News of the Weird by the Editors at Andrews McMeel Syndication

WEEK OF JANUARY 18, 2004

LEAD STORY

-- Joy to the World! Jonathan Cantu, 39, and Charles J. Kern, 50, each feeling slighted at the other's Christmas gift, smacked each other over the head with flowerpots and were hospitalized (San Rafael, Calif.). And Brandi Nicole Nason, 20, also dissatisfied with a gift, allegedly tossed a Molotov cocktail into her ex-mother-in-law's house, causing $200,000 in damage (Hermosa Beach, Calif.). And a woman was arrested for beating a man with a Christmas tree after he complained that the gifts he was carrying were heavier than the tree that she was carrying (Victoria, British Columbia). And after Donna Simmons-Groover won her apartment complex's Christmas-lights competition, a losing neighbor ripped out part of her display in a rage (Jensen Beach, Fla.).

Fashion Notes

Noah Donell Brown, 24, running from police after allegedly robbing a Subway sandwich shop, was caught after being slowed by his baggy pants, which caught on a fence post (Hendersonville, N.C., October). And a 14-year-old boy was fatally hit by a train while playing on railroad tracks with friends, when he tripped, got his baggy pants caught on a rail, and could not free himself (Dayton, Ohio, November).

Least Competent Criminals

Kenneth Martin, 44, and Earle Sharpe III, 30, were arrested for kidnapping in Providence, R.I., in December after abducting a 24-year-old man who supposedly owed Martin money. According to police, after taking the man to an apartment, Martin pointed his gun at him but then realized the magazine clip had fallen out. Martin and Sharpe went outside to retrace their steps in search of the clip after first giving the victim a stern warning not to leave. However, he did leave and called police.

The Entrepreneurial Spirit

-- The Singapore government decided in December to list its high-tech sewage-water conversion plant as a major tourist attraction; Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong drank a bottle of the purified waste to demonstrate that it is not only safe but tasty. And sanitation officials in Oslo, Norway, said they will soon create an adventure park within the city's sewer system, including rafting, theater performances, artwork on the walls, and an area for weddings and parties.

-- As New Yorkers frolicked in the fresh snow from the city's Dec. 7 blizzard, Gilberto Triplett, 28, set up a street-corner kiosk to sell snowballs for $1 each. According to the New York Daily News, he sold six, then created a fresh inventory, and moved four more before calling it a day.

-- Questionable New Products: Triumph International, the Swiss maker of unmentionables, presented a prototype of an anti-smoking brassiere containing perfumes (including lavender and jasmine) that are turned unpleasant by tobacco smoke. And in November, Jones Soda Co. of Seattle bottled 6,000 units of turkey-and-gravy soda, which, remarkably, has the consistency and taste of pureed turkey and gravy; also remarkably, the entire run sold out, with some bottles offered at a huge premium on eBay.

-- For New Year's, the Japanese department store Mitsukoshi Ltd. offered traditional "bento box" meals, but expressly for dogs (at least, dogs whose owners were willing to pay about US$175 each). The ornate, two-layered container housed 30 delicacies, including pork dumplings, black beans, strawberry mousse and green tea, and was a bold attempt by the store to pitch to Japan's growing upscale pet market.

Weird Science

-- A recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that a woman who conceived three sons with her husband was biologically unrelated to two of them. Doctors posited that the woman herself was part of an nonidentical-twin pair that fused at an early stage of her mother's pregnancy and that only her blood cells are hers, alone, while cells from her eggs and other tissues may have come from her sister's fetus.

-- Free-lance writer Jean Lund (her pen name), 51, disclosed to the Boston Globe for a November story that she suffers from Persistent Sexual Arousal Syndrome (perpetually on the verge of orgasm) and hopes that her revelation will help people understand how uncomfortable the condition is. According to Lund and others, the arousal is much different than sexual desire and in fact is not satiated by orgasm. Suspected causes are chemical imbalances, seizures and irregular blood flow. "It's just a horror," said a 71-year-old sufferer; it "never stops, it never lets up."

Update

News of the Weird reported in 1996 that Mr. Virldeen Redmon, then 67, had just been sentenced to 9 1/2 years in prison on three drunk-driving-related counts, the latest of his nearly 400 alcohol-related arrests since 1947. He was released from prison for health reasons in 2001, but has been arrested several times since then on similar charges (running his total to over 400), and in December 2003 was sentenced on three new counts to 17 years in prison. His driver's license was revoked in 1977.

The Classic Middle Name (all-new)

Arrested for murder: Dennis Wayne Bryant (Richmond, Va., August). Committed suicide while wanted for murder: Rodger Wayne Chastain (San Francisco, August). Awaiting trial for murder (pending a competency evaluation): Elvis Wayne Botley (Palm Springs, Calif., June). Murder appeal rejected: Barry Wayne Riley (Vancouver, British Columbia, September). Acquitted of murder (Ouch!): David Wayne McQuater (Athens, Ga., May). Sought by police for a 1995 murder (in Bonita Springs, Fla.) and suspected in a 2003 murder (in Leeds, England): David Bieber (who, when he went on the lam in England, chose as his alias, for some reason, Nathan Wayne Coleman).

Recent Alarming Headlines

(1) "Westchester Ordered to Pay $2,500 to Pedophile Clown" (an August New York Times story about clown Richard Hobbs' winning a lawsuit against a county that had tried to keep him out of a public park). (2) "Champion Liar Accused of Cheating" (a November London Evening Standard report that this year's winner of the World's Biggest Liar contest in Cumbria, England, read from a script instead of extemporaneously lying).

Undignified Deaths

In November, a 70-year-old businessman had just finished testifying against the Homer, Alaska, city council's proposed no-smoking ordinance (calling the reported dangers to health "baloney") when he keeled over, dead of a heart attack. (He had said that eating breakfast with smokers every morning "hasn't bothered my health any.") Also in November, in New York City, a 79-year-old man, who was using a blender to make a health drink for his wife, was killed when the appliance exploded, with a glass shard severing an artery.

Also, in the Last Month

A 21-year-old woman was charged with public nudity for being naked in a downtown bar, even though the police's only evidence was a photograph of her, naked, in the bar, that she had posted on the Internet (Lincoln, Neb.). Two armed robbers who kicked in a door and threatened a terrified woman backed off after she told them she had epilepsy; one of the men said his cousin is similarly afflicted, and he convinced his partner to call it off (Wichita, Kan.). A 36-year-old woman was arrested for stealing 50 antique glass eyeballs (which have little resale value) from a hospital display case (Owensboro, Ky.).

(Send your Weird News to Chuck Shepherd, P.O. Box 18737, Tampa FL 33679 or WeirdNews@earthlink.net or go to www.NewsoftheWeird.com.)

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