News of the Weird by the Editors at Andrews McMeel Syndication



-- A spokesman for the Internet site offering "Kaboom: The Suicide Bomber Game" (the more bystander-victims, the more points) told The New York Times in December that the game had been played by computer users about 875,000 times since its introduction in April and is but one of several of the site's questionable-taste games based on contemporary events, including "Extreme WTC (World Trade Center) Jumper," "Sniper's Revenge" and "Pico's School" (modeled after the Columbine, Colo., tragedy). Said the site's Web master, "People ... need to lighten up and realize there are far worse problems in the world than what games people are playing."

-- Singapore neurosurgeon Keith Goh and his colleagues said they would decide by the first of the year whether to attempt the unprecedented head-separating surgery requested by 28-year-old Siamese twins in Iran. Laleh and Ladan Bijani are law school graduates who claim to need the separation because they have grown apart psychologically. "We have different lifestyles," said Ladan (the more extroverted). "We think very differently about issues."

America's Growing Gullibility Problem

Administrators of the 162-year-old North Carolina state capitol authorized an inspection by the Ghost Research Foundation following years of disquieting complaints by security officers about middle-of-the-night "choral singing" and "door-slamming" (October). And in Dallas, Ruben Garces Moreno, 39, was convicted of killing his wife, motivated, he said, by the fact that a fortune-teller had informed him that the wife had been unfaithful (November). And the inexplicably charismatic Judith Lynn Ashmore, 57, charged with fraud in August, was revealed to have enticed a family of four to naively accompany her on her four-month, eight-state crime spree by telling them first that she needed help with her terminal cancer and then that she was in a witness protection program.

Questionable Judgments

-- In Bennington, Vt., in October, Nicholas Perotta, 18, was charged with traffic violations that resulted in minor injuries to himself and two passengers in his Dodge pickup, caused when he collided with a utility pole. Perotta told police that there was a short-out in one of his stereo speakers and that he deliberately ran off the road seeking something to bump into in order to jar the speaker back into working order.

-- According to testimony at the trial of Anastazia M. Schmid in Lafayette, Ind., in October, a motive for Schmid's having murdered her boyfriend, Tony Heathcote, was that she snapped during a consensual sexual bondage session with him when he allegedly suggested, "I'll be the daddy, you be the little girl." Unfortunately, Heathcote allegedly made that suggestion only two days after Schmid had learned that Heathcote had been accused of molesting Schmid's own 6-year-old daughter. (She was convicted.)

-- In August (in Kenora, Ontario) and September (in Albuquerque), good-Samaritan motorists decided to pull over and offer help to police officers involved with traffic stops at the side of the road. The 27-year-old (unnamed) Ontario man was cited for DUI after he backed into the patrol car while parking, and the other Samaritan, Eddie Trujillo, 55, was cited for DUI after he badly slurred his earnest offer of assistance to the patrolman.

Unclear on the Concept

-- John Perkyns, 48, who in September pleaded no contest to charges of destroying homosexual-themed books at two San Francisco libraries, also allegedly vandalized as part of the same rampages books by authors Gay Talese and Peter Gay and a book of poetry about the airplane that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima (the Enola Gay).

-- An 18-year-old, Winnipeg, Manitoba, high school student (not named in a Canadian Press report) was let off easy on drug charges by Judge Cathy Everett, in that she sentenced him merely to write a report on the evils of the drug Ecstasy. In December, he handed in a 24-page essay that began with the foreword, "All I ask is that (the judge) keep an open mind while reading this paper," and continued with a trashing of the concept of teaching drug abstinence (because it's only natural to be curious) and with detailed suggestions on how to take Ecstasy safely and in moderation. The ever-tolerant judge ordered a rewrite.

Creme de la Weird

In a still-unfolding story from Kassel, Germany, a man identified only as Armin M., 41, gave police a videotape in December showing him killing a 42-year-old companion who had answered Armin's Internet ad reading, "Gay male seeks hunks 18-30 to slaughter." Armin allegedly admitted that he is a cannibal and that he froze parts of the victim's body for later meals. According to police, the victim (an upscale professional) had methodically put his financial records in order before leaving his Berlin home to meet Armin, and according to one newspaper, the men are shown on tape eating the victim's penis, after he consented to castration. Armin also reportedly told police that he would never eat a woman because "they are too important for the survival of mankind." Stunned police investigators reportedly had to undergo psychiatric counseling after viewing the tape.

Recurring Themes

Matt Boswell of Dallas apparently became the latest victim of thieves who make bad guesses about the value of packages they believe are worth swiping. In December, Boswell reported spotting a man rummaging through his truck, and when Boswell yelled, the man grabbed two containers and fled. As Boswell later explained to a Dallas Morning News reporter, the containers held pickups from customers of Pet Butler, Boswell's pet waste-removal service (advertised by signs on both sides of his truck).

Thinning the Herd

A 19-year-old man was fatally shot in the forehead by his 17-year-old brother after sneering that the kid didn't have "the guts" to shoot him (and mock-commanding him, "Shoot me, you (expletive deleted in the original story)") (Albuquerque, September). And a 23-year-old man, who had opened a van's sliding door and begun pelting cars and mailboxes with rocks as the van drove by, was killed when he fell out and hit his head (Clark County, Ore., August).

Our Civilization in Decline

An official at Sundon Lower School (Bedfordshire, England) prohibited parents from videotaping the school's nativity play this year because she feared that photographs could somehow be commandeered by pedophiles (November). A priest, feuding about policy matters with the president of the local Church of the Holy Resurrection of Christ, pulled out a gun (but accidentally shot himself in the foot) (Lebanon, Pa., December). A computer records investigation by the Fox TV station in Seattle found that 347 fugitive felons in the Seattle area are routinely receiving state welfare benefits because law enforcement's computers can't access the Social and Health Services computers (December).

Also, in the Last Month ...

The World Bar (in New York City's new Trump World Tower) introduced a $50 cocktail (Remy XO, Pineau des Charentes, freshly pressed grapes, and a dash of liquid gold, among other ingredients). A 29-year-old man was arrested in possession of three homemade bombs, which he said he carried around in case he ran into al-Qaida terrorists (Twin Falls, Idaho). A 45-year-old man was sentenced to life in prison for the Pakistani crime of being a follower of a bogus prophet (Faisalabad, Pakistan). A jury put Landon D. May, 20, on death row for two 2001 murders (where he'll join his father, Freeman May, condemned in 1995 for a murder he committed just after Landon was born) (Lancaster, Pa.).

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