklers were dangerous: "I put them in my hair. I have stuck them in my clothes. They do not burn." (He lost.)
-- In April, North Providence, R.I., council member Charles A. Lombardi was charged with misdemeanor vandalism -- according to police, the drive-by egging of a car owned by a relative of his political opponent, Mayor Ralph Mollis. Said Lombardi, "This is politics in North Providence."
-- In a March New York Times story on vote-buying in Dodge County, Ga., a spokesperson for the Georgia secretary of state tried to describe the depth of the problem: "We literally had people who said they had no idea that selling your vote was illegal. One guy said, 'It's my vote; I can do what I want with it.'"
UNCLEAR ON THE CONCEPT
-- In January, the U.S. Postal Service in Miami issued bulletins announcing a $25,000 reward for the return of something stolen from a mail carrier, but refused to say what it was, referring to it only as a "device." Said a postal inspector to a reporter, "I can't tell you what it is. I can't tell you what it's used for."
-- Former Prestonburg, Ky., school board member Wood R. Keesee, 59, filed a lawsuit in May against a female court clerk to whom he had allegedly loaned money in 1996. Under the terms of the $1,800 loan, according to Keesee, she was to have 18 sexual encounters with him, but when she stopped after three, he filed the lawsuit.
-- One week apart in March, in Ardmore, Okla., and San Francisco, Calif., schools disciplined female students who reported that they were raped on campus. A 15-year-old girl had been briefly suspended from Ardmore High for having sex at school despite the fact that her clothes were soaked in blood, as was the locker room area where she said the rape occurred. An 18-year-old woman was threatened with eviction from San Francisco State University housing because she had kept a hunting knife in her room, illegally, which she used to chase off the alleged rapist.
-- Among the recipients of the American Lung Association's "Thumb's Up" motion-picture awards, presented at the time of the Oscars in March to honor those films and characters who present a no-smoking image, was Woody Harrelson for his role in discouraging his movie wife from smoking in "The People Vs. Larry Flynt." However, in the movie, both Flynts are heavily addicted to illegal drugs and seem to be indifferent to sharing needles for injecting them.
-- A leading TV news program in Bogota, Colombia, reported in January that Jimmy Pacheco had been kidnapped for a month in the city of Cucuta in a scheme to pry undisclosed concessions from either friends or co-workers, but that to keep things low-key, Pacheco was permitted to return home every night so as not to alarm his family. The kidnappers would watch Pacheco's house at night and snatch him again in the morning as he left for work.
LEAST JUSTIFIABLE HOMICIDES
In February, Avi Kostner, 52, pleaded guilty in Newark, N.J., to the murders of his kids, aged 10 and 12, which he said he committed because he feared his ex-wife would not raise them as Jews. (In arguing successfully against the death penalty, Kostner's lawyer continually referred to Kostner in front of the jury as merely "less than perfect.") And in May, Harry Charles Moore was executed in Oregon for the 1992 murders of his in-laws because he was afraid they would persuade his ex-wife and infant daughter to move to Las Vegas and possibly get involved in prostitution and drugs.
Smoking: In April, authorities on North Carolina's Figure Eight island said they suspected the cause of the fire that destroyed the vacation home of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. president Andrew J. Schindler was a lighted cigarette butt. And after a New Year's Day domestic argument in Campinas, 60 miles north of Sao Paulo, Brazil, Silas Leite da Silva was Bobbittized by his wife because, among several reasons, according to police, he would not stop smoking at home.
(Send your Weird News to Chuck Shepherd, P.O. Box 8306, St. Petersburg, Fla. 33738, or Weird@compuserve.com. Chuck Shepherd's latest paperback, "The Concrete Enema and Other News of the Weird Classics," is now available at bookstores everywhere. To order it direct, call 1-800-642-6480 and mention this newspaper. The price is $6.95 plus $2 shipping.)
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