News of the Weird

Week of September 2, 2001


-- Istanbul's leading circumciser, Kemal Ozkan (106,000 lifetime procedures), predicted in August that because of the economic downturn, he will perform only half of the 3,000 he performed last year. Depleted government budgets force Turk boys in poverty to wait until military service to get cut, according to an Associated Press dispatch, and business is off by half at the famous Circumcision Palace (the place where well-off parents can have their sons snipped upstairs and then fete them at elaborate parties downstairs). In the traditional Turkish coming-of-age ceremony, boys parade beforehand through the streets dressed like royalty in white suits with capes, holding gold-trimmed scepters.

-- In July, Mr. Justice Bodey of Britain's High Court ordered four men to take blood tests to determine a 7-year-old boy's father, which is a question the mother apparently had tried not to think about until now. She admitted that she was so desperate at her expiring biological clock that, to maximize her chances at the height of her cycle from April 28 to May 1, 1993, she stepped away from her apparently sterile husband and had sex with a different man every night, and now one of the men wants father's rights.

-- Two Utah men, seeking to make Hollywood movies safe for their mostly Mormon neighbors, are creating stashes of major-film releases from which they have dubbed out the cussing and the sex. Ray Lines sells the pristine versions at three CleanFlicks video stores near Provo; David Schenk runs a Clean Cut Video club in Kaysville that contains 62 titles for members to check out. "Great movies are great because they have a great story line," said Schenk to an Associated Press reporter in August, "not because they drop the F-bomb" (139 of which, for example, Schenk had to remove from "Good Will Hunting"). Hollywood studios are aware of the Utah men's work but have not commented.

Latest Cutting-Edge Research

The head of a research team from the University of Adelaide (Australia), studying whiplash injuries, reported a preliminary finding in April that some victims' pain is prolonged more by "litigation" than by "damage to (the particular) joint." And in March, a female researcher at the University of Central Florida found that female speakers with C-cup breasts were regarded as more professional by males than those of larger or smaller cups. And a University of Cambridge professor announced in April, after lab experiments involving "kinetic energy, centrifugal force and co-efficient of friction," that the cleanest way to eat spaghetti is to roll the strands on a vertical fork against a spoon parallel to the plate and then to eat the pasta off the spoon.

Oregon, the Irony State

-- Oregon legislators lamented in June that a major windmill-construction project on the Washington-Oregon border, expected to power 70,000 homes and thus a delight to clean-energy environmentalists, would probably be delayed because of the discovery that the property under construction is home to the endangered Washington ground squirrel, the saving of which is also a delight to environmentalists.

-- Among the fresh "zero tolerance" cases in the news recently is the policy of a low-income housing complex in Seaside, Ore., to automatically terminate a lease if anyone in the unit engages in any violent act against anyone in the complex. According to a federal lawsuit filed in July, that policy was too literally enforced against Tiffani Ann Alvera, who has been scheduled for eviction only because she showed the landlord the judicial restraining order she had gotten after her husband beat her up.

Latest Religious Messages

-- In June, Father Manuel Torres of Marbella, Spain, showed a London Daily Telegraph reporter his new chart (listing 19 sins and three penances) in use in the 60 Catholic parishes around the Malaga tourist region. Since the number of worshippers rises 20-fold during the holiday season, with few visitors able to express themselves in Spanish, Father Torres said it has become crucial to his efficiency to have penitents find their sins on the list, point to them, and watch him as he holds up either one finger (three Hail Marys), two (one Our Father) and three (one act of charity).

-- In May, a 100-ton boulder slipped off of a 96-wheel trailer while being driven interstate in India from Karnataka to Tamil Nadu, where it was to be sculpted into an idol of the Hindu monkey-god Hanuman. As the word spread, villagers gathered around the rock, consecrated it, and delivered offerings to it, but the temple in Tamil Nadu said it still wants the rock (which was donated to the temple by a quarry owner) reloaded and delivered.

-- The 10-week tour through the U.S. this summer of Indian spiritual leader "Amma" (Mata Amritanandamayi) gave her a chance to pad her lifetime total of hugs, which she dispenses to each devotee who greets her, sometimes continuously for as long as 20 hours a day. Each service of chants and meditations lasts about two hours, followed by the hugs (about 1,000 at a Chicago ceremony in July), usually accompanied by a few back rubs and a kiss on the cheek.

People Different From Us

Mr. Irwin Rose, said to be in his 50s, was found dead in his upscale New York City apartment in July, apparently of natural causes. The doorman said Rose had not been out of the building in 13 years, that he had everything delivered; an employee of a restaurant in the next block said Rose had been calling for the same meal three times a day every day for eight years (rice pudding, chicken soup, two eggs over easy, sausages, cheesecake). A friend said Rose used to be a movie and fashion dealmaker until a debilitating leg illness slowed him down.

Least Competent Criminals

Donald James Eversen was arrested in Sparks, Nev., in March and charged with attempting to rob two women and then to steal a beer truck for his getaway. Police found Eversen (who had been drinking) a few blocks from the scene, and when they brought the two women by to identify him, Eversen immediately blurted out that, yes, those were the two women he had tried to rob. And Humberto "The Frog" Banuelos, a man alleged to be a big hit man for the Tijuana drug cartel, was arrested in July in spite of the extensive cosmetic surgery he had undergone for disguise. Police said Banuelos had neglected to change the one thing that they regarded as his chief body characteristic: a distinctive bullet-wound scar on his right buttock.

Recurring Themes

Earlier this year, News of the Weird reported that the tony Silicon Valley town of Woodside, Calif. (population 5,600), had recently proposed to comply with a state law setting a minimum per-town number of "affordable housing" units by allowing horse farmers to create moderately priced "apartments" inside their barns. In May, Massachusetts state Rep. John H. Rogers proposed that towns in his state, when attempting to comply with laws requiring low-income housing, be able to include jails and prisons in their totals.

Also, in the Last Month ...

The Florida Department of Corrections released DUI-manslaughter convict Casey Bloom, even though he fulfilled his required 4,350 hours of community service by making only two public appearances, which were taped and broadcast thousands of times. Boston Harbor's 10th annual swim to commemorate clean-water progress was canceled due to heavy pollution. A 26-year-old Navy man was rescued from 85 feet inside the Kilauea (Hawaii) Volcano, where he had fallen after chasing his windblown baseball cap. Two mothers of 15-year-old baseball players were arrested after beating unconscious the mother of the rival player who scored the winning run (Salt Lake City).

(Send your Weird News to Chuck Shepherd, P.O. Box 18737, Tampa, Fla. 33679 or, or go to

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