News of the Weird by the Editors at Andrews McMeel Syndication



-- British Army officers examining highly motivated potential recruits in the Commonwealth's Pacific island of Fiji reported in November encountering an alarming number of the men with marbles sewn under the skin of their penises, apparently to heighten pleasure during sex. According to an Agence France-Presse report, Capt. Sarah East said that the marbles were not an automatic disqualifier.

-- Several news outlets in Johannesburg, South Africa, reported in November that, in front of several witnesses, a 20-foot-long African rock python swallowed a 10-year-old boy in the brush near Lamontville (which is near Durban). Some experts, including snake park owner Craig Smith, said the evidence and the witnesses' accounts were credible, especially since the snake had probably recently awakened from hibernation and was famished. According to the boy's terrified playmates, it took about three hours for him to completely disappear.

Recent Rages

Humming Rage: Sheila Raven Lord, 49, stabbed a companion with a steak knife because he was humming a Megadeth song louder than the Celine Dion song she was listening to (Glenview, Ill., November). Mailbox Door Rage: George Krushinski was charged with planting small bombs in a mailbox and a letter carrier's vehicle because a weekend carrier had been leaving Krushinski's mailbox door down (Lexington, Ky., November) ("I've warned you bastards many times about leaving my mailbox open," Krushinski wrote, "(and) now you will pay.") Wrong Socks Rage: High school student-musician Trevor LeBlanc won $25,000 in a lawsuit against his band director, Tom Cole, who, at the 2001 Tournament of Roses Parade chewed out LeBlanc for wearing the wrong-color socks (San Diego, November) ("I ought to wring your (expletive deleted in original story) neck," Cole reportedly said as he grabbed LeBlanc by the throat.)


Police in Fulton, Ky., investigating a marijuana-smoking complaint by William Hainline's neighbors in September, found dope burning on a backyard grill with a large fan on the other side of the house sucking the smoke through the home (in effect, said Police Chief Terry Powell, "turn(ing) the house into a large marijuana bong"). Hainline said he was merely having a 52nd birthday party, but police seized four pounds of marijuana.

Latest Religious Messages

-- In October, the Catholic Diocese of St. Petersburg, Fla., became the latest to debut a version of the church's 22-year-old "Theology on Tap" series, introducing young adults to the church by holding lecture and discussion sessions about contemporary issues, mostly sexuality, in local bars, with parishioners and potentials free to eat, drink and smoke. (In November, the Diocese of Toledo, Ohio, began the second year of its program.)

-- According to the police report on Farhad Qaumi, 19, who was arrested in Parramatta, Australia (near Sydney), in October and charged with raping a 16-year-old girl, Qaumi said he removed his Islamic pendant before the assault, telling the girl, "I have to take it off, as it is disrespectful."

-- In Bridgeport, Conn., in October, Roger Chimney, 34, pleaded guilty to two convenience store robberies; the police got him because he had accidentally dropped his name-inscribed Bible at one of the crime scenes. And in Augusta, Maine, in August, Craig Golden, 18, pleaded guilty to criminal mischief for vandalizing a farmer's field; the police got him because his name-inscribed Bible had fallen out of his truck during the incident.

-- The Lord as Micromanager: (1) "It isn't easy, but God said to (beat them)," testified former nun Lucille Poulin, before being convicted in October of assault in the harsh disciplining of children at her commune (Charlottetown, P.E.I., Canada). (2) "(G)od became my art agent. He basically gave me ideas," said Thomas Kincade, the pop artist who has sold $450 million worth of machine-produced paintings in 13 years, to the chagrin of art purists (Morgan Hill, Calif., March). (3) "God brought me down here," said Angel DeGroff, auditioning in November to be one of the competitors in the next round of the TV show "The Bachelor" (Hales Corners, Wis.).

Creme de la Weird

In October in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, Mr. Rosaire Roy was sentenced to a year in jail for hiring someone to rob his store so Roy could fulfill a sexual fantasy; he had arranged for the robber to force him to undress, along with an unsuspecting female acquaintance who was in the store at the time, because Roy wanted to be tied up naked with her. And in November, sheriff's deputies in Fayette County, Ga., acting on a tip, arrested Sandy Creek High School teacher Damian Belvedere, 44, who (using his webcam) was in the middle of a live Internet performance of fondling himself, nude, in his otherwise empty classroom.

Recurring Themes

-- News of the Weird has reported several times on men either killed or injured falling down embankments at night after stopping their vehicles on the side of the road to seek a secluded place to urinate. In September, Rick Schultz, 34, and James Esposti, 21, were taken to Punxsutawney (Pa.) Hospital after being knocked down when their Ford Ranger truck coasted backward into them while they were urinating at the side of a road.

-- The art of protest by sewing one's lips together is apparently becoming more popular. A 34-year-old man in Estonia, facing a charge of setting a Mercedes-Benz on fire, showed up in court with stitched lips in May. And in June, 50 refugees, held at the Woomera detention center in Australia, sewed their lips shut to emphasize their hunger strike as they lobbied for asylum. And a 39-year-old man from Iraq with bright red stitching on his lips was picked up by police from a city square in Zurich, Switzerland, in September (but he was unable to tell police what he was protesting, if anything).

-- A 1999 New England Journal of Medicine article warned that even putting a dead rattlesnake's head in your mouth can be fatal, and News of the Weird has run stories of men cuddling their pet rattlesnakes, particularly in conjunction with alcohol use. In November, Matthew George, 21, of Yacolt, Wash., was hospitalized in serious condition after the rattlesnake he was kissing bit him on the lip. Apparently, George was proudly showing to a friend the snake that he had found in the Arizona desert in October. Snake expert Richard Ritchey, asked by a reporter for The Oregonian whose fault the incident was (George's or the snake's), answered, "The one with the bigger brain," but he did not say which one he thought that was.

Also, in the Last Month ...

-- A leading British plastic surgeon said that human face transplants will be possible within a year (although the recipient would not necessarily look like the donor). And a woman named Kristina, 21, won the beauty pageant (talent, swimsuit, gown) at a woman's prison in Panevezys, Lithuania, but declined to reveal to reporters why she's in the slammer. A community redevelopment agency announced it was evicting 40 Hispanic migrant workers the week after Christmas, with no relocation assistance, so that Habitat for Humanity could build low-income housing on the site (Palmetto, Fla.). An inmate returning to jail from his day job at a recycling center tested higher than 0.20 blood-alcohol, gained by mustering last drops from all the empty liquor bottles he sorted (Charleston, W.Va.).

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