-- According to a January Boston Globe feature, Mr. Wai Y. Tye, 82, who retired a while back after 32 years' service with Raytheon Corp., has lived without complaint in the same 200-square-foot room in the downtown Boston YMCA continuously since 1949. "When you're busy working and playing tennis," he told a reporter, "when you come home, you don't have much time to take care of an apartment." The bathroom is down the hall to the left, and he said he does not mind the exposed pipes, the linoleum floor and having to use a hot plate.
-- Faced with many retirements and a precipitous drop in new blood, U.S. Catholic officials have stepped up priest-recruiting to include irreverent advertisements to appeal to "generation X" men, according to a December Washington Post report. The Providence, R.I., diocese, for example, recently ran an ad campaign on MTV. And in January, a group of British churches, led by the Church of England, began a campaign to draw young parishioners by displaying Jesus Christ as the late Cuban revolutionary Che Guevara. Said one priest associated with the campaign, "We want to get away from the wimpy Nordic figure in a white nightie."
-- Radio Television Russia was flooded with protest letters and demonstrations in December when it was forced to drop the U.S. soap opera "Santa Barbara," which had built a large following. A batch of 65 episodes had been held up at the border because RTR had no money to pay the import fees. One suggestion for Russia's problems was advanced in the December-released book "ABCs of Sex" by nationalist politician Vladimir Zhirinovsky, who wrote that exporting virgin Russian women to men in other countries could somehow raise $750 million a year and that promoting sex for tourists (for example, having hotel mini-bars stocked with sex toys) would bring in much more.
-- A side effect of the international economic embargo of Iraq is the transfer of much of its supply of medical care from physicians to parapsychologists, who "heal" with electromagnetic therapy at half the price that doctors charge (even so, about 80 cents per visit, which is about one-fourth the monthly salary of a government clerk). According to one healer interviewed by the Associated Press, "extensive reading" was all the training he needed to find "gaps" in a patient's magnetic halo so that he could focus energy to that spot, a process that he said cured the gangrene of his first patient (his uncle).
-- Last year, the state historian of Florida kicked off a millennial project to name the 2,000 all-time greatest Floridians, with the deadline for nominations at Dec. 31, 1998. She recently announced a four-month extension, however, because nominators had been able to come up with only several hundred great Floridians.
-- In January, the Saguaro High School (Scottsdale, Ariz.) newspaper editor, Sam Claiborn, wrote an editorial critical of the culture of violence of football heroes, who he said often turn out to be drunks and spouse-abusers. An unnamed member of the school's football team took offense and beat Claiborn up, for which he was suspended.
-- Brad Davis, 25, of Milledgeville, Ga., was hospitalized in December after a hunting accident. He had chased a raccoon into a tree for his companion to shoot, but when hit, the 15-pound animal fell about 60 feet directly on top of Davis, knocking him out cold and breaking three vertebrae.
-- A 72-year-old man was killed in a robbery attempt in Jonesboro, Ga., in December, and after giving a false cover story, his 76-year-old wife finally admitted how it happened. The couple apparently had a habit of picking up men on the highway and bringing them home for sex with the wife so the husband could watch, but this particular guest wanted money more than he wanted sex. (A suspect is in custody.)
-- According to statistics published in November in the Paris newspaper Le Figaro, 53 percent of people in France don't bathe or shower daily, 50 percent of men don't use deodorant daily, and 40 percent of men don't change underwear daily (and 15 percent admit wearing the same pair three days straight). According to an expert on French culture, hygiene is considered merely "the hidden face of beauty" in France, and because it is invisible to others, it isn't a priority.
-- In rural Australia south of Brisbane, near the coastal resort of Byron Bay, reside wild white bushmen known locally as "ferals," who closely resemble the savages from the movie "Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome," who reek of stale body odor and "bush herbs," and some of whom carry pet rats in their severely matted hair. While the ferals' occasional forays annoy residents and tourists, other locals are thankful for them for environmental reasons, according to a report in the Times of London in October. Said one local, "Americans come out here and go, 'Yuck, everyone's so dirty (so let's not even think of developing this place).' The ferals have saved a lot of forest."
-- Latest Punishments in Afghanistan: On Jan. 15, six Taliban government soldiers had their right hands and left feet amputated for robbery, and a 60-year-old man had a 15-foot wall knocked over on top of him by a tank, in a death sentence for sexually molesting a boy. (The man was knocked unconscious but came to, and since he survived, under Taliban law, he was set free.) In November, a man was allowed by a judge to lawfully slit the throat of the man who killed his son, even though Taliban officials had recommended mercy.
-- A December Associated Press dispatch reported on Seoul's Korean Air Service Academy, which teaches "international manners" to help make South Korean companies more competitive in the quest for foreign customers. A particular problem, according to the Academy's general manager, is that "Koreans have difficulty smiling. Our ancestors had the philosophy that the serious person is better than the smiling one." As smiling increases in large companies, he said, citizens have begun to demand it from their government servants, such as tax collectors.
Latest Storage News: In December, Erie County (Pa.) inmate Larry Eugene DeFoy, 52, was charged with possessing escape tools when a routine X-ray revealed nail clippers and a bolt stored in a sock inside his rectum. He had been chipping away at a concrete block for about three weeks but had made hardly any progress. And on the same day in Durham, N.C., Freddy Farrington, 23, was charged with drug possession and other crimes after a police doctor administered relaxants that encouraged Farrington to unclench his buttocks (which he had been tensing since his arrest) and pass a chunk of cocaine in a plastic bag from his rectum.
(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.)