News of the Weird

Week of September 19, 2004

LEAD STORY

Business prospects are improving for Christopher Lindhoist and Arshad Chowdhury, who recently opened their Metronaps lounge on the 24th floor of New York City's Empire State Building and whose clients pay $14 to relieve stress by dozing off for 20 minutes in private, specially made, reclining chair-pods with an array of vibrations and sounds to drown out the hubbub of the city. Chowdhury said he studied the science of napping at Carnegie-Mellon University and found a "tremendous amount of research" showing the rejuvenative value of the short "power nap," which he said improves memory, mood and learning. The Metronaps chair-pods (cost: $8,000) are being separately sold to companies overseas and may soon appear in airport lounges.

Life Imitates "Weekend at Bernie's"

Two men and a woman, described in a Cape Times (Cape Town, South Africa) story as loan sharks, brought the corpse of Thozamile Patrick Apolis in a wheelchair into an FNB Provincial bank in June in an attempt to withdraw his pension (signing for it by "helping" Apolis move his hand across the paper), but a skeptical customer, who kept demanding that bank officials check for a pulse, scared off the three, who left the body behind.

Such a Thoughtful Son, to Provide for His Mom

Going against the grain of recent court decisions, the federal appeals court in New York ruled in August, 2-1, that when a man died of "autoerotic asphyxiation" (normally, strangling oneself almost to the point of passing out as a way of enhancing pleasure during masturbation, but in some cases, going too far), it was an "accident" rather than a self-inflicted injury. Thus, mom Shirley Critchlow is entitled to death benefits under her son Michael's life insurance policy (but would not have been for a self-inflicted injury).

The Classic Middle Name (all new)

Arrested and charged with murder: David Wayne Mears (Ludington, Mich., June); Edward Wayne Bryant (Ardmore, Okla., arrested in Houston, August); Kenith Wayne Sherrill (Yakima, Wash., July); Chadwick Wayne Wallace (Alton, Ill., August); Timothy Wayne Johnson (Raleigh, N.C., September). Already serving a life sentence for murder but charged again: Alexander Wayne Watson Jr. (Maryland, convicted of a 1994 murder, but, based on DNA evidence, charged in July with murders in 1986, 1988 and 1993). Already serving a life sentence for murder but convicted of murdering an inmate: Shannon Wayne Agofsky (Beaumont, Texas, July).

Unclear on the Concept

-- According to a police report in the Brainerd (Minn.) Dispatch, in August, thieves had broken into the First Integrity Bank on Excelsior Road in Baxter, Minn., but then used a hammer on a common wall in order to break into the adjacent Lakes Area Eyecare store and make off with numerous pairs of sunglasses. (In most such break-ins, crooks use the store to get into the bank, not the other way around.)

-- Federal District Judge Thomas A. Higgins of Nashville, Tenn., had just ordered David Bowman, 41, back to prison for violating his probation (cocaine possession and other offenses), and he asked Bowman if he had anything to say. Instead of asking for leniency, Bowman recited the litany of inconveniences that lay ahead (e.g., crowded bus back to prison, various transfers from bus to bus on the way) and then asked, apparently seriously, if Judge Higgins would please personally drive him back to prison. (To the prosecutor's suggestion that prison would give Bowman "a chance to think," Judge Higgins said, "I think part of the problem is that Mr. Bowman doesn't do as much thinking as maybe (we) would like him to.")

Inexplicable

-- New York City judge Laura Blackburne came under fire from the police in June when she helped Derek Sterling (described by police as a "convicted drug dealer" but in a rehab program) escape out a side door of her courtroom so that he could avoid a detective poised to arrest him for a May robbery. She said she was angry that the detective didn't clear the arrest with her in advance. (Blackburne was already notorious for recently releasing a man charged with attempting to kill a police officer, ruling that he had not received a speedy trial.)

-- Cynthia Gorden filed a lawsuit in Chicago in May asking a judge to prevent the airing of her appearance on a "Judge Mathis" syndicated television show (for which litigants audition to appear in person in a raucous courtroom setting, making their arguments and allowing Mathis to render a decision). According to the lawsuit, Gorden, who came on the program to aggressively sue her own mother, said it was the program staff's fault that she wound up embarrassing herself.

