News of the Weird by the Editors at Andrews McMeel Syndication

WEEK OF JUNE 30, 2013


-- The executive in charge of the electronic infrastructure of Facebook confirmed to London's information-technology website The Register in June that when the company inaugurated its first "cloud" data-storage facility in Prineville, Ore., in 2011, the equipment was "drenched" when an actual cloud formed inside the building. (Facebook had only "hinted" previously at a Prineville "humidity event," according to The Register.) The tall, huge building's cooling units use an electricity-saving system that takes air from the outside (rather than re-circulated indoor air) and subjects it to various humidity levels to cool the heat coming from the aisles of computer servers. Apparently, engineers had not accurately anticipated the vapor condensation profile of the new system, and rain guards were promptly installed. [The Register (London), 6-8-2013]

Can't Possibly Be True

-- In May, only two states away from last year's mass shooting at an Aurora, Colo., movieplex, management at the Goodrich Capital 8 Theaters in Jefferson City, Mo., hired a man dressed in full tactical gear and carrying guns resembling M-4 rifles and 9mm pistols (as "S.H.I.E.L.D." operatives) to greet patrons for the opening of the new "Iron Man" movie. Police were not pleased by the barrage of frightened 911 callers who were fearful that Aurora was happening all over again. Capital 8 manager Bob Wilkins said that "hundreds" of customers were entertained by the publicity stunt and that "only a few" were upset. [KMIZ-TV (Columbia, Mo.), 5-9-2013]

-- Since Rozie, a pregnant Asian elephant at Albuquerque's ABQ BioPark Zoo, stands a better chance of a healthy birth if she is strong, the "elephant manager" and staff have been putting her through twice-a-day, Pilates-type exercises (featuring leg lifts, squats, and other calisthenics). (Rozie is due sometime between August and November.) Lest anyone worry that Rozie is being mistreated, the elephant manager noted in a May press release that her participation "is completely voluntary." [City of Albuquerque press release, 5-22-2013]

-- The founder of the Beauty Park Medical Spa in Santa Monica, Calif., has introduced a 45-minute procedure called the "Male Laser Lift," which is also known colloquially as "tackle tightening," involving the removal of hair and wrinkles on the scrotum, along with laser treatment to remove "discoloration." Co-owner Jamie Sherrill ("Nurse Jamie") told London's Daily Mail that sales are up this year, and some might attribute that to a joke comment made by actor George Clooney that the latest Hollywood craze was "ball-ironing." [Daily Mail, 6-10-2013]

-- Recently, parents in Texas and New York City have pointed out that when children commit sex offenses against classmates, educational policy (and sometimes, the law) seeks to give light punishments and second chances to the perpetrators, thus posing risks to their classmates. A Texas child, raped at age 4 by a 13-year-old, recently was forced to endure the perpetrator's return to class after only 45 days away at an "alternative" program -- because federal law requires the child's prompt return to ordinary classroom settings if a "disability" played a role in the incident. A New York City mother filed a $6 million lawsuit in May against the city's Education Department after her son was allegedly forced to perform oral sex on a group of classmates, one of whom had already been involved in a sex assault -- for which he received a five-day suspension. [KHOU-TV, 5-6-2013] [New York Daily News, 5-30-2013]


-- As John Jacobson, 20, was being booked into jail in Portland, Ore., in May (for allegedly trying to steal a case of beer from a Plaid Pantry grocery store), police discovered a live mouse in his pocket. Jacobson had his father come down to the jail and take custody of the mouse. [KGW-TV (Portland) via KTVB-TV (Boise, Id.), 5-3-2013]

-- Christie's auction house in New York City reported that a May 15th sale of a painting of the late actress Bea Arthur -- nude from the waist up -- by the artist John Currin in 1991 had sold for $1.9 million. Currin said that he made the painting from a photograph of Arthur clothed, and Arthur, known for her roles in TV's "Maude" and "Golden Girls," appears younger in face and body in the painting than on the TV shows. [NBC News, 5-17-2013]

