News of the Weird by the Editors at Andrews McMeel Syndication



In September, nine-year veteran weathercaster Scott Stevens of KPVI-TV in Pocatello, Idaho, resigned to pursue his obsession of proving that the massiveness of Hurricane Katrina must have been caused by a Russian-made electromagnetic generator employed by the Japanese Yakuza in retaliation for the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. The "patterns and odd geometric shapes" in the sky are "unmistakable" evidence, according to his Web site, that "our weather has been stolen from us." Station manager Bill Fouch said that Stevens was great at forecasting local conditions and that he was sorry to lose him.

Awesome Animals

-- More Weird Mating Habits: The longest-lasting copulation, according to University of Arizona biologist John Alcock (interviewed for an August Knight Ridder story), is that of the lowly "stick insect" (of the phasmida family), which goes on for several months at a time, even though, he said, it is "not clear this is welcome to the female." The male attaches himself to the female's back, which allows her to continue with her daily routine during the mating, while also discouraging competitor males. According to other biologists, some ticks spend up to eight hours on what resembles foreplay, and butterflies, snakes and houseflies can also go on for hours.

-- At Northern Ireland's Belfast Zoo in September, Phoebe the chimp and two others managed to climb out of their compound, and armed security guards had to come round them up. In an effort to frighten the animals into submission, they fired shots into the air, and according to the reporter for The Guardian newspaper, the chimps not only became docile at the sound of gunfire, but they put their hands up.

-- In September, veterinarian Jon-Paul Carew of the Imperial Point Animal Hospital in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., surgically removed a 13-inch-long serrated knife that had been swallowed by Elsie, a 6-month-old St. Bernard puppy, and the dog is now doing fine. The blade was lodged between her esophagus and stomach for about four days and was detected by an X-ray. Said Elsie's owner, "She wants to eat everything and anything."

Leading Economic Indicators

-- Roy Singfield's Trample Fetish Club was set to open in late September or early October in Norwich, England, with a specialty of providing dominatrixes to walk on top of submissive clientele in a variety of shoes and boots (but supposedly with no sex involved). Singfield planned a Trample Room, a Crush room, and a Smoothing room (where the master sits on the client's head), with memberships starting at the equivalent of about $225 annually.

-- Several psychics are hard at work advising Australian business executives, providing such things as "intuitive diagnostics" of personnel systems and detecting "blockages" of the organizational structure (for hourly fees as high as the equivalent of US$290), according to a June report in Sydney's Sunday Telegraph. Psychic Sally de Beche advises clients based on her "holographic images" of the business cycle, and another, Stacey Demarco, a self-described "witch" (and author of the book "There's a Witch in the Boardroom"), builds business networks that she terms "covens."

-- A September sidewalk protest of a Henderson, Nev., Wal-Mart by the United Food and Commercial Workers (which seeks to unionize Wal-Mart, whose notoriously low wage structure is blamed by the union for low wages across the supermarket industry) was staffed by temporary workers hired by UFCW to picket in the hot sun for $30 for a five-hour shift. Said one picketer to the Las Vegas Weekly, "It don't make no sense, does it? We're sacrificing for the people who work in there, and they don't even know it."

Readers' Choice

Rochester, N.H., physician Terry Bennett has been scheduled for a December disciplinary hearing by the State Board of Medicine, based on a complaint that he much too bluntly warned an obese female patient to lose weight or face health and love-life problems (comments that allegedly caused her emotional distress). Said Bennett, "I tried to get her attention." Also, a 2001 complaint against Bennett, which had been dismissed, was revived by the board for the December hearing; he had allegedly told a patient in poor health following brain surgery that she might as well buy a gun and end her suffering.

Improbable Collisions

A 28-year-old motorcyclist was hospitalized in Elkhart, Ind., in August after he was unable to avoid a refrigerator that was mysteriously lying on a well-lighted street in nearby Nappanee at 2:30 a.m. And a motorist was hospitalized in Madison, Wis., in July when he veered off the road slightly and accidentally rammed a dishwasher that had been left on the sidewalk. And on Interstate 295 near Westville, N.J., in August, a modular house (being transported by a truck) accidentally smacked into an abandoned SUV on the side of the road, knocking it into woods.

Least Competent Criminals

Whatever Happened to the Concept of Keeping a Low Profile? Sonja Aguirre, 18, was arrested in Greenwood Village, Colo., in March when, while allegedly carrying 265 pounds of marijuana worth an estimated $500,000, she decided to save a few steps and park in a handicap space. And Edgar Galvan, 28, and Jose Clark, 27, were arrested in Orlando, Fla., in July when, though allegedly carrying 550 pounds of marijuana, they nonetheless hauled it in an SUV with an expired license plate. And, according to police in Dayton, Ohio, in August, a man and a teenager, who were intending to rob a marijuana-growing couple of their large inventory, were arrested shortly beforehand when they tried to save a few bucks by shoplifting pantyhose (to wear as disguises in the robbery) from a Rite Aid drug store.


(1) Broward County (Fla.) school board member Robin Bartleman, explaining in July why she finally accepted an elementary school's new policy of no running on the playground: "To say 'no running' on the playground seems crazy, but your feelings change when you're in a closed-door meeting with lawyers." (2) The costume designer for the new movie "Superman Returns," explaining in September (in Newsweek) her toughest problem: "There was more discussion about Superman's 'package' than anything else on the suit. Was it too big? Was it not big enough? Was it too pointy? Too round?" (3) The child-targeted advertising slogan for Tomamasu Corp.'s new nonalcoholic beverage "Kidsbeer" (which looks and foams like beer but is actually a cola): "Even kids cannot stand life unless they have a drink."

Paranormal Blues

According to an August report in The Guardian, British UFO sightings have fallen dramatically in the last few years, say prominent extraterrestrial-watchers in Cumbria County, England (which has seen a drop-off from 40 sightings in 2004 to none in the first seven months of 2005, although sightings continue to come in from elsewhere in the country). Explanations include a post-Sept. 11 worry about Earthbound threats, as well as the end of the TV series "The X Files." Furthermore, in August, British bookmakers told Independent Television News that betting action on whether Elvis Presley is alive has almost completely disappeared. Said bookie Rupert Adams, "It is perhaps the end of an era."

Sweat in the News

(1) No-sweat and no-odor clothes have hit the market recently, the products of several competing technologies. Britain's Ministry of Defense announced that it would equip soldiers in Afghanistan with heat-resistant, germ-fighting underwear. And the U.S. sports-gear manufacturer Brooks, which originally set out to design heat-dissipating clothes, found that its silver-ion technology also "electrocuted" bacteria, allowing (it claims) as many as 10 stink-free workouts between washings. (2) University of California, Merced, professor Christopher Viney collects and studies hippopotamus sweat, according to an August Fresno Bee report, hypothesizing that the ingredients can help develop sunscreens, bug repellents, and skin-infection protections for humans.

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