-- Latest Jesus Sightings: Hundreds of people began arriving in the town of Bras D'Or, Nova Scotia, in September, when residents spotted a likeness of Jesus Christ on an outside wall of the Tim Horton's donut shop. The clearest image is said to be under the floodlights of a nearby chicken restaurant, called the Lick-a-Chick. And in Rio de Janeiro, designer Patrizia D'Angello and boutique owner David Azulay made plans to introduce men's swim trunks, modestly cut by Rio's beach standards, that feature a picture of Jesus on the seat.
-- In September, Customs officials at Port Hueneme, Calif., went into a tizzy when a fully operational (except for the warhead), 20-ton, 186-mile-range Scud missile was off-loaded from a British vessel, destined for a local address. Said a Customs agent, "All you needed to do was strap on a garbage can full of C-4 (explosive), and you had a weapon." After an investigation, Customs officials said the buyer was not a terrorist but just a collector and that the British seller had merely failed to disable the missile as required by U.S. law.
-- In July, the Los Angeles Times profiled Dan Taylor, 58-year-old retired entrepreneur in Hardeeville, S.C., who is close to finishing the $1 million, 40-foot-long submarine he will take next June to Scotland in order to hunt the Loch Ness monster, which he says he first encountered 30 years ago but in a flimsier submarine that couldn't keep up with the critter. According to his wife, almost all of Taylor's waking hours in the last three years have been spent thinking about "Nessie."
-- A July profile of paralegal Michael Levin, 57, of Santa Monica, Calif., in Los Angeles's weekly Westside News focuses on his 30-year fixation with clipping and saving, and cataloging and cross-indexing, thousands of newspaper articles that for some reason drew his attention. His clippings fill three 5-foot-high file cabinets. "What strikes me," he said, "is the zany, the quirky, or a magnum opus of a piece in the newspaper, such as a solid overview of Albania."
-- Much of the homes of John Livingston of Cleburne, Texas, and Gayle Brennan and Mike Drysdale in Duarte, Calif., have been taken over as shrines to their personal icons: baseball pitcher Nolan Ryan (Livingston) and Garfield the cat (Brennan and Drysdale). Livingston's most prized possession among several hundred items is a 1991 chest X-ray of Ryan. Brennan and Drysdale have 3,000 Garfield items, including 20 pairs of Garfield bedroom slippers, and plan to move to a bigger house so they can display everything.
-- A September New York Times story described some of the hundreds of people who are so taken with the Broadway show "Jekyll and Hyde" that they have seen it dozens of times (in one case, 100), at prices of $20 to $75, and refer to themselves as Jekkies since their obsession resembles that of hard-core "Star Trek" fans. Said one Jekkie, "Instead of going to a therapist, we talk to each other about it, since others truly don't understand."
According to a July New York Times report on adventurers needing assistance, a man who had sent an SOS refused to be airlifted out by an Alaska Air National Guard rescue team because the team had too much of a federal government presence. He relented later that day when the team added two state troopers and returned. And at a recent state visit to Australia, China's premier-in-waiting, Zhu Rongji, held up a procession by lingering in the rest room. When apprehensive guards broke in, they found that Zhu, an engineer, had disassembled the fancy two-button, dual-flush toilet and was studying it. Said Zhu, "We must introduce this to China."
Morton, Ill., June: Two days after he thought he had died from the hatchet his wife had slammed into the back of his neck, Thomas Deas, 53, told reporters, "I still love her. I'd have her back in a minute." And St. Louis, April: Andrea Caldwell Murray begged a judge not to jail Bobby Murray for shooting her in the head last year, sending her into a coma and killing her fetus; said Andrea, "I don't want to lose my Bobby." (Between the shooting and the sentencing, Andrea had married Bobby and is now pregnant with their child.)
Daniel Sneed, 22, spent a week in Los Angeles County jails in June when prosecutors in the city of La Mirada erred in charging him with having ignored a $100 loitering fine from 1996. After several days, Sneed's bank produced the canceled checks, but even then he was not released until the next day. Apparently useless in overcoming these errors and red tape was Sneed's father, who is a police lieutenant in Compton, Calif.
Tweety Bird Rage: In Pleasanton, Calif., in July, after two men brawled over which one deserved the last stuffed toy bird prize at the Alameda County Fair, one of them pulled out a handgun and started firing wildly, wounding eight people. Shrinking-Genitals Rage: At July retirement ceremonies for an army general in Canberra, Australia, former soldier Darryl Hanel, 36, ran screaming at the general and tackled him before guards pulled him off. Hanel claims the general was responsible for giving him a sex-inhibiting drug years ago and that since then (documented in Hanel's charts and graphs), his penis has shrunk.
When Pigs Fly: In Corbeil, Canada, in August, Lucette St. Louis, 66, suffered a broken leg and other injuries when a 180-pound pig, owned by her son, came flying through the air and hit her broadside. It had been knocked airborne by a passing car.
Christopher Grant, 21, was arrested in Danville, Ill., in September and charged with a series of burglaries. Officers had stopped Grant's car as resembling one used by a burglar, but their optimism increased when they saw that the inside of the car was littered with gum balls. A gum ball machine had been stolen earlier that day.
In September, according to police in Trotwood, Ohio, Rev. Andrew Lofton was shot to death just as he was explaining the Book of Revelation to Bible students by a parishioner who had frequently quarreled with Lofton over Biblical interpretations. And in Jacksonville, Fla., nine days later, Rev. Melvyn Nurse, 35, accidentally killed himself by firing a defective round of blank ammunition at his head while demonstrating for parishioners that committing certain sins was the equivalent of playing Russian roulette.
(Send your Weird News to Chuck Shepherd, P.O. Box 8306, St. Petersburg, Fla. 33738, or Weird@compuserve.com. Chuck Shepherd's latest paperback, "The Concrete Enema and Other News of the Weird Classics," is now available at bookstores everywhere. To order it direct, call 1-800-642-6480 and mention this newspaper. The price is $6.95 plus $2 shipping.)