News of the Weird by the Editors at Andrews McMeel Syndication



-- Among the personal items that former Tyco International chief executive L. Dennis Kozlowski bought and charged to the company (without authorization, said the company in September) were two New York City apartments ($24 million), a Boca Raton, Fla., house ($29 million), furnishings and renovations ($14 million), a travel toiletries box ($17,000), an umbrella stand ($15,000), a shower curtain ($6,000) and a pincushion ($445), along with half the $2.1 million tab for a 40th birthday party for his wife (a former waitress at a restaurant near Tyco headquarters in Exeter, N.H.). (The party, at a Sardinian resort, featured Stoli vodka loaded into a statue of a man so that it could be poured out to guests through his penis.)

-- The National Post (Toronto) reported in August on the $12,000 (U.S.) executive seminars given by the local management firm Case Solutions, centering around its clients' using customized Lego blocks to build quixotic designs as metaphors for their companies' opportunities and problems. For example, one executive made an octopus with a hard hat and holding a skeleton to show himself as a multi-tasker; the hard hat supposedly represented problems from the past, wrote the Post, while the skeleton was said to symbolize his tendency to protect himself from sales quotas. Said one Lego fan, "(People) use the Legos to make a statement that they might not have been able to make before."

Democracy in Action (Part II)

Robert Bouslaugh dropped out of the race for sheriff in Durango, Colo., in September after he, wearing a dress, allegedly shot a man to death after the man stole his purse as he was leaving an adult bookstore; Bouslaugh said he was "working undercover" but did not elaborate. And the district attorney in Oshkosh, Wis., Joe Paulus, was beaten in the September primary after an audio tape surfaced of him bragging that he had had sex in his office with five women (but which he later denied as just "boy talk" during a night out). And the German Green party, which provided the margin of victory for Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder in September, drew 8 percent of the vote with such campaign billboards as the one for gay rights featuring a male couple and a female couple holding their respective partners' nipples.

Compelling Explanations

-- In August, a jury in Sarasota, Fla., awarded a 59-year-old woman $2.1 million from surgeon Holly Barbour for a faulty face-lift and neck-lift. According to testimony, Barbour had offered the patient a discount operation (at $7,500) because Barbour had previously worked only on eyes and wanted to expand her practice to faces. Barbour's surgery took 10 hours (twice the norm) and left the patient with a lump on her face that made a popping sound when she blinked.

-- Vince Dominach, the county economic development director in Easton, Pa., who was in trouble in June for $1,388 worth of personal calls on his government phone, told reporters that the problem stemmed from a hectic period in which his wife and he had become sexually involved with another couple. And Jeremiah Frank Dubois, 24, pleaded guilty to rape in August in Raleigh, N.C.; police said he told them the reason he did it was that his wedding day was approaching and he wanted one last fling before then.

-- Raymond Leopold, who was the "Winston man" model in cigarette ads from 1978 to 1980, filed a federal lawsuit in Little Rock, Ark., in April, demanding $65 million from R.J. Reynolds because he is so torn up with remorse and stress at the role he played in creating smoking-related illnesses in people who were influenced by his ads.

-- Former University of Hong Kong graduate architecture student Francis Frick, 34, said in May he would resist being sent back to the United States, despite the school's having kicked him out for lack of progress. As his Ph.D. dissertation last year, Frick submitted a blank piece of paper (his only UHK thesis product), calling it an example of his "quantum arcology," which focuses on nonverbal creativity; he said he plans a legal challenge to the school because his adviser failed to understand Frick's approach.

-- In September in Carlisle, Pa., Gordon Neal Diem was convicted of several charges in connection with an alleged attempt to lure two teenage girls (one being merely a police officer posing as one online) to a motel room for sex, but according to him, everything he did was part of his life's dedication to finding and stopping adults who sexually abuse children. The 60 items of bondage and sex toys he had on him (and the Viagra tablets) were merely props, he said, to make him look like an authentic pervert, and a child-sex photo he had "helps motivate" him in his work, he said.

People Different From Us

White supremacists Leo Felton, 31, and his girlfriend Erica Chase, 22, were convicted in July of plotting to blow up landmarks around Boston that had significance for Jews and blacks so that a "racial holy war" would erupt. Chase dressed demurely during the trial, hiding her numerous Aryan tattoos (including "white power" on her toes). Felton has attributed his anger and aggression to the fact that he has a black father (and white mother, and both were civil-rights activists), and courthouse observers speculated that Chase's distancing of herself from him during the trial reflects her growing ambivalence about his heritage.

Least Competent Criminals

No Exit Strategy: David Christopher Lander, 51, was arrested in Gainesville, Fla., in July, locked inside the Infiniti car he was burglarizing; while inside, he had accidentally triggered the car alarm, which automatically locks the doors. And in September, Andrew Birch, 21, was arrested in Renfrew, Scotland, after becoming wedged in the window of the car he was climbing through in order to (according to authorities) steal. (Alcohol was involved in both incidents.)

Trademark Blues

In August, a federal judge in New York rejected the Tommy Hilfiger company's lawsuit against the makers of Timmy Holedigger perfume for dogs, which Hilfiger had said was a threat to its trademark in that consumers were likely to confuse the two products. (The Holedigger people also make Pucci dog cologne but haven't yet heard from Gucci.) Still unresolved, however, is AOL Time Warner's lawsuit, to protect the trademark of its magazine Entertainment Weekly from a ranting, urban hip-hop-culture startup called Niggertainment Monthly, whose Yonkers, N.Y., founder said he was forced to pull 700,000 copies from newsstands when the lawsuit was filed in April.

Our Civilization in Decline

Lutheran minister David Benke, the main voice on the church's national radio show, was demoted in June solely because he spoke at an all-denomination prayer service in New York City just after Sept. 11; Lutherans are strictly against praying with "pagans" because that would imply that there is more than one God. And ex-con and illegal Iranian immigrant Peyman Bahadori, who works (illegally, of course) as a private investigator in Colorado Springs and who was pursuing another Iranian man (who turned out to be a legal resident), was charged with impersonating an immigration agent after he harassed the man in August; Bahadori somehow persuaded four Aurora, Colo., police officers to help him in his pursuit of the man.

Also, in the Last Month ...

Reuters reported that a 40-year-old Yemeni man named Yahya, who had left his wife of 15 years because of her screaming, married a deaf-mute woman (Dhamar province, Yemen). Beckman Research Institute investigators working with genetically engineered flies converted them temporarily from heterosexual to homosexual by merely turning up the temperature past 86 degrees (Duarte, Calif.). The latest person to be killed by a flying cow was a 54-year-old truck driver, who crashed after another driver knocked the cow into his truck on U.S. 160 (near Kayenta, Ariz.). A 43-year-old man was charged with kidnaping his wife and roughing her up during an argument about whether to attend church (Salt Lake City).

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