-- Maryland state troopers caught sight of a drummer rocking out on the shoulder of Interstate 695 near Windsor Mill Road in Baltimore on May 21st, at about 10:30 a.m. According to the troopers, the man had run out of gas and had decided to set up his drum kit to practice while he waited for assistance. When a utility truck arrived, supplying gasoline, the drummer packed up and resumed his travels. [Baltimore Sun, 5-21-2013]


-- The web sites and the Jewish Daily Forward (, sweeping through all of the 2013 news accounts that two reporters could find, added up the fatalities so far this year (through May) of Americans killed by domestic "terrorist" attacks, compared to the number of Americans killed with guns fired by toddlers (aged 2-6). Terrorism's total: 4 (all from the Boston Marathon bombing). Gun deaths by toddlers: 11. (During the same period, 10 additional Americans were merely wounded by toddlers firing guns.) [, 6-11-2013; Jewish Daily Forward, 5-5-2013]

The Aristocrats!

(1) New York state Assemblyman Vito Lopez of Brooklyn was briefly a candidate for New York City mayor but withdrew in May, shortly after a state ethics commission accused him of various "unbecoming" behaviors, including pressuring female assistants to massage him, and at least one to feel the cancer-striken Lopez's tumors on his neck, shoulder, and armpit. (2) Philip Garcia, 41, was arrested in April in Perris, Calif., after he allegedly crawled naked through the doggy door in a neighboring home and announced to the female resident that he was there for sex. [New York Daily News, 5-16-2013] [KCBS-TV (Los Angeles) 4-18-2013]

Least Competent Criminals

-- Recurring Themes: (1) A 38-year-old man was arrested in Wichita, Kan., in June and charged with trying to rob a Spangles restaurant by presenting a cashier with a demand note. He was arrested a short time later -- and easily, because the demand for money was written on the back of a check-reorder form that contained his name and address. (2) Joseph Meacham, 39, fleeing on foot during a mid-afternoon traffic stop in Clayton, Mo., in May, ran through town so indiscriminately that when he decided to duck into a building for cover, he failed to realize it was the St. Louis County Police Headquarters. He was found curled into a ball on the floor in a dead-end hallway, and promptly arrested. [KAKE-TV (Wichita), 6-8-2013] [St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 5-22-2013]

The Classic Middle Name

-- Arrested recently and awaiting trial for murder: Nicholas Wayne Smith, Leland, N.C. (January); Jonathan Wayne Broyhill, Raleigh, N.C. (April); James Wayne Ham, San Jacinto County, Tex. (May); Kenneth Wayne Welch, San Diego County, Calif. (June); Bryan Wayne Brackbill, Jr., Carroll Township, Pa. (June). Indicted for murder: Darrell Wayne Parker, Belton, Tex. (March). Convicted of murder: Stanley Wayne Robertson, College Station, Tex. (February). Sentenced for murder: Derral Wayne Hodgkins, Dade City, Fla. (April); Jacob Wayne Smith, Tulsa, Okla. (June). Murder conviction upheld: Michael Wayne Fenney (also known as Michael Wayne), Janesville, Minn. (June). Re-sentencing for murder demanded: Dale Wayne Eaton, Cheyenne, Wyo. (June) (now allegedly ineligible for execution because of low IQ). NSmith: [Wilmington (N.C.) Star-News, 1-18-2013]

A News of the Weird Classic

Beneath the luxury hotels on the Las Vegas Strip is a series of flood tunnels that are home to dozens of people who work odd jobs such as hustling leftover change in slot machines of downscale casinos. A correspondent for London's The Sun gained the trust of a few and even photographed their "apartments" for a September 2009 dispatch, showing well-stocked quarters, with scrounged appliances and furniture and even one makeshift shower rigged from a water cooler. "Amy," who has lived in the tunnels with her husband, "J.R.", for two years, said she "love(s)" the Vegas lifestyle and appears in no hurry to leave. "Kathryn" (who lives with boyfriend, "Steven") also appears content -- except, she says, for the fragrance, the black widow spiders, and the periodic rush of water through their home (threatening any "valuables" not stacked on crates). [The Sun, 9-24-09]

Thanks This Week to Dave Ryan, David Rubin, Rebekah

Kogelschatz, Dave Abdoo, and to the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors.

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