News of the Weird by the Editors at Andrews McMeel Syndication


-- Next in the England-to-U.S. TV Pipeline: The newest reality TV show scheduled by London's Channel 5 for 2003 is a celebrities-in-detox series, in which marginally known entertainment personalities go to an island for a week to undergo enemas and colonic irrigation, with full camera coverage. A station spokeswoman told The Independent, "The celebrities will have to survive for a week on oral enemas, which basically means drinking things like olive oil. They'll also be analyzing their own poo."

-- Some callers to Boston's major homeless shelters became angry that their requests to help out this year on Thanksgiving and Christmas day were rejected because the shelters have too many volunteers on those days (yet too few on the other 363 days a year). A Boston Globe reporter found that volunteers even try to cajole officials to bump them up the waiting list (170 on one shelter's list, which started accumulating names in August), but express disappointment at suggestions that they help at less "popular" (and less prestigious) suburban shelters.

Boredom, Illustrated

Ian Jewell, an employee of the West Somerset (England) District Council, was rewarded by his bosses after his counting revealed that the toilet paper in the restrooms contained fewer than the 320 sheets per roll stated in the supplier's contract (September). And a popular pastime in Bismarck, N.D. (according to an October Associated Press report), is a game called "Slip," in which teenagers walk the city during summer nights trying to avoid cars' headlights. (If they get flashed, they're out.) Said one teenage girl, "It's better than sitting around on the couch on a Friday night watching a movie." And in many cities, the opening of a Krispy Kreme doughnut shop has been marked by fans queueing up several hours in advance, but Peter Bolland and his son, P.J. (both grown men), lined up 30 hours early for the store's debut in Kitchener, Ontario, in November. ("(This) sounds so ridiculous," said P.J.)

Quotes From Deep in the Story

-- "It's sick, disgusting and perverted. I know all these things (but) I can't go to prison for the rest of my life ... without seeing (some)." (spoken by confessed murderer Cory Stayner, offering police a deal in which he'd describe his crimes in detail if they'd give him a "good-sized stack" of child pornography to look at) (San Jose, Calif., July) [San Jose Mercury News, 7-24-02]

-- "It was like a 'Blazing Saddles' routine, because every time these (management) guys would move on their seats, you could hear flatulence." (spoken by a participant at a September labor-management session in San Francisco, describing a union man's prank of having placed a small flatulence-sound-producing device under the table during a Pacific Maritime Association negotiating session with the dockworkers union, according to a report in the San Francisco Chronicle)

-- "(M)any top businessmen spend more of their time in hotels than in their own home. ... So when they get home, they like to re-create the hotel experience. ... Many of my clients (for example) have their own mini-bars in their bedrooms. ... They come to me (to make them) a hotel-style (closet)." (spoken by Arnold Chrysler, owner of Chrysler's World of Hotel Decor, on trial in London in October for stealing 40,000 hotel coat hangers (the bottom part, useful only if affixed to the closet's hanging bar))

Just Can't Stop Myself

-- Slow Crime Days: Two St. Petersburg, Fla., police officers were suspended in November after allegedly using their in-car terminals to send each other a total of 4,232 non-duty messages in a one-month period (about 10 messages each, per work hour).

-- James Sabatino, already serving time in a Putnam County (N.Y.) prison for attacking a federal officer and having recently served time in England for a telephone-based scam, had his telephone privileges removed because Putnam officials said he spent almost eight hours a day on prison phones, for five months, before they caught him in another scam. According to officials cited by the New York Post in November, Sabatino called phone companies and convinced them he was doing movie shoots and needed dozens of cell phones quickly (and was able to order about a thousand activated phones, delivered to places arranged by his girlfriend, without spending a penny).

People Different From Us

Sadomasochism practitioner Steven H. Bailey, 54, was indicted in St. Paul, Minn., in November in the bondage death of a sexual partner (one of 5,000 he said he's had); Bailey calls himself "The True Master" of his craft but allegedly failed to render assistance when his partner stopped breathing through the chloroform-soaked bag over his face. And in November, The Washington Post disclosed that one of the members of the United Nations weapons inspection teams headed for Iraq was also an uncloseted S&M master: Harvey John "Jack" McGeorge, 53, of Woodbridge, Va., an instructor in "Dungeon 501," featuring activities involving knives, ropes and choking devices.

Least Competent People

Capt. Van Fussell, a Florida Highway Patrol district commander in Venice, Fla., accidentally shot himself in the foot as he was holstering his Glock pistol while taking his annual firearms test in November. (He'll have to take it over.) And the previous week in Brooksville, Fla., homeowner Jimmy Batten walked in on Sean Todd Duval, 26, who had apparently broken in to steal Batten's guns. Batten was puzzled that Duval did not try to run away, but the reason was that minutes earlier, Duval had accidentally shot his left middle toe off with one of the guns and was so despondent that he told Batten: "Finish me off. Go ahead and blow my brains out."

Updating Recent News of the Weird Stories

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he was considering purchasing out-of-service cruise ships to alleviate the nightly overcrowding at the city's emergency shelters (November). And prominent, board-certified Independence, Mo., psychiatrist Donald Hinton, who seriously swears that he has been treating Elvis Presley for the last five years, was put on probation in November by the state for overprescribing a painkiller to a patient (not Elvis). And the Urbana, Ill., mother who was still breastfeeding her 8-year-old boy lost partial custody of him to the state (November).

Undignified Deaths

A 46-year-old non-swimmer drowned in his apartment house pool during an attempt to overcome his fear of the water (Galesburg, Ill., October). A 73-year-old man died from the extreme heat caused when a thermostat broke and would not shut off (creating such heat that, for example, all of the water evaporated from a toilet) (Great Falls, Mont., November). A 21-year-old student accidentally strangled himself with his belt, which he had looped around a door handle in a contraption to keep his head from nodding off during a marathon study session (Bangkok, Thailand, July).

Also, in the Last Month ...

Two customers and an employee were trapped inside Sam's Mini Market for two hours on Thanksgiving Day by successive swarms of bees that coated the front door, until firefighters foamed them off (Chatsworth, Calif.). Panda bear experts announced that "dating" software had been developed to match males' and females' personality characteristics so as to improve mating opportunities (Beijing). An aboriginal Manitoba (Canada) woman alleged racial profiling when she was not allowed to buy hairspray at an Extra Foods store, probably because owners feared she only wanted to drink it (Winnipeg). Britain's Office of Fair Trading charged the toy company Hasbro (maker of Monopoly) with retail price-fixing.

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