News of the Weird by the Editors at Andrews McMeel Syndication



When a four-bedroom house inhabited by 50 tenants partially collapsed in October in Honolulu, at least 10 of the residents said they had been pressured to let the property manager give them experimental "stem-cell" injections. Manager Daniel Cunningham, 56 and a de-licensed chiropractor, said he has been injecting the substance, phenol, into himself for years, to treat gnarled hands (though the hands appeared to a Honolulu Advertiser reporter to be deteriorating to the point where Cunningham wears socks over them). One man said Cunningham injected him directly into the eye, and others complained of various side effects. Cunningham ran for mayor of Honolulu this year and in the September primary received 737 votes on a platform of complaining about government's meddling into health care.

The Continuing Crisis

-- Deceitful mating strategies may be rife in the animal kingdom (especially among humans), but Australian researchers recently documented the sexual guile of a group of orchids that basically trick male wasps into pollinating them by resembling the look and smell of female wasps. Writing in The American Naturalist, the authors noted that female wasps reproduce both with and without sperm, with the latter creating male offspring. Consequently, the researchers hypothesized, when orchids commandeer sperm, it indirectly leads to the birth of more future pollinators. (Charles Darwin's subsequent book, after "The Origin of Species," was "The Various Contrivances by Which Orchids Are Fertilized by Insects.")

-- The remote Manitoba First Nations tribes in Canada have largely moved away from alcohol abuse, according to an October Winnipeg Sun report, to the abuse of much more potent "superjuice," made with a fast-acting yeast that encourages quick brewing. According to a local probation officer, though, underbrewing results in the swill's continuing to ferment in the stomach after consumption, causing violent pain and progressive inebriation lasting for days.

-- In 2003, retired Colorado businessman John Haines, who was concerned about dangerous cracks in the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery, went to great lengths to find and purchase a huge slab of the identical high-grade white marble of the Tomb and offered it, free of charge, shipping included, to the Army (which has been considering reconstruction of the Tomb since 1987). In the ensuing five years, according to an August Denver Post story, the Army continues to ignore Haines, yet periodically shows interest in opening the reconstruction to competitive bidding, but mostly just allows the idea to languish.

The Sacred Institution of Marriage

-- In September, a Wisconsin appeals court suppressed the surveillance video that allegedly captured David Johnson, 59, having sex with his comatose wife in a Portage nursing home, obviously violating the state law against sex without consent. Nursing home caregivers had installed the camera to protect the wife, but the court ruled it an invasion of the privacy of the marital relationship.

-- In November, the Bombay high court expunged the arranged-marriage records of an Indian couple who had separated immediately after their 1998 honeymoon when the husband complained that he had been unable to consummate because the bride had large boils on her face. She has since been cured of her disorder and did not want future suitors to read of her past.

The New Nature of Work

(1) Officer Keith Breiner, suspended from the police force in Beaumont, Texas, for crossing the line during an undercover prostitution sting (that is, he actually had sex), defended himself in an August hearing: "It was a job, sir. I didn't have pleasure doing it." It was, he said, "something I did for the city." (2) In his murder trial in October in Leeds, England, chef Anthony Morley testified that the killing was in self-defense, but he did admit to carving, cooking and eating part of the body afterward. "At some point (the victim's) body had just become something I would deal with at work, a piece of meat. ... That's my daily task, preparing meat."

News That Sounds Like a Joke

(1) In October, the local government council in Worcester, England, ordered Bill Malcolm to take down the 3-foot-high, barbed-wire fence he had installed to deter the thieves who had broken into his storage shed three times in the previous four months. According to the Daily Mail, the council said it feared the government would be sued by a wounded trespasser. (2) In August, the local government in Dymchurch, England, said a traditional celebration of the inspirational character Dr. Syn would have to be altered because the town had been unable to obtain liability insurance. According to legend, the swashbuckling Dr. Syn braved enemy troops to bring food to starving villagers by horseback, but without liability insurance, the man portraying Dr. Syn would now have to merely walk through the village.

Kids, Let a Professional Handle This

Two high school boys in Markesan, Wis., were hospitalized in September with broken pelvises after a "prank" went bad and a classmate inadvertently drove over them as they lay in the road in front of her car. On the other hand, a professional, Tom Owen (known as the "Human Speed Bump"), was hospitalized in October with similar injuries after he attempted to break the Guinness Book record by being run over by eight vehicles (with the last one, a box truck, leaving him in bad shape). Owen got certification, though, because the truck did pass completely over him.

Failure to Keep a Low Profile

(1) University of New Hampshire officials banned Bert Allen III, 44, a convicted sex offender, from campus in September for posting fliers without permission, seeking a "trophy wife." To further draw attention to himself, Allen sued for a restraining order (unsuccessfully) to allow the continued solicitation. (2) Police in Covington, Ky., arrested Gregory Griggs, 19, in October at the USA Motel, a suspected drug market. Though several people were booked that night, Griggs was the one wearing the T-shirt that read, "It's Not Illegal Unless You Get Caught."

Recurring Themes

Many people believe Israelis have more important things to worry about these days, but the city government of Petah Tikva (a Tel Aviv suburb) became the latest municipality to implement a registry of dog DNA, to encourage owners to pick up after their pets in the city's streets and parks. Abandoned droppings will be analyzed and those dogs' owners punished.

Lawsuits From the Nether Regions

(1) In August, a woman filed a lawsuit in Orange, Texas, against the manufacturer of the Sea-Doo personal water vehicle, claiming negligent design, after she fell off the back end and directly into the powerful jet stream from the vehicle's water pump. According to the lawsuit, "The high-pressure stream ... penetrated her orifices, causing massive, mutilating injuries." (2) However, in September, a federal jury in Baltimore rejected the claim by a 64-year-old West Virginia man that a Frederick, Md., surgeon had stapled his rectum shut during an operation. The jury accepted the doctor's explanation that it was the man's longtime, heavy smoking that caused his rectum to become swollen and shut for 17 days.

A News of the Weird Classic (November 2004)

Gary Arthur Medrow, then 44, first made News of the Weird in our inaugural year, 1988, but his criminal record (mostly for impersonating police officers) goes back at least 10 years before that. Medrow's periodic compulsion is to call someone on the telephone (usually a woman), pretend to be a law enforcement investigator, ask her to lift another person in her home, carry that person into another room, and then describe the results to Medrow. News of the Weird reported Medrow's relapses in 1991, 1997 and most recently, in 2004, when he was charged in New Berlin, Wis.

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

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