News of the Weird by the Editors at Andrews McMeel Syndication

WEEK OF APRIL 18, 2004


A 2003 British documentary, "Fat Girls and Feeders," debuting on Australian TV in April 2004, profiled an Arizona couple, "Gina" (once one of the world's largest women) and her husband, "Mark" (who has a sensual or psychological desire that she be ever-larger). Because Gina is apparently comfortable with her role, Mark is merely an "enabler" in the "fat administration" subculture, but more dominant men are called "feeders," who may even "grow" their partners by pouring liquid fat down their throats. Gina once weighed 825 pounds (with a 92-inch waist), but had settled down at around 400. The filmmaker's point is said to be that objectifying fat women is only somewhat more offensive than objectifying thin ones.

Florida's Unruly Seniors

In March, a 62-year-old man was ejected from the Spring Haven Retirement Community (Winter Haven, Fla.) after he punched one resident (age 86) and bit another (age 78) in a brawl over his apparent habit of foraging at the communal salad bar for his favorite kind of lettuce. (His 80-year-old mother, also a resident, conceded that "it did appear that he was playing with the food.") And in February in Tamarac, Fla., the family of a 74-year-old man who died in 2002 after being sucker-punched by a 69-year-old man in a theater-line fight, filed a lawsuit against the movie house for not providing security, claiming there had been several other theater-line altercations between seniors.

The Sacred Institution of Marriage (continued)

Saudi businessman Saleh al-Saiairi, 64, who has been married to 58 women (but not more than four at one time), announced he would soon take two more brides and was preparing to randomly select the two current wives he would have to divorce (March). And David Boyd announced as a candidate for the Canadian Parliament, from Halifax, on a platform of marriage reform, specifically to permit same-sex, group and human-android marriages (March).

America's Worsening Gullibility Problem

-- A 73-year-old retired electronics specialist sat for a long interview in December in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, patiently explaining that the $300,000 nest egg he had just lost on a familiar Nigerian scam was really the fault of "corrupt governments" and not the dishonesty of his Nigerian "friends" who had no choice but to ask him to pay ever-escalating investment amounts. The man repeatedly insisted that his "friends" couldn't possibly be scammers, but toward the end of the two-hour interview, finally remembered that they "never did really explain how they got my name."

-- Former Harvard professor Weldong Xu, who was arrested in March for his alleged scheme to bilk colleagues out of $600,000 to fund a bogus SARS research institute in China, admitted to Boston police that he spent part of the money on what the detectives recognized as a traditional Nigerian money-laundering scam, although Xu aggressively insisted that it was a legitimate deal. Said Detective Steve Blair, "(The Harvard professor) never caught on."

-- Todd Lorin Nelson, a 13-year employee of the Miami-Dade (Fla.) county clerk's office, was summoned for jury duty in April 2003, reported to the courtroom, and was quickly dismissed. However, according to police, he repeatedly called his boss over the next few months to say that he had been selected as a juror for a big case but couldn't talk about it (all the while drawing his $35,000 government salary), and it was not until October that the boss finally investigated, resulting in Nelson's arrest.

Recent Wisdom From Newspaper Columnists

-- From a January "Parenting" column by John Rosemond in the Providence (R.I.) Journal: Reader: "I can't keep my 20-month-old daughter out of the dog's food. I've tried scolding, distracting, time-out, nothing has worked." Rosemond: "(F)rom a strictly nutritional standpoint (a nutritionist told me), most dog food is superior to the diets of many Americans." "(A pediatrician said) he has yet to see a child who suffered ill effects from eating dog food," except for chunk-type that might get stuck in the throat.

-- From a February "Ask Dr. (Peter) Gott" column in the Herald News of suburban Chicago: Reader: "(M)y grandson ... told me that his fifth-grade teacher (a female) instructed the class that hand-washing (following urination in a public restroom) is unnecessary; urine is sterile." Dr. Gott: "Bless your grandson's teacher." "As a general rule, the urogenital area is cleaner than most other body parts are, and it need not be washed nor should hands be washed after urinating." "You and I, reader, are the products of our upbringing. It's time to make a change."

Least Competent Criminals

Troy D. Nunes, 37, became the latest ordinary burglar to die at his crime scene. He broke into a Hollywood Video store in Quincy, Mass., in March by tossing a brick through a window, but a shard of glass remained protruding, and as Nunes was leaving, he accidentally slashed his right femoral artery and died of blood loss just down the street. However, another clumsy burglar is still alive (and was arrested in Columbus, Ohio, in March), despite apparently habitually cutting himself at crime scenes. Columbus police said they had found what they believe is his DNA in seven different burglarized stores in Columbus and Cleveland.

Recurring Themes

News of the Weird has reported twice on incredibly long daily commutes to work (a 25-year U.S. Navy Department employee, 342 miles round trip from Trenton, N.J., to Washington, D.C., reported in 1992, and a 39-year veteran rural West Virginia newspaper carrier, 200 miles round trip, reported in 1996). A January 2004 Boston Globe profile of retirement-fund analyst Stephen Jordan described his 340-mile daily round trip from his farm in Augusta, Maine, to his downtown Boston office, but unlike the other two, who drove all the way, Jordan drives only to Portland and takes a train to Boston (on which he "get(s) a ton of work done," he said).

Unusual Murder Defenses

Raymond Rodriguez, 25, was found not guilty in the murder of a 77-year-old drinking buddy after he testified to having, at the crime scene, hallucinations of bologna and cheese dancing around in the refrigerator and, in the freezer, a green man who told Rodriguez, "Catch me if you can." (San Antonio, December) And Patrick Hutchinson was sent for a mental exam in February after police in Lexington, Ky., accused him of murdering his wife. Hutchinson explained that she had been taken over by aliens and that he (as one of only 735 "true humans" left in Lexington, out of 260,000 population) had to stop her, using a weapon supplied by a cobra that was speaking on behalf of God.

Also, in the Last Month ...

An American Airlines flight was canceled after the local Transportation Security Administration official ordered a bomb search (which proved fruitless) based only on information that he said came from a psychic (Fort Myers, Fla.). And a Chicago attorney was permitted to withdraw from representing a 75-year-old alleged serial bad-check-writer after he sheepishly admitted that he had taken a check from her for his retainer, but that it had bounced.

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