News of the Weird by the Editors at Andrews McMeel Syndication



-- Artist Brock Enright of Virginia Beach, Va., originally started staging rough, vivid kidnappings, using volunteers, so that he could show them on video at New York City galleries, but found so many willing, thrill-seeking victims that he now charges $500 or more for the realistic experience (but they get to keep the videos). Enright now has two dozen "fetish terrorism" (as Time Out magazine wrote) clients and is thinking of expanding to other cities. A 25-year-old sculptor, supposedly typical of Enright's clients, said he signed on because he wanted to test his limits: "I needed to believe that (the kidnapper) was going to kill me."

-- The Lane brothers of New York, Mr. Winner Lane, 44, and Mr. Loser Lane, 41 (their actual birth names), were profiled in a July Newsday report, made more interesting by the fact that Loser is successful (a police detective in the South Bronx) and Winner is not (a history of petty crimes). A sister said she believes her parents selected "Winner" because their late father was a big baseball fan and "Loser" just to complete the pairing.

Sounds Like a Joke

An unidentified young man walked away, apparently unhurt, after leaping from between cars of a 60 mph West Japan Railway "express" train onto the platform as it roared through a "local" station (Kobe, Japan, July). Two teenage boys were hospitalized with gunshot wounds after they and other boys encircled an older man on the street and began firing at him; the man was not hit (Michigan City, Ind., March). Canadian-born Robert Moisescu, sentenced to seven years in prison for robbing a Plattsburgh, N.Y., bank, told the judge in a letter that his time should be reduced to four years because his loot was worth only 62 percent in Canadian dollars (May).

Science Fair

-- New Products: British engineers James Auger and Jimmy Loizeau announced their "tooth telephone" (radio receiver implanted in the tooth, vibrating the signal to the inner ear) (June). Fort Worth (Texas) inventor Don Mims and marketer Ron Toms introduced a wooden "Gatling"-type gun that rapid-fires up to 144 rubber bands by turning a crank (though the rubber bands have to be hand-loaded) (March). South African researchers working in New Zealand said they are developing cockroach-shaped robots to do housework and yardwork (February).

-- Seattle computer programmer Boris Tsikanovsky told the San Jose Mercury News in April that he has developed software that will stop his cat, Squirrel, from bringing animal prey into the house when he's not at home. Squirrel can enter though a special door via a magnet on her collar and had been hiding dead mice and birds in the furniture. Consequently, Tsikanovsky developed imaging software, with a camera by the door, that permits Squirrel to enter only if her pixeled profile shows nothing in her mouth.

Leading Economic Indicators

-- For a state visit to the drought-stricken southern African country of Malawi in July, Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi arrived with an entourage in two Boeing 707s, two transport aircraft and his own personal jet; two security buses loaded with machine guns, assault rifles and rocket launchers; his own mobile hospital; 600 support personnel; and 70 armored vehicles for the drive across the country (with one of the vehicles stocked with $6 million American, much of which he tossed freely to villagers who had lined his route).

-- In May, the British real estate agents Acorns in Lewisham announced the offering of a small, split-level apartment in south London for about $200,000, even though it was recently converted from an Edwardian-style public restroom and measures about 13 feet by 13 feet. Said an agent, "It is very convenient (and) has its own front door (and) you have no one above or below you, which is unusual for a flat."

Recurring Themes

-- News of the Weird reported on black in-vitro fertilization babies born to white couples in the U.S. (1998) and the Netherlands (1993). In July 2002, a white couple at a British National Health Service fertility clinic gave birth to black twins and are now fighting the clinic's effort to award the babies instead to the father whose sperm created them. Said a NHS official, "Great steps have been taken to ensure that this sort of (mix-up) never happens."

-- Among the latest crackpot legal theories: Randall Lynn Harper, 48, was sentenced to a year in jail for resisting a police officer; he had refused to accept a traffic summons because his driver's license is typed in all-uppercase letters, which he said is legally reserved only for corporations and is therefore not binding on humans (Salinas, Calif., June). David Johnston, 54, on trial for swindling investors, subsequently formed a company with the same name as the lead plaintiff suing him, then petitioned under that company's name to dismiss the case against David Johnston, and now thus believes he has been cleared (Clearwater, Fla., July).

-- Two months ago, News of the Weird reported that Cuba's Fidel Castro once had the idea of breeding miniature cows that could be kept indoors and which would supply their owners with enough milk for the family. About a month after that dispatch from Havana appeared in The Wall Street Journal, the Associated Press reported on Rockwell, Iowa, farmer Dustin Pillard, who is offering his 50 miniature cows (height: 3 feet) for sale, but primarily as pets. Said Pillard, "We're breeding just for the novelty."

Least Competent Criminals

Wrong Place, Wrong Time: Norman Micallef, 35, created a scene (and police attention) when his van collided with a moose near Sudbury, Ontario, in June; unfortunately for him, an officer who stopped to help noticed a certain scent ($325,000 (U.S.) worth of marijuana plants in the van). And on May 18 in Torrance, Calif., as members of rival gangs began to congregate over a shooting incident, two F-15 fighter jets flew by, low to the ground, causing the gang members to freeze in apprehension; a couple of minutes later, as the F-15s made a return low pass, the gang members quickly dispersed in panic, apparently unaware that the jets were part of the nearby Armed Forces Day parade.

Burial Blues

Arcadia, Fla., officials, citing zoning rules, voted to make Beverly Georges dig up her late husband, Rick, from the back yard, where he had chosen to be buried so as to be united with his beloved pit bull, Bocephus (July). And Linda Montgomery of Staffordsville, Ky., complained to government officials when a dog was buried in the Highland Memorial Park cemetery, six feet from her parents' graves; asked Montgomery, "Do you think they'd (sell any plots there) if they'd said, 'Oh, by the way, there's a chance you'll be buried next to a cow?'" (June). And the family of Jim Crovetti honored his wishes and buried him at the Loving Rest Pet Cemetery, beside his Rottweiler, Lady (Indianola, Iowa, July).

Also, in the Last Month ...

In the middle of a crowd booing Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien, a man was arrested, apparently only because he was holding a slice of pie (since a protester had once hit Chretien with a pie) (Vancouver). Tough-love mother Karen Paape distributed mug-shot posters of her two teenage sons, asking that anyone who sees them smoking should call the police (West Bend, Wis.). A man convicted of sexually assaulting and killing his 16-year-old nephew was sentenced to be thrown off a cliff in a sack, with the provision that if he survives, he will be hanged (Mashhad, Iran). A 20-year-old man was fatally shot wrestling for a gun with a 21-year-old man with whom he had been debating which of the two was more likely to wind up in heaven (Godley, Texas).

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