News of the Weird

Week of August 3, 1997

-- Tysonism: In July, British Labor Party politician Ken Brookman, 54, was fined $1,500 for picking a fight with a man on a train near Cardiff, Wales, and biting off part of his ear. And a week later in St. Mary's, W.Va., county judge Joseph Troisi, who had just been insulted by defendant Bill Witten, came down from the bench and allegedly jumped on Witten and bit him on the nose. (A special prosecutor has been appointed to investigate Troisi, who said he is reflecting on the incident for "character growth and spiritual assessment.")

-- Reuters News Service reported in April that, increasingly, Chinese families along the border with North Korea are refusing to bury their recently dead relatives until the bodies seriously decompose. The families fear that famine-plagued North Koreans who cross the border foraging for food will dig up fresh bodies and eat them.

-- Bennie Casson filed a $100,000 lawsuit in Belleville, Ill., in July against PT's Show Club in nearby Sauget for its negligence in allowing a stripper to "slam" her breasts into his "neck and head region" without consent as he watched her perform. Dancer Susan Sykes (a.k.a. "Busty Heart") claims show business's biggest chest (88 inches), which Casson said was responsible for his "bruised, contused, lacerated" neck.

LATEST RELIGIOUS MESSAGES

-- Virgin Mary World Tour (apparitions): December 1996 (Clearwater, Fla., plate glass window of finance company; Lewis, Kan., wall of family home); April 1997 (Sunnyside, Wash., roadside sign); June 1997 (Gradina, Croatia, cluster of trees; Mexico City, floor of Hidalgo subway station).

-- In March, the First Baptist Church of Berryville, Ark., closed its day-care center, declaring its purpose inconsistent with the teachings of the Bible. (Working mothers wouldn't have to work, said the church, if they did without "big TVs, a microwave, new clothes, eating out, and nice vacations.") And in May, the chief of the Ekhupeleni area in northern Swaziland banned the use of condoms, citing the teachings of the Bible on the waste of reproductive fluids. (He said contraceptive pills are OK.)

-- In a March Amarillo (Tex.) Globe-News story, service technician Eddie Golden, 28, attributed his recovery from brain surgery to divine intervention. In October 1996, Golden had accidentally shot himself above the ear with a nail gun, embedding a 1 1/4-inch brad, avoiding death by about an eighth of an inch. After a doctor pulled it out, he suggested an MRI to assure there was no further damage. The MRI revealed a brain tumor, which has now been treated. Said Golden, "God's got a reason ... or he wouldn't have put that nail in there."

-- In February, the Houston Chronicle reported on the local Buddhist Temple of the Great Bodhisattva Washington, which founder Ong Dao Ton believes is the only temple in the world to jointly pray to Buddha and George Washington. Ton says he has about 40 members and formed the temple because he believes the United States saved him from oppression in Viet Nam twice, in 1954 and 1973.

-- Eddie Clyde Harris, 38, was sentenced to life in prison in March in Neosho, Mo., for the attempted rape of a 57-year-old woman. According to a psychiatrist who testified at the trial, Harris believes he has a special gift from God that enables him to look at a woman and determine whether she is promiscuous and that the victim in this case passed the test.

-- Rev. Joe Bullard resigned from the Copper Ridge Baptist Church in Halls, Tenn., in May, ending what had been a months-long feud with many of the parishioners over whether he was pocketing the offerings by pilgrims who had come from afar to see the so-called glowing-cross apparition in the church windows. Police had been called several times to break up fistfights among its largely elderly congregation. And in December during a feud over who did and did not have the authority to fire minister Marvin Hodge of the Mount Pisgah Baptist Church in Rembert, S.C., Hodge's opponents would regularly attend services and heckle and boo him while he preached.

AWESOME! DUUUDE!

-- Driver Anthony Lowe, 16, allegedly rammed a Winston-Salem, N.C., utility pole in February, cut it in half, and knocked out power to 7,000 customers, including an old-folks' home, just as a sleet storm began. News photos at the scene revealed a clearly pleased-with-himself Lowe, who suggested a headline for a reporter ("Anthony 1, Telephone Pole 0"). Lowe had had his driver's license for less than three weeks and told police he "wasn't really paying attention" as he drove. When informed of the power outages, Lowe and his passenger allegedly responded, in unison, "Cool!"

-- Latest Handcuffed-Behind-My-Back Escapes: David Thornton, 28, stopped for DUI in Spartanburg, S.C., in April, and Tommy Richards, 21, arrested for assault in Elmwood, Ill., in May, allegedly stole their arresting officers' cruisers and drove several miles, using various parts of their bodies to steer and shift gears, before being recaptured.

-- According to a May Advertising Age report, the rock group Motley Crue is promoting its latest album with a bright-blue-colored soft drink, Motley Brue, among whose characteristics is that it leaves both the drinker's mouth, and any contemporaneous excrement, blue. The independent soft-drink company Eat Me Now says the beverage is "for people who are done with the whole drugs and alcohol thing, but still want to have fun."

-- Recent Chain-Link Fence Impalings: Shayne Henry, 22, impaled by a section of pipe when he allegedly drove through a fence while horsing around a golf course at night in Edmonton, Alberta, in April; and Michael Brown, 29, impaled by a 10-foot-long section of galvanized pipe on a fence when his mother accidentally drove through it while taking him to a job interview in Ripon, Calif., in April.

-- Recent Flying Things: cars (going over embankments or ramps), landing on Rob Hasenwinkle's house in Kamloops, British Columbia, in February, J.C. Warner's motel room in Grants Pass, Ore., in March, and an Amtrak train in Portland, Ore., in July; a couch, tossed out a fourth-floor apartment in Edmonton, Alberta, in March, clipping a newspaper carrier and sending him to the hospital; a one-ton bull, falling from a cliff onto Elizabeth Hanks' car near Joseph, Ore., in July; and a 3,000-pound wrecking ball, rolling off a truck onto a car, near Shepherd, Mont., in July.

CAPITAL OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

-- One day apart in June in Stafford County, Va., two husbands were charged with beating their wives during channel-changing disputes. Joseph W. During, 20, was charged with assault for punching his wife for changing radio stations in the car, and Edgar D. Colvin, 49, was charged with assault for roughing up his wife, who had commandeered the remote control and changed channels with two minutes left during Game 5 of the NBA championship series.

(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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