News of the Weird

Week of December 10, 2006

LEAD STORY

In November, a judge upheld a rule passed by a condominium association in Golden, Colo., prohibiting owners from smoking even inside their own units (in that neighbors had been complaining for five years that a couple's cigarette smoke had been seeping into their town houses). A few days earlier, Belmont, Calif., became the first American city to ban smoking everywhere in the city limits, including condominiums and even cars (but not detached, single-family homes). (A day before that, however, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted to instruct the police to treat marijuana-smoking as the city's lowest law-enforcement priority.)

Government in Action!

-- Bright Ideas: The City Council of Greenleaf, Idaho, passed an ordinance in November to require nearly all residents to keep a gun at home in case the town becomes overrun by people relocating after Gulf Coast storms. Also in November, a report from the Missouri House's Special Committee on Immigration Reform blamed much of their state's acquiescence to illegal immigration on the fact that since Roe v. Wade in 1973, 80,000 potential Missourians have been aborted, thus helping to create job vacancies for aliens.

-- Super-protective: The Powys County Council in Wales warned the maker of Welsh Dragon sausages in November that it must label its product better, such as by marking it "pork sausages" (so as not to mislead about the type of meat it contained). And in October, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services sought to extend its abstinence education program (which currently gives grants to states for programs for teenagers), to start reaching unmarried people up to age 29.

-- A New York City housing program begun in the 1970s to encourage new construction has enabled huge reductions in property taxes on certain buildings in Manhattan, and those savings continue to this day (and at least through next year and maybe beyond). Among the beneficiaries: Yankee shortstop Derek Jeter, who saves $130,000 a year on his $4 million Trump World Tower apartment; designer Calvin Klein ($134,000 savings on his penthouse); and actress Natalie Portman (saving $26,300 a year on her $5.8 million condo) (according to an October New York Post report).

Great Art!

-- "I've always had the desire to play (the cello) naked," said Ms. Jesse Hale, a music major at Austin Peay State University (Clarksville, Tenn.) and member of the CJ Boyd Sexxxtet of nude cellists who play their experimental, chant-like songs in concert around the country. Hale, who says she's been playing naked since sixth grade, explained to Austin Peay's newspaper in September that cellists "make full body contact with (their) instrument," and their legs even "wrap" around it so that "(i)t just feels natural."

-- Social Messaging: (1) The magazine Time Out New York reported in September on the "artistic palettes" of the Sprinkle Brigade of artists who dress up dog droppings on New York City streets with glittering candy bits and colorful toothpicks, for "urban beautification." (2) British performance artist Ian Thorley, working on grants from several local councils, did a week's stint on an Ashington street in October, stepping onto and off of a doormat while wearing a badge identifying him as a government doormat tester.

Police Squad

-- At the county jail in Dubuque, Iowa, in November, Michael Kelley Jr., 29 and accused of attempted murder, was swapping stories with inmate Jamie Brimeyer, 34, when he asked about Brimeyer's facial scar. As Brimeyer described being stabbed in the cheek by an unknown assailant in 2005, Kelley realized that he was the one who had stabbed him and recalled the incident so well that he corrected some of Brimeyer's recollections. Brimeyer later reported Kelley, who is now also charged with assault with a dangerous weapon.

-- Police Blotter: (1) (from the Morning Sentinel, Waterville, Maine, Nov. 10) "6 p.m., a woman said she suspected someone had sabotaged her washing machine. A police investigation concluded that an imbalanced laundry load had caused the shaking." (2) (from The Star Press, Muncie, Ind., Nov. 4) "(A man) reported the burglary around 10 p.m. Thursday after he returned from the hospital and found his 36-inch Samsung TV missing. It (had been) replaced with an RCA TV that was missing a power cord. ... Decorative items were placed around the new TV, apparently in an attempt to fool (him)."

Election Roundup (continued)

Libertarian Steve Osborn finished second in the U.S. Senate race in Indiana to incumbent Richard Lugar, more than 1 million votes behind, but two weeks later asked for a recount in 10 precincts. And Utah officials are investigating results in Daggett County, where 947 people were registered to vote on Nov. 7 (compared to the county's entire 2005 census population of 943). And in tiny Waldenburg, Ark., the mayor and his challenger tied at 18 votes each, with the only other candidate, Randy Wooten, receiving zero, which Wooten said was impossible because he had voted for himself. And in Lysowice, Poland (with November voting, also), an elections official became so distraught at irregularities at her polling station that she grabbed a box of ballots and locked herself in a restroom until police convinced her to come out.

Fetishes on Parade

(1) England's Liverpool Magistrates Court granted police a temporary "sexual offenses prevention order" in October against Akinwale Arobieke, 45, who had been jailed for pestering people with requests to feel their muscles. Arobieke is prohibited from touching, feeling or measuring muscles or asking people to do squat exercises. (2) In October, airline baggage courier Rodney Petersen, 30, pleaded guilty in Melbourne, Australia, to stealing hairs (head and pubic) from clothing or hairbrushes in women's luggage. At his home, police found 80 plastic bags containing hairs, labeled with each owner's name.

Least Competent Criminals

Amateurs: A teenager, 17, was booked into a juvenile detention center in Lynnwood, Wash., in October after he got his arm stuck in the dog door of a house he was allegedly attempting to burglarize. (Experienced burglars avoid houses with dog doors because that usually means that a dog is present.) And in Sheboygan, Wis., in November, police arrested Leah Jerolimek, 21, and charged her with trying to pass a counterfeit $20 bill at a gas station, even though the bill (made with a computer and printer) was blank on the back.

Update

News of the Weird first noted Professor Jukka Ammondt of the University of Jyvaskyla in Finland in 1995, and apparently his twin passions (Elvis Presley and Latin) have only grown stronger since then. He performs Elvis' songs in the "dead" language that's far from dead in Finland -- a country that features a regular radio newscast entirely in Latin (drawing about 75,000 listeners), according to an October BBC dispatch from Helsinki. Among the Ammondt-Presley standards: "It's Now or Never" ("Nunc hic aut numquam") and "Love Me Tender" ("Tenere me, suaviter").

Death by Snake

(1) A 48-year-old woman died from a timber rattlesnake bite during services at the East London Holiness Church in London, Ky., in November. The church features a monthly snake-handling service, during which people can prove they are true believers by not getting bitten. (2) In Shamokin, Pa., in October, Terry Jackson, 36, distraught for an undisclosed reason, kept police at bay in a suicidal standoff in which she wielded five poisonous snakes (from an aquarium in her home). They bit her hand and face numerous times, leaving her bloody, until police subdued her with a Taser gun. She was hospitalized in critical condition but survived and will face charges for threatening police.

(Visit Chuck Shepherd daily at http://NewsoftheWeird.blogspot.com or www.NewsoftheWeird.com. Send your Weird News to WeirdNewsTips@yahoo.com or P.O. Box 18737, Tampa, FL 33679.)

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