News of the Weird

Week of June 11, 2000

LEAD STORIES

-- In April, doctors at Washington, D.C.'s St. Elizabeths Hospital said Tomar Cooper Locker, 25, was no longer mentally ill and should be unconditionally released. Just two months earlier, Locker had been found not guilty by reason of insanity (post-traumatic stress) in the murder of boxer Reuben Bell, whom Locker had fatally shot because he thought Bell had killed Locker's girlfriend. Though Locker thus escaped penalty for murder and the wounding of five bystanders, he was sentenced to 20 to 60 months for gun-possession (but since he was jailed pre-trial for 26 months, a judge at press time was considering whether to release Locker immediately).

-- The hottest-selling item this spring for turkey hunters has been Delta Industries' male decoy that fits on top of its traditional hen decoy to give gobblers the illusion that a stranger is having his way with one of the gobbler's harem. According to a hunters' store manager in Cedar Rapids, Iowa (reported in the Cedar Rapids Gazette), the appeal to territorial jealousy is especially effective with older gobblers too wise to fall for hunters' simple mating-call lures.

Potential Caretakers of Democracy

Among this year's political candidates: For governor of West Virginia: Joseph Oliverio, who admitted in February that he's had 60 speeding tickets and been arrested 150 times. For Anderson County, Tenn., property assessor: Bobby E. Jones, who served time for 37 counts of making false statements to the federal government. For a seat in the Missouri General Assembly: Richard Tolbert, who recently filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy for the seventh time in three years. For Scottsdale, Ariz., City Council: Gary Tredway, on the lam for 30 years after a conviction for throwing a firecracker at firefighters during a student antiwar demonstration.

Frontiers of Science

-- Dutch researchers, writing in a December issue of British Medical Journal, reported their findings on observing couples engaged in sexual intercourse while inside MRI machines (modified so the couple would fit inside), for example, that during missionary-position sex, the penis is not straight but actually takes the shape of a boomerang.

-- Recent Language/Brain Scramblings: Wendy Hasnip, 47, told BBC Television in December that a minor stroke had given her the rare Foreign Accent Syndrome (in her case, a French accent, though she knows no words in French). Also in December, the Moscow (Russia) Times featured Willi Melnikov, 37, brain-injured by a landmine in the Soviet-Afghanistan war, who emerged from the hospital with an activated (previously dormant) facility for languages and has since become fluent in dozens and conversant in 93.

-- Researchers from Boston University and Cornell, writing in a December journal article, said they have identified the behavior that the male bat uses to elicit mates for procreation (the equivalent, said a Science News writer, of a man's slapping on aftershave). At about the same time every afternoon for a half-hour, male bats transfer urine to sacs in their wings by alternately licking the penis and the sac. Later, the bat hovers in front of females and flutters his wings to spread what one researcher called the "very sweet and spicy" scent.

-- China's Xinhua News Agency reported in March that the 13-pound cyst removed from a 28-year-old farmer in the northern province of Shaanxi actually contained the ossified fetus of his identical twin brother. Physicians at Hanzhong Medical School and Xi'an University of Medical Science said the fetus had grown for a while after the farmer's birth, then stopped, with the result that it had hair, skin, and teeth similar to an adult's but other features that resembled a fetus'.

Great Art!

-- In March, Christie's Auction House of New York City unloaded all of the 60 paintings created by artists that happen also to be elephants, including Sao (a former log-hauler in Thailand's timber industry), whose work was likened by Yale art historian Mia Fineman to work of Paul Gauguin for its "broad, gentle, curvy brush strokes" and "a depth and maturity." Fineman said she is writing a book on the three distinct regional styles of Thai elephant art.

-- Garbage artist Tom Deininger's one-person show opened at the Newport (R.I.) Art Museum in January, consisting of his sculptures made of discarded trash, including packaging, toys, clothes and computer parts. Deininger says fans feed him tips on particularly cool Dumpsters to raid and told the Providence Journal that he was working on a self-portrait made of cardboard boxes, with cheeks made of wads of Pokemon wrappers, teeth of Styrofoam, and a toy soldier forming a nostril.

-- According to an April San Francisco Chronicle feature, a painting by local artist Catherine Anderson had been accepted for hanging, then rejected, by the fancy Lodge at Sonoma resort set to open later this year. Anderson specializes in paintings of cows, but the Lodge declined her first piece because the cows in the field included too many posteriors, and also declined a substitute because one cow was in what a Lodge representative allegedly said was a "provocative position."

In Their Own Words

Madera, Calif., magazine publisher Kathy Masera, to a journalist investigating reports in May that Masera's office building's ventilation system was hosting several types of noxious molds, striking 26 of her 30 employees ill: "There isn't anything more frightening than sitting in a meeting and three people suddenly have blood running from their noses."

Update

A year ago, News of the Weird reported on Reading (England) University professor Kevin Warwick's forearm implant of a transponder to allow his whereabouts to be monitored remotely. Warwick's next implant, according to an April 2000 Cox News Service report, will give him the same "sonar" system that bats and porpoises use for navigation by sending signals from the air to a microchip, which will be "tapped into" a nerve bundle that runs from Warwick's arm to his brain. Warwick believes he can train himself to detect what's in front of him even if his eyes are closed.

Least Competent Criminals

Edward Hall, 50, was arrested in March and charged with thefts of trailers from a Home Depot in Albuquerque. According to police, Hall took a trailer from the store's lot early in the morning, hitched it to his truck, and drove it a few miles until it came loose and crashed. He returned to the store, hitched up another, and drove it on the same route, but it, too, came loose and crashed at the site of the first crash. He returned, hitched up a third trailer, and drove it on the same route. A police officer had stopped at the previous crash site to investigate, and as Hall drove by, he accidentally bumped the squad car, provoking the officer to chase Hall down, after which he discovered the thefts.

Also, in the Last Month ...

A lawsuit by a brother and sister, both schoolteachers, to defy the government and keep their mother's corpse permanently at home, in a glass-topped freezer, was rejected (Bordeaux, France). A 52-year-old nightclub stripper filed an employment discrimination complaint over her recent firing (Brantford, Ontario). Japanese toymaker Bandai Corp., to help grow the market for its products, announced it would pay employees to have children, at $10,000 per child after their second. A theater-goer filed a lawsuit against the comic actor Dame Edna after one of the gladioli she throws to the audience at the end of her show poked him in the eye (Melbourne, Australia). A NATO elite training force of 116 Italian infantrymen landed at Kristianstad, Sweden (not a NATO country), instead of the assigned Kristiansand, Norway.

(Send your Weird News to Chuck Shepherd, P.O. Box 18737, Tampa, Fla. 33679 or Weird@compuserve.com, or go to www.NewsoftheWeird.com/.)

4520 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 64111; (816) 932-6600

More like News of the Weird