Least Competent Criminals

The obviously inexperienced Bradley S. Shugars, 21, was arrested and charged with robbing a Phillips 66 gas station in Avon, Ind., with his cousin, Karl D. Carnes. Police found Shugars in the getaway car, awaiting Carnes at another gas station, and quickly got a confession from Shugars, who started to cry. According to the arresting officer, Shugars self-pityingly lamented, "Everybody can rob you, but you can't rob nobody."

Update

German filmmaker (Mr.) Rosa von Praunheim told reporters in July that he will finish by December his movie based on notorious convicted cannibal Armin Meiwes, who is serving eight years in prison following his January conviction for the apparently consensual murder and consumption of a man. "Your Heart in My Brain" (working title) was funded in part by a government film foundation in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia and begins with Meiwes being confronted in prison by his victim's head, which, according to a Reuters report, encourages Meiwes to take pride in what he has done and to move on to more killing.

Almost All True

Three of these four things really happened, just recently. Are you cynical enough to figure out the made-up story? (a) A British couple who hadn't been able to break their two-pack-a-day cigarette habit gave it up when their pet parrot developed a respiratory illness. (b) A leading British museum announced an experiment to cover a substantial portion of its utility expenses by converting visitors' excrement from museum rest rooms into electricity. (c) A local Islamic extremist organization in France, with ties to al-Qaeda, filed several lawsuits against the city of Paris for what it called "discriminatory tax harassment." (d) Meteorological officials in one Chinese province accused their counterparts in another province of "stealing" "their" clouds, in order to seed them for rain.

People Different From Us

In a June profile of Britain's Prince Charles, a columnist for The Guardian newspaper describes, as an example of his increasing isolation from the mainstream of under-age-65 British society, his recent encouragement of people to avoid college and accept learning vocational skills and his enthusiastic promotion of the Gerson Therapy, a widely discredited treatment for cancer patients diagnosed as terminally ill. Among the tenets of the Gerson regimen (which costs $15,000 for three weeks): drinking 20 pounds of liquified fruit and vegetables per day (specially prepared on a "noncentrifugal" juicer that costs $2,000) and taking daily coffee enemas.

Readers' Choice

Survival Instinct: In September, Jerry Allen Bradford of Pensacola, Fla., had in mind to put his seven German shepherd-mix puppies down because he could not find them homes, and had already shot three and was carrying two other dogs, and his .38-caliber revolver, in his arms. According to a sheriff's report, that's when one of the two condemned dogs managed to press his paw on the trigger, firing and hitting Bradford on the wrist. He was treated at a hospital, and the sharpshooter and his three siblings were placed for adoption.

Answer to Almost All True: (c) is not true.

Thanks This Week to Tanya Olckers, Marc Albert, James Jones, Donna Gasior, Mindy Cohen, Barbara Insidioso, Albert Clawson, Caitlin Richardson-Royer, Chris Menne, Nathan Karnes, Peter Smagorinsky, Don Tyler, James Mohr, Jackie LeGrand, Neil Gimon, Chris Atwell, Charles Onley, Jon Van Essen, Brandee Scheffler, Larry Clunie, and Tim Farley, and to the News of the Weird Senior Advisors (Jenny T. Beatty, Gaal Shepherd Crowl, Paul DiFilippo, Geoffrey Egan, Sam Gaines, Ivan Katz, Barbara McDonald, Matt Mirapaul, Jim Sweeney, and Barbara Tyger); to the News of the Weird Internet News Artists (Dave Beck, John Cieciel, Ginger Katz, Joe Littrell, Victor McDonald, Steve Miller, Paul Music, Kerry O'Conner, Karl Olson, and Bruce Townley); and to the News of the Weird Editorial Advisors (Paul Blumstein, Michael Colpitts, Lance E. Ellisor, Harry Farkas, Leslie Goodman- Malamuth, Fritz Gritzner, Herb Jue, Wolf Kirchmeir, Scott Langill, Myra J. Linden, Bob McCabe, Christopher Nalty, Joel O'Brien, Larry Ellis Reed, Lee Sechrest, Tom Slone, Rob Snyder, Maurine Taylor, H.Thompson, and Jerry Whittle.

(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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