News of the Weird

Week of June 19, 2011


A 53-year-old man with failing eyesight and who had recently undergone intestinal surgery told Sonoma, Calif., police that on Sunday afternoon, May 1, a woman had come to his home and instructed him to drop his pants and get face-down on the bed so that she could administer an enema. He said he assumed his doctor had sent her and thus complied, and it was over in two minutes, and she was gone. The doctor later said he had no idea who the woman was. (In the 1970s, in the Champaign, Ill., area, Michael Kenyon operated similarly as the "Illinois Enema Bandit" -- and inspired the late Frank Zappa's "Illinois Enema Bandit Blues.")

The Entrepreneurial Spirit!

-- Several funeral homes in the United States have drive-thru windows to serve rushed mourners or those stressed by the parlor experience. "Not quite as emotional," said one visitor to the Robert L. Adams Mortuary in Compton, Calif., referring to the need not to linger in the queue of bereaved, idling motorists. The Adams facility was even more popular during the peak of gang murders in the area, according to an April Los Angeles Times report, because the drive-thru window's bulletproof glass rendered unnecessary the precarious indoor service in which gangbangers tried to further desecrate late rivals' corpses.

-- Noses Know: (1) In April, two Italian entrepreneurs introduced a perfume meant to evoke the scents of a person's blood, varying by type (A, B, AB, O) -- but with no actual blood. A prominent member of the U.S. "vampire community" fondly described the "intriguing" olfactory sensations of Type B (the "black cherry, pomegranate and patchouli infusions") and Type O ("raspberry, rose hips and birch"). Another "vampirist" called the whole idea "cheesy." (2) Artist Charity Blansit (aka Cherry Tree) told AOL News in May that she has been working on a fragrance based on her own urine (although not prepared to bring it to market yet), enhanced mainly with sugar.

Fine Points of the Law

Because of a loophole in Michigan law (which, at press time, legislators were working to fix), a winner of the "Make Me Rich" lottery game in July 2010 (publicized value: $2 million) has been openly receiving the same food-stamp allotment he had been receiving before he won. In May 2011, confronted by WNEM-TV in Saginaw, winner Leroy Fick was defiant about his food stamps. Currently, eligibility is based on regular income, and Fick had taken his payoff last year in one lump sum.

Medical Marvels

(1) Dugan Smith, 13, is almost as good as new, having overcome an extremely rare malignant tumor on his thigh bone. A surgeon at Ohio State's James Cancer Hospital removed the middle of Smith's leg, turned the bottom of it around so that the back faces the front, and reconnected the parts. (2) According to a February report in China's Wuhan Morning News, a 55-year-old farmer from Jiayu county in Hubei province finally has a functioning anus. His congenital condition had required him to restrict his diet severely and to "squeeze stools out with his hands."

Navel Observatory

The Belly Button Biodiversity project at North Carolina State University has begun examining the "faunal differences" in the microbial ecosystems of our navels, to foster understanding of the "tens of thousands" of organisms crawling around inside (almost all benign or even helpful). An 85-year-old man in North Carolina may have "very different navel life" than a 7-year-old girl in France, according to a May Raleigh News & Observer report. So far, only the organisms themselves and the host's demographics have been studied; other issues, such as variations by hairiness of navel, remain.

Leading Economic Indicators

Good Jobs: (1) Prison Guard ("the greatest entry-level job in California," according to an April Wall Street Journal report highlighting its benefits over a typical job resulting from a Harvard University education). Starting pay is comparable; loans are not necessary (since the guard "academy" actually pays the student); and vacation time is more generous (seven weeks, five paid). One downside: The prison system is more selective (Harvard accepts 6.2 percent of applicants versus the guard service's fewer-than-1 percent of 120,000 applicants). (2) California taxpayers were also astonished to learn in May that several beach communities (led by Newport Beach) pay some lifeguards more than $100,000 annually in salary and benefits. (Generally, those are for long-time and supervisory jobs; ordinary "summer job" lifeguards typically make $16 to $22 an hour.)

Weird Animals

-- Cat Failing to Know Its Role: In Cleveland, Texas (near Houston), a man had to be airlifted to an emergency trauma unit after losing a fight with a house cat. He was even armed with a knife as he took on the beast, but somehow the attacking cat caused him to lose his balance and fall on the blade.

-- Procreation Interventions: (1) Because female giant tortoises are lackadaisical about mating, the Knoxville (Tenn.) Zoo in May temporarily moved its two males, Al and Tex, to Zoo Atlanta to encourage Knoxville females Patches, Corky and Standup to yearn for them. Tex, by the way, is 90 years old, and Al is 130 (and hasn't had a date since 1983, according to a May Knoxville News-Sentinel story). (2) Hopewell Township, N.J., officials, responding to noise complaints in April, passed an ordinance limiting rooster access to hens to only 10 days a year. (The chickens also must, of course, be "disease-free.")

Questionable Judgments

Oklahoma inmate Eric Torpy has served only six years of his 33-year sentence for armed robbery, but already he is looking ahead to the years 2035-2038. His original sentence was 30 years, but he challenged the judge that if he was "going down," it would be in "Larry Bird's jersey" -- the number 33 worn by the basketball player. Judge Ray Elliott then accommodated Torpy by adding three years. Said Torpy, in May, "Recently, I've wisened up." "I'm pretty sure (Bird) thinks I'm an idiot. (T)ruthfully, most people do. My own family does, so I'm pretty sure he does, too."

Least Competent Patient

An unidentified man told police in Niles, Ill., in May that he had been victimized by a medical exam, which was conducted in an otherwise-abandoned office, by a lone "doctor" wearing a white lab coat, who used toothpicks for acupuncture pressure points, and who dispensed a container of pills (labeled "dietary supplements") with an expiration date of February 2002. The man said he paid $200 and is not sure he got his money's worth.

Rights of the Disabled

(1) A judge in Britain's Cambridge Crown Court sentenced two teenage boys to jail for burglary in May but allowed their 20-year-old partner, who has a much longer criminal record, to have a non-custodial sentence because he has a "cleanliness disorder" that a jailhouse would traumatize. (2) In a widely reported story that originated in the Brazilian press, accountant (and severe-anxiety and hypersexuality sufferer) Ana Catarian Bezerra, 36, was said to have prevailed after a court battle in April to be allowed breaks during the work day to masturbate.

A News of the Weird Classic (March 1995)

Police in East Patchogue, N.Y., filed a false-report charge against Nicholas Lalla, 32, in January (1995) after he had sworn out a complaint that his estranged wife slapped him. Lalla played for police an audiotape he had made, clandestinely, in which slapping sounds are heard amidst his yelling "Don't hit me." When police informed Mrs. Lalla of that clandestine audiotape, she played for them a clandestine videotape she had made of him staging the audiotaping: He is shown, alone, yelling "Don't hit me" outside her house after she had walked away.

UPDATE: Morris Wayne Givens, charged with murder in October 1998 in Prattville, Ala., was subsequently freed and all charges dropped, according to a family source. His name has been removed from the News of the Weird Classic Middle Name series.

Thanks This Week to Brian Bjolin, Bruce Leiserowitz, Barry Rose, Kathryn Wood, Roy Henock, Derek Costello, and Jeff Jacobovitz, the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors.

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