-- The school board of San Juan Capistrano, Calif., voted in April to approve in principle a new, 600-pupil secondary school that would cater to students of average academic abilities and who avoid extracurricular activities. The board believes such students lose motivation when schooled alongside higher achievers. Said a school district official, "This is going to require strong marketing."
-- Recently retired Air Force Sgt. Charles O. Hamilton Jr. was arrested in Upper Marlboro, Md., in March allegedly attempting to enter a toddler's bedroom at night. Police believe Hamilton is the serial burglar who sneaks into houses at night, sometimes wearing a diaper under his pants, to observe and photograph young boys sleeping, sometimes after deftly removing their shorts and dressing them in diapers. A storage locker belonging to Hamilton was found to contain photos of his peeping handiwork, along with about a thousand diapers, some of them soiled, many with boys' names on them with photographs inside showing the named boy wearing the diaper.
-- Lucia Kaiser filed a lawsuit in February against the Ohm restaurant in New York City, claiming that her 400-guest birthday party there in December (among the guests, Harry Belafonte and Quincy Jones) did not meet her expectations. The restaurant owner said it was a lovely party and that he fully complied with the contract, but Kaiser said she was so unfulfilled that she wants $30 million in damages.
-- In Belleville, Ill., Rochelle Chouinard sued booking agent Patricia Neuf for $227 for failing to supply a satisfactory stripper for her husband's 50th birthday party. Chouinard said she specifically asked for a woman with at least a 40-inch chest and who would do a nurse-like act, but received what she estimated to be a 36A woman who merely did a traditional striptease. In February, a judge tossed out Chouinard's lawsuit.
-- In Edwardsville, Ill., in February, Joseph Schrage filed a lawsuit against a local Pizza Hut for the "mental anguish" caused when he got a bad pizza one night in 1997. He said the pizza made him sick, but he offered no proof when he made his initial claim against the company. The Pizza Hut manager said Schrage's experience hasn't driven him away: "He's still a current, regular customer. He comes in about twice a week."
-- In February, a jury in New Britain, Conn., awarded convicted rapist-murderer Kevin King, 27, more than $2 million in damages for injuries suffered when he tried to escape from prison in 1996. In that attempt, King had attacked a female guard with a homemade knife, but a little while later, two other guards subdued King, causing some bruises and a cut below one eye, but also, according to his lawyer, causing him "anxiety" and "terror" that he would be further roughed up by the guards. King's lawyer had sought to settle for $20,000, but the six jurors saw fit to award him 100 times that amount.
-- In November, inmate Luis Romero, 38, filed a lawsuit against jailers in Farmington, N.M., for injuries he suffered when he fell out of his bunk and hit his head while trying to change a light bulb in his cell. And two months earlier, inmate Guadalupe Mendoya was turned down by a Wisconsin Court of Appeals in his lawsuit against Green Bay jailers for injuries he suffered when he fell out of bed while still inebriated from the 25 drinks he had had earlier that night.
-- In November in Lake St. Croix Beach, Minn., firefighters assisted a 13-year-old boy who had gotten his lip stuck in an eggbeater. And in Taipei, Taiwan, in February, doctors removed a chopstick from the eye socket of Japanese tourist Satoshi Kinoshida; it had penetrated more than an inch. And in December, firefighters in Gosport, England, were called to a home to extricate teacher John Gueran, 42, who had become stuck headfirst with, according to London's Daily Telegraph, his "backside in the air," behind a pantry trying to retrieve his son's Christmas gift.
-- Latest Highway Truck Spills: 36 tons of Tootsie Rolls, Blow Pops and other candy, near downtown Nashville, Tenn., January; thousands of surgical scalpels, scattered over a half-mile stretch of Route 10 near Walton, N.Y., January (puncturing the tires of a dozen motorists); and 8 million dimes near Gore, Okla., en route from the Denver Mint to the Federal Reserve Bank in Little Rock, Ark., March.
-- In January, a jury in Ringgold, Ga., acquitted Alvin Ridley, 56, of murdering his wife. Because most neighbors and relatives of the couple had not seen Virginia Ridley in 25 years, and because Alvin was an eccentric loner living in a dilapidated, roach-infested house in the Appalachian mountains, rumors long had it that Alvin had enslaved Virginia shortly after their wedding and eventually killed her. However, Alvin said Virginia died of an epileptic seizure and persuaded the jury of the couple's love by showing Virginia's prolific diaries, which describe her simple lifestyle, passion for privacy, and intense, almost high school crush-like obsession with her husband.
-- After decades of failed or meaningless "studies" by advocates of the medical effectiveness of relieving pain by attaching magnets to various parts of the body, a New York Medical College researcher announced one in January that some authorities believe actually passes muster. In a report on 24 patients with diabetes, Dr. Michael I. Weintraub wrote in the American Journal of Pain Management, those with magnets enclosed in foot pads reported less pain than those with simulated magnets in the pad. Weintraub theorized that a certain nerve in the foot might be responsive to the electrical energy created by the magnetic waves.
Last year News of the Weird reported on a Missouri woman's begging a judge not to imprison the man who had shot her in the head (and thus sent her into a coma and killed her fetus) because she nevertheless loved him and had since married him (and produced a replacement child). In San Francisco in January 1999, Anthony Tyrone Davis, 42, was sentenced to 35 years in prison for smashing a woman with a hammer, so severely that he left a skull indentation in the shape of the head of the hammer. The victim subsequently married Davis and refused to testify against him, but he was convicted on a doctor's testimony and the 911 tape of the incident.
A 54-year-old woman was run over and killed in February by an Amtrak train in San Jose, Calif.; she was walking on the tracks wearing headphones listening to the radio. And an unidentified middle-aged man was killed in Nairobi, Kenya, in March when he accidentally ran in front of a bus while escaping from the All Saints Cathedral, where he had just stolen the contents of collection plates. And a 73-year-old man was killed in a fistfight in Las Vegas in February; he had just challenged a 69-year-old man over who was tougher.
(Send your Weird News to Chuck Shepherd, P.O. Box 8306, St. Petersburg, Fla. 33738, or Weird@compuserve.com.)