News of the Weird by the Editors at Andrews McMeel Syndication

WEEK OF MAY 28, 2006


The National Health Service office in Dundee, Scotland, has recommended toilet techniques for the estimated one-third of the population that suffers from bowel and bladder dysfunction, according to an April report in The Times of London. The pamphlet, "Good Defecation Dynamics," lists preferred breathing habits and describes the proper, upright, seated posture for effective elimination ("Keep your mouth open as you bulge and widen"), and encourages support for the feet, perhaps "a small footstool."

The Entrepreneurial Spirit

-- Earlier this year in separate incidents, two physical education teachers at Ernest Ward Middle School in Pensacola, Fla., were arrested and charged with bribery for allowing students to avoid gym classes by paying the teachers money. Tamara B. Tootle, 39, charged in April, allegedly gave students credits at $1 per student per class, and Terence Braxton, 28, arrested in February, pleaded guilty in May to a similar scheme, admitting to making at least $230.

-- More Side Businesses: (1) A highly publicized attraction of the Isdaan restaurant in Gerona, Philippines (according to a March Reuters dispatch) is its "wall of fury," against which diners can vent frustrations by smashing things (with fees ranging from the equivalent of 30 U.S. cents for a plate up to $25 for an old TV set). (2) In July, according to BBC News, British farmer David Lucas will be forced by European Commission rules to give up his lucrative sideline of building gallows for Zimbabwe and other governments that still employ hangings. Lucas' single gallows sells for the equivalent of $22,000, and the Multi-Hanging Execution System, mounted on a trailer, goes for about $185,000.

Science on the Cutting Edge

In April, noted surgeon Sir Magdi Yacoub and a team at Ormond Hospital in London re-started and re-inserted the original heart of a 12-year-old girl after it had been in storage for 10 years while she lived with a donated heart. Because the donated heart was finally showing signs of rejection, Dr. Yacoub decided that the original, which was removed because of acute inflammation, might have repaired itself enough to work again.

Workplace Traumas

(1) In Miami, actress-dancer Alice Alyce, 29, sued the owners and managers of the musical "Movin' Out" for $100 million in March after they fired her, allegedly because they believed her breasts are too large for her role. (2) Schoolteacher Sue Storer, 48, filed a lawsuit against the government in Bristol, England, in March, asking the equivalent of $1.9 million for having fired her when she complained of, among other things, never getting a replacement for her classroom chair, which she said emitted a "farting" noise every time she sat down.

Politicians: Only the Best and the Brightest

-- Unclear on the Concept: (1) Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate (and football hall-of-famer) Lynn Swann, who says state taxes are too high, was revealed by the Allentown Morning Call in March to have been neglecting to collect legally required state sales tax from the Pennsylvania customers of his football memorabilia Web site. (2) Arizona gubernatorial candidate Mike Harris donated $100,000 of his own money to his campaign in April, six months after successfully begging a judge to cut his $2,000-per-month child-support payments in half (and conceding that he had not disclosed that he owed his ex-wife $44,000 more from a property sale). Harris said even paying $1,000 a month was "pretty darn generous" of him.

-- (1) Pasco County, Fla., candidate John Ubele, 28, a proud member of the white separatist National Alliance, said he's more concerned with runaway government expenses than with race as he campaigns for a seat on the county's Mosquito Control Board. (2) New York state Sen. David Paterson, running for lieutenant governor, said in March that he now regrets introducing unsuccessful legislation for 14 straight years (until 2001) to make it legal for suspects to physically resist police.

People With Too Much Money

Women's handbag designers, uncertain about the effect of Hurricane Katrina on Louisiana's alligator habitats, spent the winter searching for new supplies of hides, according to a March Wall Street Journal report. The fall gator harvest saw prices rise 50 percent from two years earlier, forcing Ralph Lauren, for example, to raise the price of its most prestigious alligator purse to $14,000, and hide prices were expected to rise another 50 percent this summer. (Alligator shoes, shirts and coats have also soared in price, and the alligator-paneled piano sold by Giorgio's of Palm Beach now costs $950,000.)

People With Issues

In April, Michael Theleman, 45, finding true love hard to come by in the isolated town of Bray, Okla. (pop. 1,035), posted a yard sign offering to pay $1,000 for help in finding a "virgin" bride between the ages of 12 and 24. Offended neighbors convinced him to take it down, but he replaced it with another, stating that his future wife must not be "pig-worshipping, heathen (or) white supremacist." Theleman said he couldn't understand the neighbors' furor, recalling that his grandmother was married at 14 to "a much older man."

Least Competent People

(1) Salt Lake City high school student Travis Williams was bitten by a baby rattlesnake in May, even though a companion had warned him to avoid it. Said Williams, "(E)ven though she told me not to ... I picked it up anyway. I'm not too bright that way." (2) Chesterton, Ind., high school student Michael Morris was hospitalized in May with a broken leg and broken arm after being run into by a friend driving an Acura at about 25 mph, but it was consensual. The friend described Morris as an adrenaline junkie who had had the friend run over him before, but Morris told the Times of Northwest Indiana, "I won't do this no more."

Recurring Themes

News of the Weird reported in 2001 that a bulimic woman in Toyoda, Japan, had been caught illegally dumping about 60 pounds a week of her own vomit in remote locations and, in 2003, that another bulimic woman had been caught discarding similar quantities near Madison, Wis. (perhaps, say health professionals, to assist their denial process by keeping their own homes untainted). In April 2006, sheriff's deputies reported a similar spree, ironically near an Iowa town called Mount Pleasant, that has now totaled about 50 bags' worth over a three-year period, but at press time, the vomiter was still at large.

The Classic Middle Name (all new)

Arrested recently and awaiting trial for murder: Bruce Wayne Potts, 34 (DeSoto, Texas, February); Oral Wayne Nobles, 71 (arrested in Kingman, Ariz., on a Massachusetts warrant, April); Ronald Wayne Spencer Jr., 19 (Richardson, Texas, April). Arrested and suspected of murder: Darrell Wayne Lewis, 32 (Tempe, Ariz., March). Sentenced for murder: David Wayne Hickman (Dallas, May); Anthony Wayne Welch, 27 (Viera, Fla., March). Committed suicide while serving life in prison for murder: John Wayne Glover, 72 (Sydney, Australia, September 2005).

God's Will

More than 90 people were killed while observing their religion in three incidents in April. A stampede by thousands of women at a religious gathering in downtown Karachi, Pakistan, resulted in 29 deaths; a packed bus speeding home from a religious festival went out of control and plunged into a ravine near Orizaba, Mexico, killing 57; and a few days later in Santa Maria del Rio, Mexico, five were killed by lightning, which struck the large metal cross before which they were praying.

(Visit Chuck Shepherd daily at or Send your Weird News to or P.O. Box 18737, Tampa, FL 33679.)

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