News of the Weird by the Editors at Andrews McMeel Syndication

WEEK OF JULY 11, 2004


A Palm Beach Post writer, making the point that America's obesity problem is not limited to humans, reported from the Boca Greens Animal Hospital (Boca Raton, Fla.) in June that "Pumpkin," a 12-pound Chihuahua, was up and moving well after her recent liposuction surgery. However, the 12 ounces of fat she lost still left her among South Florida's overweight pets, said to be two-thirds of their population. As Pumpkin's owner was reminded, surgery is not to be a substitute for sensible exercise and a modest number of treats.

First Things First

(1) Police in Fort Myers, Fla., arrested Carlos Chereza, 17, in April and charged him with hiring a hit man to kill his mother and to make it look like a burglary; as is often the case, the "hit man" was actually an undercover detective, who by the way said Chereza's main concern was to pull off the job without damaging the family's TV set. (2) In March, Thailand's agriculture minister criticized health officials' proposal to embed microchips in the nation's 200,000 fighting roosters, to help deal with the avian flu scare sweeping Asia; the minister's main concern was that the implants would hamper the cocks' aggressiveness.

People With Too Much Time on Their Hands

-- Recently, Britain's BBC televised an educational program in which scientist Mike Leahy and pal Zeron Gibson undertook certain activities in the weeks leading up to the program, and then, live on April 15, the men's sperm was shown, by microscope, in a "race" inside tiny glass tubes, in an experiment to gauge the effects of different lifestyle choices on sperm motility. Gibson's won.

-- In March, U.S. Rep. Major Jones of Brooklyn, N.Y., proudly claimed authorship of a controversial rap-music play being seriously considered for staging in New York City. Rep. Jones' "The Viagra Monologues" champions male sexuality, with lines like (according to a New York Post story), "Monogamy is for chumps" and "Boyhood self-esteem dies / Gawking at the other guy's size / What deal with the angels / Awarded him a better tubular prize."


-- South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, intending to score some publicity in his battle against what he believes is irresponsible spending by the state legislature, held two small pigs in his arms at a photo opportunity outside the House chamber in May, telling reporters that one was named "pork" and the other "barrel." Before the event ended, both pigs had soiled the governor's suit jacket and the elegant carpet at the State House, forcing Sanford's press secretary and speechwriter to pull quick duty with cleanser and paper towels.

-- Breakaway Mormon polygamist John Daniel Kingston, testifying in May at his child-abuse trial in Salt Lake City (he had been charged with threatening to beat two teenage daughters if they got their ears pierced), strongly asserted his devotion as a parent, despite having to keep up with numerous children from his reported 14 wives. However, when asked to name the 13 children he had with one of the wives, he struggled through nine names before giving up.


-- In April, the Nebraska state auditor discovered thousands of dollars missing from the state's million-dollar smoking-cessation program and only then realized that the man running the program since 2001, Rock Mueller, had been hired while still on work release from prison on a theft conviction. And in March, the Rhode Island House speaker appointed to the prestigious budget-writing committee Rep. Joseph L. Faria, who was well-known to have been struggling for a decade with personal money issues that had caused him to be sued, to have liens placed on his property, and to have been investigated by the state police.

-- (1) Pedestrian James W. Dudley, 61, was hospitalized in May after being hit by a car in Glen Burnie, Md.; moments before, he had been discussing with another person at a bus stop the relative probability of being hit by a car vs. being the victim of a theft. (2) And in May at a middle school honors dance in Mount Vernon, Wash. (with invitees chosen exclusively on the basis of high academic and behavioral standards), a 12-year-old girl and her 14-year-old classmate were taken into custody for beating another girl unconscious.

No Longer Weird

Adding to the list of stories that were formerly weird but which now occur with such frequency that they must be retired from circulation: (69) The civic-minded drunk who recognizes the danger in trying to drive home but who instead puts his adolescent child behind the wheel, or, as Michael Johnston did in Peachtree City, Ga., in June, got a blind friend to drive (supposedly "guided" by Johnston's instructions). (70) And the construction worker who is accidentally shot in the head with a nail gun, but who survives just fine (and winds up with a souvenir X-ray, which also appears in newspapers around the world), as happened to Isidro Mejia in Los Angeles in May.


Salem, Mass., police Sgt. David Connelly was finally arrested in January after an alleged two-year vandalism spree; according to police in nearby Lynnfield, Connelly had been angry at a 2001 court decision against him by Judge Howard Whitehead, who lives a few blocks away, and at least 90 times in two years had driven by Whitehead's house and tossed empty beer cans into the yard. And in St. Petersburg, Fla., in March, the U.S. ambassador to Italy, Melvin Sembler, who for 17 years ran an aggressive drug treatment program called Straight, filed a lawsuit against disgruntled Straight ex-client Richard Bradbury, who allegedly has harassed Sembler since 1987, including rummaging through his garbage (once finding Sembler's penile pump and advertising it on eBay).

The District of Calamity (continued)

In May, the principal of Lincoln Multicultural Middle School in Washington, D.C., already under investigation for some missing school student activities money, was fired after trying to sell two school buses to someone in Panama. And in May, C&F Construction Inc., which had been suspended from D.C. government contracts earlier this year because its president had been convicted of defrauding the government on road-paving materials, was abruptly reinstated and in May awarded a $3.1 million road repair contract.

More Things to Worry About

(1) Police Sgt. Randall C. Hoover of Muhlenberg Township, Pa., filed a federal lawsuit in April accusing the police department and the police union of civil rights violations because members allegedly teased him for his pituitary-gland tumor that caused him to grow lactating breasts. (2) Nurse Jackie Tvedt held on to her state license even though she was fired in January from a nursing home in Newton, Iowa, for allegedly providing a reduced level of care to those patients whom God had told her that He would take care of.

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