News of the Weird

Week of June 29, 2003


-- A June Associated Press dispatch from Macha, Bolivia, reported on the most prominent of the annual Tinku festivals that neighboring tribes on the country's high plains engage in. On a midnight in May, as thousands gathered to drink and dance, the men eventually began to fistfight in a bloody ritual that tribal leaders say is healthy and spiritual, even though some men are beaten badly, and occasionally someone dies (which, legend says, is good for crop fertilization). Villagers say the one-night fighting answers feuds and insults built up over the year and fosters brotherhood. The Bolivian government has tried, unsuccessfully, to stop the violence in recent years.

-- Weird India: On June 15, according to Dr. Chittaranjan Maity (the medical education director of the state of West Bengal), a 13-year-old boy began producing quarter-inch-long winged beetles in his urine after eggs hatched in his body. And a few days earlier in the Hooghly district of West Bengal, according to a report in the Press Trust of India, a 9-year-old girl was "married" (in a non-binding ceremony) to a stray dog, which tribal custom requires in order to protect a child whose first tooth appears on the upper gum; the marriage had been delayed for several years because of financial considerations.

Our Litigious Society

-- Familiar Injuries, Big Bucks: If you reach for a door while a person on the other side pushes the door toward you, you might get your fingers jammed. It happened to Cedrick Makara, 56, in a restroom stall at his New York City office building, and in May, a court awarded him $3 million for ruptured tendons in his thumb that caused him to miss work for six months. And in Camden, N.J., in February, schoolteacher Eileen Blau filed a lawsuit for "severe and multiple injuries" caused when 11-year-old, 90-pound student Daniel Allen accidentally ran into her while engaged in hallway horseplay.

-- Michael Machetti, 31, filed a lawsuit in Riverside County, Calif., in April against Bullseye Tattoo and its owner, charging that the tattoo removal he had done on his neck had infected him with the flesh-eating disease necrotizing fasciitis. Machetti said he went for the removal because co-workers had complained about the familiar two-word obscene phrase (the second word: "you") on his neck, and he wanted it replaced with the apparently more acceptable "666."

-- Sue the Victim (continued): Kenneth J. Lewis II, serving 12 years in prison for burglary, filed a $140,000 lawsuit against property owner Nina Baugh, who had chased after Lewis and shot him in the arm (Bentonville, Ark., April). Willie Brown, 44, serving four years in prison for a convenience store robbery, filed a lawsuit against the clerk who had shot him (with Brown maintaining, "(T)here was no need for the use of deadly force," even though Brown had claimed to have a gun) (Muncie, Ind., April). And in a court filing in May opposing early release for farmer Tony Martin, who had been convicted of killing a burglar, Britain's Home Office argued against parole, maintaining that the government must protect burglars from violent homeowners.

-- Sally Carden Davies, 48, was awarded the equivalent of US$310,000 by a court in Sydney, Australia, in March for falling off an odd-looking chair in a cafe‚ and suffering various injuries, including the loss of her sexual urge, which she said caused a romantic relationship to falter. Davies said her injuries have also affected her practice as a horse dentist.

-- Justin Scheidt filed a lawsuit in May against the Showgirl III strip club in Fort Wayne, Ind., for "serious and permanent injuries" to his groin area received after he consented to take the stage with several dancers during their show. Scheidt, as a climax to his bachelor party that night, complied with the women's requests and lay on his back with his legs around the dancers' pole, after which they began climbing the pole and sliding down squarely on his groin. Scheidt went ahead with his wedding but said he was unable to consummate the marriage because of his injuries.

People Different From Us

-- In Newport Beach, Calif., in May, Trenton M. Veches, 32, was convicted of 22 counts of lewd conduct, with the "sexuality" involved consisting merely of sucking the toes of boys aged 6 to 10. Veches' attorney said the behavior was weird but not legally "lewd" because Veches touched only the feet and in fact was not physically "aroused," himself, but an expert witness for the prosecution said people can be sexually stimulated without showing arousal.

Our Civilization in Decline

(1) Chicago police arrested six people in June and charged them with running an insurance scam, which was allegedly led by a 39-year-old man known as Bonecrusher; police said homeless men consented to have Bonecrusher administer compound fractures of the arm or leg, and they would then be taken to staged accident scenes and instructed how to make quick settlements with insurance companies of up to $100,000 (but getting to keep only about $1,500 of it). (2) And Sheffield Hallam University (Sheffield, England) announced in May that it would inaugurate a Master's degree program in creating video games; a spokesman for a Sony UK company said, "We hope more universities will start offering (curricula) like this."

Recurring Themes

-- Last year, News of the Weird reported on a bulimic Japanese woman who periodically buried plastic bags of her vomit in a remote area under cover of darkness. In April 2003, authorities in Madison, Wis., finally solved a two-month mystery in which an unidentified "smelly, rancid, green slime" (according to a Wisconsin State Journal reporter) in plastic bags was being dumped in garbage cans along Hammersley Road. Neighborhood patrols finally spotted the dumper, a self-described bulimic. A medical authority interviewed by the Journal said some bulimics believe that if the evidence is removed, the illness might not be a problem.

-- Another PETA Tactic: In April, The Independent (London) revealed that the founder of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the 53-year-old Ingrid Newkirk, will be advocating her cause even after she passes away. To continue PETA's campaign to educate people on the treatment of animals for food, fashion and testing, her will provides that part of her body be publicly barbecued; that her feet be turned into ornaments; that part of her skin be turned into a leather product; that the administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency receive her eyes, mounted; and that the owner of the Ringling Brothers circus receive one of her fingers, mounted.

Thinning the Herd

A 20-year-old motorist was killed in Boggstown, Ind., on June 5 when he lost control of his truck while apparently aiming his rear end out the driver's side window (but no other details were released). And sheriff's deputies in Palmdale, Calif., said a motorist was killed in a head-on collision on May 31 just moments after exchanging obscene gestures with a driver he was trying to pass.

Least Competent People

In March in New York City, after six months of warnings about a street widening, the electric company finally moved its utility pole, which was anchored in what by that time had become a lane of traffic, about 10 feet from the curb. And in June, a private road-striping crew on state contract painted a prominent crosswalk on Cucumber Hill Road in Foster, R.I., connecting a hedge on one side with a stone wall on another (and zero pedestrian traffic except for occasional wild animals).

Also, in the Last Month

A 29-year-old man was hospitalized in fair condition after he playfully put a 4-inch-long fish in his mouth (not realizing the fish would head for the only opening, his esophagus) (Macomb, Ill.). At La Mesa Junior High School (where students can be expelled for carrying even squirt guns), the yearbook came out with a quarter-page ad for the National Rifle Association (Santa Clarita, Calif.). The 48-year-old owner of a skydiving service whose fatality rate is eight times the national average was killed while skydiving (Ottawa, Ill.).

(Send your Weird News to Chuck Shepherd, P.O. Box 18737, Tampa FL 33679 or or go to

4520 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 64111; (816) 932-6600

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